Scouting Report: Dimitrov Carries Home Hopes In Sofia
Action Returns to Europe, Americas: After an exciting opening month of the season, the ATP World Tour action returns with two European tournaments and the first of five events in the Golden Swing in Latin America. Eight of the Top 20 overall in the Emirates ATP Rankings (as of Jan. 30) are in action.
Emirates ATP Race to Milan Leaders: Three of the Top 10 players in the Emirates ATP Race to Milan (as of Jan. 30) are in the Montpellier draw
1. Daniil Medvedev - Montpellier
2. Hyeon Chung
3. Andrey Rublev
4. Alexander Zverev – Montpellier
5. Ernesto Escobedo
6. Noah Rubin
7. Alex De Minaur
8. Frances Tiafoe
9. Alexander Bublik
10. Karen Khachanov - Montpellier
GARANTI KOZA SOFIA OPEN (Sofia): The second-year Garanti Koza Sofia Open features an outstanding field with four players in the Top 20 Emirates ATP Rankings. Last year was the first time since 1981 that an ATP World Tour level tournament was held in Sofia. Leading the way is World No. 8 Dominic Thiem along with David Goffin, top Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and reigning champion Roberto Bautista Agut. The other seeds are: No. 5 Gilles Muller, No. 6 Philipp Kohlschreiber, No. 7 Marcos Baghdatis and No. 8 Martin Klizan. There are a total of 20 countries represented in the 28-player draw (not including possible qualifiers).
Thiem Top Seed: Thiem is the top seed on the ATP World Tour for the seventh time in his career. Last month in Sydney he lost in the quarter-finals (l. to Evans). Last season he was the top seed four times with a repeat title in Nice and runner-up in Metz, his best results as the tournament’s top player. Here is a look at Thiem’s results in tournaments as the top seed:
2017 Sydney: QF
2016 Kitzbühel: 2R (bye)
2016 Chengdu: QF
2016 Nice: Champion
2016 Metz: Finalist
2015 Kitzbühel: SF
Roberto Reigning Champion: No. 4 seed Bautista Agut is off to a 9-1 start this season. The 28-year Spaniard captured his fifth career ATP World Tour title in the opening week of the season in Chennai (d. Medvedev) and followed by reaching the 4R at the Australian Open (l. to No. 3 Raonic). Last year he won the inaugural Sofia title with straight-set wins over Mannarino, Muller and Troicki (after a bye and 2R W/O).
Grigor Off to Great Start: Dimitrov comes into his home country tournament with a 10-1 match record on the season. The 25-year-old from Haskovo won his fifth career ATP World Tour title in Brisbane, the first since June 2014 at Queen’s Club/London, defeating three straight Top 10 opponents: No. 8 Thiem (QF), No. 3 Raonic (SF) and No. 5 Nishikori. He then followed by reaching the semi-finals at the Australian Open where he lost to No. 9 Nadal 6-4 in the fifth set. He comes in ranked No. 13, his highest ranking entering a tournament since 2015 Wimbledon at No. 11. Dimitrov is looking for his first pro tournament match win (0-4) in his native country. He lost in the 1R at the Bulgaria #1 and #2 Futures in 2007 and at the Sofia Challenger in 2008-09.
2017 Winners in Field: Three of the six ATP World Tour winners this season are in the Sofia draw. Along with Bautista Agut and Dimitrov, Gilles Muller is the other winner. The 33-year-old Muller became the first player from Luxembourg to capture an ATP World Tour title in Sydney (d. Evans).
Jerzy On Comeback Trail: Former World No. 13 Jerzy Janowicz is playing on a protected ranking of No. 94. He is ranked No. 273. Last season he was limited due to back and knee injuries and was 0-3 in ATP World Tour level matches. His last ATP World Tour main draw win came in Vienna in October 2015.
Doubles Draw: The top seeds are 2015 World No. 1 Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau .The other seeds are: No. 2 Mate Pavic and Alexander Peya, No. 3 Dominic Inglot and Florin Mergea, and No. 4 Marcin Matkowski and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi.
