Scouting Report: 10 Things To Watch In Vienna & Nur-Sultan
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic leads the way in Vienna, where he tops a loaded field. There are plenty of jaw-dropping first-round matches to watch, with Karen Khachanov playing Grigor Dimitrov in a battle of former Top 10 stars, Casper Ruud facing reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner, seventh seed Gael Monfils challenging US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta, and more.
Benoit Paire is the top seed in Nur-Sultan, the last of four new ATP 250 events that were added to the 2020 schedule as tennis continued its return following suspension of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a good mix of home talent — including Alexander Bublik and Mikhail Kukushkin — and other stars pursuing a tour-level crown in Kazakhstan.
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Five Things To Watch In Vienna
1) Djokovic Returns: Djokovic will play the Erste Bank Open for the first time since 2007. That year, the Serbian lifted the trophy in his second appearance at the event. Djokovic, who is 37-2 on the season, will begin his run for a fifth title in 2020 when he faces good friend and countryman Filip Krajinovic.
2) Thiem’s Home Event: Dominic Thiem admitted before the tournament that his 2019 Vienna triumph remains the second-biggest victory of his career behind only his US Open title. The Austrian first visited this tournament as a fan when he was a young kid and he made his debut in qualifying 10 years ago, aged 17. This year’s second seed will begin his title defence against Vitaliy Sachko.
3) Red-Hot Rublev: Andrey Rublev cracked the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time after Roland Garros and he maintained his momentum by winning the St. Petersburg Open. Rublev, who is chasing his first Nitto ATP Finals qualification, made the Vienna quarter-finals last year. The fifth seed will try to improve on that result this week, starting with a match against qualifier Norbert Gombos.
4) #NextGenATP Stars & FedEx ATP Battle For London: The Vienna draw is full of #NextGenATP stars, with Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime leading the way. Two of the wild cards went to #NextGenATP players: Sinner and home favourite Jurij Rodionov.
5) Loaded Doubles: The Vienna doubles draw is so deep that two-time Roland Garros champions Kevin Krawietz/Andreas Mies and the sixth-placed team in the FedEx ATP Battle For London, John Peers and Michael Venus, are playing each other in the first round and neither pair is seeded. The top seeds are reigning US Open champions Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares.
Five Things To Watch In Nur-Sultan
1) Paire Top Seed: Frenchman Paire is the top seed in Nur-Sultan, where he will pursue his first trophy of the season. Last year, Paire claimed two ATP Tour crowns (Marrakech, Lyon). The 31-year-old will play home favourite Kukushkin or Argentine Federico Delbonis in the second round.
2) Kecmanovic Climbing: Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic won his first tour-level title in Kitzbühel following the ATP Tour’s resumption. Will he double his trophy count in Kazakhstan? The second seed will face a tough opening test against Frenchman Corentin Moutet or American Frances Tiafoe.
3) Bublik Leads Home Favourites: Kazakhstan’s Bublik is the sixth seed. He is a two-time tour-level finalist and he will try to go one step further on home soil. Bublik opens his tournament against American Mackenzie McDonald.
4) Aussie & American Flair: Four of the eight seeds in Kazakhstan are from Australia or the United States. Aussies John Millman and Jordan Thompson are the fourth and eighth seeds, respectively, while Americans Tennys Sandgren and Tommy Paul are seeded fifth and seventh.
5) Purcell & Saville’s London Pursuit: Max Purcell and Luke Saville made a dream run to the Australian Open final. Will they be able to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals? The Aussies can make progress towards that achievement with a big run in Nur-Sultan, where they are the second seeds.