Koubek, Lopez in Action Tuesday in Kitzbuhel

Posted on July 24, 2007

With 22 players already past the first round (16 seeds got first round byes and six players won first round matches on Monday), just 10 spots remain in the second round of the €786,250 Austrian Open in Kitzbühel on Tuesday.

First up on Center Court 1 will be unseeded players Andreas Seppi and Feliciano Lopez. Both had their best runs of the year last week, Seppi reaching his career-first ATP final at Gstaad (falling to Paul-Henri Mathieu in three sets) and Lopez reaching his first ATP semifinal of the year (and the ninth of his career) at Stuttgart (beating Tomas Berdych for his 12th career Top 10 win en route, falling to Rafael Nadal). While Seppi has never made it past the second round in four previous appearances at this event, Lopez has always done well here, reaching the semifinals in his 2003 debut (falling to Guillermo Coria) and the quarterfinals in his only other two attempts in the next two years, 2004 and 2005.

An all-Austrian match-up takes the main stage next, pitting Stefan Koubek against wild card Daniel Koellerer. There is a great difference between the two compatriots’ career achievements; Koubek is a three-time titlist and three-time runner-up on the ATP circuit, while Koellerer is playing in just his fifth career ATP main draw. But in one of those four previous main draws, the 23-year-old from Wels did reach the quarterfinals, at St. Poelten in 2004. He has played this event twice previously, falling first round in 2003 and second round in 2005. Koubek has played here 10 times before, reaching one semifinal (1999), two quarters (1997, 2001) and the third round three times, including the last two years.

Another pair of Austrians, wild card Olivier Marach and Alexander Peya, feature in the only other singles match on Center Court 1 on Tuesday. Having had a breakthrough 2006, posting a personal-best 13 ATP wins (his previous best in a single year was three in 2005), Marach is in just his second event of 2007, losing first round in his first, at Dubai. Aside from a semifinal finish at Zagreb, which was his first time to reach the quarterfinals or better at an ATP event, Peya has also been struggling this season, including falling first round at his last nine ATP events. Marach and Peya have played here four times and three times before respectively, but neither has gone farther than the second round.

Of the 14 other players seeking second round berths on Tuesday, one has stood out at the Austrian Open in the past. Mariano Zabaleta is 16-7 in seven previous appearances here, making the semifinals three times (2002, 2003, 2005) and the quarterfinals twice (2000, 2004). He has also notched two Top 10 wins here, over a No. 2-ranked Juan Carlos Ferrero in 2003 and a No. 7-ranked Nikolay Davydenko in 2005. His worst result came last year, a second round loss. Federico Luzzi, Peter Luczak, Juan-Pablo Guzman and Sergio Roitman have all played here before but none has gotten past the third round. Juan Pablo Brzezicki, Fabio Fognini, Jonathan Eysseric, Konstantinos Economidis, Ivan Navarro Pastor, Ernests Gulbis, Laurent Recouderc and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez are all debuting here.

Four of the world’s Top 20 players are in Kitzbuhel this week, namely Tommy Robredo, Mikhail Youzhny, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Juan Ignacio Chela. They are seeded No. 1 through No. 4, respectively. (ATP Digital Services)