OPEN SUD DE FRANCE (Montpellier): Montpellier is one of five ATP World Tour tournaments in France. Leading the way is World No. 7 Marin Cilic, who is the top seed. No. 2 Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is the No. 2 seed and two-time reigning champion and three-time winner Richard Gasquet is No. 3 seed. The other seeds are: #NextGen star Alexander Zverev, Feliciano Lopez, Mischa Zverev, Marcel Granollers and Fernando Verdasco. Gasquet is the only former champion in the 28-player field. Overall there are four players in the Top 25 Emirates ATP Rankings in Montpellier.
Marin Tough Top Seed: Cilic is the top seed in an ATP World Tour tournament for the 10th time in his career, the second this season. Last month he opened the season in Chennai as the top seed and lost in the 2R (after bye) to Kovalik. The 28-year-old Croatian star is making his second straight showing in Montpellier (l. to A. Zverev in 2R after bye). Cilic has an outstanding 25-6 career record as the top seed in an ATP World Tour tournament, winning three titles and reaching two other finals:
2017 Chennai: 2R (bye)
2015 Moscow: Champion
2013 Memphis: QF
2013 Zagreb: Champion
2011 Zagreb: QF
2010 Metz: QF
2010 Munich: Finalist
2010 Zagreb: Champion
2009 Vienna: Finalist
French Success: French players have won five of the previous six titles in Montpellier with Gasquet winning three times (2013, 2015-16) and Monfils capturing two titles (2010, ’14). The only time a Frenchman didn’t win the title was in 2012 when Tomas Berdych defeated Monfils in the final.
Tsonga Returns: No. 2 Frenchman Tsonga is making his second appearance in Montpellier, the first since 2010 when he reached the semi-finals (l. to eventual champion Monfils). Six of Tsonga’s 12 ATP World Tour titles have come on home soil, winning his last title in Metz in 2015 (for the third time). He also won in Marseille in 2009 and 2013 and the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Paris in 2009. The 31-year-old Frenchman comes in with a 6-2 match record on the season after quarter-final results in Doha (l. to Berdych) and the Australian Open (l. to Wawrinka).
Gasquet Eyes Fourth Title: Three-time Montpellier champion Gasquet has a 17-3 career tournament record. He has reached the final the past four years, winning in 2013 and 2015-16. He was runner-up in 2014. Last year he made his season debut in Montpellier and was the top seed after missing the first month with a back injury. In his first tournament of the season at the Australian Open he reached the 3R (l. to Dimitrov). Over the weekend he helped France to the Davis Cup quarter-finals with a singles win over Japan’s Taro Daniel.
#NextGenATP Stars in Draw: There are five #NextGenATP stars in the main draw, led by top German Alexander Zverev, who is ranked No. 22. The others are No. 52 Karen Khachanov, No. 57 Borna Coric, 63 Daniil Medvedev and wild card No. 170 Quentin Halys. Zverev and Khachanov won their maiden ATP World Tour title last season. Coric was a finalist last season in Chennai and Marrakech and Medvedev was runner-up last month in Chennai.
Evans on a Roll: British No. 2 Daniel Evans makes his Montpellier debut and he is playing his first ATP World Tour tournament ranked in the Top 50 (at No. 45). Last month he posted a 7-2 match record by reaching his first ATP World Tour final in Sydney (l. to Muller) and followed with a 4R at the Australian Open (l. to Tsonga). Along the way he posted the first two Top 10 wins of his career over No. 8 Thiem in Sydney (QF) and No. 7 Marin Cilic (2R) in Melbourne.
Z Bros Seeded: For the first time brothers Alexander and Mischa Zverev are seeded together in an ATP World Tour tournament. Alexander, a wild card entry, is seeded No. 4 and Mischa is No. 6. Last year Alexander came into Montpellier ranked No. 85 and he reached the semi-finals while Mischa was ranked No. 173 and he lost in the 1R of qualifying. In doubles, they reached the final. Mischa advanced to his first Grand Slam tournament quarter-final at the Australian Open where he beat No. 1 Andy Murray in the 4R before losing to eventual champion Federer. He jumped to a career-high No. 35 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.
