Europe, 19 October 2020 | Leigh Rogers

The ATP Tour’s indoor hard court season continues in Europe this week, with many of our top-ranked Australian men competing.

Antwerp, Belgium

Alex de Minaur has enjoyed a perfect preparation for this week’s ATP tournament in Antwerp, winning an Ultimate Tennis Showdown exhibition in the Belgium city.

The No.29-ranked Australian defeated France’s Richard Gasquet in the final.

“I had fun. Definitely helped me out a lot to get some on-court time and get used to this court for the following week. I’m very happy to be able to come out and play some good tennis,” De Minaur said.

Gasquet, a former world No.7, was full of praise for the Australian’s performance.

“He was too strong today. He plays top 10 (tennis). I know he’s not top 10 but he will be soon,” he predicted.

De Minaur and Gasquet face-off again in the opening round this week.

Australia’s top-ranked doubles player John Peers and New Zealand’s Michael Venus will also look to continue their good form in Antwerp this week.

The duo have advanced to the semifinals in three of their past four tournaments and currently sit sixth in the race to earn one of eight places in the year-ending ATP Finals.

Men’s singles, first round
[8] Alex de Minaur (AUS) v Richard Gasquet (FRA)

Men’s doubles, first round
[2] John Peers (AUS)/Michael Venus (NZL) v Luke Bambridge (GBR)/Jackson Withrow (USA)

Cologne, Germany

Three Australians will contest the singles main draw in Cologne this week.

World No.44 John Millman faces Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco in the opening round. The 36-year-old Verdasco, who is currently ranked No.61, won their only previous meeting in Eastbourne in three sets last year.

Jordan Thompson has also drawn an experienced opponent in his first round match. The 26-year-old from Sydney plays France’s Gilles Simon, a 35-year-old former top 10 player. This is their first career meeting.

Alexei Popyrin received a lucky loser spot in the draw and will face eighth-seeded Frenchman Adrian Mannarino. The No.109-ranked Popyrin had lost in the final qualifying round to Belarusian Egor Gerasimov in three sets.

James Duckworth was also beaten in the final qualifying round overnight, with Austrian Dennis Novak scoring a 6-4 7-5 win.

Australian Open 2020 finalists Max Purcell and Luke Saville feature in the doubles draw. The all-Australian team, who currently sit ninth in the ATP Finals race, have a chance to earn more valuable ranking points this week to boost their qualification hopes for the year-ending event.

Men’s singles, first round
John Millman (AUS) v Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
Jordan Thompson (AUS) v Gilles Simon (FRA)
[LL] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) v [8] Adrian Mannarino (FRA)

Men’s doubles, first round
Max Purcell (AUS)/Luke Saville (AUS) v Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN)/Robert Lindstedt (SWE)