Six ways in which the Vienna ATP 500 is proving to be in a class of its own
Five of the top 10 and 11 of the top 20 men are in Vienna for the Erste Bank Open, which is again proving itself to be one of the best events in the world
As the ATP Tour counts down to the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin, players are making a pit stop at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna this week, an event which boasts one of the strongest fields for an ATP 500 in recent times.
Here are six reasons why it can claim to be the world’s best ATP 500 event.
1. Tsitsipas headlines a field boasting five of world’s top 10
World No 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas headlines the event while No 4 Alexander Zverev, Matteo Berrettini, Casper Ruud and Hubert Hurkacz are also in the field. Two veterans – three-time Grand Slam winner Andy Murray and two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson – are also aiming to boost their rankings are the season heads to a close.
In all, Vienna has drawn five of the top 10, eight of the top 15 and 11 of the top 20 players, as high quality a field as you could possibly expect anywhere in the world, if not better.
2. Tsitsipas-Dimitrov; Monfils-Musetti and Ruud-Harris all in round one
Even with defending ATP Vienna champion Andrey Rublev deciding to skip this tournament in favour of his home event in St. Petersburg this week, the draw is packed with several marquee players and exciting first-round matches that would make worthy semi-final or final match-ups in any week on the tour.
Top seed Tsitsipas gets Indian Wells semi-finalist and former world No 3 Grigor Dimitrov (1-1 career head-to-head) straight off the bat; French veteran Gael Monfils takes on Italian wild card Lorenzo Musetti; and Ruud and Lloyd Harris, two of the tour’s most improved players in 2021, also face off in round one (Ruud leads 2-0).
3. Andy Murray chooses Vienna to continue comeback, another tough draw
Andy Murray is certainly not getting any favours from the draw gods as he attempts to rise up the ranks with a metal hip. Five of the Scot’s13 losses this year have come against top 10 opponents, and four other losses have come to top 15 players. Two of them have came at the hands of Hubert Hurkacz, who is Murray’s first round opponent in Vienna this week. The 34-year-old will he hoping to reverse his 0-2 head-to-head when he takes on the Pole on Monday.
4. Indian Wells winner and runner-up are unseeded
It’s not often that both the most recent ATP 1000 finalists are unseeded at the following ATP 500 event but that’s the case this week. Indian Wells champion Cameron Norrie, ranked 14th in the world but No 11 in the race to Turin, is unseeded and meets Marton Fucsovics in the first round with a possible clash against Auger-Aliassime next.
Runner-up Nikoloz Basilashvili, ranked 25th in the world, meets Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta, ranked 18th, in another promising first-round battle.
5. Berrettini, Ruud, Auger-Aliassime look to bounce back
Vienna will see several top players return to the tour after disappointing runs at Indian Wells. This includes seventh ranked Matteo Berretini, who lost in the third round at Indian Wells; Ruud, who has won four titles in 2021 but lost in the fourth round in the desert; and sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, a second-round loser at Indian Wells.
6. Fight for remaining ATP Finals berths adds to intrigue
With five players having already secured their berths in the eight-man ATP Finals in Turin next month, the 500 ranking points up for the Erste Bank Open winner could be crucial for those chasing the remaining spots.
Berrettini is looking good to qualify for the second time, currently sitting in sixth position in the race, followed by Ruud, Rafael Nadal (not competing in 2021 again), Hurkacz, Antwerp winner Jannik Sinner, Norrie and Auger-Aliassime. All six of these players (leaving aside Nadal) are competing in Vienna, while 13th placed Aslan Karatsev, who won the Kremlin Cup on Sunday, will play the St. Petersburg ATP 250 event this week in his bid to garner some points.