ATP Masters 250Mercedes Cup StuttgartRoger Federer

Stuttgart Draw 2018: Let the Grass Court Season Commence

The Mercedes Cup draw has just taken place at the Wiessenhof tennis club and it signals a return to competitive action for Roger Federer who hasn't played since the Miami Open way back in March! You can see his projected opponents below:

Roger Federer's Projected Opponents

  • Round 1: Bye
  • Round 2: Mischa Zverev / Qualifier
  • Quarter Final: Denis Shapovalov
  • Semi Final: Nick Kyrgios / Feliciano Lopez
  • Final: Milos Raonic / Lucas Pouille

Full .pdf draw.

Thoughts on the Draw

Federer Stuttgart

First of all, bring on the grass courts! My interest in tennis has died a death during the clay court swing as the enjoyment level of watching just isn't there. The same game styles over and over, non stop retrieving and it is just all a bit meh. Some fun points now and again like in the Djokovic Cecchinato tie-break but overall I've found it a bit boring and one paced  like you are watching the same point over and over again. I saw a quote from Marat Safin in a recent interview saying everyone is playing the same boring mediocre tennis. Agreed!

Now onto the draw, Roger gets a bye in round 1 due to this one being a 250 and he has a potentially tricky match first up against Mischa Zverev. Roger, of course, dominates the H2H  on grass and once double bagelled Zverev in Halle but he's not the type of guy you want to face coming in cold as he's got a decent serve, a hard to read forehand and will come forward to apply pressure. He also gave Fed a decent test in Halle last year so it's not a given this one considering how Roger struggled against Haas in Stuttgart last year.

The Quarter Finals doesn't get any easier either with Shapovalov the likely opponent. He's more than competent on grass winning Junior Wimbledon in 2016 and winning a few matches at Queen's Club last year. The Candian is a flashy shotmaker and that style should do well for him on grass so it could be a fun match. Hopefully, Fed does face Zverev first up as he's also a leftie. which will serve as a little prep.

As for the semifinals, the likely opponent is the man who seems to have been absent from the tour as long as Roger, Nick Kyrgios, who is making a return from an elbow problem that's kept him out of singles action since Houston in April. The Aussie has been playing doubles though, including a brief run out in Surbiton so he has a little bit of match practice under his belt and says he is able to serve pain free. Should be an interesting one if it happens and Kyrgios only really has Lopez and Simon to contend with to come through in his section.

From the other half of the draw, defending champion Pouille is the top seed, with Berdych and Raonic also in there. It's hard to really pick a favourite to come through there. Pouille had a crap clay court season, Berdych is in poor form and Raonic has been riddled with injury. Perhaps Kohlschreiber is one to watch as he usually plays well on home soil making the final here a couple of years ago.

Expectations for Fed? None really, he'll be rusty for sure but I'm just looking forward to seeing this guys brand of tennis again. Looks like he might be using the new  RF97 too which is coming out in July with white added to the frame at 3 and 9 o'clock. No spec change, just cosmetic. Thoughts?

rf-97-july-2018

Jonathan

Huge fan of Roger Federer - I'll pretty much try and watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or tweeting about tennis I play regularly myself and use this blog to share my thoughts on Fed and tennis in general.

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103 Comments

  1. Decent draw. Should be good test. Playing good players early in the draw will help in RF focussing better after a long return. Classic example is 2017 AO 3rd round when he is dialed in from the moment go, Berdych got the beating.
    Some thought which is out of context here: Everybody appreciates Roger’s attacking game but if you watch his matches from early 2000s you will get to know how excellent he was in defending as well. Surely he was not a world beater without the defensive skills. Ofcourse with age, he needed to find a way finishing points quickly and be in contention while playing younger opponents.

    1. Well not quite, because he struggled vs Melzer and Rubin. So that was a nice draw for him to get some matchplay before Berdych. I’d say playing M, Zverev first up on grass is much harder then Melzer at AO.

  2. New design of racket is good, I like that touch (white-grayish?). Draw is interesting. Halep just won her first slam.

  3. Yes, tricky first matches for sure. I hope the weather holds for the week. So excited for grass. Clay has been brutal this year. I will record the men’s final, look at the result, and either hit delete or watch depending on the outcome.
    I watched the women’s final. Happy for Halep and Cahill, lol. She has come a long way with her mental game.
    I like the new look for the racket. Would it be easier to find the sweet spot for the amateur?

