Draw Preview: Tsitsipas & Hurkacz Resume Budding Rivalry In Rotterdam
Stefanos Tsitsipas and Hubert Hurkacz have formed a budding ATP Head2Head rivalry over the past 15 months, and they will play once again at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament.
Seven of the Top 15 players in the FedEx ATP Rankings, led by World No. 5 Daniil Medvedev, are heading to Rotterdam for the first ATP 500 tournament of the season, and there are several first-round matches at which popcorn will be a requirement, with players who could make deep runs meeting in the opening round.
Second-seeded Tsitsipas has won four of his five matches against Hurkacz, with four of their battles coming in 2019. But their past three clashes have all been tightly contested, with Tsitsipas needing a final-set tie-break to triumph at the Rolex Shanghai Masters.
Tsitsipas loves to play aggressive tennis, serving big and working his way into the net. Hurkacz stands 6’5”, but he moves well for his height, making for a high level of tennis between two of the sport’s rising stars. Both men competed at the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, where Tsitsipas emerged victorious.
Another match to watch features two players who were inside the Top 10 at the same time last year: fifth seed Fabio Fognini and big-hitting Russian Karen Khachanov. They split their first two meetings last season, which took place in back-to-back weeks in China. Fognini and Khachanov are two of the cleanest ball-strikers on the ATP Tour.
Two players who also belong in that category are in-form Russian Andrey Rublev and Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili, who will face one another for the fourth time.
Basilashvili leads their ATP Head2Head series 2-1, including a victory in last year’s Hamburg final. But Rublev, who earned his lone win against the Georgian last season in Cincinnati, is in perhaps the best form of his career, winning a title in each of the first two weeks of the season, in Doha and Adelaide. The 22-year-old became the first player since Dominik Hrbaty in 2004 to start the season with back-to-back titles.
Eighth seed Denis Shapovalov will try to level his record against 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov (0-1) when they meet in Rotterdam. If Shapovalov advances, he could face fellow #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, who plays powerful German Jan-Lennard Struff in his opener.
The top seed is Medvedev, who starts his tournament against a qualifier or special exempt. The Russian was one of the revelations of 2019 on the ATP Tour, and he will push to reach his first final of the season after leading all players with nine of them at tour-level last year. The first seeded opponent he could face is Rublev in the quarter-finals.
Other players to watch for are defending champion Gael Monfils, who opens against Portuguese Joao Sousa, and sixth seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who won all six of his matches at the ATP Cup before falling in a five-set thriller against former World No. 3 Marin Cilic at the Australian Open. The Spaniard will play a qualifier or special exempt.