Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Futures: Week 23

Here’ s a recap of the week’s action:

*CHINA F8: South Korean youngster Yong-Kyu Lim (’91) took his first title in four tries this season after defeating top seed Mao-Xin Gong of China 67 64 61 in the final. Lim had lost his previous three finals of 2011 but prevailed this time and earned the valuable points granted by this 15k tournament. En route to the final, Lim was taken the distance only once, against Chinese Di Wu (’91) in the QFs. He also overcame Taiwanese prospect Liang-Chi Huang (’91) and the experienced Woong-Sun Jun to set up his clash against Gong, who had not lost a set before the final. Gong defeated Kittiphong Wachiramanowong (‘90/THA) in the semis.

*FRANCE F8: Experienced Argentine Martin Alund earned his way back into the top 300 in the rankings after his impressive win at this 15k +H tournament. He took the title after a 3 set battle against fellow veteran Nicolas Renavand, prevailing 63 in the third. Alund cruised through the early rounds before facing unexpected resistance in his semi-finals match against Mathias Bourgue (‘94/FRA). This French wonder-kid was No.1 in under-16s in Europe last year and backed up the hype with an impressive performance that included a win over Gianni Mina (‘92/FRA) and taking the eventual champion to 3 sets. This mini-streak will spring Bourgue into the top 1000 in the ranking, an important feat for any 17-year old. Virtually all the famed French prospects were in attendance, with Julien Obry (’91) advancing to the QFs before being taken down by the eventual champion. Moreover, Pierre-Hughes Herbert (’92) advanced to R2 before losing to Mina.

*ITALY F14: Austrian big man Philip Oswald was the surprise champion after defeating No.2 seed and favorite Gerard Granollers-Pujol (‘89/ESP) in straight sets in the final. Oswald halted Granollers-Pujol’s 9-match winning streak, and won the title without dropping a set all week. The Spaniard, having the best season of his young career now boasts a 33-11 record and will appear at a new career high in the next ranking. As for the younger prospects, Patrick Brydolf (‘91/SWE), Alessandro Giannessi (‘90/ITA) and Laurynas Grigelis (‘91/LTU) advanced to the QFs before being eliminated by higher-seeded players.

*NETHERLANDS F2: 21-year old Spaniard Inigo Cervantes took the crown of this 15k tournament after defeating last week’s champion Maxime Authom of Belgium in the final. In a battle of unseeded players, Cervantes prevailed in 3 sets, the only match in which he went the distance all week. Along the way, Cervantes defeated young Russian Victor Baluda (’92) in the QFs and benefited by the retirement of Aussie Brydan Klein (’89) in the semis. Authom defeated local Antal Van der Dium to reach the final and improve his 2011 record to 24-7. A special mention goes out to Ben Wagland, the ’93-born Aussie giant who advanced to the QFs thanks to an impressive straight sets win over top seeded Timo Nieminen.

*SPAIN F20: There are few adjectives left to describe Arnau Brugues-Davi’s run in the futures circuit this year. This week he took his 8th title, this time defeating up and coming fellow Spaniard Andres Artunedo Martinavarr in straight sets. The third-seeded Spaniard improved his 2011 record to 41-5, with only one of those loses coming at the futures level. The champion only faced resistance in the semis, where he had to fight a 3 set battle against Australian (and former US college player at UCLA) Michael Look. The ’93-born Artunedo Martinavarr, for his part, reached his first pro final and continues his ascending career that features the doubles crown at the Junior French Open last month. En route to the final, he defeated the No.2 seed Steven Diez (‘91/CAN) and Russian Ilya Belyaev (’90). A fellow ’93-born Spaniard, Ricardo Ojeda Lara advanced to the QFs before losing to Brugues-Davi 60 60. The disappointing performance of the tournament was handed by David Souto (’92). The young Venezuelan starlet had won three consecutive futures at home coming into this tournament, but was eliminated in R1 against Look.

*USA F14: Top seeded Canadian Philip Bester took down American Blake Strode in a straight sets final to earn the title. With the win, this promising player who had a breakthrough 2010 season will set a new career high next week and will sit at the doorstep of the top 200. Bester, a former ITF top 10 had to battle through 3 tough sets in the SFs against Devin Britton (’91/USA), himself a successful junior who once reached the final of the Junior US Open. Strode, the runner up, also had a tough outing in the semis, having to go the distance to defeat last week’s champion Daniel Kosakowski (‘92/USA). Kosakowski, who just finished his freshman season at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), had defeated No.2 seed Greg Ouellette and former top 100 Jimmy Wang (TPE) prior to his matchup against Strode.

*ARGENTINA F7: Top seeded Argentinean Juan Pablo Amado took his first title of the season after defeating up and comer countryman Diego Schwartzman (’92), 46 64 64 in the final. The 25 year old Amado, a veteran of the futures circuit, had been having a subpar year for his standards, but avenged 2 previous losses to Schwartzman this year to lift the trophy. Schwartzman, who already has 75 wins in his short career, lost his 8th final in 9 tries. This can be seen 2 ways, as it is incredible that he’s reached so many finals at such a young age, but also, it is alarming that he can’t seem to close them out, even against rivals that he’s repeatedly beat in recent months. Regardless, the young Argentine will improve to a career high ranking and will be very close to cracking the top 300. To reach the final, Schwartzman went through Andrea Collarini (‘92/USA), last week’s champion Kevin Konfederak (‘91/ARG) and Brazilian Guilherme Clezar (’92). Peruvian Duilio Beretta (’92) made the QFs before losing to Clezar.   

