Defending champion Andrey Rublev gets his campaign underway at the ATP 500 in Rotterdam on Tuesday. The Russian will be looking to bounce back from a third round defeat to Marin Cilic at the Australian Open, as he takes on Henri Laaksonen. Elsewhere, Denis Shapovalov will be looking to build on his impressive form at the Australian Open, as he takes on Jiri Lehecka. Karen Khachanov takes on Alexi Popyrin in what should be one of the most intriguing matches on Tuesday’s schedule. Here are my prediction for three of Tuesday’s singles matches, with the remaining four being covered in a separate article.
ATP Rotterdam Day 2 Predictions
Jiri Lehecka vs Denis Shapovalov
Head to Head: First Meeting
Jiri Lehecka came through qualifying to reach the main draw. The world number 137 reached the quarterfinals of the Traralgon Challenger, and came through qualifying to reach the main draw of the Australian Open, where he took a set of Grigor Dimitrov, before ultimately losing in four sets in the opening round. Lehecka had two impressive wins over Jesper De Jong and Corentin Moutet in qualifying, and the Czech player can play with freedom, given the fact that he is the underdog.
Denis Shapovalov has enjoyed a great start to 2022. The Canadian was an integral part of Canada winning the ATP Cup, and he defeated Alexander Zverev en route to the fourth round of the Australian Open, where he pushed the eventual champion Rafael Nadal to five sets. Shapovalov has the firepower to be a formidable opponent on all surfaces, however he can be erratic at times, and he has struggled for consistency week in week out on the ATP Tour
I think the Canadian will have too much firepower for Lehecka, and I think he will record a straight sets win.
Prediction: Shapovalov in 2
Alexei Popyrin vs Karen Khachanov
Head to Head: 1-0 Khachanov
Since winning the Paris Masters in 2018, Karen Khachanov has struggled to find his best tennis consistently on the ATP Tour. However, the 2022 season has started brightly for the Russian. Khachanov reached his first ATP Tour final since that Paris title win, in the opening week of the season at the first ATP event in Adelaide, where he was defeated by Gael Monfils. The Russian backed this up by making the quarterfinals of the second Adelaide event the following week. At the Australian Open, Khachanov reached the third round, where he was defeated in four sets by Rafael Nadal. Khachanov is a heavy ball-striker, however much like his compatriot Andrey Rublev, there can be times when he struggles to find a plan B or add variety to his game when he is struggling in matches.
Alexei Popyrin has struggled for form at the start of the 2022 season. Since winning his opening round match against Stefano Travagila at the ATP 250 event in Melbourne, the Australian is yet to record another victory, and was beaten in the opening round of the Australian Open and last week in Montpellier. Popyrin is a talented player and won his first ATP Title at the ATP 250 event in Singapore last year. Like Khachanov, Popyrin possesses two big weapons in his serve and forehand, however at times he can struggle for consistency.
I think this will be a very close match. However, I think Khachanov will get the victory in three tight sets.
Prediction: Khachanov in 3
Henri Laaksonen vs Andrey Rublev
Head to Head: First Meeting
Andrey Rublev had an unfortunate start to the 2022 season. The Russian was forced to miss the ATP Cup due to contracting COVID 19. At the Australian Open, Rublev had a disappointing third round defeat against an inspired Marin Cilic. There seems to be a recurring theme of Rublev under-performing at the Grand Slams. The Russian has not reached beyond the quarterfinal stage, and at times the Rublev can be one dimensional. However, at his best, Rublev has one of the heaviest rally balls on the tour, and he can be hard to live with when he is in full flow.
Henri Laaksonen reached the main draw by coming through qualifying. The Swiss player has struggled so far this season. Losing in the opening round of qualifying last week in Montpellier. Laaksonen’s only win on the main tour win thus far this season came in Melbourne, where Benoit Paire was forced to retire in their round of 16 match.
I think Rublev will put his Australian Open disappointment behind him and record a straight sets win.
Prediction: Rublev in 2
Main Photo from Getty.