Upset in Two Sets

One hundred and twenty-fifth in the ATP, Philipp Petzscher stuns the crowd with a win at the Wiener Stadthalle

Ever since its start in 1974, the Vienna Open has been a tournament of the tennis stars. In the last 34 years 19 out of 23 No.1s of the world have entertained the Viennese audience. Due to its outstanding reputation, the tournament is part of the International Series Gold – the third highest category of tournaments after Grand Slam and Masters Series. The Vienna Open has been known as CA-Tennis-Trophy since 1986 after Creditanstalt – Bank Austria took over as the main sponsor. Players, such as, Boris Becker, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer, and last year Novak Djokovic have graced Vienna’s Stadthalle in past.

This year the names were no less glamorous and the days between the 4th and 12th of October were a blessing for the tennis lovers. After winning against Stanislas Wawrinka, Jan Hernych, Carlos Moya, and Feliciano Lopez, the hurricane from Germany Philipp Petzschner reached the final, held on Sunday, October 12 facing the Frenchman Gael Monfils. The tall French man with spiked hair had no easy task reaching the final either. He had to surpass Alexander Peya, Radek Stepanek, Fernando Gonzalez, and Philipp Kohlschreiber to get to his first ATP final this year.

It was ten till two and the start of the singles final when in the darkness of Vienna’s Stadthalle a beam of light appeared on the court as a voice out of nowhere introduced the finalists.

“The sensation from Germany, and the showman from France, let me introduce to you Philipp Petzschner and Gael Monfils.”  24-year-old Petzschner was the surprise finalist; a pro since 2001, he ranks only 125th on the ATP – Association of Tennis Professionals – ladder. The young Frenchman Gael Monfils, 22, who turned pro in 2004, was the No.1 junior in the world and ranked 28th on the ATP list.

It was exactly two o’clock when the lights came back up and we could finally see the players sitting on their chairs on the sideline waiting for the start of the game. In few minutes the referee called “time” and both of the finalists were on their feet. Monfils had the advantage of the first service. The game started well for both of the players with the score 2:2 each one had good service but there were rarely any aces, even so both had kept their service although Monfils made better moves, and he seemed to have control over the game. However, in the fifth game Petzschner broke the Frenchman. He started making some great plays and with the scoreboard showing 4:2, the German was on the right way to win the first set. It was tennis of long exchanges and attractive plays. Monfils illustrated some of his showman abilities and had several arguments with the referee, but in the end, he only seemed to be waving his arms in the air. Nonetheless, his provocative style and constant disruption of the match did bring Monfils back into the game when he took his game and broke Petzschner to tie the match to 4:4. The unhappy German, who was very close to winning the first set, threw his racket in anger, but he did not give up.

The next two games were decisive, yet the match slowed down which was also noted by the fans who called it “tennis of the elderly.” The whole fifth game was chaotic with unnecessary mistakes from both of finalists, however Petzschner managed to take Monfils’ service once again, and although nervous he used his own service and took advantage of his first set point, winning the first set in only 40 minutes.

On the break between the sets people quickly went out into the hall, which was full of tennis equipment waiting to be purchased and slightly over priced food, of course. Back on the court the referee called time again, and the show was back on. Monfils seemed too emotional, making unnecessary mistakes. When it was 2:2 he injured his knee and although the match continued he limped between every point. After running all over the court and taking his service for 3:2 he limped back to the service line. Petzschner, looking a little annoyed, clapped as Monfils made the point and then imitated the Frenchman’s limp, making the fans laugh. However, with neither of the players able to take the other’s service the match was tied at 4:4. The set had been quite long and both of the players ran constantly up and down the court, which was exhausting for them, but enjoyable for the audience.

As the end of the set approached, Monfils seemed to slow down, being either in great pain, or a good actor, because it was very strange how he limped after every point, yet managed to run all over court with seemingly no problem. Nevertheless Petzschner used that to his advantage, fighting for every ball. He threw himself, hitting the ball as he was falling to swap the second set and the victory. He got up, arms in the air, big smile on his face he turned to the audience which was cheering loudly for the young German who won his first ATP tournament of his career 6:4, 6:4. Thanks to this win, Petzschner moved up the ATP to 72nd spot, his career highest. The final was quick and thrilling and Petzschner, the surprise of the final, came out triumphant.

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