The semifinal round of the ATP Geneva 250 gives us polarized pairs, with one matchup featuring top players and the other players outside the top 50. It sets the stage for the possibility of a stunning upset in the final, which could include the overthrow of the defending champion. But who will the David and Goliath match feature? We share our predictions, including for Richard Gasquet vs Joao Sousa.
ATP Geneva Semifinal Predictions
Richard Gasquet vs Joao Sousa
Head-to-head: first meeting
Somehow these two have never met, despite both being well over 30. Gasquet lived most of his professional career much nearer to the heights than Sousa, but Sousa has been making a push upward this year, and they meet ranked in the 70s. Gasquet has been struggling in 2022, and had dipped back into the Challengers before raising the level of his game in Geneva. The victory over Medvedev looks a lot better on paper than it likely truly is, but Gasquet has cruised to the semis in straight sets, which is not something you expect from him at this point. Sousa has fought through a struggling Nikoloz Basilashvili followed by Ilya Ivashka, who had just dispatched Denis Shapovalov. Both Gasquet and Sousa reach the semis looking in better form than they have in a while.
Gasquet has yet to play four matches in a tournament this year, and if that is a fatigue issue, it could be offset by the lack of time on court this week. The unexpected level of play from both players makes this a tough pick. At their ages, there wouldn’t seem to be any more serious climbs in the rankings, and the rises and dips of their skill are mere fluctuations. They are playing so similar at the moment it’s hard to differentiate, but I like the fact that Sousa has at least completed a tournament (he won Pune in February). It was not high-quality competition, but Gasquet’s lack of any late-tournament push this year concerns me.
Prediction: Sousa in 3
Casper Ruud vs Reilly Opelka
Head-to-head: Ruud 3-0 Opelka
It seems strange to do an Opelka vs Ruud prediction right after Gasquet vs Sousa, as it feels like they belong in different tournaments. But here we are, and in this matchup, all signs point to Ruud defending his title. Ruud outpaces Opelka on clay in win percentage by an exceptional 28 points, and has six clay titles to Opelka’s one. They are both playing well this year, but Ruud has double the wins on clay, and Opelka has been struggling over the last month since winning Houston.
Ruud is a good defender with the ability to hit past slow movers from both wings, which likely accounts for his H2H dominance (though Opelka took one from Ruud in qualifying at the 2017 Australian Open). Opelka has firmly planted his feet as a top player at this point, but if an opponent can handle his serve, the magic is broken. This is less difficult on clay, and indeed Opelka has had most success on hard courts. The hard court facilitates not only the serve, but Opelka’s frequent serve and volley, and I can see Ruud doing a good job not only of handling the serve, but of chasing down the drop shots resulting from the serve and volley.
Opelka will need to maintain a high first serve percentage, and hit his drop shots well in order to move on to the final. Getting into baseline battles with the Norwegian is probably a lost cause. After a stretch run of mediocrity, Ruud has upped his level again, and he should be able to move on to a title defense.
Prediction: Ruud in 2
Main Photo from Getty.