Mercedes Open in Stuttgart will take place on grass for the fifth time next week, with some high-quality players battling for the first trophy on the fastest surface in 2019. Karen Khachanov, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Daniil Medvedev, Nick Kyrgios, Milos Raonic, Denis Shapovalov and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are all in contention and the field became even stronger on Friday when the organizers announced Alexander Zverev and his brother Mischa who received wild cards.
After the home favorites, Lucas Pouille grabbed the last invitation, returning to the event where he won the title two years ago, ousting Feliciano Lopez in three sets for his third ATP title. The Frenchman was a top-10 player for two weeks in March last year but that didn't last for long, losing ground completely and never looking like the same player again.
Pouille was the semi-finalist in Stuttgart last June after a terrible clay season and dropping ten of the final 17 matches of the season to drop out from the top-30. The Frenchman is now among the best 30 players in the world again although the form is not there, scoring only seven ATP wins so far in 2019, five of those at the Australian Open where he played in the semi-final, pretty much out of nowhere before Novak Djokovic halted his progress.
After an early exit in Barcelona, Luca claimed Bordeaux Challenger title, his first on a career on that level before more setbacks in Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros where Martin Klizan ousted him 9-7 in the deciding set.
With an early exit in Paris, Lucas has decided to kick off grass season earlier than he planned, asking for a wild card to enter Stuttgart draw for the fourth time in a row, hoping to turn the season around and repeat what he did at this tournament two years ago.