Kohlschreiber Claims Second Kitzbühel Crown
In what was the final clay-court match of the year on the ATP World Tour, Kohlschreiber dismissed Joao Sousa 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 22 minutes to take his eighth tour-level title. It was an emotional victory for the 33 year old, who was forced to retire from his Hamburg semi-final just one week ago with a leg injury.
But Kohlschreiber would bounce back strong in Kitzbühel, fighting back from a set down to defeat Dusan Lajovic in the quarters and ousting Gstaad champion Fabio Fognini in the semis before downing Sousa on Saturday. The local resident, who rides his bike to the site all week during the tournament, previously lifted the trophy in 2015 (d. Mathieu).
"It was an amazing week for me," said Kohlschreiber. "I never expected to win this title when the tournament started. I really enjoy playing here, it is such a nice event. Everyone is doing a great job and the crowd loves to come here.
"I started to play more aggressive and offensive tennis. He is a very good mover on the court. He's a great fighter and takes the ball early, so I tried to play faster and more aggressive. I was also very focused in the crucial moments and he was at 30/0 both times I broke him."
On a sunny Saturday afternoon, in the shadow of the famous Hahnenkamm Mountain in the Austrian Alps, Kohlschreiber would rally from a break down in both sets to overcome Sousa. A chipped forehand that landed wide gave the Portuguese the initial break for 2-1 in the first set, but his German opponent stormed back to snatch the opener, reeling five of the next six games.
Sousa was once again on the front foot in the second set, edging ahead 3-1, but could not maintain the advantage, as Kohlschreiber broke back immediately and cruised to the finish line. He would take his first championship point as a Sousa backhand sailed wide.
It marked the fourth consecutive year in which Kohlschreiber has won an ATP World Tour title. He earns €85,945 in prize money and 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points, rising a projected 10 spots to World No. 37. Following two defeats to open their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, Kohlschreiber has rebounded to draw level with Sousa at 2-2. He most recently earned a three-set win at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle last month.
Sousa, meanwhile, takes home €45,265 in prize money and 150 Emirates ATP Rankings points for reaching his ninth ATP World Tour final. The 28 year old was bidding for his third title and first since 2015, when he triumphed in Valencia.
"Even if I lost today it was a great week," said Sousa. "I haven't been playing that well for a while, so I'm very happy with how I played here in Kitzbühel. Philipp was the better man today and deserves to win the title. He played great tennis."