HEILBRONN, May 16, 2017
Mitchell Krueger headlined Tuesday’s first round action at the €64,000 NECKARCUP in Heilbronn. The World No. 171 from the United States upset second seed Evgeny Donskoy on a sunny afternoon at the Tennis Club Trappensee, winning 6-0, 4-6, 6-4.
Krueger won 71 per cent of his first service points and broke serve five times to convert his first match point after two hours and six minutes.
“Towards the end, taking care of my serve was really important. There were a lot of close points and it helped to kind of settle down,” Krueger told Tennis TourTalk after the battle on Court 1. The 23-year-old from the United States is making his second appearance in Heilbronn after his debut here in 2015.
“It’s a very nice place here. European tournaments are always very good. The local support, the sponsors and everything is top-notch. I am also very excited to be back on the red clay, as I hate the green clay. I was growing up on it and I got used to it but here the bounces are a lot truer. It is easier to move, as it is softer. Green clay is pretty rough on the shoes and you have no idea where the balls are going to bounce a lot of times.”
Krueger will next take on Marco Cecchinato. The in-form-Italian clinched the ATP Challenger title in Rome last weekend and defeated #NextGen ATP star Denis Shapovalov in his opening match in Heilbronn 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 13 minutes.
“I played a couple of same tournaments but I have never seen him really playing. We will see what is going to happen.”
Next tournament for Krueger will be Roland Garros. He entered the qualifying for the French Open for the first time based on his own ranking.
“That was a big goal of mine,” he said. “I wanted to crack the top 200. Obviously my main goal will be to qualify but I will take it one match at a time once I get there. I will enjoy the probably best red clay conditions in the world. I am excited to get there once whenever I am done here and I still hope that I can go to the final here.”
Bublik Beats Kovalik
#NextGen ATP star Alexander Bublik advanced to the second round, dispatching Jozef Kovalik from Slovakia 7-6, 6-4.
The 19-year-old from Kazakhstan won 76 per cent of his first service points and capitalized on four of his 13 break point opportunities to prevail in one hour and 43 minutes.
“The opener was very tough. He is a great player but I played my best match during the clay court season this year, which I didn’t start very well,” Bublik told.
The World No. 144 failed to qualify for the main draw of the ATP 250 events in Marrakech and Munich, but made it to the second round at the ATP Challengers in Francavilla and Rome.
“When I was in Munich we had about 5 degrees and I like to play on faster surfaces. Pretty tough conditions back then,” explained Bublik, who started to practice in Munich about one month ago at the Sport Scheck venue in Oberföhring. “My manager Stefan Leiner is from there and I am going to stay there over the clay court season.”
The dirt, however, is not the teenager’s favourite surface. Bublik is actually looking forward to the grass court swing.
“Roland Garros is going to be my last tournament on clay. Then I will go to s’Hertogenbosch or Stuttgart, followed by Queen’s and Newport. From then on, I will start the hard court season and then I will return to the grass. I just love the faster surfaces.”
Still in Heilbronn, Bublik will next take on Andrej Martin. The seventh seed from Sloakia beat big-serving Sam Groth of Australia 6-3, 6-3 in one hour and 27 minutes.
Martin will be joined by fellow Slovakian Norbert Gombos. The tournament’s number four fought past Daniel Brands of Germany, rallying 4-6, 7-6, 6-3.
Gombos sent down seven aces and won 53 per cent of the total points played to secure victory after two hours and three minutes. Next up for Gombos will be Steven Diez from Canada.