ATP Stuttgart

ATP Stuttgart: Fognini Captures First Career ATP Title

(July 14, 2013) In the morning of the final day at the Mercedes Cup, tournament director Edwin Weindorfer reported a positive outcome of this year’s tennis event in Stuttgart.

“With about 44,000 spectators who have attended the tournament throughout the week, we achieved a new record in terms of visitor numbers. This is very important for us … (and) a milestone for the Mercedes Cup,” Weindorfer announced.

WeindorferHe also added three reasons for this boom: “We did the same job like the years before but also tried to improve the tournament every time. The weather was great during the week, a thing which is impossible to control, and of course, Tommy Haas has fostered the sale of tickets in preparation of the tournament. He didn’t make it to the final but with Philipp Kohlschreiber, we had another German in the draw until the end of the week.

Weindorfer is also convinced that top 10 players will return again to the Weissenhof club once the tournament makes its transition to grass.

“That’s the reason why we made this decision (to switch from clay to grass). We already have the commitment from the players to participate here in 2015. So we will not see a player like Rafael Nadal here in 2014, but hopefully one year later.”

Tennis action started with the doubles final where the first-time pairing of Facundo Bagnis and Thomaz Bellucci faced the Polish tandem of Tomasz Bednarek and Mateusz Kowalczyk.

The Argentine-Brazilian combination played their first career ATP World Tour doubles final and they have had a good run in Stuttgart so far, eliminating the top and fourth seeded teams in the draw.

After defeating the tournament’s second seed in the first round, the Poles on the other hand benefited from a walkover into the final. Bednarek and Kowalczyk also had the better start into today’s encounter.

Bagnis lost his serve twice in the opening set, which went in favor of the Poles with a score of 6-2 after 25 minutes. The turning point of the match took place in the sixth game of the second set when Kowalczyk missed a forehand volley and therewith the chance to gain a break and a possible 4-2 lead. The inevitable happened as Bednarek lost his serve in the following game and Bellucci closed the set out in the tenth game.

In the match tiebreak, the South Americans saved one match point before they eventually celebrated their victory with the help of a double fault, winning the third set 11-9.

Bednarek & Kowalczyk Doubles ceremony Bagnis & Bellucci IIIn the singles final, the tournament’s second seed Philipp Kohlschreiber, who had a short practice session with Markus Wislsperger two hours before the match including some tennis-football, eyed his fifth career ATP World Tour title. The German reached his third final of the year with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Victor Hanescu yesterday and another victory in straight sets against Gael Monfils in the quarterfinals, which represented his 100th career clay court win.

Kohlschreiber warming upConversely, Fabio Fognini was aiming for his first career title on the ATP World Tour. The Italian previously played two finals before but lost both in Bucharest and St. Petersburg last year. Fognini has played a solid clay court season so far with good results like reaching the semifinals at the ATP Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo and he also achieved his personal best result in Roland Garros by reaching the third round. Here in Stuttgart, the fourth seed reached the final without losing a set including victories over top seed Tommy Haas and Roberto Bautista-Agut.

In the beginning of the match, both players had some problems finding their rhythm and showed inconsistent performances plenty of nervous unforced errors. In the first six games, both players broke each other’s service four times. In the twelfth game, it was Kohlschreiber, who gained the decisive break to take the first set after 45 minutes of play.

KohlschreiberWith the beginning of the second set, Fognini improved his groundstrokes and took an early break in the first game. In the following game, the 26-year-old from San Remo was able to defend the advantage until the end of the set to serve it out in the tenth game.

The quality of the match improved with better rallies and more emotions on court. Fognini broke serve in the third game of the final set as well as the in the fifth. The German had a chance to gain one break back and the atmosphere on center court heated up but it didn’t help.

The Italian sealed the victory winning 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 after two hours and six minutes to finally claim his maiden title on the ATP World Tour.

“I’m really really happy playing like this during the entire week here to finally win my first title. I knew that I had to be careful when Philipp gained the break back. I tried to stay calm and just thought of my next service game. This is what worked for me!” stated a visibly excited Fognini.

Fognini II Fognini III

With the win, the Italian earned €74,000 in prize money, and of course, the coveted Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG, ‘Edition 1’ car. The white Mercedes was driven on court by Henri Leconte, who won the tournament in 1984.

LeconteAlthough it happened to be the birthday of the Italian’s girlfriend, Fognini didn’t seem to be willing to give it to her as a present.

“I think we can share it,” he laughed. “The car will stay at home, so she will have the opportunity to use it but I also want to enjoy some rides with my friends in my town.”

Fognini inside the car

ATP Stuttgart: Kohlschreiber to Take on Fognini in Final; Mercedes Cup to Switch to Grass

(July 13, 2013) Another sunny and hot day in Stuttgart began with a fully-packed program off the courts.

