The final preparation – Preview Geneva and Lyon

by Simon Zeitler
Novak Djokovic

With just one week to go until the second Slam of the year, there are still two 250s ongoing on the ATP circuit. And there is one big surprise – the World No.1 Novak Djokovic is actually playing the Geneva tournament, something we have not seen in a decade. A little preview of those two events and how those affect the Roland Garros preparation.

It is an interesting mix-up of top-25 players trying to keep their rhythm, some wildcards and then top-100 players trying to take advantage of the absence of top-players such as Sinner, Alcaraz or Zverev. These 250s always guarantee surprises and new faces, even though the lower ranked players might already be playing Roland Garros qualification as of now.

ATP 250 Geneva – the return of the GOAT

It was rather big news when the organizers at Geneva announced that Novak Djokovic had accepted their wildcard offer and would play the 2024 Gonet Open there. It has been over a decade since the Serbian had played an event in the week before Roland Garros. But, with his form still missing and the ultimate goal coming closer, Novak decided that he needs some more match-time. 

Needless to say that he will be the favorite going into this event, even though he has some competition from the top-10. World No.7 Casper Ruud, No.12 Taylor Fritz and No.15 Ben Shelton all take part in the tournament, which is beloved by players, even right before Roland Garros. Add in the clay court specialists Sebastian Baez and an in-form Jack Draper, and you have an interesting couple of games ahead of you. 

The draw guarantees for some action, as Novak will play the winner of Yannick Hanfmann and Andy Murray first, a possible Big 3 matchup in one of their last seasons. Baez will meet Roberto Carballes Baena for a clay court showdown of highest order and the winner of that match will run into Casper Ruud eventually. It is interesting to see, how Djokovic will approach this event and how it affects his chances in Paris. With challenges like Tallon Griekspoor and Taylor Fritz in his part of the draw, the Geneva Open might be a good indicator for his shape.

The American No.1 is the favorite next to Novak in my opinion, coming off a good showing in Rome and adapting better and better to the clay. He will face the winner of Kovacevic or Michelsen for an all-American showdown and could solidify his position going into Roland Garros.

Prediction for ATP Geneva: My expectations are Djokovic/Fritz in the upper half and a surprise lower half with a semifinal between Baez/Cobolli – title goes to whoever comes out of that Novak and Taylor matchup.

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ATP 250 Lyon – French extraordinaire

Another 250-event taking place this week and already getting players into the French spirit is the Open Parc in Lyon. With a beautiful center-court, built into a velodrome, the tournament mainly attracts French players, who have already qualified for Paris. So it does not come as a surprise, that the top seed is French No.1 Ugo Humbert, who is accompanied by his compatriots Adrian Mannarino and Gael Monfils. Other seeded players are World No. 19 Alexander Bublik, No. 24 Francisco Cerundolo and No. 26 Frances Tiafoe.

ATP 250 Lyon, France

In a mixture of clay court specialists and local players, the American Tiafoe is surely out there looking for an improvement in a clay court season, that has been below expectations so far. The favorites in this one, next to top-seed Humbert, are rather the Argentinian Cerundolo or even the young Seyboth Wild, who had a stellar breakout season. No.8 seed Gael Monfils might also see this tournament as one of his last chances to win another ATP title, so look out for the showman.

The draw is complemented by an in-form Dominik Koepfer, some Spanish clay courters and interesting wildcards in Gasquet, Muller and Gaston. Especially Muller comes off an excellent performance and will face Russian Pavel Kotov in his next match. Other interesting matchups in early rounds could be Humbert/Koepfer and Munar/Tiafoe. Both halves of the draw look evenly strong and this tournament could be interesting for a surprise winner.

Prediction for ATP Lyon: One possibility for me would be a Humbert/Mannarino semifinal from the upper half of the draw and Cerundolo/Muller from the bottom. How about a maiden title for Muller in this one? Let us know your predictions!

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