ATP Monaco di Baviera: Struff domina Rune e avanza in finale contro Fritz

From our correspondent in Munich

Two semifinals, two hours of total play. With a maximum temperature of six degrees and the threatening morning clouds giving way to ample sunshine, there was no need to rush on Saturday at the BMW Open, despite the return of rain expected in the evening. And on Sunday, we are also expecting a sprinkle of snow.

Fritz displayed a high level of service and forehand to defeat Garin, while Struff, who finished beating Auger-Aliassime in the late morning, pretended to play on par with Rune for four games, then surged as if there was a ball boy blindfolded on the other side of the net. The explanation may lie in the multiple commitments of Jan-Lennard, who, as mentioned, took to the court in the continuation of the quarterfinals at 11:30. If he had lost, he would have had the doubles semifinal on court 1 at 1:00, instead it was scheduled after his singles match on the center court. But let’s look at the matches in a bit more detail…

[4] J-L. Struff bt. [5] F. Auger-Aliassime 7-5 6-4

Jan-Lennard Struff only needed to hold three service games to close out the match against Felix Auger-Aliassime in the continuation of the match that was interrupted on Friday evening with Struff leading 7-5 3-1, Canada to serve. The 1990 class focused his game on the right diagonal, with Auger-Aliassime rarely able to effectively respond and often making errors. Aggressive in his returns and taking advantage of a Canadian double fault, Struff had two opportunities for a 5-2 lead, but at least on that occasion, Felix was attentive and precise. The decisive game saw both players showcase a high level, but FAA only managed to save one match point before succumbing in the tiebreaks. Jan-Lennard will return to the court no earlier than 3:00 for the second semifinal against Rune.

[3] T. Fritz bt. C. Garin 6-3 6-4

A break per set for a result never really in doubt in the match where Taylor Fritz defeated Cristian Garin 6-3 6-4 in an hour and twenty minutes. Relying heavily on his first serve, winning 31 out of 35 points, Fritz did not concede any break points, allowing him to reach the first set with just one shaky game. The only slightly off note was his 2 out of 11 conversion rate on returns, although when considering the return games with opportunities, it becomes two out of four.

Garin was slightly inferior compared to his performance against Zverev on Friday, mainly because Taylor showed much more determination than a visibly irritated Sascha, who was frustrated to continue playing in the rain on a surface that was “not exactly perfect”. The world number 15 also takes the lead in their head-to-head record: after Cristian’s victory in Houston, Taylor replied in Madrid.

First set – Fritz waits for the right moment

After five calm games for the server, Taylor makes a breakthrough punishing Garin’s soft attack after a long rally and then hitting a winning return on the second serve. The Californian easily confirms the break and at 5-2, he has four set points that he fails to capitalize on, with regrets on the second one when he mistimed a drop shot. However, the missed opportunities do not linger in his mind, as his serve helps him close out the set with an excellent volley.

Second set – The skies clear and Fritz closes it out

Garin seems to be putting more effort, his service games pass quickly along with those of the US player, as the sun comes out and the DJ gets excited playing “I’m Walking on Sunshine”. But it takes very little for a turning point: a service error from Garin, a smart drop shot, and an awkward bounce give Fritz a triple break opportunity. The world number 106 ATP brings out his best tennis to level the score, without managing to close out the game due to a couple of thunderous forehand returns from Taylor, who breaks and consolidates for a 5-2 lead. Although a match point is missed on return, Fritz needs to close it out on serve.

The double fault that brings it to 30-all seems placed there to add excitement, as does Garin’s close sideline forehand that leaves the opponent frozen but… inches out and Fritz breathes a sigh of relief. For safety, Adel Nour gets out of the chair and goes to check. The referee is not in great shape, touching his back on the long way to check the mark that confirms it was out. Another Chilean error and Taylor Fritz advances to the final in his second participation in Bavaria after losing in the semi-finals a year ago to Van de Zandschulp. It is also his first final on clay in his career.

Regarding the match against Struff, Taylor believes it will revolve around their serves, as they both serve well and are difficult to break. It will be about a couple of opportunities here and there, saving or converting break points. He really wants to lift a trophy on clay.

[4] J-L. Struff bt. [2] Holger Rune 6-2 6-0

Jan-Lennard Struff’s perfect performance annihilates the two-time defending champion and number 2 seed, Holger Rune, with a 6-2 6-0 win in three-quarters of an hour. The beginning did not hint at such a result, as Rune was the first to create a break point, which was dismissed by an ace down the T. Two more unreturned serves and it was 3-2, but it was the start of ten consecutive games for Struff. Holger made mistakes, Struff surpassed him and continued to dictate the game. Whether hitting a strong forehand or backhand, leaving his opponent either still or unable to organize. Eight aces for Struff, 19 out of 20 with the first serve. Jan-Lennard returns to the final in Munich after the 2021 final lost to Basilashvili. At the fourth attempt, he will seek his first career title on Sunday.

“The result speaks for itself,” he explained after the victory. “It will be special to play in front of the home crowd. Against Taylor, it will be another match, he served very well to beat Garin. I’m not the favorite, but neither was I against Rune today.” And now he heads to the doubles semifinal with Mies.