Previewing and Predicting Tokyo, Stockholm, and Astana: Unlocking the Potential

The home stretch of the 2023 ATP season is not slowing down following the conclusion of the Shanghai Masters, as another big week is upon us. There is a 500-point tournament in Tokyo and it is joined on the schedule by a pair of 250s in Stockholm and Antwerp.

Among the players in action are Taylor Fritz, Casper Ruud, Alexander Zverev, Hubert Hurkacz, Ben Shelton, Holger Rune, Stan Wawrinka, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Dominic Thiem.

Let’s break down the three tournaments.

Japan Open:
Where: Tokyo, Japan
Surface: Hard
Prize money: $1,857,660
Points: 500
Top seed: Taylor Fritz
Defending champion: Taylor Fritz

Draw analysis: Although it may not be the best 500 on the 2023 calendar, the Japan Open field is a good one with Fritz, Ruud, Zverev, Hurkacz, Shelton, Alex de Minaur, Tommy Paul, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and more. There is plenty on offer for the Tokyo faithful, too, as five Japanese players find themselves in the main draw. That includes Zhizhen Zhang, who is set for a rematch with Hurkacz in the first round. Hurkacz battled past Zhang in a third-set tiebreaker during fourth-round action in Shanghai on the Pole’s eventual way to the title. Facing Zhang again while making a quick turnaround with little rest could be a difficult proposition for Hurkacz. The winner of that contest will likely meet Frances Tiafoe in round two prior to a possible quarterfinal date with either Alex de Minaur or Jack Draper. With Ruud and Auger-Aliassime struggling, Zverev has to be considered the favorite in the bottom half of the bracket. The 10th-ranked German could be challenged by Shelton in the last 16, however, and Paul is a potential quarterfinal opponent. Both Paul and Ruud face difficult opening matches – against Daniel Altmaier and Yosuke Watanuki, respectively.

Hot: Alexander Zverev, Ben Shelton, Hubert Hurkacz
Cold: Casper Ruud, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Cameron Norrie
Quarterfinal predictions: Taylor Fritz over Karen Khachanov, Frances Tiafoe over Jack Draper, Alexander Zverev over Daniel Altmaier, and Capser Ruud over Christopher O’Connell
Semifinals: Fritz over Tiafoe and Zverev over Ruud
Final: Zverev over Fritz

Nordic Open:
Where: Stockholm, Sweden
Surface: Indoor hard
Prize money: 673,630 Euros
Points: 250
Top seed: Holger Rune
Defending champion: Holger Rune

Draw analysis: Rune is by far the highest-ranked man in Stockholm, but given his struggles since Wimbledon it’s hard to see him emerging victorious. As a result, this title is entirely up for grabs. Adrian Mannarino, the No. 2 seed, has to like his chances on an indoor hard court and because of his current form. The Frenchman is playing the best tennis of his career, which already includes one title on the fall swing (Astana). His Stockholm draw is a rough one, though, likely featuring Roman Safiullin in round two and either Dan Evans, Marton Fucsovics, or Gael Monfils in the quarterfinals. Wawrinka and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina are also part of a deep bottom half of the bracket. At the top of the draw, Rune could be tested right away by Miomir Kecmanovic. Jiri Lehecka is a possible quarterfinal opponent for the Dane, while Tallon Griekspoor, Chris Eubanks, Emil Ruusuvuori, and Lorenzo Sonego are potential semifinal foes. Griekspoor-Ruusuvuori and Eubanks-Sonego would be intriguing second-round matchups.

Hot: Adrian Mannarino, Tallon Griekspoor, Dan Evans, Roman Safiullin, Borna Gojo
Cold: Holger Rune, Roberto Bautista Agut, Miomir Kecmanovic
Quarterfinal predictions: Jiri Lehecka over Miomir Kecmanovic, Tallon Griekspoor over Lorenzo Sonego, Stan Wawrinka over Laslo Djere, and Adrian Mannarino over Dan Evans
Semifinals: Griekspoor over Lehecka and Mannarino over Wawrinka
Final: Mannarino over Griekspoor

European Open:
Where: Antwerp, Belgium
Surface: Indoor hard
Prize money: 750,950 Euros
Points: 250
Top seed: Stefanos Tsitsipas
2022 champion: Felix Auger-Aliassime (not playing)

Draw analysis: Tsitsipas and Thiem are former top-three players and they headline the Antwerp draw, but at least one will be out prior to the semifinals. That’s because they will go head-to-head in the quarters if both advance that far. Tsitsipas has a bye as the top seed and awaits either Dominic Stricker or Botic van de Zandschulp. Thiem faces wild card Luca Nardi and could run into Yannick Hanfmann in the last 16. Elsewhere in the top half of the draw, fourth seed Arthur Fils could be challenged early by either Fabian Marozsan or Alexander Shevchenko. On the other side, Belgian fans have to hope that Goffin – the only Belgian in the entire main draw – can turn back the clock. Goffin, who has struggled throughout 2023, will get started against Quentin Halys before possibly facing Roberto Carballes Baena in the second round and Alexander Bublik in the quarterfinals. It’s safe to say that the bottom half of the bracket is entirely wide open.

Hot: Arthur Fils, Fabian Marozsan, Alexander Shevchenko
Cold: Stefanos Tsitsipas, Dominic Thiem, Jan-Lennard Struff, David Goffin, Botic van de Zandschulp
Quarterfinal predictions: Dominic Thiem over Stefanos Tsitsipas, Arthur Fils over Fabian Marozsan, Gregoire Barrere over Quentin Halys, and Arthur Rinderknech over Richard Gasquet
Semifinals: Fils over Thiem and Barrere over Rinderknech
Final: Fils over Barrere