Altmaier Battles Into Neckarcup Final

Daniel Altmaier (photo: Florian Heer)

HEILBRONN, May 13, 2022

Daniel Altmaier has reached his second title match on the ATP Challenger Tour this season. The top seed of the award-winning NECKARCUP edged past last year’s Heilbronn runner-up Daniel Elahi Galan of Colombia 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 in Friday’s semi-finals.

Under blue sky and in front of about 800 spectators at the Tennis Club Trappensee, Altmaier won three points less than his rival but broke his serve three times to seal victory in two hours and 13 minutes.

“It was a tough match, as all of our previous encounters. We played twice before in Santiago and Lyon and I knew that no matter how the first set would end, it is always possible for him to stay strong on court, making it really difficult,” said Altmaier.

“Maybe it wasn’t my best match of the week but it’s important to win these matches, in which you have to work hard for the victory.”

Besides his Argentine coach Francisco Yunis, the 23-year-old Kempen native is joined by his mother Galina during this week in Heilbronn. “It’s great to have the family here,” Altmaier said.

Forejtek injured, Martin advances

Earlier in the day, Andrej Martin benefited from the retirement of Czech youngster Jonas Forejtek, who was bidding to reach his first title match on the ATP Challenger Tour. The 21-year-old qualifier was leading 6-2, 6-7(4), 1-0 when he was forced to stop playing due to an abdominal injury.

“I have mixed emotions,” Martin said. “It is never easy to win with your opponent being injured. I know that he is a nice guy. I am happy to be in the final but obviously it’s not the way I wanted to win. I also had to overcome some health issues and was happy to come back in the second set. I gave it a chance to keep myself in the game. Sometimes things like this happen. I am not hoping for it but at the end of the day, I managed to get through.”

World No. 144 Martin leads his head-to-head record with Altmaier 2-0. The 32-year-old Slovakian was successful in Como 2019 and Concepcion, Chile two years later.

“When we played at Concepcion, I just returned from a Covid infection,” said Altmaier, looking ahead to the final. “In Como, I was forced to retire with an injury despite being a double break up in the second set. I think these results doesn’t have do anything with tomorrow’s final. I have made a progress in my development as a player and he also continued his path. He is in the final and will have a lot of confidence, as he also won four matches i in a row this week.”

Martin could clinch his 13th ATP Challenger career title in singles, his first since Shymkent in Kazakhstan 2019. Altmaier is bidding for his fourth Challenger crown, his first of the season and third on German soil. And will his mother be back in his box again? “Never change a winning team,” Altmaier responded with a smile.

Doubles final set

In other action, Nicolas Barrientos of Colombia and Mexican Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela knocked off No. 2 seeds Ivan and Matej Sabanov of Serbia 6-1, 7-6(3) to reach the doubles final.

“We played a really solid first set and went for our shots,” Reyes-Varela told Tennis TourTalk. “In the following the guys started to play better and adjusted to our game and it became a very close match. We stayed calm and finally didn’t make many mistakes in the tie-break to take the win.”

The pair started their partnership earlier this season and are seeking their third team title following their triumphs on Mexican soil at San Luis Potosi and Aguascalientes.

“We have known each other for a very long time, even though we haven’t played together in the past until this year,” Barrientos added. “We had faced each other many times and as soon as we started playing together we connected very well. In our first tournament we reached the final in Bolivia and after that it took some time to keep things going in automatic but we are clear on what we want to do and that’s motivating us to keep going. Getting the results as a consequence of our work is great to see.”

Barrientos and Reyes-Varela will play Jelle Sels and Bart Stevens for the title. The all-Dutch combination benefited from the retirement of Andrej Martin and Tristan-Samuel Weissborn after securing the first set 6-2. Weissborn was force to stop playing due to sickness.