Thiem Leads Field Of London Hopefuls In Vienna
You won’t have to wait long for thrilling action at the Erste Bank Open 500 in Vienna. Not only are eight members of the Top 15 in the ATP Rankings competing, but four first-round matches will be between players inside the Top 30 of the ATP Rankings. And perhaps more importantly, two of them involve players making a push to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals.
Top seed Dominic Thiem will face a stern test in his first match against the in-form Richard Gasquet. The Frenchman has beaten Thiem in both of their previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings — including in Vienna last year — and he has shown a high level of late.
Gasquet triumphed at the Libema Open and reached the semi-finals of the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2018 and this week's European Open in Antwerp. Thiem has a lot at stake, as he is battling for a spot at The O2 in London from 11-18 November. The Austrian, who will be competing in front of his home crowd, is currently in eighth place in the ATP Race To London. His best performance in Vienna came in 2013, when he reached the quarter-finals.
The No. 2 seed at the ATP World Tour 500-level event is Kevin Anderson, who is seventh in the Race. The South African, who is trying to qualify for the season finale for the first time, opens against Nikoloz Basilashvili, who has captured two titles (Hamburg, Beijing) at this level this year.
In 2017, Anderson finished his season on a three-match losing streak, including a first-round loss in Vienna against World No. 81 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. The second seed will hope to change that this year, having made the quarter-finals at the Rolex Shanghai Masters and in Tokyo.
The winner of Anderson and Basilashvili could face former World No. 3 Milos Raonic, who plays Jurgen Melzer in what will be the Austrian's final singles event. Borna Coric, who made his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final in Shanghai, is in the same quarter of the draw. In the second round, Coric could play the defending champion, Lucas Pouille, who is trying to claim his sixth ATP World Tour title. The unseeded Frenchman kicks off his tournament against German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Fourth seed John Isner, the No. 9 player in the Race, is also on the bottom half of the draw. The American opens against a qualifier, and could face Antwerp finalist Gael Monfils or compatriot Steve Johnson in the second round.