Just three ATP Tour events remain this year before the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan and the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin, two of which will be played this coming week.
The Swiss Indoors Basel and the Erste Bank Open in Vienna will provide some of the final opportunities for players to jockey for qualification for the year-end events, with the Milan field being finalised after this week’s play.
Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud lead the field in Basel, while Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas are the top seeds in Vienna.
ATPTour.com looks ahead at five things to watch from each event.
View Draws: Basel | Vienna
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN BASEL:
1) Alcaraz Returns: Playing in his second ATP Tour event since claiming the US Open title and reaching World No. 1, the Spaniard will look to bounce back from a shock first-round exit in Astana earlier this month. The top seed in Basel will contest an intriguing opening-round match against #NextGen ATP Briton Jack Draper as he bids to strengthen his position atop the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
2) Refreshed Ruud: The Norwegian rose to a career-high No. 2 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings following his run to the US Open final, but Ruud struggled to a 1-2 record in his past two events, making early exits as the top seed in Seoul and Tokyo. With the benefit of three full weeks off to recharge, the 23-year-old will be put to the test immediately in Basel as he opens against home favourite Stan Wawrinka, a two-time Swiss Indoors Basel semi-finalist.
3) Red-Hot Felix Chases Turin Debut: The 22-year-old Canadian owns the seventh spot in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, which would be the final qualification place should Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic remain outside the Top 8. Auger-Aliassime enters Basel on the heels of titles in Florence and Antwerp. He will face Switzerland’s Marc-Andrea Huesler in the first round.
4) Veteran Stars Murray, Wawrinka In Bottom Half: While Wawrinka opens against Ruud, Murray will open against Roman Safiullin after Sebastian Korda withdrew. Wawrinka is seeking his first win since a semi-final run in Metz late last month, while Murray reached the Gijon quarter-finals in his last outing, losing to Korda in three sets. Murray is competing in Basel for the first time since 2005, when he was 18.
5) #NextGenATP Party: Lorenzo Musetti, Holger Rune, Draper, Brandon Nakashima and Dominic Stricker are all competing in Basel. Of that group, only Musetti, Rune and Draper have locked in their places at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals. Nakashima is closing in on his second consecutive appearance, while Stricker is trying to make his tournament debut. Naples champion Musetti is seeded eighth in Basel and faces Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the opening round, while Stockholm winner Rune takes on seventh seed Alex de Minaur.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN VIENNA:
1) Medvedev Back After Astana Injury: Medvedev was involved in a match-of-the-year contender against Novak Djokovic earlier this month in the Astana semi-finals, from which he was forced to retire with a pulled adductor muscle in his leg. He returns as the top seed in Vienna and will seek to reproduce the form he showed in Kazakhstan when he takes on Nikoloz Basilashvili in the opening round. Medvedev is fifth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin and looks to seal his Turin spot and pursue a second Nitto ATP Finals title (2020).
2) Tsitsipas Seeks Third Straight Final: The Greek has enjoyed a strong start to the indoor season, reaching finals in Astana and Stockholm. Already confirmed for Turin, Tsitsipas meets Austrian wild card Dennis Novak in the opening round, with Borna Coric a potential second-round opponent in what would be a rematch of the Cincinnati final, which was won by the Croatian.
3) Hometown Thiem: After reaching consecutive semi-finals in Gijon and Antwerp, Dominic Thiem will look continue his resurgence in his native Austria. The 29-year-old will open against American Tommy Paul and could meet Medvedev in a marquee second-round matchup. The 2019 Vienna champion will seek his first tour-level title since winning the 2020 US Open.
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4) Rublev, Fritz Battle For Turin: Andrey Rublev sits in sixth place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, while Taylor Fritz is on the outside looking in as the eighth-placed player. Rublev, who won his fourth title of the year in Gijon, must navigate a difficult opening assignment against Diego Schwartzman while Fritz will start against a qualifier as he seeks his Nitto ATP Finals debut.
5) The Chasing Pack: Behind Rublev and Fritz is another quartet of Turin hopefuls in Vienna. Hubert Hurkacz, Cameron Norrie, Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner are all in position to make a late charge, but need deep runs in both Vienna and Paris to enter the Top 7 in the Race. All four men are seeded at the ATP 500, with Hurkacz drawing the highest-ranked opponent in World No. 17 Frances Tiafoe in the first round.