Tennis professional Struff wins first tour title in Munich – Sport

Shortly before 3 p.m. there was silence on the Center Court for the last time. Taylor Fritz served, the rally started, and when Jan-Lennard Struff saw the chance, he attacked. The first overhead ball wasn’t there yet, but the second one was. He placed the ball in the right corner, out of reach for the American, who is a name in tennis, he was fifth in the world rankings, he is currently 15th, but in rising form. However, Struff’s 7:5, 6:3 victory at the BMW Open in Munich was cemented at that moment. The 33-year-old from Warstein, now at least as famous as the beer there, stretched his arms apart in celebration. Shortly afterwards, various well-wishers greeted him: his girlfriend Madeleine, with whom he has two little boys, his eternal physio and athletic trainer Uwe Liedtke, and his doubles partner Andreas Mies, with whom he then had to compete in his second final.

It was the tournament of Struff, who took on the role of the German frontman

Struff had to endure eleven years since his first match on the ATP Tour in 2013, playing 217 tournaments before winning his first singles title on the tour in the 218th (he won four doubles titles). He had previously reached and lost three finals, in Munich in 2021 and in Madrid and Stuttgart in 2023. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long,” said Struff, “it’s crazy. Winning in front of German fans means a lot to me.” At the award ceremony, Fritz paid him respect, “you played incredibly this week”; The Californian sounded dejected; he had longed for his first title on clay.

Struff was repeatedly applauded during his speech. Of course he also received the obligatory lederhosen. And when the winning car (purchase price for non-winners 99,500 euros), which he can also call his own, stood in front of him, he said dryly: “Yes, I’m happy.” Why talk for a long time when everything can be said in a short time? That’s just how this popular Sauerlander is.

It was definitely Struff’s tournament, who took on the role of the German frontman in splendid style after the main cast that was actually planned had said goodbye before the weekend. Alexander Zverev, who has been the best professional in the country for years, spent a varied week in Munich. Overall, he made a better impression during the supporting program than on the pitch. Once again – at least his sporting record since 2018, when he was successful in Munich for the second time after 2017, is rather modest in Bavaria’s state capital.

In the entertainment ranking, Zverev scored points this time on Monday at the players’ party, on Tuesday with a humorous press conference, on Wednesday as a spectator at FC Bayern’s Champions League game against Arsenal FC and on Saturday with his own 27th birthday. In the ATP rankings, Zverev failed against his second opponent; he lost to the Chilean Cristian Garín and left a statement that made people sit up and take notice: “If we play at four degrees and rain and wind in the next few years, I would I assume I won’t win the tournament again.” Hoisting the white flag prophylactically was astonishing for a professional of his rank.

He couldn’t get enough of the doomsday weather

Struff seemed like a counter-proposal, not complaining in the slightest about the doomsday weather that had been affecting everyone since Monday, but couldn’t get enough of playing on the soaked center court. The 24 hours from late Friday afternoon were particularly noteworthy. In the rain, Struff gained a 7:5, 3:1 lead against the Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime until it was canceled due to darkness, and ended this game successfully (7:5, 6:4) on Saturday morning. Then he overcame the Dane Holger Rune, the Munich winner of the past two years, 6:2, 6:0 in 45 minutes and then followed up with a semi-final victory in the doubles with Mies. National coach Michael Kohlmann once said that he was always happy to call Struff when he invited him to a Davis Cup game again. Struff would always just say: “Great, when does it start?” He is that kind of person.

And that’s exactly how he played against Fritz, hands-on, fearless, with greed and courage. At 4:5, Struff fended off three set points, immediately managed the break, took Fritz’s serve game and served confidently to make it 7:5. In the second set he managed the early break to make it 1-0. It continued to drizzle (Bayern professional Thomas Müller was a spectator), but referee Fergus Murphy did not interrupt the game. Struff also managed a net roller, it wasn’t Sunday, it was Struff’s day. At 5:2 he failed to break out with his own serve, Fritz got to 3:5, but Struff withstood the pressure and countered with the break to make it 6:3. The cheering aria began.

Despite the capricious weather during the week – everything from sun to hail, rain and snow was on offer – the tournament organizers were able to record the best viewer numbers. The event was sold out over nine days (47,500 in total), and now there is a turning point. From 2025, the BMW Open will be upgraded and moved from the 250cc to the 500cc category; The winner then receives 500 world ranking points. This means that they are not as important as a Grand Slam – as Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder spoke in the Sky interview, one could almost believe that the BMW Open would now overtake all other tournament classics. But this development is something special. “From a sporting perspective, we have been at the 500 level for several years. So the step into the future is an important one,” said tournament director Patrik Kühnen. The prize money will increase from a good 600,000 euros to more than 2.5 million euros, and a provisional new center court is planned. Fabian Tross, chairman of MTTC Iphitos, promised despite the new tournament dimension: “We want to get bigger, but remain familiar and down-to-earth.”

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