Scouting Report: Shapo & Felix Look For Fast Grass Start In Stuttgart
The grass-court season begins this week in Stuttgart, where Canadian stars Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime lead the way at the MercedesCup, an ATP 250 event.
ATPTour.com looks at what you should keep your eyes on in Germany.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN STUTTGART
1) Shapovalov Back In Action: Shapovalov missed Roland Garros due to a shoulder injury, but the dynamic lefty is back in Stuttgart, where he is the top seed. The World No. 14 lost in the first round at this tournament in 2018 and 2019, but he will try to turn that around this week as he pursues his first title of the season. Shapovalov, who is 14-11 in 2021, will begin his run against Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez or Australian Alexei Popyrin.
2) Felix Chasing First Title: Auger-Aliassime has reached seven ATP Tour final. Will this be the week that the #NextGenATP star breaks through and lifts his first tour-level trophy? The 20-year-old has enjoyed success on grass before, making the final in Stuttgart in 2019 before advancing to the semi-finals at The Queen’s Club and the third round at Wimbledon that same year. Felix, who is seeded third, will play former Top 10 star Gilles Simon or South African Lloyd Harris in the second round.
3) Hubi Second Seed: Hubert Hurkacz earned the biggest crown of his career in Miami, where he claimed his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title. After letting slip a two-set lead in the first round at Roland Garros against Botic Van De Zandschulp, the Polish No. 1 will attempt to get back on track in Germany. Second seed Hurkacz, who took a set from Novak Djokovic in the third round at Wimbledon in 2019, will open in Stuttgart against wild card Dominic Stephan Stricker or a qualifier.
4) Aussies On The Move: Two of the eight singles seeds in the MercedesCup draw, fourth seed Alex de Minaur and eighth seed John Millman, are from Australia, but they are not the only ones representing their country in Stuttgart. Popyrin, who played Rafael Nadal in the first round at Roland Garros, could play top seed Shapovalov in the second round. Jordan Thompson, who begins his event against Argentine Guido Pella, has played his best tennis on grass. The 27-year-old earned the biggest win of his career against then-World No. 1 Andy Murray at The Queen’s Club in 2017 and he reached his lone ATP Tour final on this surface at ‘s-Hertogenbosch in 2019.
5) Murray/Soares Top Seeds: The top seeds in the doubles draw are Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, who are pursuing their second title of the season. The veteran tandem won this tournament in 2017, when they also triumphed on the The Queen’s Club grass. Two singles stars will also compete in the doubles event, as Hurkacz is partnering Lukasz Kubot and Marin Cilic is playing with Ivan Dodig.