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Entering the third round

Entering the third round

Sebastian Offner reached the third round of a major tennis tournament for the second time after Wimbledon 2017 on Wednesday. The 27-year-old from Styria defeated the 24th seed Sebastian Korda after 2:35 hours 6: 3,7: 6 (1), 6: 4. For qualifier Offner, this was already the fourth victory at Roland Garros. This finally gives him the realization of a big goal: at least in the direct rankings, he was in the top 100 for the first time.

“Indescribable feeling. I was expecting a lot, but not with that,” Offner happily said on the field in an interview with ServusTV. “My goal was to qualify and then see what happens. But I’m playing well at the moment, all season. I can see that I can play with almost everyone and now I believe in myself to win.”

Breaking into the Top 100 is “almost better”: “It’s always been my goal and dream to get into the top 100, after what I’ve been through in the past couple of years.” Offner will now meet Italy’s Fabio Fognini in a last-16 clash on Friday, who also beat Australian Jason Kubler in three sets. Anyone who beats the current world number 30 shouldn’t be afraid of Fognini either.

Styrian student and coach Wolfgang Thiem got off to a solid start with a break to nil in the opening match. With a strong basic tennis, he put that advantage to good use over the slightly more error-prone Korda. After 35 minutes he hit the serve wide of his opponent, making the score 6: 3.

The second set was more balanced, as evidenced by three rest breaks on either side. Ofner fought back from 2:4 to 4:4 and was not deterred by another loss of serve until 4:5. He immediately returned the favor to make it 5:5 and went into a tie-break. In this Ofner was clearly stronger, rewarding himself with odds of 7: 1 and 2: 0. In the third round she was very balanced up to 4: 4, but then Ofner managed to break decisively to 5: 4. Then the victory over the quarter-finalist was sealed This year at the Australian Open.

He has already shown Offner’s fine form this year by entering four Challenger Finals. Despite being denied a title, his consistency in 2023 is now being rewarded on the biggest tennis stage possible. That too with €142,000 in prize money so far and possibly also a promotion to the top 100. In the live standings he’s 96th, something could change depending on how the tournament goes.

Such an arrangement opens up completely different possibilities. And for this you need support. Wolfgang Thiem’s ​​protégé doesn’t currently have a director, but Offner already has someone in mind, namely Thiem manager Moritz Thiem. “Maybe. We haven’t talked about it yet, but that would be the most obvious thing to do.”

And the Paris trip doesn’t have to end with Offner’s third tour. If he also beats Fognini, he will also beat Dominic Thiem and will be the best Austrian after Paris. “I will make sure I play my game normally and not be affected if he does any antics.” He judged his chances similarly to Maxim Cressi and Korda. “If I play well, there is definitely a 50/50 chance that I can win the match.” Ofner only found out at the press conference that he could potentially clash with Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas.

There is an artistic reward on the horizon

Offner, who is single by the way, has planned a small reward for his efforts. “Because I like to gamble a bit at home, I like to be on the Playstation: there is now a laptop that I will definitely have. Otherwise, the technology is good for me, maybe the new iPhone this year or the VR glasses that Apple is supposed to release this year “.

His reaching the third round of Wimbledon six years ago cannot be compared to his current success. “No, not a chance. This year I feel like I really deserved it and I worked for it and in 2017 it was just a lucky ride. I came from the Challenger final, which qualifies me for the Wimbledon qualifiers. This year is something completely different.”

And while Offner plays again on Friday, Austria’s newly promoted Julia Graber had a chance to reach the third round on Thursday. He will face the Rabat finalist, world number six, Coco Gauff from the United States, but he is, of course, an outsider. She is allowed to play on a really big court for the first time and will play Game 3 after 11:00 am (broadcast live on ServusTV) at Suzanne Lenglen Stadium.