HEILBRONN, May 21, 2018
Competing in his only third ATP Challenger event, 17-year-old German Rudolf Molleker clinched his maiden title on home soil at the NECKARCUP in Heilbronn. The teenager is now ranked on a personal career high World No. 300, improving almost 200 positions in the ATP Rankings.
Tennis TourTalk spoke to the young gun during his dream week at the Tennis Club Trappensee.
Q: How does it feel to win your first title on the ATP Challenger Tour?
A: This is absolutely amazing, it’s unreal. I don’t really know yet what happened this week. I won my first Challenger match at the beginning of the week and now I’m standing here with the cup.
Q: You have mainly played matches at Futures-level so far.
A: Together with my coach, we’ve decided that I will try to play more Challenger events to earn points for the ATP Rankings, also due to the changes to be made on the ITF Pro Circuit. I finished my season at Futures-level in Antalya last month. I am thankful that I received a wild card here in Heilbronn. My next highlight will be Roland Garros Juniors in Paris.
Q: How would you describe your relationship with your Coach Jan Velthuis?
A: I guess that he has the role of a “second father” to me, as I am often far away from home. My parents do not travel with me all the time, so Jan joins me during good as well as bad times. We both experience the same. He is like a mentor to me. We can talk about everything.
Q: Who is also part of your team?
A: Of course my family is part of the team. We phone each other every day. Sometimes my father Roman joins me on the tour. He coached me at an early age. I am very thankful for that. There is also my fitness coach Christian Rauscher, who helps me to keep physically in good shape.
Q: How difficult is it to deal with upcoming comparisons with Alexander Zverev? How important is it maybe to have someone to bring you back down to earth?
A: I guess that I pretty much down to earth. Sascha is an absolutely exceptional player. Of course, I hope that my career will be similar but until then I still have a very long way to go. I also do not want to be like him. I would like to make my own experiences in my career with all the ups and downs, which will definitely come up.
Q: After winning in Heilbronn, all of the NECKARCUP champions found their way into the top 100 of the ATP Rankings. Do you think that this tournament here can also mark the starting shot for you career?
A: I think that I currently play good tennis and I have also improved in terms of ranking positions. I have achieved great wins but it does not automatically mean that I will be at the top of the game one day. However, this is a confimation for me that I am heading in the right direction. It pays off the hard work.
Q: You were born in Ukraine. When did you come to Germany?
A: I was three years old when we came back to Germany. All of my paternal ancestors are German.
Q: How does your free time look like when you are on the tour?
A: It’s not easy to live the life of a “normal” 17-year-old. We travel a lot, which is a positive part when you have to chance to see different parts of the world. However, most of the time it’s about the triangle airport, tennis court and hotel. If there is a day off and I haven’t seen the city before, I will take the chance to do some sightseeing. Here in Heilbronn most of the German guys went out together for dinner, which was fun.
Q: Would you say that you have any friends on the tour?
A: Friends might be a big word but the guys traveling with you are part of your life to a certain extent. I guess the German players get along quite well.
Q: How important is it for the local players that there are more and more attractive Challenger tournaments in Germany are coming up?
A: I think that is great for the tennis in Germany in general. For the younger players like me, it offers the chance to collect points in order to climb up the rankings. You are at home, all of us gather at one place do not have to travel and you can enjoy playing in front of your home crowd.
Q: What about your school career?
A: I finished my secondary education and had the opportunity to do my A-levels. However, I decided to focus on my tennis career, living the life of a professional. I guess it is working out better and better. I practice at the TennisBase in Hannover during the week. It’s mostly about training, eating and sleeping. I live in Oranienburg in the greater area of Berlin but I often go out with friends in the city. I feel like a citizen of Berlin.
Q: What are your interests besides Tennis?
A: I am not that interested in football. I like to watch NBA Basketball. In the States I attended a match of the Miami Heat, which was a cool experience. I also like handball.