With the COVID-19 pandemic still wreaking havoc on the world, the 2021 season is set to kick off at an ATP 250 event in the Turkish city of Antalya.
The main draw is full of stars, with two of Italy's highest-ranked players - Matteo Berrettini and Fabio Fognini leading the pack. The tournament also features the likes of Alex de Minaur, David Goffin, Alexander Bublik and Jan-Lennard Struff.
With main draw action set to get underway from Thursday, here is a look at the prospects of the biggest names in the fray:
Top half: Italian pair looks to overturn poor 2020 form
Seeded players: (1) Matteo Berrettini, (3) Fabio Fognini, (5) Jan-Lennard Struff, (8) Alexander Bublik
Expected semifinal: Matteo Berrettini vs Fabio Fognini
The top half of the main draw in Anatalya features a mix of big names and relatively unknown players. But it might end up being more competitive than it seems, given the poor recent form of the top seeds.
Matteo Berrettini, who was unable to secure his position in the ATP top 10 despite the frozen rankings, is looking to recover from an underwhelming 2020 season. Fabio Fognini meanwhile was dealing with fitness issues for the vast majority of the 2020 season; he hasn't won a single match on tour since the end of lockdown.
Berrettini and Fognini have seemingly uncomplicated paths to the semifinal. However, they face potentially difficult quarterfinal matchups against the unpredictable Alexander Bublik and the hard-hitting Jan-Lennard Struff respectively.
Bublik and Struff slipped under the radar last year, despite registering a few big wins in the pandemic-struck year. They would both now be smelling opportunity given the unpredictable draw they find themselves in.
Predicted semifinal: Matteo Berrettini vs Jan-Lennard Struff
Bottom half: David Goffin and Alex de Minaur lead the way
Expected semifinal: David Goffin vs Alex de Minaur
Big names feature on either side of the bottom half of the draw. Second seed David Goffin and fourth seed Alex de Minaur seem primed to go deep in the tournament despite being in a relatively packed section of the draw.
Goffin will be looking to get a good start to the season after having ended 2020 in dreadful form. The Belgian is coming in on the back of four consecutive first round losses - Rome, Roland Garros, Antwerp and Paris. Goffin faces a potentially tricky opponent in the form of Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the first round.
Alex de Minaur seems to be the form hardcourt player of the draw, having reached the quarterfinal of the US Open and finished runner-up in Antwerp last year. The Australian could set up his home season with a big week in Antalya, and he has a relatively straightforward path to the semifinal.
Youngsters Emil Ruusuvuori and Miomir Kecmanovic could have a defining week as well, by possibly becoming a thorn in the side of the more experienced players.
Predicted semifinal: Pierre-Hugues Herbert vs Alex de Minaur
Jan-Lennard Struff vs Alex de Minaur
Alex de MinaurPublished 06 Jan 2021, 10:29 IST