Shortly before Max Rehberg opens what is probably the biggest match of his career so far, he takes another deep breath. The roles are clearly distributed. On the one hand Rehberg: 18 years old, for the first time in an ATP 250 tournament, the world ranking 1,068, it is his first senior season. On the other hand Miomir Kecmanovic: permanent representative at the Grand Slam tournaments, world number 38, last opponent: Novak Djokovic.
“Let’s go!” – Rehberg cheers on himself
Born in Munich, Rehberg stumbled the ball one last time on the center field at MTTC Iphitos, threw it up, hit it well and clenched his fist shortly afterwards. The first point goes to him – and also the first game; he comments 1-0 with a card: “Vamos!”
Great hope in DTB
Rehberg is one of the greatest hopes in German tennis. Last year he was the best German player under 18 years. He played the youth tournaments at the US Open, French Open, at Wimbledon, and reached the round of 16, even though he was only able to prepare on a private course because grass courses are rare in Munich.
Now he is 18, has just finished high school – and because the past year has gone so well in sports, he decided to first concentrate on his tennis career. His goal is to achieve an ATP ranking between 750 and 500 this season. “It’s going to be very, very hard. It’s not an easy road, but I have a lot of positive energy,” Rehberg told Bayerischer Rundfunk.
Rehberg: “It’s only my first year”
So far, the season for Rehberg is still a bit mixed. In Tunisia, he reached the third round at the ITF M15 in Monastir, a first respectable victory and two ATP points. But against opponents from the 500 rows, ie where he wants to go, there were always significant defeats. “A lot of people say I’m not had a good season so far. But it’s only my first year. I showed again today that I can win more, even in the higher tournaments. It’s not long before I can take it the next big step, ”says Rehberg confidently.
The young man fights his way into the game
On the center field of the BMW Open, Rehberg fights into the match and can annoy Kecmanovic over and over again, eliciting irritated reactions from the opponent and shouts of excitement from the spectators. But the 22-year-old Serb is too good. The first set ends with 6: 2.
Rehberg also gets well into the second set, can even win a game of zero, play spectacular winners and save difficult balls. Once he is about to break – but the referee disapproves of his assistant. 40:15 becomes 30:30. “It was very, very bitter,” Rehberg said after the match. “I also thought I heard the line, but I must have misunderstood it. Such balls are in next time.”
Less experienced than the opponent
The longer the game lasts, the more you notice that he is significantly less experienced than his opponent. When Rehberg dominates a point and has time to think, he often makes the wrong decision. In the end, he loses the match against the Serbs 6: 2 and 6: 3. Rehberg stays on the field for a long time, gets autographs, takes selfies with fans and friends.
“Of course I was a little nervous at first, but it quickly subsided. Then I really enjoyed it: It was really cool to play at Center Court. The spectators behind me – here in my hometown. I think there’s something nicer I have on. ‘t, “summed up Rehberg.
Learn from the “old hand”
For Rehberg, the BMW Open is not over yet despite the singles finish, he competes in doubles with someone who has already seen a lot on the tennis court: Philipp Kohlschreiber from Augsburg. The veteran sees great potential in the 18-year-old: “He definitely has the potential to play German tennis. But he still has a lot to do, he has to work hard. But if he does, I do not know, which should stand in the way of success, “Kohlschreiber said in the BR interview.
Kohlschreiber is optimistic about the double: “Of course I’m happy. Max has been on the field with me for many hours in Oberhaching. But of course it’s something else in the tournament. We prepare well, we have to have fun and of course we want to win this thing. ”
He hopes Rehberg can learn something from him as an “old hand” who will help him on his further career path. He will then lead Rehberg to the Challenger tournament in Meerbusch. Here he will continue to chase ATP points and hopes to draw attention to get more wildcards for Challenger tournaments.
Important for personal development
Performances like against Kecmanovic can help with that. Also in his personal development: “I have seen that tennis is not just a mental sport, but a very physical one: It is very exhausting. It requires a lot of work off the court. It is something that has become clearer to me again in day. is. “
To get to the top, Rehberg coaches at the BTV tennis base in Oberhaching. The best young German players favor there – and also many professionals who help the players develop their game. “Hanfmann, Kohlschreiber are there sometimes, especially Mansur,” Rehberg lists, adding: “You talk a lot with them, they give you tips: How to play, how to handle difficult situations, and it helps yourself before one of them does a big tournament. ”
meeting with the future
For Rehberg, appearances in Munich were perhaps a little distant, a meeting with his future. Not so long ago, Kecmanovic was where Rehberg is today: at the beginning of a promising career: “There is now a four-year difference. The table is now 6: 2, 6: 3. But I was certainly able to “Unfortunately, I did not take one chance or the other. If I am like him now in four years, I would be very, very happy,” said Rehberg. His trip will definitely take him to Munich again. “I hope it does.” It was my last time on the center court, “Rehberg says.