Five Things To Know About Struff
The greatest season of Jan-Lennard Struff's career keeps getting better. In March, Struff posted his best result at an ATP Masters 1000 event, reaching the quarter-finals at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells (l. to Nadal).
And on Saturday, Struff made the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time. The 29-year-old German outlasted Croatian Borna Coric 4-6, 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(1), 11-9 to make his first Round of 16. Struff previously had reached the second round of a Grand Slam four times.
He and Coric played for four hours and 22 minutes as Court 15 turned into standing-room only. "Struff-y! Struff-y! Struff-y!" the German's supporters shouted.
Here are five things to know about Struff, who loves football and going to the cinema – he names his favourite movie below – and was practically born into the sport of tennis.
1. He had never beaten Alexander Zverev before Indian Wells.
Dating back to their 2015 matchup on the ATP Challenger Tour, Zverev was 5-0, including four tour-level matchups. against his older countryman. But Struff beat Zverev 6-3, 6-1 in March to reach the Indian Wells Round of 16 for the first time.
It was his second Top 5 win. He beat then-No. 3 Stan Wawrinka at the 2016 Rolex Paris Masters.
“I was really happy that I won that match. The score, 6-3, 6-1, feels good for me,” Struff told ATPTour.com. “He's such a good player, and I'm very happy that I could beat him.”
2. He's a doubles champion
Struff doesn't play doubles to get used to the courts. He doesn't join regular teammate Ben McLachlan of Japan for more match repetitions. No, his motivations for doubling his court time at tournaments are far simpler than that: “I like doubles. I like the game. I like to play,” Struff said.
He and McLachlan last year made the quarter-finals at the Mutua Madrid Open and Wimbledon and the semi-finals at the Australian Open and the Miami Open presented by Itau.
They won their first tour-level title together at the ATP 500 in Tokyo, and followed it with another title to start 2019 at the ASB Classic in Auckland and another final at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
“Last year was an amazing year for me in doubles, for Ben as well, his first year on Tour,” Struff said. “It feels really good, building up some self confidence around that, and helps a lot for singles, for sure. I definitely want to play a lot of doubles. It's a bit exhausting some times, but it makes it a lot of fun.”
3. He loves tennis, but...
Both of Struff's parents are tennis coaches at Tennis Park in his hometown of Warstein, Germany. “I always loved the game and still love it. Tennis is my life,” he said.
But if he's not on Tour or at the club's four outdoor clay courts or five indoor rubber courts, he's supporting his one and only football team, Borussia Dortmund. “Just one team and just full for the team, everything,” Struff said. “I live 10 minutes away from the stadium, and my father has season tickets.
“I always went when I was small, not that often anymore, maybe two, three times.”
4. “Pursuit of Happyness” is one of his favourite movies.
Struff has seen the 2006 movie starring American actor Will Smith 10 or 15 times. He watched it again on his 16-hour flight from Dubai to Los Angeles before the BNP Paribas Open. “I love the story,” Struff said.
5. Struff will reach a new career-high in the ATP Rankings after Roland Garros.
At No. 45, Struff is playing one spot away from his career-high ATP Ranking of No. 44, but he's projected to rise to at least No. 38 after the season's second Grand Slam. Struff next faces World No. 1 and 2016 champion Novak Djokovic.