In the morning, the organizers of the Mercedes Cup presented their “Vision 2015”, the year when the tournament’s surface will switch from clay to grass. Themed by “Mercedes Cup serves green”, a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony took place with tournament director Edwin Weindorfer along local politicians, sponsors, guests like Boris Becker and Toni Nadal as well as officials from the ATP and the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, which supports the replacement at the venue with their know-how during the coming years.

Ground breaking Ground breaking II“We were delighted when Stuttgart came very fast out of blocks in terms of expressing their interest in converting the tournament here from clay to grass,” said the club’s Chairman, Philip Brook. “We are very excited as Stuttgart will be a very important tournament ahead of the All England Championships.”

The Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart has been the only candidate so far, where the ATP accepted the tender for the new calendar structure featuring a three weeks grass court season before Wimbledon. Other applicants like the tournaments in Gstaad and Umag have to readjust their candidature.

Laurent Delanney of the ATP congratulated the tournament on their decision: “I think it is a great success for Stuttgart and the fans!” Right after the end of this year’s edition of the Mercedes Cup the alteration work on the first three courts will start.

Delanney CEO ATP EuropeAnother off-court highlight was a tennis practice session for kids on Centre Court under the special direction of Toni Nadal and Andrea Petkovic.

Practice session with Petkovic & NadalThe Spanish coach has attended the entire week here in Stuttgart to take part in a project called “Making of a Wimbledon Champion.” Moreover, a junior tournament took place with a couple of German youngsters in which the 18-year-old Maximilian Marterer took the title. Properly more important for him is the fact that he will be granted a wild card for the 2015 grass court premiere of the tournament.

In match play, the first contest of the day took place between Fabio Fognini and Roberto Bautista-Agut. The Italian, who knocked out top-seed Tommy Haas in the round before, played his 11th career ATP World Tour semi-final of which he only reached three previous finals.

Bautista-Agut played his second career semi-final after reaching the stage of the last four in Chennai earlier this year. Today, both players made a nervous start and the match began with three breaks in a row. Fognini, however, managed to find his rhythm quickly. The Italian had better length in his shots, put more variety in his groundstrokes and became the more dominant player throughout the match.

Fognini gained two more breaks in the fifth and seventh game to close the first set out after 22 minutes. Bautista on the other hand remained to be an unforced error machine in the second frame as well. Consequently the 25-year-old Spaniard lost his first service game and was only able to hold one after 35 minutes in the fourth game of the second set. It was the time when you might have thought that this could work as a wake-up-call for Bautista, as he could gain the break back in the seventh game but still couldn’t stabilise his play in general. Most of the time Fognini just needed to keep the ball in play to win the rallies.

The 26-year-old Italian broke serve in the eighth game to close the match out winning 6-1, 6-3 after 55 minutes. Fognini has joined his countryman Andrea Gaudenzi as only the second Italian to reach the final in Stuttgart since 1994.

FogniniAfter the encounter, Fognini was understandably happy. “During the first days it was difficult with the transition from grass to clay court but I improved day by day,” said the Italian. “Today, I think I played very solid and I hope to play like this in tomorrow’s final.”

He also told his thoughts about playing on grass here in two years time. “It’s strange and I can’t really imagine it by now. When you have a look around everything is red but when I come back in two years it will be on grass and that’s ok, as I like the courts and the hospitality.”

Fognini IIHe also enjoyed playing in front of the German crowd, which seems to like his style of play and supports him, but he was quick to note his next opponent’s advantage. “If I play Kohlschreiber in tomorrow’s final, I think it will change but nonetheless I hope that I can finally win my first title on the Tour”.

In tomorrow’s final Fognini will have to face the German. Philipp Kohlschreiber broke a five-match losing streak against Gael Monfils yesterday and continued his success today defeating Victor Hanescu in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3.

In front of a fully packed centre court with 4,200 spectators, the 29-year-old from Augsburg showed a consistent baseline game, broke his opponent’s service in the fifth and ninth game of the opening set. In the following game, Kohlschreiber had to fight harder and it became an even encounter when Hanescu played up his game.

In the end it was the second seed, who gained the decisive break in the eighth game to eventually close the match out after 80 minutes of play. Kohlschreiber becomes the first German to reach the final in Stuttgart after Tommy Haas did so in 1999.

KohlschreiberKohlschreiber was glad that he was able to stick to his game tactic. “I played aggressively with a lot of spin in my shots,” said the German after his win. “That’s what (Hanescu) obviously didn’t like. I’m really satisfied with my performance today and that I could win the decisive points.”

About his opponent in the final he added, “Fognini has played a strong season so far this year, in particular on clay where he reached the semis in Monte Carlo amongst others. I think there will be no favourite in tomorrow’s final.”

Kohlschreiber also mentioned the Mercedes for the champion with a smile, “Maybe the possibility of winning the car might be the right incentive for me.”

In the second doubles semi-final Facundo Bagnis & Tomaz Bellucci defeated Dustin Brown & Paul Hanley winning 6-7, 6-4, 10-6 after one hour and thirty minutes of play.

Bagnis & Bellucci