PULLACH, August 11, 2018
Sander Gillé and Joran Vliegen continue their great run of form by clinching their third consecutive ATP Challenger title at the inaugural Isar Open in Pullach. Following their triumphs in Prague and Lieberec, the Belgian duo defeated the experienced all-Italian combination of Simone Bolelli and Daniele Bracciali 6-2, 6-2 in Saturday’s doubles final of the €127,000 clay-court event.
Gillé and Vliegen didn’t drop a set all week and finished the title match after only 53 minutes.
“I think we had a good game plan going into the match. We know what we had to do serving wise and we executed very well,” Vliegen was pleased with the team’s performance. “The service percentage was very high, which helped. I felt comfortable from the beginning of the match and I always had the feeling that we were the better team today. Everything was going well and working in favour for us. I am very happy to get the win today.”
There is no “secret of success”
Vliegen is 25 years old and currently ranked World No. 107 in doubles and is the leftie of this red-hot combination. Gillé is aged 27, a right-hander and sitting on World No. 96 in the ATP-Doubles Rankings. The pair captured nine team titles at ATP Challenger level, four of them came in 2018.
“There is no secret of success,” Gillé said with a smile. “We have been playing very well for the last couple of years. And we are still improving. We know the level is there, also but we also struggled a little bid the last couple of months. Sometimes it just needs ‘to click’, as doubles is always so close with tie-breaks and super-tie-breaks. We are high of confidence right now and everything is going well.”
Gillé and Vliegen started to team up in 2015 and clinched six ITF Pro Circuit titles that year. “We have been playing for a long time now. Doubles wasn’t our priority at the beginning, as we also played singles. We just signed in to get more matches and also to earn more money in order to cover the costs,” Vliegen is looking back. “The advantage that we both have is that we know each other for a long time. We also played College-tennis, where doubles is more important than anywhere else. The left-rightie thing might also help us, as the opponents see different kind of services, different effect on the ball every game.”
The tandem carried the advantage to the the western bank of the River Isar, lifting the trophies in Pullach, which also secures the biggest triumph in their career.
“We have mainly won at smaller Challengers. This has been our biggest title so far,” Gillé said. “We liked it a lot here. It is not easy to organize a new event like this, as you don’t have any experiences from previous years. The organization and the hotel were good. The weather was nice, maybe except for yesterday, but we still managed to play and we won, that also helps to have an extra good feeling,” Vliegen commented.
ATP-events in sight
The main goal for the Belgians will be to establish on the ATP World Tour, as Gillé confirms: “We will continue competing at Challenger level over the next couple of months. There is still the ATP-event in Antwerp, in our home country, so we hope to play there. If we don’t get it right away maybe with a wild card. We just hope to get our ranking up and hope to make Australia next year and continue with ATP-events from then on.”
Next up, however, the team will have a break. “We are taking one or two weeks off now. We have been away from home for three weeks. The feeling is good but what we maybe did wrong in the past was kept playing for too many weeks in a row, which is mentally very tough. It is also very important to take care of your bodies,” Vliegen explains.
Both also had success off the court, graduating from University with a business degree in the United States. “I am not sure what I am going to do with it. I might continue studying but I am not sure yet. At least it is nice to have, as you never know what’s going to happen with your body. It is a nice back-up,” Gillé said.
“It was also one of the better experience in my life to play tennis over there. We can take it with us everywhere we go,” Vliegen added.