The action continues on the ATP Tour in Australia this week, with future and established stars aiming to make their mark at two ATP 250 events in Adelaide and Sydney.
Frenchman Gael Monfils will try to maintain his strong form when he leads the field at the Adelaide International 2, while Aslan Karatsev and Nick Kyrgios feature at the Sydney Tennis Classic.
ATPTour.com looks at five things to watch from both tournaments.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN ADELAIDE
1) Monfils Aiming For Back-To-Back Titles: Monfils started his 2022 season in style by overcoming Karen Khachanov to capture his 11th ATP Tour title at Adelaide International 1. The Frenchman did not drop a set en route to the trophy and will be aiming to triumph once again in Adelaide this week. The top seed will face a qualifier in his first match and could face Khachanov in a re-match if both advance to the semi-finals.
2) Isner Second Seed: John Isner will be aiming to clinch his 17th ATP Tour title at the ATP 250 event this week, after last triumphing in Atlanta in August. The American earned his first victory of the season against Canada’s Brayden Schnur at ATP Cup last week and will face either wild card Thanasi Kokkinakis or Frenchman Benoit Paire in his opening match.
3) Home favourite Kokkinakis Building Momentum: Australian Kokkinakis thrilled his home fans at the Adelaide International 1 last week, capturing victories over John Millman, Frances Tiafoe and Mikael Ymer as he reached his first ATP Tour semi-final since August 2017 in Los Cabos.
The 25-year-old will be aiming for another deep run this week, starting against Paire in the first round.
4) Harris Aiming For Strong Start: Lloyd Harris enjoyed a strong 2021 season, reaching a career-high No. 31 in the ATP Rankings, advancing to the final in Dubai and enjoying a run to the quarter-finals at the US Open.
The South African begins his 2022 campaign in Adelaide targeting more success as he aims to break the Top 20 this year. The fifth seed plays Nur-Sultan champion Soonwoo Kwon in the first round, with Karen Khachanov a potential quarter-finalist.
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5) Botic vs. Fucscovics Headlines First-Round Clashes: Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp threw himself into the spotlight at the US Open in September when as a qualifier he upset Casper Ruud and Diego Schwartzman en route to the quarter-finals. The 26-year-old then backed up his New York run by reaching the semi-finals in St. Petersburg and the last eight in Stockholm.
The World No. 57 faces a tricky opening test in Adelaide as he takes on eighth-seeded Hungarian Marton Fucsovics. The 29-year-old advanced to the final in Rotterdam and reached the last eight at Wimbledon in 2021.
Other eye-catching first-round matches include Tiafoe against Tommy Paul and #NextGenATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti against Benjamin Bonzi.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN SYDNEY
1) Kyrgios In Action: Kyrgios will compete for the first time since he played for Team World at the Laver Cup in September when he takes to court at the ATP 250 event in Sydney.
The Australian is currently No. 93 in the ATP Rankings, but is confident in his ability as he targets a strong start to the season.
“If I’m ranked 1000 or 10 in the world everyone knows what I’m capable of on Tour,” Kyrgios said Saturday. “I’m not a player that hasn’t proven himself… I talk a lot, but I also have beaten a lot of players and I have won a lot of tournaments.”
The 26-year-old wild card will face seventh-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini in a popcorn first-round clash in Sydney.
2) Karatsev Leads The Field: Karatsev was voted Most Improved Player of the Year in the 2021 ATP Awards after rising from No. 112 in the ATP Rankings at the start of the season to a career-high No. 15 in November.
The Russian will compete in his first tournament of the year this week back in the country where his success started a year ago with a shock run to the semi-finals at the Australian Open. The top seed will play either Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic or a qualifier in his opening match in Sydney.
3) Evans In Form: Daniel Evans stood up and delivered for Great Britain at ATP Cup last week, earning singles wins against Jan-Lennard Struff, Denis Shapovalov and John Isner, while also teaming with Jamie Murray to capture two doubles victories at the 16-team event.
The third seed will be aiming to continue his perfect start to the season in Sydney when he faces either Pedro Martinez or Alexei Popyrin in the second round. Evans has fond memories of Australia, having lifted his maiden tour-level title at the Murray River Open in Melbourne last year.
4) Murray Receives Wild Card: Andy Murray suffered a disappointing first-round defeat against Facundo Bagnis at the Melbourne Summer Set last week, but will be keen to bounce back when he plays a qualifier in the first round in Sydney.
The Scot, who has reached five Australian Open finals and won two titles in Brisbane (2012, 2013), advanced to quarter-finals in Metz and Sofia last season. If Murray can reach the second round at the ATP 250 event, he will face a tough test against second seed Nikoloz Basilashvili.5) Cressy’s Hot Streak: American Maxime Cressy enjoyed a dream run to the final at the Melbourne Summer Set Open last week, defeating Top 30 stars Reilly Opelka and John Isner, before falling to Rafael Nadal in his first tour-level final. The 24-year-old, who plays an exciting brand of serve-and-volley tennis, will look to continue his momentum in Sydney, starting against France’s Adrian Mannarino.