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Scouting Report: Tsitsipas Tops Vienna Field, Rublev In Action In St. Petersburg

  • Posted: Oct 24, 2021

ATP Tour action continues this week in Vienna and St. Petersburg, where some of the sport’s biggest stars will be in action.

Stefanos Tsitsipas leads the way at the Erste Bank Open, where he will be able to get revenge against the player who defeated him last year in Vienna. Andrey Rublev, the most recent player to earn his spot at the Nitto ATP Finals, will try to claim a trophy on home soil at the St. Petersburg Open. looks at what you should watch in the week ahead.

View Draws: Vienna | St. Petersburg

1) Tsitsipas Top Seed:
The top seed is Stefanos Tsitsipas, who will play in the Erste Bank Open for the second time. The Greek made his debut last year, when he fell in three sets against 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov. The pair will meet in the first round of the ATP 500 this year.

Tsitsipas has already won two titles this season — in Monte Carlo and Lyon — and will attempt to add a third in Austria. The second seed is Alexander Zverev, who will compete in Vienna main draw for the second time (2017).

2) FedEx ATP Race To Turin Heating Up: Five players have already qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals, and the Erste Bank Open will be critical for those trying to claim one of the final three spots. Matteo Berrettini (4,000 points) is in strong position to qualify, and he is the third seed in Austria. Casper Ruud, who is seventh in the Race (3,015), has a tough opener in Vienna against in-form South African Lloyd Harris.

Hubert Hurkacz, who is ninth in the Race, currently occupies the final qualifying position (2,955), as eighth-placed Rafael Nadal is out for the season due to a foot injury. But just 110 points behind the Pole is Jannik Sinner (2,845), who claimed his fourth title of the season in Antwerp. Sinner could play Ruud in the quarter-finals.

Eleventh-placed Cameron Norrie (2,795), the Indian Wells winner, and 12th-placed Felix Auger-Aliassime (2,330) will need big efforts at the Erste Bank Open to keep pace.

3) Murray Leads Former Champs: One of the three wild cards was given to Andy Murray, who will compete in Vienna for the third time. The Scot has won the tournament twice (2014 and 2016), and has an 8-0 record at the event. He will face a familiar foe in Hurkacz, who defeated him earlier this year in Cincinnati and Metz.

Another former champion playing the ATP 500 is Kevin Anderson, who triumphed here in 2018. The South African battled through qualifying to earn his place in the main draw, in which he will play Australian Alex de Minaur.

4) First-Round Blockbusters: There are plenty of popcorn first-round matches in Vienna, including three meetings between current or former Top 10 players: Tsitsipas faces former World No. 3 Dimitrov, eighth seed Diego Schwartzman plays former World No. 9 Fabio Fognini and fifth seed Hurkacz chases another win against former World No. 1 Murray.

Other first-round matches to watch include Gael Monfils against #NextGenATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti, seventh seed Sinner plays big-serving American Reilly Opelka and #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz challenges Briton Daniel Evans.

5) Doubles Showdown: The doubles field is loaded in Vienna, where Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic are the top seeds. The Croatians have won nine tour-level titles this season, but they have not triumphed since the Tokyo Olympics. US Open champions Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, who like the top seeds have already qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals, are the second seeds. Teams to watch include home favourite Jurgen Melzer and Alexander Zverev, and Tsitsipas and Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.

1) Rublev Defending Champion: Rublev is the reigning titlist in both St. Petersburg and Vienna, but he will try to retain his trophy on home soil in St. Petersburg. The Russian owns an 8-4 record at the event, where he also made the quarter-finals in 2019. Rublev, who has won two of his eight ATP Tour titles on home soil, will open his run against Winston-Salem winner Ilya Ivashka or Serbian Laslo Djere.

2) Karatsev In Form: Aslan Karatsev will make his Top 20 debut this week at the St. Petersburg Open, as he looks to win back-to-back titles in Russia. The 2021 breakthrough star triumphed on Sunday in Moscow, where he did not lose a set in the tournament. Fourth-seeded Karatsev will make this third main draw appearance at this event (1-2) and begin his run against Australian John Millman or wild card Yshai Oliel of Israel.

3) Second Seed Shapovalov: Denis Shapovalov is the second seed in St. Petersburg, where he has enjoyed success in the past. The dynamic Canadian advanced to the semi-finals in 2019 and the quarter-finals in 2018. The 22-year-old lefty will chase his second ATP Tour trophy this week. He opens against Spaniard Pablo Andujar or Argentine Federico Delbonis.

