After eight consecutive tournaments in which he did not do better than semi-finalist, Stefanos Tsitsipas will try to reach the final for the first time since last September (in Hamburg). After a mixed indoor tour where he was rarely in control but always combative, the Greek arrived in Mexico as a tournament favourite. He easily defeated Benoit Paire in the first round (6-3, 6-1) and then easily dispatched John Isner (6-3, 6-2), who was playing only his fourth match of the season, conceding only five points on his bids. The battle was a little more fierce in the quarter-finals against Felix Auger-Aliassime, who offered a very good level of tennis. Tsitsipas was broken early on, but managed to turn the tide by taking the Canadian's serve twice to win the first set. After coming back to within a set of each other, FAA broke again at 4-3, committing two double faults to hand the match to the Greek on a platter, who only had to finish on his serve (7-5, 4-6, 6-3). Although Tsitsipas was perfect on break points (3 out of 3 converted), he was still "catchable" even though Auger-Aliassime's performance was very good. To validate his ticket to the final, he will have to overcome the sensation of this 2021 edition, Lorenzo Musetti. This week, the Italian has won almost as many matches on Tour as he has in his entire (very) young career and his performance will earn him a spot in the Top 100 early next week. He came out of qualifying with wins over Juan Alejandro Hernandez, Agustin Velotti and Frederico Ferreira Silva, and quickly got into the swing of things by knocking off third seed Diego Schwartzman (6-3, 2-6, 6-4) in his debut in the main draw. Musetti was very diligent and serious throughout the match and was able to break the Argentine without ever breaking down. In the second round, he didn't lose his energy after losing the first set to Frances Tiafoe and managed to turn the tide to win the third set in a tie-break (2-6, 6-3, 7-6). But the highlight of his week (so far) in terms of his level of play was his quarter-final against Grigor Dimitrov (6-4, 7-6), in his own words: "It's really incredible, I didn't expect it. Today I think I played the best match of my life. I don't like to lose so I try to stay focused in difficult moments, that's the key. That's something I've been improving on over the last month. " After three wins as an underdog, the opposition will be one - or even two - notches higher for the Italian, for whom it is "an honour" to play Tsitsipas, but he can be counted on to seize any opportunity left by the Greek, who will start as a heavy favourite. Given his current form and confidence in his tennis, he is capable of causing Tsitsipas problems. Rodolphe Gilbert's view: Musetti started the ball rolling in Rome last year and he's showing what we expected of him, that he's someone who can play on all surfaces as we saw in junior where he won the Australian Open. He's a player who is just coming into the main circuit and what he's showing is already very strong in terms of results and performances. Although the Italian is having a great week, Tsitsipas will obviously be the favourite. The Greek's advantage over players like Schwartzman or Dimitrov is that he has that firepower, especially on serve, which can protect him more. If Tsitsipas plays at his level, I see him winning. Musetti will find it harder to get into the rally than against lesser servers, which is what has allowed him to develop his game so far. On the other hand, I think he'll be mentally ready, he's the kind of player who has high ambitions and isn't afraid of anyone so if he can eat it, he will. However, the physical aspect will come into play. Tsitsipas makes very few mistakes, at least far fewer than Dimitrov, Tiafoe and Schwartzman. The Italian will have very few free points, and the intensity of the Greek's shots could end up wearing down the young Musetti. On paper, Tsitsipas has everything to win in two sets. This surface suits him perfectly as it gives him time to prepare his shots and to be on every ball without being caught off guard.
Alexander Zverev vs Dominik Koepfer
This second semi-final will offer us a 100% German duel between Alexandre Zverev, who was expected at this stage of the tournament, and Dominik Koepfer who managed to clear his quarter table. Zverev had a relatively quiet week with a perfectly controlled opening round against the great hope of Spanish tennis, Carlos Alcaraz (6-3, 6-1) and a second round where he did not really have to force his talent to overcome Laslo Djere (6-4, 6-3). We could probably have learned a few things from his quarter-final match against Casper Ruud, but the Norwegian unfortunately had to withdraw due to a right wrist injury. The last Australian Open finalist will arrive rested to face his compatriot and try to reach the final for the first time this season. Dominik Koepfer is a good hard court player (64% career wins), even if he still lacks references on the ATP circuit apart from his fine 8th place finish at the 2019 US Open (with wins over Opelka and Basilashvili nonetheless). Last year, he was most famous on clay at the Rome Masters, where he reached the quarter-finals (beaten by Novak Djokovic in three sets), eliminating Alex De Minaur and Gaël Monfils, before a complicated end to the season. This week he played some good tennis to reach the semi-finals. After a quiet victory over Gerardo Lopez Villasenor (563rd), he knocked off Milos Raonic in the next round with a very serious match from start to finish (6-4, 6-2). Although the Canadian was not at his best, Koepfer did the work in return (46% of points won) to win the match. In the quarter-finals, he managed to get the better of Cameron Norrie, a player who is often able to foil his opponents with his variations. But once again, the German managed to return well to win in two sets (7-5, 6-4). Koepfer said he "didn't know his compatriot that well" and that he "had never trained with him". Unsurprisingly, Alexander Zverev will be the favourite in this semi-final and has all the weapons to win the match. We can also add in his favour his success against left-handed players (75% of victories in his career), he has won four consecutive matches against this type of player and not the least (Nadal, Verdasco, Shapovalov and Mannarino). But for the moment, the German has not been pushed to the limit. That could be the case in this match against an opponent who is over-motivated at the idea of playing his first final. Rodophe Gilbert's view: Zverev will be the favourite against a Koepfer who hasn't been seen for months and months and who suddenly comes out of his box. It's been a long time since he had a good tournament with such good results. With his three wins, he has reignited a positive dynamic. On the other hand, we know Zverev, who has his problems and sometimes has bad matches, but I think he's been more stable for a year. When he serves well and is concentrated, he's still very difficult to beat. After that, he can always be criticised for being a little bit slow, far from his line without much happening. It's often in this kind of match that he loses. But apart from that, he hits the ball better on both sides, serves better, moves just as well, has more experience. I think he will win this match, but beware, his rating is really too low and if Zverev doesn't have a good attitude, Koepfer will have arguments to push Zverev in a tight match.
Rodolphe Gilbert's predictions
⭐️⭐️⭐️--- ⭐️⭐️ Tsitsipas win 2-0 @1.50 ⭐️ Koepfer over 7.5 games / Zverev wins and over 20.5 games into the match
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