HEILBRONN, May 8, 2022
Rudolf Molleker is back in Heilbronn, returning to the place of his biggest success. The 2018 champion opened his 2022 NECKARCUP campaign with a hard-fought 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(4) first-round victory in the qualifying over Belgian veteran Ruben Bemelmans.
On a sunny Sunday afternoon at the Tennis Club Heilbronn am Trappensee, Molleker delighted his home crowd on Center Court with an emotional display of tennis and an exciting finish. The 21-year-old German a break up in the final set but Bemelmans came back and had two match points in the 12th game. Molleker saved both and pushed the encounter into the tie-break, in which a very focused World No. 504 secured victory after almost two hours of play.
We’ve just started with the qualifying but atmosphere is already heating up, as 2018 NECKARCUP champion Rudolf Molleker 🇩🇪 saves two match points to overcome Ruben Bemelmans 🇧🇪 6-4 3-6 7-6.#ATPChallenger #Heilbronn pic.twitter.com/wdCjfBZeRr
— NECKARCUP Heilbronn (@NeckarH) May 8, 2022
“It was a tight match. My service for the match was shaky. I also made a double fault. I was really nervous. Then, being a break down 5-6 … I am just happy to be through.” said Molleker, who has fond memories of Heilbronn, where he lifted his first and so far only ATP Challenger trophy.
“It was a lot of fun today playing in front of a crowd, especially here in Heilbronn. The support helped me throughout the match. It was really nice and I am happy that I didn’t disappoint the spectators in the end.”
Molleker arrived in the in the southwest corner of Germany fresh from his first title match since the Poznan Open in June 2019. The Ukrainian native finished runner-up to Viacheslav Bielinskiy at the ITF World Tennis Tour M25 event in Split, Croatia, last week.
“It was good to win a few matches in a row,” the Ukrainian native said. “I feel better. I am physically in a good shape and ready to fight again. I still have to work on the consistency on the court but last week’s tournament helped for sure.”
Molleker will next take on No. 2 seed Miljan Zekic of Serbia, who cruised past Australian alternate Thomas Fancutt 6-0, 6-3 in 53 minutes.
In other action, qualifying top seed Jonas Forejtek defeated Christopher Heyman of Belgium 7-6(2), 6-1 in one hour and 14 minutes and will next play Matthias Bachinger. The 35-year-old German remained untroubled during his 6-0, 6-1 win over Turkish wild card entry Berk Ilkel.
RESULTS – MAY 08, 2022
Qualifying Singles – First Round J. Forejtek (CZE) d C. Heyman (BEL) 76(2) 61  M. Zekic (SRB) d [Alt] T. Fancutt (AUS) 60 63  S. Nagal (IND) d [WC] Y. Kelm (GER) 62 61 [Alt] J. Haerteis (GER) d  A. Vatutin 63 64  J. Lenz (GER) d [Alt] D. Tomescu (ROU) 76(5) 64  N. Sanchez Izquierdo (ESP) d [WC] L. Gavrielides (GER) 76(4) 63 R. Molleker (GER) d  R. Bemelmans (BEL) 64 36 76(4)  B. Hassan (LIB) d E. Ejupovic (GER) 64 61  O. Krutykh (UKR) d [Alt] V. Cornea (ROU) 67(5) 61 64  M. Bachinger (GER) d [WC] B. Ilkel (TUR) 60 61  A. Gautier (FRA) d [WC] Y. Erel (TUR) 64 76(11)  H. Squire (GER) d [Alt] S. Myneni (IND) 62 64