The top three seeds – Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev, and Felix Auger-Aliassime – have advanced to the Rotterdam semifinals. They are joined by unlikely qualifier Jiri Lehecka, who upset Denis Shapovalov in round one.
(3) Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. (2) Andrey Rublev
Rublev and Auger-Aliassime will be going head-to-head for the third time in their careers when they clash in the semifinals of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament on Saturday. Both of their previous meetings have gone the way of Rublev, who prevailed 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-3 on the clay courts of Umag in 2018 and won 7-6 (5), 6-7 (7 ), 6-4 two years later in Adelaide.
A final appearance is on the line in this one, just as it was at the Adelaide event. Auger-Aliassime is still seeking his first career ATP title, having lost all eight of his finals. The ninth-ranked Canadian is two wins away in Rotterdam following defeats of Egor Gerasimov, Andy Murray, and Cameron Norrie. Rublev has captured eight titles in his career, including Rotterdam last year. The seventh-ranked Russian’s defense of the trophy has begun with easy straight-sets wins over Henri Laaksonen, Soonwoo Kwon, and Marton Fucsovics. On a relatively slow surface, Rublev should be able to withstand Auger-Aliassime’s serving and get the best of a majority of baseline rallies. Plus the second seed is simply more reliable at the business end of tournaments.
Pick: Rublev in 3
(1) Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. (Q) Jiri Lehecka
Tsitsipas went into 2022 with an elbow injury and was in doubt to even play in Australia. The fourth-ranked Greek was less than 100 percent at the ATP Cup, but since then it has all turned around for him. He made a run to the Australian Open semifinals before succumbing to Daniil Medvedev and so far in Rotterdam the top seed has knocked off Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Ilya Ivashka, and Alex de Minaur – dropping just one set to Davidovich Fokina in the process.
Up next for Tsitsipas on Saturday is a surprising quarterfinalist in Lehecka. In fact, the 20-year-old Czech had never won a match at the ATP main-draw level prior to this week. From out of nowhere, Lahecka qualified for the field of 32 and then booked his improbable spot in the semis by beating Denis Shapovalov, Botic Van de Zandschulp, and Lorenzo Musetti. Each of the world No. 137’s last two matches has required three sets. Lehecka has to be wearing down both mentally and physically, and now he faces his toughest opponent of the week. This should not be overly competitive.
Pick: Tsitsipas in 2 losing 8 games or fewer