Scouting Report: Thiem Returns In Cordoba; Zverev & Karatsev Headline Fields In Montpellier & Pune

  • Posted: Jan 30, 2022

The action on the ATP Tour will be spread across three continents this week, with ATP 250 tournaments taking place in Argentina, France and India.

Dominic Thiem and Diego Schwartzman lead the field at the Cordoba Open, while Alexander Zverev is the top seed at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier. Aslan Karatsev will be targetting his second tour-level title of the season at the Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune. looks ahead at 15 things to watch this week.

View Draws: Cordoba | Montpellier | Pune

1) Schwartzman Top Seed: Argentine Schwartzman will lead the way as the top seed on home soil in Cordoba, where he reached the final in 2020. The 29-year-old, who defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup earlier this month, will be making his fourth appearance at the ATP 250 event and starts against countryman Federico Coria or a qualifier.

2) Thiem Returns: Dominic Thiem has not competed at a tour-level event since Mallorca last June due to a wrist injury he sustained while he was in action on the grass in Spain. The former World No. 3 will make his return on the Argentine clay as he makes his debut at the Cordoba Open. The second seed, who has won 10 tour-level titles on this surface, will play Argentine wild card Tomas Martin Etcheverry or a qualifier in the second round.

3) Clay-Court Standouts: With the ATP Tour returning to clay for the first time this year, there are many stars who flourish on the surface relishing the opportunity. Cristian Garin has won five tour-level titles on clay, including in Cordoba in 2020, while Federico Delbonis captured his two trophies at this level on the surface in Sao Paulo in 2014 and Marrakech in 2016. Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas was a finalist at the event last season and has triumphed at three ATP Tour events in his career on clay. All three are in the field this week.

4) Home Favourites: Alongside Schwartzman and Delbonis, there are six other Argentines in the main draw at the Cordoba Open (this does not include potential qualifiers. Sebastian Baez, Facundo Bagnis, Francisco Cerundolo, Federico Coria, Etcheverry and Juan Ignacio Londero will all be targetting deep runs in front of home support. Londero tasted success at the ATP 250 event in 2019, capturing his maiden tour-level crown at the tournament.

5) Sonego To Go Deep? Lorenzo Sonego is the fourth seed in Cordoba and will look to improve on his 2021 performance at the ATP 250 tournament where he reached the second round. However, the Italian, who advanced to the third round at the Australian Open this month, could face a tricky opening test against #NextGenATP Holger Rune of Denmark in his first match if the 18-year-old can overcome Roberto Carballes Baena.

1) Zverev In Action: Zverev has fond memories in Montpellier, having won the title in his last appearance at the ATP 250 event in 2017. The World No. 3 is the top seed after receiving a wild card and will be aiming to bounce back from the fourth-round defeat he suffered against Denis Shapovalov at the Australian Open. The German will play 27-year-old Ilya Ivashka or American Mackenzie McDonald in his opening match.

2) Home Favourite Monfils: Gael Monfils arrives in Montpellier full of confidence following his strong start to the season. The Frenchman captured his 11th tour-level title at the Adelaide International 1 earlier this month, before he advanced to the quarter-finals at the Australian Open.

The 35-year-old has lifted the trophy in Montpellier three times (2010, 2014, 2020) and will aim to enjoy another deep run on home soil as the third seed. He will begin his campaign against countryman Corentin Moutet or Swede Mikael Ymer.

3) Can Bautista Agut Go One Step Further? Second seed Roberto Bautista Agut advanced to the final at the ATP 250 indoor-hard event last year, advancing to the championship match without dropping a set. The Spaniard has already earned Top 20 wins against Garin, Casper Ruud and Hubert Hurkcaz this year at the ATP Cup and will look to maintain his good form against Lucas Pouille or a qualifier in his first match.

4) Field Full Of Past Champions: French pair Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga have lifted the trophy in Montpellier four times between them, with Gasquet triumphing in 2013, 2015 and 2016, while Tsonga was the victor in 2019. The experienced duo begin against seventh seed Ugo Humbert and a qualifier, respectively.

Meanwhile, David Goffin triumphed at the tournament last year. The eighth seed will play Benjamin Bonzi in the first round on Monday.

5) Herbert/Mahut Top Seeds: Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, the reigning Nitto ATP Finals champions, will play their first tournament of the year as a team in Montpellier. The Frenchmen are the top seeds. Mahut lifted the Montpellier trophy in 2012 alongside countryman Edouard Roger-Vasselin. Three-time champion Roger-Vasselin and Israeli Jonathan Erlich, the third seeds, face a tough opening challenge against Zverev and close friend Marcelo Melo.

1) Karatsev Leads The Field: Aslan Karatsev will aim to win his second tour-level title of the season when he competes in Pune for the first time. The Russian, who triumphed at the Sydney Tennis Classic earlier this month, is the top seed and will open against a qualifier in the second round.

2) Is Musetti Ready To Go Deep? #NextGenATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti will look to continue his good work from last season, where he rose from outside the Top 100 in the ATP Rankings to a career-high No. 57. He also competed in the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. The 19-year-old is the second seed and begins his tournament against Australian Aleksandar Vukic or Frenchman Hugo Grenier.

3) Former Champion Returns: Czech Jiri Vesely clinched his second ATP Tour crown in Pune in 2020, winning three three-set matches en route to the trophy. The fourth seed, who will make his fourth appearance at the hard-court tournament, will face Dennis Novak or Bernabe Zapata Miralles in his first match.

4) First-Time Winner? Third seed Gianluca Mager, fifth seed Daniel Altmaier and sixth seed Emil Ruusuvuori will all be aiming to win their first tour-level title this week in India. The trio has captured 11 ATP Challenger Tour trophies between them, but they have never triumphed at this level.

Mager opens against Indian wild card Arjun Kadhe or Portugal’s Joao Sousa, while Altmaier plays another Indian wild card in the form of Prajnesh Gunneswaran. Ruusuvuori kicks off his campaign against Belarusian Egor Gerasimov.

5) Saville/Smith Top Seeds In Doubles: Luke Saville and John-Patrick Smith are the top seeds in the doubles draw and are teaming for the third time this season. The Australians will face stiff competition from second seeds Rohan Bopanna and Ramkumar Ramanathan and third seeds Szymon Walkow and Jan Zielinski. Marc Polmans and Matt Reid are the fourth seeds, with singles stars Musetti (w/Gaio) and Vesely (w/Erler) among those also in doubles action. 

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