The final of the 2018 edition of Koblenz Challenger will feature two tall players with booming serves and powerful groundstrokes, as Kenny De Schepper and Mats Moraing claimed semi-final wins to set the title match. The 6th seed from France will seek his 6th Challenger title from 11 finals and the first since Como in August 2016. Kenny took down Ilya Ivashka from Belarus by 3-6 7-5 6-4 in a floating 1 hour and 41 minutes, in what has been a very tight contest from start to finish.
There were only 7 break points in the entire match and we saw 2 breaks of serve on each side, with De Schepper scoring the crucial one in the opening game of the final set to keep the lead until the end. Ivashka was firing on all cylinders in the opening set, losing just 3 points on serve and earning 2 breaks for a 6-3.
He broke De Schepper at love in the third game with a forehand drop shot winner and again in game 9, sealing the set with a volley winner. Kenny started to play better in set number 2 and the returners won just 7 points in the opening 10 games, keeping the players locked up at 5-5.
Ivasha dropped just 7 points on serve in his first 9 service games but he crumbled in game 11 to get broken at love. De Schepper moved in front with a great forehand return and he closed the set in the following game with a forehand winner to set up a decider.
The momentum was on his side and he used it with both hands, breaking at the start of the third set with a forehand return winner to make the crucial step towards the victory. He was in a great rhythm on serve and Ilya failed to create a break point that could potentially prolong the match and keep him in touch.
The Frenchman earned the win with a hold at love in game 10, blasting a backhand winner to reach the title match. 25-year-old Mats Moraing made a great progress at the start of 2018, reaching the Bangkok Challenger final as a qualifier and the semi-final in the following week to move closer to the Top 200.
He will enter that group for the first time on Monday 29th after advancing to his second Challenger final in front of the home crowd, beating the 3rd seed Sergiy Stakhovsky by 6-4 6-3 in an hour and 12 minutes. Tall German blasted 16 aces and he kept everything under control in his games, saving both break points he faced and winning 40% of the return to holding Sergiy out from the comfort zone.
The Ukrainian lost serve 3 times from 5 opportunities he offered to Moraing and that was all the left-hander needed to close the match and get another chance to win his first Challenger crown (he won 8 Futures). It was a tight opener and the returners had no chances until game 8 when Moraing saved a break point with a lucky net cord.
That switched the fortune to his side and he broke in the following game when Sergiy netted a forehand, serving for the opener in the following game. He clinched the set with a service winner and he looked pumped to continue in the same way in the rest of the match.
Stakhovsky had a chance to grab an early lead in set number 2 but Moraing saved it with his 10th ace, sailing through the remaining service games to keep the pressure on the other side of the net. Another lucky net cord gave Mats a break in the 5th game and he scored another one in game 9 when Sergiy sent a forehand into the net to notch another nice win in front of the home crowd. Semi-final results: