Frenchmen Mathieu and De Schepper Headline 2015 ATP Kitzbuhel Qualifiers
Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
There was a double French celebration during the qualifying round of the Generali Open in Austria. The tournament is the final clay court event on the 2015 ATP Tour calendar.
Headlining the qualifying field was French world No.111 Paul-Henri Mathieu. The Frenchman entered the competition in impressive form following his successful run in Bastad, Sweden last month where he reached the quarter-final as a qualifier. In the main draw he produced wins over Jeremy Chardy and Ernests Gulbis. During the Kitzbuhel qualifying rounds, he beat Czech Republic’s Marek Michalička to set up a showdown with Spanish teenager Jaume Munar. The 18-year-old recently receive a wild-card entry into the ATP Hamburg German Open and reached the second round due to his opponent retiring. During his time in Hamburg, Munar demonstrated some impressive play to justify his wild-card, however he was unable to tame Mathieu in Austria. The top seed eased himself to a 6-4, 6-3, victory.
Accompanying Mathieu in the main draw will be his fellow countryman Kenny De Schepper. After two straightforward wins in the first two matches of qualifying, the 28-year-old endured an epic encounter against Spanish second seed Albert Montanes in the final round. Leading up to Kitzbuhel the Spaniard has lost to players ranked lower than him in the four previous tournaments. De Schepper was on the brink of exit as Montanes had two match points in the second set but failed to convert them. His failure was a catastrophe as Kenny valiantly battled to take the second set in the tie-break before edging his way to the win 3-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5.
Jan-Lennard Struff’s troublesome 2015 received a boost following his 6-2, 7-5, win against Jozef Kovalík. The German has played 22 main draw matches this year, but has only won 5 of them. Before his win over Kovalik, Struff defeated world No.197 Jordi Samper-Montana and Austrian wild-card Lenny Hampel. This is the second time this year that the German has produced three successive wins at the same tournaments. The first was at the ATP Heilbronn Challenger in Germany, where he reached the semi-final.
Finally, Brazilian world No.302 Rogerio Dutra Silva stunned sixth seed Carlos Berlocq to reach his second successive ATP Main draw. The Brazilian knocked out 4th seed Norbert Gombos in the first round followed by local player Pascal Brunner in the second. Despite a second set blip in which Silva trailed 4-0, the underdog held his nerve as he battled to the shock 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (3) victory after two hours and 40 minutes.
Main Draw Matches Featuring Qualifiers
Rogerio Dutra Silva vs. Santiago Giraldo: Giraldo leads the head-to-head 3-2. Their most recent meeting was in the first round of Houston this year where Giraldo won 6-2,6-2. Despite playing five previous meetings, in the past seven years they have only played each other twice.
Jan-Lennard Struff vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber: They have played each other three times since 2014 with Struff leading the head-to-head 2-1 due to Kohlschreiber retiring in one of their matches. Their latest meeting was at the start of the year in Doha where Struff won in three sets. They are also Davis Cup teammates for Germany.
Kenny de Schepper – Paul-Henri Mathieu: This is the first meeting between the two Frenchmen, Mathieu’s strong recent form likely gives him an edge.