An amazing Paris fortnight has ended with Nadal winning his 13th French Open and 20th Major, but the ATP is already back with three tournaments this week.
Are you missing the tennis action already? Two weeks in France gave us a scintillating clay court performance from Rafael Nadal, great battles from Djokovic, Schwartzman, and Tsitsipas, as well as a surprising run from rising star Jannik Sinner. While some tennis fans may be sad by the end of Grand Slam season, the ATP Tour has three tournaments this week to nurse your tennis hangover.
In order to battle the cancellations wrought by Covid-19, the ATP added two new tournaments to its October schedule to offer up more points to its players: the Forte Village Sardegna Open and Bett1Hulks Indoors in Cologne. Both of these are, for this year, ATP 250s, with the first being played outdoors on clay and the latter being played on indoor hard courts. Additionally, there is the annual St. Petersburg Open, another indoor hard court tournament, and an ATP 500.
Forte Village Sardegna Open
While the October swing usually means an end to outdoor tennis, the ATP’s new tournament in Cagliari, Sardinia, will be played outdoors on the clay. The Italian Fabio Fognini leads Sardinia’s first main tour field flanked by young players such as American Tommy Paul and Norwegian Casper Ruud, who won his first tour title at the Argentina Open on clay this February.
It will be incredibly interesting to see if the Sardegna Open is plagued by some of the problems that Paris had, such as the colder weather and rain that could easily knock out entire days from an outdoor event. Just as with Cologne, the success of this year’s tournament could elevate the Sardegna Open to permanent status as an ATP 250, or its weak field may prove its undoing.
Fognini is still getting back into his groove after recovering from an injury, so be sure to watch out for a potential upset in his quarter of the draw. Also of note, Lorenzo Musetti, the 18-year-old Italian who upset Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori back-to-back in Rome, will be taking on clay specialist Pablo Cuevas in his first-round match up.
Bett1Hulks Indoors/Cologne 1
Another new tournament, tennis returns to Germany in Cologne with the first of two October editions of the Bett1Hulks Indoors being played this week (a second event will be played in Cologne next week as well). Led by Germany’s own Alexander Zverev, the field also includes fierce competitor Roberto Bautista Agut and young gun Félix Auger-Aliassime. Four more top 32 players round out the draw, and former Grand Slam champion Marin Čilić will also be in attendance.
Other than Zverev, who lost to Sinner in the Round of 16, no player in the Cologne draw made it past the Third Round at Roland Garros. With the end of the season nearing, all players will be out to collect a nice paycheck and a possible 250 points. Be sure to watch out for, perhaps, the best first round match this week from all three tournaments in which Andy Murray attempts to comeback from a harrowing loss in Paris against Fernando Verdasco.
St. Petersburg Open
Played all but one year since 1995, the St. Petersburg Open boasts the strongest field this week, with eight top 32 players in the draw, five of whom are top 20. Daniil Medvedev, last year’s champion, leads the pack, followed by Shapovalov, Rublev, Kachanov, and more. A shot at 500 points in the season’s closing weeks is crucial for both Rublev and Shapovalov’s chances at making their first ATP Tour Finals in London.
Medvedev will want to come out hot after a disappointing first-round loss at the French Open, as will Shapovalov, who lost in the second round in Paris. Rublev looks to continue his solid form on the faster hard courts after winning the German Open in Hamburg and making it to the quarters of the French Open. Undoubtedly, this draw should produce some gems among the NextGen, though Wawrinka and Raonic will try to put the older guard back on top.
Don’t fear just because the Big 3 is out and Grand Slam season is over. These three exciting tournaments will have you pumped for ATP tennis as fall sets in and colder weather arrives.