It’s all eyes on Hamburg this week for what is the highlight of the short but sharp European summer clay court swing – the historic ATP 500 German Tennis Championships.

Formerly a Masters 1000 event, and now one of 13 ATP 500s, the Rothenbaum fans have seen some of the greats of the game get their hands on the famous propeller-themed trophy over the years.

Former champions include Rafael Nadal as recently as 2015, Fabio Fognini two years earlier, Roger Federer back in 2007, as well as the likes of Guillermo Coria, Guga Kuerten, Stefan Edberg, Ivan Lendl and Guillermo Vilas in years gone by. The last German champion was the current tournament director, Michael Stich, in 1993.

This year’s 32-man draw is led by Austrian top 10 star Dominic Thiem, who’ll be looking to get back to winning ways after a brief and disappointing grass season. Following his first Grand Slam final in Paris in early June, the Austrian was last seen retiring with a back problem against Marcos Baghdatis in the first round at Wimbledon.

Thiem’s visit to Hamburg (just the second of his career after losing in the third round in 2014) won’t necessarily be a triumphant one, however, with a strong draw assembled once more in northern Germany.

As well as second seed Diego Schwartzman, third seed Pablo Carreno Busta and fourth seed Damir Dzumhur looking to go deep, three players that are well known for their clay court credentials will also arrive in Hamburg in particularly good form.

Cecchinato knocking on the door

Italian Marco Cecchinato will be high in confidence after his incredible 2018 season kept on getting better last week. Having started the year outside the top 100, Cecchinato is now knocking on the door of the top 20 after his recent run to the last four at Roland Garros and his second ATP trophy of 2018 in Umag last Sunday.

Others who banked wins prior to jetting into Germany were Bastad runner-up Richard Gasquet and a semi-finalist at last week’s Swedish event, Fernando Verdasco.

Naturally, there’ll be some big crowd support for the six Germans in the main draw, led by the highest-ranked of those to enter, Philipp Kohlschreiber. Amongst that group are two youngsters to keep an eye on – Maximilian Marterer, who reached the last 16 at Roland Garros this year, and 17-year-old Rudolf Molleker who was the man who beat last year’s champion Leonardo Mayer in qualifying before Mayer went on to win the event as a lucky loser!

And while we’re on the subject, let’s not forget the Hamburg magic man Mayer. The Argentine has two titles to his name and both have come at the Rothenbaum Centre, first in 2014 and again 12 months ago. Last year’s victory – when he beat namesake Florian Mayer in the final – enabled him to jump 89 ranking spots back into the top 50. Will the ‘feel-good’ factor help him complete an unlikely Hamburg hat-trick?

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