When Jan-Lennard Struff plays well, he plays jaw-droppingly well. On Tuesday in Dubai, he eliminated Roberto Bautista Agut, 7-6 (2), 7-5, in a match that was not as close as the scoreline may indicate. A day later, the 6’5” German elevated his game even higher with a 6-1, 6-0 destruction of world No. 29 Nikoloz Basilashvili.
Basilashvili has been known to throw in the towel from time to time, but defeating a Top 30 player in 39 minutes is almost unthinkable. The current ATP record for the quickest match was set by Francisco Clavet in 2001 at Shanghai, where he defeated Li Na’s husband Jiang Shan, 6-0, 6-0, in 25 minutes.
Struff has caught fire this week, but his quarterfinal opponent, Stefanos Tsitsipas, is also on a hot streak. The 21-year-old cruised to his Marseille title defense without dropping a set, and has won his past 12 overall by adding two straight-set victories this week. After a sluggish 3-4 start to the year, Tsitsipas is back on track, dominating opponents with his flowing all-court game and freakish athleticism.
Both players are near peak form, but something has to give. After dropping his first meeting against the Greek, Struff has won their past two, both in three sets, last year at Barcelona and Cincinnati. Tsitsipas doesn’t have many weaknesses, but he’s known to offer weak replies when pressured with serious pace to his one-handed backhand. Struff has no problem injecting pace, and is hitting the ball harder than anyone in the Dubai field by a wide margin. He's also coming off an exceptional performance at the line, where he won 23 of 24 first serve points.
The oddsmakers expect Tsitsipas to keep on rolling, as he is a sizeable favorite, but judging by their current form and previous meetings, this match has three sets written all over it. Tsitsipas should win this match, but don’t be surprised if Struff pulls off a third successive win in their series. Either way, both players are tearing the cover off the ball, and should provide fans with an incredible display of power and ball-striking.