World No. 6, Stefanos Tsitsipas seeks his first ever win at the World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam when he faces Poland's Hubert Hurkacz in the first round on Tuesday.
Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Hubert Hurkacz is live from Rotterdam from 7:30pm local time/ 6:30pm GMT
Tsitsipas has mixed memories from his previous visits to Rotterdam- it was the site of his first ever tour-level match back in 2017, but he has never won a match at the venue!
The 21-year-old is 0-3 in Rotterdam, suffering main draw opening round defeats to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Damir Dzumhur in 2017 and 2019 respectively. He was also beaten by Martin Klizan in the qualifying rounds in 2018. His quest for a maiden victory at this tournament doesn’t get any easier, as he’s been handed a tough first round draw this year.
Tsitsipas is returning to action for the first time since the Australian Open, where he was beaten by Milos Raonic in the third round. Despite failing to defend the semi-final points he had accrued in Melbourne last season, the Greek has maintained the No. 6 ranking through this season, and will be looking to add a few more points to his tally in Rotterdam this week.
The 21-year-old surged up the rankings in a sensational 2019, rising from outside the top 90, peaking at No. 5, and finishing at 6th. He claimed titles in Marseille, Estoril and the Nitto ATP Finals, reached finals in Dubai, Madrid and Beijing and of course, made that stunning semi-final at the Australian Open.
Tsitsipas is yet to hit his stride this year- he was 1-2 at the ATP Cup, beating Alexander Zverev but losing to Denis Shapovalov and Nick Kyrgios, and crashed in the third round of the Australian Open. To be fair, he had a rough third round draw against resurgent former world No. 3, Raonic in Melbourne.
He’s got another tough draw in a packed Rotterdam field, starting off with a first round meeting with fellow young gun, Hurkacz.
Hurkacz made a rapid start to the year, scoring three tremendous wins over Diego Schwartzman, Borna Coric and Dominic Thiem at the ATP Cup. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to get Poland through to the knockout rounds, but he had definitely left his mark on the tournament.
Hurkacz continued his excellent start to the year in Auckland, where he made the semi-finals, and arrived at the Australian Open as a genuine threat to the bigger guns. He fought back from two sets down to beat Dennis Novak in his opening match in Melbourne, but he exited the tournament in the next round, falling in straight sets to John Millman. Given the form he had shown prior to the Australian Open, it seemed a disappointing defeat at the time, but Millman had also been playing well, and was a whisker away from upsetting Roger Federer in the following round.
Now that he’s had some rest, Hurkacz will be rearing to go again, and kick on from where he left off in January. He certainly has been kicking on in the last few seasons. The Pole was outside the top-200 at the start of 2018, but he had got himself into the top-40 by the end of 2019. He has cracked the top-30 this year, and enters Rotterdam at No. 29.
Hurkacz claimed his maiden career title in Winston-Salem last year, and also reached quarter finals at Indian Wells, Dubai and Eastbourne. Overall, he was 25-24 at tour-level in 2019, ending the season at No. 37.
He is competing in Rotterdam for the first time, and poses a big threat to Stefanos Tsitsipas’ ambitions of breaking his Rotterdam duck on Tuesday.
The head-to-head is heavily in favour of Tsitsipas, who has won four of their five ATP Tour meetings (3-1 in 2019), but three of their last four matches have gone the distance, reflecting the improvements Hurkacz made as this rivalry developed through last season.
The 6ft 5in strikes big off both wings, and moves very well for a man of his height, but he is second best to Tsitsipas in the movement department. Tsitsipas is no slouch with the serve and ground strokes either, and combined with his athleticism and all-court prowess, he should once again have a bit too much in his arsenal for Hurkacz, and finally register his first victory in Rotterdam.