Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Futures: Week 19

Here’s a quick recap of the action last week:

*TURKEY F17: Ukranian No.2 seed Denys Molchanov took the title after beating unseeded Spaniard Carlos Calderon-Rodriguez 63 60 in the final. It was the first title of the year for Molchanov, who had reached the final at Turkey F5 in February. The 24 year old had to survive only one scare in the tournament, a tough SF 3-setter against young Egyptian Mohamed Safwat (’90). Other than Safwat, most of the younger players in the tournament failed to leave much of a mark. Claude Benz (‘92/SUI) reached R2, while Alexander Folie (‘90/BEL) reached the QF before losing to Calderon-Rodriguez.

*SPAIN F15: Portuguese Joao Sousa (’89) halted Spain’s wonder-kid Roberto Carballes-Baena (’93)’s 14 match winning streak to win the title, defeating him 63 60 in the final. Both made it to the final without dropping sets, but Sousa used his better momentum (he won Spain F14 last week while Carballes-Baena took the week off) to clinch the victory. Both of them are among the best in the Futures circuit so far this year, and Sousa is now on a 10-match winning streak of his own. Some of the usual suspects were in action, as Taro Daniel (’93/JAP) advanced to the QFs, defeating Spanish-Canadian Steven Diez (’91) along the way. ’91-born Roberto Ortega-Olmedo (ESP) and Loic Ducourau (FRA), both came from the qualys and made the QFs. ’94-born Spaniard David Perez-Sanz earned a point too, advancing to R2 before losing to the eventual champion.

*SWEDEN F2: Experience prevailed in the SFs as Timo Nieminen and Catalin Gard clashed for the title, with the Finn coming out on top 64 in the third set. Nieminen defeated Gianni Mina (‘92/FRA), while Gard got rid of Daniel Smethurst (‘90/GBR), both in straight sets. It was Nieminen’s first title of the season. R2 featured a clash of former junior superstars, as Julien Obry (‘91/FRA) defeated Daniel Berta (‘92/SWE), before losing to Gard in the next round. Berta can’t seem to find the way to win at the pro level, only managing to defeat a qualifier before losing to the talented Frenchman. Several young Swedish hopefuls clinched their first ATP points before being defeated by more experienced competitors. Among them were Jacob Johansson (’91), Isak Arvidsson (’92) and Denny Stajonevic (’93).

*MOROCCO F1: This was another case of experience prevailing over youth, as Spaniard Marc Fornell defeated Frenchman Tak Khunn Wang (’91) in straight sets. However, the pleasant surprise of the tournament was unranked Indian Ramkumar Ramanathan (’94) who came through the qualy and into the SFs before losing to Wang. The 16-year old, who had only played in one pro main draw before (earlier this year in Spain) took out No.2 seed Ivan Nedelko of Russia in R1. Moroccans Ismael Lahlou (’93) and Kamil Benmoussa (’94) earned their first ever ATP points with R1 wins.

*KAZAKHSTAN F3: Federico Gaio (‘92/ITA) seems to have found his groove at the pro level. He took his second consecutive title in Eastern Europe, this time defeating surprise finalist Ilia Starkov (‘90/RUS). The Italian extended his winning streak to 10 matches while only dropping one set during the whole tournament. Starkov, meanwhile, defeated fellow 90’-born Russian Mikhail Fufygin in the SFs to reach his first final of the year. Six out of the 8 quarter-finalists were Russian, including all 4 in the bottom part of the draw. Among them were ’92-born duo Alexander Rumyantsev and Mikhail Biryukov.

*VENEZUELA F3: David Souto is, without a doubt, the hottest player in the world right now in the Futures circuit. He won his third consecutive futures title in 3 weeks and is currently on a 15-match winning streak. The ’92-born Venezuelan starlet defeated the young, yet more experienced Argentine Patricio Heras (‘89/No.1 seed) in straight sets. Souto only had to work overtime in the SFs, when countryman Luis David Martinez took him to a third set. To reach the final, Souto had to eliminate some old foes of the junior ranks such as Duilio Beretta (‘92/PER) and Roberto Quiroz (’92/ECU). The surprise of the tournament was 2010 year-end ITF No.1 Juan Sebastian Gomez (’92/COL) who advanced all the way to the SFs before losing to Heras. The only other young-gun to make any noise was Venezuelan Ricardo Rodriguez (’93) who advanced to R2 and lost a tough 3-setter against Beretta.

*ITALY F9: 23-year old qualifier Antal Van der Dium (NED) won the title over No.1 seed James Lemke of Australia. The Dutchman did not face a seeded player until the final en route to taking his first title of the season. He only dropped one set and defeated young Japanese Hiroki Moriya (’90) in the SFs. The tournament featured the presence of local WC Gianluigi Quinzi (’96), projected to be a very dangerous player down the road. The young Italian took No.7 seed Alejandro Gonzalez (‘89/COL) to 3 sets. It was a very disappointing week for many of the high-profile youngsters of the tour as Filip Krajinovic (‘92/SRB), Daniel Evans (’90/GBR), Shuichi Sekiguchi (‘91/JPN) and Yasutaka Uchiyama (’92/JPN) were all eliminated in R1.  
*ARGENTINA F5: In a main draw that featured 32 Argentineans, Marco Trungelliti (’90) took the title over Diego Schwartzman (’92). Trungelliti sits at a career-high ranking of 352 and that will improve once these points are counted next week. Schwartzman is in the same situation, especially after reaching his second consecutive final in home soil. Schwartzman has been very successful this year, boasting a 21-10 record but has only won 1 out 8 finals in his pro career, a peculiar piece of information considering his talent and potential. Trungelliti and Schwartzman left behind the more experienced Juan Pablo Amado and Martin Alund (the previous week’s champion) in the semis. Most of the country’s best prospects were in attendance, but the youngest were the ones who took the headlines. ’93-born Mauricio Perez Motta advanced to R2, while Juan Ignacio Londero (also ’93) made it to the QFs. Moreover Leandro Portmann and Joaquin Amaya, a pair of ’94-born players, obtained their first ever ATP points.

