From Wimbledon To Scheveningen: Bemelmans Breaking New Ground
Transitioning between two surfaces in consecutive weeks is a difficult task, even for the most talented and most experienced of players. Ask anyone on tour and they will likely tell you that the summer swing from the European clay to grass and over to the North American hard courts is the toughest test of their abilities.
Ruben Bemelmans is making the transition look easy this week at The Hague Open, a €64,000 event on the ATP Challenger Tour. The 29-year-old Belgian is peaking at the right time, extending his dominant form from a third round finish at Wimbledon to the clay of Scheveningen, where he advanced to his third Challenger final of the year.
"For me, it's no problem," Bemelmans told ATPWorldTour.com at The Hague Open. "I've had a week and a half on clay, so I feel good. The transition is going well. I think for my game I don't have to adjust that much, just be a bit more patient sometimes.
"My ranking is back to the Top 100 but I'll still need to play Challengers and ATP World Tour events for the rest of the year. It'll be a mix, but my mindset is the same for every tournament. I just want to win."
Bemelmans has excelled on faster surfaces throughout his career, but is earning a new reputation in the Dutch beach town after reaching his 17th Challenger final and first on clay. In fact, entering the week he boasted a combined 126 match wins on hard and grass in his career and just 15 on clay.
Just two weeks ago, Bemelmans was surging on the grass of Wimbledon, notching his best result at the All England Club. He reached the third round as a qualifier, defeating former World No. 2 Tommy Haas and #NextGenATP star Daniil Medvedev along the way.
With the result, Bemelmans moved back into the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time in nearly two years. Now just a few spots off his career-high of No. 84 and with little points to defend through the US Open, he is poised to continue plotting his ascent.
"I've proven before that I have the game to go far in Grand Slams. I've made the third round at the US Open (in 2015) and have done well in ATP events. I just feel good at Wimbledon. It's my favourite surface and the Grand Slam where I've qualified the most. This year I've improved my game a lot and I've been very consistent. That's the key.
"At Wimbledon, I played my game, dominating the points and being in control. I think I have a clear view of how I want to play and that's been the big difference from the years before. Beating Tommy was something very special. I was very nervous before the match. Obviously he's a great player and can still play amazing tennis, beating Federer a few weeks ago.
"I handled it well and he said afterwards that I was playing really well and was putting a lot of pressure on him. Against Medvedev, it was the same. On grass, he's really good and won a lot of matches coming in. As you can see, if I'm in control, I can win some big matches."
Bemelmans will vie for his sixth ATP Challenger Tour title and second of the year on Sunday, facing Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the Scheveningen final. He lifted the trophy on the indoor hard courts of Koblenz, Germany, in January. Garcia-Lopez, previously the champion in 2006, enters the final with a 12-1 tournament record. It will be their first FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter.