The returning Roger Federer is the overwhelming favorite to win the 2017 Mercedes Cup, and with good reason. However, if R-Fed somehow falters, who else can step up to take the title? These three sleepers possibly could, and should be worth betting on over the course of the tournament.
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Johnson is having a terrific season thus far. The 25th-ranked American is 19-9 on the season, and is coming off his most successful spell ever on clay, which was supposedly his weakest surface. He went 8-2 and won the US Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston.
But now he’s set to return to grass, which is arguably his best surface. He’s 18-13 on grass in his career, and claimed what was previously his lone ATP Tour title on the grass courts of the Nottingham Open last year.
Johnson will be on the opposite side of the bracket from Federer, and could be matched up with No. 2 seed Grigor Dimitrov in the semis. Although he’s behind the Bulgarian in their career series, he does own two wins over Baby Fed on grass, one of which came at Wimbledon in 2015.
Lopez hasn’t had a particularly strong season to date, in large part due to his struggles on hard court earlier in the season. He crashed out very early in all six of the tournaments he entered on the surface. However, he did recover somewhat during the clay court season, and is coming off a round-of-32 finish at the French Open.
But Lopez will be especially glad to see the grass court season come around since he’s an exceptional player on the surface. He’s 63-36 in his career on the surface, with two titles. However, he’ll need to pray he doesn’t meet Federer in the semifinals if he does get that far. Lopez is 0-12 in his career against the Swiss master.
Troicki is having a decidedly unremarkable season thus far. He’s made the semifinals of three tournaments, although two came off a walkover and a retirement.
Troicki doesn’t have a particularly great track record on grass; he’s 28-23 overall on the surface. However, he did make it all the way to the final at Stuttgart back in 2015 as a No. 8 seed. He’s an 8-seed again this year, and should have a somewhat manageable road to the final.
Troicki should feel confident if he makes it to the quarterfinals, where No. 2 seed Dimitrov could be waiting. He holds a 3-2 edge over the Bulgarian in their five career meetings.
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