Hot Struff has the stuff to trouble Pouille
Home advantage could tell
ATP Mercedes Cup
Eurosport 1, 10am Wednesday
Lucas Pouille was an early casualty in front of his home crowd at Roland Garros last week and the talented Frenchman may take time to overcome Jan-Lennard Struff in Stuttgart’s Mercedes Cup second-round encounter.
The 23-year-old is much happier on clay and starting his grass-court season against Struff, who took Pouille’s compatriot Gilles Simon to a deciding set at this stage last year, is no easy task.
The Frenchman is destined for a bright future but since clinching the Hungarian Open in April his results have been disappointing and Struff, spurred on by home support, is a worthy adversary.
Pouille was a first-round victim in this tournament last year, falling to Aussie John Millman in three sets. He backed that reverse up with a deciding-set defeat to Kei Nishikori in the Gerry Weber Open and is unlikely to peak until Wimbledon in early July.
Pouille went on to reach the last eight in London last year and at his best would outclass the German, but he’s is operating way below that level and that offers Struff with a perfect chance to take the match the distance.
Last year’s beaten finalist Philipp Kohlschreiber blossoms on home soil and should be supported to silence American Steve Johnson.
The German has claimed five of his seven career titles in his homeland and tends to raise his performance levels, which could make the 27 places separating him and Johnson in the rankings count for little.
The American isn’t discounted lightly but he may find Kohlschreiber too determined.
Three sets in Pouille v Struff
1pt 6-5 general
2pts 8-11 Betfair