Rotterdam R1 previews and predictions: Zverev vs. Ferrer, Lopez vs. Klizan

An intriguing opener at this week’s 500-point tournament in Rotterdam pits No. 3 seed Alexander Zverev against David Ferrer on Monday. Meanwhile, former champion Martin Klizan qualified for the main draw and will face fellow left-hander Feliciano Lopez.

(3) Alexander Zverev vs. David Ferrer

Zverev and Ferrer will be going head-to-head for the third time in their careers when they clash in round one of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament on Monday. Ferrer has won both of their previous encounters–6-0, 6-1 on the red clay Hamburg in 2014 and 6-7(4), 6-1, 7-5 two seasons later on the hard courts of Beijing. Needless to say, the two competitors have gone in much different directions since then. Zverev has soared to No. 5 in the world at just 20 years old, with a pair of 2017 Masters 1000 titles in Rome and Montreal. The German has slumped of late, however, and he recently lost to fellow up-and-comer Hyeon Chung in the Australian Open third round.

At the other end of the career spectrum, the 35-year-old Ferrer is well past his prime. Still, the Spaniard seemed close to retirement in the early stages of 2017 but a borderline resurgence has him registering at a respectable ranking of No. 39. He is off to a solid start this season, with a semifinal showing in Auckland and a five-set loss to a red-hot Andrey Rublev in the Aussie Open first round. Ferrer’s determined counter-punching should make this one competitive, but Zverev’s superior firepower will likely rule the day on an indoor hard court.

Pick: Zverev in 3

(Q) Martin Klizan vs. Feliciano Lopez

Nowhere is Klizan better than he is in Rotterdam. In three previous appearances at this event, the Slovak has never lost prior to the quarterfinals. He reached the quarters in 2013, captured the title in 2016, and advanced to the quarters again last season. For the most part it has been downhill ever since that biggest career triumph two years ago, due to both poor play and a lingering calf injury. Toiling away down at No. 147 in the rankings, Klizan may be picking up some much-needed momentum with a second-round performance in Sofia as a qualifier and another successful qualification this weekend in Rotterdam.

Up next for the former world No. 24 on Monday is a first-ever meeting with Lopez, who is also struggling. The Spaniard is 36 years old and seems to be transitioning into the next phase of his tennis life as the current Madrid tournament director. Lopez has won three matches this season, but he has also suffered straight-set losses to Mirza Basic (Doha), Alex de Minaur (Sydney), and Sam Querrey (Australian Open). He owns just five victories since the 2017 U.S. Open–including only one over anyone in the top 50. With six indoor matches already under his belt this month and plenty of confidence in Rotterdam, Klizan should be able to take advantage of a vulnerable opponent.

Pick: Klizan in 2

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