BRAUNSCHWEIG, July 14, 2017
Nicola Kuhn has become the second player born in the year 2000 to reach an ATP Challenger title match. The Spanish teen sensation fought past in-form Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 in Friday’s semi-finals at the €127,000 Sparkassen Open in Braunschweig.
Kuhn was aggressive right from the beginning, always trying to hit the balls close to the lines. The 17-year-old Innsbruck native won 68 per cent of his first service points and broke serve five times to prevail after two hours and 25 minutes.
“Until 4-1, Marton has played really well in the opening set but I started to be more aggreessive from then on. In the second set, I was a bit too defensive. In the third, I was again going more for the shots and played better in the important moments,” Kuhn analyzed his performace afterwards.
The World No. 501, who is a huge fan of cars and racing events, finished runner-up at the junior’s competition at Roland Garros this year and decided to continue his tennis career from then on at senior’s level.
“You do not get that many free points anymore. Juniors make a lot of errors and you get five or six chances to break. At ITF Futures level you only get three or four chances and at Challenger or ATP you get two or one chance. That’s the big difference and you simply need to convert your chances.”
Earlier in the season, Kuhn decided to put an end to his stay at the Juan Carlos Ferrero Equelite Sport Academy, where he has developed his tennis activicty since 2012. He has returned to the Club de Tenis Torrevieja in the South of Alicante teaming-up with Pedro Caprotta, the man who had coached him before he moved to Villena.
“I had a very good time there but I just wanted to change some things, as I thought that the way I was living and how I practiced would not have a positive effect on me. So I decided to return to my old coach, who supported me from the age of six to 12. The results seem to prove that it was the right decision.”
Kuhn is the second teenager within three years, who advanced to the Sparkasse Open final. In 2014, Alexander Zverev lifted the trophy in Braunschweig.
“It is difficult to compare players, as every individual person in different. Carlos Boluda had been compared to Rafael Nadal for a long time in Spain but there is no second Rafa Nadal. It can put pressure on young players, which does not seem fair. I don’t know Alexander that well. We played in the same junior’s team for Germany and he seemed to be a nice person. He has played an outstanding season, getting into the top 10 by the age of 20 is fantastic. I hope to face him on court as soon as possible,” Kuhn told with a smile.
Galovic Back In ATP Challenger Final
In his only second appearance at Challenger level, Kuhn will play his maiden final against Viktor Galovic. The 23-year-old Croat saved one match point to rally past Oscar Otte from Germany 4-6, 7-6, 6-1. Galovic finished the encounter after one hour and 46 minutes.
“Oscar played incredibly well in the first part of the match and I was struggling a lot. He put a lot of pressure on me but I tried to stay focused and tried never to give up. I managed to return two or three points in the tie-break very well and then it became a bit easier, as he did not seem to be that focused in the end,” Galovic told Tennis TourTalk after the battle.
“I am physically ok, as I have been following the routine now for two weeks. I just have a little problem with my left ankle but it will be fine.”
Galovic, who lives in Verona, clinched his maiden ATP Challenger title in Recanati last week.
“I have been living in Italy since I am five years old. I played well in Recanati and winning there was amazing. It was an emotional week for me, as it has always been a goal to win a big title. It was a big step to where I actually want to go.”
The 26-year-old also had to get used to the conditions here in Braunschweig, switching from Recanati’s hard courts to clay.
“I arrived here on Monday night and I only had about 30 minutes to play my first match in Braunschweig on wet clay courts, which helped me a bit as the conditions were slower and I had more time to adjust,” Galovic told with a smile and added: “Now I am also a bit confused, as I do not know which surface I actually prefer.
“My schedule has also changed a lot. I will try to gain as many points as possible in order to enter the qualifying of the US Open.”
Galovic and Kuhn will meet for the first time.
“I haven’t seen him playing before. I watched a bit of his match yesterday. He plays really well and is focused on the court. He is only 17 and I was still at school at this age,” Galovic laughed. “I do not know what to expect from tomorrow. I just try do play my game and we will see what is going to happen.”
In the doubles final Julian Knowle from Austria and Igor Zelenay of Slovakia will take on German tandem of Kevin Krawietz and Gero Kretschmer.
Photo Gallery Day 5 (by Florian Heer):