PARIS – Oscar Otte is unique at Roland Garros as the only German to count a former English Test cricketer as a inspiration.
His other idol is Roger Federer, the man he will face in the second round in Paris.
Otte, the world number 145, made the first round at the French Open as a lucky loser despite being beaten in qualifying.
The 25-year-old made the most of his second chance by seeing off experienced Malek Jaziri of Tunisia 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 6-0 on Sunday to book a place in the second round of a Slam for the first time.
As well as his victory, it was his name-checking of Mark Benson, who played one Test match for England as an opening batsman before going on to become an umpire, that proved equally as eye-catching.
Benson is also the father of the man who is soon to marry Otte’s sister Luisa.
“I have known him for a long time and have got to know him quite well,” Otte told AFP.
“I know about his career which was very impressive and I always keep in touch with him.”
Benson played his only Test for England against India in 1986 and spent 15 years featuring for Kent, scoring more than 18,000 runs.
Otte, however, admitted that he has yet to catch the cricket bug.
“Cricket’s not that big for me, sorry.”
Before Sunday, Otte had won just one match on the main tour in eight years.
His earnings this year are $54,000 and $327,000 in his career compared to Federer’s $3.1 million in 2019 and $123.6 million overall.
“It will be a big match for me,” added Otte, who is already assured 64,000 euros by getting to the second round in Paris.
“I am looking forward to it.”
For 35-year-old Jaziri, Sunday’s match was an opportunity lost.
“It’s not easy to prepare against a player you have never seen,” the Tunisian told AFP.
“You don’t know how he plays, you try and check on Google and YouTube but there’s nothing.
“I was too up and down today. My forehand, which is my best shot, wasn’t working very well and he upped his game.”
Jaziri, the world number 94, had not played since Estoril a month ago due to injury.
He admitted that losing a chance to face Federer in the next round was disappointing.
“Roland Garros is the most watched tennis event in Tunisia and the Arab world and I would have loved to play Roger here,” said Jaziri who has made the second round in Paris on three occasions.
“It was a good opportunity, but maybe next time.”AFP