The Watch List spotlights the must-know storylines for the upcoming week in tennis. This week, several players are looking to boost their standing in the race for the final qualifying spots in the ATP World Tour Finals, while the women play their final set of tournaments before the WTA Championships.
David Ferrer tops the field, but the focus is on two other players: Milos Raonic and Jerzy Janowicz.
Raonic is one of five players vying for the last three spots for the eight-man ATP World Tour Finals in London (he's 11th in the Race standings, which essentially puts him 10th because of Andy Murray's withdrawal). He's 240 points behind Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for the final slot as the tour turns to the European indoor season, which should suit him well given that four of the 22-year-old Canadian's five titles have come indoors and that his career record on the surface is 37-11 (.771). The Race to London will probably come down to the Paris Masters in two weeks, but a Stockholm title would be worth 250 points and bolster his chances. Benoit Paire, Grigor Dimitrov and Kevin Anderson are the other three seeds in his half of the draw.
Janowicz is playing his first tournament since losing in the first round of the U.S. Open and skipping the Asian swing because of a back injury. The big-serving Pole has been drawn into Ferrer's half as the third seed. If the draw holds, he could face 26th-ranked Ernests Gulbis in the quarterfinals. The Latvian is playing his first tournament since winning the St. Petersburg Open last month.
The eight-player field for the WTA Championships is set, but Caroline Wozniacki, Sloane Stephens and Roberta Vinci are competing for two alternate spots. Wozniacki and Stephens are in Luxembourg, while Vinci has entered the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. (Wozniacki is 115 points ahead of Stephens and 130 clear of Vinci.) After taking a week off, Wozniacki returns as the No. 1 seed, joined by the 12th-ranked Stephens, the second seed.
For Stephens, this is an opportunity to put a positive cap on a disappointing fall campaign. She lost to Eugenie Bouchard in the second round of the Pan Pacific Open, was blitzed by Wozniacki in the third round of the China Open and squandered a 5-2 third-set lead against Stefanie Voegele last week in the quarterfinals of the Generali Ladies in Linz, Austria. The 20-year-old American, who is still seeking her first WTA final, has a favorable draw in Luxembourg. Three of the tougher seeds, Bouchard, Bojana Jovanvski and Sabine Lisicki, as well as Andrea Petkovic, who lost a three-setter to Stephens in Linz, are in Wozniacki's half.
Bouchard, who made the Japan Open final last week and is on the cusp of earning a seed for the Australian Open, faces Petkovic in an intriguing first-round matchup. In another interesting opener, 17-year-old Donna Vekic meets Lisicki.
Erste Bank Open
Tsonga, who holds the last qualifying spot for the World Tour Finals, is the top seed in Vienna, Austria, in a draw that includes Tommy Haas, Fabio Fognini and Philipp Kohlschreiber. Tsonga, who is coming off a semifinal appearance at the Shanghai Masters, could play Gael Monfils in the quarterfinals.
Richard Gasquet's London chances stalled in Shanghai when he lost to Vasek Pospisil in the first round. But he's still only 50 points behind Tsonga for the final spot, putting him in position to overtake his countryman depending on this week's results. On the women's side, top-seeded Angelique Kerber withdrew after winning the Linz title last week and clinching the final berth in the WTA Championships. Her absence leaves Vinci, Maria Kirilenko and Linz finalist Ana Ivanovic as the highest seeds. Sam Stosur, who won the Japan Open last week, and Simona Halep, a four-time winner this year, are also in the field.