Date: 1 March 2021
Tournament: ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament 2021
Round: First round (Round of 32)
Venue: Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Category: ATP 500
Surface: Indoor hardcourt
Prize money: €980,580
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | India - Sony
Alexander Zverev vs Alexander Bublik preview
World No. 7 Alexander Zverev will take on the uber-talented Alexander Bublik in his Rotterdam opener.
Zverev began his year in respectable fashion, beating Denis Shapovalov and losing to World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and eventual winner Daniil Medvedev in his matches at the ATP Cup. The German then reached the quarterfinals of the 2021 Australian Open, where he lost again to Djokovic in four sets.
That said, the 23-year-old has been playing with increased self-belief ever since a career-changing run to the US Open finals last year.
Alexander Bublik, meanwhile, is currently placed at No. 46 in the ATP singles rankings. The mercurial Kazakh reached the finals in Antalya earlier this year, where he retired hurt against Australia's Alex de Minaur.
Bublik continued the good start to his 2021 season as he then reached the final at the Singapore Open, where he again lost to an Australian - this time to first-time finalist Alexei Popyrin.
Alexander Zverev vs Alexander Bublik head-to-head
The first-round match in New York will be the first-ever career meeting between Alexander Zverev and Alexander Bublik, so the head-to-head currently stands at 0-0.
Alexander Zverev vs Alexander Bublik prediction
Alexander Bublik has raised his level and enjoyed unexpected success in 2021, having already reached two finals. Now that Bublik is employing a more serious approach to his tennis, he is reaping plenty of dividends.
While Bublik has been using the infamous under-arm serve liberally in recent times, he also has one of the biggest first serves in the game. The Kazakh can also effortlessly hit groundstroke winners by using his long levers to great effect, and will likely trouble Alexander Zverev a lot on the fast courts of Rotterdam.
Zverev on his part has abandoned his pushy ways, and now looks to unload on his forehand more often. But the German continues to struggle with the tempo of the rallies when put under pressure, and can sometimes give his opponent easy balls to put away.
With his second serve niggles not fully fixed yet, Zverev will need to be wary of the threat posed by the in-form Bublik.
Prediction: Alexander Bublik to win in three sets.