An ATP 500 double header on hard court will light up the ATP Tour this week as Astana and Tokyo host some of the world’s best players.
Kasper Ruud is the top outdoor seed at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championshipswhere the world No. 2 is aiming for his first hard-court title of the season and the first ATP 500 trophy of his career. Nick Kyrgios is also in action in Japan, where the Australian is trying to contribute to his 2016 tournament win.
ATPTour.com looks ahead to five things to consider at any event.
FIVE THINGS TO SEE IN ASTANA
1) World No. 1 Alcaraz returns: Alcaraz will compete in his first ATP Tour event since becoming the youngest-ever World No. 1 in Pepperstone ATP Rankings’ history with his triumph US Open in September.
The 19-year-old meets the finalists from Sofia on Sunday Holger Rune on his tournament debut in Kazakhstan as the Spaniard chases his third ATP 500 crown of the following season. Earlier this year, Alcaraz triumphed on clay in Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona.
2) Medvedev tracks indoor groove: Second seed Medvedev also steps onto Astana’s hard courts for the first time this week. The 26-year-old is currently fifth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin and is attempting to qualify for the end of the season in November Nitto ATP Finals for the fourth year in a row.
Despite the fall Stan Wawrinka Playing his first indoor game of 2022 in Metz 10 days ago, Medvedev can be confident he has won six of his 14 tour-level titles on hard indoor courts as he prepares to compete Albert Ramos Vinolas in the first round in Astana.
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3) Dialed-in Djokovic: Djokovic started his indoor hard court season strongly in Tel Aviv, where the Serb lost Marin Cilic in the final on Sunday. Djokovic will now travel to Astana, where he will be the fourth seed in the tournament debut as he chases his first ATP 500 crown since his 2020 triumph in Dubai.
4) Pepperstone ATP Live Race to Turin: With Alcaraz and third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas already qualified for the Nitto ATP Finalsa host of top names are coming to Astana to improve their chances of reaching the end of the season, which takes place in Turin from 13th to 20th November.
Andrei Rublev (sixth) and Felix Auger-Aliassime (Seventh) Both currently occupy qualifying spots while Hubert Hurkacz (ninth) could overtake both with a title run in Kazakhstan depending on the result. All three make their debuts in Astana this week.
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5) Can Top Seeds Pütz/Venus boost Turin’s hopes?: Dubai champion Tim Puetz and MichaelVenus are aiming for their second ATP 500 crown of 2022 in Astana, where a strong run will also boost them Nitto ATP Finals hopes.
The German-Kiwi pair is currently ranked eighth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams rankings. Their rivals in Kazakhstan this week include second-placed players Nikola Mektic and Buddy Pavic (fourth in the Doubles Teams Race) and Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos (Fifth in the Doubles Teams Race). Santiago Gonzaleswho triumphed on the side in Astana in 2021 Andres Molteniplays with Luke Kubot.
FIVE THINGS TO SEE IN TOKYO
1) Ruud headline field: Top seed Ruud arrives in Tokyo to chase his first ATP 500 crown. The Norwegian excelled on hard courts in 2022, reaching the finals on the surface in March and March in Miami US Open in September. The 23-year-old will be hoping to maintain that form as his bid for his fourth ATP Tour title of the season begins Jaume Munar.
2) Fritz & Tiafoe Leading American Attack: This week in Tokyo could be crucial TaylorFritz‘s hopes to join Ruud in November qualifiers Nitto ATP Finals. The 23-year-old is 10th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin but has not won a match in three previous peloton appearances in the Japanese capital.
Fritz’ compatriot, Frances Tiafoeis seeded fourth in Tokyo, where he returns to action for the first time since his defeat Stefanos Tsitsipas to cling to Laver Cup for Team World in London a week ago. Brandon Nakashima, Mackenzie McDonald and Steve Johnson are the other contenders to become the first American to triumph in Tokyo since Peter Sampras in 1996.
3) Ex-Champion Kyrgios: Kyrgios clinched his first ATP 500 crown in Tokyo in 2016 and the Australian, who stops shows, is fifth for his first appearance at the event in four years. The 27-year-old has been in red-hot form in recent months, holding a 35-10 record for the season that includes a title run in Washington and his maiden Grand Slam final appearance Wimbledon.
4) Home Hope Nishioka: Yoshihito Nishioka couldn’t have asked for a better start to his home tournament. The top-ranked Japanese player in the Pepperstone ATP rankings has gone down Denis Shapovalov to claim his second ATP Tour title in Seoul on Sunday. Nishioka takes over Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round as he attempts to become the first home winner in Tokyo since Kei Nishikori won the event for the second time in 2014.
5) ‘Special Ks’ top seeds: Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis will begin their campaign for their third tour-level doubles title of the season against the home team of Nishioka and Kaichi Uchida in Tokyo. The Australians are currently seventh in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams rankings and are aiming for that Nitto ATP Finals for the first time.
Kokkinakis and Kyrgios’ rivals in Tokyo this week include Wimbledon master Matthew Ebden and Max Purcellwhile two-time champion and home favorite Ben McLachlanwho won in 2017 (with Uchiyama) and 2018 (with Struff), partner Andre Goransson.