Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Futures: Week 24

Here’s a recap of the action:

*FRANCE F9: Former ITF No.1 Gianni Mina (‘92/FRA) obtained his first futures title of the year after defeating Serbian Miljan Zekic 76 64 in the final. It was an important breakthrough for the unseeded Frenchman, as he managed to beat experienced rivals en route to winning this 15k tournament. With the win, Mina will likely surpass his previous career high and be inside the top 480 players in the world. The former Junior French Open runner up (lost to Daniel Berta in 2009) defeated top seeded Jonathan Eysseric in 3 sets in the SFs, obtaining the confidence to defeat the streaking Serbian in the final. The 22-year old Zekic saw his draw open up round after round and entered the final without losing any sets. He’s having a career year, improving to 25-7 in 2011. He’ll also find himself at a new career high a week from now. The surprise of the tournament was German Sami Reinwein (’92), who took out the No.2 seed Laurent Rochette in R1 and made it t the QFs before losing to Zekic. Moreover, young Frenchman Maxime Chazal (’93) obtained his first ever ATP point with a R1 win over Adrien Puget.

*MOROCCO F4: 23-year old Italian Matteo Viola took home the crown of this 15k tournament over experienced Swiss Michael Lammer, defeating him 61 64 in the final. Viola, the top seed, was playing his first futures event of the year, after a subpar 3 months of early round challenger and ATP qualifier losses. The Italian only suffered complications in his R2 clash against experienced Spaniard Carles Poch-Gradin. However, after surviving the scare, he defeated ’93-born Spaniard Roberto Carballes-Baena (who at the time of the match had won 16 out of his last 17 futures matches) and 8th seeded Canadian Steven Diez (’91), both of them in straight sets. With the win, Viola reclaims his spot in the top 200. Lammer himself took out a pair of hyped youngsters, defeating Jozef Kovalik (’92/SVK) in the QFs and Gerald Melzer (‘90/AUT) in the semis. Among the less heralded prospects, Frenchman Florent Diep (’91) made it to the QFs from the qualy.

*NETHERLANDS F3: After taking a week off, Argentinean Pablo Galdon was back in business, defeating Chilean Jorge Aguilar in the final to take the most prestigious tournament of the week in the futures tour. Galdon, who had reached the final in the same country two weeks ago, survived an early scare in R2 against local Alban Meuffels (’92) before cruising for the rest of the tournament without losing another set. En route to the title, Galdon defeated local Antal Van der Duim, who reached the semis for the second week in a row. The 25-year old Argentinean’s ranking will now improve to a new career high, landing within short distance of the top 200. 4th seeded Aguilar had a very impressive run, advancing to the finals without dropping sets and eliminating German Bastian Knittel in the semis. 21-year old Blaz Rola (‘90/SLO) produced the upsets of the tournament, eliminating last week’s champion Inigo Cervantes in R1 and then 6th seeded Timo Nieminen in R2 before surrendering to the eventual runner up.

*ARGENTINA F8: Argentinean Facundo Arguello (’92), arguably one of the top 5 brightest prospects in the world, obtained his second futures title of the year after defeating fellow class of ’92 Duilio Beretta of Peru in the final. Arguello, a former ITF top 10, will enter the top 300 for the first time a week from now thanks to this victory. However, the title didn’t come easy, as he went the distance in his last 3 rounds, which included victories over Agustin Velotti (‘92/ARG) and Guido Pella (‘90/ARG). Beretta had a rocky path too, which included 3-set victories over Andrea Collarini (‘92/USA) in R2 and Martin Cuevas (’92/URU) in the QFs. He then defeated Renzo Olivo (‘92/ARG) in the semis before surrendering in 3 sets to Arguello. The draw was filled by the best prospects of the region, as was demonstrated by the fact that 6/8 players in the QFs were born in 1992, and only one player was born before 1990 (Brazilian Rodrigo Guidolim). Of the players born after ’92, Juan Ignacio Londero (’93) advanced to R2 before being eliminated by Guidolim. Moreover, 14-year old starlet Francisco Bahamonde was granted a WC and took out 5 games from Pella before being eliminated.

*CHILE F4: Local Cristobal Saavedra-Corvalan (’90) took the title after fellow Chilean Guillermo Rivera-Aranguiz (’89) retired before the end of the first set. It was the first title of the season for 2nd seeded Saavedra-Corvalan, whose ranking will improve to a career high a week from now. The champion had a breeze of a run until the semi-finals, where Argentinean Gaston Grimolizzi gave him all he could handle, before pulling out a 67 64 62 win. He benefited from Rivera-Aranguiz’s injury in the final, as the runner up had not lost a set all tournament. 20-year old Chilean Nicolas Kauer (’91) made a surprise appearance in the semis, losing to Rivera-Aranguiz in straight sets. Among other players who overachieved were Juan Sebastian Vivanco (‘90/ECU) and Javier Munoz (‘91/CHI), both of whom made surprise runs to the QFs. Also, ’93-born local Gonzalo Lama obtained his second ATP point with a R1 win over countryman Jorge Montero.

*GERMANY F6: 23-year old unseeded German Marc Sieber won his second title of the year, defeating countryman Peter Gojowczyk (’89), 64 in the third set. Sieber survived a scare from 8th seed Peter Torebko in R1 and benefitted from the fact that most seeded players were eliminated early in the tournament. In fact, Gojowczyk was the only seed to advance to the QFs. Sieber took out Dutchman Nick Van der Meer in the semis, while the runner-up took care of Yannick Vandenbulcke (‘90/BEL), the surprise of the tournament. Vandenbulcke, who had won only one match in 2011 previous to this tournament, advanced through the qualifying and defeated 2 of his country’s better-known prospects, Yannick Reuter (’91) and Alexandre Folie (’90) en route to the semi-finals.   

