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Karatsev Top Seed As Nur-Sultan Draw Revealed

  • Posted: Sep 18, 2021

The ATP 250 Astana Open returns for a second instalment and the Kazakh capital will host another stellar line-up in Nur-Sultan. A quick glance down the draw sheet and you come across Grand Slam pedigree, local talent and emerging stars.

Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev leads the title charge as the top seed. The World No. 25, champion in Dubai earlier this season, opens his account in the second round against either 2020 Astana Open semi-finalist Emil Ruusuvuori or the in-form Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi.

Earlier in the season Karatsev was entrenched inside the Top 8 of the FedEx ATP Race to Turin after reaching the Australian Open semi-finals and claiming the ATP 500 title in Dubai. But he has since fallen to 12th position in the Race and needs a strong finish to the season to claim a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals.

Further down the track, Karatsev could meet the resurgent Andreas Seppi, who recently reached the US Open third round. Seppi must overcome local wild card Timofey Skatov at the first hurdle. Winston-Salem Open champion Ilya Ivashka, drawn to face a qualifier, also lands in Karatsev’s quarter of the draw.

Home hopes will be boosted by the gregarious Alexander Bublik arriving as the No.2 seed in the bottom half. The world No.34 will look to bring his vast repertoire of shot-making to the court to tackle either Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco or Miomir Kecmanovic in the second round.

Look out for a possible quarter-final between Bublik and flamboyant Frenchman Benoit Paire. The No. 6 seed will duel with Belarusian Egor Gerasimov in the opening round.

Defending champion John Millman, in the top half of the drawm will be seeking another deep run in Nur-Sultan. A qualifier will look to halt the Australian in a quarter of the draw including world No. 37 Filip Krajinovic and Kazakh stalwart Mikhail Kukushkin.

Millman’s title defence is projected to come under threat in the semi-finals with Karatsev a possible opponent for a compelling final-four clash.

No.3 seed Dusan Lajovic lands in the third quarter alongside compatriot Laslo Djere and Next Gen Italian Lorenzo Musetti.

The main draw of the Astana Open begins on Monday 20 September.

– Story courtesy Astana Open

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Millan Relives Astana Open Breakthrough: 'It Was Massive For Me'

  • Posted: Sep 18, 2021

John Millman is confident of producing his best form as he attempts to defend a title at ATP Tour level for the first time in the Astana Open in Nur-Sultan this week.

The Australian, who practised with Italians Lorenzo Musetti and Andreas Seppi prior to Saturday’s draw, made history as the inaugural Astana Open champion in 2020. The 32-year-old defeated Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 7-5 6-1 in the final after posting victories over Fernando Verdasco, Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe on the way to the decider.

Millman, who reached the US Open quarter-finals in 2018, has claimed 12 ATP Challenger level titles. But he said breaking through on the main tour was a highlight of his career.

“It was massive for me. It is a really challenging thing to do and it is something that I had set as a goal for the past few years,” he said. “There have been plenty of good players who have not been able to break through and lift a title at the ATP level.

“I felt like I had put myself in a position a couple of times. I’d been in a couple of finals before, so to go through and achieve a goal was really special. It was, mentally, a really challenging year for everyone, so to be able to do it like that, I was proud of it, because it really tested your resilience. The triumph was the culmination of a lot of hard work and resilience.”

No. 43 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, Millman is seeded fifth for the 2021 Astana Open and will open the tournament against a qualifier. Aslan Karatsev, a semifinalist at the Australian Open in February, is the top seed for the ATP 250 tournament carrying prize money of $541,800.

Millman has been hindered by injuries prior to major events in a testing season in which he has compiled a record of 14 wins from 34 matches. The Brisbane native was forced to withdraw from the French Open due to a back injury and then suffered bone bruising in a foot at the Olympics in a further blow, with the injury troubling him in the lead-in to the US Open.

“That was really challenging. You want to be peaking at the Grand Slams,” he said.

But the right-hander reached quarter-finals in Munich in April and in Washington D.C. in August and has trained well in Nur-Sultan over the past week.

He believes his game is suited to the indoor hard courts of the Astana Open. “I won’t lie. It has been a really challenging year for me,” he said.

“When I have been fit, I feel like I’ve played some pretty good tennis. Maybe the results don’t show that, but when I was fit, I felt great.

“But it is a nice feeling being back here. You know your surroundings. They do an incredible job here. It is good to be back where I had some nice memories last year.”

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