    1. No amateur should be using the RF97, it’s too heavy for most. Wilson shop racquets can be patchy too if you are trying to find a matching pair and don’t have access to Priority1.

    2. I think that is Wilson trying to standardize the racquets’ paintjobs, changing only the colours, not the patches shapes. I guess it gives the brand a stronger image, and Wilson really needed that after all those horrid stripy frames…

  4. Grass, finally! Yep, totally agree with Marat and you on the same game style over and over…
    As for the new RF97, the tuxedo looking, hah? Classy, though I prefer the current all black.

  5. Hmm,quite a tough draw I would say with Schapo and Kygios,with whom he has had many tight matches.Will be
    interesting to see how he deals with it and basically just lovely to see him again so hopefully he won’t go out too soon.
    As for tomorrow I am a bit like Sue,not basically inclined to watch it.I can deal with him winning what I can’t bear is the hope he might not.Like the Schwartsman match,up a set and a break then down came the rain.All I do hope is that whoever wins does it without divine intervention.😇

  6. Yep, sounds like a potentially tricky draw for someone with 3 months’ rust on him. Will be prepared for an upset at some stage.

    Though if he does better than he did last year, he could go back to No. 1 …

  7. Tricky draw considering his first tourney after 2 months break. Would love to watch his match again Shapo, its should be interesting. NK is a suspect but its going to be a close one.

    Thank god clay is over, happy for Halep and am rooting for Thiem to win his maiden GS too.

      1. Lol you are funny Jon. Despite rumour that Roger might move to Uniqlo, still see him wearing Nike gear at practice. Contract extended to another 2 years maybe?

    1. Wed I heard.
      Jonathan, I hate the photo under “thoughts on the draw”…..hair is too short. You’ve used that photo before…grrr.

  8. Tough draw, but a good one to judge how ready Roger is to face the Delpos and Nadals at Wimbledon. Wish he starts strong and gets better every round.

  9. Good to have you and Fed back in action! Not for sure what Roger has been up to over the last two months, but hope he is focused, confident, and ready to dominate from day one.

    1. Welcome back Jon and Roger , you haven’t missed a beat let’s hope it’s the same better he realises the pace of the tour early all helps his game click back in . Stay healthy and he has good chances !

      Speaking of Delpo he didn’t really go for it re Rafa suspect he decided grass might be a better bet and a SF on clay good enough, so he lives to fight on uninjured & do something big on grass.
      The Fognini match wasn’t too bad in parts also and then Cecchinato and Djoko early sets & final TB was good!
      Lovely that Simona finally had her first Slam & may Thiem do as well .

      I saw Sascha might be in doubt for Halle just hope he isn’t getting health issues like many others such as Kyrgios which have derailed their trajectory.

      Chum Jetze Fed, grass is such a short stretch & a good Stuttgart showing a welcome fresh start !

    2. Thanks 🙂

      Leg issue for Zverev? He had some tough five-setters. I can’t see Zverev ageing that well body wise, so gotta get some wins in asap, but we shall see.

  10. On the  ATP App,  the time of first Fed’s practice in Stuttgart is mentioned (5:00 pm). I bet there may be more watchers than some days of the fortnight at Roland Garros… Incredible !

  11. Roger got a bit of push back with his non-appearance at RG. Maybe the reason is that everybody else is playing such boring tennis and he is one of a very few worth watching. The life of RG is on the line if Rafa wins a couple of more times. It is almost like a exhibition event. However, I cannot complain. I am not watching RG and, from the looks of it, I will not ever have any reason to. Unfortunately for tennis, Roger brought a lot of excitement back to tennis and it will leave with him.

  12. Is anybody watching Thiem right now?
    At last some decent tennis with variation.
    I agree, Jonathan, the whole of RG has been played with the same stroke. Boring as H.
    Allez Roger next week.

    1. yes I watched the first set but for the sake of my blood pressure no more.Four errors to give Nadal the set
      on a plate.There will be no stopping him now.Sadly.

