Not many could have predicted Aljaz Bedene’s brilliant run to the final in Metz. The Slovenian hasn’t made a tour-level semifinal on indoor hard and wasn’t handed an easy draw. After defeating French wildcard Rayane Roumane, he had to face the defending champion Gilles Simon, but he bested the Frenchman 7-6 6-2. Victories over Pablo Carreno Busta and Benoit Paire followed and the Slovenian will now get a chance to win his maiden ATP title on Sunday. He came one match short in Chennai, Budapest and Buenos Aires.
Bedene recently went back to the ATP Challenger Tour to find some form. He managed to clinch a title in Portoroz and later reached US Open third round, losing to Alexander Zverev. A week prior to the Moselle Open, he played Davis Cup against Egypt. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made a similar move and it paid off as well. Straight after losing his US Open first round match to Tennys Sandgren, the Frenchman went to Cassis. He displayed brilliant form during the week, winning the Challenger without losing a set. He has managed to bring this form to the Moselle Open, taking out Pablo Andujar, Pierre Hugues-Herbert, Nikoloz Basilashvili and Lucas Pouille, dropping just two sets in the process.
In their only previous meeting, which came at the 2013 French Open, the Frenchman won in comfortable straight sets. But the Slovenian has massively impressed his serving performance, blasting 54 aces throughout the tournament. He only lost 13 points on his first serve in 9 sets played. That was particularly evident against Carreno Busta, where Bedene hit 27 aces in 60 points played on serve. The Frenchman’s serve is also among his biggest assets. His semifinal against Lucas Pouille went to two tie-breaks and throughout the match he was almost impossible to break.
His game is much bigger than Bedene and if he’s able to keep the rallying on his serve short, the match will be played on his terms. The Frenchman loves indoor hard and is a three-time champion of the event. With the support of the home crowd, I wouldn’t give Bedene much of a chance. But then again, the Slovenian went under the radar the whole week.
Prediction: Tsonga in 2
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