Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Futures: Week 25

Here’s a recap of the action:

*FRANCE F10: Chilean Jorge Aguilar continued his great play en route to taking this 15k + H title, defeating local Kenny De Schepper 76 64 in the final. Aguilar, who reached the final last week in Netherlands F3, did not drop a set all week and earned valuable points that will vault him to the doorstep of the top 200. The 25 year-old defeated No.2 seed Romain Jouan to reach the final. De Schepper, who is having a career year, improved to 31-12 in 2011 and will find himself inside the top 200 next week. The 24-year old French giant had to beat Alexandre Sidorenko (‘88/FRA) in the SFs and had not dropped a set prior to the final. Among the young-guns, Julien Obry (’91),Tak-Khunn Wang (’91) Pierre-Hughes Herbert (’92), all from France, only advanced to R2, along with 17 year old Armel Rancezot (‘94/FRA), who obtained his first ever ATP point.  

*GERMANY F7: 23 year old Czech Dusan Lojda took home the title after defeating German starlet Kevin Krawietz (’92) in 3 sets. The talented Lojda, who’s having a very subpar 2011 season, survived a few scares along the way before lifting the trophy. En route to the final, the Czech, who was ITF No.3 back in 2006, had to fight his way through German Peter Gojowczyk (’89), a finalist the previous week, before defeating him 63 in the third. Meanwhile, the much-hyped Krawietz took advantage of a draw that opened up for him, but not before getting rid of Brydan Klein (‘89/AUS) and Kritijan Mesaros (‘88/CRO). The young German has been playing lots of tennis in his first full year as a pro, and this performance will launch him into the top 500 in the world. The disappointing performance of the week was handed by Argentinean Pablo Galdon, who after winning Netherlands F3 was routed by Swede Carl Bergman 62 60 in R1.

*ITALY F16: 27-year old veteran Daniele Giorgini clinched his second futures title of the season after defeating the ever-improving Aussie James Ducksworth (’92) in two tie-breakers. In a tournament in which 14 of 16 players in the second round were from Italy, Giorgini navigated the field best, not dropping a set all week, leaving behind Luca Vanni and Enrico Burzi among others. On the other hand, Ducksworth continued his stellar 2011 season (his first full one as a pro), improving to 26-8 and gathering enough points to secure a spot in the top 400, which will be a new career high. He had to defeat experienced locals Matteo Marrai and No.1 seed Matteo Viola, the winner of Italy F15 the previous week.

*MOROCCO F5: It was an underdog story this week, as local player Mehdi Ziadi came all the way from the qualifiers to take the title over Irishman James McGee. It was an unlikely run for the 24-year old shorty, who took advantage of his draw opening after round after round. However, he had to fight through Alexandre Folie (‘90/BEL), the 5th seed, in R1. Along the way, he defeated a pair of unheralded youngster who also had excellent weeks. They were Rafael Mazon-Hernandez (‘90/ESP) in the QFs and Florent Diep (‘91/FRA) in the semis. Diep took down fellow Frenchman and No.1 seed Augustin Gensse in R2. McGee’s run was the opposite, as he had to eliminate the No.2 and No.4 seeds, Russians Mikhail Vassiliev and Ivan Nedelko just to reach the final. Other youngsters earning points this week were Sebastien Lavie (‘92/NZL) and Jozef Kovalik (‘92/SVK) both making it to R2 before being eliminated.  

*NETHERLANDS F4: Belgian Yannick Mertens won his second futures title of the season after defeating surprise finalist Victor Baluda (‘92/RUS) 64 64 in the final. Mertens, who reached his 4th final of the season, improved to 28-13 in what it’s turning out to be a very productive 2011. He benefitted from a walk over by German Peter Torebko in the semis, and survived a tricky R1 match against Brit Daniel Smethurst (’90). Baluda reached the first final of his short career, and to do so he had to start with a bang. He Russian giant eliminated top seeded James Lemke of Australia in R1 and experienced Dutch Matwe Middlekoop en route to the final. With the final appearance, Baluda will set a new career high ranking, this time on the better side of 600. On a separate note, Dutchman Alban Mueffels (’92) earned his second consecutive ATP point with a R1 win over Korean Cheong-Eui Kim.

*SPAIN F22: Another week, another tournament, same champion. Arnau Brugues-Davi dominance of the futures circuit is absolute. The 26 year old Spaniard won his 9th title of 2011 and improved to 46-5 and a 35-match winning streak at the futures level. His supremacy was obvious in every match except for his SFs clash against Finn Harri Helliovaara (’89), a former ITF top 20 who took him 3 sets. However, Brugues-Davi closed the third set 63 and went on to defeat Miloslav Mecir Jr. (‘88/SVK) 61 63 in the final. Mecir upset Frenchmen Gregoire Bourquier and Josselin Ouanna, along with South African youngster Nikala Scholtz (’91) to reach the final. Brugues-Davi eliminated Taro Daniel (’93/JPN) and Ilya Belyaev (‘90/RUS) along the way. Great Britain’s hope, Daniel Cox (’90) reached the QFs before being eliminated by Ouanna. Moreover, the steady-riser Ramkumar Ramanathan (‘94/IND) obtainer another point by advancing to R2 before being eliminated also by Ouanna.  

