FEDERICO DELBONIS (‘90/ARG): The Argentine spent the whole month trying his luck at the ATP level. Despite never having broken into the top 100, he seems to play up to the competition and perform better at the highest levels. He first played at Vina del Mar (Chile), where he survived the qualy to make the main draw. Once there, he beat the almost-retired Nicolas Massu before upsetting Brazilian Thomas Bellucci. He then lost to the streaking Carlos Berlocq, who also happens to be playing the best tennis of his life. Delbonis then was eliminated in the last round of qualifying at Sao Paulo (Brasil), losing to Ramirez Hidalgo. He wrapped up the month by advancing through the Q at Buenos Aires (Argentina). He took out Frederico Gil in R1 before losing to runner-up Nicolas Almagro. He improved his ranking by 31 spots, landing at 141.
DENIS KUDLA (’92/USA): The Ukrainian-American lands on the list for the second month in a row on the heels of another pair of overachieving performances. Due to his ranking he is now finally beyond the futures level. He reached the quarter-finals of the Dallas Challenger after beating former top 100 Mischa Zverev before losing to Stefan Siefert. He then went on to successfully complete the qualy at the ATP San Jose to set up a ’92 showdown against Jack Sock. He dismissed the fellow starlet and then took Andy Roddick to a third set where he lost 64. Kudla closed the month by losing in the qualy of ATP Memphis but planted within the top 200 in the ranking at 178 (a 100-spot rise since the beginning of 2012).
ALBANO OLIVETTI (‘91/FRA): This French bomber has been on the brink of an upset for a while thanks to his massive serve. He started off the month slow, losing in R1 of qualifying at ATP Montpellier and then managing to qualify into main draw at the Bergamo Challenger (Italy) before losing in R1 to Lajovic. However, he got his chance to shine at ATP Marseille and did not let it slip. He qualified into the main draw and defeated 92th ranked Mathias Bachinger before logging the best win of his career in a mega-upset against 8th ranked Mardy Fish. He eventually lost to veteran Michael Llodra in the quarter-finals but let everyone know that his 6’8 frame and his booming serve are only getting started.
JERZY JANOWICZ (‘90/POL): Speaking of big-serving guys, Janowicz has struggled to make his way to the big leagues. He reached 140 in the ranking last year but opened 2012 at 221. This month he had Davis Cup duty for Poland and swept of his (easy) rubbers against Madagascar. That seems to have helped his morale as he then reached the final of the Wolfsburg Challenger (Germany). To get there, the former Jr. Roland Garros runner-up, defeated former top-100s Frank Dancevic and Evgeny Korolev before losing in the final to a red-hot Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands. Thanks to this he’s now at the doorstep of the top 200 again at 205.
STEVEN DIEZ (‘91/CAN): The Spanish-Canadian has been a steady riser in the futures circuit. This month he played on 3 events in Spain and fared very well. He advanced to the semis at Spain F1 (taking out Taro Daniel and Kevin Krawietz) before losing to top seed Guillermo Olaso in 3 sets. The following week at Spain F2 he lost to eventual champion Pedro Clar-Rosello in the quarter-finals. The third time was the charm as he was able to win the title at Spain F3. This time he defeated the 2nd (Enrico Burzi) and 3rd (Pedro Sousa) seeds to clinch it. All in all he went 10-2 and when the points earned are factored in he’ll break into the top 300 for the first time in his career.
GUIDO ANDREOZZI (’91/ARG): This young Argentine is another fast riser who had an excellent 2011. This happens in part due to finally being injury free. He started the month playing at the qualy of the ATP Vina del Mar (Chile) but was eliminated early by Martin Alund. He was then upset in the quarter-finals of the 15K tournament at Brazil F7 by eventual runner-up Jose Pereira. However, he had his breakthrough the following week at Brazil F8. He defeated local veterans Leonardo Kirche and Ricardo Hocevar and talented Frenchman Jonathan Eysseric en route to the title. With the win he will enter the top 350 next week.
