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Ricky’s Tennis Preview and Picks for this Week’s ATP Tournaments in Vienna and St. Petersburg

Andrey Rublev of Russia poses with his trophy after winning the final match against Borna Coric of Croatia during their final match of the St.Petersburg Open ATP tennis tournament in St.Petersburg, Russia, 18 October 2020. EPA-EFE/ANATOLY MALTSEV



By Ricky Dimon

Unfortunately for Andrey Rublev, he cannot be in two places at once. Rublev won both the Vienna and St. Petersburg titles last year, but this time around those two tournaments are taking place in the same week. Having already clinched a spot in the Nitto ATP Finals and with no need to chase points, it is no surprise that Rublev is choosing a 250 at home in Russia (St. Petersburg) instead of a 500 in Austria (Vienna). The world No. 6 is the title favorite in St. Petersburg, although he could be challenged by Denis Shapovalov, Karen Khachanov, and Moscow champ Aslan Karatsev. Vienna’s field is even more loaded, as it boasts Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, and Matteo Berrettini just to name a few.

Erste Bank Open

Where: Vienna, Austria
Points
: 500
Top seed: Stefanos Tsitsipas
Defending champion: Andrey Rublev (not playing)

With Basel having been cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Vienna is the last big points grab prior to the Paris Masters. And points-chasing will be the big story, as this event could have a major impact on the race for the Nitto ATP Finals. Barring a surprise title for Karatsev in Paris or for Felix Auger-Aliassime in either Vienna or Paris, the last two available Turin spots are coming down to Casper Ruud, Hubert Hurkacz, Jannik Sinner, and Cameron Norrie. All four are taking their talents to Vienna. Hurkacz has the worst draw of the four, facing Andy Murray in the opening round and possibly Carlos Alcaraz in the second. Ruud and Sinner await difficult first-rounders against Lloyd Harris and Reilly Opelka, respectively. Norrie has a relatively favorable path to the quarterfinals but could meet Zverev at that point.

Things probably won’t be easy for Tsitsipas, either. The third-ranked Greek will kick off his campaign against Grigor Dimitrov before potentially running into Frances Tiafoe in the round of 16 and Diego Schwartzman in the quarters. Schwartzman just finished runner-up to Sinner in Antwerp. Other Vienna QF matchups if the seeds hold to form are Ruud vs. Sinner, Berrettini vs. Hurkacz, and Zverev vs. Auger-Aliassime.

Quarterfinal picks: Frances Tiafoe over Gael Monfils, Jannik Sinner over Casper Ruud, Hubert Hurkacz over Pablo Carreno Busta, and Alexander Zverev over Cameron Norrie

Semifinals: Sinner over Tiafoe and Hurkacz over Zverev

Final: Sinner over Hurkacz

Jannik Sinner of Italy poses with the trophy after winning 6-2, 6-2 against Diego Schwartzman from Argentina during the final of the European Open ATP world tour tennis tournement in Antwerp, Belgium, 24 October 2021. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET

St. Petersburg Open

Where: St. Petersburg, Russia
Points
: 250
Top seed: Andrey Rublev
Defending champion: Andrey Rublev

Life may be difficult for Rublev this week, and not just because he has cooled off a bit since losing to Zverev in the Cincinnati final. Ilya Ivashka is a potential second-round opponent and Sebastian Korda is a possible quarterfinal foe. The top half of the bracket also includes Khachanov, who reached the Moscow semis before falling to Karatsev, in addition to Roberto Bautista Agut, Mackenzie McDonald, and Moscow runner-up Marin Cilic.

Karatsev finds himself in the bottom half along with Shapovalov, Alexander Bublik, and Indian Wells semifinalist Taylor Fritz. This will obviously be a quick turnaround for Karatsev and John Millman, who generally plays well this time of year, would be a tough second-round adversary. Meanwhile, an in-form James Duckworth has a good opportunity because both of the seeds in his section—Shapovalov and Bublik—are struggling.

Quarterfinal picks: Andrey Rublev over Sebastian Korda, Marin Cilic over Mackenzie McDonald, Tommy Paul over John Millman, and James Duckworth over Denis Shapovalov

Semifinals: Rublev over Cilic and Paul over Duckworth

Final: Rublev over Paul

Andrey Rublev of Russia reacts during his Men’s Singles second Round match against Carlos Taberner of Spain at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 09 October 2021. EPA-EFE/RAY ACEVEDO

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.