LUDWIGSHAFEN, July 5, 2019
Players from Slovakia headlined Friday’s quarterfinal action at the Ludwigshafen Challenger with Filip Horansky and Alex Molcan making their way into the stage of the final four.
Horansky battled past No. 16 seeded Frenchman Constant Lestienne, winning 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. The No. 12 seed from Piestany broke his opponent’s serve five times to secure victory in two hours and 31 minutes.
Filip Horansky first player to book his spot in the SF of the Ludwigshafen Challenger after a big fight. Opponent Constant Lestienne started cramping, couldn’t even make it to the net for the handshake. pic.twitter.com/99ASdfT1jp
— Florian Heer (@Florian_Heer) 5. Juli 2019
“I just tried to stay aggressive, as Constant has a good touch as well as pretty good and tricky shots. It was also important to serve well to get into the right position on court. It was a tough match but I kept fighting and that was key,” Horansky told Tennis TourTalk afterwards.
Asked about one or two underarm serves, Horansky had to return, he said: “It is a legal weapon on the court. I was angry at him at these moments due to the emotions on court but it is part of the tennis rules. I am okay with it.”
The 26-year-old arrived in Ludwigshafen after he had played four consecutive grass-court tournaments, including the qualifying at Wimbledon, but couldn’t win one single match. “It was a good experience but you need to find some self-confidence. My first match was against Tommy Paul at Surbiton Challenger and I lost in three sets. From then on I didn’t really believe in myself. Hopefully it will be better next year. Although I grew up on clay, tennis is played on more than one surface.”
Horansky will play his third semi-final in 2019 after reaching the stages of the final four in Budapest and Bordeaux. “My season so could have been better but half of the season is still in front of me. I played some good matches. It is important trying to improve every day. My goal is to break into the top 100 competing in the best tournaments but I have to go step by step.”
The current World No. 181 practices at the National Tennis Center in Bratislava and is coached by former professional Karol Kucera. “He is a nice person and we do a good job. He travels the tour with me, which is important. It is not easy for him, as he has a wife and a small kid and I am very thankful for his support.”
Horansky also seems to feel comfortable on German soil, as his lone ATP Challenger title came in Meerbusch last year. “I like Germany. I have lived for a couple of months in Düsseldorf and also play club matches there. I can understand some German, as I learnt the language four years in high school. I can speak a bit but doing an interview in German would not be possible,” he smiled.
Next up for Horansky will be his compatriot Alex Molcan. “We are friends off the court. On the court, it’s always tough to play against him. We played in the quarterfinals in Budapest earlier this season. It was a pretty emotional match and I am looking forward to tomorrow.”
Molcan, who entered the €46,600 clay-court event as an alternate, continued his good run of form by beating No. 9 seed Facundo Bagnis of Argentina 6-4, 6-3. The 21-year-old from Slovakia won 57 per cent of the total points played to advance to his first semi-final of the season after one hour and 26 minutes.
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Local favourite Hanfmann advances
Later in the afternoon, Yannick Hanfmann knocked off No. 4 seed Elias Ymer of Sweden, winning 6-4, 6-4. After a slow start and being 0-4 down, the 27-year-old German found his rhythm and won six games in a row to clinch the first set. Hanfmann broke serve in the ninth game of the second frame to finish the encounter after one hour and 28 minutes.
— Florian Heer (@Florian_Heer) 5. Juli 2019
“I didn’t play my best today but I was mentally strong, which made the difference in the end,” Hanfmann told Tennis TourTalk. “When I was 1-4 down, I told myself to win every game in this set and it worked out in the end. I didn’t know anything about him and I didn’t have the right match plan at the beginning. When I started to play more aggressively, it became better. Overall, conditions suit my game pretty well and I can enjoy a good home support.”
Hanfmann will next take on Stefano Travaglia, the highest ranked player left in the singles draw. The tournament’s No. 2 from Italy edged past Bernabe Zapata Miralles of Spain, winning 7-5, 7-6(4) in one hour and 55 minutes.
“We haven’t played a match yet, but we practiced together at the French Open this year. He is a very good player and I am looking forward to the match,” Hanfmann said.
Photo Gallery (by Florian Heer)