KITZBÜHEL, July 27, 2021 (by Dietmar Kaspar)
The home crowd was in high expectation of Tuesday’s first-round action at the Generali Open in Kitzbühel, an ATP 250 clay-court event, with three Austrian players scheduled on Centre Court in the singles competition.
Local hero Alexander Erler caused the upset of the day by knocking out Spanish rising star Carlos Alcaraz, who clinched his maiden trophy on the ATP Tour last week in Umag. Innsbruck-born Erler capitalized on all four of his break-point opportunities and lost three service games. Winning four points more in an exciting encounter, the 22-year-old secured a 7-5, 1-6, 6-2 victory against the No. 10 seed after two hours and nine minutes.
“I believed in my chance from the beginning of the first point, because he played the final in Umag on Sunday and it was not easy for him to handle the conditions here. But he is the No. 55 in the world, so I am unbelievable happy that I won the match. The atmosphere with my home crowd and playing in front of my whole family was absolutely amazing,” World No. 337 Erler told the press after recording his first match win on the ATP Tour.
Asked about the difficult situation of earning ranking points on the ITF World Tennis Tour to enter tournaments at ATP Challenger or ATP Tour level, the wild card entry said: “I started the season with an ATP Ranking of about 450. After capturing two titles and winning 37 of 50 matches, I was ranked World No. 340, which enabled me only to enter some qualifying events on the Challenger Tour. But I kept the focus on my tennis to prove it at higher level and I feel so relieved that I used this great chance here in Kitzbühel.”
Erler will next play Mikael Ymer from Sweden.
Vilella-Martinez stops Neumayer
Austrian teenager Lucas Neumayer, who fought past Argentinian Juan Ignacio Londero and Lukas Rosol from the Czech Republic to qualify for his first main draw on the ATP Tour, faced lucky loser Mario Vilella Martinez from Spain. In a thrilling battle with both players scoring 114 points, 26-year-old Vilella Martinez sent down seven aces and broke his 18-year-old rival five times to seal a 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-4 win after two hours and 47 minutes. The World No. 167 will next challenge the tournament’s top seed Casper Ruud from Norway, who captured his third ATP title of the season in Gstaad last week.
Mager stuns Novak
Austria’s No. 2 and wild card entry Dennis Novak met Gianluca Mager. The 26-year-old Italian converted five of his 10 break-point chances and lost one service game to triumph 6-4, 6-0 in 58 minutes. The World No. 74 will next take on Spanish No. 4 seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
Rune moves on
Earlier on Centre Court, Danish qualifier Holger Rune faced 29-year-old Stefano Travaglia from Italy. The teenager, who clinched his maiden title on the ATP Challenger Tour in Biella last month, broke the World No. 88 four times by losing two service games to advance 6-3, 6-4 in 80 minutes.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) July 27, 2021
“It was an advantage to play two matches in the qualifying competition, getting used to the conditions here. The tournament and the courts here are amazing and today it was a great performance by my side, so I am very pleased,”18-year-old Rune said in his post-match press conference. The former junior’s World No. 1, who won the Roland Garros Junior Championship in 2019, will oppose Arthur Rinderknech from France in the next round.
Twenty-six year-old Rinderknech cruised past the tournament’s fifth favourite Federico Delbonis from Argentina in the first match on Court Kuchenmeister. The World No. 91 fired 10 aces and won 82 per cent of his first-service points against the 2016 Davis Cup champion to claim a 6-2- 6-4 victory in 87 minutes.
Altmaier continues good run of form
In-form Daniel Altmaier, who captured his maiden title on the ATP Challenger Tour in Braunschweig and reached the semi-finals at the ATP Tour 250 event in Umag last week, battled past Laslo Djere from Serbia. The current World No. 135 won six points more than his 26-year-old opponent to prevail 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 after two hours and 11 minutes.
Next up for the 22-year-old German will be Marco Cecchinato from Italy. The 2018 Roland Garros semi-finalist outpointed Moldovan veteran Radu Albot 76-62 to succeed 6-3, 7-6(7) after one hour and 38 minutes.
Second-round action in Kitzbühel will conclude on Wednesday, starting at 11 a.m. local time. The top four seeds will open their title bid after having a bye in the first round.