Singles Round 2, Doubles Quarterfinals – August 16
First match on centre court. I was looking forward to see Rudolf Molleker, the 17 year old new German sensation, now ranked 259. He managed to win his first Challenger on home soil in Heilbronn as a wildcard in May this year. But I was also looking forward to see Johan Tatlot. France always produces a lot of talent and Tatlot (22) is just ranked two places lower than Molleker at 261.
Tatlot’s win/loss record is 47-12 in the last 52 matches, which is just as impressive as his physical build. He’s from Martinique (French Antilles) originally and a strong dude. Both players were sloppy but Molleker’s talent clearly showed. He’s got nice groundstrokes and had Tatlot under control throughout the match. Tatlot’s serve got worse as the match progressed. He produced 5 aces but also 8 double faults.
Both players yelled at themselves and were unhappy with the state of the court. There were indeed quite some bad bounces. Molleker was very vocal about it, yelling “diese scheissplaetze hier”, which translates to ‘the shitcourts here’. But to be honest his tennis simply wasn’t as good as he wanted. Rudolf admitted this after the match. Johan lost his mojo (and racquet) in the second set and was pushed towards the exit very quickly. Mentally and in terms of consistency both players have work to do to have a chance with the big boys. Disappointing match quality overall but nice to have seen these talented guys anyway.
I had decided to return to this tournament on Thursday instead of Friday to see Jelle Sels play. Pedro Sousa’s last two Challengers have been good with a win and a runner up result. He’s trying to make the final push towards the top 100 for a while now. At rank 124 he is pretty close and he was even closer once at 102. Pedro’s good run would continue. Jelle Sels had an off-day. His serving was mediocre and he hit too many unforced errors. That was unfortunate for Jelle, his parents and girlfriend(?) whom I believe attended this match also.
It was Jelle’s fifth match in this tournament and I was really looking forward to see what he could do against a considerably higher ranked player. But Pedro was just too good today. His court movement was solid and he made very few mistakes. A pretty easy straight sets victory for the Portuguese second seed.
The match was lopsided at the start. Krawietz was up 6-2 quickly and got in front early in the second set. Hassan gradually improved and his netplay came to fruition. He hit a miracle ‘wrist-backflip-lob’ with his back to the net, worthy of an ATP highlight-reel first place! Krawietz acknowledged the brilliance shouting “Das ist Wahnsinn!” (That’s crazy!) before the ball touched the clay behind him. He knew instantly that it was too good. Hassan apologised for his supposed luck and pushed on to clinch a tiebreaker.
I left the match for the Brown-Muller match and a proper seat. Sitting on the ground became less and less comfortable and Dustin is always a pleasure to watch. Krawietz took the decider 7-5. That set turned out to take just as long as Brown’s entire match.
Veteran showman Dustin Brown (age 33, ranked 257) made tennis look stunningly easy today. Alexandre Muller (age 21, ranked 411) would win just three games. The French youngster’s athletic abilities were neutralised by Brown. Dustin was red-hot and hit every winner he could. From dropshots, aces to flat forehand return winners, it was all Dustin Brown today. Dustin needed just 43 minutes (!) to win this match. Alexandre as he walked to his seat desperately shouted in French: “Je ne peut bien faire!”, meaning: “I can’t do anything!”. That was indeed an accurate description of the match.
Dimitar Kuzmanov & Maxime Janvier (BUL/FRA) def. Carlos Boluda Purkiss & Mario Vilella Martinez (ESP) 6-3, 6-2
Final match of the day on Yonex court. A walk in the park for the Dimitar and Maxime. I had seen Maxime Janvier before this year at the Lille Challenger in France but the other faces were new to me. Maxime served big as usual and he formed a good team with Kuzmanov, who ranks 302 in singles. The Bulgarian played pretty well and I’m interested to see how he develops.
The Spanish duo smiled a lot and weren’t very inspired to make it a tough evening. They were beaten quite easily and didn’t seem to care much. At around 8pm the match was over and it was a good time to go back home.