Here is your VAVEL USA ATP Weekly Update. Every Monday, we will be posting results and analysis from the previous week’s singles action on the ATP World Tour, along with a preview to the upcoming week. Keep coming back to VAVEL USA every Monday for your ATP Weekly Update.
While there were no ATP World Tour tournaments this past week, one of the most popular tennis events of the season got underway. The first round of the Davis Cup was contested over the last three days, highlighted by the sixteen teams in the World Group. On the whole, there were not a ton of surprises on during the opening round of the world’s premier team tournament, but that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t some great action. Here’s your ATP Weekly Update for week five of the 2018 season.
Last Week’s Results
It was all about country and national pride this weekend as (some of) the world’s best took up their flags in the opening round of the Davis Cup. Sixteen nations kicked off their world group campaigns highlighted by defending champions France. The 2017 winners suffered an early scare, dropping the opening rubber of their first-round tie with the Netherlands, only to roar back and win 3-1, with all four of their starters winning a point for the team. In the second round, they will meet their neighbours Italy, who won an epic tie with Japan where all three singles rubbers that were contested went five sets. Fabio Fognini came up big and won two of them, as well as a four-set doubles win to carry his nation into the second round.
When the draw came out in late 2017, one of the most exciting ties was expected to be Spain vs. Great Britain. But with Rafael Nadal missing the tie for Spain and Great Britain suffering without Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund, the tie turned into a fairly straightforward romp for the Spanish. World number 114 Cameron Norrie proved a spark for the Brits, coming back from two sets down to upset Roberto Bautista Agut to put his team on the board, but that was all Britain could muster, falling 3-1. Spain will meet Germany in round two, who rode Alexander Zverev past Australia in Brisbane. The world number five won both his singles rubbers, including an epic five-setter over Alex De Minaur and a straight-sets drubbing of Nick Kyrgios, to go along with a five-set doubles win by the German team to claim the tie 3-1.
Kazakhstan caused a minor upset, defeating an undermanned Swiss team 4-1. Without Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, the Swiss only had one player inside the top-200 and were quickly dismissed by a stronger Kazak side. Kazakhstan will make the trip to Croatia in round two. The 2016 runners-up defeated Canada 3-1, even without world number three Marin Cilic playing singles. Borna Coric was the hero, winning both of his singles matches to go along with a doubles win by Cilic and Ivan Dodig. The Croatians trailed by two sets and a break in that match, but rallied to win, setting up Coric’s Sunday clincher.
The United States was undaunted playing on their worst surface, red clay, in a hostile environment, sweeping aside Serbia. Even without Jack Sock and the Bryan brothers, the big-hitting Americans came out and won both day one singles matches and the doubles to grab a 3-0 lead before Serbia won a dead rubber on Sunday. The Americans will meet last year’s runners-up Belgium in the second round. The Belgians had a bit of trouble with Hungary, who made things interesting by winning the doubles after losing both singles matches on Friday. But despite an impressive run at the Australian Open, Marton Fucsovics could not solve David Goffin and the world number seven wrapped up the tie with a third singles win.
Because Davis Cup points do not factor into the ATP rankings. There were no important changes in either the rankings or the Race to London in week five.
This Week’s Action
There are three events on the ATP schedule this week: Sofia Open, the Ecuador Open, and the Open Sud de France.
Stan Wawrinka leads the field at the Diema Xtra Sofia Open in Sofia, Bulgaria. The former world number three is looking to bounce back after a second-round loss at the Australian Open following an injury-depleted 2017 campaign. The home fans will be disappointed as defending champion and home-hero Grigor Dimitrov was forced to withdraw with a shoulder injury, opening the door for Wawrinka to take his place in the draw and as the top seed.
Adrian Mannarino comes into the tournament after playing Davis Cup this past weekend. He will be seeded second. Gilles Muller, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Robin Haase, Viktor Troicki, Joao Sousa, and Evgeny Donskoy round out the seeds. Also skipping the tournament with injury is Australian Open semifinalist Hyeon Chung.
One of tennis’ biggest countries will play host to their first event of 2018 as a strong field descends on Montpellier for the Open Sud de France. The host nation will be well represented, with ten of the 32 slots going to Frenchmen. That includes three seeds: Lucas Pouille (second), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (third), and Richard Gasquet (fifth), who is the lone former champion in the draw (four titles). Belgium’s David Goffin, the highest-ranked player in action in week five and one of only two top-ten players competing anywhere, is the top seed.
Absent will be defending champion Alexander Zverev. The world number five competed in Davis Cup last week and will not defend his title in Montpellier this week. The young German pulled the double last year, winning both the singles and doubles titles. Damir Dzumhur, young gun Andrey Rublev, veteran David Ferrer, and Yuichi Sugita round out the seeds in southern France.
Not all the action is on indoor hard courts this week. The golden swing gets underway in Quito, Ecuador with the Ecuador Open on clay this week. Not surprisingly, the classic clay countries will be well represented in Quito, led by a pair of Spaniards. World number ten Pablo Carreno Busta, the other top ten player in action this week, and countryman Albert Ramos Vinolas are the top two seeds. Joining them is three-time defending champion Victor Estrella Burgos. The sixth seed at this year’s event has never lost at the Ecuador Open.
Gael Monfils will be seeded third, followed by Paolo Lorenzi of Italy and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina. Ivo Karlovic, who has slipped to number 90 in the rankings, is the seventh seed, followed by Nicolas Jarry of Chile. The most notable withdrawal was Tenny Sandgren, who stunned the world by reaching the Australian Open quarterfinals last month.
Check back next Monday for a wrap up of week five and a look ahead to week six on the ATP World Tour. Come to www.vavel.com/en-us/tennis-usa/ every Monday or follow us on twitter @VAVELUSATennis for your #ATPWeeklyUpdate