      1. Hi Annie.
        I stopped watching after the first set.
        The way Nadal plays is so ugly to watch.

    2. I don’t think Thiem has any variation, his slice is not good. I hope PRF is reading because he is a Thiem fan – Thiem needs to get way better tactically. He hits a huge ball with big spin, but that’s all he does, try to bludgeon his opponent and if that is not working, he just doubles down on that strategy. It isn’t getting it done against the better players.

      I didn’t watch any of the final, but I am wondering if he tried to flatten out his shots? Seems he didn’t, that was the obvious play here.

      1. Well it was all relative to the rest of the endless fortnight. He seemed to be trying out different things in the beginning of the match. As the commentator said (sort of) his choice of strokes was good but not the execution.

      2. Thiem played well but nobody can beat the King of Clay on that court (even the great Federer could not ever force a 5 set). He will win RG in the future.

    1. Helps his slam count. Doesn’t really add so much to his clay legacy overall though, win or lose he still the best clay courter of all time. Could lose 1st round for next 2 French Opens and that’s not changing.

      1. On the clay court front It increases the gap and makes more difficult to match for someone else in the future. Then obviously closes the gap with Federer’s GS record number.

        Btw the last 6 GS were won by either Federer or Nadal. UNREAL.

      2. Going to be near impossible to match on clay ever, I guess records are designed to be broken but this one should stand a while.

        Kinda cool they are still winning but doesn’t say a right lot for the rest of the tour.

      3. Agree with Jonathan here. It’s 2018 and future players are nowhere… Old generation still winning. I have a feeling that when the old generation retires, the ATP is going to have a WTA-ish seasons until a super talented player comes. Currently, there is really none of a future Fed, Rafa or Djoko player. Obv the old young guns (Raonic,Nishikori,Dimi) disappointed. Can say the same for Thiem,Zverev. Would be interesting to see if Shapo, Tsitsipas and others could do a better job.

    2. Definitely helps his total GS count but just proves that he is just dominant in clay. That’s all. Not that convincing on other courts.

      1. Well he has played on 13 GS finals in other surfaces and he is the defending US Open champion. Not sure how many players have ever done that.

    1. Dunno, all just rumours, was in Swiss Press, I read his deal with Nike ended but nothing else is confirmed.

      Express is a joke paper, pure clickbait.

      1. According to Ben Rothenberg Fed’s contract with Nike ended in March, but they own the “RF” logo. I can’t imagine Roger giving up his logo.

    2. Yeah, Fed giving up his iconic logo. ROFL. I mean, I don’t think a star like RF would go to some casual brand like UNIQLO. It’s more probable that Dolce & Gabbana start sponsoring Fed rather than UNIQLO. 😂

      1. How can Nike own the RF logo? I thought that logo was from the perfume/cologne line Roger and Mirka had years ago.

    3. I’d always understood that Roger had a *lifetime* contract with Nike. If not, I certainly hope he hasn’t picked Uniqlo, because look what they produced for Novak – and those ghastly shorts in particular.

      1. I too cannot understand that Nike owns the RF logo. I remember reading years ago
        that there was some trouble with the logo as it was nearly the same as some hotel logo, and at that time it was quoted as belonging to Roger. Also at one time was said that it was worth £26m pounds to Roger.

  13. Anyone think theres a chance Roger and Stan play the easy home Davis Cup tie v Sweden in September(even though its the week in between US Open and Laver Cup) or a tie in February 2019(likely a qualifying tie for 2019 finals event featuring 18 countries)? If they want to play Olympics they will need to play 2 Davis Cup weeks, including 1 in 2019 or 2020. With the vote in August likely changing Davis Cup format to a February qualifying round and the 18 team November finals week starting next year, they will need to play two weeks of the four dates September 2018, February 2019, November 2019 and February 2020, should they want to be eligible for Tokyo 2020 Olympics. I still think Federer wants to win singles gold, and after their great play in winning Hopman Cup together, I think Bencic and Federer would have a good chance of winning 4 rounds to win mixed doubles gold.

  14. I am a big Shapo fan and am looking forward to Stuttgart. However, I was very surprised to see Shapo given as a factor in Fed’s “tough draw” by the pundits. I know Fed was impressed with the youngster when he won junior Wimby, has practiced with him (when Denis was about 15), and has said nice things about him. But I doubt very much if Fed is too concerned about facing him. As a pro, Denis’ experience on grass amounts to a win over Edmund and a good match against Berdy at Queen’s, and a 1R defeat by Janowicz at last year’s Wimby, where Denis has a WC.

