The ATP 500 Series heads to the ATP Tour this week for the Hamburg European Open, to be hosted by Am Rothenbaum, Hamburg, Germany.
2022 ATP Tour
ATP 500 Series
Hamburg European Open
Am Rothenbaum, Hamburg, Germany (Outdoor Clay/0
Selected Round of 16 Matches- 21st July
Carlos Alcaraz Garfia (1) (21/100) vs Filip Krajinovic (33/10)
19-year-old sensation Carlos Alcaraz Garfia has enjoyed a massive year. He has won four titles (including ATP 1000 titles in Miami and Madrid).
But he will feel slightly disappointed that he couldn’t progress to the latter stages of either the French Open or Wimbledon Championships. Many felt that he was ready to break the Grand Slam hegemony of Djokovic and Nadal. But perhaps the 19-year-old needs a little bit more time to acclimatize to the rigours of Grand Slam tennis.
Garfia is making his debut in Hamburg this week. But he will be looking to make a clean sweep of this season’s ATP 500 events (he won the titles in Rio and Barcelona). He made tough work of it in his opening round match against World No.259 Nicola Kuhn.
The Spaniard struggled with the adjustment from grass to clay and he needed three sets to progress. The 19-year-old is still learning how to handle the tour’s schedule and its many demands.
I think he has possibly played slightly too much tennis this year. In any event, his victory over Nicola Kuhn took his 2022 clay-court record to 21-2.
30-year-old Serb Filip Krajinovic has been one of the most frustrating players on tour for some time. He burst onto the scene with that run to the 2017 Paris Masters final. But the naturally talented Serbian has failed to develop any consistency over the years. Still, Krajinovic has managed to reach five ATP Finals over his career.
Crucially, he reached his maiden ATP 500 final in this event last year. He actually beat top seed and World No.4 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the process (exactly the sort of result he is looking for this week).
Despite favouring hardcourts, Krajinovic has enjoyed a significant amount of success on clay.
In fact, 22 of his 25 Challenger and Futures finals have come on clay. He has enjoyed a typically erratic season.
But he still managed to reach his 2nd ATP 500 final at Queens. And that’s exactly the sort of player Krajinovic is.
He showed his clay-court prowess with an impressive opening round victory against new clay-court prince Sebastian Baez. It showed true grit and determination (facets that aren’t always present in his game).
The Verdict: Garfia to win in three at 26/10- The Spaniard beat the Serb in their only previous encounter.
He ground out a tough three-set win at last year’s Umag Open (also held on clay).
I ultimately think that Garfia’s powerful baseline shots will overwhelm the Serb.
But the Serbian’s victory over Baez suggested that he could nick a set off the dominant Spaniard.
Karen Khachanov (7) (53/100) vs Fabio Fognini (29/20)
26-year-old Russian Karen Khachanov has enjoyed a fairly solid season. He came out of the blocks pretty quick this year, reaching a final in Adelaide and a semi-final in Qatar.
But he has been slightly subdued since. The 2018 Paris Masters champion is just another one of those players who battles with consistency (see Krajinovic and Basilashvilli).
He endured a pretty tough opening encounter this week, taking down local hero Jan-Lennard Struff. It was a typically gruelling clay-court affair and the Russian had to save a match-point to progress. It took his season win-loss record to 23-16.
The Olympic Silver Medallist is always a threat when his serve and forehand are working in tandem.
I think it’s fair to say that 35-year-old Fabio Fognini’s best days are likely behind him.
The grizzled Italian vet was once a top 10 player. He is your quintessential clay-court specialist, winning eight of his nine ATP titles on red clay. His last title was his greatest (he won the 2019 Monte-Carlo Masters).
But the Italian doesn’t always seem to be fully committed to the cause these days. Still, he does have the magical capacity to pitch up on this surface: he reached semi-finals in Rio and Belgrade earlier this year. But perhaps his biggest plus this week is court experience. He won this event in 2013 and was a beaten finalist in 2015.
Fognini just picked up a morale boosting victory against Aljaz Bedene and he will be feeling confident of going deep in one of his favourite events.
The Verdict: Khachanov to win in straight sets at 13/10- Khachanov leads the head-to-head 2-1. This will be their maiden meeting on Fognini’s preferred surface.
This could be a brutal affair, with both players looking to dominate with their massive forehands. But I expect the Russian will always have the advantage through his superior athleticism.