Stuttgart 2021: Men's singles draw analysis, preview & prediction | MercedesCup

Denis Shapovalov
Denis Shapovalov
Rudra Biswas

While the top players battle it out at Roland Garros, the rest of the caravan travels to Stuttgart, Germany this week for one of the first tune-up events prior to Wimbledon. The 2021 Stuttgart Open will be headlined by World No. 14 Denis Shapovalov and Miami Open winner Hubert Hurkacz, with Next Gen stars Felix Auger-Aliassime and Alex de Minaur rounding out the top four seeds.

The Stuttgart Open, also known as the MercedesCup, is an ATP 250 grasscourt event with a field of 28 players and total prize money of 543,210 euros. The event has a rich history, and has been won by the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the past.

In addition to the prize money, the tournament also awards the title winner a Mercedes-Benz car.

With main draw action set to kick off on Tuesday, here's a look at how the event could pan out:

Top half: Denis Shapovalov and Alex de Minaur on collision course

Alex de Minaur
Alex de Minaur

Seeded players: [1] Denis Shapovalov, [4] Alex de Minaur, [5] Nikoloz Basilashvili, [8] John Millman

Expected semifinal: Denis Shapovalov vs Alex de Minaur

Dark horse: Alexei Popyrin

Analysis: World No. 14 Denis Shapovalov returns to action for the first time since losing to Casper Ruud in the final of the Lyon Open. The Canadian didn't play Roland Garros due to a shoulder injury, thus continuing his slump that started after he reached a career-high ranking of No. 10 a few months ago.

Having said that, Shapovalov will be hoping to make the most of his good fortune in terms of his draw at Stuttgart. While he could face either the dangerous Alexei Popyrin or veteran Feliciano Lopez in his opener, the going gets easier after that as the 22-year-old could play either Marin Cilic or Nikoloz Basilashvili in the quarterfinals.

If Shapovalov succeeds in making the last four at Stuttgart, he could face fourth seed Alex de Minaur for a place in the final. De Minaur has defeated the Canadian in their last two encounters, so Shapovalov will have to come up with a new strategy against the Aussie.

De Minaur on his part will open his campaign against either Jordon Thompson or Guido Pella. If he gets past that hurdle, he will most likely face his fellow countryman John Millman in the quarterfinals.

De Minaur has had a quiet time since winning the title at Antalya in January. But grass suits his game, and he could surprise the tennis world with a winning run at the Stuttgart event if he plays his cards right.

Bottom half: Hubert Hurkacz looking for a return to top form

Hubert Hurkacz
Hubert Hurkacz

Seeded players: [1] Hubert Hurkacz, [3] Felix Auger-Aliassime, [6] Ugo Humbert, [7] Adrian Mannarino

Expected semifinal: Hubert Hurkacz vs Felix Auger-Aliassime

Dark horse: Gilles Simon

Hubert Hurkacz became the first Polish player to win an ATP Masters 1000 singles title when he triumphed at the Miami Open earlier this year. The 6'5" Pole beat the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev, Jannik Sinner and Denis Shapovalov to win the title, and he also cracked the top 20 in the process.

However, Hurkacz has had a reversal of fortunes since Miami; the 24-year-old has lost four of his last five matches. The last of those matches was in the first round of Roland Garros, where Hurkacz wasted a two-sets-to-love advantage before losing to Botic Van De Zandschulp.

But the Pole will be hopeful of rebounding from his downturn in form when he takes the court at Stuttgart, given his easy draw. Hurkacz will open his campaign against either fast-rising Dominic Stricker or a qualifier, and he also has Adrian Mannarino, Sam Querrey and three more qualifiers in his path to the last four.

Felix Auger-Aliassime and Ugo Humbert, meanwhile, are the top names in the opposite section of this half - arguably the most stacked quarter of the draw. Gilles Simon, Jeremy Chardy and Marton Fucsovics also find themselves here, and will be looking to give the Next Gen players some pushback.

Semifinal predictions

Denis Shapovalov vs Alex de Minaur

Gilles Simon vs Hubert Hurkacz

Predicted final

Alex de Minaur vs Hubert Hurkacz

Predicted champion

Hubert Hurkacz

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Edited by Musab Abid
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