*GERMANY F5: 30-year old unseeded local Holger Fischer was the surprise champion, defeating a player 10 years younger than him, Australian Matt Reid. It was the second title this season for Fischer, who earlier this year reached a career high ranking of 486 that he is sure to surpass when the points from this tournament enter the rankings. Fischer struggled in the early rounds, gutting out consecutive 3-setters before defeating fast-rising compatriot Kevin Krawietz (’92) in straight sets. In the SFs, Fischer had to dig deep once again, as qualifier German Florian Fallert, the surprise of the tournament, took him to another third set before surrendering 75 36 63. Reid, on the other hand, had a much smoother way to the final, being only taken to 3 sets in the QFs against Denis Bloemke, and benefitting from a walk over by Chilean Hans Podlipnik in the semis. However, the Aussie, who’s a former ITF Top 20 but is having an irregular year so far, proved no match to Fischer, who defeated him 62 61. Other than Fallert’s Cinderella run, young Russian Alexey Vatutin (’92) made an unlikely run to the QFs, winning two straight 3-setters before being swept by Podlipnik.

*JAPAN F6: In a battle of Japanese little guys, Jun Mitsuhashi (’89) took the title over top-seeded Hiroki Moriya (’90), 64 60 in the final. The winner took revenge from last week, taking out fellow Japanese youngster Hiroyasu Ehara (who beat him in the final the previous week) in R1. It certainly wasn’t a pleasant ride for the 5th seeded Mitsuhashi, who had to endure consecutive 3-setters in R2 and the QFs, before dismissing Bumpei Sato and Moriya in the final two rounds. Just like the previous week, the tournament was dominated by local players, with Taiwanese Hsin-Han Lee being once again the only foreigner in the QFs. Among the remaining young prospects, Shuichi Sekiguchi managed to advance to the QFs, before losing to Moriya. The surprise of the tournament was the early elimination of Indonesian sensation Christopher Rungkat (’90), who had taken 3 straight futures titles at home and therefore came into this tournament on a 15-match winning streak. He lost to Bumpei Sato in R1.

*MEXICO F7: 26 year old Uruguayan Marcel Felder won his third futures title of the year, defeating Artem Sitak of New Zealand in 3 sets in the final. Felder, once a very promising prospect (ITF No.4 in 2002), is having a very impressive run in the Mexican futures, including a title in Mexico F4 and a final appearance in Mexico F6. He improved his 2011 record to a very respectable 27-8 and will return to the top 400 next week. On his way to the final, Felder avenged his loss to Roman Borvanov in last week’s final. Sitak made the final after defeating local Daniel Garza, the third seed who has also been very successful playing at home. The surprise of the tournament was Salvadorian Marcelo Arevalo (’91), who advanced to the QFs before issuing a walk over. On the other hand, ’91-born Mexican Manuel Sanchez had a very disappointing showing, losing to Ruben Gonzalez in R1. Sanchez’s 2011 record now stands at 14-14.

*SERBIA F1: In a battle of ’90-born youngsters, the less heralded Nicola Cacic (SRB) defeated top-seed Axel Michon (FRA) 63 60 in the final. It was the first title of the season for Cacic, who had reached a final in Israel earlier in the year. Cacic had a relatively easy run to the final, with the exception of the 3-set thriller he pulled out against Roman Jebavy (‘89/CZE) in the QFs. Michon, who is sitting at a career high that he’s guaranteed to improve with this showing, only dropped a set in his R1 match against Spaniard Jordi Samper-Montana. Michon is now 27-8 in 2011, a very solid performance for the young Frenchman. ’89-born Andraz Bedene (SLO) reached the SFs from the qualy before issuing a walk over before his match against Michon. Irregular Belgian young-gun Arthur De Greef (’92) advanced to the QFs before losing to Goran Tosic. Fellow ’92-born starlets Damir Dzuhmur (BIH) and Jack Carpenter (GBR) also advanced to R2, along with Serbian Miki Jankovic (’94), who obtained his first ever ATP point.

*VENEZUELA F4: Top seeded Colombian Eduardo Struvay (’90) took the title over unranked Australian John Peers, the surprise of the tournament. Struvay had to shed blood, sweat and tears to defeat his rival 76 (12-10) in the third set tie-breaker. Peers, who seemingly came out of nowhere, had been playing college tennis in the United States, more specifically at Baylor University in Texas. Peers had not played in a professional main draw since 2007, when he obtained his first ever ATP point in his native Australia. In his dream run to the final, Peers didn’t drop a set and defeated Venezuelan Ricardo Rodriguez (’93) and Argentinean Guido Andreozzi (’91), who had won the title at Brazil F17 the previous week. Struvay survived a 3-setter in the QFs, before defeating another surprise semi-finalist, Venezuelan Jesus Bandres (’91). Finally, a pair of ’94-born Colombians obtained some valuable points, with Felipe Escobar reaching R2 and Felipe Mantilla the QFs.

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