Scouting Report: Ruud, Tiafoe & Musetti Headline In Estoril, Houston & Marrakech | ATP Tour
After the hard-court motion of the ‘Sunshine Double’, the ATP Tour returns to clay this week as Estoril, Houston and Marrakech host a trio of ATP 250 occasions from 3-9 April.
Casper Ruud is the highest seed on the Millennium Estoril Open, the place the Norwegian is seeking to kick-start his season with a deep run in Portugal. Dwelling favourites Frances Tiafoe and Tommy Paul lead the sector on the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Males’s Clay Courtroom Championship, whereas Lorenzo Musetti headlines the draw on the solely ATP Tour occasion on the African continent, the Grand Prix Hassan II.
ATPTour.com seems to be forward at 5 issues to look at at every occasion.
View Attracts: Estoril | Houston | Marrakech
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN ESTORIL
1) Ruud To Discover Kind?: Ruud’s hunt for consecutive tour-level wins in 2023 goes on after he received only a match apiece in Indian Wells and Miami. The World No. 4 will hope that the swap to clay, the floor on which he has received eight of his 9 ATP Tour titles, could be the catalyst for improved outcomes.
Ruud is the highest seed on occasion debut on the Millennium Estoril Open, the place he opens towards Giulio Zeppieri or 2018 champion and residential favorite Joao Sousa, as he seems to be to enhance his 5-6 document for the season.
2) Hubi Targets Clay Success: In stark distinction to Ruud, Hubert Hurkacz has received none of his six tour-level titles on clay. The Pole will nonetheless be assured of creating his mark because the second seed on his first Estoril look. He reached the quarter-finals on the floor on the ATP Masters 1000 occasion in Madrid final yr and is chasing his second ATP Tour trophy of the yr after his Marseille triumph in February.
3) Baez Defends Crown: Sebastian Baez launched himself into the ATP Tour winners’ circle for the primary time a yr in the past in Estoril, the place he defeated Marin Cilic, Richard Gasquet and Tiafoe en path to the title. The Argentine is seeded fourth for his title defence and is the one participant within the draw to have already lifted a tour-level clay-court trophy in 2023, after his triumph at residence in Cordoba in February.
4) Shelton Makes Purple Clay Debut: Ben Shelton is a uncommon anomaly on the ATP Tour. The #NextGenATP American has damaged the Prime 40 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings however continues to be but to compete professionally on pink clay.
That can all change this week in Estoril, the place the eighth-seeded American takes on Constant Lestienne within the first spherical. The 20-year-old will hope he can alter shortly to make a profitable begin on the floor and set a possible second-round conflict towards former World No. 3 Dominic Thiem.
Fast-Learner Shelton Vows To Stop Opponents ‘Picking On’ His Game
5) Borges/Cabral Search Title Repeat: Dwelling pairing Nuno Borges and Francisco Cabral surged to the doubles title in Estoril as wild playing cards final yr, and the Portuguese are again to defend their crown on the clay-court ATP 250. Andreas Mies and Hugo Nys are the top-seeded group, with Marcelo Melo and John Peers seeded second.
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FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN HOUSTON
1) Tiafoe, Paul Lead Area: Six of the eight seeds on the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Males’s Clay Courtroom Championship are People, and they’re led by Prime 20 stars Tiafoe and Paul. Each are chasing their maiden tour-level title on clay in Houston, the place Tiafoe reached the quarter-finals in 2022.
2) Isner Brings Massive-Serving Menace: The person that ended Tiafoe’s 2022 run in Texas was John Isner. The 6’10” American went on to achieve the championship match, the place he was edged by the 6’11” Reilly Opelka within the tallest ATP Tour ultimate within the Open Period.
Regardless of that defeat, the fourth-seeded Isner is aware of what it takes to triumph in Houston. He lifted the trophy there in 2013 and holds an 18-11 total document on the solely ATP Tour occasion in america contested on clay.
3) Former Champs From U.S. Eye Repeat Glory: Wild playing cards Jack Sock and Steve Johnson inject some severe Houston pedigree into the draw. The previous World No. 8 Sock reached back-to-back finals in 2015 (when he defeated Sam Querrey to assert the title) and 2016, whereas Johnson lifted the trophy in 2017 and 2018.
Third seed Brandon Nakashima, fifth seed J.J. Wolf and seventh seed Marcos Giron are among the many different People hoping to trip residence assist to victory in Houston.
4) In-Kind Garin To Shine?: The fourth and ultimate former champion within the draw is Cristian Garin. The Chilean, who lifted the Houston trophy in 2019, arrives at this yr’s occasion off the again of a powerful ‘Sunshine Double’. As a qualifier, the previous World No. 17 reached the fourth spherical in Indian Wells and the third spherical in Miami, and he’ll hope to keep up that type in pursuit of his first ATP Tour title since 2021.
5) Hijikata/Kubler Prime Seeds: Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler charged to the Australian Open title in thrilling style in January, however the duo arrives in Houston having since suffered two consecutive defeats. The Australians are the highest seeds in a discipline that additionally contains residence favourites Nathaniel Lammons and Jackson Withrow, whereas 2022 doubles winner Max Purcell companions Jordan Thompson.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN MARRAKECH
1) Musetti Seeks First Title Of 12 months: The 21-year-old Musetti is the highest seed on the Grand Prix Hassan II, the place the Italian is seeking to reverse a downturn in his type that has seen him earn only one win in his previous six tournaments. Musetti reached the quarter-finals on debut in Marrakech a yr in the past and can begin his 2023 marketing campaign towards Hugo Gaston or Jan-Lennard Struff.
2) Evans Eyes Deep Run: The second-seeded Daniel Evans has additionally struggled for wins in current weeks, however the Briton is without doubt one of the hardest rivals on Tour and can be assured of turning issues round on his second Marrakech look. Whereas clay will not be his most well-liked floor, the 32-year-old’s earlier achievements embrace a semi-final run on the 2021 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.
3) Dutch Duo Amongst Seeded Stars: Botic van de Zandschulp and Tallon Griekspoor are the third and fourth seeds, respectively, in Marrakech. Each have already damaged new floor in 2023: Griekspoor lifted his maiden ATP Tour title in January in Pune, whereas Van de Zandschulp final week defeated Ruud in Miami for the primary Prime 5 win of his profession.
4) Gasquet, Jarry Compete: Like Griekspoor, Richard Gasquet and Nicolas Jarry are chasing their second tour-level title of the season in Morocco. Auckland champion Gasquet has reached not less than the quarter-finals on all three of his earlier Marrakech appearances, whereas Santiago winner Jarry is making his event debut.
5) Granollers/Middelkoop Lead Doubles Area: The vastly skilled Marcel Granollers and Matwe Middelkoop, who personal 38 ATP Tour titles between them, are the highest seeds in Marrakech. Alexander Erler/Lucas Miedler and Jeremy Chardy/Fabrice Martin are amongst their rivals on the North African clay.
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