The final week of grass-court preparation for Wimbledon is upon us, as ATP players take to the courts in Eastbourne to get a little more match play on grass under their belts.
How will tomorrow’s action in Eastbourne play out? I give my best guesses! We also predict the rest of the day’s matches in a separate article.
ATP Eastbourne Day 1 Predictions
Alex De Minaur vs Cristian Garin
Head to Head: 2-0 De Minaur
Alex De Minaur has had a shaky start to the grass-court season. De Minaur is 1-2 and made the second round of Queen’s Club last week, falling in three sets to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Cristian Garin has played one match on grass this season, losing in straight sets to Sebastian Korda. Garin made the round of 16 at Wimbledon last season, but will need more grass-court preparation in order to repeat that result.
De Minaur leads the head to head 2-0, having won all five sets he’s played against Garin so far in his career. Garin’s flatter backhand is effective on grass and the Chilean moves the ball around the court well. However, De Minaur moves well on grass and gets great consistent depth on his groundstrokes. It’s hard to see Garin hitting through De Minaur from the baseline and Garin does not have a serve that can overwhelm De Minaur with pace.
Prediction: De Minaur in 3
Alexander Bublik vs Frances Tiafoe
Head to Head: 1-0 Tiafoe
Alexander Bublik has played hit-or-miss tennis this grass-court season. Bublik has gone 2-2, alternating between incredible shot-making and puzzling shot-selection. Frances Tiafoe lost his first match on grass, losing to Stan Wawrinka in three tiebreaks. Tiafoe’s returning will need to be better, as Wawrinka won 89% of his first-serve points in that match and was only broken once.
Tiafoe leads the head to head 1-0, but that matchup was on a hard court in 2019. Bublik has a big serve and great touch, but it’s extremely difficult to know whether he will stay mentally engaged in a match, as he can implode on a moment’s notice. Tiafoe’s flat backhand cuts through the grass nicely and he hits his spots on serve, but Bublik can rush him on his forehand wing. In addition, given Tiafoe’s difficulty returning Wawrinka’s first serve, it doesn’t inspire much that he will effectively return Bublik’s huge first serve.
Prediction: Bublik in 3
Maxime Cressy vs Reilly Opelka
Head to Head: 1-0 Cressy
Maxime Cressy qualified for Halle, but got a tough first-round draw, falling to eventual-champion Hubert Hurkacz in three sets. Cressy’s serve-and-volley game is extremely hard for opponents to handle on the fast, low-bouncing grass. Reilly Opelka lost his only match on grass so far this year, falling 4-6, 4-6 to Alex De Minaur. Opelka does not do a great job of getting low on his groundstrokes and is shaky at the net.
Cressy leads the head to head 1-0, having beaten Opelka in three sets on a hard court earlier this season. This will be a serve-oriented match, with both players possessing huge serves. However, Cressy understands how to play on grass better than Opelka and is a much better volleyer than Opelka. In addition, Cressy’s slices will stay low to the court and Opelka should spray many errors when Cressy employs the slice.
Prediction: Cressy in 2
Main Photo from Getty.