Wildcard Feliciano Lopez will play qualifier Yosuke Watanuki on Monday in the first round of the Stuttgart Open. Lopez is on his farewell tour as he plans to retire after this season. The veteran Spaniard announced earlier in the year that he will play in selected tournaments in 2023. Stuttgart is his fourth and he arrives here almost two months after his last tour appearance which was in Barcelona. The 41-year-old has played four matches only this season and has found the going tough, losing three of them. However, being a former finalist here, he will be confident of turning his season around with this championship. Lopez has been a decent performer on grass throughout his career and has managed a record of 91 wins and 53 losses. He is currently ranked as the 580th best player in the ATP live ranking.
Yosuke Watanuki is making his debut in Stuttgart and so far, all is good for the Japanese number three. He won both his qualifiers, only dropping one set. Watanuki defeated world number 284 Benjamin Hassan in straight sets in his last match. The win was his 22nd of the season out of 33 matches, and lifted him to number 121 in the live ranking. Watanuki is yet to show that he is a strong performer on grass. He has played only 10 matches on the surface since his debut in 2015 and has won six times. Watanuki made his Grand Slam and Masters debut this season and managed to reach the main draw in Melbourne, Miami and Madrid. His highlight however has been in the challenger circuit where he has managed two semifinal appearances in Monterrey and Canberra. The winner here will play fourth seed Hubert Hurkacz in the second round.
Our prediction for Feliciano Lopez v Yosuke Watanuki is for Watanuki to win. Lopez has been in woeful form in 2023. But as he is a former finalist here and playing a not-so-experienced player on grass, he will fancy his chances. Perhaps his experience will win him one set but overall, we expect Watanuki to carry the day.