Tag: adrian andreev

ATP 250 wraps: Humbert saves match points as Popyrin win ensures all-Australian quarter final

THERE were some huge results across the ATP Tour’s three tournaments played in France, Argentina and Singapore, as we wrap up the day’s action below.

Ugo Humbert overcame multiple match points to put away Dutch qualifier Tallon Griekspoor in a thrilling match of the day in the Open Sud de France at Monypellier. In three nail-biting tiebreakers, Humbert lost the first one 7-4, then backed up with 7-5 and 7-5 in the final two tiebreakers, but it was Humbert’s fighting spirit looking down and out midway through the second set that shone through. The Frenchman was 7-6 5-2 down and had to fight off three match points in the ninth game to fight off the 160th ranked Griekspoor.

In a match that lasted two hours and 50 minutes, Humbert served one more ace (10-9) and two less double faults (2-4) as well as a superior 83 to 74 per cent first serve points success rate. In the end just seven points separated the players, with Humbert converting one of two break points in that second set, and saving eight of nine in a terrific defensive effort throughout the match.

“It was tough today. [Griekspoor] played at a great level,” Humbert said post-match. “I tried to stay combative. It was tough. [We played] three tie-breaks and I am super happy to win this match.”

Also having a fight on his hands, second seed Belgian David Goffin survived a thriller against French wildcard Benjamin Bonzi. Goffin has not been in the greatest form of late, but showed equal fighting spirit to come from a set down to win in three. The Belgian crucially broke the Frenchman in the eleventh game of the deciding set to successfully serve for the match, 4-6 6-4 7-5 after saving a break point in the final game.

Seventh seed Lorenzo Sonego made his way into the quarter finals with a straight sets win over American Sebastian Korda. The Italian had an easier time of it than his fellow seeds, getting up 6-3 6-2 to book his spot in the final eight.

Meanwhile in other results, the remaining three Round of 32 matches were completed with a couple of upsets. Slovenian Aljaz Bedene upset Italian young gun Jannik Sinner in a come-from-behind win 6-7 7-6 7-6, and French qualifier Gregoire Barrere set Georgian Top 40 talent Nikoloz Basilashvili packing in straight sets, 6-4 6-4. In the other first round match, Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina had to navigate three sets to knock off compatriot and qualifier, Berabe Zapata Miralles 7-6 5-7 6-2.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE ROUND OF 16:

[6] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated [Q] Tallon Griekspoor (NED) 6-7 7-6 7-6
[7] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated Sebastian Korda (USA) 6-3 6-2
[2] David Goffin (BEL) defeated [WC] Benjamin Bonzi (FRA) 4-6 6-4 7-5

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE ROUND OF 32:

Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated [5] Jannik Sinner (ITA) 3-6 6-2 7-6
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated [Q] Berabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) 7-6 5-7 6-2
[Q] Gregoire Barrere (FRA) defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-4 6-4

 

The first four players are through to the quarter finals in Singapore, with three seeds joining Australian Alexei Popyrin in the final eight. Thanks to Popyrin winning, it has guaranteed an Australian will make the semi-finals, with the other two remaining Aussies – second seed John Millman and wildcard Matthew Ebden – facing off later today to take on Popyrin in the quarter finals.

Popyrin fought hard to overcome Bulgarian wildcard Adrian Andreev, 6-1 5-7 6-3 to book his spot in the quarter finals. Also making their way into the last eight were a trio of seeds, with the third, fourth and fifth seeds all winning. Third seed Marin Cilic accounted for Japan’s Taro Daniel 7-5 6-4, while fourth seed Alexander Bublik and fifth seed Yoshihito Nishioka brushed aside Turkish qualifier Altug Celikbilek and American Maxime Cressy in straight sets respectively.

The last of the Round of 32 matches were also completed yesterday, with eighth seed Soonwoo Kwon surviving a thriller against United States qualifier, Thai-Son Kwiatkowski 4-6 6-3 6-4 to move into the second round. In the other results, Ebden defeated Indian Yuli Bhambri in straight sets 6-3 7-6, while Italian Roberto Marcora earned a date with top seed Adrian Mannarino later today after taking care of Latvian Ernests Gulbis, 7-5 6-4.

