After a week full of exciting tennis just two men remain in contention at the ATP Hamburg Open, which has been restored to its position as a crucial French Open warm-up event. But who will claim the title in Germany?
ATP Hamburg Open Final Prediction
Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Andrey Rublev
Head-to-head: Rublev 2-1 Tsitsipas
Stefanos Tsitsipas, the second seed at the ATP Hamburg Open, arrived in Germany after a series of disappointing results. His US Open ended with a heartbreaking loss to Borna Coric in the third round, a match in which he held and wasted six match points before succumbing in a fifth-set tiebreak. Then, at the Italian Open in Rome, Tsitsipas’ backhand broke down completely as he lost his opener to Jannik Sinner in three sets. In short, he was a man in need of some wins.
But, step-by-step, the Greek has rebuilt his confidence in Hamburg. He opened his campaign with a straightforward win over Dan Evans, before coming through a testing encounter with the clay-court specialist Pablo Cuevas to reach the quarterfinals. There, he dismantled Dusan Lajovic, who last season reached the final in Monte Carlo, in straight-sets. But Tsitsipas’ toughest test by far came in the semifinals, where he faced Cristian Garin.
The Chilean won titles in Cordoba and Rio during the Golden Swing earlier this season and, unsurprisingly, did not lack confidence. But although he targeted Tsitsipas’ weaker backhand wing, the Greek’s one-hander stood up to the examination. Tsitsipas also served superbly throughout, winning numerous free points behind his first serve. As a result, one break in the decider was enough to see him into the final at the ATP Hamburg Open.
Andrey Rublev also arrived in Hamburg with some questions to answer. Despite having won his maiden ATP title on clay in Umag in 2017 and making the final in Hamburg last season, the Russian’s clay-court record was hardly widely admired. There was certainly little faith in his ability to challenge for the biggest titles on the surface, with the doubts in his ability on the clay only strengthened in the wake of his second-round loss to the out-of-form Hubert Hurkacz in Rome.
But like Tsitsipas, Rublev has set about silencing the doubters this week. After relatively straightforward wins over the USA’s Tennys Sandgren and Tommy Paul, many expected Rublev’s tournament to come to an end against Roberto Bautista Agut. But the Russian hit through Bautista Agut with relative ease, in large part thanks to some excellent shot selection, recording a comfortable straight-sets win. He then repeated the feat against the in-form Casper Ruud in the last four.
Rublev may well feel confident about his chances heading into this final, having beaten Tsitsipas in two of their three meetings, including their most recent encounter which came at the US Open last year. That said, this will be their first meeting on the clay, a surface on which Tsitsipas has the better record. Regardless, it certainly promises to be an entertaining match with both men in good form and likely to be relatively fresh, with neither having endured a particularly arduous route into the final.
But where will the match be decided? Tsitsipas will surely look to impose himself against Rublev, both because his natural game is to play on the front foot and because he will not want to allow Rublev to dictate with his forehand. For Rublev, the obvious approach will be to attack the Tsitsipas’ backhand. Although the 6’4” Greek deals with high-bouncing balls well on that wing, his topspin backhand can break down when he is rushed and his slice lacks penetration.
What is clear is that it will be vital for both men to land the first strike as often as possible, with the winner likely to be the man who plays the most tennis inside the baseline. But Tsitsipas may be able to carve out two advantages. He is a better server than Rublev and a marginally better mover, particularly into his forehand corner. In a match where both men will likely look to run around their backhands regularly, that could well give him a decisive edge.
Prediction: Tsitsipas in 3
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