An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week on the ATP World Tour
Novak Djokovic arrives in Acapulco ahead of his debut at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel.
Strong Fields in Acapulco, Dubai & Sao Paulo: The busiest month of the season comes to a close this week with ATP World Tour 500-level tournaments in Acapulco and Dubai and the final Latin American clay-court stop in Sao Paulo. Eight of the Top 10 players in the Emirates ATP Rankings are in action, including five in Acapulco, led by No. 2 Novak Djokovic, and No. 6 Rafael Nadal. In Dubai, top-ranked Andy Murray, No. 3 Stan Wawrinka and No. 10 Roger Federer lead the way. In Sao Paulo, the top three are Spaniards Pablo Carreno Busta and Albert Ramos-Vinolas and two-time reigning champion Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay.
Emirates ATP Race to Milan Leaders: There are six #NextGenATP players among the Top 20 Emirates ATP Race to Milan (as of Feb. 20) in the main draw and two others in the final round of qualifying in the upcoming tournaments.
ABIERTO MEXICANO TELCEL (Acapulco): One of the favourite destinations on the ATP World Tour is the Acapulco Princess Mundo Imperial, site of the 500-level Abierto Mexicano Telcel. The tournament made the switch from clay to hard courts in 2014 and this year’s field features a tournament record five of the Top 10 players, led by wild card and World No. 2 Novak Djokovic, who is making his tournament debut. The others include No. 6 Rafael Nadal, who returns for the first time since 2013, No. 8 and defending champion Dominic Thiem, No. 9 Marin Cilic and No. 10 David Goffin. Rounding out the seeds are first-time entrants No. 16 Nick Kyrgios and No. 21 Jack Sock. Thiem and Nadal are the only former champions in the draw.
Novak Makes Debut: Djokovic, who accepted a wild card to play in Acapulco for the first time, is playing his first tournament match since his five-set 2R loss to Denis Istomin at the Australian Open on Jan. 19. After Melbourne, Djokovic played in Serbia’ s 1R Davis Cup tie vs. Russia and he defeated #NextGenATP star Daniil Medvedev in the second singles match in four sets (did not play reverse singles). The 29-year-old Serbian is making his Acapulco debut and second career pro tournament appearance in Latin America. Last summer he lost in the 1R at the Rio Olympics (l. to del Potro). Djokovic opened the season by defending his title in Doha (d. Murray). He enters with 758 career match wins and he is four wins away from tying Pete Sampras for 10th place on the Open Era list.
Thiem Reigning Champion: Last year Thiem won the biggest ATP World Tour title of his career in Acapulco, defeating Aussie Bernard Tomic 7-6, 4-6, 6-3. It was the second of a career-high four ATP World Tour titles during the season and the 23-year-old Austrian finished as the youngest player in the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings at No. 8. On Sunday, Thiem won his first title of the season over Pablo Carreno Busta in Rio.
Nadal Eyes 70th Title: Two-time Acapulco champion Nadal looks to continue his success and remain unbeaten (10-0) in the tournament. In his two previous appearances on clay, Nadal won without dropping a set, capped by final wins in 2005 (d. Montanes) and 2013 (d. No. 4 Ferrer). The 30-year-old Spaniard is playing in his first tournament since reaching the Australian Open final on Jan. 29 (l. to Federer in five sets). He opened the year by reaching the quarter-finals in Brisbane (l. to Raonic). Nadal is not only trying to capture his 70th career title, he is also attempting to break a three-year-plus hard-court title drought. His last hard court title came in Doha in January 2014 (d. Monfils).
