A Different Kind of Match: Tennis Bundesliga in Europe
Welcome to the Tennis-Point Bundesliga, an annual team competition in Germany which is played in a round-robin format during the summer months of July and August. For the players on the ATP Tour staying in central Europe during this time, it is a great opportunity to get some practice and match play in the weekends in addition to their regular tournaments and, of course, to earn some money as well.
Every year ten teams participate in this competition. This season’s favourite is again the champion of the last two years, TK Kurhaus Lambertz Aachen.
Most of the German top-players like Philipp Kohlschreiber, Florian Mayer and Daniel Brands get on court for this team. Fourteen top-50 players are named by the team captains in this season. Janko Tipsarevic and Tommy Haas are in the squad of TK Grün-Weiß Mannheim, Marcel Granollers and Marcos Baghdatis play for TC Blau-Weiß Halle, two other teams which have to be considered as contenders for the title.
“Every match is played with teams consisting of four players each and due to the match tie-break rule in the final set, upsets are always possible,” says Gerald Marzenell, team manager in Mannheim.
Today it was match day five, where the teams of Rochusclub Düsseldorf and SV Wacker Burghausen faced each other at the same venue where the ATP 250 Power Horse Cup was held a couple of weeks ago.
Düsseldorf is ranked in fourth position, the Bavarian team on position six. With a victory today, the Rochusclub wants to seal the team’s disposition in the league for another year.
“It won’t be easy but we have four great single players and one doubles specialist on board today,” said Düsseldorf’s team captain, Detlev Irmler.
Pablo Andújar (ATP No. 50), Pere Riba (ATP No. 201), Jesse Huta-Galung (ATP No. 134), Jozef Kovalik (ATP No. 246) and Martin Emmrich (ATP doubles No. 42) were named for today’s encounter. The Spaniard Albert Montaῆés (ATP No. 53), who is also member of Düsseldorf’s squad, did not play.
“He turned me down,” a disappointed Irmler said yesterday. “It is important that the players put their heart and soul into the matches like Pablo Andújar and Pere Riba do. Both have been playing for several years at the Rochusclub and they have a great attitude,” Düsseldorf’s team captain added.
Wacker Burghausen, on the other hand arrived without their top six players. Aljaz Bedene, Carlos Berlocq, Guillermo García-López Joao Sousa, Kenny de Schepper and Andreas Haider-Maurer were absent. So the Bavarian squad consisted of Blaz Rola (ATP No. 302), Philipp Oswald (ATP No. 554), Jeremy Jahn (ATP No. 620) and Johannes Ager (unranked).
The matches took place in sunny 30 degree conditions and the top players of the home team fulfilled their role as favorites, with Pablo Andújar defeating Blaz Rola in straight sets. The Spaniard broke his opponent’s service twice in the opening set to serve out in the eighth game. Andújar, who was supported on the bench by his teammate Oscar Sabate-Bretos, played solid baseline shots and returned pretty well. It was no surprise that the 27-year-old from Cuenca was in total command in this encounter. Consequently he closed the match out after about 80 minutes by winning 6-2, 6-3 to give the Rochusclub a 1-0 lead.
“I played a good and solid match today. This made the difference between (Rola) and me,” a satisfied Andújar told us after the match. “I’ve already played for seven years here in Düsseldorf and I’m a friend of Detlev Irmler. There is a good spirit in the team, which makes me happy to return and to join the team,” the Spaniard explained his motivation to play in the Bundesliga.
For the next ATP tournaments in Gstaad and Kitzbühel he added: “I was a bit unlucky the last two tournaments in Stuttgart and Hamburg, where I lost a match having already match point. So I will try to keep my level of today for the next challenges.”
In the second singles match Jesse Huta-Galung faced a difficult task against Jeremy Jahn. Although the German is ranked about 500 places below the Dutchman, Jahn played more aggressively and just made less unforced errors than his opponent. The 23-year-old German eventually took the match in three sets by 3-6, 6-4, 10-8.
Back on centre court Pere Riba met Philipp Oswald. The Austrian is better known as a doubles player on the ATP Tour but has some solid groundstrokes and a big service, which makes him also a decent competitor in singles competitions. Nonetheless it was Riba, who recently won the ATP Challenger in Todi, to be the more consistent player of the two. The Spaniard won the first set by serving it out in the tenth game and eventually closed the match winning 6-4, 6-4.
“I’m very happy with this win today. Philipp serves very well, which is difficult to return. I was very concentrated in particular on my own service games. I was also able to break him at least once in every set, which made me win the match,” Riba analysed afterwards. “It’s always a motivation to be here. I’ve been playing here in Düsseldorf for five years now and when you’re at a club for such a long time you identify with the club and you feel the colours of it, you know. It’s also a very competitive league and our team captain has always confidence in me. That’s a nice feeling,” he told us about playing the Bundesliga in Germany.
Concerning his recent injury the Spaniard added: “I have had to stop playing tennis for eleven months due to my injury and I’ve only played twelve tournaments so far this year. It’s great to compete again as it wasn’t sure if I was able to return to the courts at all.”
The last singles rubber of the day was an even affair. Jozef Kovalik, who hasn’t been able to win a match so far this Bundesliga season, couldn’t gain victory again. The unranked Austrian Johannes Ager, who faced some problems in his lower back during the match and even received some treatment, overcame the Slovakian by going the distance winning 1-6, 6-3, 13-11 and therewith evened the tie 2-2 after the singles.
Two doubles rubbers had to decide the tie and again the Spaniards didn’t disappoint. Pablo Andújar and Pere Riba defeated Blaz Rola and Jeremy Jahn 6-4, 7-6.
The Rochusclub could still count on Martin Emmrich. The German doubles specialist, who is currently ranked on 42nd position, claimed his first ATP 250 doubles title at this year’s edition of the Power Horse Cup right here in Düsseldorf a couple of weeks ago. Today he teamed up with Jesse Huta-Galung to eventually seal victory for the Rochusclub winning the last encounter of the day against Philipp Oswald and Johannes Ager 7-5, 7-6.
With today’s win, Rochusclub Düsseldorf climbed up the ranking to third position and Wacker Burghause remains in sixth position. After match day five, Kurhaus Aachen and Blau-Weiß Halle remain the only two undefeated teams in the Bundesliga and represent the two contenders for this year’s championship. Both teams will face each other on Sunday August 4th.