Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Nick Kyrgios
Despite World Cup fever flying through the air, the tennis calendar chugs along — and we find four Saturday semifinal matchups from Germany (Mercedes Cup) and the Netherlands (Libema Open).
In Stuttgart, Germany, we’ve got the Swiss maestro, Roger Federer, squaring off against Aussie enigma Nick Kyrgios. But before that, Milos Raonic will face Lucas Pouille in the first match of the day.
It’s hard to contemplate opposing Raonic at the moment given his present form. The Missile has been absolutely menacing on his serve thus far in Stuttgart, winning 97% of first serve points against Mirza Basic, 86% against Marton Fucsovics and 80% vs. Tomas Berdych. Throughout his first three matches, he’s faced only two break points — which both came in one service game against Berdych.
Pouille probably holds his serve well enough (at least against a returner as poor as Raonic) to force a tiebreak or maybe even three — but given Pouille’s form over the past few months, Raonic probably takes two of three lotteries over the long run. That means -200 looks just right. Pass.
Over in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands, Jeremy Chardy will try his luck against Matty Ebden, who has lost all three career matches against the Frenchman. We’ll also see the resurgent Bernard Tomic (now draped in Lacoste) against Richard “Grass-quet” Gasquet.
I initially thought Chardy held value at a buck and a quarter. After all, he’s never dropped a set against Ebden and has won their three aforementioned bouts pretty handily:
- 2016 Delray: Chardy d. Ebden 6-2, 6-1
- 2014 Acapulco: Chardy d. Ebden 7-5, 6-0
- 2012 U.S. Open: Chardy d. Ebden 6-4, 6-2, 6-2
That said, they’ve never met on grass, which is where Ebden seems to play his best tennis. My main concern here, though, revolves around the legs of Chardy. He’s played a lot of tennis recently, winning the Surbiton Challenger last week and getting pushed to three sets twice so far in this tournament. The same could be said for Ebden, however, who made the semis in Surbiton. If both guys bring their A-games, I favor Chardy — but I’ll stay away.
That leaves only one match — the popcorn match of the day — between Roger Federer and Nick Kyrgios. Here, we will find our daily hitter. Let’s dive in.
Roger Federer (-280) vs. Nick Kyrgios (+240)
When: Not before 10 a.m. ET
Where: Stuttgart, Germany
H2H: 1-1 (with a second win for Roger at last year’s Laver Cup)