5 Things To Know About Philipp Kohlschreiber
Philipp Kohlschreiber played a World No. 1 in only his second tour-level match. Seventeen years later, and on his 12th attempt, he finally got a win over the top player on the ATP Tour – defeating five-time champion Novak Djokovic in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open.
In his on-court interview, when asked how it felt to see his hard work still paying off at this stage of his career, the 35-year-old German joked to laughter and applause, “What do you mean, this stage? I’m just starting my career!”
In reality, Kohlschreiber has been making his mark on the ATP Tour since his debut in 2002. Among his accomplishments: reaching a career-high No. 16, winning eight singles and seven doubles titles, and becoming only the third German in the Open Era to record more than 400 match wins.
Here are five things to know about Kohlschreiber ahead of his fourth-round match against Gael Monfils on Wednesday in Indian Wells.
1. He’s done his best at home
Of Kohlschreiber’s eight singles titles, five have come in his native Germany – Munich (2007, 2012, 2016), 2011 Halle and 2014 Dusseldorf – and two have come in his current residence of Kitzbuhel, Austria (2015, 2017). Four of his seven doubles titles have also come in Germany or Kitzbuhel.
"They are all special, but the first [title] in Munich in 2004 stands out, playing in front of the home crowd and in front of family and friends, was especially something special of course," he said.
Since making his tour-level debut in 2002 in his hometown of Munich, Kohlschreiber has compiled a 123-65 match record in Germany (.654), including a victory over then-No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the 2012 Halle quarter-finals. In Kitzbuhel, he has a 18-9 match record (.667) – and on his most recent tournament appearance in 2018, he played a match on his wedding day.
2. He almost got that first win over a World No. 1 two years ago
Kohlschreiber first confronted a World No. 1 in only his second tour-level event, in May 2002 in Hamburg, and lost to Lleyton Hewitt 7-5, 6-4. He had an 0-11 record against World No. 1 opponents entering Tuesday’s match against Djokovic, but came oh-so-close to snapping that winless record two years ago.
With his 400th tour-level win on the line, Kohlschreiber held seven match points against No. 1 Andy Murray in the 2017 Dubai quarter-finals. Murray denied the German, prevailing 20/18 in the 31-minute second-set tie-break on his eighth set point, and eventually triumphed 6-7(4), 7-6(18), 6-1. “I'll probably never play another tie-break like that again,” Murray said afterwards. “I have been playing on the tour for 11, 12 years now, and nothing's been close to that.”
3. Indian Wells has been good to him in recent years
Last year at the BNP Paribas Open, Kohlschreiber reached the quarter-finals before falling to eventual champion Juan Martin del Potro. He upset second seed Marin Cilic in the Round of 32, snapping a 12-match losing streak against Top 10 players.
A year before that in Indian Wells, Kohlschreiber celebrated his 400th match win. "It feels great, it means that I'm pretty old and have been on the tour for a long time," he said at the time. "I hope I get the chance to go for 500."
4. He’s in good company
Kohlschreiber is only one of three Germans to have won 400 or more matches in the Open Era. The other two? Boris Becker (713) and Tommy Haas (569), the current BNP Paribas Open Tournament Director.
"It really shows that Philipp been a part of the game for a long time and so consistent," said countryman Mischa Zverev. "He's been close to the Top 10 for many years and has beaten many top players. He can play well on any surface and I think he should get more recognition because he's done a lot for the sport as a whole."
5. He’s okay with flying under the radar
Kohlschreiber considers himself fortunate to be part of a generation that includes the likes of Roger Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, and can appreciate that he’s not in the spotlight at all times like his peers.
“I'm a very quiet guy,” he said. “Of course you wish to have maybe a Top 10 ranking once in your career, but if I'm not able to achieve that, I'm very happy how my life is going on.
“I’m still able to walk on the street or go to, I don't know, McDonald's and there is just a few guys saying, ‘Oh, that's maybe Kohlschreiber.’ I'm able to do that. I don't know if Roger or Rafa can do that. On this side, I'm very happy that I can really enjoy my life peacefully.”
But should more fame come with more success, Kohlschreiber would be fine with that, too. “Maybe I can turn around my career here. I don't know. I'm still in the tournament feeling great, playing good tennis. Let's see. You know, if you win the whole thing here, it might change,” he said with a smile.