What’s at Stake: Isner, Nishikori eye London; Federer's back in Basel

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WATCH—ATP Race to London update: 

 

While the women are closing out 2018 in Singapore, the men will continue their stretch run through Europe. This is something of a warm-up week, before the Masters 1000 event in Paris, and the eight-man World Tour Finals in London that end the season. Still, the two events beginning Monday, in Basel and Vienna, are both ATP 500s, and both have sneaky-strong draws.


Swiss Indoors (ATP)

Basel, Switzerland
$3,000,000; 500 ranking points
Indoor hard court

Draw is here

The tour returns to Basel, and so does the city’s most famous native, Roger Federer. What does Federer, an eight-time champion in his old hometown, have to play for, other than to entertain the locals once again? The year-end No. 1 ranking is probably not going to happen for him, but Federer can improve his position in the ATP Race to London—he trails Juan Martin del Potro, who is sidelined with a patella fracture, by 140 ranking points.

Del Potro’s absence means that his traditional final-round face-off against Federer in Basel is off, too. Since 2012, the Swiss and the Argentine played three title matches here; Delpo won the first two in three sets, before Federer got his revenge, also in three sets, last fall. This year, Federer will start against Filip Krajinovic, and could play the man who knocked him out of the US Open, John Millman, after that. Also in Federer’s half are recent Next Gen tournament winners Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev.

At the bottom of the brackets, Alexander Zverev has taken the spot normally occupied by Del Potro. If there’s a top player who could use a title, or a little late-season momentum, it’s Zverev. While he reached the semifinals in Shanghai two weeks ago, he put up distressingly little resistance against Novak Djokovic in that round.

Also here: Stan Wawrinka, who starts against Adrian Mannarino, and could play Zverev in the third round.

First-round matches to watch: Federer vs. Krajinovic; Ernests Gulbis vs. Jack Sock; Marin Cilic vs. Denis Shapovalov.


Erste Bank Open (ATP)

Vienna, Austria
$3,200,000; 500 ranking points
Indoor hard

Draw is here

Austria’s own Dominic Thiem is the top seed here, followed by Kevin Anderson and Grigor Dimitrov. But the suspense surrounds the No. 4 and 5 seeds, John Isner and Kei Nishikori. With Del Potro questionable for the ATP Finals, Isner and Nishikori are currently next in line to qualify for the eighth and final spot. This week Nishikori will start against Frances Tiafoe, and could play Karen Khachanov after that. Isner, meanwhile, will open with British lucky loser Cameron Norrie, and play either Gael Monfils or Steve Johnson in the second round.

Also here: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Kyle Edmund, Borna Coric and wild card Felix Auger-Aliassime.


Follow the Race to ATP World Tour Finals on Tennis Channel PLUS

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