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Nick Kyrgios vs Feliciano Lopez ATP Stuttgart Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Kyrgios and Lopez battle for semi-final spot

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 15 Jun 2018
  • Nick Kyrgios vs Feliciano Lopez is live from Stuttgart on Friday, 15 June from 4:30pm local time/ 3:30pm BST
  • Lopez leads 2-1 on head-to-head, but Kyrgios won their only previous meeting on grass
Nick Kyrgios (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

Nick Kyrgios continues his comeback from an elbow injury on Friday when he takes on Spanish left-hander, Feliciano Lopez in the quarter finals of the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart. 

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Kyrgios had been forced out of the European clay season by a lingering elbow problem, but he made a winning return to the tour on Thursday, taking out the rising German, Maximilian Marterer in his opening match in Stuttgart. Marterer had given a decent account of himself in a fourth-round loss to Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros, and thus, represented a difficult opener for Kyrgios, but the Australian came through in three sets to claim his first win on grass since 2016.

The 23-year-old Kyrgios retired from both of his grass-court matches last year, against Donald Young at Queen’s after suffering a nasty fall, and against Pierre-Hugues Herbert at Wimbledon. That Queen’s fall triggered a hip problem, which bothered him for most of the remainder of the season, and while he had a couple of very good results on hard court- he made the finals in Cincinnati and Beijing- the injury flared up again in Antwerp, and that ultimately ruled him for the rest of the season.

Returning refreshed for the new season, Kyrgios began 2018 with a title-winning run in Brisbane, before losing to an inspired Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round of the Australian Open in what was generally an encouraging start to the year. However, he did some damage to his elbow during February’s Davis Cup tie against Germany. Kyrgios subsequently pulled out of Acapulco and Indian Wells, and reached the third round in Miami, and a quarter final in Houston, but he wasn’t seen at all on European clay, skipping that part of the season to allow for further rest and recovery.

Two months after that Houston quarter final loss to Ivo Karlovic, Kyrgios returned to the ATP World Tour in Stuttgart, where he opened with a three-set victory over Marterer. There was just one break of serve in each of the three sets, but it was Kyrgios who out-broke Marterer 2-1, securing the decisive break midway through the deciding set.

When fit, the big-serving Australian, who sent down 20 aces against Marterer, will always be a threat on grass, likewise his next opponent, Feliciano Lopez, who remains a real danger on this surface at this twilight state of his career.

Lopez is looking to continue the excellent form he showed on grass last year, when he reached consecutive finals in Stuttgart and Queen’s (he won the title at Queen’s). 

Feliciano Lopez. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
Unfortunately, he suffered disappointment at Wimbledon, where he had to retire from his first-round meeting with Adrian Mannarino because of a knee complaint. He didn’t do much outside grass last year, with his only other quarter finals coming at ATP 250 meets in Houston and Los Cabos. He also reached the third round at Roland Garros and the US Open.

Lopez is competing in his third quarter final of 2018, adding to his efforts in Sydney and Acapulco. However, he is still seeking his first semi-final of the year, which will happen if he beats Kyrgios on Friday. The Spaniard has generally been steady; but has not yet managed to string together a truly substantial run. This grass-court season is arguably his best chance of making a really deep run on the tour, and he has begun on a bright note, benefiting from the Victor Troicki in the first round in Stuttgart, before outlasting Gilles Simon in the second round on Thursday. Simon broke the Lopez serve in the opening game of the match, but Lopez hit back for 3-3, before edging a tight tie break 7-6. Lopez got the only break of the second set to take a 3-2 lead, and even though Simon saved a match point while he served to stay in the match, Lopez closed it out on his own deal in the next game. 

"I think the way I played was good overall," Lopez said. "This is very important for me, to have weeks on grass. It's a very unique surface. You play only two, three weeks a year... it's so important to get matches, to get hours on the grass and [you get more] when you win."

Lopez has a 2-1 record over next opponent Kyrgios, but Kyrgios won their last meeting, which also happened to be their only meeting of grass at Wimbledon 2016. It’s going to be another serve-dominated affair, with automatically puts plenty of emphasis on first serves. Kyrgios hits the heavier ball off the ground, but Lopez has got the variety with the backhand slice and the serve-and -volley. Kyrgios has got the raw power, (and his own unique panache) on grass, but Lopez to me is the more natural on the surface, complementing his big leftie serves with the ability to mix things up. Can Kyrgios power past Lopez, or will the Spaniard weave a way around the maverick Australian to return to the Stuttgart semi-finals for the second straight year?

Nick Kyrgios vs Feliciano Lopez is live from Stuttgart on Friday, 15 June from 4:30pm local time/ 3:30pm BST

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Nick Kyrgios vs Feliciano Lopez ATP Stuttgart Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Kyrgios and Lopez battle for semi-final spot

Nick Kyrgios and Feliciano Lopez meet in a big-serving duel in Stuttgart on Friday. Who will progress into the semis? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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