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Retired From Singles, Learn Why Melzer Is Still Playing Doubles

  • Posted: Mar 10, 2020

Retired From Singles, Learn Why Melzer Is Still Playing Doubles

The Austrian explains how he came to the decision to focus on doubles

Jurgen Melzer retired from singles after the 2018 Erste Bank Open in Vienna, in front of his home fans. It wasn’t a case that his game let him down, but his body did, which confirmed his decision.

But Melzer wasn’t ready to completely close the door on his career. He had another option: focussing on doubles.

“I had a conversation with my wife and said, ‘Okay, I want to give it a shot [in 2019]. I want to give it a try until the French Open and if I have the feeling I can still win tournaments and win big tournaments, I’ll continue,’” Melzer recalls. “Otherwise, I’d rather be at home with my son and my wife and do something else. She was okay with that and said, ‘Okay, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do and have no regrets.’ She used to be a swimmer, so she knows how it is to stop something you love doing.”

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When Melzer retired from singles, he’d already tallied more than $10 million in career prize money and won a combined 18 tour-level titles in singles and doubles, including Grand Slam doubles trophies at 2010 Wimbledon and the 2011 US Open alongside Philipp Petzschner. He climbed as high as World No. 8 in singles and earned 13 Top 10 wins, including a thrilling five-set win — from two sets down — against third seed Novak Djokovic to reach the 2010 Roland Garros semi-finals.

“The reason I still play tennis is because I love the game. You don’t make that much money playing Challengers and playing ATP 250s in doubles, but I still love the game and I still have the feeling that I have it in me to win big tournaments like Hamburg [in 2019] and I think I would have regrets if I wouldn’t have done it,” Melzer said. “I still had the feeling I have something left. The sport has given so much over the past 20 years that why not continue? I’m happy I did it because now I’m in a position where I can play the big tournaments.”

Watch Melzer & Team Austria’s Visit To Bondi Beach:

Melzer, who is currently 38 with a son approaching his third birthday, did not fully commit at the beginning. He wanted to see how quickly he would progress last year.

“I said, ‘Okay, if I manage to be around No. 80 at the French Open and am able to play there, I’ll continue. If not, then I’m just not good enough anymore,’” Melzer said.

The Austrian won the Sofia (w/Mektic) and Marrakech (w/Skukor) titles before Roland Garros to quickly improve his FedEx ATP Doubles Ranking. Since last June, he has not left the Top 50, and he is currently playing with another veteran, Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

“I played a lot of matches, have been away from home a lot. That makes it tough, having a family,” Melzer said. “But I knew that [last] year would be a more difficult year because you have to get back to where I think I belong and get the ranking back up. Once you can play the [ATP Masters] 1000 tournaments, maybe you can reduce the schedule a little bit.”

ATP Heritage: Milestones. Records. Legends.

It’s also been an adjustment for Melzer as far as fine-tuning his training to become the best doubles player he can be. The lefty always was a threat in any doubles draw, but at the time his focus was always on singles.

“Obviously I couldn’t practise as much doubles when I was Top 10 in singles. I was with a very good partner at that time with Philipp Petzschner. It helped that we were best friends off the court. We clicked; we didn’t need to practise that much to be competitive,” Melzer said. “Right now I know if I want to stay, or if I want to get even higher in my ranking, I need to practise. I have to improve things to win tournaments week-in and week-out or being able to win tournaments.

“When I practised singles, your physical ability was great. Now when you only play doubles, you only cover half of the court. You have to do more to stay in shape because you don’t have those two-hour matches anymore.”

Last year Melzer, who underwent elbow surgery in October 2017, said he would reevaluate his status once again after 2020. But for now, he is plugging away.

One thing is certain, though: “I can say with 100 per cent certainty that I don’t miss [singles] one day. I have picked exactly the right moment to stop. I was still in okay shape, I beat Milos [Raonic] in my last tournament and then had to retire, never played my last match, but that’s okay for me,” Melzer said. “I have done [singles] for a very long time and I have made my peace with it and I know I’m not good enough anymore. This is the reality you have to face after being on Tour for 20 years. We don’t get younger and there are only a few, like Roger, who can still do it at this age.

