ATP Kitzbuhel: Ofner ousts Cuevas. Kohlschreiber and Lajovic march on

Tennis - Thomaz Bellucci defeated Jan-Lennard Struff while Renzo Olivo took down tired Horacio Zeballos

by Jovica Ilic
ATP Kitzbuhel: Ofner ousts Cuevas. Kohlschreiber and Lajovic march on

21-year-old Sebastian Ofner changed his career completely a month ago at Wimbledon, passing 3 qualifying rounds to reach his first main draw at the ATP level, advancing to the third round. Now, he will have a chance to compete in his first ever ATP quarter-final in front of the home crowd in Kitzbuhel after beating the top seed Pablo Cuevas 6-3 2-6 7-6 in exactly 2 hours. It was a very close match, getting more excited as it progressed, and they both finished with 91 points.

Sebastian served at only 45% but he served great, losing serve only twice from 3 break points that Cuevas had. Pablo had 10 aces but also 7 double faults, and he couldn't take advantage of his momentum gathered after the second set, as Ofner kept fighting in the decider.

Austrian took charge early on, he grabbed his lone break of the match in the second game to build a 3-0 lead, and he brought the set home easily from there, dropping just 5 points in 5 service games. Pablo had to save a break point in the third game of the second set and he started to play better after that, stealing rival's serve in games 4 and 8 for a 6-2, becoming the favorite for the overall triumph once again.

They saved the best tennis for the decider, Ofner sailed through his service games without having to play against the break points, and Cuevas fends off 2 in game 7 to stay on the right track, setting up a tie break that was to decide the winner.

Sebastian proved stronger, his serve didn't let him down (he let just 9 points in his games) and he scored two mini-breaks for a 4-1 lead, which was enough to get him over the finish line, taking the tie break 7-3. 2015 champion Philipp Kohlschreiber reached his 6th quarter-final of the season following a 6-3 6-3 win over the 7th seed Jiri Vesely in 66 minutes.

This was their 3rd meeting, the first since spring 2015, and German won them all, winning the last 6 sets against the Czech. Philipp was untouchable on his first serve, losing just 3 out of 32 points, and he saved all 3 break points to keep his serve intact and keep all the pressure on Jiri, who couldn't stand it. Vesely had a nightmare with his first serve, dropping just 40% in and he had to deal with 5 break points, losing serve 3 times.

It was a slow start from both players, Kohlschreiber had to save 2 break points in game 3 but only after breaking Jiri in the previous game, opening a 3-0 gap. Czech stopped further decline when he saved 2 break points in game 4 to get his name on the scoreboard, and they both served well in the following 4 games.

Philipp served for the set in the 9th game and he managed to deliver a hold, after saving a break point that could turn the things around if Vesely found the way to convert it. The second set was more fluid, with no more than 5 points in each game, and German was just too good, losing 2 points on serve and breaking Vesely at 15 in the first and final game for a commanding win and the place in the last 8, obviously feeling no signs of injury that forced him to retire in the semi-final of Hamburg on Saturday.

The second seed Fabio Fognini won his first title of the season in Gasttad last week and he stayed on the winning course today as well, ousting qualifier Miljan Zekic 6-4 6-4 in an hour and 20 minutes for his 5th quarter-final of the season.

Serb, who is ranked 316th, fought well, saving 6 out of 9 break points and breaking Italian once for a decent defeat in what was his most successful ATP tournament so far. Fabio made a solid start, breaking in games 3 and 7 for a 5-2 lead before Miljan pulled one break back, cutting the deficit to 5-4.

Fognini served for the set for the second time in game 10 and this time he delivered the better game, taking the opener 6-4 and moving closer to the finish line. In set number 2 he pushed even stronger on return, creating 7 break chances and converting just one.

That break came in game 3 and he kept it throughout the set, clinching the match after a deuce in game 10 for the place in the last 8. Second round results:



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Thomaz Bellucci Jan-Lennard Struff Renzo Olivo