The draw for the 28th Noventi Open has just taken place Roger Federer will face the qualifier, Ilya Ivashka in the first round.
The Swiss heads into the North Rhine Westphalia showpiece as the ten times and defending champion, winning the event in 2019. However, with several top ten players in the draw, his task is not an easy one as he continues his comeback post knee surgery.
Sadly, due to nonsensical policies enforced by the Merkel regime, there are no fans allowed into the Owl Arena this year, and the event is effectively being played behind closed doors.
You can see Federer's projected opponents below.
Federer's Projected Opponents
- Round 1: Ilya Ivashka
- Round 2: Hubert Hurkacz / Felix Auger Aliassime
- Quarter Final: Daniil Medvedev
- Semi Final: Sascha Zverev
- Final: Andrey Rublev
Thoughts on the Draw
Federer arrived in Halle on Thursday and had one of the lightest practice sessions I've ever seen against Kei Nishikori.
The Swiss later said in the pre-tournament press conference he would be upping the intensity over the next few days to see how his knee responds.
It will be interesting to see how he looks in his first-round match against Ilya Ivashka who can be a tricky customer, even taking a set off Nadal in Barcelona.
However, the Belarussian has zero grass pedigree to speak of, failing to get out of the first round in qualifying for Wimbledon in his 3 previous attempts so this should be a comfortable start for Federer who can expose his technique by taking time away from him.
Should Federer progress to round two, then it's either Hubert Hurkacz or Felix Auger-Aliassime.
The Pole was handed an unexpected defeat in Stuttgart when Dominik Stricker defeated him, so he would be looking to make amends before heading over to Wimbledon.
On the other hand, Felix is playing in tomorrow's Mercedes Cup final, so he's got heading in with plenty of grass-court tennis under his belt, and I'd make him the favourite in that match.
However, both those guys are tricky customers as they hit big, and the grass is the type of surface where matches can slip from your grasp quickly, especially in a best of three formats.
Federer's projected quarter-final opponent is Daniil Medvedev, who heads in after his best-ever run in Paris, where he made the last eight.
The grass is not Medvedev's best surface as he likes to play far back behind the baseline, and he faces Struff in the first round who is capable of the upset.
Pospisil is also in that section, and he's done reasonably well on grass before, so it will be interesting to see if Medvedev can prove his grass doubters wrong as he did to his clay one's last week.
Into the semi-finals, and Alexander Zverev is the top seed. He'll be arriving back in Germany today, having lost a tough five-setter to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the French Open semi-final.
Can Sascha hit the ground running, or will the wounds take a bit longer to heal after that defeat? I'm not sure, but I make Bautista Agut the favourite in that section, and he's my pick for the title.
In the other half of the draw, Stefanos Tsitsipas was the top seed after he took a wild card but he withdrew after play had commenced on Monday. That means the draw is hugely unbalanced and Andrey Rublev is now the top seed in that half of the draw and has a clear path to the final.
What do you guys think of the draw? Predictions for Federer? Let me know in the comments. I think this draw is tough, and although it might open up, I'd be happy with two matches for Federer.