For Oscar Otte, his match against Alex Molcan Friday was a streak-buster. With Roger Federer’s record number of holds approaching in the distance, Molcan broke Otte’s streak of 68 games in a row with a break to 30.
Molcan ended up beating Otte 6-3 4-6 6-1, reading the German’s serve better than anyone in recent memory and wearing him down from the baseline. This broke a seven-match winning streak.
Even so, the dominance on serve that Otte had shown during his stretch of 68 holds is very impressive and deserves to be recognized.
The stretch of consecutive holds began for the German in the first round of the Ortisei Challenger, an Italian event on a quick, indoor hard-court surface. Otte held serve 51/51 times, losing 0 sets, and saving all 11 break points he faced. Eight of those break points were in the final against Maxime Cressy, but Otte was still able to win 7-6(5), 6-4 without getting broken. It was the fourth Challenger title of the German’s career.
During that tournament, Otte won over 80% of his first-serve points in every match and even won over 90% of the points on his first serve in 2 of the 5 matches. Combined over the course of the tournament, Otte served 68 aces compared to 10 double faults. That’s an average of 13.8 aces per match!
And, for the first two matches Otte played at the indoor hard-court Helsinki Challenger, his service dominance continued. Otte won his first 17 service games of the tournament and saved the three break points he faced against Rodionov. Coming into the match against Molcan in Helsinki, Otte won 55/63 (87%) first-serve points, serving at least 67% of his first serves in play in both matches.
That’s also what is so impressive about Otte’s run. In only one of the seven matches he played during his win streak did he have a first-serve percentage under 60% (against Bachinger in Ortisei).
But, as mentioned before, eventually all good things have to come to an end, and Molcan had a great read on the Otte serve in the quarterfinals of Helsinki.
However, the run to the title in Ortisei and to the quarterfinals in Helsinki have a part of larger uptick in dominance. The loss against Molcan also broke a stretch for Otte where the German won 12-of-13 matches overall. This included another Challenger title on the orange carpet of Ismaning, where Otte beat Lucas Lacko 6-4, 6-4 to lift the winner’s trophy.
In Ismaning, Otte held his serve 63/67 times, serving 91 aces and winning at least 79% of the points on his first serve in every match. The trend is clear: On a quick court, Otte is going to overpower you. And when you do get into rallies, his sharp, aggressive baseline game make him a nightmare to face.
With a quarterfinal in Helsinki, Otte is up to a career-high of World No. 112 in the live rankings. It seems that a trip to the top 100 is a mere formality at this point and will occur at some point, if not in 2021, at the beginning of 2022. While Otte had dipped outside of the top 150 in the world for a few months this summer, don’t expect to see his ranking fall that low anytime soon.
It’s important to note that Otte’s game is certainly not only effective on fast courts and smaller tournaments. Otte qualified for the final three Majors of the season, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open and has currently won nine Major qualifying matches in a row across three different surfaces.
In all three of those Slams, Otte was very competitive in the main draw. At Roland Garros, he took Alexander Zverev to five sets in the first round. At Wimbledon, he reached the second round and took Andy Murray to five sets. And at the US Open, he made the first second week of a Major in his career, reaching the round of 16 before falling in four sets to Matteo Berrettini.
For Otte, 2021 showcased what he was capable of.
Regardless of what happened against Molcan in Helsinki, if Oscar Otte can continue to serve at near the level he has, then the top 100 and more success at Slams will be in his sights.
Main Photo from Getty.