HEILBRONN, May 16, 2019 (by Dietmar Kaspar)
Former Davis Cup champion Viktor Troicki headlined Thursday’s third round action at the sixth edition of the Neckarcup in Heilbronn with another topsy-turvy match to set an all-Serbian quarterfinal clash against top seed Filip Krajinovic.
Lucky loser Troicki had to go through an up-and-down experience in the second set during the encounter versus Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. After winning the first set 6-4, the 33-year-old Serb took the lead, being two breaks up in the second set, 4:1, 30:0. The No. 12 seed from Spain came back to even score at 4:4. Playing 18 points in the ninth game of the second set, Troicki got the break to secure a 6-4, 6-4 win in the battle of the veterans, lasting one hour and 27 minutes.
„After having such a comfortable lead, I started thinking about everything and stopped playing as in the first part of the match. The encounter almost turned, but i luckily won,” Troicki said after the match.
The tournament’s No. 1 Krajinovic continues his title bid after defeating Canadian No. 14 seed Peter Polansky. The 27-year-old Neckarcup champion from 2017 stayed solid on serve, winning 79 per cent of the points on his first service. Outpointing his 30-year-old opponent 72-55, the Belgrade resident clinched a 6-3, 7-5 victory after 80 minutes. Krajinovic will compete on Friday against his compatriot Troicki.
Following the encounter, Krajinovic said: “I did not play the way I wanted, but I am happy to be in the quarterfinals. I knew it’s gonna be tough to compete against Peter. I am excited to play against Viktor tomorrow, we know each other very well because we practiced so many times together. I hope it will be a good match tomorrow.”
No. 11 seeded Dennis Novak stopped the run of Oscar Otte from Germany. The 25-year-old Austrian, who clinched his maiden ATP Challenger title in Taipei City last month, capitalized on five of his seven break point opportunities by dropping two service games. Lasting 74 minutes, Novak outpointed his rival 66-52, to win the encounter with 7-5, 6-2.
During this week, Novak is coached by Austrian double legend Julian Knowle for the first time. Novak stated about the new partnership: „Two matches, two victories is a good start. We will work together for the next weeks and I hope we can continue our partnership for a longer period.”
Molleker continues good run in Heilbronn
Defending Neckarcup champion Rudolf Molleker remains undefeated at the venue of the TC Heilbronn. The 18-year-old German defeated Russian ITF-entry Aslan Karatsev in straight sets. Breaking his 25-year-old opponent three times by losing one service game from the seven break points he faced, Molleker claimed a 7-5, 6-4 win after one hour and 24 minutes. In the stage of the final eight, he will meet Novak.
The first victory of the day was clinched by No. 6 seeded Hugo Dellien, competing versus Swedish No. 9 seed Elias Ymer, who entered the competition by wild card. Being the more efficient player, the 25-year-old Bolivian converted five of his six break point chances without dropping a service game, to seal a 6-2, 6-2 victory after exactly one hour.
Dellien, who almost earned all of his ATP points on clay court, told Tennis Tourtalk about his goals: „I will try to play better on hard court, because most tournaments at higher level will take place on that surface. My target is to get more points on clay, reaching a position about No. 60, to appear on Asian hard court events later in the season.”
Italian No. 13 seed Stefano Travaglia battled past Jozef Kovalik from Slovakia in a tough three-set battle. The 27-year-old Ascoli Piceno native, who got the trophy at the ATP Challenger event in Francavilla two weeks ago, scored two points more than his 26-year-old opponent. Lasting two hours and 30 minutes , Travaglia secured a 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 win to face Dellien in the quarterfinals.
Another title hope for the German crowd will be Matthias Bachinger. The 32-year-old Munich native took the step to the quarterfinals in defeating the tournaments’s No. 4 Jiri Vesely from the Czech Republic. Breaking his 25-year-old rival four times by losing two service games, Bachinger got the victory by the score of 6-4,6-4 after 82 minutes. It was the third win for Bachinger in his third meeting with Vesely.
„I started well into the match, making the big points. After losing my service game at 3-5 in the second set, I was happy that I broke back to avoid a tie-break against big-serving Vesely. The conditions here on the court suit my game well,” Bachinger said.
Marathon-man Arthur de Greef emerged victorious from the longest lasting match of the week. The 27-year-old Belgian battled past Brazilian No. 7 seed Thiago Monteiro after two hours and 54 minutes. The Brussels resident outpointed his 24-year-old opponent 118-113, to secure a 7-6, 2-6, 7-6 victory.
De Greef will go head-to-head versus Matthias Bachinger in the stage of the last eight.
„It is always very difficult to play against Thiago. I knew before that it was going to be a big battle. I am happy to be through and will do everything to recover. Hopefully I will wake up fit tomorrow,” de Greef is looking forward to his quaterfinals match.
Neckarcup receives Challenger of the Year Award
Later in the evening, the tournament’s organizers Mine and Metehan Cebecci as well as Tom Bucher officially received the 2018 ATP Challenger of the Year Award. Supervisor Stephane Cretois presented the trophy on Centre Court and said: “It’s a vote from the players, so actually the best award you can get. As I have been working here for a few days now, I can confirm that you do your best in the players’ interest first. You can be very proud of this.”
Tournament director Metehan Cebeci and his wife Mine, Chief of Organisations stated: “You cannot imagine how lucky we feel to be awarded again for the best Challenger. This is the best news for us and is such an honour. We really appreciate receiving this award as it shows us that all our efforts and passionate work lead to this success.”
Main draw singles third round
Filip Krajinovic – Peter Polansky 6-3, 7-5
Victor Troicki – Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-4, 6-4
Stefano Travaglia – Jozef Kovalik 1-6, 6-3, 7-6
Hugo Dellien – Elias Ymer 6-2, 6-2
Arthur De Greef – Thiago Monteiro 7-6, 2-6, 7-6
Matthias Bachinger – Jiri Vesely 6-4, 6-4
Dennis Novak – Oscar Otte 7-5, 6-2
Rudi Molleker – Aslan Karatsev 7-5, 6-3