SINGAPORE OPEN ROUND OF 16:

[3] Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated Taro Daniel (JPN) 7-5 6-4
[4] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated [Q] Altug Celikbilek (TUR) 6-2 6-2
[5] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated Maxime Cressy (USA) 6-4 6-2
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [WC] Adrian Andreev (BUL) 6-1 5-7 6-3

SINGAPORE OPEN ROUND OF 32:

[8] Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) defeated [Q] Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (USA) 4-6 6-3 6-4
Roberto Marcora (ITA) defeated Ernests Gulbis (LAT) 7-5 6-4
[WC] Matthew Ebden (AUS) defeated [PR] Yuli Bhambri (IND) 6-3 7-6

 

There were plenty of fans who went home happy from the Cordoba Open, with six of the nine winners on the opening day coming from Argentina. The three other winners did not knock off an Argentinian either, so the maximum amount of talent from the host nation advanced through to the Round of 16, which allowed a minimum of two Argentinians to reach the quarter finals after setting up all-Argentinian Round of 16 matches.

Federico Coria caused the upset of the day, bundling out sixth seed German Dominik Koepfer in straight sets, 6-1 6-4. He advanced through to the next round to face compatriot and wildcard, Francisco Cerundolo. The 135th ranked Cerundolo upstaged Italian Gianluca Mager, coming back from a set down to win, 6-7 6-1 6-4.

Facundo Bagnis will get plenty of experience against his fellow Argentinians, having defeated wildcard Nicolas Kicker in straight sets in the first round, and will face eighth seed Federico Delbonis in the Round of 16. The qualifier defeated Kicker 6-1 6-4 to set up the Delbonis meeting, with the seed knocking off Portugal’s Pedro Sousa for the Round of 16 spot.

Another qualifier to advance through to the Round of 16 was Juan Manuel Cerundolo who toppled Brazilian young gun Thiago Seyboth Wild. Winning in two eight sets 7-5 7-6, Cerundolo will now have the tough task of taking on third seed Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic who had a bye in the opening round. Meanwhile Tomas Martin Etcheverry booked his Round of 16 spot with an upset win over Slovenia’s Andrej Martin, 6-3 7-6 and will take on Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the next match.

Other winners on the day was Thiago Monteiro who won through thanks to a straight sets victory over compatriot and lucky loser, Brazilian Joao Menezes, 6-3 6-3. Italian Marco Cecchinato advanced through to take on top seed Diego Schwartzman with a 6-2 4-6 6-1 win over Bolivian Hugo Dellien, while Robert Carballes Baena was too strong for Joao Sousa, winning 6-3 6-1 and the Spaniard will now take on Monteiro in the next round.

CORDOBA OPEN ROUND OF 32:

Federico Coria (ARG) defeated [6] Dominik Koepfer (GER) 6-1 6-4
[7] Thiago Monteiro (BRA) defeated [LL] Joao Menezes (BRA) 6-3 6-3
[8] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Pedro Sousa (POR) 6-4 6-4
Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated Hugo Dellien (BOL) 6-2 4-6 6-1
Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) defeated Joao Sousa (POR) 6-3 6-1
[Q] Facundo Bagnis (ARG) defeated [WC] Nicolas Kicker (ARG) 6-1 6-4
[Q] Tomas Martin Etcheverry (ARG) defeated Andrej Martin (SLO) 6-3 7-6
[WC] Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) defeated Gianluca Mager (ITA) 6-7 6-1 6-4
[Q] Juan Manuel Cerundolo (ARG) defeated Thiago Seyboth Wild (BRA) 7-5 7-6

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP 250s wraps: Tsonga beaten on return as Popyrin claims win in Singapore

GRAND SLAM finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made his long-awaited return to the ATP Tour at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier yesterday, though it did not go plan. The former Top 10 talent was easily beaten by American Sebastian Korda in the first round of the ATP 250 event.

The match lasted just 72 minutes with Korda claiming the spoils, 6-4 6-2, dominating on serve and only dropping eight points in total, saving both of his opponent’s break point opportunities. Tsonga was far from his best, but getting through the match was the key, still winning 69 per cent of his first serve points, and serving five aces throughout the match. He saved three of six break points, but ultimately could not do enough against a player who has built form over the past 12 months.

It was better news for sixth seed Ugo Humbert, whose rise up the ATP Rankings continues following his straight sets win over Slovakian Norbert Gombos. Humbert won 6-4 7-6 in 78 minutes, slamming home 18 aces and winning 88 per cent of his first serve points off an elite 79 per cent efficiency to never give his opponent a chance. In Gombos’ defence, he held up well, actually breaking Humbert once from two chances, while the Frenchman broke him from both his opportunities. Overall the class of Humbert stood out and he advanced to the Round of 16.

