30 Things To Watch In Umag, Bastad, Newport
An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week on the ATP World Tour
10 THINGS TO WATCH IN UMAG
1. Back on Clay: The ATP World Tour returns to clay this week with the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag and SkiStar Swedish Open. Headlining in Umag are Top 20 players David Goffin and Gael Monfils, defending champion Fabio Fognini and Croatia’s #NextGenATP superstar Borna Coric.
2. Goffin is Back: Goffin has earned 31 victories this season despite suffering a right ankle injury at Roland Garros that forced him to miss the entire grass-court swing. In February, he became the first Belgian to break into the Emirates ATP Rankings Top 10. Goffin is seeking his first ATP World Tour title since 2014 Metz, having lost his last six finals. He is making his Umag debut this week.
3. Monfils Returns: Like Goffin, Monfils is in search of his first title of the season. The Frenchman fell to 6-20 in finals with a loss to Novak Djokovic at Eastbourne on 1 July. Only one of Monfils' titles – his first at 2005 Sopot – came on clay. He reached the Umag semi-finals in 2013 and 2015.
4. Fognini Turns 10: Fognini and fellow seed Paolo Lorenzi lead a strong contingent from nearby Italy. Fognini is making his 10th straight appearance at Umag, reaching the 2013 final before capturing the title last year. Lorenzi has yet to taste success here, posting a 1-5 tournament record.
5. Coric Comes Home: Coric made his ATP World Tour debut at 2013 Umag and earned his first victory at 2014 Umag. But he missed the event in 2016 after leading Croatia to a road win over the USA in the Davis Cup quarter-finals. Back this week, the 20-year-old Coric hopes to become the third Croatian in the event’s 28-year history to win the title (Goran Prpic in 1990, Marin Cilic in 2012).
6. WC to Dodig: Coric’s countryman Ivan Dodig has received a singles wild card. Dodig, 32, is on an eight-match tour-level losing streak and seeking his first singles win since Nottingham in June 2016. He has won seven doubles and one singles title, which came on home soil at 2014 Zagreb.
7. Dodig/Skugor in Doubles: Dodig and Davis Cup teammate Franko Skugor will team for just the second time at an ATP event (also 2008 Zagreb). Skugor and another Croatian, Nikola Mektic, advanced to the semi-finals at Wimbledon. Dodig and Marcel Granollers fell in the third round.
8. One Year Later: Andrej Martin of Slovakia is back in the main draw after falling to Fognini in the 2016 Umag final as the World No. 124. Martin has played just three tour-level matches since then, with his only win coming over Denis Kudla at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
9. Paire Plays On: Benoit Paire reached the Wimbledon fourth round and shows no signs of slowing down. The Frenchman is playing his 21st ATP World Tour or Grand Slam event of 2017 in Umag, taking only one week off. Paire did not play at Antalya or Eastbourne the week before Wimbledon.
10. Reunited: Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor are playing doubles together for the second time since 2012. They’ve won eight titles as a team, including Roland Garros in 2011 and 2012. Mirnyi and Nestor spent 18 straight weeks in 2012 tied at No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings.
10 THINGS TO WATCH IN BASTAD
2. Carreno Busta is Back: The top-seeded Carreno Busta reached the Roland Garros quarter-finals with the biggest win of his career, beating Milos Raonic 8-6 in the fifth set. However, he retired in the quarters against Rafael Nadal and missed the entire grass-court swing with a left abdominal muscle fracture. Carreno Busta is 20-8 on clay in 2017, including a run to the Rio de Janeiro final.
3. The Champ Returns: Ramos-Vinolas broke through for his first ATP World Tour title at the 2016 SkiStar Swedish Open. The Spaniard returned to a clay-court final in Monte-Carlo, where he defeated World No. 1 Andy Murray in the third round. Ramos-Vinolas is 21-11 on clay in 2017.
4. Feet of Clay: Like Carreno Busta, Cuevas did not play a match on grass this season, withdrawing from Wimbledon due to a right knee injury. The 2014 Bastad champion defeated Carreno Busta in the semi-finals and Ramos-Vinolas in the final to capture his third straight Sao Paulo title in March.
5. Big Names Abound: Five former Top 10 players are in Bastad, not including potential qualifiers. Two-time champion David Ferrer, two-time finalist Fernando Verdasco and Ernests Gulbis join two men making their Bastad debuts: No. 4 seed Richard Gasquet and 39-year-old Tommy Haas.
