These two players have already faced each other once. It was last March during the Miami Masters 1000 and Alexei Popyrin won in two sets (including a tie-break).
Feliciano Lopez has already played 11 times in this tournament in Stuttgart, including 5 times since he switched to grass (2015). During this period, the Spanish has lost twice in the 1st round (including the last edition in 2019) and his best performance is a final in 2017.
For his part, Alexei Popyrin discovered the main draw of this ATP 250 during the last edition in 2019. He had fallen in the 1st round against Milos Raonic, after a battle in 3 sets including 2 tie-breaks.
We are dealing with two good servers who don’t give up that easily. On this very fast surface, we can imagine at least one tiebreak in this match. So it may be difficult to pick a winner out of this match.
My choice is Feliciano Lopez who seems to be able to calm down his young opponent. The Spanish player is very comfortable on grass, much more so than Alexei Popyrin. Moreover, he masters the art of the serve and volley and the slice, which is far from being negligible on this surface.
Alexei Popyrin’s much more direct tennis could be regularly neutralized by Feliciano Lopez’s shots. In addition, the Australian may still show some signs of mental frailty and not being able to find solutions to Lopez’s engagements could make him grumpy.
I expect a good battle where Feliciano Lopez could succeed in playing his tennis while remaining regular on serve. And yes, because the man is not young anymore.
Prediction: Feliciano Lopez