HEILBRONN, May 16, 2017
Dominik Koepfer caused the upset of the day at the €64,000 NECKARCUP on Tuesday. The 23-year-old German qualifier knocked out the tournament’s number one Nicolas Kicker, winning 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.
Koepfer, who is appearing in his only third main draw at ATP Challenger level, won 68 per cent of his first service points and broke serve five times to secure victory in one hour and 44 minutes.
“Having already played three matches in the qualfication is an advantage. I played some really good tennis and this helped me a lot today,” the World No. 377 told afterwards. He only became a bit nervous when he had to serve out for the match.
“Right before the match point, I grabbed the towel again, took a deep breath and then I just hit the service winner.”
All of this happened on centre court under the eyes of Germany’s Davis Cup captain Michael Kohlmann.
“I had been playing in the United States for the last four years. I do not really know all the persons from the German Tennis Federation (DTB) but he introduced himself and we had a chat,” Koepfer told with a smile.
The Donaueschingen native began playing professional tennis in 2015, graduated from Tulane University last year, earning two All-American honors (2015 and 2016) and finished his college career with 103 singles wins.
“Playing on green clay is like competing on hard court with a bit of clay on top of it,” told Koepfer, who played the ATP Challengers in Tallahassee and Savannah the weeks before. “I grew up on red clay, so I just feel comfortable on this kind of surface. It had been some time since I played my last match on it but things are going well.”
Koepfer is the second German player with US-college-tennis background, enjoying success in recent times. He is following Yannick Hanfmann’s footsteps, who made it to the quarterfinals at the BMW Open in Munich two weeks ago.
“Yannick beat Nicolas Kicker at an ATP Challenger earlier this year. This gave me some confidence to do the same, as we played pretty similar level in college.”
Koepfer, who captured two ITF Pro Circuit titles in his career, will next take on Lorenzo Giustino from Italy. The 25-year-old defeated Dennis Novikov from the United States 6-4, 6-4.
Pella Successful In Night Session
In the night session, qualifier Cedrik-Marcel Steebe had to chance of gaining immediate revenge for his first round lost at the BMW Open against Guido Pella.
The Argentine, however, emerged victorious again, winning 6-4, 7-6. Pella capitalized on five of his 10 break point chances to prevail in one hour and 58 minutes.
The sixth seed, who finished runner-up here in Heilbronn two years ago to Alexander Zverev, will next face Laslo Djere. The 21-year-old from Serbia beat German wild card Yannick Maden 7-6, 6-1 in one hour and 40 minutes.