After a full week of action at a Challenger event with one of the best line-ups of the season, fifth seed Damir Dzumhur will take on Dennis Novak in the final of the 2019 Peugeot Slovak Open in Bratislava. Will the Bosnian solidify his place in the top 100 of the ATP Rankings? Who do you think will prevail?
Bratislava Challenger Final Prediction
Damir Dzumhur vs Dennis Novak
This is a very important run for the Bosnian. Peaking at world no. 23 last year, Dzumhur hit a wall this season and was on the verge of falling out of the top 100. This is a strategically important position as it gives you automatic qualification for Grand Slams, including the upcoming Australian Open. As the season is coming to an end, there would not be much of a chance for Dzumhur to make up.
However, the Bosnian has now almost ensured a top 100 finish. The draw wasn’t easy as Dzumhur was forced to face players like Lukas Lacko, Emil Ruusuvuori or Mikhail Kukushkin. But the fifth seed has managed to survive it all and made his first Challenger final in over two years.
Austrian Dennis Novak wasn’t a big favorite from the very beginning of the tournament, but you can never write off this talented puncher. Novak has never been to the ATP Top 100, but is constantly just a couple of results away from getting there. A win over Dzumhur tomorrow would get him just about 60 points behind automatic Australian Open qualification.
Novak was unseeded and therefore had to play five matches to get there. Following a routine win over countryman Sebastian Ofner, Novak won a blockbuster clash versus Australia’s Alexei Popyrin. He went on to beat Norbert Gombos, Stefano Travaglia and Egor Gerasimov to reach his third Challenger final of the year. Almost down and out versus Travaglia in the quarterfinals, he got a huge comeback chance when the Italian double-faulted up a match point. Novak ruthlessly capitalised and made Travaglia pay for the mistake.
Head-to-head: Dzumhur 1-0 Novak
The two met just once on the professional circuit, when Dzumhur won a nail-biting third set tie-break four years ago at Alphen Challenger. They also played doubles together at the next year’s edition of the very same event.
But who will come out as the victor four years later? Novak can be really dangerous indoors if he can get that serve and forehand combination going. However, his performances against Travaglia and Gerasimov were mostly uneven. The Austrian went from a brilliant first set against the Italian to actually almost handing him the win in the decider.
Dzumhur has been much more stable and it shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Bosnian might not have the same kind of arsenal but he’s got the wheels to make up for it. Basing his game on baseline consistency, Dzumhur is forced to find more creative ways to win points. And he’s coming up with them often enough.
The way to win this for Novak is to dominate the play. If given a free hand in the rallies, Dzumhur will eventually wear his opponent down. The Bosnian is a safer pick and someone who will surely do everything to execute his game plan to the highest extent possible.
Prediction: Dzumhur in 3
Main Photo from Getty.