Matches start at 8 am EDT.
And then there were none.
With the ouster of the last two seeds left in the tournament in yesterday’s quarterfinals, the draw has been left bereft of seeds, yet has four guys in the semis who are playing the best tennis of those who made the trip to Budapest, and the ones who deserve to be here. With no seeds left, there is no favorite among the last four, but they’re all playing fine tennis and no matter who comes out on top on Sunday here in Hungary, the tournament will have a new, terrific, King of the Hill.
Second seeded 22-year-old Croat Borna Coric was surprised by 105th ranked Serbian Filip Krajinovic 6-4, 7-5, just when he thought his path had been cleared of all competition on his way to the finals. After third-seeded Marco Cecchinato pulled out of the tournament and both 6th seeded John Millman and 8th seeded Radu Albot bowed out in the second round, Coric was left as the only seed in the bottom half of the draw. Looking back at that half, of the other 13 players entered, three were lucky losers, two were qualifiers and one was an entry given a wild card into the main draw to enable him to avoid the qualies entirely. With that half of the draw considerably weaker than usual, Coric seemingly had some clear sailing into Sunday’s finals, but he was tripped up yesterday by Frajinovic, who himself qualified for the main draw with two wins in the qualies. Not to be outmaneuvered, however, the Serbian fought through Andreas Sepppi, Radu Albot, and now Coric, all without the loss of a set, to put himself in position to play for the title tomorrow with a win here in the semis.
Standing in Krajinovic’s way is the surprising Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert, a convincing 6-3, 6-4 victor over home town wild card Attila Balazs, ranked 246th in the world, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2,. With all due respect to the 49th ranked Herbert, he has taken advantage of a pretty easy draw, beating two lucky losers (Egor Gerasimov and Matthias Bachinger) and a wild card (Balazs). That’s not exactly Murderer’s Row that Herbert has taken down, and it’s difficult to truly assess Herbert’s real level of play considering his relative lack of competition up until the semis. Based on what I’ve seen from Krajinovic this week I’m going to go out on a limb and pick the 27-year-old who lives in Belgrade to take out the 49th ranked Herbert. I know two things: first, that Krajinovic is playing well, and second, I don’t know how well Herbert is playing at all. Based on what I know versus what I don’t know, I’m in Krajinovic’s corner in the semis. Besides, these guys just played three weeks ago in Miami, and Krajinovic topped Herbert in straight sets.
In the top half of the draw 23-year-old Serbian, Laslo Djere, rallied for a solid three set win over 18th ranked Georgian, Nikoloz Basilashvilli 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Djere, the 5th seed here, will square off against Matteo Berrettini today, after the Italian’s impressive victory yesterday over Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 1-6, 6-3. Just as a reminder, Cuevas was responsible for taking down top-seeded Marin Cilic on Wednesday, 7-6 in the third. As I mentioned previously, in its ultimate wisdom, the ATP does not recognize any Futures, Challenger, or qualifying matches as official matches for either head-to-head rivalry statistics or for ranking points. So the fact that Berrettini has beaten Djere two out of the three times they’ve played doesn’t matter because, according to the ATP, these matches never actually happened. But each of these matches that were never played happened in Italy, where Berrettini would have felt most comfortable, so I’m going to discount those matches just like the ATP has. With that said, I like Djere to take out Berrettini in a close match today, and give himself a chance to win this title.
After rain hit the area overnight, the courts should be slow and wet with the temperature somewhere in the low to mid 60’s F. In this soup, the players will be playing for the chance to walk away with a title and the 90,390 Euros that goes with it. For the losers today, the 26,990 Euros should soften the sting of the loss just a little bit.