10:20 PM GMT July 22, 2019
There's something about playing at the Hamburg European Open for #NextGenATP German Rudolf Molleker. For the second year in a row, the teenager spurred an upset to begin the ATP 500 clay-court tournament.
Molleker, 18, knocked out two-time champion Leonardo Mayer of Argentina on Monday 7-6(8), 6-4, saving all three break points against the 2014 and 2017 champion. Molleker beat Mayer in 2017 Hamburg qualifying before the veteran right-hander took advantage of his lucky-loser entry and raced to the title.
On Monday, Molleker saved two set points in the opener, broke in the first game of the second set and never faced a break point the rest of the way. It's his fourth tour-level win (4-8) and best by ATP Ranking (No. 51). Molleker beat No. 62 David Ferrer last year in Hamburg.
The win against Mayer will only propel the 18-year-old in the ATP Race To Milan standings. Molleker is currently in 15th place in the Race (250 points), which will determine seven of the eight 21-and-under players who compete at the Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held 5-9 November at the Palalido Allianz Cloud in Milan.
The eighth place will go to an Italian wild card. Molleker is 388 points behind seventh-placed Ugo Humbert of France.
Hungary's Marton Fucsovics rushed past German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-0 in only 65 minutes to pick up his first victory in Hamburg.
The 27-year-old Fucsovics, who won his maiden ATP Tour title last year on clay in Geneva, broke five times against the 35-year-old Kohlschreiber, a two-time semi-finalist in Hamburg, and will next meet top seed Dominic Thiem or Uruguay's Pablo Cuevas, who are scheduled to play on Tuesday.
Russian Andrey Rublev, a two-time Next Gen ATP Finals semi-finalist (2017 finalist, l. to Chung; 2018 l. to Tsitsipas) upset eighth seed Cristian Garin, a two-time clay-court titlist this year (Houston, Munich), 6-4, 7-6(5). Rublev improved to 10-9 on the season and will face the winner of #NextGenATP Norwegian Casper Ruud and Dutchman Robin Haase in the second round.
In other action, France's Jeremy Chardy outlasted fifth seed Benoit Paire 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-3, and 2016 titlist Martin Klizan converted all five break points to rout German wild card Daniel Altmaier 6-2, 6-2. Chardy will play countryman Richard Gasquet or Indian qualifier Sumit Nagal, and Klizan will face a Serbian, either sixth seed Laslo Djere or Filip Krajinovic.