4) Seeded Americans: Two of the eight seeds in the singles draw are Americans: fifth seed Taylor Fritz and eighth seed Sebastian Korda. Fritz is fresh off his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final in Indian Wells, and he is playing here for the second time. Korda, who lifted his maiden ATP Tour trophy this year in Parma, is making his debut.

5) Murray/Soares Pushing For Turin: Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares have played in the Nitto ATP Finals together on three previous occasions, and they are trying to make it four this year. Currently eighth in the FedEx ATP Doubles Race To Turin, Murray and Soares can improve their standing this week in St. Petersburg, where they are the top seeds.

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Karatsev Beats Cilic For Moscow Crown

  • Posted: Oct 24, 2021

Aslan Karatsev captured his second tour-level title on Sunday at the VTB Kremlin Cup to keep alive his hopes of qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals.

The Russian was strong on serve, overcoming two-time Moscow champion Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-4 in 77 minutes. Karatsev has now levelled his ATP Head2Head series with Cilic at 1-1, avenging his defeat to the Croatian in Cincinnati.

The second seed, who did not drop a set en route to the title, is 13th (2,280 points) in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin, 675 points behind ninth-placed Hubert Hurkacz. The Pole occupies the final qualification spot with eighth-placed Rafael Nadal out for the rest of the season with a foot injury.

“It is a dream come true,” Karatsev said in his on-court interview. “It is a tournament where I have played in qualifying at and now I am winning the tournament. Thank you for all of your support. It was a very nervous final game, I hit a double fault and then on break point there was that long rally, but I managed to win it in the end.”


Karatsev had never been beyond the second round in four main-draw appearances at the ATP 250 event. With his victory, the home favourite has become the 10th different Russian to win the Moscow title in the tournament’s 31-year history.

In a fast start, Karatsev broke Cilic in the first game and served well throughout the opening set, not facing a break point and dropping just one point behind his first delivery to move ahead. The Russian continued to dictate in the second set, pinning Cilic behind the baseline with his backhand. Karatsev then seized further control in the seventh game of the second set as he broke again, before securing his victory on serve.

“First of all, I would like to dedicate my win to my parents, my mum and my father. All my relatives and all of my friends,” Karatsev added.

The 28-year-old has enjoyed a breakthrough 2021 season, reaching the semi-finals at the Australian Open as a qualifier, before he lifted his maiden tour-level trophy in Dubai. Karatsev also advanced to the final in Belgrade.

Cilic, who triumphed in Moscow in 2014 and 2015, was aiming to win his 20th tour-level title. Earlier this season, the World No. 41 overcame Felix Auger-Aliassime in the championship match in Stuttgart.

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Sinner Storms Past Schwartzman For Antwerp Title, Continues Turin Chase

  • Posted: Oct 24, 2021

The historic achievements continue to add up for Jannik Sinner.

The Italian star defeated second seed Diego Schwartzman 6-2, 6-2 on Sunday to win the European Open, marking his fifth ATP Tour title. The 20-year-old is the youngest player to claim five tour-level trophies since 19-year-old Novak Djokovic triumphed in Estoril in 2007.

“I felt great on court. I moved well. Today I also served better, I think,” Sinner said. “I felt great, but in tennis every day is different. You have to be careful. I think I played well the whole tournament, to be honest, from the first point to the last point.”

It was a key week for Sinner, who will climb to 10th in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin on Monday as he tries to qualify for a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals. The Italian will trail ninth-placed Hubert Hurkacz by just 110 points for the final qualifying spot, as Rafael Nadal is out for the season due to a foot injury.

Sinner did not lose a set en route to the title. The Monaco resident played some of his best tennis towards the end of the tournament, dropping just eight total games against in-form South African Lloyd Harris and Schwartzman in the semi-finals and final.

The top seed overpowered the Argentine in the championship match, blasting winners from all areas of the court, especially off his forehand wing. Sinner returned aggressively and never allowed Schwartzman to claw his way into the match.

“I like to play indoors. I tried to push the ball [through the court] today, which for me was important against Diego because he is moving very well. He’s not missing so many shots,” Sinner said. “For me it was important trying to adapt the game somehow against him.”

The second seed was left frustrated as he tried to work his way into points. But as Sinner continued blasting through the court in the second set, Schwartzman showed his appreciation for his opponent’s level by giving him a thumbs up.


