For the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020, China has a spot on the ATP Tour schedule. Chengdu and Zhuhai took place this past week and now Beijing takes center stage as an appetizer to next week’s Shanghai Masters. And what an appetizer it is – arguably the best 500 of the entire year. The field is so stacked that Tommy Paul, Alex de Minaur, Grigor Dimitrov, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Andy Murray, and Zhuhai champion Karen Khachanov are unseeded. Also on this week’s slate is a 250 tournament in Astana, Kazakhstan, where Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem are among those in action.
Where: Beijing, China
Prize money: $3,633,875
Top seed: Carlos Alcaraz
2019 champion: Dominic Thiem (not playing)
Draw analysis: Look no further than No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev’s draw to see that not a single player in Beijing will have an easy path to success this week. Medvedev has to go up against Paul right off the bat and would then have to defeat either De Minaur or Murray just to reach the quarterfinals. As if that isn’t enough, Andrey Rublev would likely stand in his compatriot’s way of the semis. The bottom half of the bracket is also home to Chengdu winner Alexander Zverev in addition to Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.
Seeded players also won’t be able to ease their way into the tournament at the top of the draw. Jannik Sinner will kick off his campaign against Dan Evans, Holger Rune is facing Auger-Aliassime, and Casper Ruud awaits Jan-Lennard Struff. Top seed Carlos Alcaraz will begin his title quest against a qualifier before possibly running into Khachanov or Lorenzo Musetti. Blockbuster first-round matchups include Khachanov vs. Musetti, De Minaur vs. Murray, Rune vs. Auger-Aliassime, and Rublev vs. Cameron Norrie.
Hot: Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner, Alexander Zverev, Tommy Paul, Alex de Minaur
Cold: Holger Rune, Casper Ruud, Cameron Norrie, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Diego Schwartzman
Quarterfinal predictions: Carlos Alcaraz over Casper Ruud, Jannik Sinner over Grigor Dimitrov, Alexander Zverev over Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Alex de Minaur over Andrey Rublev
Semifinals: Sinner over Alcaraz and Zverev over De Minaur
Final: Sinner over Zverev
Where: Astana, Kazakhstan
Prize money: $1,017,850
Top seed: Tallon Griekspoor
2022 champion: Novak Djokovic (not playing)
Draw analysis: Astana replaced Beijing on the 2022 schedule as an ATP 500 (all tournaments in China were cancelled last year). Now that Beijing is back in action, Astana has returned to the 250 ranks. That obviously coincides with a hit to the player field, as world No. 24 Tallon Griekspoor is the highest-ranked man in the draw. Griekspoor is followed on the list of seeds by Sebastian Baez, Alexander Bublik, Jiri Lehecka, Sebastian Korda, Adrian Mannarino, Laslo Djere, and Wawrinka.
The Bublik-Wawrinka section probably has to be considered the toughest part of the bracket. Wawrinka opens with Marcos Giron and could meet Thiem in the last 16, while Bublik vs Marton Fucsovics is a potential second-round matchup. The top two seeds may not have an easy time of things, either. Griekspoor is on a quarterfinal collision course with Korda; Baez is not comfortable indoors and finds himself in a quarter of the draw with Mannarino, Arthur Rinderknech, and indoor specialist Gregoire Barrere.
Hot: Tallon Griekspoor, Sebastian Baez, Sebastian Ofner
Cold: Alexander Bublik, Mikhail Kukushkin, Dominic Thiem, Botic van de Zandschulp
Quarterfinal predictions: Sebastian Korda over Tallon Griekspoor, Laslo Djere over Jiri Lehecka, Stan Wawrinka over Marton Fucsovics, and Adrian Mannarino over Gregoire Barrere
Semifinals: Korda over Djere and Mannarino over Wawrinka
Final: Korda over Mannarino