Fixture: Gael Monfils vs Dominik Koepfer
Date: 17 September 2020
Tournament: Italian Open 2020
Round: Second round (Round of 32)
Venue: Rome, Italy
Category: ATP Masters 1000
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €3,465,045
Match timing: Not before 7 pm CEST, 10.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel / ESPN | India - Sony Six
Gael Monfils vs Dominik Koepfer preview
Gael Monfils makes his long-awaited return to professional tennis at the Rome Masters, where he faces Dominik Koepfer in the second round on Thursday.
Monfils was perhaps one of the biggest losers on the men's tour when lockdown was announced in early 2020. The Frenchman had started the year at the Australian Open where he lost to Dominic Thiem in the fourth round, but followed it up with title runs in both Marseille and Rotterdam.
He had even made it to the semifinals of the Dubai Open, losing to Novak Djokovic 6-2 6-7 1-6 after throwing away three match points in the second-set tiebreak.
Since then, however, Monfils has chosen to keep a low profile. He skipped all exhibition matches as well as the American hardcourt season, opting to return straight in Rome.
Monfils' opponent in the second round, Germany's Dominik Koepfer, comes into the tournament in some poor form. Koepfer suffered early exits at the Western & Southern Open, the US Open, as well as the Generali Open in Kitzbuhel last week.
The German has been excellent in Rome so far though, with strong performances in the qualifiers and an unexpected first-round win against Alex de Minaur. Koepfer overturned a one-set deficit, saved a match point in the third set and even broke the Aussie as he served for the match, before prevailing 3-6, 6-3, 7-6.
Gael Monfils vs Dominik Koepfer head-to-head
The match in Rome is the first between Gael Monfils and Dominik Koepfer, so the head-to-head stands at 0-0. Monfils is currently ranked 9th in the world rankings, while Koepfer is ranked 97th.
Gael Monfils vs Dominik Koepfer prediction
Given his early 2020 form and superior ranking, Gael Monfils is the overwhelming favorite on paper to win this match. However, Monfils' lack of match sharpness could prove to be his undoing against Dominik Koepfer - who in turn would be high on confidence after his win against De Minaur.
Monfils will likely approach the match in his usual style. He will look to use his incredible foot speed, strong forehand and big serve to control points and get the better of his opponent.
But the Frenchman is known to take things a little casually on occasion, playing safe crosscourt shots instead of taking the initiative in the rallies. That is something Koepfer will look to take advantage of using his lefty forehand, which is loaded with topspin.
That said, if fitness doesn't become an issue, Monfils should have enough in his armory to get across the finish line against Koepfer.
Prediction: Gael Monfils to win in three sets.