ISMANING, November 3, 2023
Andre Begemann is back on the tennis tour after a break of about 20 months. In October 2021, the 39-year-old German claimed his 29th career title on the ATP Challenger Tour at the Wolffkran Open in Ismaning, alongside Slovakia’s Igor Zelenay.
His comeback took place at the end of June this year. Initially partnering with India’s Ramkumar Ramanathan, Begemann competed in two Challenger events in Italy. He is currently teaming up with Ramanathan’s compatriot N. Srirar Balaji, who is ranked 79th in the ATP Doubles Rankings. And they are doing extremely well.
In Bratislava, Slovakia, the German-Indian duo celebrated their first team title. For Begemann, this marked his 30th triumph on the Challenger Circuit. This week, Begemann, who has also clinched four doubles titles on the ATP Tour, returned to the venue of his last success in Germany. In Ismaning, he is aiming for a three-peat at the only carpet tournament on the ATP Challenger Tour.
After Balaji/Begemann’s semifinal victory over top-seeded Robert Galloway from the United States and France’s Albano Olivetti on Friday, we sat down with the German veteran for an interview.
Tennis TourTalk: Congratulations, Andre! That was quite a close match today.
Andre Begemann: Every match on carpet is intense. Everything happens so quickly. We are obviously very happy that we managed to win the crucial points against a world-class doubles team that reached the quarterfinals of the US Open just a few weeks ago. It’s noticeable that they’ve played more matches recently than I have, but it’s fun to be back here again.
You took a longer break…
My last tournament was actually the victory in 2021 in Ismaning. After that, I suffered from Covid, which lasted a bit. In the meantime, I took on a few other projects and wanted to do things at home that I hadn’t had time for in the last 15 years.
Can you tell us a bit about it?
For example, I played tennis just for fun every Saturday at 11 a.m. with a good friend. Then we went out to eat together. We did things that are probably normal for many people, but unfortunately, I never had time for them. That was important to me. Covid gave me the opportunity because the tour was suspended at times. However, it was clear to me that I wanted to come back to the tour. Now I have the chance to use 12 protected rankings with my average ranking from two years ago. I played with Balaji at Palmengarten in the Bundesliga. That’s where we met. Now we won the tournament in Bratislava together, so I’m competitive again (laughs). I just look forward to every tournament I can play and when I’m healthy. I really enjoy it. Plus, I gained a different perspective on tennis and the tour, which personally helped me a lot.
Did you consider quitting professional tennis?
I love tennis and I pursue the sport with a lot of passion. However, when you travel the tour for 10 or 15 years, it is not just passion, but also a profession. You spend very little time at home, and it becomes quite stressful. Sometimes you can quickly forget how much fun you used to have. I regained that during my break. I kept myself fit but only trained once or twice a week. In April of this year, I improved again and did a lot of build-up work with my physio trainer. Unfortunately, I got a muscle strain at one of my first tournaments in Milan and was out for six weeks.
Were you surprised at how quickly you could play successfully on the tour again?
Of course. It’s amazing. I knew I had the level, but I’m 39 now, and I didn’t think it would happen so quickly. You need the wins to feel comfortable again and build confidence. We then beat many good teams, which even increased my enthusiasm for tennis.
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You now have a regular partner in Balaji again. That’s not a given.
Bala lives in Frankfurt, and we practice together at Alex Waske Academy. We are also on the same team in Palmengarten. I had told him that if he ever needed a new partner, he could give me a call. Surprisingly, he did, and I am very grateful for that. He not only has a good ranking but is also a great guy.
And now another final in Ismaning.
I have been unbeaten here for 11 matches and have never won three tournaments in one place. It’s clear that you feel comfortable there.
Thank you and good luck.
Interview: Florian Heer