Underdogs on the Fast Track

This year, the bell seems to toll for the underdogs at Hamburg Rothenbaum! The first-round defeats of two of the favourites, Alexander Zverev and Benoit Paire, opened unexpected possibilities for some of the underdogs to make it to the quarters of the long-standing tennis tournament.

The first to seize the moment was the French player, Stephane Robert (ATP 83), who despite losing the second set beat Inigo Cervantes (ATP 82), who had beaten Zverev, 7-5, 4-6 and 6-1. Despite Robert running into trouble with his serve now and then he displayed really good nerves throughout the match. In total, the 36-year old (!) fended off 13 break points against his Spanish opponent and hence almost made Cervantes despair. After converting match point, the Frenchman offered a little dance in front of the TV cameras expressing sheer joy about the hardly expected place in the quarters.

Guillermo Garcia-Lopez only spent about 74 minutes in his “office” on the Centre Court of the World before wrapping up his 6-3, 6-2 victory over Grega Zemlja from Slovenia. When the roof was closed at 3-0 Garcia Lopez needed a bit of time to get used to the new conditions, but after losing his serve the 33-year old player from Barcelona was back on track and quickly put Zemlja back in his place.

The youngster, Louis Wessel, didn’t succeed in causing another sensation at the German Open 2016 at Hamburg Rothenbaum. Nevertheless, the two-metre tall giant room Ostwestfalen seemed in a quite good mood after his loss against Martin Klizan. Although losing 6-1, 6-1 within 51 minutes showed him his limits he was able to handle things realistically. “The opponent was still out of my league. But I can learn a lot from such matches.” Not learn, but just enjoy is what Wessels intends to do in the future when playing in front of such a great crowd and the 4,000 spectators on the Centre Court of the World applauded the young player from Bielefeld for his commitment. After all, this was Wessels, who is only 17 years old, second match on the ATP Tour. And, besides, he had every reason to celebrate: by making it to the round of last sixteen at Rothenbaum, he is now ranked 650 in the world.

The Russian qualifier, Daniil Medvedev and Daniel Gimeno-Traver from Spain fought an epic battle in the last match of the day. The two players worked the clay on the Centre Court for three hours and seven minutes and not only displayed a courageous fight but also showed quite a few refined moves. In the end, Gimeno-Traver was the stronger player and triumphed over his opponent winning the tiebreaker of the third set (5-7, 7-6, 7-6) – so far, it was the longest match of this year’s tournament. Especially Medvedev went to the limits of his capacity and kept on coming back to level the score. However, in the tiebreak, Gimeno-Traver could draw on his experience. Also in the third set the Russian qualifier fought zealously despite cramping and gave everything in order to disarm his opponent’s efficient top spin and slice strokes – in vain in the end. The crowd celebrated both players with standing ovations for their passionate clay court battle.