KITZBÜHEL, July 25, 2021 (by Alessandro Boroch)
The ATP Tour has returned to Kitzbühel, Austria for the 2021 Generali Open, an ATP 250 clay-court event hosted by the Kitzbüheler Tennisclub.
On Saturday and Sunday, sixteen players competed at the venue in qualifying with four players advancing to the main draw, and two others placed as lucky losers.
First, on Centre Court, Latvian veteran Ernests Gulbis, a former top 10 player, upset top-seeded qualifier Carlos Taberner from Spain 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to secure his berth in the main draw after two hours. Fourteen years ago, the then 18-year-old Gulbis competed at the Austrian tour-level event for the first time in his career. The altitude is what makes this tournament particularly special for Gulbis, who possesses an aggressive game with a powerful serve. The World No. 189 produced 14 aces against a strong returner today. Gulbis will next face Czech Jiri Vesely.
A motivated Gulbis is through to the main draw at #ATPKitz following a convincing 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win over No. 1 seed Taberner (#108).
Gulbis arrived at Kitzbühel on a four-match losing streak. Definitely played his best tennis of the year during qualifying. Serving bombs. pic.twitter.com/fLdyzeLOEP
— Alex | Tennis 🎾 (@Alex_Boroch) July 25, 2021
Later, Taberner was also placed in the main draw as a lucky loser and will face Thiago Seyboth Wild from Brazil in the first round.
Third-seeded Jozef Kovalik from Slovakia edged past Spaniard Mario Vilella Martinez 7-5, 7-5 to compete in the main draw in Tyrol for the first time since 2019. Kovalik will play Spain’s Jaume Munar in the first round.
Eighteen-year-old local talent Lukas Neumayer, ranked outside the top 1000, pulled off a huge upset over Czech veteran Lukas Rosol. The teenager triumphed 6-4, 7-6(5) on Centre Court in front of an enthusiastic crowd to book his first-ever appearance in the main draw of an ATP Tour event.
Neumayer will face Vilella Martinez, who received the second lucky loser spot, in his ATP Tour debut.
Following a short rain delay, second seed Andrej Martin from Slovakia and #NextGenATP star Holger Rune from Denmark stepped on Centre Court to fight for the last remaining main draw berth.
Battling for two hours, the 18-year-old Rune earned it following a hard-fought 7-5, 7-5 victory. He will open his main draw campaign against Italian Stefano Travaglia.
Main draw action starts Monday. World No. 14 Casper Ruud of Norway is the tournament’s top seed. Following a first-round bye, he will begin his title bid on either Wednesday or Thursday against the Newmayer-Vilella Martinez winner.