Sinner saved the two break points he faced and lost just two first-serve points (21/23) in a comprehensive serving performance. But his returning was also impressive, as he won 53 per cent of his return points and broke Schwartzman four times in his one-hour, 16-minute triumph.

“I think I can be very proud about the level I played,” Sinner said. “In the other way, tomorrow I go to Vienna. There’s another tournament already. There are different conditions. I won in Washington and then I lost first round in Toronto. I’m trying to not [let] this happen in Vienna, hopefully. It’s going to be a tough opponent [against Reilly Opelka].”

The Argentine was trying to claim his second ATP Tour title of the season (also Buenos Aires) and his first career trophy on an indoor hard court. Like Sinner, Schwartzman did not lose a set on his way to the championship match.

Did You Know?
Sinner is the fifth player to win at least four tour-level titles this year, joining Casper Ruud (5), Novak Djokovic (4), Daniil Medvedev (4) and Alexander Zverev (4).

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Mahut & Martin Cruise To Antwerp Doubles Title

  • Posted: Oct 24, 2021

Frenchmen Nicolas Mahut and Fabrice Martin clinched their first ATP Tour doubles title as a team on Sunday in resounding fashion with a 6-0, 6-1 win against Dutchmen Wesley Koolhof and Jean-Julien Rojer in the European Open final.

Mahut typically plays with Pierre-Hugues Herbert, and Martin competes alongside Jeremy Chardy. But they meshed well together in Belgium, earning the crown without losing a set.

“I was very happy that Nico offered me to play. He’s always been a model and someone to follow because his results are unbelievable. Since I’ve played doubles, he’s always been someone I’ve looked at,” Martin said. “Today to win with him is something really nice, because we got on really well on and off the court. I’m happy that I managed to play well as well next to him, so it was a very good week.”

The second seeds won 60 per cent of their return points and broke their opponents’ serves five times to lift the trophy in Antwerp after 54 minutes. Mahut was happy with the pair’s performance in their third tournament together.

“The week was amazing, like Fabrice said. We actually played the week before the US Open in Winston-Salem and I had a calf injury, so I had to pull out from the second round. But I said to Fabrice, ‘I’ll be ready for Antwerp’,” Mahut said. “We had an amazing week.”

Mahut has made 49 of 51 tour-level finals with Frenchmen, and this was his 34th title. Martin is now a seven-time ATP Tour titlist.

Koolhof and Rojer became full-time partners earlier this year, and the Dutchmen were trying to win their first title together. The third seeds had not lost a set en route to the final.

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Heliovaara/Middelkoop Save 3 MPs, Win Moscow Title

  • Posted: Oct 24, 2021

Harri Heliovaara and Matwe Middelkoop completed their dream debut week as a team on Sunday with a title, overcoming Tomislav Brkic and Nikola Cacic 7-5, 4-6, 11-9 in the VTB Kremlin Cup final.

The unseeded pair won 81 per cent (29/36) of their first-serve points and saved three match points in the Match Tie-Break, rallying from 6/9, before securing their victory after one hour and 44 minutes.

“It is so painful for your opponents that you almost feel it for them, but at the same time you are over the moon with your own emotions,” Heliovaara said. “This is what you play for, for these emotions. The fans also love it when it comes to those moments. The Match Tie-Break brings so much excitement to the game.”

Middelkoop was the reigning champion in Moscow, having triumphed at the ATP 250 event with Marcelo Demoliner in 2019. The 38-year-old has now won 11 ATP Tour doubles crowns, while Heliovaara has clinched two titles at this level. The Finn lifted the trophy in Marseille with Lloyd Glasspool in March.

“I really enjoyed playing with Harri,” Middelkoop said. “Harri is a good personality and a great fighter and he is fresh and is young and wants to learn and we are very appreciative towards each other. I think our games complement each other and I think we did a hell of a job today.”

Fourth seeds Brkic and Cacic were playing in their fourth tour-level final of the season together and were aiming to clinch their second tour-level crown as a team after triumphing in Buenos Aires in March.

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Murray: ’It’s Been Amazing That I’ve Been Able To Get Back'

  • Posted: Oct 24, 2021

Despite some tight defeats over the past month, Andy Murray is feeling encouraged by his recent performances as he looks ahead to competing at the Erste Bank Open.