  15. At least the WTA final was more exciting with a comeback win and a new champion. Looked at nothing of the ATP, boring straight sets result. Come on next Gen and stop pretending he’s invincible. Create your own voodoo matches without rain breaks if you like.
    Roll on the style of Fed. Nadal is no greater in my opinion, he was already the best clay courter, one more slam or less makes no difference despite what people say and it’s a shame it adds to his tally. He has no competition, I feel Fed fights through more competition myself.

    1. Yeah, Simona played much more positive tennis than last year’s final. She did virtually all the match expenses, bouncing back from dangerous land and going aggressive at every opportunity, which is quite a feat for a short player on a slow surface. Sloane plays nice clean shots, but won’t go that often for the points: one more ball and that’s it.
      All in all I found it to be a very enjoyable final and a deserving winner.

  16. Well,all I can say is thank God it’s over.No more grunting ,sweat dripping down someone’s nose like a tap,up to 40
    seconds!!! Between points,lovely cosy draws etc.etc.
    Now real tennis.

      1. Thank you Stuart.Seriously though Nadals time wasting during the final reached new heights.The ball bouncing seemed endless after all the other nauseous fiddling around.
        Only one time violation when he should have had dozens😎
        I think I read somewhere that there is going to be a shot clock at the American Open.But how will they enforce it?The 25 second rule was blatantly disregarded during this final so I have no doubt that he will ignore the shot clock as well.

      2. I personally think that the rule is quite stupid. These guys are playing 5 set matches every 2 days and some days like on Sundays with difficult weather conditions (high humidity). If they need to rest 10 seconds more per point to give us the best possible show they should have them.

        Maybe a solution would be to adjust the clock to the conditions of the match (5 setter vs 3 setter, X% humidity or temperature).

  17. Hartt, love the cat. Looks like M Z will be playing Youzhny tomorrow. Both can play on grass but no idea who is fit. MZ still to go through?
    Why does Roger like Nadal…keep your enemy closer?

    1. Sue, I watched that match and it was terrific! Mischa won in SS, but it was competitive throughout. But what made the match special was it was old-school tennis, something we rarely see anymore. Both players were using volleys, passing shots, lobs, and smashes. That was in addition to some good serving and groundies. They even threw in some long rallies to provide even more variety – one went for 30 shots. I was sad when the match ended, although I was rooting for Mischa.

      1. For me clay is lot more complete than grass and much more beautiful to watch. Tactics play a critical role, the variety of shots is bigger (flat vs spin, drop shots, angles etc),the mental strenght and endurance is more important. I believe that skills and tennis IQ are more rewarded.

        I enjoy grass too depending on who plays but I can’t stand a match between this type of robotic players who can only serve or serve and forehand. On grass untalented and unskilled playesr can do pretty well.

  18. @Pablo
    Yes but where does it end?Nadal,Del Potro ,Djokovic and Cilic taking a minute between serves?And they play like this ALL
    the time not just in adverse conditions.Ithink the rule is perfectly sound and there have to be some time limits in place.
    Obviously the umpire should use their discretion say for example after an extended rally but that is all.

    1. Roger goes on and on about him. Not about Djoker.
      Anyway, I believe the USO will have a shot clock this year. Wonder if Nadal’s OCD will be able to handle it.

  19. Meanwhile on the far side of the draw:
    17 years old Rudolf Molleker with a first win on the ATP tour, beating countryman Jan-Lenard Struff.
    Next up is Pouille. An upset in the making?

  20. Hopefully Federer reaches at least the final to go 50 points ahead, or wins the final to go 150 points ahead as number 1. Theres talk Nadal will pull out of Queens, perhaps Wimbledon as well. Would be amazing to see Roger win 3 back to back grass events to regain then stay number 1, get his 100th tournament win and his 9th wimbledon and 21st slam.

  21. Is it my imagination or were people cheering more for Thiem then Nadal. Wherever Roger Federer goes he is worshiped and people want more of him. I don’t feel that is the case with Nadal. And I feel that the tennis fans won’t be so disappointed to see Nadal go. On the other hand Roger has to play even start a senior league or I will just watch past games with Roger on youtube. Roger truly is a one of a kind person that we and tennis need to have for many more years.

