Fixture: Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Lucas Pouille
Date: 11 March 2021
Tournament: Open 13 Provence 2021
Round: Second round (Round of 16)
Venue: Marseille, France
Category: ATP 250
Surface: Indoor hardcourt
Prize money: €334,240
Match timing: Approx. 7.30 pm local time, 12 am IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel
Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Lucas Pouille preview
World No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas will be looking to continue his good start to the 2021 season when he takes on former World No. 10 Lucas Pouille in his second-round match at Marseille on Thursday.
Tsitsipas, a two-time defending champion at the Open 13 Provence, has achieved several milestones in the new year. At the 2021 Australian Open, the Greek rallied from a two-sets-to-love-down deficit to beat Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals. And a few weeks after that, Tsitsipas displaced Roger Federer from the No. 5 position in the ATP rankings.
The 23-year-old arrives in Marseille on the back of a good showing in Rotterdam last week. Tsitsipas fought hard in his three-set wins over Hubert Hurkcaz and Karen Khachanov to reach the last-four stage in the Dutch capital, where he was beaten handily by World No. 8 Andrey Rublev.
Tsitsipas' opponent in his opener will be Lucas Pouille, who is making his comeback from the elbow surgery he underwent last year.
The Frenchman has struggled to win matches lately; he suffered a first-round defeat to local wildcard Benjamin Bonzi in Montpellier last week. That said, Pouille did win his first-round match against Alex Molcan on Monday in straight sets.
The World No. 81 has done well at indoor hardcourt events in France in the past. He finished as the runner-up at Marseille in 2017 and 2018, and also won the title at the 2016 Moselle Open and the 2018 Open Sud de France.
Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Lucas Pouille head-to-head
Stefanos Tsitsipas leads Lucas Pouille by a margin of 1-0 in the head-to-head. Their only encounter was in the first round of the 2018 Gerry Weber Open, where Tsitsipas beat Pouille 6-2, 7-6.
Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Lucas Pouille prediction
Stefanos Tsitsipas has been really aggressive in 2021, wasting no opportunity to club winners off his forehand wing. The Greek has also improved his return, putting more balls back in play than ever before.
But there is still room for improvement, as suggested by his meek loss to Rublev at the Rotterdam event.
Lucas Pouille, meanwhile, is still trying to regain his old rhythm; he severely lacks consistency and shape on his groundstrokes right now. But at his best, the Frenchman is a very aggressive player who can take the ball on the rise and attack from any position on the court.
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The key for Tsitsipas will be to grab the initiative in the rallies and to remain steady on serve. If the Greek can keep it simple on Thursday, he will be able to navigate through this tricky match-up.
Prediction: Stefanos Tsitsipas to win in straight sets.