In the final match played on day one of the main draw event, seventh seed Lorenzo Sonego battled past young Frenchman Hugo Gaston. The Italian won 6-3 6-7 6-1, holding his nerve in the third set after dropping the second set tiebreaker 9-7, to win in two hours and 19 minutes. He served seven aces and broke six times from 12 chances, while only being broken three times himself.

In today’s action, there are plenty more Frenchman on show, with Lucas Pouille taking on compatriot and wildcard Benjamin Bonzi, while Gilles Simon faces Austrian Dennis Novak. The match of the day could be either British wildcard and Grand Slam winner Andy Murray taking on Belarusian Egor Gerasimov, or Swede Mikael Ymer locking horns with Jiri Vesely.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[6] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Norbert Gombos (SVK) 6-4 7-6
[7] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [WC] Hugo Gaston (FRA) 6-3 6-7 6-1
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 6-4 6-2

Five first round matches were completed in Singapore, with a mixed bag for the two seeds on court. Fifth seed Japanese counter puncher Yoshihito Nishioka defeated improving American Michael Mmoh 6-2 3-6 6-3, while seventh seed South African Lloyd Harris went down in three sets to Bulgarian wildcard Adrian Andreev.

Nishioka needed almost two hours to defeat Mmoh, surviving 11 aces to bring up 10 break point opportunities, albeit only taking three. It was two more than Mmoh who broke once in the second set, but could not do it again in the match. Meanwhile Andreev took two hours and 19 minutes to knock off the fast-serving Harris, not needing to serve and ace and even holding off 12 of 15 break point chances for the South African to win 1-6 6-3 6-4. The Bulgarian bounced back from a disappointing first set to post the impressive win over the developing Harris.

Andreev now takes on Australian Alexei Popyrin who knocked off American qualifier, Christopher Eubanks in two tiebreakers, 7-6 7-6, both of which were 7-5 tiebreakers. The match lasted one hour and 46 minutes, with Popyrin powering home 15 aces and saving 10 of 11 break points in a remarkable feat. He won 72 per cent of his first serve points, and also only broke Eubanks once, holding firm in the crucial tiebreakers to claim a narrow straight sets win.

In other Singapore results, United States’ Maxime Cressy became his nation’s sole winner on the day, downing Chinese Taipei’s Jason Jung in straight sets 7-6 6-2, while Japan’s Taro Daniel joined compatriot Nishioka in the second round after a tight three-set win over India’s Ramkumar Ramanathan, 6-3 6-7 6-3.

In today’s action, three Australians are out on court, with Marc Polmans up first against Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama. Following that match, qualifier John-Patrick Smith has to find a way to upstage sixth seed Macedonian Radu Albot, before James Duckworth takes to the court at night against German, Yannick Hanfmann.

SINGAPORE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated Michael Mmoh (USA) 6-2 3-6 6-3
[WC] Adrian Andreev (BUL) defeated [7] Lloyd Harris (RSA) 1-6 6-3 6-4
Maxime Cressy (USA) defeated Jason Jung (TAI) 7-6 6-2
Taro Daniel (JPN) defeated Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND) 6-3 6-7 6-3
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [Q] Christopher Eubanks (USA) 7-6 7-6

At the time of publishing, none of the day one matches had been completed in Cordoba, with the Argentinian tournament finishing off the third round of qualifying earlier in the day. The night session featured two Round of 32 matches which will be covered in tomorrow’s wrap, with Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan facing Slovakian Jozef Kovalik, followed by Spaniard Jaume Munar taking on Chilean wildcard Nicolas Jarry.

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Antalya & Delray Beach wraps: Polarising days at two men’s tournaments

ANOTHER big day at the Antalya Open saw mostly a clean sweep from the top players, bar an excellent win from Frenchman Jeremy Chardy who downed third seed Fabio Fognini in the lone three-setter of the day. Three tiebreak sets told the tale of the almost-three hour 7-6 6-7 7-6 matchup, with Chardy reigning supreme in the tight encounter.

