In the most exciting second-round matchup of the Libema Open, former Next-Gen darlings Borna Coric and Taylor Fritz will face off on a grass court for the first time in their career. Coric owns a 2-0 head-to-head record over Fritz, with a three-set win at the 2018 Indian Wells, and a dominant straight set victory at the 2016 French Open.
Fritz has the game to be a fantastic grass-court tennis player. His huge serve and piercing flat groundstrokes should be a nightmare for his opponent on the slippery surface. But given the American’s 3-10 career record on grass, it is statistically his worst surface.
Coric should enter this matchup with some leftover confidence from last year. The Croatian snagged his second career title last year in Halle, defeating nine-time champion Roger Federer in the final. But before his five wins en route to the Halle title, Coric owned a Fritz-like 2-7 record on grass.
Fritz has the advantage in the serve and fire-power departments, but Coric owns the most important edge in this matchup: the return of serve. A fast grass court turns an above average serve into a great serve, and if you have a mediocre return, a grass court will only make it worse. Coric will almost certainly make more returns than Fritz, which will likely be the difference-maker in this match. Look for the 22-year-old Croatian to put enough balls in play to squeak by the talented American in three close sets.