ATP Kitzbuhel: Sonego, Bachinger and Chardy prevail in marathon clashes


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ATP Kitzbuhel: Sonego, Bachinger and Chardy prevail in marathon clashes

The opening day of the ATP 250 event in Kitzbuhel, the last one on clay in 2019, brought a couple of marathon matches and one of the longest three-setters over the previous ten years on the Tour. Roberto Carballes Baena was the quarter-finalist in Bastad and Gstaad and there is a positive start for him in Kitzbuhel as well, beating Hugo Dellien 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and 48 minutes for the 16th ATP win of the season.

The Spaniard won three points more than his rival, fending off five out of eight break points and delivering five breaks of serve to have the upper hand in sets two and three. Hugo controlled the pace in the opener with three straight breaks before Roberto took charge in the second, dropping five points behind the initial shot and securing a break in game two that carried him towards the set and the decider.

There, Carballes Baena broke in games three and five to open up the gap, sealing the deal with a hold at 5-2 to propel himself into the last 16. In one of the most extended best-of-three clashes in recent years, the 7th seed Lorenzo Sonego saved eight match points to topple Federico Delbonis 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 in three hours and 36 minutes!

The Argentine took seven points more than the Italian and despite those numerous chances to seal the deal it wasn't to be for him, suffering one of the worst defeats in a career. Delbonis faced only six break points in the entire duel and suffered four breaks, securing the same number from 16 chances on the other side, staying neck and neck with Sonego in what seemed to be the never-ending encounter.

Six of those eight breaks came in the first set where Federico squandered a 4-0 advantage, allowing Sonego to break back at 3-5 and steal the set in the tie break 7-4. They traded breaks in games seven and eight in set number two, heading into another tie break that Delbonis grabbed 7-4 to force a decider some two hours and 15 minutes since the first point.

The final set turned to be the longest one, spreading for more than 80 minutes and delivering an ultimate drama and excitement. After an incredible turnaround, Federico managed to lose the set despite dropping four points behind the initial shot and stealing 25 points on the return!

Barely winning a point on the return, Sonego had to dig deep in his games, fending off four match points at 4-5 and another four at 5-6 to reach the tie break that he won 7-4 with a single mini-breaks in the first point, celebrating an incredible triumph and moving into round two despite being on the verge of defeat for some 15 minutes!

In another three-tie break encounter, a qualifier Matthias Bachinger ousted the defending champion Martin Klizan 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 in two hours and 57 minutes, scoring the second win over the Slovak in their first battle since Umag 2012!

The German fired 19 aces and saved six out of nine break points, securing three breaks from 11 chances to match Klizan's pace and overpower him in the pivotal moments for the third ATP win in 2019. Martin was 5-3, and 6-5 in front in the opener, losing serve in the worst moments to drop the tie break 7-5, bouncing back in set number two that offered no breaks, taking it in the tie break 7-5 to prolong the battle.

In the decider, Bachinger couldn't keep a 4-1 advantage, wasting the match point at 5-4 and fending off three break points at 5-5 to reach the tie break that he won 7-4 to move over the top and dethrone the Slovak. In the battle of the home players with a wild card, Dennis Novak ousted Jurij Rodionov 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 11 minutes, losing 14 points on serve and never facing a break point.

On the other hand, he stole Rodionov's serve once in each set to march into the second round and notch the third ATP win in 2019. Jeremy Chardy took down the struggling Italian Marco Cecchinato 7-6, 7-5 in an hour and 46 minutes, giving serve away four times and securing five breaks to wrap up the win in straight sets.

Chardy led 5-1 in the opener and wasted two set points in the next game before Cecchinato staged a comeback, leveling the score at 5-5 and squandering four set points in the tie break that Chardy eventually grabbed 10-8. The Italian led 5-3 in set number two before dropping four straight games, propelling Chardy into the last 16 and experiencing the tenth loss in the previous 11 matches.