But while Fognini was unsuccessful, all six remaining seeds maintained control in their respective matches, with top seed Matteo Berrettini, second seed Belgian David Goffin and Australian Alex de Minaur collecting solid wins on their way to the quarter finals. Berrettini and de Minaur took on a duo of qualifying Bulgarians in Dimitar Kuzmanov and Adrian Andreev to come away with respective straight sets wins, while fifth seed German Jan-Lennard Struff arguably came away with the easiest result of the day – not taking the court due to a wallkover from Frenchman Hugo Grenier.

Stefano TravagliaAlexander Bublik and Nikoloz Basilashvili also joined the winners list in tighter battles than the aforementioned matches, set to continue their solid form in the next round.

ANTALYA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated [Q] Dimitar Kuzmanov (BUL) 6-2 6-3
[2] David Goffin (BEL) defeated Nicola Kuhn (ESP) 6-0 6-2
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) defeated [3] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 7-6 6-7 7-6
[4] Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated [Q] Adrian Andreev (BUL) 6-3 6-1
[5] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated Hugo Grenier (FRA) W/O
[6] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [WC] Altug Celikbilek (TUR) 7-6 6-4
Stefano Travaglia (ITA) defeated Tristan Lamasine (FRA) 6-2 6-4
[8] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 7-6 6-3

At the Delray Beach Open, things went a little different to both Turkey’s proceedings and its own Round of 32 results, with plenty of homegrown American talent falling prior to the quarter finals. Four seeds fell too, with two of the players offered byes due to their seeding – Adrian Mannarino and Cristian Garin – falling to lower ranked opposition.

Top seed Garin was blown out of the water by American qualifier Christian Harrison, with the tight first set going the way of the developing talent, who ranks outside the top 700, before Harrison took out the second in convincing fashion to win 7-6 6-2. Cameron Norrie came away with the chocolates against Mannarino, while American seeded pair Tommy Paul and Sam Querrey were the additional seeds to fall in the Round of 16, with qualifying compatriot Sebastian Korda and Italian Gianluca Mager joining the winners list in the process. Korda’s win against Paul marked his first ATP quarter finals berth.

“It’s special [to make the quarter-finals],” Korda said. “The last time I played here I won the [Boys] 18s Clay Courts, so I have some good memories from here. It’s a special place and the crowd.”

As for the successful seeds, Americans John Isner (second) and Frances Tiafoe (eighth) both came away with quality wins, with the latter defeating a fellow compatriot Bjorn Fratangelo, while fourth seed Hubert Hurkacz and qualifier Roberto Quiroz also reigned supreme in their respective matches.

DELRAY BEACH ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [3] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-2 7-5
[Q] Christian Harrison (USA) defeated [1] Cristian Garin (CHI) 7-6 6-2
[2] John Isner (USA) defeated Thiago Monteiro (BRA) 6-4 7-6
[4] Hubert Hurkacz (HUN) defeated Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) 6-2 6-2
[Q] Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated [5] Tommy Paul (USA) 4-6 6-3 6-2
Gianluca Mager (ITA) defeated [6] Sam Querrey (USA) 7-6 6-1
[8] Frances Tiafoe (USA) defeated Bjorn Fratangelo (USA) 6-4 3-6 6-1
[Q] Roberto Quiroz (COL) defeated Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 6-2 6-4

ATP Antalya & Delray Beach wraps: Top talents advance largely unchallenged

SEVEN of the eight seeds at the Antalya Open moved through to the second round, with only two of them needing to fight it out in three sets. The only losing seed to conclude the Round of 32 in Turkey was Miomir Kecmanovic, who, after winning the first set 6-1, fell away in a disappointing display to Italian Stefano Travaglia, 1-6 6-4 6-0.

It was a relatively good day for the Italians, with all five involved either being a seed or facing a seed, as top three talents Matteo Berrettini and Fabio Fognini had no troubles advancing in straight sets. Berrettini knocked off Turkish wildcard Ergi Kirkin 6-0 6-4, while Fognini fought off a determined Michael Vrbensky to win against the Czech qualifier, 6-4 7-6. Meanwhile the news was not as good for compatriots, Andrea Arnaboldi and Salvatore Caruso. Arnaboldi took sixth seed Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili to three sets but lost 4-6 7-5 6-1, while Caruso went down to Kazakh eighth seed Alexander Bublik, 6-3 6-3.

Second seed David Goffin had the toughest time of all the seeds, having to fight back from a set down and five match points in the second set to post a 3-6 7-5 6-0 win over Frenchman, Pierre-Hugues Herbert. Fellow seeds, Alex de Minaur and Jan-Lennard Struff did not have the same problem trouncing respective opponents, Malek Jaziri and Pavel Kotov in straight sets.

