We arrive in the third round of the Slovak Open Challenger in Bratislava. The second seed Marton Fucsovics went out of the tournament, dropping a dramatic three-setter to Ilya Ivashka. The Belorussian will now face 13th seed Peter Gojowczyk. One of the biggest Challenger Tour stars of recent months, Emil Ruusuvuori takes on home favorite, Lukas Lacko. Who do you think will prevail at the Bratislava Challenger on Thursday?
Bratislava Challenger Day 4 Predictions
Ilya Ivashka vs Peter Gojowczyk
Head-to-head: First meeting
Ilya Ivashka rallied back from a set and a break down to defeat Marton Fucsovics 3-6 7-6 7-6. The Belorursian suffered a ranking drop following a three-month break this year, but he seems back on the right path, playing very good tennis in Bratislava. In the first round, Ivashka comfortably sent off Eliot Benchetrit.
On the other side of the net will be a player facing similar issues, perhaps even more serious. Peter Gojowczyk will finish the year outside of the top 100, following 21 opening-round defeats this year. Aside for a semifinal at the Citi Open in Washington, the German has had a terrible season, once losing nine singles matches in a row.
Peter Gojowczyk’s tennis is as fast as it gets. The German takes time away from his opponents, sticking to the baseline and catching balls on the rise. While wildly inconsistent, this playstyle often allows to throw the racket out of the opponent’s hands. Can he do that against Ivashka? Maybe, but his very shaky performance against Alex Molcan in the opening round doesn’t suggest so. That marathon win over Fucsovics (3h 15min!) should be a good confidence-builder for the Belorussian.
Prediction: Ivashka in 3
Stefano Travaglia vs Roberto Marcora
It will be an all-Italian third-round clash in Bratislava. Stefano Travaglia has the reputation of a clay court specialist (Challenger titles this year in Francavilla and Sopot) but in his breakthrough season, he continues to amaze even outside of his favorite surface. Travaglia upset Reilly Opelka in Stockholm and is through to the third round here with a classy win over Sergiy Stakhovsky.
His opponent, Roberto Marcora, had to come back from the brink of defeat against the 16th seed Elias Ymer. Just like his countryman, the Italian also excels on the terre battue, but somewhat surprisingly, his best results this year came indoors (final at Bergamo and Recanati).
Marcora’s two head-to-head wins came in 2009 and they shouldn’t too much of a factor here. Travaglia won the last rendition of this matchup a couple of weeks ago in Mouilleron Le Captif and he should be expected to repeat it. Marcora has a great single-hander but playing someone with as excellent court coverage as Travaglia will really test his consistency.
Prediction: Travaglia in 2
Kamil Majchrzak vs Zdenek Kolar
It’s been a great run for qualifier Zdenek Kolar so far in Bratislava. The Czech managed to take down Constant Lestienne and upset Gianluca Mager to reach the third round. It wasn’t a good season for the 23-year-old Kolar but he’s finally struck on a vein of form in the last month, winning two matches in his last three events.
The same cannot be said about Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak, for whom 2019 has been the best career season by a country mile. Challenger titles in St. Brieuc and Ostrava have allowed him to debut in the top 100 and a couple of five-set wins over Nicolas Jarry and Pablo Cuevas got him to the US Open third round. Although he has quieted down a bit lately, he beat the odds to advance to the Slovak Open third round defeating Ilya Marchenko 7-6 6-0.
With recently improved firepower, Majchrzak should be expected to dominate here. The Pole struggled a bit in the first set against Marchenko but as soon as he got the Nishikori-like backhand down-the-line going, the match turned heavily in his favor. Except him to do the same to his next opponent.
Prediction: Majchrzak in 2
Emil Ruusuvuori vs Damir Dzumhur
Head-to-head: First meeting
It’s been a rough year for the fifth seed Damir Dzumhur. After ending the past two seasons in the top 50, peaking at no. 23 in July 2018, the Bosnian has won consecutive matches only six times this season. He is now on the verge of leaving the ATP Top 100. Dzumhur was handed a very tough draw in Bratislava, having to face home crowd favorite and recent Ismaning Challenger champion Lukas Lacko. The fifth seed rose to the challenge and played a very clean game to win 6-4 3-6 6-1.
The big-serving Finn was out of the game for a month due to a viral illness. It came at the worst possible time, just as Emil Ruusuvuori was hitting peak form. The 20-year-old absolutely ripped through the opposition in Challenger events in Mallorca and Glasgow and defeated then world no. 5 Dominic Thiem in Davis Cup. The Slovak Open is his second tournament after the break and although Ruusuvuori is not yet back to that level, he advanced to the third round beating in-form Maxime Cressy and Antoine Hoang.
The Finn seemd a bit lost in Eckental but he seems back on the right track here. With his potent serve and big strokes he should be able to dominate the play here. The surface advantage should be the key factor.
Prediction: Ruusuvuori in 3
Main Photo from Getty.