Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on 12 March 2019, but has been republished after Jan-Lennard Struff beat Stefanos Tsitsipas on Thursday to make the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell quarter-finals. Read Report
Jan-Lennard Struff is closing in on new territory at the ATP Masters 1000 level. At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, the 28-year-old German is one win away from making his first Masters 1000 quarter-final.
Struff beat Alexander Zverev on Monday to reach his fifth Round of 16 at the prestigious level. Struff will next meet Canadian and 2016 finalist Milos Raonic, who came back from 1-4 down in the third set to beat American Marcos Giron.
Here are five things to know about Struff, who loves football and going to the cinema – he names his favourite movie below – and was practically born into the sport of tennis.
1. He had never beaten Alexander Zverev before this week.
Dating back to their 2015 matchup on the ATP Challenger Tour, Zverev was 5-0, including four tour-level matchups. against his older countryman. But Struff beat Zverev 6-3, 6-1 to reach the Indian Wells Round of 16 for the first time.
“I was really happy that I won that match. The score, 6-3, 6-1, feels good for me,” Struff told ATPTour.com. “He’s such a good player, and I’m very happy that I could beat him.”
2. He’s a doubles champion
Struff doesn’t play doubles to get used to the courts. He doesn’t join regular teammate Ben McLachlan of Japan for more match repetitions. No, his motivations for doubling his court time at tournaments are far simpler than that: “I like doubles. I like the game. I like to play,” Struff said.
They won their first tour-level title together at the ATP 500 in Tokyo, and followed it with another title to start 2019 at the ASB Classic in Auckland and another final at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
“Last year was an amazing year for me in doubles, for Ben as well, his first year on Tour,” Struff said. “It feels really good, building up some self confidence around that, and helps a lot for singles, for sure. I definitely want to play a lot of doubles. It’s a bit exhausting some times, but it makes it a lot of fun.”
3. He loves tennis, but…
Both of Struff’s parents are tennis coaches at Tennis Park in his hometown of Warstein, Germany. “I always loved the game and still love it. Tennis is my life,” he said.
But if he’s not on Tour or at the club’s four outdoor clay courts or five indoor rubber courts, he’s supporting his one and only football team, Borussia Dortmund. “Just one team and just full for the team, everything,” Struff said. “I live 10 minutes away from the stadium, and my father has season tickets.
“I always went when I was small, not that often anymore, maybe two, three times.”
4. “Pursuit of Happyness” is one of his favourite movies.
Struff has seen the 2006 movie starring American actor Will Smith 10 or 15 times. He watched it again on his 16-hour flight from Dubai to Los Angeles before the BNP Paribas Open. “I love the story,” Struff said.
5. He beat Raonic for the first time last month.
The German was 0-1 against the former World No. 3 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series before Dubai. But Struff saved six of seven break points to win their first-rounder on 25 February in Dubai.