By Florian Heer
(May 18, 2014) In front of about 450 spectators, the Neckar Cup’s first edition took place at Tennis Club Heilbronn with top-seed Jan-Lennard Struff taking on Marton Fucsovics for the first time. The 24-year-old German had the better start, taking the opening set after only 26 minutes. The second set would become a closer one. Struff lost his service in the third game and had to save set point in the tenth game to gain the break back and even score at 5-5.
In the end the top-seed was the more consistent player and converted his fourth match point after 73 minutes winning 6-2, 7-6. After losing eight ATP Challenger finals, Struff finally won his maiden title at the Neckar Cup.
“Of course I’m very happy to claim my first Challenger title today. It just feels great,” the winner was relieved afterwards. “No one knows what would have happened if the match went the distance. Mentally this could have been very difficult. So I was lucky that Marton missed a couple of shots and that I was able to seal victory in straight sets,” Struff was satisfied and will take the next two days off before he travels to Paris on Thursday.
In the doubles final the German pair of Andre Begemann and Tim Puetz faced the tournament’s fourth-seeds Jesse Huta Galung and Rameez Junaid. The latter reached the final without dropping a set but today the Germans were the dominant team on court. Huta Galung, who won the doubles title at the ATP 500 event in Barcelona only three weeks ago with Stephane Robert, was broken twice in the opening set. In the second set it was his Australian partner, who lost his service in the fourth game, so that Begemann eventually served the match out winning 6-3, 6-3 in 68 minutes.
“I haven’t played for six weeks after Davis Cup and we played together for the very first time. So the only thing I can say is that it was a very positive week for us here in Heilbronn,” Begemann said after winning his twelfth ATP Challenger doubles title. The world No. 46 in doubles ranking split with his long-time partner Martin Emmrich in April and will not defend his title in Düsseldorf next week. “I wanted to claim an ATP title at another tournament,” Begemann laughed. “Davis Cup experience was really great for me and I’m looking forward to the next tournaments in Nice and Roland Garros. Both tournaments I am going to play together with Robin Haase,” Begemann told me. “I’m really happy. Train ride will be much nicer for the next four hours after winning the title here. Although I didn’t play singles here in Heilbronn it will give me confidence for the qualifying in Paris,” Puetz added.
Tournament director Metehan Cebeci was also very pleased with his new event on the ATP Challenger Tour and is looking forward to organizing a second edition next year: “From Monday on, the preparation for 2015 will begin. The first edition of the Neckar Cup was a total success due to all hands here at the tournament – ballkids, car shuttle drivers, linesmen and so on. They made the impossible possible and I’m very proud of my team,” Cebeci thanked all of his helpers. “We only received positive feedback, from the players and the ATP. In particular for the players, we want to offer the best possible stay during the tournament. Of course there are always things to improve for next year and I’m happy to do so. We had two persons of our team, who asked players and the ATP about their requests for modification and we will be happy to fulfil them in 2015,” the tournament director concluded.
Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit! Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.