Monday, August 1, 2011

Futures: Week 28


Local heroes and first-time winners among the themes of the week. Here’s a quick recap:

*CANADA F3: 24-year old Chinese Zhe Li won his first title of the season after defeating Canadian (of Spanish past) Steven Diez (’91) in the final. Li improved to 23-10 for the season after reaching his second final of the year. He was able to take the title easily this time around, with a straight sets routing of Diez. The Chinese only struggled against his compatriot (and top seed) Mao-Xin Gong, but managed to get past him in 3 sets. Diez had a very prosperous first half of 2011 but had been going through a slump as of late. He had to battle through a pair of 3-setters in the early rounds just to get to the weekend, where he defeated Marcelo Arevalo (’91/ESA) to reach the final. The surprises of the tournament were a pair of North American youngsters. Bjorn Fratangelo (’93/USA), the current junior French Open champion and Filip Peliwo (‘94/CAN) advanced to the QFs.

*ESTONIA F1: Local top seed Jurgen Zopp took his first title of the season after defeating Chilean Hans Podlipnik-Castillo in a straight set final. The 23-year old Northern European will use the win in this 15k tournament to jump to a new career high inside the top 190 players in the world. Zopp has been steadily rising through the rankings over the past few seasons, and this one hasn’t been the exception. His 23-10 ranking shows moderate success, but with a good number of the wins coming at the challenger level, they take on a more positive connotation. Zopp had a very smooth week, except for his SF clash against Frenchman Axel Michon (’90). Michon took him to 3 sets before surrendering in a third set tie-breaker. The Chilean runner-up also had not lost any sets and came rested into the final because of Harri Helliovaara’s (‘89/FIN) withdrawal in the semis. Pavel Filin (’92) of Belarus was the surprise of the tournament, advancing to the QFs before losing to Michon. Among other well-known next-wavers, current ITF No.1 Jiri Vesely (‘93/CZE) lost in R2 to the eventual champion.

*IRELAND F1: The third one was the charm for local James McGee. The 23-year old Irish took his first title of the season in 3 tries after defeating top seed Charles-Antoine Brezac of France in the final. He actually defeated both of the top seeds, as he topped Miloslav Mecir Jr. in the semis in 3 sets, the only time he was taken the distance all week. Brezac got to the final after defeating Irish Davis Cup hero Barry King in the semis. King had won the crucial 5th rubber in their clash against Tunisia. Marcus Willis (‘90/GBR) was the only youngster to make any noise, as he advanced to the QFs before being eliminated by the eventual champion.

*ITALY F19: Belgian Yannick Mertens won his third title of the season after defeating surprise finalist Nicolas Pastor (‘91/ARG). The 24-year old champion is having an excellent 2011 campaign (33-14) and the win came as no surprise after top seed Stefano Galvani went out early in the QFs to Manuel Sanchez (’91/MEX). To reach the final he defeated veteran Alberto Brizzi, also in 3 sets. Pastor, the runner-up, eliminated 5th seed Laurent Rochette, Sanchez and Enrico Burzi to reach the final. He had not lost a set prior to the final. The Argentine is now 20-11 in 2011 and will be back in the top 500 when these points enter the rankings. Other than Sanchez, the other next-wavers to reach the QFs were Stefano Travaglia (’91) and Riccardo Sinicropi (’90). Both were eliminated in that stage.  

*AUSTRIA F3: Experienced Swiss Michael Lammer took advantage of being the clear favorite en route to winning the title over Marek Michalicka of the Czech Republic. It was his first title in 3 finals in 2011 for Lammer, who was once ranked 150 in the world. The 29-year old was taken the distance only in the final, after losing a combined 14 games in his previous 4 matches. Michalicka was a surprise finalist, stringing 4 wins in one week after only getting 2 up until now in 2011. He defeated Italian Ricardo Bellotti (’91) to reach the final. Next-waver Henri Laaksonen (‘92/SUI) reached the QFs before losing to Bellotti.

