Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Futures: Week 32

Here are the week’s highlights:

*BRAZIL F26: In only his third futures event of the year, Brazilian Caio Zampieri obtained his first title, defeating the up and coming Guilherme Clezar (‘92/BRA) 76 76 in the final. Zampieri has spent most of the year playing at the challenger level (with some ATP sprinkled here and there), which explains his 16-13 record for the year. However, after falling short in the QFs last week, this time he put his talent and experience to work en route to winning the title without dropping a set. He defeated last week’s runner up Marcelo Demoliner in the QFs, and then took out the surprise of the tournament, Bruno Sant’Anna (‘93/BRA) in the semis. Sant’Anna, currently ranked 21 in ITF, has had some interesting results in the pro ranks, and he’s a name to keep an eye on for the upcoming season. Clezar, the runner-up, had a very good too, taking out 2nd seed Christian Lindell (‘91/SWE) in the QFs and the experienced Tiago Lopes in the semis. The disappointing performance of the week came at the hands of top seed Gastao Elias (‘90/POR). The Portuguese is having a career year but was shocked by Fabricio Neis (‘90/BRA) in R2.

*COLOMBIA F3: Local Eduardo Struvay (‘90/COL) won his second title of the season, defeating Chilean Guillermo Rivera-Aranguiz in the final. The young Colombian improved to 25-13 with the win and will use the points to jump back inside the top 400 players in the world, in what is turning out to be his career year. Struvay survived a R1 upset attempt in the hands of Felipe Soares (‘92/BRA), and after pulling up a 3-set victory went on to win the title without dropping another set. He defeated New Zealander (Russian born) Artem Sitak to reach the final. His final victim, Rivera-Aranguiz is also having a career year, finally seeming to put together a streak that was expected a few years back due to his successful run in the juniors (ranked 13th in ITF in 2007). Rivera is 21-8 now and will jump to a new career high inside the top 250. There weren’t many surprises in the tournament as all 8 seeds made it to the QFs. Among the next-wavers, Brazilian Guilherme Hadlich (‘94/BRA) earned a WC into the main draw after winning an ITF event the week before, and turned it into his first ever ATP point after defeating fellow unranked Felipe Rojas (‘94/COL).

*ITALY F23: There are few adjectives left to describe James Duckworth’s run through the futures circuit in 2011, his first full season as a pro. Duckworth (’92/AUS) defeating local Daniele Giorgini in straight sets in the final to take his 4th title of the season. He improved to 38-10 and will be inside the top 300 next week. On top of that, he avenged a loss to Giorgini in an Italian future a few months back. Duckworth, the second seed, defeating fellow promising Australian Jason Kubler (’93) in the QFs, and lost his only set of the week in the semis against the very talented Argentinean Renzo Olivo (’92). Duckworth is one of those names to watch next season because if he continues this meteoric rise (was ranked 775 at the end of 2010) he could possibly break into the top 100 before the end of 2012. Giorgini on the other hand, defeated Jose Statham of New Zealand to reach the final. The upset of the tournament came at the hands of fast-rising Matt Reid (‘90/AUS), who took out last week’s champ Andres Molteni of Argentina in straight sets in R2.

*ROMANIA F7: If there was an award for comeback player of the year at the futures level it would already be in Gabriel Moraru’s hands. The 29-year old Romanian retired from the pros for a few years, and came back to the game in late April. Now he’s on a 10-match winning streak after defeating Petru-Alexandru Luncanu (‘89/ROM) in the final and taking his second consecutive title. Moraru is now 19-5 for the year. He survived against fellow veteran Romanian Razvan Sabau in the QFs (14-12 in the deciding tie-break) and then took out top seed Alexandre Folie (‘90/BEL) in the semis. Luncanu reached the final after defeating current ITF No.1 Jiri Vesely (’93/CZE) in the semis. A trio of next-wavers achieved R1 wins, among them Vasile-Alexandru Ghilea (‘93/ROM), Dragos Constantin Ignat (‘93/COL) and Maxim Dubarenco (‘93/MDA). It was the first ever ATP point for the Moldavian.

*RUSSIA F6: 24-year old local Evgeny Kirilov won his first futures title of the year after defeating fellow Russian Ivan Nedelko in the final of this 15K + H event. He improved to 18-13 in 2011, a year in which he’s mixed in futures and challenger events. Kirilov finally got past Stanislav Vovk (‘91/RUS) in the QFs after Vovk had eliminated early the last 2 weeks. He then took out the promising Andrey Kuznetsov (‘91/RUS), a former ITF No.3 and junior Wimbledon champ, in the semis. The 25-year old Nedelko reached the final after taking out Valery Rudnev in the semis. Nedelko is 38-23 for the year, the best in his career so far. Among the next-wavers, Maxim Lunkin (‘94/RUS) obtained his second ATP point with a R1 win over Sergei Krotiouk. He was then eliminated by the eventual champion.

