ATP Stuttgart - DRAW: Alexander Zverev leads action in Federer's absence

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ATP Stuttgart - DRAW: Alexander Zverev leads action in Federer's absence

Tennis tradition in Stuttgart is very long, with the first edition held in 1898 and entering the Open era in 1978. Mercedes -Benz became the sponsor in the following year and it was a very solid clay court event with Vitas Gerulaitis, Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl, Andre Agassi, Goran Ivanisevic, Michael Stich, Thomas Muster, Alex Corretja, Gustavo Kuerten, Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Juan Martin del Potro and Juan Carlos Ferrero all winning title here.

In 2015, the event switched from July to June and from clay to grass, joining an exclusive and short grass swing and having Rafael Nadal as the first champion on the green surface. Dominic Thiem and Lucas Pouille followed the Spaniard's steps in the next two seasons and Roger Federer added the 18th ATP title on grass to his tally a year ago, defeating Milos Raonic in the final.

The great Swiss will not be in Stuttgart to defend the crown after reaching the semi-final at Roland Garros for the first time in seven years, skipping the first week on grass and preparing for Halle where he lost to Borna Coric in the final last year.

The organizers still managed to gather a player from the top, with Alexander Zverev taking a wild card to extend his streak of consecutive weeks in action, returning to Stuttgart for the first time since 2015 when he was ranked 84th, still at the age of 18.

The rest of the field is also very strong and we should get some great matches right from the opening round. Zverev is free in the first round, facing John Millman or a qualifier in round two, just two weeks after beating the Aussie at the beginning of Roland Garros in five sets.

Peter Gojowczyk, Gilles Simon, Ernests Gulbis and the 7th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime are also in the first quarter and it would be great to watch Zverev and Auger-Aliassime in the battle for the place in the semis. The 4th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili plays against Marton Fucsovics or Jaume Munar in round two, with the struggling German Mischa Zverev taking upon Jo-Wilfried Tsonga before the second round encounter against Milos Raonic who returns to action for the first time since Miami.

The packed third quarter offers the names like Denis Shapovalov, Jan-Lennard Struff, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Miomir Kecmanovic, Lucas Pouille and Daniil Medvedev, with the wide-open draw en route to the last four. The 5th seed Gael Monfils faces Steve Johnson, sharing the bottom quarter with Denis Kudla, Nick Kyrgios, Matteo Berrettini and the 2nd seed Kare Khachanov, in what is another rock-solid part of the draw that should provide an entertaining action right from the start.