“Maybe if I hadn’t had my last elbow surgery I would still be playing singles, but my body is what it is and I know it’s not competitive enough anymore to compete and reach the Top 100.”

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Watch Live Challenger Streams From Nur-Sultan & Potchefstroom

  • Posted: Mar 10, 2020

Watch Live Challenger Streams From Nur-Sultan & Potchefstroom

The action continues on the ATP Challenger Tour…

This week, the Challenger circuit rolls on with a pair of events in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan and Potchefstroom, South Africa.

The indoor hard courts of the Nur-Sultan Challenger I welcomes players and fans for a second edition. The Kazakh capital, previously named Astana, hosts the tournament at the National Tennis Center, with 13 players inside the Top 200 of the FedEx ATP Rankings.

View Draws: Nur-Sultan | Potchefstroom

#NextGenATP star Jurij Rodionov headlines the field, having taken the ATP Challenger Tour by storm in February with a 15-2 record and titles in Dallas and Morelos. One month ago, Mohamed Safwat claimed Egypt’s first title since 1996 and now the 29-year-old is the top seed at a Challenger for the first time. Defending champion Illya Marchenko returns as the 15th seed.

Also in action in Nur-Sultan – a Challenger 80 event – is second seed and 2019 runner-up Yannick Maden, former World No. 33 Robin Haase and recent Cleveland champion Mikael Torpegaard. Talented youngsters Tallon Griekspoor, Elias Ymer and Roman Safiullin are also in the field. Safiullin is coming off his first Challenger title last month in Cherbourg, France.

ATP Challenger Tour 

Meanwhile, Challenger tennis returns to South Africa for the first time since 2013, when the Soweto Open ended a four-year run on the circuit. This week, the PotchOpen in Potchefstroom, South Africa, marks the debut of the ‘Challenger 50’ series.

Located less than two hours west of Johannesburg (the country’s largest city), Potchefstroom is a well-known university town in the North West Province. The city is perhaps best known as the province’s ‘Home of Sport’, with headquarters of 17 major sports in the region. In fact, the Spanish national football team chose Potchefstroom as their base camp during their run to the 2010 World Cup title.

Cricket and rugby are the country’s most popular sports, but this week tennis takes centre stage. Benjamin Bonzi is the top seed at the PotchOpen, with former World No. 64 Dustin Brown seeded fourth. Teenagers Lorenzo Musetti and Jack Draper are also competing. Musetti won the 2019 Australian Open boys’ title, while fellow 18-year-old Draper finished runner-up at the 2018 Wimbledon junior event.


The newly-formed ‘Challenger 50’ category features a series of events in strategic weeks on the calendar. Tournaments may only apply for a Challenger 50 through the end of March and in the qualifying weeks and first weeks of the Grand Slams. Prize money is USD $35,000, with draw sizes of 32 singles, 24 qualifying and 16 doubles. The tournaments are only available to players ranked outside the Top 150.

One wild card may be awarded to a national player ranked between 50-100 and one may be awarded to a player ranked 100-150. As usual, hospitality is provided for all main draw players on the ATP Challenger Tour, with a five-night minimum for singles main draw competitors.

Following Potchefstroom, the Challenger 50 series moves to Olimpia, Brazil next week, with Todi, Italy and Orlando, Florida, USA on the calendar in late May. Troyes, France is also on the schedule during the week of 29 June.

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From Skiing To Tennis' Top 100: Dominik Koepfer's Unlikely Journey

  • Posted: Mar 10, 2020

From Skiing To Tennis’ Top 100: Dominik Koepfer’s Unlikely Journey

Learn about Koepfer’s road to achieving his dreams

Dominik Koepfer departed Louis Armstrong Stadium last September with his head held high. The German enjoyed a dream run through qualifying and then to the fourth round of the US Open, where only red-hot Daniil Medvedev was able to stop him, and it took the Russian until a fourth-set tie-break to do so.

