KOBLENZ, January 18, 2019
Pavel Kotov equalled his best result at ATP Challenger level by reaching the stage of the final four at the €46,600 Koblenz Open on Friday. The 20-year-old Russian emerged victorious from a topsy-turvy encounter with Spanish Next Gen player Carlos Taberner, rallying 5-7, 7-5, 6-1.
In a highly entertaining quarterfinal, Kotov was two breaks up in the opening set, saved one match point in the second frame and eventually got back to his best in the final set to prevail after two hours and 36 minutes.
“To play until the last point was the key to success today,” Kotov told Tennis TourTalk after the two hour and 36 minutes battle. “The moment when I saved match point, I was able to turn the match around. From then on I played more aggressive.”
Kotov is playing his first tournament of the season and has come to Koblenz for the very first time. “It’s a really nice atmosphere here. Everyone’s very friendly and the organization is very good. I actually wasn’t in the main draw, so it was a great opportunity for me to play here and I will do my best.”
The youngster is accompanied by his mother Liliana, who always stands close to the courts, moving from baseline to baseline at every changeover to provide the best possible support for her son throughout the match. “She is always with me at tournament. She is a kind of a second coach,” Kotov, who regularly practices in Moscow, commented with a smile.
And how will his Friday evening look like? “Having dinner and relax. I am still pretty exhausted and need some rest in order to get ready for tomorrow.”
Ortega-Olmedo knocks out Ymer
Kotov will next take on Roberto Ortega-Olmedo, who appeared in his first tournament on European soil since the ATP Challenger in Sevilla in September last year, knocked out No. 7 seed Mikael Ymer of Sweden 6-7(8), 6-1, 6-3.
The 27-year-old Spaniard showed a solid performance, winning 55 per cent of the total points played to secure victory in two hours and 27 minutes.
“I was fighting all the time,” Ortega-Olmeda said. “I felt good on the court today and I am in good shape at the moment. I know that I can fight for many hours on the court. That is important for the match, even if you lost the first set.”
The Madrid native is not the typical Spanish tennis competitor, feeling more comfortable on hard courts. “I am a weird Spanish player,” Ortega-Olmedo laughed. “Most of the tournaments in Europe are on clay, so I decided to compete in the United States starting in September last year. I also began the new season in America. The moment I learned that I could enter the draw here I took a flight and came to Koblenz.”
In Spain, Ortega-Olmedo moved home from Madrid to Alicante, where he practices with former World No. 50 Ruben Ramirez-Hidalgo. “Ruben was a very big fighter on the court. That is important for the players. We are always in touch but he doesn’t travel with me all the time, as tennis is very expensive.”
In his only second ATP Challenger semi-final, his first since 2013 Sevilla, Ortega-Olmeda will face another tough opponent. “I lost against Pavel in our only previous meeting we had in Kazahkstan in last year in the final set. He plays amazing this week. It will be another tough challenge.”
Earlier in the day, Tallon Griekspoor defeated Kaichi Uchida of Japan 6-3, 7-5. The No. 14 seed from the Netherlands saved all three break points he faced, capitalizing on two of his own three chances to advance in one hour and 10 minutes.
Up next for Griekspoor will be Gianluca Mager, who benefited from the retirement of No. 3 seed Alexey Vatutin of Russia due to shoulder injury. The 24-year-old Italian was leading 7-5, 4-2 when the Volgograd native was forced to stop playing after one hour and 18 minutes.