Scouting Report: 20 Things To Watch In Shenzhen & Chengdu
For the first time in 2018, the ATP World Tour travels to China, with two exciting ATP World Tour 250-level events taking place this week.
Andy Murray, the inaugural titlist in 2014, and defending champion David Goffin return to the Shenzhen Open for the tournament’s fifth edition. A trio of #NextGenATP stars — Stefanos Tsitsipas, Denis Shapovalov and Alex de Minaur — are also in the field.
A new champion will be crowned at the Chengdu Open, where the field features seven players who have captured tour-level titles this season. Italian Fabio Fognini, who has already triumphed three times this campaign, is the top seed. Defending titlist Denis Istomin and 2016 champion Karen Khachanov are not in the draw.
View Draws: Shenzhen | Chengdu
10 THINGS TO WATCH IN SHENZHEN
1) Comeback Continues: Shenzhen marks the sixth event and his first-round encounter will be the 10th match of Murray’s comeback from right hip surgery, which he underwent in January. The former World No. 1 is 5-4 since his return in June, but has shown signs of his top level with victories over former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka and British No. 1 Kyle Edmund.
2) Murray Memories: Murray was also a wild card at the 2014 Shenzhen Open, winning his first title of the season in spectacular fashion. The Brit saved five championship points to defeat Tommy Robredo. Four weeks later, Murray saved five match points to edge Robredo in the Valencia final.
3) David’s Defence: Much like Murray in 2014, Goffin followed his title run at the 2017 Shenzhen Open by qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals. At the year-end championships, the Belgian beat both No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 2 Roger Federer before falling in a three-set final to Grigor Dimitrov. He will try to win his fifth tour-level championship this week.
4) Borna Identity: Borna Coric of Croatia was 18 years old when he entered the Top 40 of the ATP Rankings. Yet, he has come of age in 2018, arriving in Shenzhen with a 31-15 record and a Top 20 ranking. The 21-year-old was victorious in Halle.
5) Next is Now: Three #NextGenATP stars are seeded in Shenzhen, led by Greek No. 2 seed Tsitsipas. The 20-year-old broke into the Top 15 in August following a fourth-round run at Wimbledon and four wins against Top 10 opponents en route to the Toronto final. Tsitsipas is the first Greek player to ever be ranked that high, reach the Round of 16 at a Grand Slam and play for an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 championship.
6) Winning Feeling: Like Tsitsipas and Coric, No. 6 seed Shapovalov has earned 30 wins in a season for the first time. Though the 19-year-old is still seeking his first final at tour-level, he became both the youngest quarter-finalist and semi-finalist in Madrid tournament history in May.
7) Youth is Served: Fellow 19-year-old De Minaur has reached two finals this year, including in Washington, D.C., where four players under the age of 22 comprised the semi-finals for the first time on tour since Buenos Aires in 1995. No. 7 seed De Minaur also advanced to the final in his hometown of Sydney.
8) Chinese Hopes: Joining Murray as wild cards in Shenzhen are Chinese players Wu Di and Zhang Zhizhen. Wu is the last player from China to win a match on the ATP World Tour (2017 Shanghai). Zhang is the last player from China to reach an ATP World Tour quarter-final (2017 Shenzhen).
9) Success In China: Former World No. 1 doubles player Max Mirnyi returns to China alongside Philipp Oswald. Mirnyi won the first of his 52 ATP World Tour doubles titles, last of his 16 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 doubles titles, and one of his two Nitto ATP Finals doubles titles at events in Shanghai.
10) First-Time Duo, Top Seeds: The top seeds in the doubles draw, Ben McLachlan and Joe Salisbury, are competing together for the first time. McLachlan has captured one ATP World Tour title (2017 Tokyo), while Salisbury seeks his maiden triumph.
10 THINGS TO WATCH IN CHENGDU
1) Fabulous Fabio: Top seed Fognini returned to a career-high No. 13 in the ATP Rankings on 10 September. The Italian seeks his fourth ATP World Tour 250-level title of 2018 following victories in Sao Paulo, Bastad and Los Cabos. His three trophies this season are the most won by an Italian since 1977.
2) Georgia Pride: Nikoloz Basilashvili won the Hamburg title in July to become the first champion from Georgia in ATP World Tour history, also becoming the highest-ranked player ever from his country. He peaked at No. 31 on 10 September after becoming the first Georgian to reach the US Open fourth round.
3) One of a Kind: Former World No. 6 Gael Monfils started the season with his seventh ATP World Tour title at Doha. Just 19-15 in tour-level matches since then, Monfils arrives in Chengdu after playing an ATP Challenger Tour event for the first time in five years and second time in a decade. Monfils lifted the title in Kaohsiung, Taiwan as a wild card and the No. 1 seed.
4) Champs in Chengdu: Also playing in Chengdu are Estoril champion Joao Sousa, Eastbourne titlist Mischa Zverev and Gstaad winner Matteo Berrettini.
5) Matteo On A Roll: It was a dream week for Berrettini in the Swiss Alps, where he did not drop a set en route to his first quarter-final, semi-final, final and title. Berrettini also won the Gstaad doubles title with countryman Daniele Bracciali, and triumphed in St. Petersburg last week with Fognini.
6) Asian Sensation: Still seeking the first tour-level final of his career is Hyeon Chung of South Korea. Chung has reached the quarter-finals or semi-finals at nine events this season, highlighted by a victory over six-time champion Novak Djokovic en route to the Australian Open semi-finals. Chung won the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in 2017.
7) One Year Later: Yibing Wu of China made his ATP World Tour debut at the 2017 Chengdu Open after sweeping the US Open boys’ singles and Shanghai Challenger titles. Still only 18 years old, Wu returns to Chengdu after breaking into the Top 300 of the ATP Rankings on 10 September.
8) Same Story: World No. 1 junior Chun Hsin Tseng will make his ATP World Tour debut this week. The 17-year-old from Chinese Taipei went 21-2 at the junior Grand Slams with titles at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Tseng was the Australian Open runner-up and a US Open semi-finalist.
9) Croatia United: Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic had not played together all season before falling in a fifth-set tie-break during the Davis Cup semi-finals on 15 September. Despite that loss, Croatia advanced to November’s final against France. Dodig and Pavic will team up again in Chengdu.
10) Adrian’s Pursuit: Adrian Mannarino has reached five ATP World Tour finals in his career, and has climbed as high as No. 22 in the ATP Rankings. The fourth-seeded Frenchman is pursuing his maiden title this week.