Tennis Channel Live: Fun in the sun, and an icy handshake in Tenerife

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The tours begin their final turns of 2021 and head for the homestretch this week. The WTA Finals will start on November 10 in Guadalajara, and they’ll be joined by the ATP Finals in Turin on November 14. Which means the races to those events have just a couple more weeks to run, and anyone hoping to qualify has just a few more tournaments to make up ground. This week there are two on the men’s side (Vienna and St. Petersburg) and two on the women’s (Courmayeur, Italy and the Transylvania Open in Romania). Here’s a look at who’s playing, and what’s at stake, in each one.

Stefanos Tsitsipas will open against Grigor Dimitrov in a battle of one-handed backhands.

Stefanos Tsitsipas will open against Grigor Dimitrov in a battle of one-handed backhands.

Erste Bank Open (ATP)

  • Vienna
  • $2,000,000; ATP 500
  • Indoor hard court
  • Draw is here

Vienna’s fields have grown steadily stronger in recent years, and this might be the best yet. Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Matteo Berrettini, Casper Ruud, Hubert Hurkacz, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jannik Sinner: That’s a who’s who of future Grand Slam contenders, and they’re all among the Top 8 seeds here. Tsitsipas, Zverev and Berrettini look set for Turin, while Ruud, Hurkacz, FAA and Sinner are in the running.

The quality doesn’t stop with the seeds in Vienna, as we can see from these first-round matchups:

  1. Tsitsipas vs. Grigor Dimitrov
  2. Ruud vs. Lloyd Harris
  3. Hurkacz vs. Andy Murray
  4. Sinner vs. Reilly Opelka
  5. Gael Monfils vs. Lorenzo Musetti
  6. Cam Norrie vs. Marton Fucsovics
  7. Lorenzo Sonego, last year’s runner-up, vs. Cristian Garin

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All eyes remain on Emma Raducanu, and that will be especially true in Romania.

All eyes remain on Emma Raducanu, and that will be especially true in Romania.

Transylvania Open (WTA)

  • Cluj-Napoca, Romania
  • $235,238; WTA 250
  • Indoor hard courts
  • Draw is here

With the Grand Slam success of Simona Halep and Bianca Andreescu, and the sudden rise of Emma Raducanu, Romanian tennis is having a moment. Raducanu was born in Canada and represents Great Britain, of course, but her father Ian is a Bucharest native. If Romania can’t quite claim her as a countrywoman, this tennis-loving country can still root for her like she’s one of their own.

And they can root for her this week at the Transylvania Open. Raducanu is seeded third behind Halep and Anett Kontaveit—who just won in Moscow—and she’s scheduled to face Polona Hercog in the first round. Halep and Raducanu will be the players that the locals will want to watch, but the rest of us might want to keep an eye on Kontaveit. Since hiring Dmitry Tursunov as her coach earlier this year, Kontaveit has won two tournaments, has reached the Top 15 in the year-end race, and is putting herself in the thick of the dark-horse conversation for 2022.

First-round match to watch: Halep vs. fellow Romanian Elena-Gabriela Ruse, a 23-year-old who won a title in Hamburg this summer, and followed it up with a runner-up finish in Palermo.

St. Petersburg Open (ATP)

  • St. Petersburg, Russia
  • $932,370; ATP 250
  • Indoor hard court
  • Draw is here

With Novak Djokovic out for another week, and most of the ATP Top 10 in Vienna, Andrey Rublev takes over the top spot in his home country. He’s followed by Denis Shapovalov, Roberto Bautista Agut, Aslan Karatsev and Taylor Fritz. Karatsev is coming off a title run in Moscow, and Fritz a semifinal finish in Indian Wells.

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Courmayeur Ladies Open (WTA)

  • Courmayeur, Italy
  • $235,238; WTA 250
  • Indoor hard court
  • Draw is here

This late-season Italian 250 has suffered a couple of withdrawals at the top: No. 1 seed Ons Jabeur and No. 2 seed Camila Giorgi have both been scratched. That leaves Luidmila Samsonova, Petra Martic and Clara Tauson in the top three positions.