6. Ymers Take WCs: Swedish brothers Elias Ymer and Mikael Ymer have accepted singles wild cards along with Haas. They’ve already been on site for a week, with Elias reaching the quarter-finals and Mikael reaching the semi-finals at the Bastad Challenger.
The Ymers are also doubles wild cards. They saved a total of four match points en route to the doubles title at the 2016 If Stockholm Open.
7. Khachanov Keeps Improving: #NextGenATP star Karen Khachanov is 8-3 at his last three events. In between runs to the Roland Garros fourth round and Wimbledon third round, the 21 year old earned the biggest win of his career over Kei Nishikori en route to the Halle semi-finals.
8. Schwartzman Seeks Milestone: Diego Schwartzman’s next victory will be his 18th of the 2017 season, surpassing his previous career-high of 17 wins in 2016. The 5-foot-7 Argentine is appearing at his 11th clay-court tournament of the year, reaching the semi-finals at Istanbul and quarter-finals at Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Monte-Carlo.
9. Basilashvili Breaking Out: Nikoloz Basilashvili entered 2017 with 12 tour-level wins. The 25 year old has added 19 victories this season alone, highlighted by a run to his second ATP World Tour final at Memphis. Basilashvili beat Dominic Thiem for the biggest win of his career at Sofia.
10 THINGS TO WATCH IN NEWPORT
1. Size Matters: The three tallest players on the ATP World Tour lead the field at the Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open, which serves as the final grass-court tournament of the 2017 season. Six-foot-11 Ivo Karlovic is the defending Newport champion, 6-foot-11 Reilly Opelka is making his main draw tournament debut and 6-foot-10 John Isner won the title in 2011 and 2012.
2. Three Straight Finals: Karlovic saved three championship points to beat Gilles Muller in three tie-break sets and win the 2016 Newport title. The 38-year-old Croatian finished runner-up to Lleyton Hewitt in 2014 and Rajeev Ram in 2015, losing both of those finals in a third-set tiebreak.
3. Isner Seeded No. 1: Isner is making his eighth appearance in Newport and fifth as the top seed. He won the title in 2011 and 2012, then fell in the 2014 quarter-finals and 2015 first round, as the No. 1 seed. Isner made his ATP World Tour debut here 10 years ago, losing to Dick Norman.
4. Opelka on the Rise: When Opelka played qualifying last year in Newport, he was No. 833 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. The 2015 Wimbledon junior champion returns inside the Top 150 after earning his first three main draw wins en route to the Atlanta semi-finals last August (l. to Isner).
5. First Time for Everything: Opelka is one of nine players seeking his first grass-court win – not including the four men who qualify on Monday. NCAA champion Thai-Son Kwiatkowski will make his ATP debut as a wild card.
No. 7 seed Tennys Sandgren (0-3), Mitchell Krueger (0-1) and #NextGenATP players Akira Santillan (0-4) and Michael Mmoh (0-6) seek their first ATP win on any surface. Bidding for their first grass-court win are Opelka (0-0 on grass), Bjorn Fratangelo (0-1 on grass), Adrian Menendez-Maceiras (0-2 on grass) and Konstantin Kravchuk (0-3 on grass).
6. First-Round Byes: Isner, Karlovic, No. 3 seed Adrian Mannarino and No. 4 seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert receive byes. Mannarino is coming off a fourth-round run at Wimbledon. Herbert will be making his Newport debut. His regular doubles partner, Nicolas Mahut, won the title here in 2013.
7. Raj Returns: Isner isn’t the only two-time champion in the field. Ram won the Newport title in 2009 as the World No. 181 and 2015 as the World No. 161. He returns this week outside of the Top 200.
8. #NextGenATP in Newport: Five #NextGenATP players are in Newport, including Opelka, Santillan and Mmoh. They are joined by American teens Taylor Fritz and Stefan Kozlov. Fritz qualified at Wimbledon before falling to Isner in the first round. Kozlov debuted at 2013 Newport as a 15 year old and remains the youngest participant in an ATP match since Noam Behr, 14, at 1990 Tel Aviv.
10. First-Time Team: Ram and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi will debut as a doubles team. Ram, the 2009 Newport doubles champion, and Qureshi, the 2015 champion, have combined for five titles in 2017.