2017 Mercedes Cup SF Preview: Feliciano Lopez vs Mischa Zverev

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It’s an all unseeded semifinal as Feliciano Lopez and Mischa Zverev go at it for a spot in the Mercedes Cup final. Lopez has yet to make a final in 2017, while Zverev could make his second of the season with a win.

Feliciano Lopez vs (6) Mischa Zverev

The Spanish lawnmower shot his way into the semifinals after rallying from a set down to take out third seeded Tomas Berdych 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-4. The match featured lots of big serving with Lopez laying down 19 aces and the Czech hitting 21. The Spaniard played the break points better, saving all nine against his serve. He has only been broken three times through three rounds. Lopez converted two key breaks in the last two sets against the third seed to secure the win. In the end, it was as tight as you can get with Lopez winning 100 points to 97 for Berdych.

Zverev won an all-German affair, taking down Tommy Haas 6-4, 6-4. It was a bit predictable that Haas was unable to match the level from the previous round when he ousted top seed Roger Federer. Haas fought all the way through, but his serve was lacking and he barely made any inroads against Mischa’s serve. Zverev won a whopping 35 of 38 points off his first serve. He was landing 72 percent of his first serves, which served him well as Haas won eight of the 15 points played off Zverev’s second serve. The match continued a strong of serving for Zverev who has been broken just once on 14 chances, eleven of which came last round against Yannick Hanfmann.

Zverev Looks to Reverse The Trend

The 29-year-old German will have to do something he has failed to do so far in his career to reach the final in Stuttgart: win a set off of Feliciano Lopez. Lopez is 3-0 all-time against the German with straight sets wins each time. The last meeting was in 2016 in the second round of the Western & Southern Open. Lopez dominated 6-3, 6-1. He also tallied wins indoors in Kuala Lumpur in 2015 and outdoors on a hard surface at the Sunrise Challenger in 2009.

The difference maker in those matches has been a blistering first serve from Lopez. The Spaniard has won 80 percent or more of the points off his first serve in all three matches. Mischa has managed just one break of serve in the six sets played, while the Spaniard has routinely been able to get to his German counterpart’s serve. Lopez converted ten of 20 break opportunities against Zverev.

Serve & Volley Party

This match-up features two guys who love to employ the serve and volley. It’s really going to be an interesting test of like tactics. It’s all going to start with the serve and both men have been on point serving this week. The difference would seem to be that Zverev has had few to no answers for Lopez’s serve in the past and this surface plays even better to it. That means break chances will likely be few for the German.

It will be a little bit different for Lopez to see the serve and volley against him. I don’t think Zverev used it consistently in their previous meetings, but it’s become more of his game plan in the last year. Playing on grass, it’s a must and a plus. It really becomes a matter of which player can get more done on return. I like that Lopez has seen a big serve with Berdych on Friday and that could make a difference. He may find more success against Zverev’s serve, which can keep Mischa’s volleying from being as effective.

The Pig’s Bottom Line

Zverev certainly has a chance in this one despite Lopez’s more marquee career on grass. Zverev has found some of his best grass results in Germany and is sure to get the home crowd on his side. All that may not be enough though if Lopez continues his hot serving and precise, aggressive work off the ground. Unless the Spaniard has an off serving day or Zverev can steal a set, maybe two in tiebreaks – I think Lopez works into Sunday’s final.

Prediction: Lopez wins in straight sets

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