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Leonardo Mayer vs Jozef Kovalik ATP Hamburg Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Qualifier, Kovalik stands between defending champion, Mayer seeks third Hamburg final

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 27 Jul 2018
  • Leonardo Mayer vs Jozef Kovalik is live from Hamburg on Saturday, 28 July from 12:00pm local time/ 11:00am BST
  • First ever meeting between two time champion, Mayer and qualifier, Kovalik
Leonardo Mayer. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP/Getty Images)

Defending champion, Leonardo Mayer continues his bid for a third Hamburg title on Saturday when he takes on Slovakian qualifier, Jozef Kovalik in the semi-finals.

There is something about Hamburg that brings out the best in Mayer- his two ATP World Tour titles have come in the German city, and he has once again produced his best tennis in the past week en route his first semi-final of the season. With top seed, Dominic Thiem and top-15 stars Pablo Carreno Busta and Diego Schwartzman now out of the tournament, Mayer must surely now be considered as the man to beat heading into the final weekend of the German Tennis Championships. The Argentine was responsible for the demise of one of those aforementioned stars, as he battled through a topsy-turvy final set to take down compatriot, Schwartzman in Friday’s quarter finals.

The tenacious Schwartzman was always going to be a tough nut to crack, but Mayer’s greater firepower came up trumps in the end as he produced a strong finish to claim a 6-3 4-6 6-3 victory after two hours and 16 minutes. The first couple of sets were straight forward enough- Mayer outbroke Schwartzman two to one to take the lead, while Schwartzman stole a late break in the second set to force a decider. Schwartzman appeared to have all the momentum when he recovered from dropping his serve in the opening game of the final set to take a 3-1 lead, but Mayer hit back emphatically, winning the last five games to extend his Hamburg winning streak to eight matches. 

The defending champion had eased through the first couple of rounds, taking down Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Gael Monfils in straight sets. He faced his first real adversity of the week against Schwartzman; but came through it unscathed. Mayer is no stranger to adversity- he was on the cusp of the top 20 in the middle of 2015 before a lengthy battle with injuries pulled him out of the top 100. Last year’s Hamburg success restored him back into the top 100 for the first time in over a year, and while he hasn’t been spectacular since then, he has done enough to maintain a top 50 ranking for the best part of 2018. Mayer had previously lost quarter finals in Buenos Aires and Sao Paolo, while he made the round of 16 at Masters 1000 tournaments at Indian Wells and Madrid; and came into Hamburg ranked 36th in the world. He cannot actually do much in terms of moving up the rankings this week because of all those points he is defending from last season’s triumph- and he has done a good job of defending them so far, but the job isn’t complete yet.

Standing in the way between Mayer and a second successive Hamburg final is Slovakian qualifier, Jozef Kovalik, who is contesting his second ATP World Tour semi-final of 2018.


Kovalik’s previous semi-final appearance was back in Sofia, when, also as a qualifier, he defeated Radu Albot, Lukas Lacko and Marcos Baghdatis to reach his first tour-level semi-final (lost to Marius Copil). 

Jozef Kovalik. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)
Up until Hamburg, his only other ATP World Tour win was in Barcelona, where he defeated Guido Pella in the opening round before falling to Dominic Thiem. In all, he has made four tour-level main draw appearances this year- Sofia, Barcelona, Roland Garros and now Hamburg, while he fell in the qualifying rounds in Brisbane, the Australian Open, Munich, and Wimbledon.

Currently ranked 113th in the world, Kovalik is guaranteed to rocket into the top 100 for the first time in his career by virtue of this Hamburg run.

As is so often the case with players on the fringes of the top 100, he has enjoyed a better spell at the Challengers, winning in the Poprad-Tatry Challenger and finishing runner-up in Braunschweig. The 25-year-old came through two rounds of qualifying in Hamburg, before upsetting Damir Dzumhur in straight sets in the opening round. He then breezed past home youngster, Rudolf Mollecker, who had earlier taken out David Ferrer, before battling past lucky loser, Thiago Monteiro, in a repeat of their qualifying final, in the quarter finals on Friday.

Monteiro held the early advantage, coming through a three-break swing midway through the first set en route taking the opener, but Kovalik returned the favour in the second set, edging his own three-break swing to even the match. Kovalik rode that momentum into the final set, pulling away with five straight games from 0-1 to put the match beyond Monteiro.
Can he cap a fairytale week with a maiden final on the ATP World Tour?

Kovalik has done superbly to come this far, but he has got an in-form defending champion, who is extremely comfortable in the surroundings to contend with in the semi-finals. I think his run ends here, with Mayer to progress into his third Hamburg final.

Leonardo Mayer vs Jozef Kovalik is live from Hamburg on Saturday, 28 July from 12:00pm local time/ 11:00am BST


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Leonardo Mayer vs Jozef Kovalik ATP Hamburg Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Qualifier, Kovalik stands between defending champion, Mayer seeks third Hamburg final

Leonardo Mayer continues his bid for a third Hamburg crown with a semi-final against Jozef Kovalik on Saturday. Can Mayer extend his winning run in Hamburg? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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