While Federico Delbonis and Jan-Lennard Struff had already faced each other in the opening round at a Challenger (Helsinki 2012), neither had played a lot on that circuit in recent years. In fact, the Argentinian last showed up on it at Ismaning 2020, while Struff played Phoenix earlier this year, but before that hadn’t competed in a Challenger since 2018. On Tuesday, they played each other at the Braunschweig Challenger.
“This Challenger is really tough, I would say. Now after Wimbledon everybody wants to go on clay again, wants to play, it’s a 125 but I mean the draw was pretty tough for both of us. So many good players in the draw.” said Struff, who managed to take out Delbonis 6-2 7-6. While the two are very well-known names, they simply haven’t been playing up to their potential in 2022. The Argentinian won two matches at the ATP Cup and reached the semifinals at Buenos Aires, but only found four other victories in nineteen events played. Meanwhile, Struff had to take time off to heal up a foot injury and arrived in Braunschweig with a 2-13 win/loss record for the year.
Closing out wins becomes a struggle when you don’t do it frequently
The German struggled a bit towards the finish line. Some credit has to be given to Delbonis though as he played his best game of the match when Struff was serving for it at 6-2 5-3. “Playing a match like this and winning it is so tough. I played a good match, first two games I didn’t play well, we broke each other and then I played a very good match, but then to finish it was (hard). This feeling when you win a lot of matches it’s easier to close out. You saw, and I saw how tough that was, he was hanging in there. The next round is going to be a very tough one and I’m happy that I went through.”
Struff is often mentioned in the conversation regarding the best players who are yet to clinch an ATP Tour title. “I never won a tournament, played just one final. I was top 30, 29th, I made some really good results but it didn’t work out with a title yet. For sure it’s an aim for me, but right now I’m focusing on getting back to the top 100 and we’ll see.” The goal is now a bit far from the German, who won only one of his ten ATP semifinals. On Wednesday at Braunschweig, Struff will take on Franco Agamenone in the second round. After a great five-setter against Carlos Alcaraz at Wimbledon and a very solid display in the win over Delbonis, he seems to be back on the right track.
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