KOBLENZ, January 21, 2017
The ATP Challenger Tour has returned to Germany with indoor tennis, as the inaugural Koblenz Open is taking place at the local Conlog Arena this week, awarding a total prize money of €43,000. It is the lone ATP tournament held during the first week of the Australian Open and represents the country’s biggest men’s tennis indoors event.
The tournament might be considered as the successor of the Heilbronn Open, which was traditionally played during the second week of the season’s first Grand Slam. The ATP Challenger was of the series’ highest category and held in Talheim from 1988 to 2014. 14 Germans triumphed on home soil during this period of time.
Bemelmans Feels Like Home
If a local hero is also successful in Koblenz, will depend on Ruben Bemelmans. On Saturday afternoon and in front of 1,500 spectators with no seeded players left in the singles draw since the quarterfinals, the 29-year-old from Belgium cruised past Jeremy Jahn of Germany, winning 6-1, 6-1 in only 52 minutes.
Right from the beginning of the match, Bemelmans was in control, as Jahn needed 20 minutes to get on the scoreboard. The World No. 159 didn’t face a break point, converting five of his own to advance to the final.
“I played very aggressive and everything went well for me,” Bemelmans told Tennis TourTalk afterwards. “I think that Jeremy was a bit nervous, as I know him and he can play better than this today. Nonetheles, I am very happy.”
The leftie started the year down under, reaching the quarterfinals of the Onkaparinga Challenger in Happy Valley but fell in the first round of the qualifiying of the Australian Open. During the off-season, Bemelmans recovered his batteries at home in Belgium.
“This year I decided to stay home in Maasmechelen, spending some time with the family and my girl-friend. The previous years I went to Dubai and Abu Dhabi but we travel all year long, so it’s nice to be home.”
Bemelmans claimed three of his four ATP Challenger career titles on German soil, so the 29-year-old is pretty pleased to be back in Germany.
“My home town is only one hour and 45 minutes away from here, so Koblenz feels like a home tournament for me. I feel great here in Germany every time. As I said, it’s close and the people are friendly. I am happy to reach a final here again and hopefully I can get my fourth German title.”
Bemelmans also feels comfortable playing indoors. “Indoor hard courts or carpet is my favourite surface. This does not mean that I cannot play outside but here is no wind, no sun. It goes a bit faster and there are no external factors, which can disturb you. For most of the Europeans, it might be better to play indoors because they are use to the conditions,” Bemelmans explained and added that he will be prepared for the title match.
Langer Eases Into Third Challenger Final
Bemelmans will take on Nils Langer, who edged past Daniel Masur 6-1, 6-3. Both players practice at the TennisBase Oberhaching but met for the first time at a professional tournament. Langer, who battled through the qualifying, gained a comfortable victory in one hour and 11 minutes.
“I played very well today. I put a lot of pressure on him and it worked out,” told Langer, who also spent the off-season at home. “We had a good preparation at the TennisBase in Munich with Daniel, Maxi Marterer as well as Philipp Kohlschreiber. Right after Christmas Eve, I went to Bangkok, where I competed in two Challenger events and now I am back.”
Langer captured five ITF Future titles in Germany and therefore he is glad that an ATP Challenger event is held at home at the beginning of the season.
“We travel a lot throughout the year, so it is really great to play a tournament in front of the home crowd. Unfortunately, there are not too many ATP tournaments left in Germany.”
Langer will appear in his third Challenger final. He finished runner-up at the 2015 Marburg Open, as well as in St. Remy the same year.
“I will try to find some rest tonight, as it is going to be my eighth match tomorrow. Nevertheless, I will be full of energy and I will try to get the win.”
Bemelmans and Langer will meet for the first time.
Doubles Final Is Set
Earlier the day, Hans Podlipnik-Castillo from Chile and Andrei Vasilevski of Belarus defeated Russia’s Teymuraz Gabashvili and Alessandro Motti from Italy 6-3, 3-6, 10-7. The encouner lasted 69 minutes.
The pair will take on the all-Czech combination of Lukas Rosol and Roman Jebavy.