At the beginning of the ATP Moselle Open in Metz, it looked like the tournament was Daniil Medvedev’s or Hubert Hurkacz’s to win easily. Hurkacz has cruised through his two matches into the semis, but Medvedev was bounced by Stan Wawrinka in as surprising a match as we’ve seen since Borna Coric’s run. Is it possible for Wawrinka to pull a Coric? First he needs to get past Sascha Bublik, and Hurkacz needs to bypass Lorenzo Sonego for a chance to fulfill his pre-tournament expectations. We take a look at the matches below and give our predictions for who will advance to the final.
ATP Metz Semifinal Predictions
Hubert Hurkacz vs Lorenzo Sonego
Head-to-head: Sonego 2-1
It’s surprising to see Sonego here, given that he has historically not been very good on hard courts. But a draw that included the late-career Gilles Simon, and the highly-struggling Aslan Karatsev, helped him into the semis, though his quarterfinal win over Sebastian Korda shows a higher level of possibility on the surface.
Hurkacz has had an easy draw as well, but is otherwise much more accomplished on hard courts. He competed for a 1000 title in the finals of Montreal just a month ago. The H2H between these two also includes a couple sub-ATP matches, and in total Hurkacz leads the hard court H2H 2-1. He is otherwise having a much better year this year than the Italian, both in general and on hard, and should fairly comfortably advance. But every now and then Sonego can up his game (such as a 6-2 6-1 destruction of Novak Djokovic on hard in Vienna two years ago), and the Korda win could signal that, which makes me wary of calling this in two.
If Sonego is to win, it will be a matter of him hitting his shots. The Italian is one of the most aggressive players on tour, and shouldn’t get a lot of competition from Hurkacz trying to steal the reins, as the Pole is most comfortable playing defense (so comfortable it looks almost lethargic at times). The two should trade heavy forehands, neither having a particular advantage there, and trade solid backhands, while avoiding the net. Hurkacz’s serve is better, and he can both take over and close out matches with it. The operative principle for Sonego may be whether the crowd gives him enough energy to reach his peak level.
Prediction: Hurkacz in 3
Stan Wawrinka vs Alexander Bublik
Head-to-head: Bublik 1-0
Are we really going to get another Borna Coric so soon? Wawrinka was looking like his old self in a huge upset over Daniil Medvedev, after having not shown much sign of life all year, going a mere 3-9 in 2022 prior to the tournament and without any wins on hard. But he looked very confident against the former world #1, speaking that confidence with a heavy thumping forehand that pushed Medvedev into the corners and kept the Russian on defense. He followed it with a decent win against Mikael Ymer, although one wonders if fitness may be an issue for the 37 year-old after a couple long three-setters.
Wawrinka faces one of the more unpredictable players on tour in Sascha Bublik, which should make this match thoroughly unpredictable itself. Bublik occasionally hits a high level, but more often plays his own mid-level variety of bored/creative tennis, and recently struggled for a couple months before this tournament. (Typical of his ups and downs, two months of otherwise bad tennis also included a win over Top 10 Cam Norrie in Davis Cup.)
It’s always difficult to pick on the side of a player as he returns from injury, because one is never quite sure where his level is at until it gets all the way back. That problem is doubled when a player is in their late 30s, and there is no guarantee at all that he ever achieves even close to the same level. Stan has made an otherwise reasonable pick in favor of Bublik more difficult with his level against Medvedev, and I expect his motivation is very high, and that he will have a lot of crowd support. That could be enough to carry him past the Kazakh, though because of his age and without any deep runs in tournaments this year, I’m concerned about his fitness. This is too close to call, but I’ll give it to Stan for his recent form.
Prediction: Wawrinka in 3
Main Photo from Getty.