Scouting Report: 20 Things To Watch In Eastbourne & Antalya
An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week on the ATP World Tour
With just one week to go before Wimbledon, some of the world's best players will look to gain momentum ahead of the grass-court Grand Slam. There are two ATP World Tour 250-level events this week: the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne, and the Turkish Airlines Open Antalya in Turkey.
Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka both took wild cards into Eastbourne, joining a field in which World No. 11 Diego Schwartzman is the top seed. There are plenty of talented players ready to challenge them, though, with British No. 1 Kyle Edmund, #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov and others looking to make their mark on the grass.
Adrian Mannarino tops the draw in Antalya, where he is the No. 1 seed at an ATP World Tour event for the second time. Japan's Yuichi Sugita, the No. 7 seed, is the defending champion. Wild cards and former Top 10 players Fernando Verdasco and Gael Monfils will also look to make a splash.
10 THINGS TO WATCH IN EASTBOURNE
1) Round Two: Murray played his first match in more than 11 months last week at the Fever-Tree Championships. He’ll seek his first win since the Round of 16 at Wimbledon last year when he faces Wawrinka in a first-round blockbuster. Murray’s only previous appearance at the Nature Valley International came as a 19-year-old.
2) Wild Success: Murray, Wawrinka and home favourite Cameron Norrie are the wild cards in Eastbourne. That was a good thing to be last year, when wild cards Novak Djokovic and Gael Monfils met in the championship match. Djokovic defeated Monfils 6-3, 6-4.
3) Breakout Year: No. 1 Brit Edmund, the No. 2 seed, reached his first Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open, first ATP World Tour final at Marrakech and first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final at Madrid. Edmund has attained a new career-high ATP Ranking seven times in 2018, peaking at No. 17 on 21 May.
4) In Sync: Edmund’s rise up the rankings has coincided with #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov’s. The 19-year-old has hit a new career-high ATP Ranking 11 times in 2018, passing Milos Raonic as the No. 1 Canadian on 21 May. While Shapovalov is in just his second full season as a professional, he has already had five FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against Edmund, leading their series 3-2.
5) Top-Seeded Diego: Diego Schwartzman is the top seed this week after reaching a career-high World No. 11 on 11 June. Schwartzman is the highest-ranked player to stand 5’7” or shorter since 5’6” Harold Solomon was No. 10 on 27 July 1981. The Argentine seeks his first tour-level match win on grass..
6) Suddenly Seeded: Marco Cecchinato is the No. 4 seed following his run at Roland Garros, where he upset Djokovic to become the first Italian Grand Slam semi-finalist in 40 years. He will play his second tour-level match on grass against compatriot Andreas Seppi or Denis Istomin.
7) Former Champions: Three past champions of the Nature Valley International are in the 2018 field, although only one of them won the title in Eastbourne. Steve Johnson (2016) and Denis Istomin (2015) reigned in Nottingham, while Andreas Seppi (2011) triumphed in Eastbourne.
8) David the Dad: Former World No. 3 David Ferrer became a father on 4 May. In anticipation of his son’s birth, the 36-year-old Spaniard withdrew from Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Estoril and Madrid. Ferrer will seek his first victory as a father against a qualifier.
9) Staying Power: Since turning professional in 2010, Robert Farah has played doubles almost exclusively with Colombian countryman Juan Sebastian Cabal. Persistency has paid off in 2018, both players reaching career-high ATP Doubles Rankings and claiming their maiden Masters 1000 title in Rome.
10) Defending Bryan: Mike Bryan is back in Eastbourne to defend his title from last year, which he won with twin bother Bob Bryan. The left-handed Bryan is out with an injury, so Mike is competing with compatriot Jamie Cerretani. They are the fourth seeds.
10 THINGS TO WATCH IN ANTALYA
1) Back to the Breakthrough: Sugita’s first ATP World Tour semi-final, final and title all came at the Turkish Airlines Open Antalya last year. He’s back after beating World No. 7 Dominic Thiem on 20 June in Halle for the biggest win of his career by ATP Ranking.
2) No. 1 Again: Mannarino had never been the No. 1 seed of an ATP World Tour event entering the grass-court season. In Antalya, he’s the top seed for the second time in three weeks after heading the field at ’s-Hertogenbosch. He is seeking his first title after four runner-up finishes, including last year in Antalya.
3) 500 and Counting: Verdasco will make his 61st straight Grand Slam appearance at Wimbledon. His longevity on tour was rewarded with the 500th tour-level match win of his career on 8 May in Madrid. While he has never captured a grass-court title, Verdasco led eventual champion Andy Murray by two sets in the 2013 Wimbledon quarter-finals. He fell to Mannarino in the 2017 Antalya quarter-finals. Read 500-Win Tribute
4) Gael In Action: Monfils had a flying start to the 2018 season, capturing his seventh ATP World Tour title at Doha and defeating World No. 3 Marin Cilic at Rio de Janeiro. The Frenchman reached the third round at Roland Garros. The fourth seed will face Marcos Baghdatis or a qualifier in his first match.
5) Second-Seeded Damir: No. 2 seed Damir Dzumhur ended 2017 on a 24-7 run, highlighted by his first two ATP World Tour titles at St. Petersburg and Moscow. Dzumhur is making his tournament debut in Antalya, where he seeks his third trophy.
6) Portuguese Pride: Joao Sousa was 0-3 at the Millennium Estoril Open before breaking through in a big way last month. Sousa saved two match points against Pedro Sousa (no relation) and defeated #NextGenATP players Stefanos Tsitsipas and Frances Tiafoe to win the Estoril title. Read Estoril Final Report
7) Surprise, Surprise: Mirza Basic and Roberto Carballes Baena won the first ATP World Tour titles of their respective careers on 11 February. Both the Bosnian and Spaniard were qualifiers outside of the Top 100 in the ATP Rankings when they won championships at Sofia and Quito, respectively.
8) Turkish Hope: Cem Ilkel is a wild card for the ninth time at an ATP World Tour event. The 22-year-old Turk came closest to his first tour-level win in Antalya last year, holding five match points before falling to Egyptian Mohamed Safwat. Ilkel is coming off his fourth Futures title, in Namangan, Uzbekistan.
9) In-Form at 40: Among the teams playing doubles in Antalya are former World No. 1 Max Mirnyi and his partner, Philipp Oswald. Since joining forces last August, the 40-year-old Mirnyi and 32-year-old Oswald are 23-13 as a team with three titles (2017 Moscow, 2018 New York and 2018 Houston).
10) Grass Threat: German Florian Mayer has proven a dangerous player on grass, capturing the 2016 Gerry Weber Open title on the surface. The 34-year-old lost just four games against No. 8 seed Richard Gasquet in Halle last week, and owns a 38-24 record on grass.