There will be two ATP 250 events this week, with Novak Djokovic leading the way at the Belgrade Open in Serbia, and Lorenzo Sonego topping the field in his home country of Italy at the Emilia-Romagna Open.
ATPTour.com looks at 10 things you should watch at those clay-court tournaments this week.
Draws: Belgrade | Parma
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN BELGRADE
1) Djokovic At Home: One month ago, Djokovic fell two wins short of lifting a trophy at home in the Serbia Open, losing against Aslan Karatsev in the semi-finals. The World No. 1 will try to once again triumph at the Novak Tennis Center this week, with Egor Gerasimov or Mats Moraing looming in the second round. The top seed has triumphed twice in Belgrade before — in a different tournament — in 2009 and 2011. A victory this week would give Djokovic two titles in 2021 after he won the Australian Open.
2) Lajovic & Kecmanovic Pursuing Home Glory: In addition to Djokovic, fellow Serbians Dusan Lajovic and Miomir Kecmanovic are also seeded at their home ATP 250. Lajovic lost a three-setter against in-form Argentine Federico Delbonis last month at the Novak Tennis Center. However, he has enjoyed clay-court success before, making the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters final on the surface in 2019. Kecmanovic had a better run in Belgrade last month, making the quarter-finals, in which he fell against Djokovic in straight sets. The 21-year-old’s lone ATP Tour title came in Kitzbuhel last year on clay.
3) Monfils On The Move: Gael Monfils won his first match since last February in Dubai last week in Lyon, and the Frenchman will try to gain momentum in Belgrae. The second seed will play countryman Arthur Rinderknech or Spanish qualifier Roberto Carballes Baena in the second round. Monfils will try to take confidence from training with Roger Federer over the weekend in Geneva.
4) Will A Frenchman Steal The Show? Monfils isn’t the only notable Frenchman in the Belgrade draw. Fourth seed Adrian Mannarino could play former Top 10 star Lucas Pouille in an all-French clash in the second round and Jeremy Chardy has won his opener against two-time Australian Open quarter-finalist Tennys Sandgren.
5) Sabanov Twins Hungry For More: Ivan Sabanov and twin brother Matej Sabanov already made their mark in Belgrade a month ago by winning their first ATP Tour title. They are wild cards this week, but they will try to claim another crown. The brothers are off to a good start, having defeated Buenos Aires champions Tomislav Brkic and Nikola Cacic in the first round. Rohan Bopanna and Franko Skugor are the top seeds in the doubles draw.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN PARMA
1) Sonego Shining: Sonego is the top seed in Parma, and he arrives playing some of the best tennis of his career. The Italian not only won his first ATP Tour title on home soil earlier this year in Cagliari, but he followed that by making his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final in Rome. Sonego beat Dominic Thiem and Andrey Rublev to reach the last four at the Foro Italico, and the 26-year-old took a set off World No. 1 Djokovic before bowing out. The home favourite will open his run against Italian veteran Andreas Seppi or #NextGenATP American Sebastian Korda.
2) Musetti Magic: Lorenzo Musetti has been a standout #NextGenATP star in 2021, but one thing he has not yet earned is an ATP Tour title. The 19-year-old will try to make that happen this week in Parma, where he will face countryman Gianluca Mager in the first round. Musetti made his second tour-level semi-final of the year last week in Lyon, where he pushed Stefanos Tsitsipas to a deciding set. In his other semi-final this season, Musetti also played Tsitsipas. On that occasion, in Acapulco, the teen managed just four games, so his effort in Lyon showed the Italian’s continued progress.
3) Ramos-Vinolas On Clay: Albert Ramos-Vinolas has proven a consistent performer on clay this season, claiming his third ATP Tour title in Estoril. The Spanish lefty also made the championship match in Cordoba, where he lost against Argentine lefty Juan Manuel Cerundolo. Ramos-Vinolas, who is seeded third this week, will attempt to lift multiple tour-level trophies in a season for the first time. The 33-year-old begins his run in Parma against Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori or Slovakian lucky loser Norbert Gombos.
4) Korda Time: Korda broke through last year at Roland Garros by storming to the Round of 16. Will the American have another successful run on clay this week in Italy, where he could play top seed Sonego in the second round? Korda snapped a four-match losing streak last week in Lyon with a victory against Pierre-Hugues Herbert. Earlier in the year, the 20-year-old made his first Masters 1000 quarter-final in Miami.
5) Belgians Chasing Glory: Belgian doubles stars Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen are the top seeds. The countrymen have lifted five ATP Tour doubles trophies as a team since the start of 2019, with their most recent triumph coming this season in Singapore. Raven Klaasen and Ben McLachlan are the second seeds.