By Florian Heer
(January 12, 2014) The season on the ITF Future Circuit has started in Schwieberdingen, a town with 12.000 inhabitants in the southwest of Germany. Seven years ago architect Heinz-Werner Maden – nicknamed Mickey – established the event with the intention to offer a stage for his two ambitious sons to play a professional tournament. The elder one, Yannick, who recently graduated from a college in the United States, made it into the main draw this year but lost in second round. Today the venue is owned by tennis coach David King from Philadelphia, who also runs a tennis academy in the area. Maden still supports him as co-tournament director organizing the Südwestbank Tennis Grand Prix, which is endowed with prize money of US-$ 10.000.
It is one of the rare professional tournaments, which is still played on carpet. Therefore it suits perfectly big servers. One of them is world number 567 Fabrice Martin. The Frenchman was the tournament’s runner-up in 2013 and also made it into this year’s final beating third-seeded Nils Langer in the quarterfinal and another German in person of Andreas Mies in the semis. In Sunday’s final the two meter-man from Bayonne had to face top-seed Bastian Knittel. The world number 270 defeated with Michael Lammer and Yann Marti two Swiss in a row to reach the final. The 30-years-old German lives in the region and was supported by the about 200 spectators attending the match.
Knittel had the better start, broke serve in the very first game, hit solid groundstrokes and had a high first service percentage by himself. Consequently the German veteran closed the set out in the tenth game. In the second frame the match became an even affair, dominated by the service games from both players. The only break point was also set point and Martin capitalized on it through a great backhand return winner in the twelfth game.
The match went the distance and Knittel, who played his first tournament due to a knee injury since the ATP Challenger in Como last August, started to breathe heavier in the middle of the final set. The German produced a couple of double faults and he consequently lost his serve in the sixth game. Martin only had to hold his service games in the following and finally converted his first match point after two hours winning 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 to gain his fifth Future career title.
“I started a bit nervous today by losing my first service game. However, I knew that I had to stay concentrated, not to get frustrated and I used my only break point chance in the second set. In the final set Bastian started to serve a bit shaky but I stayed focus and played my game,” Martin reflected the match. “I hope that this will not remain my only title this year,” the Frenchman said. “For the last couple of years I have always won one title but in 2014 it should become at least one more,” Martin laughed. “I will play two more Futures in Germany and then I will go to Montpellier, which is my home tournament. I hope that I can improve a bit in terms of ranking to get into the Australian Open next year,” he told us about his goals for the season.
Knittel was also quite satisfied with his performance today. “I simply ran out of steam in the final set,” the German admitted. “I broke his service once and it is so hard to gain another break. Of course I am disappointed but this is not the end of the world,” Knittel seemed to be quite relaxed afterwards. “This year I will still play two more tournaments and after the ATP Challenger in Heilbronn I will end my career,” the 30-year-old said. “I simply had too many injuries in the past and you have to be at 100 percent playing the Tour and I don’t feel able to be there physically as well as mentally. From April on I will work as a head coach in Bad Friedrichshall,” Knittel told us about his further plans.
The doubles competition went in favor of the team of Jac Adaktusson & Dimitar Kutrovsky, who won the final against second-seeded Poles Blazej Koniusz & Mateusz Kowalczyk. Next week the Future tour moves on to Stuttgart-Stammheim, only about twenty kilometers away from Schwieberdingen.