Misolic Remains Alive in The Rainy Austrian Alps

Filip Misolic (photo: Brigitte Urban)

KITZBÜHEL/WASHINGTON, July 29, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

There’s something about Kitzbühel that has brought out the best in Filip Misolic this week in the Austrian Alps, rain or no rain. The 20-year-old, 205th-ranked player from Graz, Austria has reached his first ATP Tour semifinal in his tour-level debut. In a week that began with five Austrians in the main draw, now Misolic is the last Austrian standing on his home soil.

On Friday, Misolic eliminated World No. 80 Dusan Lajovic of Serbia, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3, in a rain-delayed quarterfinal final match that was moved from Thursday evening to Friday afternoon.

Later, Misolic’s incredible journey continued when he returned for his semifinal match against Germany’s 140th-ranked Yannick Hanfmann. However, Misolic ran into the rain, again. This time, after two hours and 17 minutes – and with the score tied 6-2, 2-6, 6-6 – rain forced the competitors off the court with Misolic leading in the decisive tie-break 1-0. They waited about two hours before they were sent home for the evening at 9 p.m.

Earlier, Misolic put away his two-hour, 22-minute quarterfinal victory after Lajovic double faulted on match point to advance against Hanfmann, who defeated Austria’s favorite son, former World No. 3 Dominic Thiem, in Thursday’s quarterfinal round.

Misolic, in his Kitzbühel debut and playing in just his third main-draw match, has shown much poise and determination. He recovered nicely after he was broken while serving for the match in the second set at 6-2, 5-4. Soon, he won the middle set in a tie-break.

Then, in the final set, Misolic broke from the outset and rode the advantage to the very end. He saved two break points to hold for 5-3, then remained steady in the 10-point final game of the match, in which the young Austrian prevailed.

Misolic finished his quarterfinal victory with four aces, won 71 percent of his first-serve points and converted three of 10 break points – two of them in the final set when it mattered the most.

“It feels amazing. I don’t have the words,” Misolic said during his on-court interview as he ran a towel through his sweat-soaked hair. “I want to thank everyone for supporting me.

“I was very nervous at the beginning but I managed to win the match. I gave everything I had. I’m happy to be playing in the semifinals.”

Bautista Agut reaches fourth final of season

At first, No. 3 seed Roberto Bautista Agut seemed to have things under control during his afternoon all-Spanish semifinal against No. 5 seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas. After all, he was ahead 6-3, 5-2 with a double-break lead in the second set.

Although Bautista-Agut was unable to convert any of the three match points he had serving for the win at 5-4 – which let his 52nd-ranked opponent back into the tussle – the 34-year-old World No. 20 recovered nicely. He won on his first match-point of the second-set tie-break to pull out a 6-3, 7-6 (3) victory that lifted him into his fourth title match of the season. He also became the 19th Spaniard to reach the singles final at Kitzbühel in the Open Era (since 1968).

“It was a really tough end,” Bautista Agut said of his two-hour, four-minute victory. “I served two times for the match but unfortunately, I could not win. At 5-4 I had three match points and he played very well. So, I’m very happy about this tough win on this surface.”

By reaching the Kitzbühel final and improving his career record in the Austrian Alps to 3-1, Bautista Agut has reached his first Tour final on clay since losing the 2018 title match at Gstaad to Matteo Berrettini. He will be vying for his second title of the season after winning his 10th career crown at Doha in February.

What Bautista won’t know until sometime on Saturday is who his title match opponent will be. That’s because Austrian wild card Filip Misolic and Yannick Hanfmann of Germany have to return to play their decisive third-set tie-break. Play was halted by rain with Misolic ahead 1-0 in the tie-break. After a nearly two-hour rain delay, the match was finally suspended for the night.

Misolic won the opening set 6-2 and Hanfmann put up a similar 6-2 score in his favor in the second set. The third set was a roller-coaster with each player breaking the other three times en route to setting up the tie-break at 6-all.

Around the Generali Open

• With Austrians Dominic Thiem and Filip Misolic on Thursday’s order of play, it meant that 6,300 spectators filled the Kitzbühel Tennis Center grounds, creating a lively Centre Court atmosphere. Among the celebrities visiting Centre Court were: Austrian ski jumping great Gregor Schlierenzauer, German Olympic champion ski racer Maria Höfl-Riesch, Austrian World Cup ski racer Nici Schmidhofer and Austria’s finance minister Magnus Brunner.

• Friday’s doubles semifinals paired No. 1 seeds Tim Puetz of Germany and Michael Venus of New Zealand against No. 3 seeds Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies, both of Germany, who have been a popular draw on Court Kuchenmeister all week, in one match.

The other was between two unseeded teams: Pedro Martinez of Spain and Lorenzo Sonego of Italy against Robin Haase of the Netherlands and Philipp Oswald of Austria.

In the first semifinal, it was the top seeds Puetz and Venus, who won 7-6 (6), 7-6 (0), to advance to Saturday’s title match. They outpointed Krawietz and Mies, 81-66, during the one-hour, 56-minute match.

The second semifinal was won by Martinez and Sonego in double-tie-break fashion, 7-6 (9), 7-6 (2), in an hour and 55 minutes.

Friday’s Generali Open results

Saturday’s General Open order of play

By the numbers

On Friday, Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic appeared in his fifth Kitzbühel quarterfinal in seven main-draw appearances (2015 QF, 2016 SF, 2016 QF, 2018 QF, 2022 QF).

Quotable …”

“My game has become more passive from day to day. I didn’t quite manage to release the handbrake, but of course it’s really, really bitter to lose the match. By my standards, there have been a lot of matches in the last few weeks and then the game just got a little weaker, which is a normal process.”

Dominic Thiem of Austria, during his post-match press conference, in describing his three-set quarterfinal loss to Yannick Hanfmann of Germany Thursday evening.