ATP Stuttgart 2017 draw preview: Roger Federer headlines the field at Mercedes Cup
Roger Federer returns to tennis for the first time since March when he headlines the strong ATP 250 field at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart as the grass season officially launches for 2017!
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He hasn’t played since capturing back-to-back Masters 1000 titles at Indian Wells and Miami throughout the the month of March, but Roger Federer - after skipping the entire clay court season - makes his long-awaited return to competition at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart this week.
The dust will have barely settled from Sunday’s French Open final between Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka, but the ATP World Tour has immediately moved onto the short but chaotic grass season - and the man with the most grass titles of all time - Federer - is targeting a 16th title on the surface in Stuttgart.
Federer is joined in the draw by Australian Open semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov, third seed Tomas Berdych and local veteran and close friend Tommy Haas - who he could face in the second round.
It promises to be a great week in Stuttgart as a collection of the world’s best players battle for glory in the German city! Read on below for a Stuttgart draw preview, predictions and tips!
Roger Federer (1) vs Mischa Zverev (6) - H2H: Federer leads 3-0
Federer, 19-1 for 2017 with three titles at the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami, looks to continue his incredible and resurgent season in Stuttgart, but there are a couple of dangerous players that could trouble the legendary Swiss as he eases his way back into competition. Federer has a bye in the opening round and awaits the winner of former World No. 2 Tommy Haas or the big-serving Pierre-Hugues Herbert for a spot in the quarter-finals.
Roger Federer (Photo by THOMAS KIENZLE/AFP/Getty Images)6x5x4x3xMischa Zverev, the sixth seed who recently made the final of Geneva as a qualifier, has a game made for grass, and his effective serve-and-volleying could be damaging throughout the week in Stuttgart. Zverev takes on Malek Jaziri in the opening round and will face a qualifier in round two if he wins. It looks like a Federer vs Zverev quarter-final is on the horizon and you can’t possibly tip against Federer, who is 3-0 over Zverev - including the Australian Open quarter-finals earlier this year - if the match does eventuate.
Tomas Berdych (3) vs Gilles Simon (7) - H2H: Level at 7-7
The two seeds in this section - veterans Tomas Berdych and Gilles Simon - are really struggling in 2017, and it wouldn’t be surprising if one or both bombed out before the quarter-finals. Berdych remains the more reliable of the pair, despite a disappointing second round loss at Roland Garros, and he opens against either Bernard Tomic or another veteran in Stephane Robert. Tomic, if he’s motivated and focused, is a very good grass court player, but you don’t know what you’re going to get with the Australian, while Simon starts his campaign against grass specialist Feliciano Lopez.
That’s a very tough opener for Simon and I don’t think he can win in his current form. Lopez, if he wins, would then go on to meet either Jeremy Chardy or another grass specialist Florian Mayer in the second round, making this section a very unpredictable one. I’m going to say this quarter comes down to Berdych vs Lopez and I’ll back the veteran Spaniard to emerge triumphant.
Predicted semi-finalist: Lopez
Lucas Pouille (4) vs Steve Johnson (5) - H2H: First tour-level meeting
A pretty strong section with a bunch of good grass court players, led by seeds Lucas Pouille and Steve Johnson. Both Pouille and Johnson suffered third round losses at the French Open, but they have enjoyed success on grass last year, with the Frenchman making the Wimbledon quarter-finals and Johnson picking up the title in Nottingham.
Johnson takes on local wildcard Maximilian Marterer in the opening round but will have a very tough second round against either two-time runner up Philipp Kohlschreiber or former Wimbledon semi-finalist Marcos Baghdatis. Pouille meanwhile has a bye in the first round as one of the top four seeds and will meet either Jan-Lennard Struff or a qualifier in the second round.
Philipp Kohlschreiber (Photo by THOMAS KIENZLE/AFP/Getty Images)Tough section to predict, but Kohlschreiber traditionally plays well in Germany and is an excellent grass court player. I think the German can advance.
Predicted semi-finalist: Kohlschreiber
Grigor Dimitrov (2) vs Viktor Troicki (8) - H2H: Dimitrov leads 3-2
After such a stellar opening couple of months to the season, taking home the Brisbane and Sofia titles and reaching the Australian Open semi-finals, Grigor Dimitrov’s results have dried up, and he will be hoping to return to his best form throughout the upcoming grass season. A former Wimbledon semi-finalist, Dimitrov faces Jerzy Janowicz (another former Wimbledon semi-finalist) or Andrey Kuznetsov after his first round bye - both of which could be tough matches, but at his best he’d expect to beat.
Eighth seed Viktor Troicki hasn’t had a great season so far in 2017 and he could be in danger of an opening round exit against the mercurial Benoit Paire - although the Frenchman doesn’t have the best track record on grass. Nikoloz Basilashvili - who has played some solid tennis this season - is likely to await in the second round, with the Georgian facing a qualifier first up.
There’s potential for an upset in this section, but if Dimitrov can play within himself, the Bulgarian should be able to navigate his way into the final four.
Predicted semi-finalist: Dimitrov
The 2017 Mercedes Cup is live from Stuttgart between June 12-18.