Re: Denis Gremelmayr
Gremelmayr Makes His Mark
by Jordan Chong
Friday, 20 January, 2006
For a player who had just made a third-round exit at Australian Open 2006, German Denis Gremelmayr certainly attracted a lot of interest from his national press.
But it wasn't just any old vanilla-flavoured third-round exit, with Gremelmayr coming through three rounds of qualifying and progressing to the last 32 with a come-from-behind five-set victory over seeded American Robbie Ginepri.
So despite bowing out of his debut Grand Slam with a disappointing 6-2 6-1 6-2 loss to Cypriot sensation Marcos Baghdatis on Show Court Three, there was much interest in discovering more about the 24-year-old newcomer.
Therefore, in the leafy surrounds of the Media Garden at Melbourne Park, Gremelmayr found himself surrounded by about a dozen German journalists answering questions.
In keeping with a man who has just achieved a personal best, the softly spoken Gremelmayr was in a relaxed mood, happy to reflect on the events of the past week.
"Of course it is the first time for me like this. I mean, everyone is calling me in Germany, you're in the newspapers ... after I beat Ginepri I got like a hundred messages on my mobile phone!" Gremelmayr said in English after his commitments with the German media.
"I mean it was a little bit too much, but of course if you play third-round of a Grand Slam a lot of people are looking to you. It was something new for me."
Consider this. Prior to The Open, Gremelmayr's profile boasted only four Tour-level tournaments, all of which he had to qualify for in order to enter the main draw.
He came close to a win on debut in Hertogenbosch in June, losing to Michael Llodra in a third-set tiebreak, but the breakthrough came at Bangkok in September when he edged past Roko Karanusic.
Unfortunately, any new found momentum was lost when the draw conspired to pit him against world No.1 Roger Federer in the next round.
He entered 2006's first major with only five ATP Tour level matches, but after building up some form in the qualifying, Gremelmayr swept past veteran Jonas Bjorkman in the opening round 3-6 6-2 6-0 6-1 before an epic against Ginepri, where he came from two sets and 3-0 down to win his first-ever five-set match.
Ranked world No.177 entering the tournament, Gremelmayr expects jump of around 40 places in his ranking after this dream week Down Under and is keen for some good results in the lead-up to the French Open to ensure he is eligible for automatic entry into the main draw.
"Of course, it's something different, especially here at a Grand Slam, it's an unbelievable feeling. Everything is well organised. At the Challenger tournaments, it's not like this! I hope to get to play more tournaments like this."
"It was a pretty nice week for me. Everything is fine here, it's a nice tournament and the people are unbelievable here."
A product of playing so many matches is some minor arm soreness, which he will seek treatment on when he returns to his home near Frankfurt in the next day or two.
With the likes of Boris Becker (Gremelmayr's idol), Steffi Graf, Anke Huber and Michael Stich now consigned to the long and distinguished history of German tennis, the nation is hoping the likes of Tommy Haas, Nicolas Kiefer, and now Gremelmayr, can rekindle past glories.
It's been six years since a German won a Grand Slam title - Steffi Graf's 1999 French Open - and Gremelmayr suggests a resurgent Tommy Haas as the one most likely.
"Haas is playing at the moment unbelievable. If you saw the match yesterday (in disposing of Paul Goldstein 6-0 6-1 6-2), he was unreal. He's on a good way. In the tournament before (at Kooyong) he beat Federer so I think he has a good chance to be close to winning a Grand Slam."
A problem that many players don't encounter is the need to move hotels mid-tournament, but Gremelmayr, given he came through qualifying and entered the main draw with modest expectations, had booked an initial check-out date of Wednesday.
When he discovered the hotel had no room to accommodate a more lengthy stay, he and his friend were forced to seek alternate arrangements.
"After I beat Ginepri my friend said to me, 'we have to leave the hotel'. I said, 'WHAT!'."
Tennis sits a close second to football as far as national interest goes and Gremelmayr, like any good German was keen to discuss his national team's prospects at the upcoming World Cup in Germany later this year.
With allegiances to both Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt in the local Bundesliga, Gremelmayr is excited about Germany's prospects.
"I think we have a good chance to reach the semi-finals and if we get there, anything can happen. I hope we win the championship. It's going to be pretty tough for the other teams to beat us."
"I think Brazil will be favourite to win but you never know. At home, in front of the fans, anything is possible."
As he showed this week at Melbourne Park, anything certainly is possible.