The post-Wimbledon clay swing ends this week in Kitzbuhel, Austria with clay specialists hoping to squeeze the remaining available points at ATP level before reverting to the Challenger circuit. Former winners Robin Haase, Marcel Granollers and Andreas Seppi are amongst those taking part this week.
Top seed Phillip Kohlschreiber has not won the tournament before but he was a losing finalist in 2012. He will open against David Goffin or Kenny de Schepper after a first round bye. Goffin has been dominant on the Challenger circuit in the past 3 weeks, winning titles in Poznan, Schevingen and Tampere. He defeated de Schepper in their only meeting but a second round clash against Kohlschreiber will represent a massive step up.
Pablo Andujar comes into this tournament on the back of a surprise title in Gstaad, defeating doubles partner Juan Monaco in the final. He faces an opponent who hasn’t played since Wimbledon in Jurgen Melzer. Two times winner Robin Haase caps off the first quarter where he faces Paolo Lorenzi. Haase won in 2011 and 2012 but failed to threepeat after losing to eventual winner Granollers in the semis.
The draw worked out well for the organisers with an Austrian confirmed in round two to play third seed Lukas Rosol. Andreas Haider Maurer will hopefully have recovered from the issue to that required him to retire in Gstaad in time to play Gerald Melzer. Melzer lost his first ATP match of 2014 last week in Gstaad after winning three straight to qualify.
Pablo Carreno Busta has a friendly route to the quarter finals on paper with two qualifiers standing between him and the last eight. The first of them is Maximo Gonzalez who has three Challenger titles this year (Blois, Padova, Santos) with either Albert Ramos-Vinolas or Victor Galovic in the second round. Ramos is now back in the top 100 while Galovic plays his first ATP main draw match without even many Challenger matches to his name.
Jarkko Nieminen dropped to the Challenger tour to play Tampere but was unable to end the streak of Goffin in the final. The seventh seed is 3-0 against Teymuraz Gabashvili whom he plays in round one. Unseeded Juan Monaco has had a tough year and fell outside of the top 100 prior to making the final in Gstaad. He faces Andrey Golubev, who was one of two players to suffer defeat to the returning Viktor Troicki in Gstaad.
Andreas Seppi won this tournament in 2010, when it was demoted to the Challenger tour for one year. The Italian faces either Pere Riba or Dustin Brown in round two. Riba has just a 2-6 record on clay on the main tour this year, with one of the wins coming over Jiri Vesely last week in Umag. Brown’s season has been up and down as you’d expect from someone of his style of play but a good day should see him pick up a win against Riba at the third time of asking.
Marcel Granollers won the title last year despite losing the first set 0-6 to Monaco. The Spaniard begins his title against either the diminuitive Diego Schwartzmann or Alexander Zverev. After making the semi finals in Hamburg, 17 year old Zverev came back down to earth with a loss to the experienced Albert Montanes.
Dominic Thiem lost to Troicki in the Serbian’s first match back after his doping ban despite holding a break lead in both sets. An opener against Joao Souza looks straight forward on paper with either Jan Lennard Struff or Jiri Vesely in round two. Vesely had shown promise this year but a 0-3 run on clay after Wimbledon is highly disappointing for the Czech who should be doing better.
SF: Philipp Kohlschreiber def. Pablo Carreno Busta
SF: Marcel Granollers def. Andreas Seppi
F: Philipp Kohlschreiber def. Marcel Granollers