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Legendary finals in Vienna: 1986 - Brad Gilbert duped Karel Novacek

The Erste Bank Open 2021 starts next Monday in the Wiener Stadthalle. We look back on a couple of finals that have made an impression on tennis fans. Like Brad Gilbert's against Karl Novacek.

by Jens Huiber
last edit: Oct 21, 2021, 08:11 am

So what? Brad Gilbert has always exhausted all means
© Getty Images
So what? Brad Gilbert has always exhausted all means

What would have happened if our world had already experienced the blessings of digitization in 1986? And who would have given Brad Gilbert back then, who is at least a very critical observer of the tennis scene on Twitter? Well, the shitstorm in the tennis community would have broken out during the final in Vienna between that same Gilbert and Karel Novacek. Because there was a lot of theater to see. On the part of the American, who won 3: 6, 6: 3, 7: 5 and 6: 0 in the end.

Yes, there were glorious times when the finals in the town hall were still held in the best-of-five format (the last time, by the way, in 2006, when Ivan Ljubicic defeated Fernando Gonzalez in the title match). In 1986, however, at the latest at the beginning of the third round, one could assume that the fans would have to be satisfied with a demolition winner Novacek. Because Gilbert dragged himself across the court, dragging a leg pathetically behind him, the rescue workers were alerted. But only between rallies.

Brad Gilbert pulls out all the stops

Once the ball was in play, Gilbert got a second breath. And Novacek the nervous flutter. The Czech was still at the beginning of his ultimately formidable career, having won the title in Washington in the summer of 1986. However, Novacek could not cope with Gilbert's behavior. Whether the defeat in Vienna meant that Novacek only celebrated his next tournament victory two and a half years later is of course only speculation.

Gilbert, on the other hand, pulled out all the stops in this match that he processed in his book "Winning Ugly" into an almanac of the bad, but successful behavior in a professional tennis match. For him, victory in the town hall was championship number ten, exactly half of his final career record.

Novacek wins in Kitzbühel

On the other hand: With his success, Gilbert had justified the decision of the organizers to let him start with a wildcard in retrospect. Gilbert started as number one seeded with a sovereign win against Patrik Kühnen, and against Peter Elter he only lost four games. The quarter-finals against his compatriot Richard Matuszewski then turned out a bit hairy, Gilbert won the third set 7: 5. In the semifinals he then left Jonas Svensson, who had said goodbye to local hero Thomas Muster in round two, no chance.

Novacek, on the other hand, had gone into the tournament without seed and had to go the full distance in the quarter against Michael Westphal as well as in the semifinals against Jan Gunnarsson. What you didn't notice physically in the final against Gilbert. A few years later, however, Karel Novacek reconciled himself with the Austrian tournament landscape: in 1991 he won the title in Kitzbühel.

by Jens Huiber

Oct 22, 2021, 08:10 am
last edit: Oct 21, 2021, 08:11 am