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Halle 2021: Men's singles draw analysis, preview & prediction | Noventi Open

Roger Federer is the fifth seed at Halle
Roger Federer is the fifth seed at Halle
ANALYST

With Roland Garros drawing to a close on Sunday, many of the top stars will head to Halle this week for the Noventi Open. The German event is scheduled to begin on 14 June and will feature a host of big names including Roger Federer - who will be playing on grass for the first time in two years.

Federer is a 10-time champion at Halle, and is also the defending champion from 2019, which is when the event last took place. This time, the 39-year-old enters the fray as the fifth seed behind Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev.

Tsitsipas, who is scheduled to play the Roland Garros final on Sunday, took a late wildcard into Halle. But it remains to be seen whether the Greek remains committed to the event even after what is likely to be an energy-sapping final against Novak Djokovic.

The Noventi Open is an ATP 500 event with a prize money of 1,318,605. Roger Federer is the only man in the field this year to have won the title in the past, while Alexander Zverev and David Goffin are former runner-ups.

On that note, let's take a look at how the draw is expected to unfold:

Top half: Roger Federer slotted with Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and several other big servers

Can Roger Federer win an 11th title at Halle?
Can Roger Federer win an 11th title at Halle?

Top-seeded players: [1] Daniil Medvedev, [3] Alexander Zverev, [5] Roger Federer and [6] Roberto Bautista Agut

Expected semifinal: Daniil Medvedev vs Alexander Zverev

Dark horse: Felix Auger-Aliassime

Analysis: All eyes will be on Roger Federer, who returns to grasscourt action for the first time since his 2019 Wimbledon final defeat to Novak Djokovic. The Swiss legend has been drawn to face a qualifier in the first round, but could face one of Felix Auger-Aliassime or Hubert Hurkacz in what might be a difficult second round.

Auger-Aliassime, at the time of writing, is into the finals of the MercedesCup in Stuttgart, where he will play Marin Cilic. The Canadian had a poor run during the claycourt season but has seemingly turned things around on grass, a surface that suits his style of play.

Daniil Medvedev, the top seed, has a tricky opening-round fixture against Jan-Lennard Struff. Blessed with a powerful game built around a big serve, Struff was in good form at Roland Garros - where he reached the fourth round.

The German could be a handful for Medvedev who, like Federer and many others, last played on grass at Wimbledon in 2019. Medvedev has a career 3-0 head-to-head advantage over Struff, but he might take some time to adjust to a surface he is not too comfortable on.

Should the Russian find a way past Struff, he will lock horns with Vasek Pospisil or a qualifier in the second round. And the seeded player drawn to face Medvedev in the quarters is none other than Roger Federer.

While the Swiss has beaten Medvedev in all three of their previous meetings, they are yet to face each other on grass.

Third seed Alexander Zverev opens his campaign against countryman Dominik Koepfer in the first round. Zverev faced Koepfer in Acapulco earlier this year, and beat him in straight sets.

Alexander Zverev could go all the way this time
Alexander Zverev could go all the way this time

Zverev, a Halle runner-up in 2016 and 2017, could face the big-serving Sam Querrey or France's Ugo Humbert in the second round. Humbert recently made the quarterfinals at Stuttgart, while Querrey finished as a semifinalist.

Querey would be the slight favorite in his matchup against the Frenchman, given that he has been serving impressively on grass this week.

Roberto Bautista Agut, meanwhile, begins his Halle campaign with a first-round match against Sebastian Korda. Making his ATP main draw debut on grass at Halle, Korda's big serve and powerful groundstrokes could spell trouble for Bautista Agut.

The winner of this match faces Kei Nishikori in the second round. The Japanese, on his part, plays a qualifier in his first-round match.

Bottom half: Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev on a collision course at Halle

Stefanos Tsitsipas
Stefanos Tsitsipas

Top-seeded players: [2] Stefanos Tsitsipas, [4] Andrey Rublev, [7] David Goffin, and [8] Gael Monfils

Expected semifinal: Andrey Rublev vs Stefanos Tsitsipas

Dark horse: Lloyd Harris

Analysis: 2019 runner-up David Goffin opens his Halle campaign against Corentin Moutet. The Belgian enjoys a 2-0 advantage over Moutet in the head-to-head, and should be expected to get the better of the Frenchman.

The winner of this match will next face the winner of the battle between Jurij Rodionov and Philipp Kohlschreiber. Rodionov recently retired midway through his semi-final match against Marin Cilic at Stuttgart, and it remains to be seen if he will recover in time for Halle.

Jordan Thompson, meanwhile, opens his account against Germany's Daniel Altmaier. Whoever wins that fixture will face either Andrey Rublev or Karen Khachanov in the second round.

Andrey Rublev
Andrey Rublev

Rublev and Khachavov, who both hail from Russia and are good friends too, have been drawn to face each other in what is by far the most intriguing first-round fixture. Khachanov has never lost to Rublev and, in fact, even beat the latter at Halle 2017 in a thrilling three-set contest.

Meanwhile Stefanos Tsitsipas and Gilles Simon both open their accounts against qualifiers, and are drawn to face each other in the second round. And the seeded player drawn to face Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals is Gael Monfils.

Monfils on his part faces Lloyd Harris in the first round. If the Frenchman escapes unscathed, he will face Guido Pella or a qualifier in the second.

Semifinal predictions

Top half: Roger Federer vs Alexander Zverev

Bottom half: Andrey Rublev vs Stefanos Tsitsipas

Final prediction

Alexander Zverev vs Andrey Rublev

Predicted champion

Alexander Zverev

Edited by Musab Abid
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