What a week in Rovereto, Italy.
After some difficult weeks lately, a thigh injury plagued Dominic for a while, he didn’t know where he would stand at the moment. The trainings were good and of high quality. In addition, it was his first time with Dieter “Didi” Kindelmann as a supporting coach.
Dominic started against the young Mili Poljicak, from Croatia. Current Junior Grand Slam winner of Wimbledon. And he started like the fire department. The first set was 3:6 away and Dominic was 2:4 and 0:30 behind. Everything looked like a first round defeat for Dominic. But then, fortunately, the turn came at the last moment and Dominic suddenly played much more actively. Didi was able to give Dominic the right tips and completely surprised by the change of game, it suddenly went very fast and Poljicak just made 2 games. 7:5 / 6:1 The spell was broken and Dominic could breathe a sigh of relief.
From then on, Dominic played better from match to match. Incredible points and the fighting spirit of Dominic was back. Unfortunately Dominic injured himself again in the second match and had to be treated in the 1/4 final. But he bit through and played his way into the final. There, the local G. Zeppieri ATP 115 was on the other side. Incredible crowd from the semifinals on. Hundreds of spectators were denied entry each time because the hall was completely booked and overcrowded . After an estimated half hour of the final entrance ceremony (the Italians gave everything and did it really professionally) a match of the highest level was played. Zeppieri had won the last 9 matches before and won the Challenger in Cherbourg the week before. He showed this by breaking Dominic at 2:3 in the first set to 2:4. The score was 2:5 and the crowd celebrated their player. But Dominic had something against it. At 3:5, he fought off 2 set points and could also break. It came to the tie-break. Dominic had a great start 4:0 (still 3 points missing), but things turned out differently and the Italian scored 6 points in a row. Whoever was still sitting quietly on the chair at this point could not be helped. The crowd went wild. At 5:6 an unbelievable rally followed (watch the video of the highlights below) and the point and the set were actually already for Zeppieri. But a blatant lob from Dominic and the point went to him. Standing ovation from the fair crowd. So it went back and forth and Zeppieri had 5 set points. But Dominic could fend off all of them. 8:8 A long rally followed. With a daring, fat, active, placed backhand longline, he made it 9:8. And a great service to the outside finally meant 10:8 and the tie break was decided for Dominic.
In the second set Dominic was the more stable of the two and he played tactically very smart and hard-boiled. At the score of 2:1 Dominic realized a first break and continued to show strong nerves. He played through his game. At 5:2, 30:30, service Zeppieri, again a long rally. And this time the longline ball exactly on the line for 30:40. Match point. Zeppieri again under pressure with a net attack. Dominic is quick as lightning, tracks down the ball, plays a cross slice ball. In/out/in/out, everyone looks at the referee, but he does not say. Game, set and victory Stricker.
The fourth Challenger title was a fact. 5 x in a Challenger final, 4 of them won. What a balance.
The press is full of praise for Dominic’s performance and Dominic has also set a Swiss record. This one of Stan Wawrinka. With U21 = 4 Challenger titles. Dominic is now on the same level and who knows?
Pictures, 📸credits: @stefano_eccel / @loredana.berguecio /@felicecalabro