  22. Fed just confirmed that his Nike contract is over (officially). But the rumors that he will probably use Adidas shoes is so strange/funny for me.

  23. Here is what Nadal said to the question about his intention to surpass Federer’s slam record

    “You can’t be frustrated if somebody has more money than you, if somebody has a bigger house than you, if somebody has more Grand Slams than you,”

    Classic answer. Be content be happy. Always aim for more but don’t be greedy

  24. Nadal/Fed: I think they regardless all differences like each other, and the mutual respect is obvious. They are both rather intelligent and have humor, and for sure have had fun meeting and chatting. Of course we RF-fans by very far prefer Roger’s style on court. Rafa’s fans like their hero’s bravery and big muscles I think…and his capacity to come back and win!

  25. Finally!

    Yeah, glad the worst part of the season is over. I found the WTA to be much more exciting than the ATP this clay court swing, though once Kasatkina lost less so I guess. Best match on the ATP side was Schwartzman v Anderson imo, the others, even the five-setters, were mostly drab affairs.

    Agreed on the all-black racquet looking better – don’t like the changes to the new one. As for the tournament, I’m not expecting much, it’s a bit of a gauntlet he has to run so he’ll have to come back playing well from the off really. I do think he needs a few wins here and Halle though, but I won’t be too worried with an early exit (though a first round loss would be a 3-match losing streak…). I’m just happy to have him back.

  26. However on grass ‘untalented and unskilled players’ rarely get beyond the first couple of rounds.The serve being the
    most difficult stroke in tennis,those who acquire a huge serve must necessarily have some talent,albeit of a rather
    tedious nature,when applied to their game.😊

  27. Schapo out,beaten in three sets by someone I have never heard of and whose name I can’t spell.Helps Fed,if he gets past
    Misha,which could be very tough to do.

    1. He is Pranjanesh. An upcoming talent from my country India. Part of Indian David Cup team too ☺️
      Indians are no pushovers on grass😊

      1. I am sure they are not.I always remember that wonderful match between Bjorn Borg and VJ
        Armitraj.I think it was the first round of Wimbledon and five very tough sets.Borg went on to win
        the title I think.VJwas also in the film Octopussy doing silly things with a tennis racket with
        Roger Moore.He was a very fine grass courts player as was his brother.

      2. Thanks Annie for your close observation. Vijay played a cameo in Octopussy but personally I am not a fan of that movie. So many silly things😊

  28. 30 sets straek on grass snapped 🙁
    BTW, that’s the first set Mischa takes from Roger now in their sixth meeting. Not a good sign.

    1. Annie you can go on-line at tennistv.com a d watch the games. It costs only $14.99 plus tax for a whole month. I skipped the clay court season.

  29. Nadal withdraws from Queens and is a doubt for Wimbledon. Federer will be number 1 if he reaches the final this week in Stuttgart. Federer will remain number 1 if he wins Halle. Then Federer will remain number 1 if Nadal loses Wimbledon round of 16 or earlier(or withdraws) and Federer wins Wimbledon.

  30. No surprise there,he must be tired after all the clay court exertions.The Wimbledon rumoured withdrawal is surprising.
    Would have thought he might give it a go,with the easy draws he usually lands,if he got through the first week he would be in with a chance,perhaps.

  31. Mr Turquoise frightened me a little as he lost the first set. I thought he needed to :
    – mentally reappropriate himself the central court after 2.5 months off.
    – feel the quality of the grass and how the ball bounced on it in a quite windy environment.
    – and most of all, cope with an opponent playing serve and volley most of the time.
    But Fed didn’t panic and won the 2nd set staying  as cool as a cucumber.
    The third one was easy to win. He seems well – rested, and dispatched some exquisite forehands…
    I noticed there were lots of photographers taking pictures during the first set. Maybe he was disturbed by the relentless rattle of cameras ?
    The next round will be interesting as Shapo is out. Pella is 75th and his Indian opponent 169th. 
    Let’s hope for a sunnier day on Friday.

    I love the  blue shoes and clothes … He looks like a dragonfly, an agile flyer.

    In Japan :-), dragonflies are symbols of courage, strength, and happiness.
    As for us, we are happy because he is back in his garden and Jonathan is back as well to comment the journey for us.

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