Molleker Opens Neckarcup Title Defense With Win In Heilbronn

Rudolf Molleker (photo: Neckarcup)

HEILBRONN, May 13, 2019 (by Dietmar Kaspar)

The sixth edition of the Neckarcup is taking place this week at the venue of the TC Heilbronn, located next to the idyllic lake Trappensee. Germany’s popular tournament has been named best ATP Challenger Tour event for the second consecutive year.

Due to the lack of a qualifying weekend this season, the tournament’s organizing company C2B GmbH arranged a pre-launch event on Sunday with free admission. Numerous spectators were invited to attend the official draw ceremony of the €92,040 Challenger 100 event, followed by a show match between 2018 Neckarcup champion Rudolf Molleker from Germany and Swedish young gun Elias Ymer.

Monday’s action started with the two qualifying encounters.

Former ATP No. 12 and Davis Cup champion Viktor Troicki fell to Hungarian Attila Balazs 6-1, 6-7, 3-6 following a 6-1, 5-1 lead. Balazs will meet Italian Matteo Viola in the opening round of the main draw.

The second main draw-spot was decided in the all-German encounter between Daniel Masur and Kevin Krawietz. Masur emerged victorious, winning 6-4, 6-3 against his former training partner.

It is always difficult to compete against someone who knows the way I play so exactly. But I felt good on the court to withstand the variable play of Kevin with all the drop shots,” Masur told Tennis TourTalk after the match. He will next take on his German countryman Yannick Hanfmann.

The start of the main draw action was headlined by the matches of the local players. Six of the seven first-round -competitors from Germany met directly in all-German-encounters.

Molleker starts title defense

Defending champion Rudolf Molleker opened his title bid versus German countryman Mats Moraing. The 18-year-old Ukraine native dropped the first set 5-7. Converting six of his 13 break point chances by losing four service games on the six break point opportunities he faced, Molleker clinched the next two sets with 6-4, 6-1. The encounter lasted one hour and 39 minutes.

„I am happy to be back, but today I did not play my best level. It was not easy to play against a good friend of mine and the windy conditions made it very difficult for both players. It is important to get the win in the first round. I recognize that the people here expect a lot of me after my successful tournament here last year,“ Molleker said.

On Tuesday he will go head-to-head versus No. 2 seeded Tennys Sandgren from the United States.

Brown, Otte and Koepfer advance

34-year-old Dustin Brown from Germany had to compete against compatriot Cedrik-Marcel Stebe. Capitalizing on three of his six break point chances without dropping a service game, Brown sealed a 6-4, 6-3 victory in 66 minutes. Brown will face Italian No. 13 seed Stefano Travaglia in the next round.


Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (photo: Neckarcup)

After the match, Stebe stated: „I am happy to be back on tour after such a long time. I feel physically well and try to get confident with playing more matches at highest level. For the next 12 month I can use my protected ranking, so I can start in the main draw of the next four Grand Slam tournaments“.

It was the third tournament appearance of the season for the 28-year-old former Davis-Cupper after his 15 months lasting injury time out.

Big-serving Oscar Otte defeated Czech veteran Lukas Rosol in 52 minutes. Winning 83 per cent of the points played on his first serve, Otte secured a 6-4, 6,1 win. Next up for the 25-year-old German will be No. 5 seeded Denis Istomin from Uzbekistan.

The evening-session featured the last all-German battle of the day. 25-year-old US-college graduate Dominik Koepfer outpointed experienced Daniel Brands 59:39 to get victorious with 6-3, 6-1 after 60 minutes. Koepfer will challenge top seeded and 2017 Neckarcup champion Filip Krajinovic, who was awarded a wild card by tournament director Metehan Cebeci on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s action will kick off with the first seeded players, headlined by the tournament’s No. 2 Tennys Sandgren, Brazilian No. 7 seed Thiago Monteiro, and in the evening-session No. 9 seed Elias Ymer.

Of interest for the German spectators will be the performances of No. 10 seeded Yannick Maden and the top seeded doubles pair Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies.

Neckarcup oddities

Weirdest five minutes of tennis ever: Daniel Elahi Galan of Colombia losing points during an urgent toilet break against Frenchman Constant Lestienne, who eventually won the match 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-3.

Monday Results

Qualifying Singles

Daniel Masur – Kevin Krawietz 6-4, 6-3

Attila Balazs – Viktor Troicki 1-6, 7-6, 6-3

Main draw singles first round

Dominik Koepfer – Daniel Brands, 6-3, 6-1

Baptisto Crepatte – Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-3, 7-6

Jozef Kovalik – Yosuke Watanuki 6-2, 6-2

Dustin Brown – Cedric-Marcel Stebe 6-4, 6-3

Hernan Casanova – Arthur Rinderknech 3-6, 6-3, 6-2

Constant Lestienne – Daniel Elahi Galan 5-7, 7-6, 6-3

Arthur de Greef – Noah Rubin 6-2, 6-2

Oscar Otte – Lukas Rosol 6-4, 6-1

Marco Trungelliti – Stefano Napolitano 7-6, 6-4

Aslan Karatsev – Mirza Basic 6-4, 6-2

Rudi Molleker – Mats Moraing 5-7, 6-4, 6-