Rodionov To Face Lehecka For Mauthausen Challenger Title

Jurij Rodionov


Home favourite Jurij Rodionov and Jiri Lehecka from the Czech Republic will play the singles final of the inaugural Danube Upper Austria Open in Mauthausen.

Rodionov defeated Hungarian Mate Valkusz 6-2, 6-4 on Saturday. The 22-year-old Austrian found his rhythm right from the start and gained an early 2-0 lead but Valkusz was able to equalize at 2-2. Then, Rodionov improved his performance, won spectacular rallies and took the opening set.

In the second set, Rodionov set the tone early again with a break, but was confronted with a special situation, as the Hungarian was still slightly injured from the day before and served underhanded with a lot of spin the whole second set. During the rallies Valkusz didn’t seem to be handicapped. The World No. 157 mastered the challenge with flying colors, held his serve and prevailed after one hour and 20 minutes.

“It was anything but easy today, especially mentally it was very difficult,” Rodionov said. “You’re not used to someone serving underhand for an entire set. When the balls come with spin, you always think to yourself: He doesn’t have a serve, I have to break him immediately. Right at the beginning I was standing somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Luckily I did it once, which was enough. I noticed at the beginning that he was still a bit injured from yesterday. But I stuck to my match plan and deserved to win.”

Later in the afternoon, Lehecka defeated eighth-seeded Austrian Dennis Novak 6-2, 6-3. The No. 2 seed of the €90,280 ATP Challenger clay-court event saved the only break point he faced and capitalized on all of his own three break-point chances to advance after 65 minutes.

Lehecka and Rodionov will meet for the first time. The 20-year-old Czech is seeking his third Challenger career crown, his first of the season. Rodionov is bidding for his fifth trophy, his second of 2022 following his triumph in Biel, Switzerland in late March.

Dutchmen prevail in doubles

Earlier in the day, Sander Arends and David Pel captured the doubles title. The all-Dutch tandem defeated Johannes Haerteis from Germany and Benjamin Hassan of Lebanon 6-4, 6-3. The encounter lasted one hour and four minutes.

“We are very happy today because we had an incredible week. We were both struggling physically, but luck was on our side today and a lot went our way,” said Pel.

“It’s just unbelievable,” Arends added. “David got injured in the first round. He’s shown incredible will, luckily it got a little better as the week went on. But now we have to take a little break to get fully fit again. But you have seen that there is a solution for everything in life, no matter how difficult the conditions are. That stayed with us all week. I’m very happy that we were able to win the title.”

By winning their seventh ATP Challenger team title, their second of the season, Arends and Pel split €5,250 in prize money and earned 100 ATP Doubles Ranking points.