First Time Winner

First-Time Winner Spotlight: Jan-Lennard Struff

German emerges victorious aged 33
April 21, 2024
Jan-Lennard Struff defeats Taylor Fritz for the Munich title.
Getty Images for BMW Open
Jan-Lennard Struff defeats Taylor Fritz for the Munich title. By ATP Staff

The smile on Jan-Lennard Struff's face said it all Sunday in Munich. The 33-year-old German had just defeated Taylor Fritz in the final of the BMW Open to win his first ATP Tour title.

By doing so, Struff became the third-oldest first-time ATP Tour titlist since the inception of the Tour in 1990. He is the sixth player to claim his maiden tour-level trophy this season. caught up with Struff to discuss the meaning of the moment, those who helped him get there and more.

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Oldest First-Time ATP Tour Champions

 Player  Age  Tournament
 Paolo Lorenzi  34 years, 7 months  2016 Kitzbühel
 Victor Estrella Burgos  34 years, 6 months  2015 Quito
 Jan-Lennard Struff  33 years, 11 months  2024 Munich
 Wayne Arthurs  33 years, 11 months  2005 Scottsdale
 Gilles Muller  33 years, 8 months  2017 Sydney

What does it mean to you to win your first ATP Tour title?
It means a lot. I'm 33 years old, and it's just an incredible feeling. I'm very, very happy and at the same time it gets a big weight off my chest to finally win my first title.

Today you became the third-oldest first-time ATP Tour champion. How proud are you to be playing some of your best tennis aged 33?
I'm very happy because it [shows] I still continue working, and am never quitting. Thanks to my team, to my fitness coach and physio, who's putting so much work in as well as with my tennis coaches, to be able to play good tennis at age 33.

How much more special is it to accomplish this feat at home?
It's so special to win it, the title first of all, and then to do it in Germany. Here in 2021 [I made the final] without crowds. In Stuttgart it was an unbelievable battle last year with [Frances] Tiafoe with a tie-break third set. It was incredible. So [this is] very special for me.

Could you take a moment to acknowledge some of the key figures in your life and career who have helped you to reach this milestone?
First of all my parents who are both tennis coaches. They brought me into tennis when I was a little kid. It's just an incredible feeling. I haven't talked to them yet because there was not that much time after the singles. Carsten [Arriens], Marvin [Netuschil] and Uwe [Liedtke], who worked very hard with me as well, to my old coaches and my family.

Since your parents are both tennis coaches, are there any particular lessons you took from each of them on court?
They always said to have fun, to work hard and never give up. They had this attitude that didn't put that much pressure on me. They just said, 'If you do it, just do it committed'.

You have said your idol was Pete Sampras. What moments do you remember watching as a kid that motivated you to want to try to become a professional yourself?
He was serve and volleying a lot. I like this way as well. He had a very aggressive game style. I maybe picked him because my dad liked him a lot and I actually watched him play in Hanover back then when the [Nitto ATP] Finals were still there. He was just a great, great tennis player to look up to.

In recent years you’ve consistently bounced back from injuries to play some of the best tennis of your career. What did you learn about yourself pushing through those moments?
I still have to work hard and it's possible to reach your dreams and never give up. That's a very, very important lesson and key. And trust in the people I'm surrounded by. [I have] 100 per cent trust for the doctors who helped me and especially for my fitness coach and physio, who was always there for me and worked very, very hard to to get me healthy.

What are your biggest hobbies outside of tennis?
Football. Borussia Dortmund has a match right now. I haven't seen a score, so I need to check pretty soon!

I like to watch TV shows. I like a lot of sports like soccer, just sports in general, big fan. I like to see other sporting events. And coffee!

How will you celebrate this milestone moment in your career?
I have a bit more time now. Let's see what we do. My family is leaving pretty soon. I might see them some more minutes and I might go for lunch or maybe have an easy dinner or tomorrow a good breakfast. I really don't know.

But for sure I will need to take a bit of time tonight to appreciate this because tennis is very fast living and the next match is coming up pretty soon. So I'll stay in the moment for a little while and just enjoy and then go back to focusing.

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