It was kind of symbolic: shortly after Philipp Kohlschreiber threw his arms up in the air, he tapped his head with his racket twice. Why? Because his quarter-final victory against the Argentinean Nicolas Kicker was a mere mental issue. It took the German two and a half hours to close the match. Kohlschreiber’s use of the word “insane” says it all.
At the beginning it didn’t even look as it would turn out such a dramatic duel. The 33-year old Kohlschreiber got off to a brilliant start. He broke his opponent twice in the first minutes and was up 5-1 after not even half an hour. What happened then will probably remain “Kohli’s” secret. Because only shortly after the score read 6-5 for Kicker. But Kohlschreiber gathered all his energy and won the tiebreak.
Although also the second set was extremely balanced advantages for the Argentinean became apparent early in the set. He managed the deciding break and won the set 6-4. A new start. The third set, however, started extremely bad for Kohlschreiber, who immediately lost his serve. More importantly, at 1-2 he had to get treated on his thigh. “Somehow the muscle tightened,” he explained. “Actually, I didn’t want to take an injury break because I always think it’s a bit unfair, but in this case I needed the break and the compression bandage – especially for the mind.”
Pushed by more than 8500 spectators on the “Centre Court of the World” he started a comeback. In the end, the player from Augsburg won his rubber 7-6, 4-6, 6-4 and made it to the semi-final at Rothenbaum for the second time after 2014.
The match between Florian Mayer and Diego Schwartzman was also quite awkward. The German was up 6-2 after only 30 minutes and barely half an hour later the Argentinean levelled the score by winning the second set 6-2.
Somehow it matched the duel that the third set was another emotional roller-coaster. 1-0, 2-0, 3-0 for Florian Mayer. Finally, the forehand worked properly, all signs were set for the final. However, suddenly the Argentinean came back and narrowed the gap to 2-3. Then, a loud ‘come on’ was to be heard which made the spectators jump from their seats. Completely unusual for the otherwise very calm Florian Mayer. His forehand longline shot was perfect and the 5-3 break was the preliminary decision.
After 1 hour and 43 minutes the German converted his first match point and won the encounter 6-2, 2-6 and 6-3 – and sank to the ground completely relieved. Mayer lay on the ground and paused a few seconds in order to realise his success. “It was unbelievable. A huge compliment to the fans who supported me terrifically. For me it is indescribably nice,” said ‘Flo’ after the huge effort.
The day of the quarter finals began with a real surprise because Karen Khachanov, another title favourite, had to prematurely strike his colours at the German Open 2017. The 21-year old Russian was defeated by the Argentinean qualifier Federico Delbonis 7-5, 6-3 and 6-4 after 2 hours and 17 minutes although the South American was temporarily bothered by thigh problems, had to be treated after the second set and continued playing with a tape. Nevertheless, he passionately limped to a quick break in the deciding set and kept disarming his talented opponent’s fierce shots. He also fended off Khachanov’s re-break, who is ranked number two behind Alexander Zverev in the U-21 ranking. Moreover, the Argentinean Davis Cup player repeatedly impressed with his forehand. At the end, Delbonis even had made more direct points than Khachanov – things are just going great for “Delbo”. “Of course, memories from 2013 are flooding back. It almost feels like back then,” the lefty remembered his success of four years ago. Back then, he ‘marched’ from the qualies straight to the final. Now, after five wins, he has booked a place in the semi-final at Hamburg Rothenbaum.
In the second duel of the day, Leonardo Mayer encountered the Czech Jiri Vesely. The Argentinean, who had actually lost in qualies and had made it to the main draw as lucky loser, continued his sudden winning streak. At the end, the score board showed the only two-set win of the quarter-final day, Mayer won 7-6 and 6-3. Thus, the Argentinean duel in the upper half is perfect. A great encounter, for only last year the two Argentineans celebrated a sensational Davis Cup victory.