Andrey Rublev, currently ranked fifth in the world, is set to kick off his 2024 season at the Hong Kong Open, marking the ATP Tour's return to the city after a hiatus of more than two decades, as announced by organizers on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old Russian, known for his fiery style of play, will lead the pack as the top seed in the January 1-7 tournament at Victoria Park. Joining him are Grand Slam semi-finalists Frances Tiafoe and Karen Khachanov, making the event a crucial warm-up for the impending Australian Open.
The Hong Kong Open last witnessed men's competition in 2002, boasting a prestigious history with former champions like Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Pat Cash, Ivan Lendl, and Jimmy Connors. The inaugural edition in 1973 was claimed by Australian legend Rod Laver.
Rublev, who secured two titles this year at Bastad in Sweden and Monte Carlo, is gearing up to make his mark at the Hong Kong Open as the top contender.
American world number 16 Tiafoe gained prominence at the 2022 US Open, where he delivered a memorable five-set semi-final, narrowly losing to eventual champion Carlos Alcaraz. Tiafoe's impressive run included defeating Rafael Nadal in the last 16.
Khachanov, a notable figure in Russian tennis, has had recent Grand Slam successes. He reached the semi-finals of the US Open in 2022, falling to Casper Ruud, and made it to the last four in this year's Australian Open, where he was defeated by Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Expressing his excitement, Khachanov stated, "I'm looking forward to helping bring back ATP Tour excitement to the city for the first time since the early 2000s."
Making a comeback from injury, veteran Croatian and 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic is set to launch his journey at the Hong Kong Open. The 35-year-old underwent knee surgery after sustaining an injury in January, having played only one match on tour in 2023, resulting in a decline to the 666th spot in the world rankings.