Wimbledon may not have started, but London is already playing host to the ATP’s biggest stars. This week, the Hurlingham Club hosts the second Giorgio Armani Tennis Classic, a high-quality exhibition tournament. Hugo Gaston and Alexei Popyrin played the first match Tuesday, and the action continues Wednesday with two intense clashes. We give you the rundown on what to expect from Day 2.
Hurlingham Classic Day 2 Preview
Novak Djokovic vs Felix Auger-Aliassime
After a so-so clay season that ended in a quarterfinal defeat at Roland Garros, World No. 3 Novak Djokovic will try and return to winning ways at Hurlingham. He’s the three-time defending champion at Wimbledon and has won his last 21 grass-court matches. The Serb will have to get past Felix Auger-Aliassime if he wants to extend that run. The Canadian has had a busy grass-court season, reaching the semifinals at the Libema Open and the quarterfinals at the Halle Open. As such, he won’t have to deal with the abrupt surface change that his opponent will.
Auger-Aliassime will gain further confidence from the fact that he pushed Djokovic to the limit in their only meeting to date. The pair squared off in Rome this year, with the Serb recording a tense 7-5, 7-6(1) victory. Expect Djokovic to struggle in the early stages of this match as he gets acclimated to competing on the lawns of London once more. If Auger-Aliassime can get his groundstrokes firing from the get-go, he can break early and put pressure on his opponent. But if anyone thrives under pressure, it’s Novak Djokovic. He’ll rise to the occasion and tough out a relatively comfortable win in the end.
Prediction: Djokovic in 2
Rafael Nadal vs Stan Wawrinka
Two of the greatest champions of the 21st century go toe-to-toe in this mouthwatering battle. Rafael Nadal is fresh off a record-extending 22nd Major title at Roland Garros and is seeking to build up form ahead of Wimbledon. The Spaniard returns to grass courts for the first time in three years, but faces a tough test in the shape of three-time Grand Slam champion Wawrinka. The Swiss veteran is continuing his comeback tour, having played his first pro match in a year in late March.
There’s absolutely no denying that Nadal is the favorite whenever these two meet. It’s no different this time around. Still, the World No. 4 has had limited success on grass in the last few years. Throw in the fact that he’s dealing with a persistent foot injury and Wawrinka has a real chance. We’ve seen flashes of brilliance from him in the last few months, including a stunning grass-court win over Frances Tiafoe at Queen’s Club. Despite this, it’s hard to predict anything other than a Nadal victory. Wawrinka will have his moments, but it won’t be enough for the Matador.
Prediction: Nadal in 3
Main Photo from Getty.