The ATP 250 Astana Open is returning for a second installment and the Kazakh capital will host another standout line-up in Nur-Sultan. One quick look at the draw list and you’ll find Grand Slam pedigree, local talent and rising stars.
The Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev leads the title defense as top seed. The number 25 in the world, who became champion in Dubai earlier this season, opens his account in the second round against either the semi-finalist of the 2020 Astana Open, Emil Ruusuvuori, or the strong French Benjamin Bonzi.
At the start of the season, Karatsev was anchored in the top 8 of the FedEx ATP Race to Turin after reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open and taking the ATP 500 title in Dubai. But since then he has fallen to 12th place in the race and needs a strong end to the season to get a place at the Nitto ATP Finals.
Further down, Karatsev could meet the resurgent Andreas Seppi, who recently reached the third round of the US Open. Seppi has to overcome the local wildcard Timofey Skatov at the first hurdle. Winston Salem Open winner Ilya Ivashka, who faces a qualifying game, also lands in the Karatsev draw quarter.
Home hopes are bolstered by the sociable Alexander Bublik who arrives as No. 2 in the bottom half. The world number 34 will try to bring his vast repertoire of shooting techniques onto the pitch to defeat either Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco or Miomir Kecmanovic in the second round.
Look out for a possible quarter-final between Bublik and flamboyant Frenchman Benoit Paire. The duel seeded at number 6 will duel with the Belarusian Egor Gerasimov in the first round.
Defending champion John Millman, in the top half of the draw, is looking for another deep run in Nur-Sultan. A qualifier will try to stop the Australians in a quarter of the draw, including world number 37 Filip Krajinovic and Kazakh loyal Mikhail Kukushkin.
Millman’s title defense is expected to be a possible opponent for a convincing final four duel in the semifinals with Karatsev.
The third-placed Dusan Lajovic lands in the third quarter alongside his compatriot Laslo Djere and the next-gen Italian Lorenzo Musetti.
The main draw for the Astana Open starts on Monday 20th September.
– Story courtesy of Astana Open