Last week we unfortunately heard the news that World #2 and 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal had withdrawn from the ATP 500 event in Rotterdam. Even with the loss of the superstar, the 500 event in the Netherlands still boasts a very strong field. With new World #3 Daniil Medvedev in the field after his great run to the Australian Open final, there’s also the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, and David Goffin just coming off a title win in Montpellier. With a field this strong we could be in for a treat of an event. Let’s look ahead at Day 1 matches.
ATP Rotterdam Day 1 Predictions
Felix Auger-Aliassime vs Kei Nishikori
Head-to-head: Nishikori 1-0
When you look at Kei Nishikori’s career you just wonder where it all went wrong, from making a Grand Slam final beating Raonic, Wawrinka, and Djokovic en route to leading a Masters final against Nadal by a set and break on clay, it just all never clicked. A huge reason for that mind you are the amount of injuries he’s had and that’s exactly why he’s currently ranked #43 in the world.
Felix Auger-Aliassime on the other hand might just be the biggest disappointment of all the youngsters in the game right now. We’ve seen countless times that the game is all there, his ability, shots off both wings and serve are all great, it’s just the head which lets him down. Being 0-7 in finals and 0-14 in sets as well as losing from two sets to love up in the fourth round of a Grand Slam doesn’t help build the confidence.
But either way, this is hands down the match of the first round. Coming off four losses in a row, I unfortunately expect a fifth coming up for the Japanese. The young Canadian should possess too much firepower off both wings and an effective serve indoors which makes this a tough opener for Nishikori.
Prediction: Auger-Aliasssime in 3
Marton Fucsovics vs Reilly Opelka
Reilly Opelka’s rise to the top 40 of the game has been down to mostly one shot, his serve, but that’s doing him an understatement. Over the last few years he’s actually rapidly improved his all around game, far more than other huge servers such as John Isner and Ivo Karlovic.
Marton Fucsovics is someone you don’t want to be playing if you’re having an off day, while there’s no killer weapon, everything is solid and that’s how he managed to beat three time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka at the Australian Open just a few weeks ago. It’s not flashy, it’s not overly exciting but it gets the job done.
With Rotterdam being indoors despite not being In the best of form lately, I reckon the American will serve well enough and create enough chances to turn his fortunes around here. If he does he could possess a threat further on in the event as no one would want to play someone with his game in an event like this.
Prediction: Opelka in 2
Nikoloz Basilashvili vs Cameron Norrie
It’s been an interesting year or so for Basilashvili for reasons that don’t need to be discussed but the ultimate fact is he’s lucky to be ranked at 40 in the world purely based on the way the rankings system is working since COVID-19. If you’re wondering why I’m saying that, he’s lost 23 of his last 29 professional matches, many in straight sets.
Despite Cameron Norrie being ranked 25 places lower, the Brit put up a good showing in Melbourne at the Australian Open making the third round losing to Rafael Nadal, no shame in that. After qualifying for Rotterdam with an impressive easy win against Andreas Seppi, there’s no doubt he’s ready for what’s going to come in the first round and I expect him to get the win without much fuss.
Prediction: Norrie in 2
Andy Murray vs Robin Haase
Head-to-head: Murray 4-1
The last few weeks haven’t been pretty for the former World #1, from losing the Biella Challenger final routinely to Illya Marchenko things only got worse, losing to Gerasimov 7-6 6-1 last week in Montpellier. With another ATP event wild card the Brit has to find form if he wants to get back into the top 100 and with a hard draw here he’s going to need to do it as soon as possible.
His opponent Robin Haase isn’t the player he once used to be either though, heck, he actually beat Murray at the very event in 2008 and led him two sets to love at the US Open in 2011 back when he featured inside the world’s top 50.
Given the situation and the fact that Robin Haase’s biggest weapon is his serve, I think this is perhaps the ideal opening match for Murray. With one of the best returns of serve the game has ever seen I expect the three time Grand Slam champion to get enough balls back into play to grind out errors from the home favorite and get his first main tour win in six months.
Prediction: Murray in 2
Main Photo from Getty.