*ITALY F15: ’90-born Italian Alessandro Giannessi took the title at home after defeating Janez Semrajc (‘89/SLO) in the final. It was his second crown of the 2011, which is proving to be his breakthrough year. He is now 27-11 and with the win, Giannessi will jump into the top 350 in the world. Giannessi was almost eliminated by Polish Adam Chadaj in R1, but upon advancing he cruised through the rest of the tournament without losing a set. The tournament was marked by the early elimination of Italy’s top prospects Thomas Fabbiano (’89) and Matteo Trevisan (’89), the 1st and 3rd seeds in the tournament. Fabbiano went out in R1 and Trevisan was eliminated one round later. Instead, it was the much less heralded ’90-born duo of Enrico Fioravante and Claudio Fortuna (along with the champion obviously), both advancing to the QFs, who saved face for the Italian youngsters.

*JAPAN F7: In the only futures tournament of the week that was held in grass, the rapidly-improving Takuto Niki obtained the first title of his career, defeating the more experienced Hiroki Kondo in the final. It was a dream week for Niki, who breezed through the tournament without dropping a set. In the semi-finals, Niki defeated Shuichi Sekiguchi (‘91/JPN), a former ITF top 5 and one of the top prospects to come out of the island in the recent years. In the other semi-final, Kondo (also unseeded) defeated second-seeded Hiroki Moriya (‘90/JPN), a finalist the week before. The tournament, as per usual, was dominated by local players, even though 5/8 seeded players were foreigners. South Korean Daniel Yoo, the top seed, and Indonesian Christopher Rungkat (’90) were both eliminated in R2.

*SERBIA F2: 20-year old Frenchman Axel Michon won his third title of the season, defeating Bosnian starlet Damir Dzumhur (’92) in a thriller final, 76 46 75. Michon, arguably the best futures player of 2011 in the world besides Arnau Brugues-Davi, improved to 32-8 for the year and will be very close to cracking the top 300 when the new rankings come out. En route to the final, Michon eliminated a pair of 92-born prospects in Richard Muzaev (RUS) and Arthur de Greef (BEL). He also avenged his loss in the final of last week’s tournament, this time getting past Nikola Cacic of Serbia. The 19-year old Dzumhur (a former ITF No.3) is rising fast too, reaching yet another final. This impressive showing (coming from the qualy) will launch him into the top 600, a great feat considering the fact that this is his first full year as a pro. Bulgarian Dimitar Kuzmanov (’93) advanced to the QFs of a professional tournament for the first time in his short career, once again qualifying into the tournament. He defeated Serbian wonder-kid Miki Jankovic (’94) in R2. It was Jankovic’s second consecutive week earning ATP points, and this time he did in style, taking out No.2 seed Aldin Setkic in R1.

*SPAIN F21: Australian Benjamin Mitchell (’92) won his second futures title of the season after defeating Spaniard Roberto Ortega-Olmedo (’91) in the final, by a score of 63 61. Mitchell, one of 3 players born in 1992 to win tournaments this week (Gianni Mina and Facundo Arguello being the others), is a key member of the next wave of tennis players coming out of Australia. He improved to 18-7 for the year and will crack the top 400 for the first time in his career. He benefited from a Michael Ryderstedt walk over in the semis, but had to fight hard to get past countryman Michael Look in the QFs. On the other hand, Ortega-Olmedo reached his first ever pro final, eliminating David Souto (‘92/VEN) and Rudy Coco along the way. 16-year old Ramkumar Ramanathan of India kept adding valuable points to his ranking, this time advancing to the QFs before being eliminated by the eventual runner-up. With this performance, Ramanathan will crack the top 1000 for the first time.

*USA 15: 23-year old Jesse Levine (a former top 100 player) took his first futures title of the season after defeating unranked qualifier Jeff Dadamo (’89) 64 64 in the final. The top-seeded Levine, trying to get back to his top form, cruised through the tournament without dropping a set thanks to a combination of superior skill and a very weak draw. The runner-up, however, had to fight through multiple 3-setters to reach his first pro final ever. The recent Texas A&M graduate defeated ’90-born American Ty Trombetta in the semis. One of the surprises of the tournament was an appearance by Australian John-Patrick Smith. The 22-year old was an ITF No.6 in 2008 and had been playing college tennis at the University of Tennessee. He defeated No.2 seed Dayne Kelly and experienced Romanian Gabriel Moraru before being eliminated in the QFs by Trombetta.

*VENEZUELA F5: Venezuelan Roman Recarte put together a very impressive week en route to winning his first title of the year. He defeated streaking Argentinean Guido Andreozzi (’91) in the final, 63 16 61. Recarte avenged a loss to Australian John Peers the week before and took out No.1 seed Eduardo Struvay (‘90/COL) throughout the tournament. Despite the loss, the ever improving Andreozzi is now 25-13 in 2011 and will sit at a career high ranking inside the top 450 a week from now. It was positive week for Venezuelan players, as Roberto Maytin (’89) reached the quarter-finals and Jesus Bandres (’91) advanced to his second consecutive SF, before being eliminated by the eventual champion.

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