ECKENTAL, November 2, 2019 (by Dietmar Kaspar)
Steve Darcis headlined Saturday’s semi-finals action at the Eckental Challenger by reaching his third title match at the €46,600 International German Championships.
The 35-year-old Belgian, who is competing at his last ATP Challenger event before retiring after next year’s Australian Open, battled past the tournament’s third favourite Lloyd Harris from South Africa on a packed Centre Court at the House of Sports. Darcis, currently ranked World No. 181, withstood 12 aces and broke his 22-year-old rival’s serve to seal a 6-2, 6-4 win after 56 minutes.
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“The match was tough at the beginning, then he made one ore two bad decisions and went nervous. I think he was tired from his match yesterday and after the tough start he realised, that this could be another long match,” Darcis said. “I played a really good match from the first to the last point, so I am very happy about the win.”
The two-time ATP Tour titlist, who is seeking his 11th ATP Challenger trophy in Sunday’s final, will next represent Belgium at the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid and the ATP Cup in Australia.
“I think we are a little bit in trouble right now, there are not many good players coming out,” Darcis commented on the current situation of tennis in his home country. “There will be a big gap after David Goffin. We are a small country, so hopefully the Federation and the private academies will work together to train good players in the future.”
Vesely survives Karlovskiy
Later in the day, No. 7 seeded Jiri Vesely faced Evgeny Karlovskiy from Russia, who is practising at the 4-Slam-Tennis-Academy in Barcelona.
The 26-year-old Czech, who already clinched three trophies on the ATP Tour in addition to his six ATP Challenger titles, fired 27 aces during the two hours and 21 minutes lasting encounter to prevail 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(6). Vesely saved one match point in the 12th game of the third set and converted his second match point in the tie-break.
“It was a tough and close match, only one point decided. I played good points in the decisive moments and was lucky to get the win,” Vesely was pleased with his performance.
Vesely is rising to World No. 107 in the live rankings. Asked about this fact and his goals for the rest of the season, he said: “I usually don’t like to check the rankings after every match. However, with only two more tournaments to go, I am following it closely right now. My goal is to be ranked inside the Top 100 at the end of the season in order to reach the main draw of the Australian Open.”
Vesely, who has been a member of the Czech Davis-Cup Team since 2013, can’t compete at this year’s inaugural Davis Cup Final because his team did not qualify for this event.
“For me, the Davis Cup is not the same as before. Not playing in front of a home crowd is a completely different event. We don’t know if Tomas Berdych will return to our team after his long injury , but we started to integrate the young players like Forejtek, Lehecka and Svrcina to be ready for the future.”
Darcis and Vesely will meet for the third time with the Belgian leading 2-1 in their head-to-head records. Darcis also won their last encounter at Istanbul 2017.