With a measured 44 degrees Celsius on the center court of the Hamburg tennis tournament European Open, even the favorites had to grit their teeth. But the forces on Hamburg's hottest day since weather records were not always enough. Defending champion Pablo Carreno Busta from Spain was eliminated on Wednesday after a great effort against Alex Molcan. The Slovak surprisingly won 6:3, 1:6, 7:6 (7:5) after 2:26 hours and is in the quarterfinals. The tie-break had to make the decision.
Molcan struggled to be happy. "I'm not feeling so well right now," admitted the 24-year-old, drawn from the exertion. Again and again he had to take a breather in the final phase of the game, bent forward and supported himself on his thighs. "It was difficult to breathe. I always breathed hot air," reported the professional, who is number 44 in the world rankings. One joy kept him upright: to acclimatize after the match in the ice barrel.
"It's extremely hot," groaned Russia's Andrei Rublev, who finished his first-round appearance against Ricardas Berankis from Lithuania 6:3, 6:4 in 1:11 hours on Wednesday. However, he was satisfied that he was allowed to dive into the shadows faster than some of his competitors.
The night of the world rankings meets in the round of 16 against the Argentinian Francisco Cerundolo, who only won the tournament in Bastad, Sweden, last Wednesday. Rubljow won the European Open two years ago and has enjoyed a lot of sympathy among Hamburg spectators ever since. “I have excellent memories of Hamburg. The vibe here is always great,” he said. Not good at all: German men are no longer present at the Rothenbaum clay court tournament.
The only remaining German in the race is Andrea Petkovic. She had a rest day on Wednesday and was able to watch her quarter-final opponent in peace. The tournament ambassador and last year's finalist saw how Anett Kontaveit from Latvia dispatched Swede Rebecca Peterson 6:3, 6:2 in a quick run and didn't have to lose too much strength.
Kontaveit, second in the world rankings, is the clear favorite against Darmstadt, who ranks 65 places below. But that doesn't shock the 34-year-old German. “I love playing against the best in the world. That's also one of the reasons why I'm still here," she said of passion and stamina in her long tennis career.