The Scot has fallen to Top 10 stars Hubert Hurkacz, Casper Ruud and Alexander Zverev since the US Open, before being edged by Diego Schwartzman in Antwerp. However, the former World No. 1 won a mammoth three-hour 45-minute classic against Frances Tiafoe in his opener at the European Open and believes he is moving in the right direction.

“It has been better. From the grass season to the US Open, I played well,” Murray said. “I played better tennis at the US Open. Since then, it has been consistently better each week. It has not been perfect, but most of the matches I have had chances and opportunities in, which certainly wasn’t the case in the grass season and some of the matches I played before the US Open. I have had some decent wins and some tight matches with some top players.”

Murray has been working his way back to top form since he underwent hip surgery in 2019. The former World No. 1 has won the title in Antwerp since then and has secured impressive victories against players such as World No. 4 Alexander Zverev.

“It has been amazing that I have been able to even get back and be playing,” Murray said. “Some of the results I have had, some will go ‘Oh he’s not winning enough against top players or he should be doing better’. But I shouldn’t be doing better than what I am with the situation with my body and what I have been through.

“I don’t think there are many players who would be able to compete with the top five players with a metal hip. I am proud of myself for putting myself in a position to compete with those guys. But ultimately if I want to get back to somewhere close to the level I was at before I need to be winning those matches.”


Murray has fond memories in Vienna, having won the title at the ATP 500 event in 2014 and 2016. The wild card will begin his campaign against Hurkacz, against whom he lost in Cincinnati and Metz this season.

“I need to be a bit more clinical and ruthless when my opportunities come,” Murray said. “That was one of the things when I was right at the top of the game was a strong part of my game and I need to get back to that. When my opportunities come, I am going to take them and be clinical. Finish those sets off when you get ahead and not think that more chances are going to come along because when you play the top players, you don’t get loads.”

The World No. 172 will be joined by countryman Cameron Norrie in Vienna. The 26-year-old won his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells, cracking the Top 20 of the FedEx ATP Rankings with his victory.

Murray heaped praise on the British No. 1, who is 10th in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin as he bids to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals.

“Cameron Norrie has had a fantastic season and has done really well,” Murray said. “I don’t think he had ever made it to the quarter-finals of a Masters series before, so to come through and win it is a brilliant result for him and great for British tennis. If I finish tomorrow, I would feel comfortable that British tennis would be in a good spot.”

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Musetti Earns Chance To Thrill Home Fans In Milan

  • Posted: Oct 24, 2021

Lorenzo Musetti is the sixth player to qualify for the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, to be played from 9-13 November.

The Italian will make his debut at the 21-and-under-tournament after enjoying a standout year in which he rose from No. 128 in the FedEx ATP Rankings to a career-high No. 57 in September.

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Tsitsipas-Dimitrov Blockbuster Headlines Vienna Draw

  • Posted: Oct 24, 2021

Top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and Grigor Dimitrov will meet in a first-round blockbuster at the Erste Bank Open, it was revealed at the ATP 500’s draw ceremony on Saturday.

Tsitsipas fell to the Bulgarian in three sets in the second round in Vienna last year on his main draw debut at the event. The pair are level at 1-1 in their ATP Head2Head series, with the Greek winning their other meeting at Roland Garros in 2020.

The World No. 3 could face Argentine Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-finals, who faces a stiff test in his opening match against Fabio Fognini. Schwartzman has fond memories in Vienna, having reached the final in 2019.

View Vienna Draw

With the FedEx ATP Race To Turin heating up, ninth-placed (2,955 points) Hubert Hurkacz will look to continue his bid to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, starting against former World No. 1 Andy Murray.

Hurkacz leads the Scot 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series, recently defeating the wild card in Cincinnati and Metz. The winner could face #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in the second round, with the Umag champion beginning against last year’s semi-finalist Daniel Evans.


Norway’s Casper Ruud is seventh in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin (3,015) and will face South African Lloyd Harris in the first round. Ruud, who is the fourth seed in Vienna, leads Harris 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series, overcoming the World No. 32 in Indian Wells earlier this month.

The 22-year-old is seeded to face fellow Turin contender Jannik Sinner in the quarter-finals. The Italian, who is 11th (2,745), opens against Toronto finalist Reilly Opelka in what will be their first meeting.

Second seed Alexander Zverev will begin his tournament against Filip Krajinovic and third-seeded Italian Matteo Berrettini will play a qualifier. Indian Wells champion Cameron Norrie starts against Hungarian Marton Fucsovics, while sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime faces Ricardas Berankis.

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