RADU ALBOT (‘89/MDA): This 22-year old from Moldova was arguably the hottest player in the futures circuit in February. He logged a lot of tennis hours, beginning with him getting through the qualy at the Kazan Challenger (Russia) before being eliminated in R1 by former top 100 Teimuraz Gabashvili. He then played Davis Cup and won 1 of2 rubbers against Belarus (d. Zhyrmont / l. to Ignatik). Following that he traveled to Turkey, where he won 4 futures events last year. At Turkey F7 he reached the final but was upset by Daniel Smethurst (‘90/GBR). However things went back to normal the following week as he won the title after dismissing Alexander Lobkov (‘90/RUS) in the final. He ended up going 11-2 for the month and when the ranking points are computed he’ll land somewhere inside the top 235.
HIROKI MORIYA (‘90/JPN): The Japanese’s performances got better as the month went on. He first reached the quarter-finals at Germany F4 before losing to Alexander Flock. He then went down-under where he reached the semis of Australia F1, losing to Ze Zhang of China. Finally, he won the 15K event at Australia F2, avenging his loss to Zhang and also knocking down the best local products in Jason Kubler (’93) and Luke Saville (’94). He defeated Brydan Klein in the final and ended the month with a 9-2 record. These performances will get him into the top 270 of the world.
EVGENY DONSKOY (‘90/RUS): This Russian did a very good job of maintaining his ranking when the pressure rose. He replaced the points of winning the Casablanca Challenger (Morocco) last year by winning the Meknes Challenger in the same country. He did so in a very convincing manner beating experienced players like Jan Hajek and Simon Greul. Although the title at Meknes was the high point, he also managed to reach R2 at the Kazan Challenger (Russia) and the semi-finals at Quimper Challenger (France), where he eliminated a trio of great players like Paul-Henri Mathieu, Arnaud Clement and Marc Gicquel before losing to Tunisian Malek Jaziri. With the next big chunk of points to be defended in June, Donskoy has a very good chance of cracking the top 100 with a couple of more similar performances in the next few months.
MARIUS COPIL (‘90/ROM): The 6’4 Romanian started the month with a bang, reaching the final at the Kazan Challenger (Russia). He took out veterans like Ivo Minar and Andreas Haider-Maurer before losing in the final to Jurgen Zopp of Estonia in 2 tie-breaks. Copil then went to Italy 2 weeks later and advanced through the qualy at the Bergamo Challenger. However, he faced top seed Go Soeda and was defeated with a score of 64 64. The big man is hoping to get back on track, since he has fallen to 255 after a career high204 in May of 2011.
· CRISTIAN GARIN (’96/CHI): The 15-year old won his first 2 ATP points in back to back wins. First he took out Felipe Mantilla (‘93/COL) at Chile F1, and then he defeated Cristobal Saavedra-Corvalan (‘90/CHI) at Chile F3.
· THANASSI KOKKINAKIS (‘96/AUS): Qualified into a futures main draw for the first time at Australia F1 but lost in R1. The following week he got a WC and took out Adam Hubble in R1 to earn his second ATP point.
· GIANLUIGI QUINZI (‘96/ITA): The ultimate nextwaver is an ITF top 10 despite being 2 years younger than the competition. Not content with that, he passed the qualy at Chile F3 and defeated Federico Coria (‘92/ARG) to earn another ATP point.
· BORNA CORIC (‘96/CRO): He earned his first ATP point at Croatia F1 and backed it up the following week by repeating the same feat. Very solid
· ANDRES ARTUNEDO-MARTINAVARR (‘93/ESP): 0-3 in February (all at home) to fall to 0-5 for the year (the other 2 at Turkey). Expected a breakout year for the young Spaniard.
· PABLO CARRENO-BUSTA (‘91/ESP): 0-3 in February (0-4 overall). He’s struggling at the Challenger level, even as a seeded player. Losses at Quimper, Bergamo and Meknes.
· FEDERICO GAIO (‘92/ITA): Lost in R1 of the qualy at ATP Vina del Mar and then lost in R1 of Chile F1 to a qualifier. He then lost in R2 to of Chile F3 to Jorge Aguilar. Expected a little more of him
· ILYA BELYAEV (’90): Lost early in the qualy of Kazan Challenger at home. And then followed it up with back to back R1 losses at Russia F4 and F5, both times to unseeded Ilia Shatskiy.