Delpo Returns: It’s been 11 years since Juan Martin del Potro played in Acapulco. In 2006, he came in ranked No. 146 and retired in the 1R vs. Albert Montanes trailing 6-2, 5-3. It was only his fifth career ATP World Tour match at the time. Since then the Argentine superstar has won 19 career titles, including the 2009 US Open, and reached a career-high ranking of No. 4. Just over one year ago he came into Delray Beach ranked No. 1,042. This past week he played in his first tournament of the season in Delray Beach and lost in the semi-finals to top seed Raonic. Last year he earned a second ATP Comeback of the Year award (2011). He finished at No. 38 with a 32-12 match record on the season, winning in Stockholm (d. Sock) and earning a silver medal at the Rio Olympics where he beat No. 1 Djokovic in 1R and No. 5 Nadal in SF, (l. to No. 2 Murray). He closed the year by leading his country to a first Davis Cup title with wins over Croatia’s Karlovic and Cilic.
#NextGenATP Stars: There are six #NextGenATP players in the main draw, led by World No. 59 Borna Coric, wild card World No. 113 Ernesto Escobedo and four qualifiers - No. 86 Yoshihito Nishioka, No. 90Frances Tiafoe, No. 115 Stefan Kozlov, and No. 136 Taylor Fritz, who was last year’s ATP Star of Tomorrow recipient.
Sock Coming to Acapulco: No. 8 seed Sock, a winner over Milos Raonic in the Delray Beach final via walkover, is off to a quick start this season. Sock, the No. 1 American, is off to a career-best 10-1 start, winning his second career ATP World Tour title in Auckland (d. Sousa), reaching the 3R at the Australian Open (l. to Tsonga) and winning a match in the USA's 5-0 Davis Cup 1R win over Switzerland.
Doubles Draw: The top seeds are last year’s World No. 1 duo: Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares. The other seeds are: No. 2 Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram, No. 3 Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo and No. 4/last year’s champions Treat Huey and Max Mirnyi, who is aiming for his 50th career ATP World Tour level doubles title.
DUBAI DUTY FREE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS (Dubai): The 25th anniversary of the prestigious 500-level tournament is highlighted by World No. 1 Andy Murray, who is joined by reigning champion Stan Wawrinka and seven-time winner Roger Federer, who is playing his first tournament since his title run at the Australian Open. The other seeds are: No. 4 Gael Monfils, No. 5 Tomas Berdych, No. 6 Roberto Bautista Agut, No. 7 Lucas Pouille and No. 8 Gilles Muller. Prior to last year when Wawrinka captured the title, Djokovic or Federer were champions for a seven-year stretch from 2009-2015.
Murray Top Seed: Murray is making his first tournament appearance since losing in the 4R at the Australian Open (l. to M. Zverev) on Jan. 22. The World No. 1 opened the season by reaching the final in Doha (l. to Djokovic). He has an 11-4 career record in Dubai, reaching the final in 2012 (l. to Federer) and the quarter-finals in 2008-09 and 2015. Murray is also playing doubles (w/Zimonjic).
Stan Reigning Champion: No. 2 seed Wawrinka is back to defend his title. Last year he returned to Dubai for the first time since 2008 (1R, l. to Hernych). After opening the tournament coming back to beat Stakhovsky in three sets, he did not drop a set the rest of the week, capping it off with a 6-4, 7-6 victory over Baghdatis in the final. He won two more titles, including his third Grand Slam crown at the US Open (d. Djokovic) to finish No. 4 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the third straight year. This season he has compiled a 7-2 match record, opening with a semi-final in Brisbane (l. to Nishikori) and following with the same result at the Australian Open (l. to eventual champion Federer in five sets).
Roger Eyes Eighth Title: Federer is making his 13th appearance in Dubai and the 35-year-old Swiss superstar is playing in his first tournament since capturing his 18th career Grand Slam crown at the Australian Open on Jan. 29 (d. Nadal in five sets). Federer owns a 47-5 career record in Dubai with seven titles (2003-05, 2007, 2012, 2014-15). He also was runner-up in 2006 and 2011. He has won 10 straight matches in Dubai since losing to Berdych in the semi-finals in 2013. He is trying to win an eighth title for the first time in his career. He also has captured seven titles in Basel, Cincinnati, Halle and Wimbledon. Last year he played his last match in the Wimbledon semi-finals on July 8, 2016 when he lost in five sets to Raonic. He missed the rest of last season with a knee injury.
