With the first Grand Slam championship of the season in the rearview mirror, the ATP World Tour’s stars are back at it in Montpellier, Quito and Sofia. The Open Sud de France and the Diema Xtra Sofia Open are both contested on hard courts, while the Ecuador Open is on clay. Last year’s Nitto ATP Finals runner-up David Goffin is the top seed in Montpellier, Pablo Carreno Busta leads the pack in Quito and Stan Wawrinka is in the No. 1 spot in Sofia.
10 THINGS TO WATCH IN MONTPELLIER
(1) Frenchmen Headline Field: Three of the top five seeds are Frenchmen in Montpellier, which is one of five ATP World Tour tournaments in France. Belgian David Goffin is the top seed followed by Frenchmen Lucas Pouille and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The fourth seed is Bosnian Damir Dzumhur and No. 5 is three-time champion Richard Gasquet, who is the only former winner in the field.
(2) French Home Success: This is the eighth edition of Montpellier since 2010 (not held 2011-12) and in the previous seven tournaments a Frenchman has won the title or reached the final every year. Besides Gasquet’s three titles, Gael Monfils won in 2010 and 2014. In the only years a Frenchman did not win the title, Monfils was runner-up in 2012 and Gasquet last year.
(3) Goffin Top Seed: Goffin is making his Montpellier debut — this is the Belgian’s second tournament of the season. He lost in the second round at the Australian Open. Last season he finished a year-end best No. 7 in the ATP Rankings with two ATP World Tour titles and three runner-up showings, including the Nitto ATP Finals in London.
(4) Pouille Returns: The top Frenchman in the ATP Rankings, Pouille, makes his return to Montpellier for the first time since 2015 when he lost in the second round. Last year he won a career-high three ATP World Tour titles and finished in the Top 20 for the second consecutive season at No. 18.
(5) Tsonga on French Soil: Tsonga is making his third appearance in Montpellier after advancing to the semi-finals in 2010 and 2017. Eight of Tsonga’s 16 ATP World Tour titles have come on home soil, including two last season in Marseille and Lyon. Of his career-best four titles in 2017, three came indoors.
(6) Gasquet Eyes Fourth Title: Three-time Montpellier champion Gasquet has a 20-4 career record at the event, the most wins in tournament history. He is 18-2 since 2013. Gasquet has reached the final the past five years, winning three times (2013, 2015-16) and finishing runner-up twice (2014, 2017).1
(7) Simon Off to Fast Start: Gilles Simon is off to a 6-2 start after winning his 13th career ATP World Tour title in Pune in the opening week of the season. It was Simon’s first title since 2015 Marseille. He is 6-6 in Montpellier with a semi-final appearance in 2012 and three quarter-final finishes.
(8) French Wild Cards: The three wild cards are Frenchmen Julien Benneteau, Calvin Hemery and Pouille. Benneteau reached the quarter-finals in 2013, the best result of the trio in Montpellier.
(9) #NextGenATP Watch: The youngest player in the draw is 19-year-old Greek #NextGenATP star Stefanos Tsitsipas, who finished a year-end best No. 91 in the ATP Rankings last season. No. 6 seed and last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals runner-up Andrey Rublev is also making his tourney debut. If both players win their opening matches, they will meet in the second round.
(10) Doubles Draw: The top seeds are Ivan Dodig and Rajeev Ram, who are teaming together for the second time (2016 ‘s-Hertogenbosch). No. 2 seeds Marcus Daniell and Dominic Inglot reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open. The other seeded teams playing together for the first time are No. 3 Roman Jebavy and Andrei Vasilevski and No. 4 Ben Mclachlan and Hugo Nys.
Gilles Simon, who triumphed in Pune, will attempt to win his second ATP World Tour title of the season in Montpellier.
10 THINGS TO WATCH IN QUITO
(1) Clay Court Season-Opener: The first of 21 clay court tournaments on the ATP World Tour this season kicks off with the fourth edition of the Ecuador Open. This is also the opening leg of the five-tournament swing through Latin America, known as the “Golden Swing”. Victor Estrella Burgos has won every edition of the tournament, having completed a historic three-peat from 2015-17.
(2) Carreno Busta Leads Field: This is the fifth time Pablo Carreno Busta is the top seed in an ATP World Tour event. Of the previous four times as top seed, he won Estoril last May. Other seeds with a first-round bye are Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Gael Monfils and last year’s finalist Paolo Lorenzi.
(3) Pablo Top Seed: Carreno Busta is the first Top 10 player to appear in Quito and he’s trying to become the first top seed to win the title. Last season he finished No. 10 in the ATP Rankings, winning Estoril, reaching the final in Rio and the semi-finals in four other ATP events, including ATP Masters 1000 Indian Wells and the US Open. He went 0-2 as an alternate in the Nitto ATP Finals.
(4) King of Quito: Three-time reigning champion Estrella Burgos comes in with a 15-0 match record in Quito and all three of his final wins have come in three sets. Outside Quito, the 37-year-old from the Dominican Republic is 29-59 (.330) in ATP World Tour and Grand Slam matches. He is the only player in ATP World Tour history with three or more titles at one tournament and zero titles at all other events.
