European Open Draw Has Plenty Of Promise For Spectacle, Top Tennis

Dick Norman and Richard Gasquet (photo: Tennium/Belga)

ANTWERP/WASHINGTON, October 15, 2023 (by Michael Dickens)

Saturday’s draw for the eighth edition of the European Open, an ATP 250 indoor hardcourt event in Antwerp, Belgium, set up some exciting – if not intriguing – first-round matches in Lotto Arena.

Take for instance, No. 67 Botic van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands was drawn to play 21-year-old #NextGenATP Swiss rising star Dominic Stricker, ranked 88th, with the winner set to face World No. 6 and top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in the second round.

Among other noteworthy first-round encounters are: 99th-ranked Belgian favorite David Goffin against No. 76 Quentin Halys of France, and No. 68 Arthur Rinderknech versus No. 94 Hugo Gaston in an all-French affair.

“With such a list of players,” tournament director Dick Norman said, “it is inevitable that there will be some exciting matches on the program.”

Besides Tsitsipas, other seeded players include: No. 2 Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany (ranked 27th), No. 3 Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan (35), No. 4 Arthur Fils of France (44), No. 5 Yannick Hanfmann of Germany (53), No. 6 Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain (61), No. 7 Richard Gasquet of France (63), and No. 8 Juan Pablo Varillas of Peru (65). The top four seeds have byes into the second round.

Last year’s champion, current World No.15 Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada, did not return to defend his title, opting instead to compete in an ATP 500 event in Tokyo, Japan this week, and 2021 champion, current World No. 4 Jannik Sinner of Italy, who was projected to be the No. 1 seed, pulled out of the tournament at mid-week citing non-medical reasons.

“We are, of course, very much looking forward to seeing our best-seeded player, Stefanos Tsitsipas, in action,” Norman added. “However, we don’t have to wait for Tsitsipas’ match for spectacle. A lot of matches in the first round can also make for top tennis.”

Besides Goffin, other main draw old cards were awarded to No. 133 Luca Nardi of Italy and No. 237 Mark Lajal of Estonia. Nardi will oppose No. 72 Dominic Thiem of Austria and Lajal faces No. 82 Jaume Munar of Spain in the first round.

Among other Belgians, the qualifying draw features a quartet that includes: wild cards Gilles Arnaud Bailly and Alexander Blockx, Gauthier Onclin, Kimmer Coppejans and Zizou Bergs.

Qualifying begins Sunday and concludes Monday. The main draw commences on Monday and title finals will take place on Sunday, Oct. 22.