Wily Philipp Kohlschreiber Teaches NextGen Ace Alex De Minaur a Lesson in Stockholm

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Veteran German Philip Khohlschreiber gave 16 years away to 19-year-old Alex De Minaur, yet secured an industrious 7-6 6-7 6-1 victory. This was a polished and accomplished performance from the German. It was Kohlschreiber’s first outing since the US Open, where he took the scalp of fellow German Alexander Zverev. With all the focus on the “NextGen,” it was the veteran who displayed more ingenuity and craft.

Kohlschreiber Edges a Tense First Set

Alex De Minaur showed enough raw promise and a ruthless streak in the first set, converting his only break point. However, he conceded his only break point as well, and a tight set was controlled in the tie-breaker by the German. A mere 62% first serve percentage for the young Australian led to a reliance on his weakness–the second serve. This prevented De Minaur taking control of the set. That said, he deployed his shoveling backhand to complement his mammoth forehand, displaying his raw talent.

De Minaur Out-thinks Kohlschreiber in 2nd Set

Three breaks of serve on the run reflected fatigue from both players. First serve potency dipped and Kohlschreiber emerged a break and a set up. This is where Shapovalov and other peers of De Minaur may have lost their heads. Not De Minaur; his in-match re-assessments were veritable, as you could see him adapting and composing himself via inner delving. He took a bit off his first serve to ensure and increase conversion in this area (72%). This allowed him to switch tactics, pushing his veteran opponent onto the back-foot. It prevents the German creeping forward and attacking the improvement area of De Minaur’s – his 2nd serve. Not many players grind down the seasoned Kohlschreiber, but De Minaur hung in, saved several match points to force and take the tie-break.

De Minaur Fights Back in Final Set

One thing that Kohschreiber has always been good at it is not dwelling upon missed opportunities. Four squandered break point opportunities from the youthful Australian and one from three taken by the German meant a 4-1 lead for the veteran. The nerve De Minaur showed in saving match points and clawing his way back into the match seemed to have disappeared. Kohlschreiber effortlessly moves his opponent around the court, forcing errors and line-finding with aplomb, cruising to a second break of serve. A 6-1 final set trouncing gives Kohlschreiber a deserved victory.

Fellow Veteran in the form of Fernando Verdasco Awaits Kohlschreiber in Round 2

Kohlschreiber is reaping the rewards for carefully selecting his tournaments and looking after his body. He faces Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the next round. This will be their first meeting in eight years. The German leads the head-to-head 5-4. The way he mixed things up against the talented De Minaur and against Zverev at Flushing Meadows, you would fancy him to win this one. A ninth career ATP Title could not be far away for Kohschreiber.

De Minaur Turns Focus to NextGen Finals

It’s true that you sometimes learn more about a player, especially a young one, in defeat than in victory. De Minaur will take a number of learning points out of this match. He showed fight and spirit, particularly in the second set, but knows that his backhand can be viewed as limited. Also, his second serve needs some work. However, you can’t dismiss his chances of a deep run in the forthcoming NextGen finals. The future is bright for De Minaur.

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