The ATP 250 Astana Open returns for a second instalment and the Kazakh capital will host another stellar line-up in Nur-Sultan. A quick glance down the draw sheet and you come across Grand Slam pedigree, local talent and emerging stars.
Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev leads the title charge as the top seed. The World No. 25, champion in Dubai earlier this season, opens his account in the second round against either 2020 Astana Open semi-finalist Emil Ruusuvuori or the in-form Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi.
Earlier in the season Karatsev was entrenched inside the Top 8 of the FedEx ATP Race to Turin after reaching the Australian Open semi-finals and claiming the ATP 500 title in Dubai. But he has since fallen to 12th position in the Race and needs a strong finish to the season to claim a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals.
Further down the track, Karatsev could meet the resurgent Andreas Seppi, who recently reached the US Open third round. Seppi must overcome local wild card Timofey Skatov at the first hurdle. Winston-Salem Open champion Ilya Ivashka, drawn to face a qualifier, also lands in Karatsev’s quarter of the draw.
Home hopes will be boosted by the gregarious Alexander Bublik arriving as the No.2 seed in the bottom half. The world No.34 will look to bring his vast repertoire of shot-making to the court to tackle either Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco or Miomir Kecmanovic in the second round.
Defending champion John Millman, in the top half of the drawm will be seeking another deep run in Nur-Sultan. A qualifier will look to halt the Australian in a quarter of the draw including world No. 37 Filip Krajinovic and Kazakh stalwart Mikhail Kukushkin.
Millman’s title defence is projected to come under threat in the semi-finals with Karatsev a possible opponent for a compelling final-four clash.
The main draw of the Astana Open begins on Monday 20 September.