UTo realize how much his life has changed in recent years, Dominik Koepfer only has to look out the window these days. He then looks at the Eiffel Tower, the reward for his rapid rise in the tennis world rankings. Because this time Koepfer is allowed to reside in a better hotel at the French Open than in the previous year. Namely, in the system that houses the top 70 players in the ranking. “It’s not quite as dark there as last year,” he joked at the beginning of the week in Paris. The view of the city’s landmark is a nice bonus.
Koepfer has another new experience this Saturday. Then in round three of the Roland Garros tournament he will play against the great Roger Federer. “A dream” is coming true for him, said the 27-year-old. “I’ve watched so many Grand Slam finals in which he was on the pitch.” This time he will be on the other side of the net himself when the master pursues his art in Paris. The world ranking 59. wants to “see if I can annoy him a bit”.
Koepfer is a late caller. After graduating from high school, he first went to the USA, where he played for Tulane University in New Orleans at college. “Tennis was primarily my hobby,” he says of that time. Although he always had the dream of becoming a professional. “But it was simply unrealistic because I wasn’t good enough and didn’t play enough.” After four years of studying and with a degree in economics under his belt, he dared to step into the professional scene. It was worth it.
At Wimbledon, Koepfer appeared for the first time in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament in 2019. After all, he survived one lap and received as much prize money as the total of his entire professional career to date. His final breakthrough followed at the subsequent US Open. Koepfer reached the round of 16 sensationally. The native of the Black Forest, who was once dubbed “Pitbull” at college because of his powerful, compact figure and great fighting spirit, was no longer a stranger to the top of the world.
After a 2020 season marked by the pandemic with some weaker results, Koepfer continued his ascent this year. In Acapulco, he was in the semifinals of an ATP tournament for the first time in the spring. He only just lost there against Germany’s top player Alexander Zverev. The times when Koepfer doubted his own ability are over. “I know that I can compete against the best,” he said on Thursday. This also applies to Roger Federer.