Istomin To Meet Klizan In All-Qualifier Kitzbühel Final
Denis Istomin will face fellow qualifier Martin Klizan in the first all-qualifier ATP World Tour final in three and a half years after beating Nicolas Jarry 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-4 at the Generali Open on Friday.
Following in the footsteps of Viktor Troicki and Mikhail Kukushkin, who contested the first all-qualifier championship match at the 2015 Sydney International, Istomin edged Jarry in two hours and 36 minutes. The 31-year-old owns a 2-2 record in tour-level finals, winning his second ATP World Tour trophy in his most recent final appearance at the Chengdu Open in September 2017.
"I'm happy to be in the final and I am happy with my game," said Istomin. "I think the altitude [in Kitzbühel] is good for me as well, it helps with my serve and my groundstrokes... I feel good."
Istomin, now 14-14 at tour-level in 2018, saved five of six break points and won 76 per cent of first-serve points against the Chilean, who was competing in his second tour-level semi-final in as many weeks. Jarry defeated top seed Dominic Thiem en route to the last four in Hamburg last week (l. to Basilashvili).
Istomin has defeated two seeded players in Austria this week, upsetting two-time champion Philipp Kohlschreiber and sixth seed Maximilian Marterer in successive matches. The World No. 95 had never previously reached a clay-court championship match at tour-level.
Klizan confirmed his place in the championship match alongside Istomin after one hour and 41 minutes, beating #NextGenATP Spaniard Jaume Munar 7-6(3), 6-3. The 29-year-old edged a tight first set before converting three of four break-point chances against the first-time tour-level semi-finalist to emerge victorious.
Klizan, who also reached the semi-finals in 2012, owns a 6-2 record in Kitzbühel. The five-time tour-level titlist is tied at 1-1 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Istomin, winning their most recent meeting en route to the 2014 BMW Open by FWU title.
"Anything can happen," said Klizan. "It is a new match and Denis is a great player... It is going to be very important and there will be big pressure but I like to play under pressure. It is going to be a good match for the crowd as well. Denis is a very talented guy [and a] risky player. I am looking forward to playing the final."
Jebavy/Molteni Earn Breakthrough
Roman Jebavy and Andres Molteni reached their first tour-level final as a duo, overcoming fourth seeds Tim Puetz and Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6(4), 6-3. Jebavy and Molteni, who are yet to drop a set this week, saved 11 of 12 break points to secure victory after 77 minutes.
The Czech-Argentine tandem will face Daniele Bracciali and Federico Delbonis for the title. Bracciali and Delbonis were leading 6-2, 3-0 when Jurgen Melzer and Philipp Petzschner (left leg) were forced to retire. Former champion Bracciali is bidding to win his second crown in two weeks after ending a seven-year tour-level title drought in Gstaad last week (w/Berrettini).
Did You Know?
Martin Klizan is undefeated in tour-level championship matches (5-0).