HEILBRONN, May 15, 2015
Four singles matches with the two remaining seeded players headlined the action on quarterfinals Friday at the second edition of Heilbronn’s Neckar Cup.
In an all-leftie-affair Guido Pella defeated Andreas Beck winning 6-1, 7-5. The 24-year-old Argentine won 77% of his first service points to seal victory in one hour and 16 minutes.
“It wasn’t easy today. I think that Andreas is an amazing opponent. He played really well, especially in the second set. But I played my best match of the week here in Germany. I started to like it so much, as I have only been here once before. It was in Düsseldorf when I played a really good tournament. Now I am here in the semi-finals and I am really happy and enjoy this amazing tournament,” Pella told afterwards.
The South-American is playing his first tournament in Europe this season but has already captured two ATP Challenger titles in San Luis Potosi and Sao Paulo. “It is a matter of costs. It is cheaper traveling within America,” the world number 131 said and added that the conditions in Europe suits him better during the summer months. “I haven’t had the possibility so far to see so much of the country. I was in Bad Homburg with Dirk Hordorff. I like Germany, the good organization and the people, who treated me unbelievable.”
Pella also has a special support with him. “My girl-friend arrived yesterday. I am very happy to have some company here. Like I said, I am enjoying everything at the moment. It is only three days before the French Open and I want to prepare here as good as possible.”
The Argentine lifted the ATP Challenger Tour Finals trophy two years ago. “In 2013 I started to win some Challengers and in November they send me an e-mail that I have the possible to enter the ATP Challenger Tour Finals and I was really happy. There were only eight players. I knew that I could play really well in Sao Paulo. I love that city, I don’t know why but I was so happy to be there. I played some really good tennis and that tournament allowed me to be within the top 100 for the first time and so it was a really special tournament for me, although I was so nervous during the final. But I won 7-6 in the third and I have really good memories of the tournament.”
Pella is facing Yoshihito Nishioka in the semi-finals. The 19-year-old Japanese beat Slovakian qualifier Jozef Kovalik winning 6-3, 6-4 in 80 minutes.
“Jozef has a very good forehand and solid groundstrokes. It was tough, especially at the beginning of the match when I also made a couple of mistakes. During the match it became better and better, though. My service and my forehand started to work. I tried to make my points over his backhand putting a lot of spin into my shots and it worked,” Nishioka analysed the encounter.
“I have been playing in the U.S. for five or six weeks. Unfortunately I didn’t play well, losing a lot of matches in the first or second round. It changed a little bit when I came to Europe. My focus is on this tournament here but also on Roland Garros. I hope I can stay here until the end, playing the final on Sunday and then I will move on to the qualification in Paris,” the world number 163 said after reaching his second semi-finals of the season. At this stage, he will meet with Pella a leftie.
“I lost to left-handed players three times in the last tournaments, so I am a little bit nervous but I will try my best. I think, his service will be with kick on my backhand, but my backhand has improved. I try to be aggressive and we will see.”
Heilbronn remains a great place for defending champion Jan-Lennard Struff. The second-seeded German, who played his first quarterfinal of the season emerged victorious again. Struff rallied back from set down to beat fellow countryman Matthias Bachinger winning 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. The 25-year-old won 77% of his first service points to seal victory in one hour and 43 minutes.
Struff will meet another fellow countryman in the semi-finals, as Alexander Zverev defeated former Roland Garros junior’s champion Bjorn Fratangelo in three sets winning 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. The fifth-seeded German fired eight aces in a highly entertaining match with a lot of good rallies and eventually served out after two hours and four minutes.
“I had a bad start into the match. I lost my service two times in the opening set. Bjorn played very well. We both met twice before. I won the previous matches but it was always close and he improved tremendously. He moves very well on the court with a good fore- and backhand. Unlike for most of the US-Americans, he also enjoys playing on clay. Last year he started at around 500th position and has now reached a career high at about 150. He is a player, who will climb up the rankings pretty quickly. It was an interesting match today and I think he will be within the top 100 by the end of the year, so that we will have more exciting encounters,” Zverev was full of praise for his opponent but is also looking forward to meet the German number three in the next round.
“I am very good friends with Struffi. We will face each other for the first time on the tour. Of course, we practice a lot together during the tournaments and so we know each other very well. He is still a young player and I think that he will be with us on the tour for the next ten years. It’s always difficult playing against a good friend but in the end you want to win. I played two times against my brother, which was the worst thing ever. I think, we both didn’t want to win. So I already gained a bit of experience in matches like that. I just hope that it will be an interesting match tomorrow,” the German youngster added.