The ATP Cologne Indoors is entering the home stretch, with the top two seeds still in contention for the title in Germany ahead of semifinals day. But will they live up to their billing by reaching the final or will their opponents crash the party?
ATP Cologne Indoors Semifinal Predictions
Alexander Zverev vs Alejandro Davidovich Fokina
Head to head: Zverev 1-0 Davidovich Fokina
Not even six weeks after blasting him off the court in a 6-2 6-2 6-1 win at the US Open, Alexander Zverev will attempt to halt Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in his tracks once again at the ATP Cologne Indoors. In what was the exception rather than the rule during his run to the final in New York, Zverev’s serve was entirely reliable and almost unplayable. The Spaniard never worked out how to hurt Zverev in that match and the world #7 will be hoping for a repeat on home turf.
So far this week, Zverev’s serving has, for the most part, been excellent. Crucially, he has hit just three double faults, which equates to less than one every set. He may be concerned about the fact that Lloyd Harris converted 50% of his break points in the quarterfinals, however, with the South African not as effective a returner as Davidovich Fokina. Fortunately for the German, Davidovich Fokina’s serve is not nearly as potent as his return game.
In fact, the 21-year-old, who will be playing in his second semifinal at this level, won the point more often against his opponent’s serve (51.7%) than he did behind his own (50.6%) during his three-set win over Dennis Novak in the quarterfinals. In the second set, he broke twice, but failed to hold serve once. Whilst that speaks in part to the effectiveness of his return game, it also demonstrates his weakness behind his serve. A weakness that a player of Zverev’s calibre will surely punish.
Prediction: Zverev in 2
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Felix Auger-Aliassime vs Roberto Bautista Agut
Head-to-head: Bautista Agut 1-0 Auger-Aliassime
Felix Auger-Aliassime’s expectations upon his arrival at the ATP Cologne Indoors were surely limited. The Canadian appeared to be in the midst of a protracted slump, which reached its nadir as he lost in straight sets to Yoshihito Nishioka, hardly a clay-court specialist, in the first round at Roland Garros. But he has found some form in Germany, thrashing Henri Laaksonen and Radu Albot. That said, second seed Bautista Agut seems destined to pose a sterner test.
The Spaniard has faced a tougher draw so far, battling past the veteran Gilles Simon and a resurgent Hubert Hurkacz. Bautista Agut will surely be disappointed to have dropped a set against the Pole, having held a match point in the second set, but finished strongly to complete a 7-6 5-7 6-0 win. Still, the extra hour he spent on court could prove costly up against Auger-Aliassime, who appears to be enjoying the conditions in Cologne.
The court seems to be playing at a similarly slow speed to the surface at the Rotterdam Open, where Auger-Aliassime reached the final earlier this season, picking up fine wins over Grigor Dimitrov and Pablo Carreno Busta en route. Bautista Agut did win their only previous meeting, 7-6 6-3, which came last year at the Davis Cup Finals. But that was a match Auger-Aliassime should not have played as he was carrying an injury, whilst Bautista Agut had the whole stadium in Madrid backing him. With Auger-Aliassime fit and firing in Cologne, expect a different outcome.
Prediction: Auger-Aliassime in 3
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