Looking at the unseeded matches, Bulgaria had a couple of winners with qualifying duo, Adrian Andreev and Dimitar Kuzmanov both advancing through. Andreev knocked off Turkish representative Marsel Ilhan, while Kuzmanov down Serbia’s Laslo Djere who was forced to retire midway through the second set. Also forced to retire during the match was German qualifier, Matthias Bachinger who went down to Spaniard Nicola Kuhn.

It was much better news for the French, who had all three unseeded representatives in Jeremy Chardy, Hugo Grenier and Tristan Lamasine advancing with wins, the latter particularly impressive by knocking over Belarusian Egor Gerasimov, 7-6 6-2. Other Round of 32 winners in Turkey were home nation hero Altug Celikbilek and Finland young gun Emil Ruusuvuori.

ANTALYA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated [WC] Ergi Kirkin (TUR) 6-0 6-4
[2] David Goffin (BEL) defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 3-6 7-5 6-0
[3] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated [Q] Michael Vrbensky (CZE) 6-4 7-6
[4] Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated Malek Jaziri (TUN) 6-2 6-1
[5] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [Q] Pavel Kotov (RUS) 6-4 6-3
[6] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated Andrea Arnaboldi (ITA) 4-6 7-5 6-1
Stefano Travaglia (ITA) defeated [7] Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 1-6 6-4 6-0
[8] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-3 6-3
[Q] Adrian Andreev (BUL) defeated [WC] Marsel Ilhan (TUR) 6-4 6-3
[WC] Altug Celikbilek (TUR) defeated Kacper Zuk (POL) 7-6 7-5
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) defeated Radu Albot (MOL) 6-3 6-4
Hugo Grenier (FRA) defeated [Q] Alex Molvan (SVK) 7-5 6-4
Nicola Kuhn (ESP) defeated [Q] Matthias Bachinger (GER) 3-6 6-3 4-1 RET
[Q] Dimitar Kuzmanov (BUL) defeated Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-1 3-2 RET
Tristan Lamasine (FRA) defeated Egor Gerasimov (BLR) 7-6 6-2
Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) defeated Jiri Vesely (CZE) 6-3 7-6

There was no shortage of successful United States winners at Delray Beach with all three seeds going through, as well as three additional rising talents. Fifth seed Tommy Paul knocked off South Korea’s Ji Sung Nam 6-1 6-4, sixth seed Sam Querrey toppled compatriot Mackenzie McDonald 6-3 6-4, and eighth seed Frances Tiafoe rolled past another compatriot in qualifier Donald Young, 6-3 6-4.

Qualifier Christian Harrison, and other Americans Bjorn Fratangelo and Sebastian Korda all won through to the Round of 16. Korda had an impressive win over South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon 6-4 6-4 to book his spot in the next stage. The news was not as good for three other United States’ representatives, going down in their respective matches. Wildcards Ryan Harrison, JC Aragone and Noah Rubin lost to Gianluca Mager, Cameron Norrie and Roberto Quiroz.

With United States players on court in all bar three games, there was plenty to enjoy for the home nation fans on the stream. In the three non-United States games, Croatian veteran Ivo Karlovic knocked off Spanish seventh seed Pablo Andujar in three sets 6-3 5-7 6-4. In the other results, Thiago Monteiro won the all-Brazilian clash over Thomaz Bellucci 6-3 7-5, and Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan defeated Slovakian Andrej Martin 6-4 6-4.

DELRAY BEACH ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Tommy Paul (USA) defeated Ji Sung Nam (KOR) 6-1 6-4
[6] Sam Querrey (USA) defeated Mackenzie McDonald (USA) 6-3 6-4
Ivo Karlovic (CRO) defeated [7] Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-3 5-7 6-4
[8] Frances Tiafoe (USA) defeated [Q] Donald Young (USA) 6-3 6-4
Bjorn Fratangelo (USA) defeated [Q] Kevin King (USA) 6-2 6-2
Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) defeated Andrej Martin (SVK) 6-4 6-4
[Q] Christian Harrison (USA) defeated Tomas Martin Etcheverry (ARG) 6-4 6-2
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 6-4 6-4
Gianluca Mager (ITA) defeated [WC] Ryan Harrison (USA) 3-6 6-1 6-4
Thiago Monteiro (BRA) defeated Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) 6-3 7-5
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [WC] JC Aragone (USA) 6-2 6-1
[Q] Roberto Quiroz (COL) defeated [WC] Noah Rubin (USA) 7-6 6-3

Canadian, Australian duo lead field into Sofia Open

IN what will be the final event of the ATP Tour year – barring the invite-only ATP Finals – a young Canadian duo and Australia’s top two ranked men’s players are among the seeds at the Sofia Open. Held in Bulgaria, there is enough top-end talent and some tough competitors at the event to make it an entertaining contest. There is no Next-Gen Finals series this year, which has allowed a host of Next-Gen eligible players to enter the tournament.

Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Alex de Minaur are the top three seeds and would have been eligible for the Next-Gen finals series, whilst reigning Next-Gen champion Jannik Sinner is also in the draw. The top four seeds – including Jan-Lennard Struff – have byes in the first round, with three of the other four seeds either playing a qualifier or wildcard. Fifth seed Frenchman Adrian Mannarino takes on a qualifier in the first round, with sixth seed John Millman facing Bulgarian wildcard Adrian Andreev, and eighth seed Croatian Marin Cilic locking horns with Czech wildcard Jonas Forejtek. Seventh seed Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili is the outlier, having to take on unseeded but automatic entrant, Italian Stefano Travaglia.

Picking a winner here is difficult. Shapovalov should be the standout competitor as the only player ranked inside the top 20. But the Canadian world number 12 is coming off back-to-back shockers, losing to Frenchman Gilles Simon in Cologne, then Austrian wildcard Jurij Rodionov in Vienna. The latter 6-4 7-5 loss was his most disappointing since being humbled by compatriot Vasek Pospisil back in Montpellier at the start of the year.

Shapovalov will know plenty about playing the other top two contenders, having lost to de Minaur twice in the past 12 months – in the Davis Cup and then again in the ATP Cup. But after that latter defeat, Shapovalov beat Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev in straight sets. But therein lies the issue. He is better against the power hitters than the grinders, which is why he would perform strongly against Auger-Aliassime but struggle against the likes of de Minaur and Struff – who also beat him earlier this year in Cincinnati. If you look at some of his wins in the past couple of months – Grigor Dimitrov and Stan Wawrinka –  compared to some of his losses – Pablo Carreno-Busta and Roberto Carballes Baena – it further affirms these claims.

The third seed de Minaur could argue to be favourite as he excels on hard courts. His form is good, having reached the quarter finals at the US Open, as well the Round of 16 at the Paris Masters. He ran into eventual US Open winner Dominic Thiem and third seed Daniil Medvedev in those tournaments respectively. His dominant performance over the in-form Lorenzo Sonego two starts back was mighty impressive and he could well get the job done here.

Auger-Aliassime has not quite backed up his breakout 2019, but he has been solid nonetheless. Possessing a 23-18 record, the Canadian young gun will be hoping to reverse a run of three straight losses since reaching the semi-finals at Cologne. Prior to his first round losses to Pospisil in Vienna and Cilic in Paris, Auger-Aliassime reached the final of the Cologne Indoors, then the semis of the Cologne Championships, stringing together five wins in six matches. Like de Minaur, it should suit him here, but he has a likely match with Cilic in the quarter finals which he will need to turn around the result from their last clash.

Those three are clearly the standouts in the tournament, but Sinner has to be considered as a genuine chance at this event. Since the Rome Masters, Sinner has looked a different player to the one that was inconsistent to start the year. The Italian teenager won the Next-Gen Finals then a Challenger event 12 months ago, before free-falling into a 6-10 record for 2020 prior to Rome. Even his six wins came against pretty ordinary opponents aside from David Goffin, with the 50th ranked Radu Albot the next highest scalp back in Rotterdam. Since Rome, Sinner has won 10-4 and turned his form around, with 22nd ranked Dimitrov the lowest loss, with the others being ATP Finals entrants, Rafael Nadal, Andrey Rublev and Zverev.

Among the other contenders are Astana Open championMillman and finalist Mannarino who both feature here. Mannarino could play Shapovalov in the quarter finals, whilst Millman has an easier draw with Struff in his quarter and likely to reach the semis if he plays to his potential. Sinner has a first-up tough encounter against Marton Fucsovics who is a hot-and-cold player but his best is good enough, while Egor Gerasimov and Pospisil can never be discounted from events of this quality.

Picture: Simon Bruty/USTA