Petzschner’s back injury gives Kohlschreiber Halle title

HALLE, Germany: Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber won the final of Halle’s ATP tournament Sunday 7-6 (7/5), 2-0 after compatriot Philipp Petzschner was forced to retire hurt with a back injury.

Petzschner suffered the injury while hitting a shot with the scores poised at 5-5 in the first set and received court-side treatment. He grimaced noticeably and although he labored on, it was clear early in the second set that he could not continue.

The 27-year-old had set up the first all-German final on the ATP World Tour since 2004 Saturday when he defeated second-seed Tomas Berdych in three sets, while Kohlschreiber booked his place in the final by beating France’s Gael Monfils.

There had been great expectations for the final between the two Davis Cup teammates, with Petzschner ranked 71st in the world while Kohlschreiber is currently ranked 49th.

But in the end, Kohlschreiber had relatively little to do in order to pick up the winner’s check of 750,000 euros.

“It is a damned pity that Philipp could not play on. It is a shame for the fans but you could see he was really suffering,” said winner Kohlschreiber.

“It does not really feel like a title win,” Kohlschreiber told reporters. “It is a bit of a shame given that we had a really good fight in the first set. Now it kind of feels strange.”

“I am very satisfied with my performance throughout the tournament, but it is always a shame when you win because of an opponent’s injury.

This was Kohlschreiber’s third ATP title and the first time he has won at Halle. He had previously reached the 2008 final when he was beaten by Roger Federer.

“With the score at 5-5 in the first set, I felt a few pains in my back – then it got worse,” admitted Petzschner.

He was treated by a physiotherapist after the first set but to no avail.

“I think that I will be fit again [for Wimbledon],” added Petzschner, with the action set to start at SW19 June 20.

Petzschner, who won the Wimbledon doubles title last year, started feeling more pain in his back early in the second set, pulling out after just two games to hand the title to his rival.

“At 5-5 in the first set I hurt something in my lower back. Then it started hurting more and more … But me retiring should not take anything away from Philipp’s victory. He played a great tournament.”

With Halle set to celebrate its 20th anniversary in June 2012, the organizers are hoping to lure top names Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to the small town near Bielefeld for next year’s special tournament.

Swiss star Roger Federer already has a life-long deal to appear here, but angered the organizers by withdrawing Monday to rest a groin strain having reached the French Open final when he lost to Nadal last Sunday. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 13, 2011, on page 14.




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