The final four is set at the 2019 Peugeot Slovak Open in Bratislava. Just one seed survived until Saturday and he will play a qualifier for a place in the championship match. Who do you think will advance?
Damir Dzumhur vs Zdenek Kolar
Head-to-head: First meeting
ATP no. 258 is not a ranking you usually need to play Challenger qualifying with. But, such good was the field in Bratislava, that Zdenek Kolar was forced to start his tournament on Monday against Zsombor Piros. Having already won five matches this week, he will now compete in the Peugeot Slovak Open semifinals. Kolar had a great serving day beating the eighth seed Lloyd Harris. He went through the match basically untested on his own delivery. Perhaps even more impressive was his third-round performance against fourth seed Kamil Majchrzak, where he managed to completely dominate the Pole.
Trying to stop him from reaching his second Challenger Tour final will be Bosnian Damir Dzumhur. Although not able to repeat his 2017 and 2018 (he was ranked no. 23 in the world at one point), the fifth seed has been proving his excellence this week. After coming through a tough opener versus home hope Lukas Lacko, Dzumhur beat Emil Ruusuvuori and benefited from a second-set retirement of Mikhail Kukushkin.
Although Kolar has been proving pundits wrong all week, one shouldn’t get too excited for the Czech. It’s been a great week for him but he doesn’t really possess the variety that Dzumhur has. The Bosnian has been showing some excellent point construction skills this week and his wide repertoire should be the key against a slightly one-dimensional baseliner like Kolar.
Prediction: Dzumhur in 2
Dennis Novak vs Egor Gerasimov
Head-to-head: Novak 1-0 Gerasimov
Dennis Novak’s performance against Stefano Travaglia is hard to evaluate. The Austrian came out pummelling his forehand and serving extremely efficiently but appeared to have lost the intensity somewhere. Then he barely survived, aided by a well-timed net cord and Travaglia double-faulting while match point up. Novak will be seeking a third Challenger final of the year (Taipei, Ilkley).
Egor Gerasimov has been playing supremely from start to finish in Bratislava. The Belarusian (who won this event in 2015) has straight-setted Filip Horansky, Salvatore Caruso to reach the quarterfinals. He received some minor back treatment against the Italian but the injury was nowhere to be seen in his next match. His countryman Ilya Ivashka did not go easy on him as Gerasimov had to prevail 6-4 in the decider after 2h20min of play.
The biggest question here is Novak’s ability to consistently reach the level he did in the first set today. Novak’s intensity was all over the place versus Travaglia, whereas the Belarusian seems to be playing a little bit more stable. Gerasimov is just as good of a server as the Austrian and any opportunities will have to be handled with care. The Belarusian saved 11 out of 13 break points saved against Ivashka and he will need to be that clutch again. Their only meeting in Wimbledon qualifying was very easily taken by Novak. It should be much closer this time.
Prediction: Gerasimov in 3