No. 8 Andrey Rublev made a winning start in Vienna on Monday with a 6-3, 6-2 defeat of Norbert Gombos to strengthen a claim on the last of eight places in the ATP Finals.
The Russian won his 15th match from his last 16 played – a streak which included the Hamburg and St Petersburg titles plus a Roland Garros quarter-final.
Rublev, the fifth seed at the Stadthalle, narrowly leads Cologne finalist Diego Schwartzman in the chase for the last of the qualifying spots for the Finals in London next month.
Schwartzman withdrew from Vienna to rest prior to the Paris Masters 1000 next week where all will be decided.
Rublev crushed his Slovak qualifying opponent in 58 minutes with 11 aces while never facing a break point. He will play either Casper Ruud or Yannik Sinner in the second round.
Two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson, his ranking down to 111 due to a long knee injury series after once standing fifth, advanced over Austrian Dennis Novak 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-6(6).
The South African spent almost three hours on court, firing 18 aces as he won his seventh match of 2020.
The run of dismal form continued for French seventh seed Gael Monfils, who retired trailing Pablo Carrreno Busta 6-1, 2-0.
Monfils, who retired with neck pain after treatment on court, has not won a match since February in Dubai..
Carreno Busta will next face Anderson with the Spaniard trailing 5-1 in the series.
Borna Coric lined up as the opening opponent for top-seeded wild card Novak Djokovic thanks to a 6-4, 6-4 spanking of American Taylor Fritz.
Austrian Juriy Rodionov defeated Denis Shapovalov 6-4, 7-5 as the Canadian lost his third match in a row.