Although rain delayed play on quarterfinals day at the ATP Munich Open, one semifinal was set in Bavaria. Home hope Jan-Lennard Struff, surely the best active player never to have played in a tour-level final, will take on the in-form qualifier Ilya Ivashka. But who will book their place in Sunday’s final in Munich?
ATP Munich Open Semifinal Predictions
Ilya Ivashka vs Jan-Lennard Struff
Head-to-head: Stuff 1-0 Ivashka
Struff has struggled to find his best tennis for the most part this season. The German started his season at the Antalya Open, where he reached the quarterfinals, but has since lost in the first round at the Australian Open, in Montpellier, Rotterdam and Monte Carlo, as well as losing in the second round in Dubai and Miami. But he has looked more assured on home turf at the ATP Munich Open, beating Andrej Martin, Dominik Koepfer and Filip Krajinovic to reach the last four.
Ilya Ivashka, meanwhile, arrived in Bavaria fresh from taking a set off the great Rafael Nadal in the second round at the ATP Barcelona Open after coming through the qualifying. He had to earn his place in the main draw again this week, getting the better of Kamil Majchrzak and Ricardas Berankis to do so. In the first round, Ivashka beat Emil Ruusuvuori for the loss of only three games and he backed that up by rallying from a set down to beat Mackenzie McDonald 6-7 6-1 6-2.
That set up a quarterfinal clash with top seed and former champion Alexander Zverev. The German made the better start, winning a hard-fought first set in a tiebreak and when he broke Ivashka in the second set, the match looked to be heading his way. But Ivashka broke back when Zverev served for it at 5-4 and he then broke Zverev again to send the match into a decider. Zverev, apparently still pre-occupied by his wasted chances, offered relatively little resistance with Ivashka wrapping up a 6-7 7-5 6-3 win.
It ranks amongst the finest of his career and will surely have given him real confidence heading into this match. But Struff has had to work hard for his place in the last four as well, with his battling wins over Koepfer and Krajinovic demonstrating his ability to stay calm under pressure and execute his shots. Nonetheless, with Ivashka in such imperious form, the Belarusian qualifier looks like he may take some stopping. Expect him to extend Struff’s losing streak in ATP semifinals, but only after a battle.
Prediction: Ivashka in 3
Casper Ruud vs Nikoloz Basilashvili
Head-to-head: first meeting
With both having to pull double duty at the ATP Munich Open and play their quarterfinal matches on the same day as this semifinal, both Casper Ruud and Nikoloz Basilashvili will doubtless be glad to have won in straight sets in the last eight. Ruud, who is the second seed in Bavaria, got the better of Australia’s John Millman, winning 6-3 6-4 to back up a 6-2 6-4 win over Pablo Cuevas in the second round. Basilashvili, meanwhile, has beaten Thiago Monteiro, Daniel Elahi Galan and Norbert Gombos en route to the last four, all without dropping a set.
This looks to have the makings of a more competitive match. Somewhat surprisingly, it is their first meeting on the ATP Tour, but with both well-established towards to the top of the game, they should be familiar with each other’s style of play. It is Ruud who comes into the match as the favourite, with the Norwegian enjoying a fine run of form having also reached the semifinals at the ATP Monte Carlo Masters.
Basilashvili has enjoyed some successes himself this season, notably winning the title in Doha where he beat, amongst others, Roger Federer. But this does look like a tall order for the Georgian. Ruud is one of the best movers in the men’s game, particularly on the clay, and he boasts a formidable weapon in his forehand. Basilashvili has power too, but he can struggle to hit through the court on slower surfaces. This should be a very watchable encounter, but expect Ruud to be the one to come out on top.
Prediction: Ruud in 3
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