Tennis Prose



Kozlov Clinches Australian Open Wildcard

As JJ Wolf’s forehand volley sailed long on the third match point, Stefan Kozlov’s roar and leap was a mixture of relief, celebration and the thrill of breaking new territory in his ATP career.

Kozlov’s 62 63 win today in the Champaign, Illinois Challenger semifinal winner-take-all match vs Wolf means it’s Kozlov – and not Wolf – who will be going to Melbourne to play the 2022 Australian Open. It will be the 23 year old Kozlov’s first Grand Slam main draw appearance in his seven year pro career which began in Newport in July 2016.

The stakes were very high today for Kozlov and Wolf as the first round pay for the AO next year is $70,000.

Kozlov has been on a rampage since September. After losing first round at US Open qualies, Kiev and Cary, Kozlov suddenly changed his fortunes in his next six tournaments, by producing the best tennis of his life, winning a stunning 20 of 23 matches.

He won Columbus, lost in Indian Wells qualies second round, made finals in Las Vegas, won Charlottesville, lost second round Knoxville, and today clinched a fourth final slot in Champaign tomorrow against Alex Vukic, a player he has beaten twice during this hot streak.

Next week Kozlov will be ranked close to 150, a major improvement from the rockbottom 550 he was stuck at just a few years ago, after reaching 114 in 2017.

The old version of Stefan Kozlov, constantly criticized as having no weapons and a poor serve, is now a totally different tennis machine, featuring a new forehand and serve which can generate winners and free points, along with the ever reliable backhand.

And most importantly, Kozlov’s confidence has been restored, his recent results prove he can play dominant tennis in the ATP. Remember, Andy Murray played several Challengers this year and didn’t manage to win any.

So it will be interesting to see if Kozlov can sustain this momentum and inspiration from late 2021 and into 2022 where major results could be just around the corner.

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  • Scoop Malinowski · November 21, 2021 at 6:15 pm

    Amazing run and season by Kozlov capped off today with a 57 63 64 win in the Champaign Challenger final vs Vukic. That’s three Challenger title wins since mid september. Incredible reversal of fortunes by Kozlov who in January lost in a UTR money tournament in Naples 60 62 to the Harvard no. 4 Harris Walker. Never give up…

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 21, 2021 at 9:21 pm

    Kozlov interview after winning final today with Mike Cation, very interesting interview…



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