KOBLENZ, January 19, 2019
A new ATP Challenger singles champion will be crowned on Sunday when Roberto Ortega-Olmedo and Gianluca Mager will compete in the final of the Koblenz Open. Ortega-Olmedo continued his dream run at the €46,600 ATP Challenger event, fighting past Pavel Kotov of Russia 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.
The 27-year-old Spaniard saved eight of the 11 break points he faced, capitalizing on four of his own 10 chances to prevail after two hours and 11 minutes.
“It was a very tough match and I really don’t know how I managed to win the first set,” Ortega-Olmedo said. “I had a couple of break poitnt chances but couldn’t convert. However, I was more solid than him in the end and made the important points.”
The Madrid native had face a couple of foot faults decisions, even during important stages of the match. “I changed my serve during the pre-season, so I move my body in a different way. One mistake happened on second serve facing break point. I was fighting a lot during this game and he (the linesman) killed me,” Ortega-Olmedo laughed.
The World No. 323 will appear in his first title match on the ATP Challenger Tour on Sunday. “I am feeling so happy right now. I am here alone but I know that many friends are watching my matches online. I will have about 50 chats in What’s App right now, saying ‘Congrats, you deserve it’. My coach (Rubén Ramirez-Hidalgo) even sends videos during the matches. Of course, I don’t watch it as long as I am court but it’s kind of a good analysis afterwards and a great support.”
Mager seeks first title
Mager took out Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor, the last seeded player left in the singles draw, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4. The 24-year-old Italian sent down 11 aces, winning 71 per cent of his first service points to prevail after one hour and 40 minutes.
“I tried to focus on my serve. He is a fast player with a good timing. I tried to fight a lot,” Mager told Tennis TourTalk. The World No. 275 arrived from the United States, where he opened the season at the ATP Challenger events in Orlando and Columbus. “I haven’t won a match on hard-court indoors until this week. This is a new situation for me and my confidence is growing from match to match.”
Mager will play his second ATP Challenger final after he finished runner-up to Laslo Djere in Milan last year. “I will fight for every point and try to win the tournament.”
Doubles final set, Jürgen Melzer returns to the courts
Earlier in the day, Zdenek Kolar and Adam Pavlaek fought past Evgeny Karlovskiy of Russia and Timur Khabibulin from Kazakhstan 7-5, 6-2. The all-Czech combination finished the enounter in just under one hour of play.
“We know each other for many years. So it’s easy to coordinate the movement on court.” Pavlasek said. “I am happy to play with Zdenek, as we only played a few tournaments together.”
Both players started the new season at the Australian Open, where both fell in the opening round of the singles qualifying. Asked about Pavlasek’s goals for 2019, he answered: “To stay healthy. I struggled with some physical problems in the past, so this will be the most important thing. I will try to do my best to return to the top 100.”
Kolar added that he wants to improve, playing better than the second half of last year. “If I do so, my ranking will automatically go up. I will continue to work hard. I changed a bit of my practice session and I hope that this will help in the future,” the World No. 219 in singles stated.
Kolar and Pavlasek will face Jürgen Melzer and Filip Polasek in the final. The Austrian-Slovak duo beat No. 3 seeds Fabricio Neis of Brazil and Purav Raja from India 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 15 minutes.
“It was great win against strong opponents,” Polasek was pleased with their performance. “We served well, which was key today. I struggled a bit on the return towards the end but managed to win the important points.”
Polasek, who clinched one ATP Challenger doubles title last year in Szczecin, is teaming up with Melzer for the first time. “We know each others for years. We probably played against each other 10 or 11 years ago for the first time. It’s special to play with him now, as he is a great competitor. I enjoy it a lot and I hope that we can keep up with our run here as long as possible.”
The pair plans to stick together at least for the beginning of the season. “I hope that we can climb up the rankings together in order to reach the ATP Tour-level soon,” said Melzer, who competes in his first tournament since Vienna last year. “It’s been a long break but it’s great to be back, although it feels a bit different, as I only had to focus on doubles. It’s more relaxed and it’s fun to be back on the court. The goal is to win the tournament here.”