Doubles Draw: The top seeds are last year’s Roland Garros champions Feliciano and Marc Lopez. The other seeds are: No. 2 Fabrice Martin and Daniel Nestor, playing together for the first time, No. 3 Robert Lindstedt and Michael Venus, and No. 4 Marcus Daniell and Marcelo Demoliner. The Zverev brothers, who lost in last year’s final (l. to Pavic/Venus), are also playing together.
ECUADOR OPEN (Quito): Latin America's "Golden Swing" opens with the third-year tournament Ecuador Open, which is led by top seed Ivo Karlovic, who is making his Quito debut. The other seeds are: No. 2 Albert Ramos-Vinolas, No. 3 Paolo Lorenzi, No. 4 Thomaz Bellucci, No. 5 Alexandr Dolgopolov, No. 6 Horacio Zeballos, No. 7 Thiago Monteiro and No. 8 Renzo Olivo. Prior to 2015, the last time an ATP World Tour tournament was held in Quito was in November 1982. Local hero Andres Gomez won the title.
Ivo Top Seed: Karlovic is making his Quito debut and this is the fourth career ATP World Tour tournament the big-serving Croatian is the top seed, the first since 2015 Bogota (SF). The 37-year-old Zagreb native is coming off his first career Top 20 season last year at No. 20. He won two ATP World Tour titles (Newport, Los Cabos) and reached the final in Washington (l. to Monfils). This is his third tournament of the season after a quarter-final in Doha (l. to Verdasco) and 3R at the Australian Open (l. to Goffin), where he fired a tournament record 76 aces in a 22-20 fifth set win over Zeballos in the 1R.
Estrella Burgos Eyes Three-Peat: Two-time defending champion Victor Estrella Burgos comes in with a 10-0 match record in Quito. The 36-year-old from the Dominican Republic is ranked No. 96 and he will be tested early. If he defeats Andrej Martin in the 1R, he will take on Karlovic in the 2R. In his title runs, he defeated Feliciano Lopez in 2015 and Thomaz Bellucci last year.
Janko Close to Top 100: Former World No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic, a wild card entry and playing in his first ATP World Tour tournament since Moscow last October, is closing in on his return to the Top 100 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. The 32-year-old Serb has climbed from No. 144 to No. 105 after winning back-to-back ATP Challenger Tour titles in Bangkok last month. He opens with Daniel Gimeno-Traver and if he wins, will take on last year’s finalist Bellucci.
Giovanni Farewell Tournament: Wild card Giovanni Lapentti is playing his final ATP World Tour tournament. The 34-year-old from Guayaquil, who reached a career-high No. 110 in May 2005, will retire after this tournament. He takes on No. 7 seed Thiago Monteiro in the 1R. Giovanni will also team with brother Nicolas in doubles for the final time.
Emilio Eyes First Win: Wild card Emilio Gomez, son of former World No. 4 and 1990 Roland Garros champion Andres Gomez, looks for his first ATP World Tour match win since Bogota in July 2013. His 10 other tour-level wins have come in Davis Cup play. Gomez is the No. 2 player from Ecuador ranked No. 293.
Golden Swing Champs: Estrella Burgos, No. 4 seed Thomaz Bellucci and No. 6 Horacio Zeballos of Argentina are the only players in the field with Golden Swing titles on their resumes. Bellucci triumphed in Santiago in 2010 while Zeballos topped Rafael Nadal to win in Viña del Mar in 2013.
Doubles Draw: The top seeds are Santiago Gonzalez and David Marrero. The other seeds are: No. 2 Julio Peralta and Horacio Zeballos, No. 3 Nicholas Monroe and Artem Sitak and No. 4 Guillermo Duran and Andres Molteni.