Johnson vs Kohlschreiber 14.06.17

Mercedes Cup, Stuttgart, Germany, Grass Courts, Mens ATP Tour

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Today sees us continue our coverage from the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, Germany, as we preview the Round 2 match between American world number 25, Steve Johnson and the home favourite, German world number 52, Phillip Kohlscreiber.

Previous Meetings:

This is the first time these two have met, however Kohlschreiber is no stranger to the grass courts of Germany, he has played at both Stuttgart and Halle since 2012 and loves playing in front of his home crowd. Johnson on the other hand is making his debut here at Stuttgart, but is coming off the back of a good grass court season last year, winning a tournament in Nottingham, before winning three Rounds at Wimbledon, eventually getting knocked out by Federer. Both these guys know their way around a grass court, so this should be a good match.

Mercedes Cup Results So Far…

Johnson beat the young German, Maximilian Marterer in Round 1. The American did have to come from a set down though, having lost the first 3-6 he took the second 7-2 on a tiebreak. A single break of serve in the third game of the final set was enough for Johnson though, as he secured a hard fought win…just.

Kohlschreiber had a far easier passage through Round 1, as he beat the Cypriot, Margos Baghdatis. The German took the first set 6-1 before Baghdatis took a medical time out for an issue with his hip at the beginning of the second set. He lasted just three points before calling it a day and Kohlschreiber advanced, barely needing to break sweat.

Serving Stats:

Johnson in his opening match won 76% of his service points and held serve 87% of the time. These compare to his all time grass court mean numbers of 67% service points won and 87% service hold. Apart from a couple of sloppy opening service games Johnson held serve with relative ease against Marterer. The American’s serve is a weapon on this service, but Kohlschreiber will block plenty of balls back into play, so he’ll need to keep his first serve % numbers high today.

Kohlschreiber in his opening match won 68% of his service points and held serve 100% of the time. These compare to his all time grass court mean numbers of 69% service points won and 87% service hold. Kohlschreiber’s numbers from his first Round match are pretty immaterial, as Baghdatis was injured, however we know that the German has a very tricky slice serve that is perfectly suited to the grass, he’ll win plenty of free points off that today, especially when slicing into the backhand/body of Johnson on the deuce side.

Returning Stats:

Johnson in his opening match won 30% of his return points,  50% of his break point chances and his opponent held serve 88% of the time. These compare to his all time grass court mean numbers of 35% return points won, 36% break points won and 84% opponent hold. Johnson struggled with his timing on the return for most of the match against Marterer, he’ll need to improve on this and his break point conversion % if he is to make in-roads into the Kohlschreiber service games today.

Kohlschreiber in his opening match won 56% of his return points,  60% of his break point chances and his opponent held serve 25% of the time. These compare to his all time grass court mean numbers of 35% return points won, 40% break points won and 82% opponent hold. Again, ignoring the German’s stats in his opening Round match, we can see that he also could do with increasing his numbers on return, that being said his low-bouncing block returns should give him a few opportunities today.

Groundstrokes:

Johnson’s forehand is his strength, his backhand is much improved but he’s not going to be hitting many winners off that wing, instead choosing to slice it a majority of the time. Kohlschreiber can generate pace off both forehand and backhand sides, and his crosscourt backhand to Johnson’s backhand could well be the difference today. I can see that pattern of play occurring a lot, with the German coming out on top, especially if he follows into the net.

Summary:

I think Kohlschreiber will have too much for Johnson today, I think the American needs more time to adjust to the grass. Kohlschreiber should win more free points on his serve, and his more aggressive groundstrokes should allow him to hit through Johnson’s average defence. If Johnson is to stand a chance, he will need to be ultra-aggressive with his forehand and serve at above his average level.

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