*ARGENTINA F9: Facundo Arguello (‘92/ARG) showed, possibly for the last time, that his game is too big for the futures circuit. The Argentinean rising-star won his second title in a row (and third of the season), defeating the always-improving Guillermo Duran in the final. The former ITF top 10 once again had to go through his friend/doubles partner Agustin Velotti (’92/ARG) in the QFs, defeating him in another 3 setter, this one even more dramatic than last week’s. After that, he found no opposition, losing only 8 games combined in his SF clash against Nicolas Pastor (‘91/ARG) and the final vs. Duran. The win will bring him to about 250 in the ranking, a career high. The 23-year old Duran lost his second final of the season, but improved to 21-11 and will be inside the top 400 in a week. He defeated fellow rising-Argentine Kevin Konfederak (’91) in the semis. All 8 players in the QFs were from Argentina, including ’91-born Valentin Florez (who came from the qualy) and Juan Ignacio Londero (’93), who took out No.2 seed Brazilian Rodrigo Guidolim. It was another very positive week for Argentinean young-guns, as the most-heralded member of the ’94 class, Mateo Martinez, obtained his maiden ATP point with a R1 win over Santiago Celia.  

*BRAZIL F19: Underappreciated local Fabiano De Paula won his second consecutive futures title, defeating No.1 seed rising-star Christian Lindell (’91) in the final. ’88-born De Paula had won Brazil F16 and had been on a break since then. He is now on a 10-match winning streak, improved to 25-10 for the year and will be very close to cracking the top 500 a week from now. To reach the final De Paula crushed No.2 seed Andre Miele 61 61 in the semis. The other finalist, Swedish-Brazilian Lindell lost his 6th final in 7 tries dating back to July of 2010. Regardless of that, and despite an 18-15 record in 2011, he is already inside the top 300 at the age of 19. He is one of the fastest-rising prospects in the world, and a name to keep a close eye on. The surprise of the tournament was Gabriel Vicentini Pereira (’93/BRA)’s run to the QFs. He was eliminated by Miele. Also reaching the QFs were Andre Baran (‘91/BRA) and Alessandro Bega (‘91/ITA). Also, Chilean Marco Sobarzo-Vignolo (’88) obtained his first ever ATP point.

*CHILE F5: Argentinean Gaston Grimolizzi won his second title of the year, defeating Paraguayan Daniel Lopez (’89) 64 62 in the final. The 25 year old Grimolizzi didn’t drop a set all week and improved to 21-6 for the year, while trying to get back to the form that took him to be 440 in the world in 2008. The win will get him closer to 500, with half of the year still to be played. The tournament was marred by upsets, which explains why Juan Sebastian Vivanco (‘90/ECU) and Javier Munoz (‘91/CHI) were the losing semi-finalists. Vivanco eliminated veteran Peruvian Ivan Miranda and Diego Galeano (‘92/PAR) while Munoz took out No.3 seeded Patricio Heras (’89) of Argentina. However, it was due to Argentinean youngsters that the top 2 seeds didn’t make it far. Facundo Mena (’92) advanced to the QFs after defeating top seed Guillermo Rivera-Aranguiz (’89) in 3 sets. He was eliminated by Lopez. On the lower side of the draw,  fellow Argentine Matias Salinas (’91) won his first ATP point with a R1 win, and one-upped it by taking out No.2 seed Cristobal Saavedra-Corvalan in R2. It certainly wasn’t a good week for the local players, with the exception of Munoz’s run and ’93-born Gonzalo Lama earning yet another point.

*GREAT BRITAIN F8: No surprises here as top seed Malek Jaziri took the title with a 3-set win over Frenchman Rudy Coco in the final. It was the second title of the year for him, as he had won in the last future tournament held in the island. The 27 year old Tunisian encountered 4 Brits en route to the final, beating them all in straight sets. He defeated unseeded Sean Thornley (’89) in the semis. Coco benefitted from the injury-related retirement of No.2 seed Henri Kontinen (’90) in the other SF. Kontinen had a long QF clash against young Frenchman Albano Olivetti, and after pulling out a 3-set win, he had little left for his semi-final bout. The British youngsters disappointed once again, with Alexander Ward (’90), Lewis Burton (’92), Tom Farquharsson (’92) and Richard Gabb (’92) all being eliminated in R2.

