Klein Conquers Val Gardena Challenger Crown

Lukas Klein (photo: Roland Strimmer)

ORTISEI/STARNBERG, October 29, 2023

Lukas Klein captured the title of the 14th edition of the Sparkasse Challenger Val Gardena Südtirol. The qualifier from Slovakia battled past Maks Kasnikowski of Poland on Sunday.

In a thrilling final at the Tennis Club Ortisei, World No. 181 Klein clinched victory after two hours and 38 minutes. Klein had to fend off two match points before emerging victorious, winning 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 7-6(6), securing his third ATP Challenger Tour career title. For his efforts, Klein received a prize purse of €4,910 and 50 valuable ATP Ranking points, while Kasnikowski, earned €2,950 Euros and 30 ATP Ranking points.

The first set saw the servers dominate, with Klein seizing the initiative and breaking to go up 4-2. However, Kasnikowski managed to stage a comeback, forcing the set into a tie-break, which he won after 51 minutes of intense play. Klein started the second set with a break, taking a 1-0 lead. The 25-year-old had numerous opportunities to further extend his advantage, but Kasnikowski displayed resilience, holding his serve and equalizing the set at 2-2. Klein remained untroubled in his service games until the crucial moment at 5-4, when Kasnikowski broke back to level the score at 4-4. Another tie-break ensued, this time favoring Klein, who secured the set after an hour and 45 minutes, pushing the match the distance.

The final set witnessed a battle of nerves, with both players holding their serve and denying each other break opportunities. The tension reached its peak in the third tiebreak. Klein initially led 4-1, but Kasnikowski fought back fiercely, earning himself two match points at 6-4. Klein, however, demonstrated remarkable composure, countering his opponent’s aggression and saving both match points. A crucial error by Kasnikowski handed Klein the victory, eliciting enthusiastic applause from the packed stands.

“I am truly happy. It was such a close final, decided by a few points. It feels great to win so many matches in a row; it boosts my confidence. I hope this continues until the end of the season,” said Klein.

“Of course, I am very disappointed. It was a hard-fought final. I was just one point away from victory in the tiebreak of the third set, but it was an encouraging week for me. I played good tennis this week and I hope I can maintain this form in the upcoming tournaments,” said Kasnikowski.