Molleker Keeps Dream Of Neckarcup Title Defense In Heilbronn Alive

Rudolf Molleker (photo: Neckarcup)

HEILBRONN, May 14, 2019 (by Dietmar Kaspar)

The second win of defending champion Rudolf Molleker headlined Tuesday’s second round action at the sixth edition of the Neckarcup in Heilbronn. The 18-year-old German met No. 2 seeded Tennys Sandgren. In January, the 27-year-old US-American clinched his maiden title on the ATP Tour with his victory in Auckland on hard court. His best result on clay was the final appearance at the ATP 250 event in Houston last year.

Molleker took a fast 3-0 lead to dominate the whole match. After one hour and 11 minutes, he secured a 6-3, 6-4 victory, breaking his opponent three times by dropping one service game.

„The match was okay, I played better than yesterday. It was my tactic to keep the rallies long. The experience of the great amount of matches I played on the Centre Court in Heilbronn helped me a lot,“ Molleker said after the encounter and will face Aslan Karatsev from Russia in the third round.

It was a rude awakening for local player Yannick Maden, who entered the competition on position 10. The 29-year old Stuttgart native competed versus Arthur de Greef from Belgium, who won all of his ATP Challenger and ITF Future titles on clay court.

Breaking his German opponent four times, 27-year-old de Greef clinched a 6-4, 6-2 victory after one hour and 37 minutes. Next up will be Brazilian No. 7 seed Thiago Monteiro, who battled down Frenchman Constant Lestienne later in the day.

Puerto Vallarta Open champion Sebastian Ofner had a tough start in the European clay-court swing. The No. 15 seeded Austrian fell to ITF-entry Aslan Karatsev in three sets. Winning three points more than his opponent, the 25-year-old Russian got the win by the score of 6-4, 2-6, 7-6.

Conclusion of the first-round matches 

Earlier in the day, the last matches of the opening round were held.

Of special interest was the performance of ITF-entry Peter Heller. The German served as an example for the disadvantaged players on the ATP Tour following the reform of the ITF World Tennis Tour. Earning all points at ITF tournaments last season, he dropped about 300 positions in the ATP rankings by the start of the new season.

The 28-year-old met his compatriot Kevin Krawietz, who entered the main draw as lucky loser after the withdrawal of Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor due to a lower back injury.

Converting four of his seven break point chances, Heller sealed a clear 6-3, 6-2 victory to face German No. 16 seed Matthias Bachinger in the next round.

After the match, Heller stated: „I am happy about the win today. I have to collect points on the ATP Challenger Tour to establish myself at this level. It’s the way to avoid playing on the ITF Transition tour.“

German Qualifier Daniel Masur emerged victorious from the battle against his long-term training partner and countryman Yannick Hanfmann.

The 24-year-old, who started studying financial management this year besides his tennis career, outpointed his rival 94-83 to earn a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 win after one hour and 51 minutes. Masur will compete versus No. 4 seeded Jiri Vesely from the Czech Republic in the second round.

Daniel Altmaier

Daniel Altmaier (photo: Neckarcup)

Daniel Altmaier advanced to the second round by defeating Jurij Rodionov from Austria. The 20-year-old German, who had been sidelined from the courts due to injury for one year, capitalized on three of his five break point opportunities without facing a break point to win the match 6-4, 6-2.

„I did not play at ATP level for a long time, but I showed a very good match against a player ranked World No. 180. I stayed solid to get a clear result in the end. I will move on week by week to get more competitive,“ Altmaier said. He will go head-to head against Spanish No. 12 seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

The remaining encounters of the second round will take place at the venue of the TC Heilbronn on Wednesday, highlighted by top seeded 2017 Neckarcup champion Filip Krajinovic from Serbia and Kazakh No. 3 seed Alexander Bublik, who already captured three ATP Challenger titles this season.

Tuesday Results

Main draw singles first round

Daniel Altmaier – Jurij Rodionov 6-4, 6-2

Alexey Vatutin – Carlos Berloq 6-3, 6-1

Attila Balazs – Matteo Viola 6-4, 6-3

Peter Heller – Kevin Krawietz 6-3, 6-2

Daniel Masur – Yannick Hanfmann 6-3, 4-6, 6-2

Main draw singles second round

Thiago Monteiro – Constant Lestienne 6-4, 7-5

Arthur de Greef – Yannick Maden 6-4, 6-2

Aslan Karatsev – Sebastian Ofner 6-4, 2-6, 7-6

Rudolf Molleker – Tennys Sandgren 6-3, 6-4

Peter Polansky – Baptiste Crepatte 6-1, 7-6

Elias Ymer – Hernan Casanova 6-3, 6-0