Rudi Molleker was early hyped in public as the next big German tennis hope. As a 14-year-old he became European Junior Champion, as a 16-year-old he was in the main draw in a tournament on the ATP Tour in Hamburg for the first time. He received funding from DTB for this.
From then on, he traveled through the tennis world in the hopes of making a big breakthrough.
But that has not happened (so far). His highest career ranking so far was world number 146 in the 2019 season. In recent years, it has declined markedly. The 21-year-old is now only number 445.
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“Maybe he was still too young for all those trips, even away from home,” the six-time Grand Slam champion explained. From August 2017 to the end of 2020, Becker was “Head of Men’s Tennis” in the German Tennis Federation and in this function also followed Molleker’s path.
Molleker beats Alcaraz and Mayer
During this time, it initially went uphill for the young talent. In 2019, Molleker entered the main draw in a Grand Slam tournament at both the Australian Open and French Open, but lost in the first round of each. He also beat then-wildcard starter Carlos Alcaraz, now number eleven in the world, at the Murcia Open.
However, he also made a rare mishap: Molleker failed to sign up for the grass classic at Wimbledon, which is why he was not allowed to play there. Shortly afterwards, however, he wrote positive headlines again: At the tournament in Hamburg, the teenager managed the next coup when he bowled last year’s finalist Leonardo Mayer in two sets in the first round.
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But since then there have been no other major successes, instead the Ukrainian-born tennis professional has slipped from the sporting side.
Becker also blames the changed environment at a young age and therefore calls for a different approach to young tennis talents in the future. “You have to give the boys time and also their oasis of well-being, which of course is home,” Becker said.
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You should let the young athletes stay there until they themselves realize, “I may need to travel more, have better training opportunities, have more competition in training to improve myself,” Becker said. However, this change should “not happen by force”.
Molleker sees himself back on track
The conversation also talked about his difficult time since the end of 2019. “After a good year in 2019, I suffered some injuries. There were also mental problems, and I lost direction a bit. I did not really know what to do. And what I want to do. To be honest, I also have lost the fun of tennis, “Molleker explained.
Now things are going “in the right direction” again. This time, however, completely away from the limelight.
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