17-Year-Old Molleker Stuns Ferrer In Hamburg
David Ferrer entered his match at the German Tennis Championships 2018 presented by Kampmann with 726 tour-level wins. His opponent, 17-year-old Rudolf Molleker, had played just four tour-level matches.
But the #NextGenATP German battled past the Spanish veteran on Monday, defeating the former World No. 3 7-5, 5-7, 6-3. One year ago, Molleker qualified in Hamburg, defeating Leonardo Mayer in the final round of qualifying. The Argentine would go on to capture the title as a lucky loser.
“This feels even more incredible, playing in front of the home crowd, on home soil. I did a good job last year, so it’s kind of hard, people have expectations because I qualified last year,” Molleker said. “Beating him [Ferrer] out here feels really incredible for me, so I’m looking forward to the next round. I’m just feeling good, now.”
It is the German's second tour-level win, after earning his first in June at Stuttgart against compatriot Jan-Lennard Struff. Molleker had never won an ATP Challenger Tour match when he arrived in Heilbronn, Germany this May for the Neckarcup. But the teenager became the third player born in 2000 to triumph at the Challenger-level, joining Felix Auger-Aliassime and Nicola Kuhn.
Molleker will next play qualifier Jozef Kovalik, who upset fourth seed Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina 6-2, 6-4 in 89 minutes. It is the Slovakian’s highest-ranked victory since he beat then No. 6-ranked Marin Cilic in January 2017 at the Tata Open Maharashtra, when the tournament was played in Chennai.
“It’s definitely a tough match,” Molleker said. “He passed qualifying here and beat Damir Dzumhur, which is a big win, too. It’s going to be so hard for me, as hard as today, and I have to fight again and show my best out there.”
Did You Know?
When Molleker played in Hamburg last year, he was No. 923 in the ATP Rankings. Now, he is at a career-best No. 271, and thanks to his victory against Ferrer, will continue to rise next Monday.