Davis Cup: Germany beats France for the first time in 84 years

Of the Davis Cup has its acoustics. Team boss Michael Kohlmann was confirmed in this knowledge in the evening when he looked after the German doubles, turned around briefly because of the hustle and, as he reported, saw behind him "that Struff was standing on the chair". Jan-Lennard Struff, 32, is really not one of the loudspeakers of his guild, he is a polite, reserved tennis professional, but on the first day of the intermediate round in Hamburg he completed a remarkable physical and vocal double program: a good two hours of uninterrupted jumping and shouting in the stands behind the bench of the German team. And before that, two hours in action on Center Court to win his hard-fought singles.

Struff fended off two match points when he defeated Benjamin Bonzi, 26, in the tie-break of the third set 6: 4, 2: 6, 7: 5 at the start of the encounter against France on Wednesday. It was the basis of the 2:1 success with which the DTB selection started the tournament week. Colleague Oscar Otte, 29, then lost his debut in this traditional international match against Adrian Mannarino, before the world-class duo Tim Pütz/Kevin Krawietz also prevailed in the tie-break 6:2, 3:6, 7:6 against Nicolas Mahut/Arthur Rinderknech. With relief, team boss Kohlmann then calculated that, with a bit of luck, a series of defeats against France in felt ball duels that went back to 1938 could be ended: "84 years is a long time not to win," he thought. But Struff also found his personal happiness in this collective success.

Against more prominent opponents at larger events, Struff often came up short in the tie-break

He has always been one of those professionals to whom Kohlmann only had to say "when it starts, he'll grab the racket," as the national coach reported some time ago; often enough Struff was the leader in the team. But his expectations were certainly higher than in Hamburg, where the DTB selection will play Belgium on Friday and Australia on Sunday. Struff, still number 26 in the world in 2020, slipped through the rankings like on a spiral slide after a foot injury that resulted in a broken toe. Currently ranked 132nd, he has realized how difficult it is to climb back into the top 100. That's another reason why he rates the victory in the Davis Cup competition over Bonzi, number 53, as "brutally important".

Every match won is like a rung on the ladder. Every success increases "the belief and the self-image that you need to play boldly in the crucial moments," he says. Because without courage, no stop ball is played, no passing shot is twirled onto the line. Since returning to the tour in June, Struff has competed in ten tournaments, including second-rate challengers, and won one in Braunschweig. Against more prominent opponents at larger events, the tie-break was often the end. That's why Kohlmann was happy how Struff was still able to turn this important individual in the country duel against France after many close defeats. The support of the spectators in Hamburg was a huge help, said Struff. Reason enough to get on the chair later for the doubles colleagues.

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