Kohli Eyes 400 Wins: No. 2 German Philipp Kohlschreiber is three match wins away from reaching the 400 wins milestone in his career. He has a record of 397-307, including 8-7 in Dubai, reaching the semi-finals in 2014 (l. to Berdych) and quarter-finals last year (l. to eventual champion Wawrinka).
Berdych Makes 10th Appearance: No. 5 seed Tomas Berdych is making his 11th appearance in Dubai. The two-time finalist (2013-14), who has reached the quarter-finals or better the past six years, has a 22-10 career record. He began with a 4-4 record but is 18-6 since 2011.
Doubles Draw: The top seeds are Australian Open champions Henri Kontinen and John Peers. The other seeds are: No. 2 Ivan Dodig and Marcel Granollers, No. 3 Daniel Nestor and Edouard Roger-Vasselin and No. 4 Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau.
BRASIL OPEN (Sao Paulo): Sao Paulo is the site of one of two Brazilian tournaments on the ATP World Tour (Rio de Janeiro). There are five players in the Top 50 Emirates ATP Rankings in the field, led by top seed, Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, who finished runner-up in his biggest career ATP World Tour final in Rio on Sunday (l. to Thiem). The other seeds are No. 2 Albert Ramos-Vinolas No. 3 and reigning two-time champion Pablo Cuevas, No. 4 Joao Sousa, No. 5 Fabio Fognini, No. 6 Diego Schwartzman, No. 7 Federico Delbonis and No. 8 Carlos Berlocq. There are two former winners in the field: Cuevas (2015-16) and Delbonis (2014).
Cuevas Two-Time Defending Champ: Two-time reigning champion Cuevas comes in with a 12-5 career record, having won nine straight matches over 2015-16 in Sao Paulo. The 31-year-old Uruguayan is off to a slow start this season with a 1-4 match record and he has lost his past three opening round matches, including last week in Rio (l. to De Greef). On Saturday, he captured his sixth career doubles title in Rio (w/Carreno Busta). They are the top seeds in Sao Paulo.
Carreno Busta Top Seed: For the first time in his career Carreno Busta is the top seed in an ATP World Tour tournament. The 25-year-old Spaniard lost in Sunday’s singles final in Rio (l. to Thiem). He saved one match point in his 2-6, 7-5 ,6-0 semi-final win over rising Norwegian #NextGenATP star Casper Ruud. Last season Carreno Busta won two ATP World Tour titles (Winston-Salem, Moscow) and reached two other finals (Sao Paulo, Estoril) and finished a year-end best No. 30 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. Last year’s Sao Paulo runner-up is making his third straight tournament visit (4-2 record).
Ruud Newest #NextGenATP Star: The youngest player in the draw is 18-year-old Casper Ruud of Norway. Ruud earned entry into the draw as a special exempt after reaching his first ATP World Tour semi-final in Rio (l. to Carreno Busta after holding match point). Ruud rose from No. 209 to a career-high of No. 133 in the Emirates ATP Rankings after his breakthrough week. He also moved from No. 16 to No. 3 in the Emirates ATP Race to Milan standings.
Spanish Success: In 2014, Delbonis became the first Argentine tournament winner since Guillermo Canas won in Costa do Sauipe in 2007. Then Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas won the title in 2015-16. Prior to 2014, Spaniards had won six straight titles in Sao Paulo from 2008-13 with Almagro winning three times:
Doubles Draw: The top seeds are Rio champions Pablo Carreno Busta and Pablo Cuevas. The other seeds are: defending champions No. 2 Julio Peralta and Horacio Zeballos, No. 3 Nicholas Monroe and Artem Sitak and No. 4 Marcus Daniell and Marcelo Demoliner.