Once again, Vasek Pospisil has provided a seeded player with a terrible first-round draw. On Tuesday, the Canadian will face Jan-Lennard Struff for the third time in his career. Pospisil won their first encounter at the Topshelf Open in the Netherlands over six years ago, while Struff evened the score at the 2016 BMW Open in Munich. Neither player has changed their game much since their last encounter, but both have developed physically and mentally into far superior players.
When entering a tournament as one of the top four seeds, one typically expects a favorable first-round opponent. It's been earned. But since Pospisil is still nursing his ranking back to full health—rising from No. 248 in October of 2019 to his current standing of No. 74—he arguably remains the most dangerous floater (along with Jannik Sinner) in each tournament he enters outside of clay. Pospisil’s UTR ranking of No. 23 is a much more accurate reflection of his playing ability, but Struff is no stranger to bad draws, as five of his 14 losses in 2020 have come against either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Novak Djokovic.
Both players rely on their serve to inflict the bulk of their damage. Pospisil aims to move forward and use his spectacular transition and net game to finish points, while Struff prefers to do so with his heavy groundstrokes. It’s safe to expect at least one tiebreak in this match, and like so many professional matches, the end result will boil down to just a few points here and there.
When I asked an ATP player on Pospisil’s chances against Daniil Medvedev at the Paris Masters, they simply responded. “Look, it doesn’t matter who you are or how you are playing, Vasek is a tough opponent indoors on a fast court.”
This will be their first meeting indoors, which should favor the crisp-volleying Canadian. Struff is a slight -145 favorite according to the oddsmakers, but Pospisil’s all-court game should serve him well against the German, who is just 3-7 in his last 10 matches.
The Pick: Vasek Pospisil