Martin Klizan, a qualifier, has upset third-seeded Mikhail Youzhny in the second round of the BMW Open in Munich. The Slovakian triumphed 6-7 (5), 6-2, 7-6 (2) in 170 minutes. The defeat of the third seed is the latest upset at the ATP 250 event.
Youzhny is quite the scalp in Munich. The Russian veteran is ranked no.15 in the world and is the third seed. Youzhny is also the 2010 champion and the runner-up in 2007 and 2009. Klizan, though, is quite the pro when it comes to upsets. The world no.111 beat then sixth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the third round at the 2012 US Open.
Klizan’s ranking was 52 back then. A few weeks later, he won the title in St. Petersburg, beating Youzhny on the way, and climbed into the top 30. However, the highly touted 24 year old was not able to sustain his rise up the pro ranks. Klizan could not string together more than 2 consecutive wins the entire 2013 season, compiling a win-loss record of 12-24 and dropping out of the ATP top 100.
2013 has been an improvement though. A big one. Klizan qualified for the Australian Open, beating other young hope Dominic Thiem in the final qualifying round. Klizan’s hard work was rewarded with a stroke of luck, too, when John Isner, ranked no.13 , retired from their first-round match. Klizan, who was leading Isner by two sets to love, went on to make the third round, winning five consecutive matches on his run.
Klizan’s clay form has been impressive this season, too. The Slovakian made the last sixteen at the ATP 500 event in Rio and the quarter-finals of the ATP 250 tournament in Sao Paulo. He was also a recent finalist at the Barranquilla Challenger event and pushed Nicolas Amalgro, the recent winner over Rafael Nadal, to two tight sets at the ATP 500 event in Barcelona.
So, while Klizan’s victory over Youzhny is an upset on paper, it is not as surprising as it first appears. Youzhny has not won a match on clay all year, losing in the first rounds of the ATP 1000 Monte-Carlo Open and the ATP 250 Bucharest Open. In fact, it is not only the Clay on which Youzhny is under-performing on. The former top tenner had a 3-6 win-loss record coming into Munich and was vulnerable for an upset.
Youzhny is not the only former Champion who has been the victim of an upset. This year’s BMW Open has already seen some of its biggest names and former champions knocked out by lower-ranked players. Two-time winner Nicolas Davydenko was upset by Ivan Dodig and another two-time champion Phillip Kohlschreiber, the fifth seed, went down to Denis Istomin yesterday.
Klizan will take on Istomin in a battle of the scalpers in the next round. Istomin beat Marinko Matosevic in another three set battle to set up the Klizan clash. It will be a great opportunity for both men to make the last eight of the ATP 250 event before the upcoming ATP 1000 tournaments in Madrid and Rome. With both men being match-fit and confident on the Clay, top ranked players in shaky form will not want to see the names Klizan or Istomin anywhere near theirs when the draws of the prestigious ATP 1000 Clay events are made.
Commentary by Christian Deverille