HEILBRONN, May 14, 2015
Best outside conditions with bright sunshine and pleasant temperatures in Heilbronn supported the players of the bottom half of the draw, who were in action for their second round matches on Father’s day at the Neckar Cup.
Defending champion Jan-Lennard Struff is back on the winning trail. The 25-year-old German rallied back from a set down to beat Radu Albot winning 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and 11 minutes.
“I have good memories of this tournament here. I captured my first Challenger title. Of course there is a bit of pressure this year. I haven’t played very successfully this year so far, losing a couple of close matches, so it really feels good to win some matches in a row,” Struff told after reaching his first quarterfinal of the season.
“2015 is actually my first entire year on the ATP World Tour. The start of the season hasn’t been that bad. I reached some second rounds, beating players like Kohlschreiber and Thiem but it’s not easy at world class tournaments. It happens pretty often that you face a big name in the opening round but I am trying to go on and I am happy to advance to the stage of the last eight for the first time this year.”
Struff will meet Matthias Bachinger next, who beat Daniel Brands in an all-German-affair winning 6-3, 7-6 in one hour and 36 minutes.
Fifth seed Alexander Zverev fired ten aces to beat Dennis Novikov winning 6-2, 6-3 in 69 minutes.
“I served pretty well. We didn’t have a lot of baseline rallies in this match today. There were a couple of winners and errors without having long rallies but I am pretty satisfied with the outcome. I think Dennis is a good player, currently on his way up,” Zverev told afterwards.
“I am trying to give my best here winning as many matches as possible. I have the chance to break into the top 100 after this week, which would be a nice thing,” added the current world number 105, who had some pretty tough last two weeks.
“It was not easy, playing the doubles final in Munich on Monday. On Tuesday I went to Aix-en-Provence in order to play my first match there on Wednesday morning and afterwards every day until Saturday. Unfortunately, I lost to Paul-Henri Mathieu in the semis in three sets, when I was feeling that I ran a bit out of steam. Nonetheless I played well there and the crowd obviously backed and helped him. I really feel that I am getting a bit tired now but that’s how it is,” Zverev told about the physical aspect.
The German youngster will face Bjorn Fratangelo in the quarterfinals. The 21-year-old US-American withstood eight aces from Nils Langer to beat the German wild card winning 7-6, 7-5 in one hour and 54 minutes.
“Nils is a very dangerous player. He played some tournaments in California and I saw him when he played some of my friends. He is very good, serving big and he can hit winners from anywhere. I just tried to stay in it mentally as focused as I could. I knew that I could do that. He would give me the chances that I could take,” Fratangelo was relieved after his second match of the season on European soil.
“The surface here is slower. The balls bounces a bit higher. You can play faster if it is hot and the balls can really jump up. I love red clay, I love Europe. I love how relaxed everybody seems to be. This is my first time in Germany and I am really enjoying it and I am happy to be here,” the man from Pennsylvania stated. “We have been to the city centre here only once so far. Obviously I do not have a car, so it’s kind of hard to go anywhere. Most of the time, I am hanging out in the restaurant and the hotel.”
Zverev leads 2-0 in head to head records against Fratangelo. Both matches took place in the United States, Friday’s encounter will be the first between the two in Europe. “I am actually good friends with Alex. He is obviously playing very well. He his Germany’s next hope. I played him twice and both were close matches. Tomorrow I know that the crowd won’t probably be on my side but it’s gonna be fun. We like each other. It will be a good battle and I am looking forward to it,” the US-American youngster said.
The remaining quarterfinals in the top half of the draw will feature two first time-meetings on the tour. Andreas Beck, who knocked out Heilbronn’s top-seed Damir Dzumhur in the opening round will take on Guido Pella and Japanese teenager Yoshihito Nishioka faces Slovakian qualifier Jozef Kovalik.
Some of the players of the top half of the draw enjoyed their free day riding the segway at the venue. On Friday, they will be back in tennis action.