*BELGIUM F4: German Steffan Siefert won his first title of the season, defeating surprise finalist Sebastien Boltz (’93) of France in the final. The 26-year old champion didn’t drop a set all week and improved to 15-4 for the year. However, the story of the week was Boltz, who stringed 4 wins in a row after having earned his first ATP point early this year. The young Frenchman won his 3 qualifying matches, and then guys like Gleb Sakharov, Alexander Ward (‘90/GBR) and Alexandre Folie (‘90/BEL) en route to the final. Top seed Rudy Coco was the disappointment of the week, as he was ousted in R1 by Kevin Botti of France. On the other hand, Brit James Marsalek (’92) advanced to the QF, before being eliminated by Folie, the No.2 seed.

*BRAZIL F22: 23-year old unseeded Diego Matos took the title after defeating 3rd seed Tiago Lopes in the final in an all-Brazilian clash. It was the first title of the season for Matos, whose 5 wins brought him to a positive 16-15 record in what has been a subpar 2011 campaign. To reach the final he had to go through Argentinean veteran Juan Pablo Villar and the invigorated Fabiano De Paula, who took him to 3 sets. Matos also benefitted from the fact that Lopes took out top seed Julio Silva in the other semi-final. Overall, it wasn’t a very productive week for the slew of Brazilian next-wavers, as none of them reached the QFs. Italian Emanuele Molina (’91) did reach the quarters before being eliminated by De Paula. Gabriel Vicentini Pereira (’93) did achieve another R1 win, his 4th in 2011.

*SPAIN F25: 26-year old David Estruch earned his second title of 2011 after defeating streaking Australian Matt Reid (’90) in the final. The third seed improved to 32-14 for the season. To reach the final he had to survive an upset attempt from unranked Dutch youngster Matthew Pierot (’90), and then get past the steadily improving Japanese Taro Daniel (’93) in the semis. On the other hand, Reid was on a roll, winning his 4 matches in straight sets leading to the final. Reid improved to 25-13 in what has been a very productive season for him. The surprise of the week was Denis Yevseyev (’93) of Kazakhstan, who upset No.2 seed Gianni Mina (‘92/FRA) to reach the QFs before falling to Daniel. Venezuelan Ricardo Rodriguez (’93) also reached the QFs.  

*TURKEY F20: Austrian Michael Linzer won his second title of the season after defeating surprise finalist Edoardo Eremin (‘93/ITA) in a straight sets final. He improved to 25-11 and showed that he plays his best tennis in Turkish territory. He defeated 23-year old Patrick Rosenholm (SWE) in 3 sets to reach the final. Eremin, on the other hand, had only won 2 main draw matches the whole year, before going for 4 in a row this week. He reached the final without dropping any sets, and gave fits to the more experienced Linzer. Patrick Brydolf (’91/SWE) and Matteo Civarolo (‘92/ITA) were the only next-wavers of relative hype to speak of in the draw, and they both were eliminated in R2. Top seed Brydan Klein (‘89/AUS) was once again eliminated too early, losing in the QFs to Rosenholm.

*US F19: 22-year old Australian John-Patrick Smith won his first title of the year after defeating American veteran Chris Wettengel in the final. Smith was once ITF No.6 in 2007 but then decided to play college tennis at the University of Tennessee. Upon graduting, he went back on tour full time, to mildly successful results leading to this week. He won his 2 qualifying matches and then destroyed his competition, dropping no sets and only 11 games in 5 matches. Smith defeated top seed Robbye Poole in the QFs and then up and comer Mitchell Frank (‘92/USA in the semis. Wettengel, who got into the draw thanks to a wild card, defeated No.2 seed Dimitar Kutrovsky of Bulgaria to reach the final. In a draw full of lesser known players, the surprise was unranked youngster Kyle McMorrow, who not only qualified into the tournament but advanced to the QFs before losing to Kutrovsky.

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