HEILBRONN, May 18, 2018
Rudolf Molleker is the last German player standing in the singles draw of the €85,000 NECKARCUP, reaching his first semi-final on the ATP Challenger Tour.
When the sun returned to Heilbronn on Friday, Molleker battled past Alexey Vatutin of Russia 6-1, 2-6, 6-4. The 17-year-old saved 15 of the 18 break points he faced, converting four of his own six chances to prevail after one hour and 56 minutes.
“I felt the pressure in the second set when his game improved and he hit a lot of winners. I came back from a break down in the third and just fought until the end,” Molleker was pleased with his performance.
“I think that I currently play a good level of tennis. Similar to last year in Hamburg I earned two good victories. Unfortunately I am not able to play my best all the time. There is still a lack of consistency, which makes the difference to most of the top-players here. But I am physically in good shape and I am looking forward to another fight tomorrow.”
The teenager also set a visual effect by changing his shirt in the final set, switching from grey to pink and black. Was it all about superstition?
“No, it was pretty wet but I also remembered that I lost a couple of matches in the third set wearing a grey shirt. So I decided to go for the other one and it worked out,” Molleker told with a smile.
Otte and Brown fall
The World No. 497 from Berlin will next challenge in-form Argentine Juan-Ignacio Londero, who fought past Oscar Otte from Germany 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. The 24-year-old Buenos Aires resident willappear in his fourth semi-final of the season, crowned by lifting his maiden ATP Challenger trophy in Mexico City.
“I had a bad start into the match today,” Otte commented. “I couldn’t find my rhythm today. Nonetheless, I am pleased with the week here. It’s always nice to play in Heilbronn. Now I will travel to Paris, competing in the qualfying at Roland Garros.”
Dustin Brown, who struggled with a back injury throughout the week, was forced to retire from his match against Kamil Majchrzak after 49 minutes. The 22-year-old from Poland was leading 6-3, 3-1.
Majchrzak will next take on Jiri Vesely, the only seeded player left in singles draw. The World No. 81 from the Czech Republic defeated sixth favourite Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland 6-3, 6-1 after 61 minutes in the final match of the day.
RESULTS – MAY 18, 2018
Singles – Quarterfinals
 J. Vesely (CZE) d  H. Laaksonen (SUI) 63 61
[WC] R. Molleker (GER) d  A. Vatutin (RUS) 61 26 64
J. Londero (ARG) d O. Otte (GER) 64 36 63
K. Majchrzak (POL) d D. Brown (GER) 63 31 Retired
Doubles – Quarterfinals
R. Junaid (AUS) / D. Pel (NED) d [Q] M. Niesten (NED) / I. Sijsling (NED) 64 61