*SPAIN F29: 25-year old Frenchman Mathieu Rodrigues won his second title of the season after defeating Carlos Calderon-Rodrigues 64 63 in the final. Rodrigues, who lost to Dino Marcan in the final of Serbia F6 last week, will use both performances to rise to a new career high at or around the 300th spot in the ranking. With the win he is now 30-17 in 2011. He had to navigate a draw full of potential-laden players, taking out Marc Giner (’91/ESP), Hiroyasu Ehara (‘91/JPN) and Roberto Carballes-Baena (‘93/ESP) just to reach the final. This last one was the only one to take a set out of him all week. Calderon-Rodrigues had to fight past Andres Artunedo Martinavarr (‘93/ESP) to reach the final. It was a great week for the next-wavers, especially for those born in 1993. Besides Carballes and Artunedo, Taro Daniel (JPN) and Ricardo Rodriguez (VEN) also reached the QFs. 16-year old Brazilian WC Yuri Andrade (‘95/BRA) earned his first ATP point with a R1. The major disappointment of the tournament was David Souto (‘92/VEN)’s early elimination. He lost in R2 to Artunedo Martinavarr.

*ARGENTINA F11: It was a very strange week in Argentina, as the veterans took over in a place where the kids rule. 26-year old Leandro Migani came back to the tour after in April after a 10 month absence and a few months later obtained his first title of the season, all while coming from the qualy. He defeated fellow veteran of the futures circuit Alejandro Fabbri in the final. Migani reached the final after defeating unranked Italian Francesco Garzelli (’91), the young surprise of the tournament, in the semis. Fabbri got through yet another Argentinean veteran, Juan Manuel Valverde, to reach the final. It clearly wasn’t a good week for the next-wavers, with the exception of Mauricio Perez Mota (‘93/ARG) and Mateo Cressa (’93) who advanced to R2. For Cressa, it was his first ATP point.

*AUSTRIA F6: 21-year old Czech Michal Konecny won his first title of the season after defeating experienced Spaniard Oscar Sabate in a 3-set final. The former ITF No.2 improved to 29-18 and will jump to a new career high inside the top 500 in the world. To reach the final, he defeated local Tristan-Samuel Weissborn (‘91/AUT) in the semis. Sabate got through Italian Antonio Comporto to reach the final. Comporto had eliminated top seed Romain Vogeli in the QFs. The only other youngster to make any significant noise throughout the week was Philip Lang (‘90/AUT), who reached the QFs before losing to Konecny.

*BELGIUM F8: 22-year old local Germain Gigougnon was yet another player this week to win his first title of the season, defeating Frenchman Tak Khunn Wang (’91) in the final. The Belgian has been having an irregular year (improved to 16-12 in 2011), which started in mid-April after a 6 month layoff. Regardless, Gigougnon has been steadily showing improvement which led to his coronation. With the win he hopes to surpass his previous career high of 602 within the next few weeks. He only dropped one set during the week and it came in the semis against the very promising Arthur De Greef (‘92/BEL). The 19-year old Wang has played a lot of tennis in 2011 (29-21) and although he will likely end the year ranked higher than at the end of 2010, it can be said that more was expected out of him. Wang defeated Marco Dierckx in the semis. The surprise of the week came at the hands of relatively unknown Dutchman Alban Meuffels (’92), who reached the QFs after taking out 2nd seed Guillermo Hormazabal of Chile.

*CROATIA F6: Top seed Toni Androic (’91/CRO) won his third title of the season after defeating fellow rising Croatian Dino Marcan (‘91/CRO) in the final, avenging a loss in the final of Armenia F1. Androic is now 37-11 and will be inside the top 400 next week, along with sitting at a new career high. The champion did not drop a set all week and along with Marcan, he is a player to keep a close eye on for the upcoming season. He easily dismantled 3rd seed Tomislav Brkic (‘90/BIH) in the semis, only losing 3 games. Marcan, the second seed, defeated Blaz Rola (‘90/SLO) in the other semi-final. Among the next-wavers, 16-year old Filip Veger (‘94/CRO) obtained his first ATP point with a R1 win over Franko Miocic (‘95/CRO).

*FINLAND F2: Patrick Rosenholm is definitely one of the best newcomers of the year, in the sense that he came virtually out of nowhere to establish himself as one of the better players in the futures circuit. The 23-year old Swede won his third title of the year (his previous 2 were in India) after defeating fellow unheralded Vladimir Ivanov of Estonia in the final. Rosenholm, who finished 2010 ranked 1739, is now 29-9 and will crack the top 500 for the first time in his career next week. He defeated Jordi Samper-Montana (‘90/ESP) in the semis. Samper-Montana had taken out top seed Timo Nieminen one round earlier. For the 24-year old Ivanov it has also been a career year. He entered the ranking for the first time in 2006 but had failed to crack the top 1000 up until this year. He is now 12-3 over his last 3 tournaments, losing in the final all 3 times. He defeated the more talented and hyped Jan-Frederik Brunken (‘90/GER) in the semis. The only other next-waver of significance was Sam Barry (‘92/IRL), who reached the QFs before losing to the eventual champ.

