Belgian Homecoming: The European Open boasts David Goffin, Steve Darcis and Ruben Bemelmans, who led Belgium to its second Davis Cup final in three years (Belgium at France November 24-26).
Banner Year: Goffin, who was the top seed at the inaugural European Open in 2016, returns as the No. 1 seed. After 24 weeks ranked No. 11, the Belgian broke into the Top 10 on February 20, beat then-No. 2 Novak Djokovic at Monte-Carlo for the biggest win of his career on April 21, and snapped a six-final losing streak with titles at Shenzhen on October 1 and Tokyo on October 8.
Darcis Delivers: Like his countryman Goffin, Darcis earned four Davis Cup victories this season and a career-high in the Emirates ATP Rankings. The 33-year-old debuted in the Top 40 on May 22 more than nine years after cracking the Top 50. Darcis has reached four quarter-finals in 2017.
Belgian Pride: Bemelmans has represented Belgium in 18 straight Davis Cup ties since 2010, squaring off with the likes of Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Lleyton Hewitt. This season, the 29-year-old left-hander qualified at Wimbledon for the fourth time and captured his fifth Challenger title.
French Resistance: Three Frenchmen are in the field prior to the end of qualifying, led by No. 2 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The French No. 1 accepted the European Open’s final wild card on Friday. Tsonga returns after missing the ATP’s three-week swing in China with a knee injury.
Highs and Lows: No. 3 seed Nick Kyrgios is back in Belgium after defeating Darcis and losing to Goffin at the Davis Cup semi-finals last month in Brussels. Over his past four tournaments, Kyrgios reached finals at Cincinnati and Beijing but lost in the first round at the US Open and Shanghai.
Most Improved: No. 4 seed Diego Schwartzman entered 2017 with 31 wins. The 2016 Antwerp finalist has 33 this season alone, including Top 10 wins over Dominic Thiem and Marin Cilic. At the US Open, the 5-foot-7 Argentine became the shortest Grand Slam quarter-finalist in 23 years.
Ferrer Returns: No. 5 seed David Ferrer has not played since the US Open due to a right foot injury. The Spaniard won only three matches through the first four months of 2017. Ferrer found his form from there, claiming his 27th title at Bastad and earning 20+ victories for the 15th straight year.
Race to Milan: Six spots at the Next Gen ATP Finals are on the line with two weeks left in the Emirates ATP Race to Milan. Young Americans Jared Donaldson, Frances Tiafoe and Ernesto Escobedo are in Antwerp. Escobedo opens against 18-year-old Canadian Denis Shapovalov.
Doubles Legends: The winningest doubles players of all time are in Antwerp: Daniel Nestor (1,056 victories), Bob Bryan (1,052) and Mike Bryan (1,038). The Bryans qualified for their 15th straight Nitto ATP Finals last week. Nestor is teaming at the European Open with Dominic Inglot.
Story courtesy ATPWorldTour.com