It’s a return to singles for Vasek Pospisil for the 1st time since losing in the quarter finals at Wimbledon. The Canadian hits the courts in Atlanta to face Yen-Hsun Lu to open play on the Stadium Court. For Pospisil, it’s a test of his physical well-being as he suffered a bone bruise to his right wrist while on that run in Lomdon. He played doubles with Jack Sock on Tuesday and had both good and bad moments. That doubles match likely got him some good “live” action to help him segue back into singles play. He’ll need all the help he can get as he faces Lu. Lu won his opener in Atlanta over Malek Jaziri 6-1, 7-6 (12). It was a bizarre 2nd set tie break that saw Jaziri blow six set points & Lu needing a third match point to seal the deal. That sort of edgy breaker though could help Lu on the big points against Pospisil potentially.
For Pospisil, these next few weeks could be huge to his future. He’s long been touted as a riser on the ATP Tour, but has had physical difficulties that hindered his progression. After a rather mundane 2015 that saw him go 7-10 in main draws prior to Wimbledon, expectations will be higher now. Pospisil surprisingly has not done all that well on outdoor hard courts. He’s got a career winning percentage around 55% on the surface, but you’d expect his serve to earn him some better results on the surface. This North American hard court swing has seen him with some decent results over the past two years though. In 2013, he was an unexpected semifinalist at the Rogers Cup. Last year, he made the Washington Final, losing to Milos Raonic. The talent is there, but the consistency isn’t always a willing partner.
For Lu, he will want to prove to be a dangerous type in these smaller settings where he seems to perform better. He’s over a 60% career winner on outdoor hard courts, but truth be told, a lot of that work has come on the Challenger level. This is Lu’s fourth trip to Atlanta and outside of 2011 when he made the quarters, this is the round he has gone out in the last two years. Power players tend to give him a hard time on this surface which would play into Pospisil’s repertoire. Still, with the recovery from the bone bruise and just a 5-5 mark on hard courts at the ATP level this year, Pospisil could be prime upset material in this spot.
The danger will come if Pospisil is not getting some cheap points on serve or at-minimum, setting himself up for success by placing his serves in the right spots. Lu may not be a supremely dangerous returner, but he’s crafty enough to take advantage of a less than A-level effort. This is Pospisil’s 2nd run in Atlanta with a 1-1 mark in 2014. He lost to Dudi Sela in the quarters in three sets. While Lu cannot match the pop of Pospisil, he does offer consistency on ground strokes. He will be sure to test Pospisil’s fitness in this one and if he can engage him in rallies, I think he’ll fancy his chances to push the #2 seed. We haven’t seen any of the seeds go down yet in Atlanta, but Wednesday looks like a possibility between Pospisil & 4th seed Adrian Mannarino who takes on Go Soeda.
Lu in 3.