This year, Vienna has a lot to offer.
Four of the world’s top ten players are among the eight seeds drawn from the top 16 in the ATP rankings.
Along with a prestigious title, 500 ranking points are up for grabs, which should focus the minds of a slew of contenders vying for one of the season’s final three spots at the ATP Finals.
For some, such as Daniil Medvedev, it’s a case of “hold what you’ve got” – he’s in qualifying and a good week here would confirm his place in the Turin event.
For others, think Cameron Norrie and Jannik Sinner, they are approaching last-chance saloon and while 1,000 points will be up for grabs in Paris next week, a poor week here will probably leave things too much out of their own hands.
It makes sense to support at least one of those vying for a qualification spot, and I see little appeal in supporting those who have already qualified for the Finals.
I don’t think we’ve seen Tsitsipas’s best tennis enough in 2022, and the most recent time we saw him was his bizarre mid-match withdrawal against Novak Djokovic in Astana, which was later attributed to an adductor injury.
“I heard a strange pop,” he said afterwards.
Presumably he’s recovered; if he hasn’t, then the draw he’s been handed will look even more tricky than it already does.
On his day, opening foe Nikoloz Basilashvili can cause problems for the best, while the next opponent is likely to be home hero Dominic Thiem, who is finally finding his form after undergoing wrist surgery last year.
He reached the semi-finals in Gijon and Antwerp in the last two weeks, so perhaps home advantage, at an event he won in 2019, will be enough to propel him to victory.
Jannik Sinner is also in the same neighbourhood.
The Italian prefers indoor hardcourt conditions, and the last year’s semi-finalist will undoubtedly have supporters.
However, he hasn’t played a match since retiring injured three weeks ago in Sofia, and given the ATP Finals qualification situation, there’s a nagging doubt that he may have rushed back a bit.
At roughly the same price, ANDREY RUBLEV appears to have a better draw in the second quarter.
Diego Schwartzman, who is out of sorts, is up first, followed by Grigor Dimitrov, who is also out of sorts (or a qualifier).
The other seed in this section is Cameron Norrie, but Rublev leads their head-to-head 2-1 and was a dominant winner in their recent US Open match.
Rublev has won the title in Gijon and reached the semi-finals in Astana (losing to Tsitsipas).
He does have a poor record against fellow Russian Medvedev, though Rublev won the last time they met (Cincinnati last year).
Andrey Rublev is competing in the US Open on day one.
Meanwhile, Rublev and Sinner have only ever played three games on a hardcourt so I’m reading little into their head-to-head stats.
At 8/1, Rublev gets the nod.