(5) Let’s Meet Again: Estrella Burgos and Thomaz Bellucci meet in Quito for the fourth straight year as they square off in the first round. Estrella Burgos is 3-0 against the Brazilian in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series (2015 SF, 2016 F and 2017 SF). Bellucci is 8-3 in Quito.
(6) Ramos-Vinolas Eyes Final: No. 2 seed Ramos-Vinolas is making his third straight appearance in Quito and the Spaniard has reached the semi-finals the past two years. Last year he finished a year-end best No. 23 in the ATP Rankings and reached finals at Sao Paulo and ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte-Carlo.
(7) Monfils Makes Debut: No. 3 seed Monfils opened the season with his seventh career ATP World Tour title in Doha (d. Rublev). Now the Frenchman is trying to win a second title in a season for the first time in his career. He won his first and only clay court title in Sopot, Poland in 2005.
(8) Lorenzi Aims For Title: No. 4 seed Lorenzi has made a year-by-year improvement in Quito, reaching the quarter-finals in his 2015 debut, the semi-finals in 2016 and the final last year. He is 8-3 in Quito. The 36-year-old Italian is 1-3 in ATP World Tour finals, winning his lone title in Kitzbuehel in 2016.
(9) Wild Cards: The two wild cards are No. 1 Ecuadorian Roberto Quiroz, who is making his ATP World Tour main draw debut, 18-year-old Frenchman Corentin Moutet, playing in his second tour-level tournament (0-1).
(10) Doubles Draw: The top seeds are Marcelo Demoliner and Purav Raja, who are playing together for the first time since 2014. The No. 2 seeds are first-time duo Treat Huey and Philipp Oswald, the No. 3 seeds are the Mexican duo Santiago Gonzalez and Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela and No. 4 are Carreno Busta and Guillermo Duran, who won the Quito title two years ago in their team debut.
Monfils Arrives In Quito In Style
10 THINGS TO WATCH IN SOFIA
(1) Wawrinka Leads Field: Stan Wawrinka makes his Sofia debut and is the top seed in the third-year tournament on the ATP World Tour. The other seeds with first-round byes are Adrian Mannarino, Gilles Muller and Philipp Kohlschreiber. Three of the four (except Mannarino) won at least one ATP World Tour title last season.
(2) Stan Top Seed: Wawrinka is playing in his second tournament of the season after falling in the second round at the Australian Open against Tennys Sandgren. The 32-year-old Swiss native underwent left knee surgery last August and he finished in the Top 10 for the fifth straight year at No. 9. After his early exit Down Under, he fell out of the Top 10 at No. 15 for the first time since May 20, 2013. Wawrinka has 16 career titles, winning at least one title the past five years.
(3) Mannarino Eyes Maiden Title: The No. 3 Frenchman in the ATP Rankings, World No. 25 Mannarino, is playing in Sofia for the third straight year. The four-time ATP World Tour finalist is the highest-ranked player without a career ATP World Tour title. Last year he was runner-up in Antalya and Tokyo.
(4) Muller Back Again: No. 3 seed Muller is making his third straight appearance in Sofia after reaching the semi-finals in his 2016 debut and the quarter-finals last season. Last season Muller became the first Luxembourg player to earn an ATP World Tour title, winning in Sydney and ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
(5) Kohli Looks For First Win: After opening the season with his first winless (0-2) month in his career, fourth seed Kohlschreiber looks to get back on track in Sofia where he was a quarter-finalist in 2016. He has eight career ATP World Tour titles in 17 finals with his lone indoor final in 2009 Metz.
(6) Dutchman Off to Good Start: No. 5 seed Robin Haase began the first two weeks of the season with a quarter-final in Pune and semi-final in Auckland (l. to eventual champion Bautista Agut). The No. 1 Dutchman finished a year-end best No. 42 in the 2017 ATP Rankings, his third Top 50 season.
(7) Troicki Success in Sofia: No. 6 seed Viktor Trocki has a 5-2 record in Sofia, reaching the final in the inaugural tournament two years ago and the quarter-finals last year. Troicki turns 32 on 10 February, which is the day of the semi-finals. Troicki won last year’s doubles title (w/Zimonjic).
(8) Marterer on the Move: Maximilian Marterer came into this season with an 0-14 career record on the ATP World Tour. But the German left-hander broke the winless streak by reaching the third round at the Australian Open (l. to Sandgren). Last season he finished in the Top 100 for the first time at No. 90.
(9) Local Wild Cards: The three wild cards are Bulgarians trying to win their first ATP World Tour match. No. 2 Bulgarian Dimitar Kuzmanov is joined by Alexander Donski and Adrian Andreev. Kuzmanov has six Davis Cup wins while his countrymen have never played in an ATP World Tour tournament.
(10) Doubles Draw: The top seeds are Marcin Matkowski and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi who reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open along with No. 2 seeds Nikola Mektic and Alexander Peya. The No. 3 seeds are Nicholas Monroe and John-Patrick Smith and No. 4 Robin Haase and Matwe Middelkoop, who teamed together to win the Pune in the opening week of the season.
Mikhail Youzhny opens his Sofia campaign against a fellow veteran, Italian Andreas Seppi.