Molleker Advances In French Open Qualifying

Rudolf Molleker

PARIS, May 20, 2019 (by Michael Dickens)

With the beginning of the French Open less than a week away, qualifying for 16 open spots in the men’s 128-player singles draw began at Roland Garros on Monday.

Those who earned positions in the qualifying draw represent a variety of players, from top-seeded American Tennys Sandgren, who is ranked 87th in the world, to up-and-coming stars like 18-year-old Rudolf Molleker of Germany, to ageless veterans like 37-year-old Spaniard Tommy Robredo. It also includes players coming back from injuries and others who are toiling on the ATP Challenger Tour.

With one-eighth of the main draw slots up for grabs, it takes three qualifying wins over a five-day period to move into next week’s main draw. Forty-eight matches were on Monday’s order of play, spread over 10 outer courts (Courts 6 through 15), on a cold and overcast opening day of qualifying.

Arguably, one of the best matches of the day – and which drew a lot of attention – was between No. 284 Robredo and No. 177 Molleker on Court 7, in which the young German prevailed 7-6 (5), 6-3 in one hour and 19 minutes by winning the last 13 points of the match.

Molleker won 70 percent (29 of 41) of his first-serve points, hit 22 winners and outpointed Robredo 71-59. He broke Robredo four times in five opportunities and the Spaniard committed 22 unforced errors.

Robredo, second-oldest in the men’s qualifying draw, once was ranked as high as No. 5 in 2006. He’s a five-time Roland Garros quarterfinalist, who has been slowed by injuries the past few years. The last time Robredo reached the main draw of the French Open was 2017, where he lost in the second round. Meanwhile, Molleker qualified for the Australian Open in January and is hopeful to do the same at Roland Garros. He won the 2018 ATP Challenger Tour’s Neckarcup in Heilbronn, Germany, where he also reached the quarterfinals of the same tournament last week.

Next, Molleker will face No. 16 seed Matthias Bachinger of Germany, who is 14 years his senior, on Wednesday. The No. 127 Bachinger advanced over No. 220 Sergio Gutierrez-Ferrol of Spain, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3.

Among Monday’s winners

• Former World No. 12 Viktor Troicki of Serbia advanced over No. 267 Kevin Krawietz of Germany, 6-4, 6-3. Troicki, ranked No. 256, is on the rebound from a lower back injury and regaining his confidence. “Last time I was coming back, I basically didn’t have a ranking and came back to the top 100 really fast – in three months – but it’s much tougher coming back from an injury when I’m a bit older now and my body is responding differently,” said Troicki, 33, in an interview published on the Roland Garros website. Next, Troicki faces No. 171 Jason Kubler of Australia, who upset No. 28 seed Ramkumar Ramanathan of India, ranked No. 144, 6-4, 6-4.

• No. 4 seed Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland, ranked No. 104, defeated No. 176 Daniel Brands of Germany, 6-3, 6-0, by taking advantage of five breaks of his opponent’s serve.

• No. 6 seed Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine, ranked No. 111, advanced over No. 151 James Duckworth of Australia by retirement, ahead 4-2 in the first set.

• No. 7 Thiago Monteiro of Brazil, ranked No. 113, bested No. 235 Mohamed Safwat of Egypt, 7-6 (3), 6-0.

• No. 8 seed Yannick Maden of Germany, ranked No. 115, defeated No. 173 Jurgen Zopp of Estonia, 6-3, 6-2.

• No. 12 seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain, ranked No. 123, beat No. 228 Tim Smyczek of the United States, 6-1, 6-4.

• No. 13 seed Stefano Travaglia of Italy, ranked No. 120, advanced over No. 187 Jurij Rodionov of Austria, 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4).

• No. 14 seed Peter Polansky of Canada, ranked No. 124, beat No. 206 Darian King of Barbados, 6-4, 6-4.

• No. 15 seed Sebastian Ofner of Austria, ranked No. 141, defeated No. 164 Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium, 6-2, 7-6 (5).

• No. 17 seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain, ranked No. 133 and who was a recent semifinalist at Estoril, beat No. 159 Jay Clarke of Great Britain, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1.

• No. 19 seed Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic, ranked No. 138, advanced over unranked Amir Weintraub of Israel, 6-3, 6-1.

• No. 20 Bjorn Fratangelo of the United States, ranked No. 137, defeated No. 146 Evgeny Donskoy of Russia, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3).

• No. 23 seed Oscar Otte of Germany, ranked No. 145, defeated No. 169 James Ward of Great Britain, 6-1, 6-2.

• No. 24 seed Gianluca Mager of Italy, ranked No. 143, beat No. 168 Enrique Lopez Perez of Spain, 7-6 (0), 6-0.

• No. 31 seed Salvatore Caruso of Italy, ranked No. 148, came from behind and advanced over No. 205 Norbert Gombos of Slovakia, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.

• No. 32 seed Mikael Ymer of Sweden, ranked No. 149, bested No. 183 Roberto Marcora of Italy, 6-4, 2-6, 6-1.

The upsets

• No. 175 Dustin Brown of Germany scored a surprising win over No. 2 seed Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, 7-6 (5), 6-1. The 34-year-old Brown hit 45 winners against the No. 99 Istomin, who has been ranked as high as 33rd. Next, Brown faces No. 194 Emilio Gomez of Ecuador, who advanced over No. 257 Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain, 6-4, 6-1.

Simone Bolelli of Italy, ranked No. 191, who reached the third round of the 2015 main draw and has played in the French Open 12 times, upset No. 5 seed Kamil Majchrzak of Poland, ranked No. 118, 7-5, 7-6 (5). He overcame 39 unforced errors by hitting 23 winners.

• No. 10 seed Elias Ymer of Sweden, ranked No. 116, lost to French wild card Matteo Martineau, ranked No. 450, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, in two hours and 28 minutes.

• No. 11 Dennis Novak of Austria, ranked No. 114, lost to No. 188 Blaz Rola of Slovenia, 6-2, 6-3.

• No. 22 seed Michael Mmoh of the United States was taken out by wild card No. 429 Corentin Denolly of France, 6-1, 6-4.

• No. 29 Lukas Lacko of Slovakia, ranked No. 139, fell to wild card No. 420 Manuel Guinard of France, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-1.

• Finally, No. 25 seed Marco Trungelliti of Argentina, ranked No. 140, lost to French wild card Hugo Gaston, ranked No. 516, 6-4, 6-1. Trungelliti made headlines last year by reaching the main draw as a lucky loser after he had already left Paris for Barcelona, then drove all night with his grandmother, girlfriend and brother to reach Roland Garros in time for his first-round main draw match.

Looking ahead to Tuesday

Both men’s and women’s No. 1 seeds are scheduled to play their first-round qualifying matches. Men’s No. 1 Tennys Sandgren from the United States, ranked 87th, will face  No. 217 Yosuke Watanuki of Japan in the first match of the day on Court 7 at 10 a.m. Meanwhile, women’s No. 1 seed Bernarda Pera of the United States, ranked 83rd, will play the fifth match from 10 a.m. on Court 14 against French wild card Alizé Lim ranked No. 406.