KITZBÜHEL, July 26, 2021 (by Alessandro Boroch)
Ten players kicked off Monday’s singles main draw action at the Generali Open, an ATP 250 clay-court event in Kitzbühel, Austria, hosted by the Kitzbüheler Tennisclub.
Jozef Kovalik, a 28-year-old former Top 100 player from Slovakia, who battled through qualifying without dropping a single set, secured a hard-fought 6-4, 6-4 straight-set win over world No. 67 Jaume Munar of Spain, who previously had beaten the Slovak in their latest two meetings.
“I knew it was difficult since he [Munar] won the last two matches between us, and he is a great fighter, so I had to be composed and consistent,” said Kovalik during his on-court interview.
In the course of the one-hour and 55-minute match, World No. 130 Kovalik proved some incredible mental toughness by saving a staggering 19 out of 21 break opportunities. Time and again, Kovalik also showed great touch with his racket, producing perfectly placed drop shots on crucial points.
Next, the Bratislava native will take on Jiri Vesely of the Czech Repulbic, who defeated 191st-ranked qualifier Ernests Gulbis from Latvia, 6-4, 6-1.
Carlos Taberner, Mikael Ymer advance
Spanish lucky loser Carlos Taberner, who lost to Gulbis in the final qualifying round on Sunday, successfully took advantage of his second chance in Kitzbühel by overcoming young Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in two hours.
The 108th-ranked Taberner is aiming to crack the Top 100 for the first time this week, being just eight spots away of the “golden milestone” in the ATP live-rankings.
Up next for the Spaniard will be third seed Filip Krajinovic from Serbia, who had a bye in the opening round.
In the second match of the day on Centre Court, Sweden’s No. 1 singles player Mikael Ymer beat Uruguayan veteran Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 7-5 by saving two set points in the second set. Ymer is joined by his 15-year-old younger brother Rafael, an upcoming junior’s tennis player, who already supported his older brother during last week’s action in Gstaad, Switzerland.
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The next opponent for Mikael Ymer will be determined betweenCroatia Open Umag champion Carlos Alcaraz and Austrian wild card Alexander Erler, who play on Tuesday.
Longest match of the day
The longest encounter of the day, between World No. 97 Pedro Martinez Portero and former Top 10 player Lucas Pouille of France, lasted two hours and 45 minutes and was won by Potrero, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-4. It was Martinez Portero’s debut win at the Kitzbühel event.
Pouille, a former Australian Open semi-finalist, is still trying to regain form after missing the entire 2020 season due to a right elbow injury. He underwent surgery that has allowed him to finally play pain-free again.
Next, the 24-year-old Spaniard next awaits compatriot and second seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who will make his debut in the Generali Open later this week.