Last year at this time, 18-year-old German Rudolf Molleker lost in the first round of the French Open Juniors to American Brandon Nakashima. Fast forward one year later, and the future star is now in the main draw after coming through qualifying defeating Colombian veteran Santiago Giraldo from a set down 4-6 6-4 6-4
When ATP next-gen players are discussed, Molleker doesn’t seem to get as much recognition as he should. He started off the season qualifying at the Australian Open but wasn’t able to build off of that, losing six consecutive matches before reaching the quarterfinals at the Mouratoglou Open in Sophia Antipolis, France.
Molleker, who trains at the Mouratoglou Academy, first burst on to the scene last year, winning the Heilbronn Challenger by defeating Jiri Vesely in the final at just 17 years old. His Challenger title led to wild cards in Stuttgart, Halle, and Hamburg, where he took advantage of the by opportunity defeating Jan-Lennard Struff in Stuttgart and David Ferrer in Hamburg.
Coming through qualifying at big events like the Australian Open and French Open at such a young age shows the star potential Molleker has. In Paris, he defeated three experienced tour players in Tommy Robredo, Mathias Bachinger, and Santiago Giraldo, who are all in their 30s.
Molleker’s Style of play
His style of play is similar to German star Alexander Zverev, who also had success at a young age. Like Zverev, Molleker plays a lot from the baseline and doesn’t have much variety to his game. He has what some would consider an unearned arrogance to his game, which is probably why he’s done so well against players who have far more experience than he has. He’s also not afraid to show his emotion on the court, which some opponents might not take a liking to.
Molleker is currently 15th in the race to Milan to qualify for the ATP NextGen finals. Qualifying for the NextGen finals would be quite the accomplishment for the German, who’s flown under the radar in regards to up and coming talent.
If safe to assume he’ll get wild cards to participate in Stuttgart, Halle, and Hamburg again. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles the pressure of playing against tour level players now that he has even more experience under his belt.
Some would already consider his French Open a success, qualifying at 18 years old, but don’t be surprised if the German can take it one step further and win some matches in the main draw as the week progresses.
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