The autumn events of what has been a gripping tennis season will get going this week and St. Petersburg will be one of the main cities for the next stop on the ATP calendar. Russia’s Daniil Medvedev who played out in a US Open classic just a week ago will be the top seed at his home tournament. The new World No.4 will be joined by fellow countrymen Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev in a very strong looking line-up. US Open semifinalist Matteo Berrettini will also be in the draw.
We preview and predict Day 1 matches which will feature a pair of main draw and qualifying matches respectively.
ATP St. Petersburg Open Day 1 Predictions
Stefano Travaglia vs Adrian Mannarino
Head-To-Head: Travaglia 0-1 Mannarino
Stefano Travaglia may have fallen a spot from his career-high ranking of World No.79 which he attained following his title triumph at the ATP Challenger event in Sopot in early August, but that does not tarnish his achievements in 2019 at that level . That success at the Polish seaside city ensured the 27-year-old Italian picked up his fourth Challenger title of his career and his second this year. He has spent most of his 2019 season in Challengers where he also won in Francavilla and reached the final in Shymkent.
However, his record at tour-level is appalling with just four match-wins all year and only one of those coming on hard courts (beat Guido Andreozzi in the first round of Australian Open). Against Mannarino that terrible record is likely to continue. The veteran Frenchman has posted a win over Travaglia at the French Open in June, and that happens to be Travaglia’s best surface. Although I expect this to be tight, Mannarino will have the edge again.
Prediction: Mannarino in 3
Mikhail Kukushkin vs Jannik Sinner
Head-To-Head: First meeting
Mikhail Kukushkin has been handed a fascinating opener against the precocious Italian talent Jannik Sinner. The 17-year-old garnered attention after surging to his maiden title on home soil in Bergamo at the end of February, becoming the youngest Italian to win an ATP Challenger title. His rise over the last 12 months has been a meteoric one. Sinner was ranked outside the World’s Top 1000 at this time last year, but he is on the cusp of attaining an automatic entry ranking at the Australian Open next year.
The 17-year-old will need to put together a solid week to put him in strong contention of qualifying for the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. Mikhail Kukushkin will be no slouch for Sinner if he bids to gain points in St. Petersburg. The Kazakh won his first and thus far only ATP tour-level title at this event in 2010 and attained a career-high ranking of No.39 in February this year after reaching the final in Marseille. He did reach the fourth round at Wimbledon in June, but amidst all of that, he has not done much at tour-level all season. The 31-year-old will start as a slight favorite in this one, but do not be surprised to see the young gun claim an upset win.
Prediction: Sinner in 3
Damir Dzumhur vs Lukas Rosol (Qualifiers)
Head-To-Head: Dzumhur 1-0 Rosol
This will be one of four final qualifying matches in St. Petersburg. The 2017 champion Damir Dzumhur had slipped outside the Top 100 at the start of August (first time that happened since 2015), but crept back in just in time at the US Open. The Bosnian has had a stuttering campaign with a win-loss record 10-16 at tour-level. However, he will carry some momentum heading to Russia thanks to his semifinal run at Challenger event in New Haven last week. Dzumhur will also find solace from the fact that he has beaten his opponent Lukas Rosol in the past quite handsomely. The tall Czech has played dismally all year and he will attempt to reach a main draw of a tour-level event for the first time since losing in the first round of French Open. Given Rosol’s poor form it is hard to see him turn things around so quickly against the usually reliable Dzumhur.
Prediction: Dzumhur in 2
Ilya Ivashka vs Matteo Viola (Qualifiers)
Head-To-Head: First meeting
Ilya Ivashka has lost his spot as Belarus’ No.1 on the men’s tour to Egor Gerasimov. But this week could be an opportunity to reclaim that mantle for the 25-year-old. Ivashka could not have asked for a more comfortable final round of qualifiers to get to the main draw when he takes on Italian journeyman Matteo Viola.
Prediction: Ivashka in 2