*JAPAN F8: ’89-born Junn  Mitsuhashi showed no intention to slow down, winning his second title in 3 weeks. The Japanese little-guy defeated countryman Hiroki Moriya (’90), in a repeat final from 2 weeks ago. This time it was a hard-fought 3 setter, but the one lifting the trophy was the same person. To reach the final, Mitsuhashi (24-8 in 2011) defeated 2 younger and more hyped Japanese prospects in Hiroyasu Ehara (’91) and Yasutaka Uchiyama (’92). Moriya, who is also having a very productive 2011, took out No.2 seed Hiroki Kondo to reach the final. Both finalists will reach new career highs when the points from this tournament enter the rankings.

*ROMANIA F4: No.1 seed Adam Kellner of Hungary won his 4th futures title of the season, defeating local veteran Victor Ionita 76 in the third set of the final. The 24-year old, who was on a 4-match losing streak after his breakthrough performance at the Ostrava challenger (reached the final coming from the qualy), improved his record to 31-6. The Hungarian wasn’t pushed too hard before the final, and eliminated surprise semi-finalist Markus Eriksson of Sweden rather easily. The ’89-born Eriksson defeated 3rd seeded Steven Diez (‘91/CAN) in the QFs but was no match for Kellner’s experience. Ionita took out 34-year old compatriot Razvan Sabau in the other SF. Other than Eriksson, the pleasant surprise of the tournament was Romanian Darius Florin Bragusi, who made an unlikely run to the QFs before being stopped by a player twice his age (Sabau).

*SERBIA F3: Australian Matt Reid (’90) won his first title of the year, defeating former 88 in the world Croatian Roko Karanusic 60 62 in the final. The Aussie is playing his best tennis of the year, having won 11 of his last 13 futures matches. The former ITF top 20 struggled in his SF clash against Ivan Bjelica before crushing Karanusic in the final. The Croatian, trying to regain his old form, eliminated the uber-talented Bosnian Damir Dzumhur (’92) in the semis, as well as Serbia F1 winner Nicola Cacic (’90) and Serbian future star Miki Jankovic (’94). The field was loaded with young talent, proved by the fact that French sensation Gianni Mina (’92), fresh off a win in France F9, was taken out in R2 by Cacic. Another Frenchman who won a trophy the week before, Axel Michon (’90) was eliminated by Dzumhur in the QFs. Another of the hyped young-guns in the field was Finland-born Swiss Henri Laaksonen (’92), who made it to the QFs as a lucky loser, before being eliminated by the eventual champion.

*USA F16: In only his second pro tournament of the year, ’91-born American Rhyne Williams won the title, defeating Special Exempt Russian Artem Ilyushin (’91) in the final. Williams is a former ITF top 8 and currently plays for the University of Tennessee team, which explains his lack of activity in the tour. However, his talent is obvious, and he showed it throughout the week. In the semis, he had a tough clash against the fast-rising Daniel Kosakowski (’92/USA), who plays for UCLA. Ilyushin didn’t have it any easier, having to go the distance in every match after R1. In the semis he defeated another bright American prospect, Mitchell Frank (’92). ’90-born Austin Krajicek made a run to the QFs before being stop short by Ilyushin.

*VENEZUELA F6: Speaking of players with American college experience, Australian John Peers, virtually unknown until a few weeks ago, won his first professional title, defeating Venezuelan Roberto Maytin (’89) in the final. Peers is now 10-2 for the year and is one of the most unexpected success stories of 2011. What makes the final much more interesting is the fact that both Peers and Maytin played college tennis at Baylor University and were doubles partners this past year.  Peers had to once again qualify into the tournament, and once in the main draw, he had to go through players such as up and coming local star Ricardo Rodriguez (‘93/VEN) and Argentinean futures warrior Cristian Benedetti. Maytin, who isn’t as much of a newcomer (was an ITF top 25 a couple of years ago), had an amazing week which included huge wins over David Souto (‘92/VEN) and Eduardo Struvay (‘90/COL) en route to the final.  To prove how great of a week it was for Venezuelan tennis, local wild card Juan Carlos Ceballos (’92) romped his way into the QFs and gave Struvay all he could handle before losing after a brutal second set tie-breaker (16-14). One interesting fact worth mentioning is the mini-slump that No.2 seed David Souto is going through. After winning 15 straight matches in his homeland (that’s 3 titles), he’s now lost 3 out of his 4 last matches, including two R1 exits. Another interesting wrinkle of this tournament is Juan Sebastian Gomez’s disappointing R2 loss. Gomez, the year-end ITF No.1 of 2010, can’t seem to get any momentum going and is falling behind many of the region’s best ’92-born players.

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