KOBLENZ, February 21, 2020
Nicola Kuhn showed tremendous fighting spirit to highlight Friday’s quarterfinals action at the Koblenz Open. The 19-year-old Spaniard saved two match points to overcome Daniel Masur from Germany, rallying 5-7, 7-6(2), 6-2 in the final match of the day.
Fit-again Kuhn, who had to deal with injuries over the last two years, won 52 per cent of the total points played to prevail after two hours and 15 minutes.
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“I struggled with my knee and had been sidelined from the courts for six months. This wasn’t an easy time,” a relieved Kuhn said after his emotional victory. “I am very happy that I was able to turn this match around. Reaching the stage of the final four here in front of a home crowd is very special.”
The teenager, who arrived in Koblenz without a match win under his belt this season, has just started to join forces with his new coach Eduardo Infantino. “I practiced in Ludwigshafen before, as I have been a member of the BASF Tennis Club for a long time. Steffen Neutert helped me out but it didn’t work out in the end.”
Kuhn will move his base back to Alicante in Spain. “We don’t expect any miracles to happen. There are many things to improve but I know what I am able to do on the court. I have an aggressive style of tennis and we need to continue working on it.”
Van de Zandschulp knocks out Maden
The No. 11 seed will next take on Botic van de Zandschulp. After a slow start, the 24-year-old from the Netherlands upset the tournament’s top seed Yannick Maden from Germany 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and two minutes.
“I didn’t see the ball really well and didn’t move too well at the start of the match but I began to feel more comfortable during the match,” van de Zandschulp said. “He had some chances for a break in the second set but I served it away. That gave confidence to win the match in the end.”
The Dutch seems to feel comfortable to compete in Germany, as he celebrated his maiden triumph on the ATP Challenger Tour in Hamburg last year. “Conditions here are pretty similar. The surface is slow and I can get behind every ball. I can also hit some winners on this court, which makes it tough for the opponents.”
Bemelmans back to winning ways
Earlier in the day, Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium advanced to the semi-finals. The 2017 Koblenz Open champion knocked off No. 2 seeded German Yannick Hanfmann 6-3, 6-2. Bemelmans capitalized on three of his six break point chances to secure victory in one hour and 17 minutes.
“I was more solid in the end. My tactics were right on spot and I executed very well today without making many mistakes. That was the difference,” Bemelmans told Tennis TourTalk. It is safe to say that the Belgian veteran also enjoys playing in Germany. Bemelmans ended a three-year title drought by winning the MLP Cup in Nußloch last month.
“I definitely enjoy playing in Germany. This title win meant a lot to me. I struggled a bit last year, also in terms of motivation and my ranking has dropped,” the 32-year-old said. “Since last year’s grass-court season, however, I started to play better and better. Now my level feels like when I was ranked inside the Top 100. I am really looking forward to this year and hopefully I will get back to my best ranking.”
Up next for Bemelmans will be Czech teenager Tomas Machac, who enjoys a great run of form this week in Koblenz. On Court 1, the 19-year-old edged past Dimitar Kuzmanov of Bulgaria 6-4, 6-4 to book a place in the semi-finals of an ATP Challenger tournament for the third time in his career.
“I feel great,” Bemelmans is looking forward to the “battle of the generations”. “I have never played him but let’s see what’s going to happen.”
Impressive performance so far by 🇨🇿 teenager Tomas Machac, who reaches his third ATP Challenger semi-final at Koblenz Open. Up next will be former champion Ruben Bemelmans. pic.twitter.com/N1OI1lCxrD
— Florian Heer (@Florian_Heer) February 21, 2020