Finals previews and predictions: Pouille vs. Lopez, Muller vs. Karlovic

Three of this week’s four finalists are at least 34 years old, with the only exception being Lucas Pouille. Sunday’s title match in Stuttgart pits Pouille against Feliciano Lopez, while Gilles Muller and Ivo Karlovic are squaring off in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

Mercedes Cup: Feliciano Lopez vs. (4) Lucas Pouille

Pouille and Lopez will battle for the Stuttgart title when they collide for the third time in their careers on Sunday. The head-to-head series stands at one victory apiece, with Lopez having gotten the job done 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 last fall in Vienna before Pouille got indoor revenge almost immediately thereafter via a 6-7(1), 6-3, 6-4 decision at the Paris Masters.

Looking for the third winner’s trophy of his career that would complete a trifecta on different surfaces, Pouille survived his opener after saving a match point against Jan-Lennard Struff and prevailing 10-8 in a third-set tiebreaker. The 16th-ranked Frenchman has since improved to 22-11 this year with defeats of Philipp Kohlschreiber and Benoit Paire. With a fair amount of grass-court points and a current ranking of 33rd, Lopez has likely locked up a seed at Wimbledon thanks to this performance. The 35-year-old Spaniard is through to the final following three-set wins at the expense of Gilles Simon, Jeremy Chardy, and Mischa Zverev. A more rested Pouille should be able to handle Lopez’s lefty spin serve and down-the-line slice approach shots with his own rock-slid two-handed backhand.

Pick: Pouille in 3

Ricoh Open: (3) Ivo Karlovic vs. (4) Gilles Muller

It will be the third career ATP-level showdown and the third in exactly a year between Karlovic and Muller when the two veterans meet again in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. This is a rematch of the 2016 semifinals at this tournament, where Muller scored a 7-6(5), 7-6(4) victory before finishing runner-up to Nicolas Mahut. The 34-year-old Luxembourgian was also second best on the grass courts of Newport, losing to none other than Karlovic in a 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 7-6(12) Newport heartbreaker.

Muller finally captured his first-ever title earlier this season in Sydney and he is through to his eighth final with wins this week over Andreas Seppi, Aljaz Bedene, and Alexander Zverev, surrendering one set to Bedene in the process. Karlovic has advanced by taking out Stefan Kozlov, Daniil Medvedev, and Marin Cilic–the latter in a third-set tiebreaker. The 38-year-old Croat still registers at an impressive 24th in the world and he finally has a winning record again in 2017 (11-10) for the first time since early February. Muller has been more consistent this season and he should be confident enough on the heels of a straight-set upset of Zverev to win a majority of the decisive, pressure-packed points against Karlovic.

Pick: Muller in 3

15 Comments on Finals previews and predictions: Pouille vs. Lopez, Muller vs. Karlovic

  1. Pouille in three and muller in two. Pouille’s extremely well rounded and solid all court game will help him find a way to win this final and I am extremely confident in Muller’s form and confidence after beating Karlovic. It’s about to Gilles wins a grass court title.

  2. Congrats to rc on picking Pouille as the tournament winner correctly. I thought you said you picked better on clay!! ?

    • Thanks Benny! I went purely on a hunch and dumb luck won 😀
      #1 in the Stuttgart standings – TDC. I’ve been there before but both times 250’s 😉

      The grass is so different in Stuttgart compared to Ricoh Open. Stuggart looks mainly like just dirt. I’ve never played tennis on grass – I have no idea.

      Congrats Gilles and Lucas!

  3. Congrats to you both.

    I just went with Karlopez because the names blended well together.

    I have no regrets. .

  4. Watched both finals; there were so many aces, returning of serves was almost impossible, and TBs were almost unavoidable. The points were short and the S&V was the main style being played. The four finalists were all playing net rushing game, I’m glad the S&V Muller won one of the titles.

    However, I doubt we’ll see too many of S&V style tennis being played come Queens and Halle; while I’m happy S&V was/is able to survive on grass, I would like to see some baseline tennis against the S&V, and see how players solve problems out there playing against a different style.

    I am not in favor of seeing too many unreturnable serves or ace feasts, and it’s on grass that we see so many of such; I hope matches on grass won’t end up with only three shots and the point is over kind of tennis.

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