Joel Schwarzler won his first Challenger tournament in Skopje

Austria’s biggest hope for young talent in tennis has climbed from 664th to the top 400 in the ATP rankings. Voralberg is playing juniors at this year’s French Open – with a clear goal.

In the year Dominic Thiem retired, Austria’s top young hope Joel Schwarzler underlined his potential with his first Challenger title. The 18-year-old from Vorarlberg, the only junior world number one since January, defeated Czech Kamil Majrczak, ten years his senior, 6-3, 6-3 in the final of the ATP Challenger in Skopje. He won his title on Saturday, only the eighth tournament at this level to have already produced a winner’s cheque.

For Schwärzler, this represents a huge jump in the ATP rankings. The youngster, a protégé of ÖTV sports director Jürgen Melzer, is expected to climb from 664th to the top 400, reaching 387th place. Born to an Austrian and South African mother in Sandton, near Johannesburg (RSA) on January 27, 2006, Schwarzler, who speaks Afrikaans in addition to German and English, was safe in his first final against 351. He converted his fourth match point after 81 minutes.

“Continued to play the position”

“I am very happy to get my first title at this level. It’s really cool, it wouldn’t have been possible without my team and hard work,” said Schwarzler, who accompanied Gerald Melzer in Skopje. At the beginning of April, Schwarzler was not yet in the top 1000, and now he is already in the top 400. “I’ve been playing more consistently lately than I used to, but I haven’t become a better tennis player. April 1.” But fundamentally he is still far from his goal.

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Coach Jürgen Melzer was also “incredibly satisfied. It’s a great week to start with almost a loss in the first round, and at the end he’s with the winner’s trophy,” Melzer said happily. The win was incredibly important for Schwarzler’s ranking and development.

French Open and Jr

Schwärzler has already collected big points by participating in the quarterfinals at the Challengers in Tallahassee (Florida) and Mauthausen, but Skopje’s 75 tops everything he has achieved so far. Schwarzler, who trains in the south of the city, can also expect a check for 10,200 euros.

He may need to adjust his ranking target soon as he wants to be in the top 350 by the end of 2024. The left-hander almost got it. He will return to junior level next week as he looks to compete at the French Open – where his clear goal is to win the title. “I know I’m going there as the favorite. The most obvious goal is to win the tournament,” he said.

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