Scouting Report: Gasquet Top Seed In Winston-Salem
An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week on the ATP World Tour
Winston-Salem Last U.S. Stop: The final U.S. tournament of the season on the ATP World Tour, the Winston-Salem Open, features three players in the Top 20 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, led by top seed Richard Gasquet, wild card Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Cuevas. The trio are all making their Winston-Salem debut. Kevin Anderson is the reigning champion and 2014 winner Lukas Rosol is also in the field.
Gasquet Top Seed: For the second year in a row (third in past five years) a Frenchman is the top seed in the 48-player draw. Last year Gilles Simon was a wild card entry and top seed (l. 2R after bye). In 2012, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was the top seed. Gasquet comes in as the top seed in an ATP World Tour tournament for the 13th time in his career, second this year. He’s won three titles as the top seed: 2007 Mumbai, 2013 Moscow and Montpellier this year. The 30-year-old Frenchman enters with a 23-10 match record on the season. In February, he captured his 13th career ATP World Tour title in Montpellier (d. Mathieu). He also reached his first quarter-final at Roland Garros (l. to Murray).
Defending Champion: South African native Kevin Anderson, who defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert in last year’s final, is making his fourth appearance in five years in Winston-Salem (6-2 record). Prior to last year, he reached the third round in 2014 (l. to Querrey) and the second round (after bye, l. to Gulbis) in 2012. This season, Anderson has been slowed by injuries. He retired from two matches and withdrew from eight tournaments due to left knee and right shoulder injuries. He also underwent minor left ankle surgery on March 15. His best results are quarter-finals following first-round byes at Auckland (l. to Sock), Nice (l. to Sousa), Nottingham (l. to Johnson) and ATP Masters 1000 Toronto (l. to Wawrinka). He is coming off a third-round showing at the Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati (l. to Murray).
Bautista Agut Makes Debut: No. 2 seed Bautista Agut is making his Winston-Salem debut. The 28-year-old Spaniard enters with a 34-15 match record on the season (23-8 on hard courts), highlighted by his third and fourth career ATP World Tour titles respectively at Auckland (d. Sock) and Sofia (d. Troicki).
Johnson Top American: No. 4 seed Steve Johnson is playing his first tournament as the top American in the Emirates ATP Rankings. The 26-year-old Californian surpasses John Isner, who has held the top American spot every week since 29 July, 2013. After a 6-14 start this season, Johnson has turned things around by compiling a 20-7 record in his last eight tournaments. This is Johnson’s fourth straight appearance in Winston-Salem and last year he reached the semi-finals (l. to Herbert). He is coming off his first career Masters 1000 quarter-final in Cincinnati (l. to Dimitrov). He also posted his second career Top 10 win over No. 10 Tsonga. Here is a look at Johnson’s “season of firsts”:
- Top American in Emirates ATP Rankings (career-high No. 21 on 25 July)
- Won ATP World Tour singles (Nottingham) and doubles titles (Nice w/Querrey)
- Top 10 win (d. No. 10 Gasquet in London/Queen’s Club)
- Fourth round at Wimbledon (l. to Federer)
Teenagers Meet Again: Junior rivals and #NextGen American teenagers Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe square off for the second time as pros after meeting five times in juniors (three in singles, two in doubles). Fritz is looking for his first win. In March, Tiafoe edged Fritz in three sets in the first round in Indian Wells. The 18-year-old rising stars booked a practice court together for Saturday morning but when the draw was released on Friday evening, plans changed. Both players have made huge jumps in the Emirates ATP Rankings from a year ago. Fritz, who has climbed from No. 678 at this time last year to a career-high No. 54, is making his Winston-Salem debut. Tiafoe, who was No. 275 at this time last year, is ranked a career-high No. 123. He won his first career ATP World Tour main draw match here last year (d. Duckworth).
Kokkinakis Returns: Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis makes his first main draw appearance on the ATP World Tour since last October in Stockholm. Last season, Kokkinakis reached a career-high No. 69 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on 18 June. He comes into Winston-Salem ranked No. 455. He has a protected ranking of No. 81.
Doubles Draw: The top two seeds in the draw are the first-time duo of Lukasz Kubot & Nenad Zimonjic and Mate Pavic & Michael Venus, who are four-time ATP World Tour winners this season. Last year’s champions Dominic Inglot & Robert Lindstedt are playing with different partners this year. Inglot is playing with Marin Draganja while Lindstedt is teaming with Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi.
Butorac Farewell: Eric Butorac, a finalist last year with Scott Lipsky, is playing in his second-to-last pro tournament and final ATP World Tour event. He plans to retire after the US Open. On 3 August, Butorac was named by the USTA as Director of Professional Tennis Operations and Player Relations. Butorac, who also served as president of the ATP Player Council from 2014-16, captured 18 ATP World Tour doubles titles, winning at least once for 10 consecutive years from 2007-16.
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+19 Yuichi Sugita (83)
+14 Florian Mayer (59)
+10 Grigor Dimitrov (24)
+10 John Millman (81)
+9 Borna Coric (40)
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Malek Jaziri – 46 wins
Mate Pavic – 72 wins
Paolo Lorenzi – 24 wins