Read & Watch: Klizan Charges To Kitzbühel Crown
In just the second all-qualifier final since the ATP World Tour was established in 1990 (also Sydney 2015), Martin Klizan captured his sixth tour-level title, beating Denis Istomin 6-2, 6-2 at the Generali Open on Saturday.
"I think my performance today was the best of the tournament," said Klizan. "There was pressure for both of us... I did a great job today and I deserved to win. I played a very solid game."
Klizan won 78 per cent of first-serve points and converted each of his four break-point opportunities to secure victory after 68 minutes. The Bratislava-native equals Ernests Gulbis' record for most championship match victories without a loss (6-0) in the history of the ATP World Tour. Klizan has now won four of his six tour-level titles on clay after success in Munich (2014), Casablanca (2015) and Hamburg (2016).
"Sometimes in the finals I was lucky, sometimes it was hard work and sometimes I was better on court. You never know what is going to happen," said Klizan. "I am just happy to have that kind of statistic, winning six titles from six finals. In doubles, I have four titles from four finals... It is very good and I am very proud."
Klizan becomes the fifth qualifier to capture a tour-level trophy this year, joining Daniil Medvedev (Sydney), Mirza Basic (Sofia), Roberto Carballes Baena (Quito) and Nikoloz Basilashvili (Hamburg). Marco Cecchinato claimed his maiden title in Budapest as a lucky loser. Klizan defeated two seeded players during his week in Austria, including home favourite and top seed Dominic Thiem in the second round.
Istomin was bidding to capture a third title in five tour-level finals. The 31-year-old lifted his second trophy at the Chengdu Open last September.
"It was a great week for me, it is just so sad that I could not show my best game and a good fight in the final," said Istomin. "[Klizan] played very well today, so there were not so many chances to break him... I am still really happy to be a finalist in Kitzbühel."
Klizan wasted little time establishing an early lead, taking the initiative behind his second-serve return with heavy groundstrokes from both wings. The 29-year-old forced Istomin into a series of backhand errors with heavy hitting to earn a double-break lead before converting his second set point after 32 minutes.
Solid play from Klizan at the baseline extracted back-to-back errors from Istomin who, once again, surrendered his second and third service games in the second set. Klizan relaxed from there, using a mixture of power and finesse to cruise to victory. The World No. 112 served out the match to love, forcing Istomin into one final error after a powerful cross-court backhand.
Klizan receives 250 ATP Ranking points and collects €89,435 in prize money for lifting the trophy. Istomin gains 150 ATP Ranking points and €47,105.
Did You Know?
Both of Klizan's FedEx ATP Head2Head victories against Denis Istomin (2-1) have come on title-winning runs as a qualifier. Klizan also defeated Istomin en route to winning the 2014 BMW Open by FWU in Munich.