Friday’s schedule was fully packed at the bet-at-home Cup in Kitzbühel with two quarterfinals and two semi-finals played on Centre Court as well as on Grandstand after a rain-interrupted couple of days in the Tyrolean Alps.
The two players, who had already been through to the stage of the final four, David Goffin and Maximo Gonzalez, faced each other for the first time. The Belgian Wild Card is playing a remarkable July collecting three titles on the ATP Challenger Tour in Scheveningen, Poznan and Tampere without dropping a set. He has also had an impressive run this week, posting straight set victories over Kenny de Schepper, Paolo Lorenzi and eventually top-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber on Thursday to reach his first semi-final on the ATP World Tour. The 31-year-old Argentine had battled his way through the qualifying at his Kitzbühel debut before he beat Pablo Carreňo-Busta, Albert Ramos and upset third-seeded Lukas Rosol in three sets. Gonzalez had the better start into Friday’s encounter gaining the opening set in 52 minutes. Goffin, however, got over his first loss of a set in his last four tournaments pretty quickly, capitalized on his first break point of the second frame and took the match the distance. The 23-year-old Belgian benefited from a very solid return game, hit a couple of winners down the line and finally reached his first ATP final winning 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 after two hours and 22 minutes.
“I actually wanted to play the last Challengers to get some confidence. I really wasn’t expecting to claim a title there and then I won three tournaments in a row. Now I’m in the final here in Kitzbühel and I really cannot believe it,” Goffin was stunned afterwards. “I was granted a wild card through my management with Octagon and after the successful weeks before here I just wanted to take the chance and I did well. Of course I feel a bit tired after the last exhausting weeks but I gained so much of confidence and I feel fit. I have nothing to lose and that’s why I’m pretty relaxed on the court. At the moment I really don’t know how to manage the final tomorrow but if I continue playing like today and the last couple of weeks, it’ll be ok,” the world number 78 is looking forward to the final.
Earlier the day Dominic Thiem, the youngest player within the top-50, kept Austria’s hope alive knocking out defending champion Marcel Granollers winning 6-4, 7-5 in his postponed quarterfinal match to face Juan Mónaco in the afternoon for a place in Sunday’s final. The Argentine also needed to win his quarterfinal in first place by beating Andreas Seppi 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in one hour and 47 minutes. The only 20-years-old Austrian dominated the final match of the day against the experienced Argentine clay court specialist right from the beginning breaking Mónaco’s serve in the opening game and eventually took the first set in 30 minutes. Thiem impressed with his single-handed backhand played with a lot of topspin and groundstrokes with great length hitting more than once the baseline. Mónaco wasn’t able to find his rhythm produced a couple of mishits and couldn’t read the Austrian’s solid first serve. As a consequence of that, the world number 50 from Wiener Neustadt closed the match out winning 6-3, 6-1 in only 58 minutes to reach his very first final on the ATP World Tour. Understandably the atmosphere on the almost fully packed centre court was fantastic and the youngster really seemed to enjoy it.
“Being backed by the crowd is great and does help you. Without any doubt, this is an advantage for me. After the tournaments in Hamburg and Gstaad, I felt a bit tired but when I arrived in Kitzbühel it got better and I have been able to improve from match to match throughout the week. Nonetheless, it was an exhausting day for me today,” Thiem said after he took out both finalists of last year in only one day.“Marcel was pretty defensive today but Juan played more aggressively. I hit the balls well with good spin and good length, which I think was the key against him. It was my best match of the week and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s final,” the Austrian’s new favourite told.