Players continue to hone their grass court skills in preparation for Wimbledon, and the green stretch thus far has had no lack of surprises. Mallorca features world #1 Daniil Medvedev seeking to retain his crown, after last year winning the first ATP grass court tournament played in Spain, hosted here on Rafael Nadal’s native island. The king of clay is absent, however, but the surging Nick Kyrgios looks like a threat, while Medvedev himself is in good form after having made two grass finals in a row. Who will move on to Round 2?
ATP Mallorca Day 3 Predictions
Botic van de Zandschulp vs Marcos Giron
Head-to-head: Giron 1-0
These two players are slowly moving in opposite directions. Van de Zandschulp continues his sometimes excruciatingly slow climb up the rankings, but does so inexorably nonetheless. Giron, on the other hand, hasn’t registered a win since a good showing in Rome a month ago. Both severely lack experience on grass, but van de Zandschulp has done a little better. Giron won their lone H2H (on hard), but it was in the midst of the Dutchman’s massive push up the rankings last year, and van de Zandschulp has continued his climb (to a career-high of #26 currently) while Giron hasn’t moved forward. Giron is almost exclusively a hard court player, whereas Botic has divided his time between hard and clay. That balance speaks better for adapting to an unfamiliar surface, and the Dutchman has the momentum at the moment.
Prediction: Van de Zandschulp in 3
Dusan Lajovic vs Daniel Altmeier
Head-to-head: Altmeier 1-0
After early-season struggles, Altmeier dipped back into the Challenger Tour. He performed well there, but since returning to ATP competition has yet to win a match. His #64 ranking actually feels high in the midst of the season he’s having, which stands at 3-14. Lajovic can attain a fairly high level, as evidenced by several good wins this year, most notably against Casper Ruud on clay. However, he is inconsistent, and his overall record this year is little better than Altmeier’s. His record on grass is equally concerning (5-14). There are not enough statistics to make a competent pick here, so we will go with the higher-level wins the Serb has had this year.
Prediction: Lajovic in 3
Sebastian Baez vs Jordan Thompson
Head-to-head: first meeting
Baez is as green as the grass he’ll be playing on, as he is set to make his first appearance on the surface. And what at first looks like a favorable matchup turns sour quickly on close inspection. Jordan Thompson is not a rising player like Baez, but he is a competent grass courter. He has no ATP matches on the surface this year, but for a warmup to Mallorca he went 9-1 with a title in two grass court Challengers. These included a win over the vaunted Dennis Kudla, whose reputation on grass is strong, and whose numbers on the surface are almost identical to Thompson’s. This is not a good matchup for Baez in his first appearance on the lawn, and Thompson should use his experience to frustrate his young opponent.
Prediction: Thompson in 2
Nick Kyrgios vs Laslo Djere
Head-to-head: first meeting
Nick Kyrgios is rolling. He’s made the semis of his last three tournaments, and has wins this year over Casper Ruud, Andrey Rublev, Pablo Carreno Busta, and Stefanos Tsitsipas. Grass suits him just fine, but not so his opponent, who very heavily favors clay over all surfaces. This is a poor draw for Djere, who is having a mediocre season in general. Kyrgios is not only playing well at the moment, but tends to handle early opponents with ease (lasting until the late stages of tournaments remains a problem). This is one of the few grass court matchups I feel confident picking in two.
Prediction: Kyrgios in 2
Main Photo from Getty.