Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Grigor Dimitrov join defending champion Nick Kyrgios in a star-studded draw for the 2017 Open 13 Provence, live from Marseille from 20-26 February.
One of the most popular events of the spring European indoors swing, the Open 13 Provence always welcomes strong fields and 2017 is no exception. Troubled talent Nick Kyrgios returns to defend the title he captured in such stunning style 12 months ago – but he faces stiff competition from a draw packed with talent, including the in-form Grigor Dimitrov and home favourites Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Lucas Pouille.
February is a transitional month in the tennis season, as players settle into the grind of the year after the highs and lows of January in Australia and begin to prepare for the major upcoming events on US hard courts – the Masters 1000 Series events of Indian Wells and Miami in March. Some players opt for the Golden Swing of clay-court tournaments in South America, others choose to sit out most if not all of the month, but the bulk of the top 30 are generally to be found at the indoor hard-court tournaments of Europe – a well-established mini-swing incorporating 250 events in Montpellier and Sofia, the 500-level ABN AMRO WTT in Rotterdam and ending at the Open 13 Provence.
Gael Monfils will make another attempt to claim the Marseille title in 2017 (Bertrand Langlois/AFP/Getty Images)
First played in 1993, the Open 13 Provence was the brainchild of ex-pro and Marseille native Jean-Francois Caujolle, who remains tournament director to this day, with the number ‘13’ referring to the designation given to the Marseille area in the French national indexing system. Played at the Palais des Sports in Marseille, which features a 5,800-seat centre court, the event offers 250 ranking points to the champion and 150 to the runner-up, with €576,000 on offer during the week.
The Open 13 Provence event has proved extremely popular over the years, routinely attracting multiple top-20 players. European players have traditionally flourished at the event, starting with Switzerland’s Marc Rosset’s back-to-back titles in 1993-4 – Rosset would win the Open 13 once more in 2000, becoming the first player to triumph in Marseille three times, although he was later joined by Sweden’s Thomas Enqvist (1997-8, 2003).
Rosset’s opponent in that 2000 Marseille final was a certain Roger Federer, who would go on to win the title in 2003. Other luminaries to capture the Open 13 Provence title include Boris Becker (1995), Yevgeny Kafelnikov (2001), Andy Murray (2008), Robin Soderling (2011) and Juan Martin del Potro (2012).
No fewer than six French players have taken the title in Marseille, beginning with Guy Forget - who would go on to captain the French Davis Cup team and serve as tournament director at the French Open – in 1996. Forget was followed by Fabrice Santoro in 1999, Arnaud Clement in 2006 and Gilles Simon took the first of his two titles in 2007. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has also won twice in Marseille (2009, 2013) and Michael Llodra (2010) rounds out the roll-call of homegrown favourites to lift the trophy at the Open 13 Provence.
Grigor Dimitrov goes for his third title of 2017 in Marseille (Nikolay Doychinov/AFP/Getty Images)
Simon in 2015, who defeated compatriot Gael Monfils in an all-French final, was the last French player to win in Marseille. The 2016 draw was headlined by top-10 players Stan Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych, but it was an unseeded player, Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, who stormed through the draw without dropping a set to claim the first ATP World Tour title of his career, defeating 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic.
Kyrgios, one of the more eye-catching players on the ATP World Tour, returns to defend his Marseille title in 2017 in the wake of two more ATP World Tour titles in 2016, a spate of run-ins with tennis authorities culminating in a suspension and a second-round loss to Andreas Seppi at the Australian Open from two sets up. Kyrgios is capable of putting everything aside and blasting past opponents with his devastating power tennis – but there are some other quality players in the draw.
In-form Australian Open semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov, who already has titles in Brisbane and Sofia to his name in 2017, will be one of the major threats in Marseille, as will the Zverev brothers, Mischa – who beat Andy Murray in Melbourne – and Alexander, the rising star who has already won an indoors title on French soil this season in Montpellier. But there’s also an immensely strong contingent of French players to reckon with, led by 2015 Marseille runner-up Gael Monfils and two-time champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and including Richard Gasquet, Benoit Paire, Gilles Simon (another two-time Open 13 champion) and Lucas Pouille. With a field this strong, it’s bound to be a dazzling week of tennis in Marseille at the 2017 Open 13 Provence.
Watch and bet live on the 2017 Open 13 Provence live from Marseille from 20-26 February 2017.