Match Preview Fratangelo vs Marchenko 17.07 Newport 2017
Hall of Fame Open, Newport, USA, Grass Courts, ATP
Today sees us preview our first match from the Hall of Fame Open, being played on the grass courts of Newport, USA this week between American world number 142, Bjorn Fratangelo and Ukranian world number 112, Ilya Marchnko.
This is the last grass court tournament played on the ATP Tour each season, and the only one to be played outside of Europe. Having been on the Tour since 1976, the winners circle has been dominated heavily by American’s, previous winners include John Isner, Mardy FIsh and Rajeev Ram. Last years winner was big-serving Ivo Karlovic, and the Croat is here again this week looking to defend his title. He will have some stiff competition though, as the likes of John Isner, Adrian Mannarino Denis Kulda and Rajeev Ram all have big games for the grass and will be gunning to go far this week. In total there are 28 singles players all vying for their share of the $600,345 prizepool on offer, so expect plenty of motivated players and good tennis being played on the U.S grass over the coming week.
This is the pairs first meeting, however both have played plenty of grass court tennis already this season.
Fratangelo got to Quarter Finals in Nottingham, where he was eventually beaten by Marius Copil, he then had another run to the Quarter Finals in Ilkley, where he was beaten by big-serving Aussie, Sam Groth. The American didn’t however manage to qualify for the main draw at Wimbledon, falling at the penultimate hurdle to Christian Garin in three close sets. Fratangelo hasn’t played since then, so should be well rested and will get plenty of support from the partisan home crowd today.
Marchenko opened his grass court season up with a First Round loss in Surbiton to Kenny De Schepper, before losing in the Second Round at Nottingham to grass court ‘specialist’ Sergiy Stakhovsky. The Ukranian then also played at Ilkley, where he was defeated by Brit Jay Clarke in straight sets. Marchenko did manage to trump Fratangelo when it came to the Wimbledon qualifying though, and won through his three matches to advance to the main draw, he only lasted one Round though, losing in five sets to Jiri Vesely in a match that lasted three and a half hours. The Ukranian has a well suited game for the grass, and should have plenty of confidence coming into today’s match.
Fratangelo’s Recent Grass Court Mean Serving Stats
Won 68% of his service points
Held serve 90% of the time
Fratangelo has a solid serve that gets plenty of extra help from the grass. He tends to pick his spots well and can mix up pace and spin on both his first and second delivery. The American has a very effective kick-serve which should cause Marchenko some problems today, so look of for this.
Marchenko’s Recent Grass Court Mean Serving Stats
Won 69% of his service points
Held serve 86% of the time
Marchenko normally hits his first serve hard and flat, with him favouring serving down the T. The Ukranian’s second serve can be exploited, as at times he can leave it short with little pace on it. Expect the Ukranian to win plenty of free points off his first serve and lead the ace count today.
Fratangelo’s Recent Grass Court Mean Returning Stats
Won 37% of his return points
Won 40% of his break points
Opponents have held 78% of the time against him
Fratangelo has a solid return of serve, sometimes opting to take a full swing and sometimes blocking back first serves. He will look to keep the ball deep off the return and won’t be afraid to go after any short second serves that are there to be hit. I don’t see him getting too many chances off the Marchenko serve today, so he will need to keep his break point conversion % high.
Marchenko’s Recent Grass Court Mean Returning Stats
Won 36% of his return points
Won 37% of his break points
Opponents have held 83% of the time against him
Marchenko can at times struggle with his timing on the return of serve, especially on the grass, he likes to take big swings at the ball, especially off the forehand side. The Ukranian gets very few balls back into play when the ball is served out to his backhand, so if Fratangelo has done his homework we might see plenty of serves unreturned. What Marchenko will do however is look to run around his backhand and hit aggressive forehands off the second serve, so look out for him attempting this often today.
Fratangelo is solid off the ground on both sides. He slightly favours his forehand when attacking, but will keep balls flat and deep off his two-handed backhand, he can also use his slice backhand to good effect on the grass. The American much prefers attacking to defending, so expect for him to be looking to dictate rallies from the off today.
Marchenko has a big forehand, however it can be inconsistent and error-strewn at times. The Ukranian’s weakest side is his backhand, and he likes to run around this to hit forehands as much as possible. This is exploited by better players as they pin him deep into the backhand corner and then attack the open space when they get a defensive reply, I expect to see this play quite regularly today. Marchenko is a better defender than Fratangelo, however he can at times become too passive when playing a player who takes the game to him, I think the American can exploit this today.
I favour Fratangelo to win this one. I think he will just have too much firepower and consistency off the serve and off ground for Marchenko. The Ukranian will hit plenty of aces and a few flashy forehands, however I cant see him doing this well enough, often enough to take the victory. Fratangelo will also be cheered on by a partisan home crowd who love their tennis, this will only help to motivate him further.