Damien Kayat previews selected round of 32 matches coming your way from the ATP Tour's Hamburg event.
2021 ATP Tour
ATP 500 Series
Hamburg European Tour
Am Rothenbaum, Hamburg
Selected Round of 32 Matches- 13th July
Dusan Lajovic 58/100 | Lucas Pouille 27/20
The Hamburg European Open is the first in a series of minor clay-court events played just before the North American hardcourt swing. World Number 42 Dusan Jajovic is the 5th seed this week. You would think that the Serb would welcome the return of clay: he won his one and only clay-court title at the 2019 Croatian Open. In fact, that event came just a few months after his surprise run to the Monte-Carlo Masters final. But his clay-court form was dismal this season as he registered first-round losses in five clay events. His general form has been sub-par. His season started with a highly promising 4th round run at the Aussie Open. But things just seem to have slipped away for the baseliner. He reached the quarterfinals here last year and he generally tends to play well in this little window of the season (as evidenced by his Croatian Open title in 2019). These events tend to draw slightly inferior fields where he can impose himself.
What has happened to Lucas Pouille? Honestly, a few years back I thought he was primed to be a possible Grand Slam Champion. There was such a clear trajectory to his career. He reached two Grand Slam quarterfinals in 2016. The following year he would go on to claim ATP titles on three different surfaces. In 2018 he broke into the world’s top ten, claiming another two titles. Incidentally, he won consecutive Hungarian Open titles on red clay. He then went on to reach the semi-finals of the 2019 Australian Open. The world appeared to be his oyster. But he wasn’t able to build on that Melbourne brilliance, losing his next five consecutive first-round matches. And it hasn’t got much better since then. It’s really one of the most rapid declines in recent memory, comparable to Jelena Ostapenko’s dive down the rankings. This season hasn’t been much kinder to the Frenchman. He has only reached the 3rd round of one event. I don’t see much hope of success for Pouille in Germany this week.
Verdict: Lajovic in straight sets at 27/20
Lajovic leads Pouille in their head-to-head series at 2-1. Lajovic actually won their last match on clay, beating the Frenchman in the semi-finals of the Davis Cup. This should offer the Serbian the chance of a morale-boosting win. Lajovic isn’t really playing well enough to comfortably back in straight sets. However, Pouille is just a shadow of his former self and I’m willing to chance it at 27/20.
Filip Krajinovic 83/100 | Daniel Altmaier 94/100
Well not quite on the same level of Lucas Pouille, Filip Krajinovic’s decline has also been alarming. He will forever be haunted by his greatest achievement. Hey, can you believe that Krajinovic reached the final of the Paris Masters? He just hasn’t been able to come close to replicating that type of tennis since. Sure, he reached two finals in 2019. But these were low calibre ATP 250 events. This year he has a win-loss ratio of 8-10. He will be happy for the return to clay. His best result of the season was a quarterfinal on the Serbian clay-courts. That’s the funny thing about Krajinovic. People tend to think of him as a hardcourt specialist due to that week in Paris. But most of his best results have come on clay. He reached the final of the Hungarian Open and he won five clay-court Challenger titles in 2017. In fact, 22 of his Futures and Challenger Finals have been on clay.
German Daniel Altmaier has endured wretched injury woes in his brief career. Still just 22, shoulder and hip injuries have really stunted the progression of Altmaier. Hopefully, he can now have a more sustained period of injury-free tennis. Because there is certainly some ability there. He is clearly a clay-court enthusiastic. He made his Grand Slam debut at last year’s French Open. He unbelievably reached the 4th round, knocking out Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini in the process. He has reached six clay-court finals at the lower levels. Crucially, he is fresh off a clay-court Challenger title victory in Braunschweig. Altmaier will be hoping to continue this fine home form this week.
Verdict: Altmaier to win at 94/100
This will be the first career meeting between these two. I think that the German is a sound bet. He is coming of a commanding clay-court title- albeit at a lower level. I’m more swayed by that incredible performance in Paris last year. He will enjoy the home support and he should find Krajinovic vulnerable in the early stages of this tournament.