Trio Of Wild Card Entries Advance At MercedesCup

Dominic Stephan Stricker (photo: MercedesCup)


Grass court tennis has returned on the ATP Tour with the MercedesCup being held in Stuttgart, Germany this week after last year’s circuit was cancelled due to the pandemic. The ATP 250 tournament is the first grass-court event since the Hall of Fame Open in Newport in July 2019.

World No. 14 Denis Shapovalov of Canada missed Roland Garros due to a shoulder injury, but the Canadian lefty is back at the Tennis Club Weissenhof, where he is the top seed for the third time in his career. The 22-year-old will open his title bid against Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, who beat Alexei Popyrin 6-4, 6-4 in 70 minutes on Wednesday afternoon.

Stricker continues to impress on the ATP Tour

Two-time ATP Tour winner this season Hubert Hurkacz makes his Stuttgart debut after going 1-4 on clay this spring. The World No. 20 has won titles in Florida in Delray Beach and Miami, where he claimed his maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown.

After a first-round bye, Hurkacz will face Swiss wild card entry Dominic Stephan Stricker. The 18-year-old fired 10 aces and won 78 per cent of his first-service points to secure a 7-6(4), 7-6(5) victory over qualifier Radu Albot of Moldova after two hours and three minutes.

“The first match on grass is always tricky. We didn’t have a grass season last year and it was difficult,” Stricker said. “But I had a great and long preparation at my base in Biel where we have a grass court. I felt well on court, but it’s always a different feeling on this surface.”

Stricker captured his maiden ATP Challenger title on home soil in Lugano in March. Just three weeks ago, the World No. 335 reached the quarterfinals on his tour-level debut in Geneva. Stricker and Hurkacz will meet for the first time.

“I will certainly give everything and see what is possible against him. I hope I can make life difficult for him. It’s a lot of fun to play here. I’m very thankful that I received the wild card here. It is a beautiful event and very well organised,” Stricker said.

Rodionov, Gojowczyk advance

In other action, Jurij Rodionov edged out Germany’s Dominik Koepfer 2-6, 6-3, 6-2. The Austrian wild card entry capitalized on four of his nine break-point chances to prevail after one hour and 47 minutes.

Rodionov will next play German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk, who knocked out lucky loser Illya Ivashka 5-7, 6-4, 6-2. The encounter lasted one hour and 56 minutes.

Yannick Hanfmann rounded out the trio of winning wild cards. The World No. 96 from Germany defeated Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 10 minutes. Up next for Hanfmann will be No. 6 seed Ugo Humbert from France, who eased past Marton Fucsovics from Hungary 6-3, 6-1 in 64 minutes on Tuesday.