Daniil Medvedev. (Photo by Cynthia Lum/Icon SMI via ZUMA Press)
US Open finalist, Daniil Medvedev returns to action in St. Petersburg as he leads an exciting field that also includes top-20 stars, Karen Khachanov, Borna Coric and Matteo Berrettini. The St. Petersburg Open is live from 16-22 September.
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The ATP Tour went on break last week to make way for Davis Cup matches, but action resumes this week with ATP 250 tournaments in Metz and St. Petersburg. The St. Petersburg field is particularly intriguing, as it is headed by Daniil Medvedev, who plays his first tournament since his stunning run to the US Open final, while Italian, Matteo Berrettini is also back in action following his own semi-final performance at Flushing Meadows.
Borna Coric unfortunately had a short-lived stay in New York as he was forced to pull out of a second-round meeting with Grigor Dimitrov a back injury, but he returns to the tour in St. Petersburg, while Russia’s other top-ten star (behind Medvedev), Karen Khachanov; and Andrey Rublev make up a formidable home challenge at this ATP 250 meet.
No Russian has won this event since Mikhail Youzhny triumphed in 2004- could that be about to change in the next seven days?
We preview the St. Petersburg draw.
Projected Quarter Final: Daniil Medvedev (1) vs Andrey Rublev (5) [H2H: Medvedev leads 1-0]
Daniil Medvedev might have fallen just short against Rafael Nadal in the US Open final, but the Russian is still in the midst of a terrific run of form which has seen him win 20 of his last 23 matches. A sensational stretch on North American hard courts yielded a maiden Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati, and runner-up finishes in Washington, Montreal, and of course, the US Open, and he will hope to continue that excellent form when he returns to Europe this week.
The world No. 4 gets a bye into the second round, where he opens his campaign against either Evgeny Donskoy or a lucky loser. Should he, as expected get through that, he could potentially meet compatriot, Andrey Rublev in the quarter finals. Rublev also has his moments in North America, enjoying a resurgence as he reached quarter finals in Cincinnati (where he famously beat Roger Federer), and Winston-Salem, and the fourth round of the US Open. The 21-year-old starts his campaign against a qualifier in the first round, before playing either wildcard, Dudi Sela or Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis in the second round.
Predicted Quarter Final: Daniil Medvedev vs Andrey Rublev
Semi-Finalist: Daniil Medvedev
Projected Quarter Final: Matteo Berrettini (3) vs Adrian Mannarino (7) [H2H: Mannarino leads 1-0]
Like Daniil Medvedev, Matteo Berrettini enjoyed a breakout Grand Slam at the US Open, advancing to his first major semi-final before falling to Rafael Nadal. Berrettini’s run at Flushing Meadows was another step forward in a fine season, during which he has won titles in Budapest and Stuttgart, and made the fourth round at Wimbledon. The powerful Italian gets a bye through the first round, and opens against either Martin Klizan or Roberto Carballes Baena in the second round. It isn’t an easy opener for Berrettini, as Klizan is a perennial danger in these tournaments, despite not being in the best of forms lately- he has lost his last four matches- while Carballes Baena is a battling baseliner that will plug away all day. That said, given the confidence Berrettini brings from New York, and in conditions that should suit his aggressive game style, he should be good enough to get through either of these players.
If he survives, he could face seventh seed, Adrian Mannarino in the quarter finals, provided the Frenchman takes out Stefano Travaglia and a qualifier in his first two rounds.
Predicted quarter final: Matteo Berrettini vs Adrian Mannarino
Semi-Finalist: Matteo Berrettini
Projected Quarter Final: Borna Coric (4) vs Casper Ruud (8) [H2H: 0-0]
Borna Coric is in the midst of a lean spell, and can do with a decent run in St. Petersburg. The Croatian has been bothered by injury problems in recent months, missing Wimbledon with an abdominal problem, and pulling out of the US Open after just one match with a back injury. He hasn’t won consecutive matches since Halle, and has won just two matches in his last four tournaments.
Coric gets a bye into the second round, where he could potentially face Marton Fucsovics, provided the Hungarian gets past a qualifier in the first round. Normally, I’d say Coric should be too solid for Fucsovics, but when his injury problems and recent form are factored into the equation, this is a tough opener for the Croatian against a very good opponent. Whoever gets through that is seeded to meet Casper Ruud in the quarter finals, but Norwegian young gun, Ruud, must find a way past the unpredictable Alexander Bublik in the first round, and one of two Italians, Salvatore Caruso or Thomas Fabianno in the second round.
Ruud is having a fine year, but most of his good works have been done on clay- there’s a chance for one of the quartet in that little section to advance to an ATP quarter final. I’ll lean towards Fabianno, mainly because he’s won some big matches on different surfaces in the last few months, specifically, against Stefanos Tsitsipas at Wimbledon, and Dominic Thiem at the US Open (even though he did lose to Bublik in the second round at Flushing Meadows!).
Predicted Quarter Final: Marton Fucsovics vs Thomas Fabianno
Semi-Finalist: Marton Fucsovics
Karen Khachanov (2) vs Mikhail Kukushkin (6) [H2H: Kukushkin leads 1-0]
Karen Khachanov headlines the bottom quarter of the St. Petersburg draw, as he looks to bounce back from a disappointing first round loss to Vasek Pospisil at the US Open. After claiming three titles last season, including a maiden Masters 1000 crown in Paris at the end of the year, 2019 hasn’t exactly gone as well for Khachanov, who is still seeking his first title of the year. He made a poor start to the season, suffering opening round defeats in eight of his first ten tournaments, but he has got better as the year has progressed, notably reaching the quarter finals at Roland Garros, and the semi-finals in Montreal. I had him down for a good run in New York, but fell in five-sets to Pospisil- his eleventh opening round loss of the season.
He will hope to avoid that fate in St. Petersburg, where he starts against Joao Sousa or Jozef Kovalik in the second round following a first round bye. Sousa is a dangerous, workmanlike player, but Khachanov should have too much firepower for the Portuguese, and move into the quarter finals. The second seed is projected to meet Mikhail Kukushkin in the last eight, but Kukushkin will have his hands full against exciting Italian, Jannik Sinner in the first round, and, if he gets through, either Janko Tipsarevic or a qualifier in the second.
Predicted Quarter Finals: Karen Khachanov vs Mikhail Kukushkin
Semi-Finalist: Karen Khachanov
Daniil Medvedev vs Matteo Berrettini
Marton Fucsovics vs Karen Khachanov
Daniil Medvedev vs Karen Khachanov