These two players have already faced each other once. It was in Acapulco, in 2018, and Feliciano Lopez won in 3 sets, without going through the tie-break.
This is the first edition of this ATP 250 in Marbella. Until now, it was a Challenger tournament.
Feliciano Lopez is 39 years old and is clearly no longer as sharp. For this new match, he will face a man in theory more regular and physically ready to play for a long time.
Still, I’m willing to believe in a win for the veteran here.
First of all, Feliciano Lopez loves the area where this tournament is played. He was on vacation in Marbella last year (he also had a car accident… oops). So we can imagine that he will be in the best conditions to play this match.
Tennis-wise, Feliciano Lopez is better at serving. He is able to win free points or put himself in good conditions to start rallies. He can also use the volley serve to good effect. Taro Daniel may have to concede a lot of chances on his service games (and his seconds are really not that great). I can see Feliciano Lopez trying to get a few winning returns to make his opponent doubt.
In the game, Taro Daniel should have the advantage when it comes to a lot of racket shots. But despite his age, Feliciano Lopez is capable of holding the rallies on this surface. He’s obviously not going to hit the ball consistently like a bruiser, but he has that ability to vary the speed and height of the ball. I expect that to be a problem for Taro Daniel.
On the other hand, the Japanese has an excellent backhand that could hurt Feliciano Lopez. It allows him to accelerate the game, but above all to achieve many winning shots. Nevertheless, he plays it most of the time crossed and it will arrive directly on the strong shot of his opponent (let’s not forget that Lopez is left-handed).
On the other hand, since 2017 all surfaces, Taro Daniel has over 63% losses to lefties.
To predict a victory for Feliciano Lopez seems interesting here. In my opinion, he has every chance to win this match if he plays this tournament seriously.
A tie-break would not be surprising in this match.
Prediction: Feliciano Lopez wins