ECKENTAL, October 31, 2019 (by Dietmar Kaspar)
2016 champion Steve Darcis headlined Thursday’s third round action of the Challenger Eckental, which offers a total prize money of €46,600. The 35-year-old Belgian battled past top seeded Kamil Majchrzak to advance to the quarter-finals of the International German Tennis Indoor Championships.
In the first match on Centre Court, Darcis came back from a set down against the Polish Davis-Cup player to secure a 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory after about two hours. The World No. 181 in ATP rankings struck 10 aces, dropped only two service games and converted four of his nine break-point opportunities.
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Darcis, who will retire after next year’s Australian Open, told Tennis TourTalk: “I like to come back to this tournament, because I always play very well here. It is a little bit strange to play without any objectives and it seems that I don’t have to care about it, but I want to be ready for the Davis Cup. This is the reason why I keep playing and want to win as many matches as possible to be in a good shape for this event”.
Asked about his plans after his retirement, the former World No. 38 replied: “I have lot of contacts and meetings to see what I am gonna do. It is very interesting and I have a lot of propositions, so I am happy to start something else. I think it will be in the tennis business because it is the only thing I can do”.
Darcis, who captured two ATP Tour titles in addition to his 10 championships on the ATP Challenger Tour, will next face Illya Marchenko. The 32-year-old Ukrainian rallied down Zdenek Kolar from the Czech Republic. Marchenko, the World No. 256, hit 12 aces and outpointed his 23-year-old rival 94-82 to secure a 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 win in one hour and 58 minutes.
“The match was very close and he returned really well. He was able to read my serve pretty well and he was two levels better than me in the most periods,” Marchenko said. “From the beginning of the second set I got more confidence and I think the more experienced player won the match today.”
Van de Zandschulp stuns Laaksonen
24-year-old Botic van de Zandschulp from the Netherlands knocked off the tournament’s second favourite Henri Laaksonen, who is representing Switzerland.
The champion of last week’s ATP Challenger event in Hamburg outpointed his finnish-born rival 117-115 to celebrate a 7-6(3), 4-6, 7-6(2) win after two hours and nine minutes.
The World No. 211 will next oppose Jiri Vesely. The Czech Davis-Cup competitor opened today’s singles action on Court 1 against No. 9 seeded Ilya Ivashka from Belarus. The 26-year-old Pribram native, who entered the tournament on position seven, fired 15 aces and won 86 per cent of his first-service points to prevail 7-6(2), 6-2 in 79 minutes.
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“I had a bad start into the match, being 0-3 down, so it was difficult to find into the match. I always had my chances, but in the first set I did not use them. In the second set, everything worked out as planned,” Vesely said. “It was our first meeting, so he was very motivated to beat a former Top 40 player.”
Lloyd Harris survives
The tournament’s No. 3 Lloyd Harris emerged victorious from a tough three-set clash against German No. 15 seed Oscar Otte. The 22-year-old South African came back after losing the first set to seal a 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(3) victory. The World No. 103, who fired 18 aces during the two hours and six minutes lasting encounter, made one point more than his 26-year-old opponent to advance in two hours and six minutes.
The Cape Town native, who already captured three titles on the ATP Challenger Tour, will next take on Lukas Lacko. The 31-year-old Slovakian, who clinched the title of the Wolffkran Open in Ismaning on the same surface two weeks ago, defeated John-Patrick Smith from Australia. The World No. 193 capitalized on two of his three break-point chances and saved all the five break points he faced to advance 7-5, 6-3 after 56 minutes.
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“It was a completely different match compared to yesterday, where a lot of rallies were played. He put a lot of variety in his serve, but did not have much speed in it. The longer the match lasted the better I was able to read his serve. I was the better player from the baseline and dominated the rallies,” Lacko said.
Gojowczyk continues his title bid on home soil
German No. 4 seed Peter Gojowczyk finished today’ action on Centre Court by defeating No. 16 seeded Sebastian Ofner from Austria. The World No. 118 saved all four break points he faced and converted all of his three break-point chances to claim a 6-1, 6-4, victory in 52 minutes against his team mate from the TC Großhesselohe in the German Bundesliga.
30-year-old Gojowczyk will next compete against Evgeny Karlovskiy. The 25-year-old Russian edged past Finnish No. 11 seed Emil Ruusuvuori. The World No. 263, who lifted his maiden ATP Challenger trophy in Winnetka last year, fired 21 aces to secure a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 win after one hour and 36 minutes.
“We were both really nervous and did not play our best tennis, but I am very happy that I found a way to win the match,” Karlovskiy commented. “Emil is solid on his forehand as well as on his backhand without any weaknesses. I played him twice and I lost both matches, so my plan was to fight until the end to get my first win against him”.