5 players to watch out for at the ATP Kremlin Cup in Moscow

Daniil Medvedev
Daniil Medvedev
Devang R Joshi

After some quality matches at the China Open and the Shanghai Masters, the focus now shifts to the Kremlin Cup which will be played in Russia from today.

ATP events allow some of the lower-ranked players to improve their ranking and get much-needed match practice before the big events. The Kremlin Cup will be no different as it will see some of the finest upcoming talents in action.

These players are desperately trying to make their mark and are serious contenders to win the event. Some of them have already announced themselves on the big stage and have shown that they have the potential to be big stars in the future.

Last year’s Kremlin Cup was won by Karen Khachanov, and the Russian will try to lift the trophy once again this time around. Here, we take a look at five players to keep an eye out for at this event:

#1 Daniil Medvedev

2019 Rolex Shanghai Masters - Day 8
2019 Rolex Shanghai Masters - Day 8

Daniil Medvedev is touted to be a superstar in the making. Medvedev came into the limelight after he won the Sydney International in January last year by beating local player Alex De Minaur in the final. He also won the Japan Open in October by beating Kei Nishikori in the final.

Medvedev finished as the runner-up at the Barcelona Open and the Washington Open in April and July respectively this year. The 23-year-old is quite good with his deceptive drop shots and can be a tricky opponent for anyone.

The Russian has also shown his sharpness with his precise baseline play. Recently he was quoted as saying that he wants to work more on his serve. Medvedev has also stated that maintaining calmness on the court helps him sail through pressure situations. His destructive two-handed backhand can outclass any opponent, especially on hard courts.

Medvedev made it to the final of this year’s US Open, where he lost to Rafael Nadal. He won the Shanghai Masters yesterday, which will further boost his confidence ahead of the Kremlin Cup.

Medvedev also won the St. Petersburg event in September and the Cincinnati Masters in August.

#2 Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic
Marin Cilic

Many believe Marin Cilic hasn’t done justice to his talent. The Croat was the runner-up at the 2017 Wimbledon, in which the 30-year-old lost his way because of an injury.

Cilic was a runner-up at the Australian Open last year, losing to Roger Federer in the final. He also won the Queens Club championships where he defeated Novak Djokovic in the summit clash.

The 2014 US Open champion has stated that doing well in the Kremlin Cup will give him a much-required boost for the upcoming tournaments and the Grand Slam events next year.

Cilic was a part of the Croatian team that won the Davis Cup final by beating France 3-1 last year. His sublime baseline play has always unsettled his opponents, and that combined with his powerful serve makes him a really difficult opponent to face.

#3 Karen Khachanov

Karen Khachanov
Karen Khachanov

Karen Khachanov is another special talent who has been billed as a future star. Khachanov won the Kremlin Cup last year, which will be a big source of motivation for the 23-year-old ahead of the event.

The Russian won the Open 13 event in Marseille last year by beating Lucas Pouille of France in the final. He then made a big move in October by beating Novak Djokovic in the final of the Paris Masters.

Khachanov's power-packed grounstrokes can push anyone back behind the baseline. His two-handed backhand in particular gives everyone fits, and he can combine that with some deft drop shots and volleys to keep his opponents guessing.

Khachanov hasn't had a great year so far, and he will be looking to salvage something out of it by winning his second consecutive Moscow title.

#4 Andrey Rublev

Andrey Rublev
Andrey Rublev

Andrey Rublev is one of those players who can surprise anyone when he is at his best. Rublev has all the tools to be a destructive baseliner, but he also needs to work on certain areas to become a world-beater.

The Russian made it to the finals of the Washington Open in July this year, where he defeated Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals. He also beat Roger Federer at the Cincinnati Masters, signaling his return to top form after a long period sidelined with injuries.

The 21-year-old has a terrific forehand and also moves quite well. That said, he needs to work on reducing his unforced errors in order to consistently challenge the very best.

If Rublev can develop the temperament to play well in pressure situations, he is bound to turn into a major force on the tour.

#5 Dusan Lajovic

Dusan Lajovic
Dusan Lajovic

Dusan Lajovic is the highest-ranked Serbian player after Novak Djokovic. The 29-year-old is known to be a sharp operator on clay, where his movement and variety have repeatedly flummoxed his opponents.

Lajovic has a smooth one-handed backhand that took him all the way to the final of the Monte Carlo Masters earlier this year. He also looks to take charge with his forehand, but needs to work on its consistency - especially while playing on hard courts.

Lajovic can cover a lot of ground with his swift movement and can surprise his opponents with his clever net play. He will be looking to add an exclamation point to his career-best year by going deep in the Kremlin Cup.

Edited by Musab Abid
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