*MEXICO F2: Daniel Garza took the title at home, defeating Australian Brendan Moore 63 16 62 in the final. Garza has won 14 out of his last 15 futures matches, only losing in the final at Mexico F1 due to injury. Three out of the 4 semi-finalists were Mexican, with Miguel Gallardo-Valles and Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela completing the field. Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili (’92) displayed some of his potential, defeating No.1 seed Adam El Mihdawy before losing in the QFs. ’92-born Colombian Sebastian Lopez (’92) was the only relatively-heralded youngster in the draw who managed to advance to R2.

*BRAZIL F13: In the 14th match against one another going back to 2000, Julio Silva defeated fellow Brazilian Thiago Alves to take the title. Silva still trails Alvez 6 to 8 in the head-to-head. The wily veterans defeated younger countrymen Marcelo Demoliner (’89) and Guilherme Clezar (’92) in the semis. Chilean Javier Munoz (’91) was the only non-Brazilian in the QFs. From Brazil’s next wave of prospects, both Karue Sell (’93) and Eduardo Dischinger (’92) notched R1 wins but were then eliminated. Once a prospect with a world of potential, 23-year old Nicolas Santos was also eliminated in R2.  

*BOSNIA F2: No.2 seed Serbian Miljan Zekic (’88) took the title over Bosnian qualifier Tomislav Brkic (’90) 76 62 in the final. It was Zekic’s 2nd title of the season after Turkey F10, and he boasts a 16-3 record in Futures matches in 2011. The champion only dropped one set en route to the final. Brkic reached the final after defeating the more-heralded Damir Dzuhmur (’92), a fellow Bosnian, in the SFs. He also defeated last week’s chamption Toni Androic of Croatia along the way. Serbian Danilo Petrovic (’92) also had a very solid outing, reaching the QFs

*CHINA F5: 27-year old Ti Chen of Taiwan used his experienced to defeat Chinese youngster Chuhan Wang (’92) in the final and take the title. Twelve out of 16 players in R2 were Chinese, bust most of them were in the top part of the draw, as Chen defeated Japanese Junn Mitsuhashi (’89) in the bottom SF. Wang took out No.1 seed Ze Zhang (‘90/CHN). It wasn’t a very productive week for Chinese prospects, as Di Wu (’90) and Bowen Ouyang (’92) were eliminated early. Taiwanese Liang-Chi Huang (’92), a former ITF No.3 was eliminated in R1 again, although this time against the eventual runner-up.

*BULGARIA F2: Axel Michon (‘90/FRA) is making the most out of his Bulgarian experience, as he took his 2nd consecutive title in said country. This time he defeated Austrian Michael Linzer to raise the trophy. Michon will now take his 10-match winning streak into the Roland Garros qualy, as he was granted a WC. Michon wasn’t tested until the final, where it took him 3 sets to finally get past Linzer, who had also required 3 sets to defeat No.1 seed Pole Marcin Gawron. ’90-born local WC Alexander Lazov made a surprise run to the QFs before losing to Linzer. Another fellow Bulgarian prospect, Dimitar Kuzmanov (’93) advanced to R2 before being eliminated by the once-promising Romanian Petru-Alexandru Luncanu (’89).

*USA F12: Unseeded American Blake Strode took the title over the more experienced countryman (and No.1 seed) Lester Cook 63 64 in the final. The 23-year old Strode benefited from an wide-open bottom half of the draw, but not before eliminated Gerald Melzer (’90/AUT), who was coming from a title last week in Mexico F1. Cook had to qualify into the main draw because of not signing up for the tournament, and a 3-set win over Denis Kudla (‘92/USA) probably burned him out. Kudla’s run to the semis included a victory over friend and fellow ’92-born American Andrea Collarini. Relatively-famed American prospects Ty Trombetta (’90) and Dennis Novikov (’93) advanced to R2, where they were eliminated.

*CZECH REPUBLIC F1: Current Jr. Australian Open champion and ITF No.1 Jiri Vesely (‘93/CZE) won his first every pro title, after defeating Slovakian Norbert Gombos (’90) 36 76 61 in the final. En route to the final, Vesely defeating Peter Torebko and No.1 seed Jurgen Zopp of Estonia. Gombos defeated fast-rising German Jan-Leonard Struff (’90), the No.2 seed to reach the final. Filip Horansky (’93/SVK), sitting at No.10 in the ITF ranking, had a strong run to the QFs before losing to the eventual champion. ITF No.8 Dominic Thiem (‘93/AUT) logged a R1 win before losing to fellow Austrian Marc Rath (’89).

*GREAT BRITAN F7: No.3 seeded Tunisian Malek Jaziri took the title over top-seeded Yannick Mertens of Belgium, 63 64 in the final. Jaziri only dropped a set in the SFs, where it took him extra effort to put away No.2 seed (and Italy F8 champion last week) Jonathan Dasnieres de Veigy of France. James Duckworth (’92/AUS) was the youngster of the week in the UK, as he reached the semis before losing to Mertens. The young local prospects had another poor showing, with Ashley Hewitt (’92), Toby Martin (’93) and Oliver Golding (’93) being the only ones advancing to R2, where they were all eliminated.  

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