When the players shook hands at net, Medvedev had high praise for the 25-year-old lefty.

“Amazing. Amazing play. Amazing play.”

When Koepfer walked off the court that evening, the fans showed how much they appreciated the battle the World No. 118 put Medvedev through.

“I thought I did a good job. I was happy with the level and obviously walking out of the stadium, people cheering, it was a great experience” Koepfer told “I’ll never forget [it].”

Not bad for someone who wasn’t fully dedicated to tennis until he was 15. During his early teens, Koepfer had a decision to make: continue playing tennis once or twice per week, or focus on skiing or golf instead. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and #NextGenATP Italian sensation Jannik Sinner grew up skiing, too.

“Where I’m from [in Furtwangen, Germany], there’s a lot of snow, probably like five months per year. There’s always indoor tennis or skiing, so I was skiing a lot in the winter and then obviously playing tennis as well. When I turned 16, I made the final of the Under 16s German Championships. I [then] decided to play a little more tennis and put more effort into it. I went to college after that.”

That performance was only one of the reasons Koepfer chose tennis. He enjoyed the camaraderie that came with competing as part of a club team. Skiing left him alone on a mountain. That wasn’t all, though.

“I think tennis was definitely the least dangerous sport to play. Skiing is pretty dangerous, especially if you do it competitively,” Koepfer said. “There are a lot of injuries, a lot of knee injuries and with tennis I always enjoyed playing.”

Despite focussing on tennis, Koepfer did not garner much attention. His ITF junior ranking wasn’t high enough for colleges to recruit him. He earned one offer from a Division I university — which he would attend — in the United States: Tulane University. Koepfer got a couple of lower-level Division II offers, but nothing more.

“The choice was made pretty easily because I didn’t really have one,” Koepfer said.

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Koepfer’s first trip to campus, located in Louisiana, was his first journey to the United States. He was 18.

“[The] first few months I didn’t think I was going to stay,” Koepfer said. “It was tough.

“My English wasn’t very good, different culture, different people, the team atmosphere, I was playing a lot of tennis. It was very tiring with school at the same time and managing your time, and then obviously having a social life in college as well. So, it was kind of a struggle at the beginning. Then I started to really enjoy it and I think it helped me get better as a player, especially, and as a person, as well.”

By his junior year, Koepfer started believing in himself. He bacame the first player in school history to earn the No. 1 college singles player. Koepfer won the 2015 ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championship, ironically held on the grounds of the US Open, where he’d make his magical run less than four years later.

“I always had the dream of playing professionally, but never really had the level of playing professionally,” Koepfer said. “College definitely set me up for being able to go on the pro tour and compete on this level.”

ATP Heritage: Milestones. Records. Legends.

Step by step, Koepfer navigated his way through the various professional levels. There were times he struggled to get through qualifying at Futures events, but last season he started to believe he could succeed on the ATP Challenger Tour. He lifted his first trophy at that level at Ilkley to earn a Wimbledon wild card.

It’s been a whirlwind ever since, with Koepfer ascending as high as World No. 83, and he is still improving. In the juniors, Koepfer was “very emotional” on court, and negative emotions would sometimes affect his game. The Florida resident has been working with a mental coach for more than a year, and he has reaped the rewards.

“I do a lot of daily routines: waking up, meditating, writing down things before matches, after matches. I write down a lot of things and then I obviously talk to him once or twice a week on the phone for an hour or two and then texting back and forth, just putting the daily effort into it,” Koepfer said. He believes his greatest strength is his fighting spirit, and it’s been about harnessing that.

“Sometimes when I freak out, when my emotions are getting in my way, it’s not the case. But I think I’m a very good fighter and I want to give my opponent the hardest time out there.”

Koepfer dreamed as a kid of becoming one of the 100 best players in the world. Not only has he accomplished that, but begun to set his sights even higher.

“Definitely Top 50,” Koepfer said. “Definitely competing at the highest level, competing at Grand Slams and playing the best players in the world.”

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