We’ve finally reached quarterfinal day at the ATP Bett1HULKS Indoors in Cologne. Just eight men remain in contention in Cologne: six Europeans, one North American, and one African representative. Will the top three seeds keep advancing or will they succumb to their rivals on Friday?
ATP Cologne Quarterfinal Predictions
Alexander Zverev vs Lloyd Harris
Head to head: first meeting
Had Zverev written an ideal script for his opener against Fernando Verdasco, it would have closely resembled the actual match they played on Thursday. The top seed didn’t make a single double fault and dropped only six points on serve en route to a pleasant 6-4 6-1 win. Speaking of service games, Harris’ serve has been making waves in Cologne. Through two main draw rounds, the South African has fired 20 aces. It might not seem like a lot, but the court is incredibly slow. This duel will mark the first time Harris faces a Top 10 player away from a Major. In three such occurrences at Slams, the Johannesburg native always managed to steal a set, so he will put up a fight for sure. But there’s a vast chasm between challenging and effectively beating Zverev.
Prediction: Zverev in 2
Dennis Novak vs Alejandro Davidovich Fokina
Head to head: Davidovich Fokina 1-0 Novak
As expected, a professional tennis player focused on winning tennis matches like Novak had no trouble defeating the unruly Benoit Paire and whatever is clouding his mind at the moment. Having previously beaten Jordan Thompson in straights, the Austrian has reached his maiden tour-level quarterfinal in convincing fashion. However, Davidovich will represent a much tougher test. The Spaniard collected a statement victory over Marin Cilic, overcoming a 6-3 2-0 deficit. After putting just a 52% of his first serves in play in the opening set, Davidovich elevated that number to a robust 73% afterward and it paid dividends. If Cilic and his massive weapons were unable to hit through the Next Gen talent, neither will Novak.
Prediction: Davidovich Fokina in 2
Radu Albot vs Felix Auger-Aliassime
Head to head: first meeting
Albot, whose ranking would have collapsed in a normal year, has won consecutive matches for the first time all season. This week, the counterpunching Moldovan edged Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Oscar Otte in closely contested battles. Meanwhile, Auger-Aliassime started off his Cologne campaign with a bang, winning 6-4 6-1 over Henri Laaksonen. Once he clinched the first set with a break, the Canadian took off and never looked back. I believe the slow surface is Auger-Aliassime’s ally because it lets him time his forehand correctly. One thing is clear: the outcome of this match depends on Auger-Aliassime’s level of execution. If he swings freely but with enough margin, he’ll reach the semis. Albot’s only chance is if the 20-year-old starts spraying errors left and right for an hour straight.
Prediction: Auger-Aliassime in 2
Hubert Hurkacz vs Roberto Bautista Agut
Head to head: Bautista Agut 1-0 Hurkacz
The World No. 13 escaped a tight debut against Gilles Simon, whom he had never beaten on hard court before. Bautista Agut prevailed 6-4 7-6, winning just 51% of the points. In order to punch his ticket to the semis he’ll have to go through Hurkacz, who has yet to lose a set on German soil too. Their previous encounter was also on hard, but Cincinnati’s court is lightning fast compared to Cologne’s. I anticipate a hard-fought affair to eventually tilt in Bautista’s favor due to his vaunted resilience. Hurkacz will incur in one too many mistakes and that will cost him the match.
Prediction: Bautista Agut in 2
Main Photo from Getty.