KITZBUHEL/WASHINGTON, July 25, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)
The European summer clay swing continues this week with the return of the Generali Open in scenic Kitzbühel, Austria, nestled in the Tyrolean Alps.
Home of one of the most picturesque venues on the ATP Tour, Kitzbühel welcomes back Dominic Thiem, who will make his ninth appearance overall and won the ATP 250 clay-court title in 2019. The 28-year-old Thiem returns to Kitzbühel for the first time in three years, after a quarterfinal run two weeks ago in Bastad, Sweden followed by reaching the semifinals at Gstaad, Switzerland last week.
Thiem, whose ranking jumped 75 places in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings to No. 199, will face 157th-ranked lucky loser Alexander Shevchenko of Russia in a featured opening-round match on Tuesday evening. Since recently returning from a lengthy wrist injury, Thiem’s game seems headed in the right direction – his attitude is positive – and he’s certainly expected to be one of the prime box office attractions in Kitzbühel this week.
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This year, Thiem is one of five Austrians comprising the 28-player main draw field that was shaken up with the last-minute withdrawals of Swiss Open champion and defending Kitzbühel champion Casper Ruud of Norway and Gstaad runner up Matteo Berrettini of Italy (fatigue) on Sunday.
Joining Thiem among the Austrian singles contingent are: wild cards Jurij Rodionov (ranked 145th) and Filip Misolic (No. 205) as well as qualifiers Sebastian Ofner (ranked 235th) and Gerald Melzer (No. 188).
With Ruud and Berrettini removed from the main draw, it means that No. 3 seed Roberto Baustista Agut of Spain is the highest seed in the field, followed by No. 4 Aslan Karatsev of Russia, No. 5 Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain and No. 6 Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands. The remaining seeds include: No. 7 Pedro Martinez of Spain, No. 8 Joäo Sousa of Portugal, No. 9 Lorenzo Sonego of Italy and No. 10 Richard Gasquet of France.
Bautista Agut is a 10-time winner on the ATP Tour, including a title-winning triumph in Doha earlier this year. However, he’s not won a title on clay since Stuttgart in 2014. Among the non-seeded players who could contend is 71st-ranked Cristian Garin of Chile, who is a five-time tour-level titlist on clay and enjoyed a run to the Wimbledon quarterfinals on grass last month. Also, 20-year-old Czech Jiri Lehecka, ranked 68th, who reached the second round before losing to Ruud at Gstaad, is an up-and-coming player and might be ready to make a good run.
Around the Generali Open
• Four qualifiers and three lucky losers emerged from the weekend qualifying draw to make the 28-player main draw. The qualifiers are: Austrians Gerald Melzer and Sebastian Ofner, Hernan Casanova of Argentina and Vit Kopriva of the Czech Republic. The lucky losers elevated were: Daniel Dutra da Silva of Brazil, Alexander Shevchenko of Russia and Vitaliy Sachko of Ukraine.
• Tim Puetz of Germany and Michael Venus of New Zealand are the No. 1 seeds in the 16-team doubles draw. They will open play Monday against Austrian wild cards Lukas Neumayer and Sebastian Ofner. The defending champions, Alexander Erler and Lucas Miedler, both from Austria, are back to defend their 2021 title.
The doubles draw also includes Germans Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies (seeded third) and Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen, both of Belgium (seeded fourth). The No. 2 seeds Rohan Bopanna of India and Matwe Middelkoop of the Netherlands, who were finalists at the Hamburg European Open Sunday, withdrew and will be replaced by an alternate team.
By the numbers
Thomas Muster (1993) and Dominic Thiem are the only Austrians who have won the Kitzbühel singles crown since the start of the Open Era in 1968. Since 2000, the tournament has been won five times by players from Argentina and four times by Spaniards.
“I’m very happy to be here and to have received the wild card. I hope I can show what I’m capable of. Regardless of whether you are a qualifier or already in the main competition, you always have to do your best. The qualifiers have already played here twice and adjusted well to the conditions. I’ll watch from match to match.”
– Filip Misolic of Austria, ranked 205th, who received a wild card into the main draw and will oppose lucky loser Daniel Dutra da Silva of Brazil in Monday’s first round.