*GERMANY F11: 25-year old German Steven Moneke is literally on fire. He won his second title of the year after defeating Nils Langer (‘90/GER) in the final, and has now won 14 of his last 15 matches during the last 3 weeks. The winner is obviously in the best stretch of his career, moving to 24-11 for the year. The win will deposit him at the doorstep of the top 500. He also didn’t drop a set all week. In the semis, he defeated the surprise of the tournament, Kevin Kaczynski (‘94/GER). The 17-year old German, who isn’t even in the ITF top 100 at the moment, took a WC into the main draw and took full advantage of playing guys with rankings outside the top 1000. Langer reached the final after defeating the unseeded Michel Dornbusch (‘90/GER) in the semis. It should be said that Moneke was the only player in the QFs who was born before 1990, making it a great week for the next-wavers. Langer had also taken out 2nd seed Kevin Krawietz (’92/GER), the top prospect in the country. Fellow Germans Marko Lenz (’91), Ralf Steinbach (’92) and David Thurner (’90) were the other players to reach the QFs.

*MEXICO F8: Uruguayan veteran Marcel Felder won his 5th title of the season after defeating Adam El Mihdawy of the United States in the final. It was the third title in Mexican territory for Felder, who has been on a tear this year (39-12). However, his success has come against week competition and his age suggests that this might be close to his ceiling. His performance the last 2 weeks will catapult him to the doorstep of the top 300, getting him in challenger range with very few points to defend until the end of the year. It is my guess that it’s now or never for Felder to make a mark in a sport in which he was supposed to be much better, at least based on his performance at the junior level. Felder, who did not drop a set all week, defeated top seed Daniel Garza in the semis. El Mihdawy reached the final after defeating 37-year old Cuban Lazaro Navarro-Battles, who had been unranked since 2009. It was also a very positive week for a pair of next-wavers, as Luis Patino (‘93/MEX) and Roberto Cid (‘93/USA) reached the QFs. Patino entered the ranking for the first time.

*PERU F2: Argentinean starlet Agustin Velotti (’92) won his second title of the season, defeating top seed Cristobal Saavedra-Corvalan (‘90/CHI) in the final. Velotti, a former junior Roland Garros champion, did not drop a set all week. He is now 26-9 in 2011 and will be inside the top 400 next week, a new career high for him. Velotti didn’t face much competition until the final, easily dismantling local Sergio Galdos (‘90/PER) in the semis. Saavedra-Corvalan had a much rockier road, having to fight 3-set battles against Guido Pella (‘90/ARG) in the QFs and Martin Cuevas (‘92/URU) in the semis. Saavedra is now 35-15 and will rise to a new career high very close to the top 300. Among the next-wavers, Bolivian Boris Arias (’93) obtained his second ATP point while Peruvian wonder-kid Jorge Brian Panta-Herreros (’95) won another won another R1 match to add one more point to his collection. The upset of the week was Andrea Collarini’s R1 loss to Joaquin Monteferrario, not because of the opponent, but because he showed great form the previous week, taking the title in Argentina F10.

*POLAND F6: 23-year old top seed Gregorz Panfil won his first title of the season after defeating fellow Pole Mateusz Szmigiel 62 62 in the final. Panfil is now 26-15 in 2011, a subpar year for him since the title will only get him back to the ranking he had at the beginning of the season, and some 200 spots lower than his career high. He defeated Andriej Kapas in the semis, while Szmigiel took out Dawid Celt to round up an all-Polish SF. Among the next-wavers, Libor Salaba (‘92/CZE) reached the QFs while Mark Richards (‘93/AUS) and Arkadiusz Kocyla (‘93/POL) made it to R2. It was the first ATP point for Kocyla.

*SERBIA F7: 21-year old Austrian Michael Linzer won is 4th title of the season, defeating Denes Lukacs of Hungary in the final. The champion, who won’t be flying under the radar for much longer, is now on a 15-match winning streak after winning back to back futures events in Turkey in July. He is now 35-11 for the year, and will rise to a new career high ranking of 350 next week. Despite not having an illustrious junior career, Linzer has been steadily improving his ranking year after year and is definitely a name to follow for next season. To reach the final he easily dismantled top seed Miljan Zekic of Serbia, who is having a career year too. Lukacs, the 24-year old runner-up, defeated Nicola Cacic (‘90/SRB) in the other semi-final. For the next-wavers, it was a very good week, as ’94-born Serbian pair Pedja Krstin and Miki Jankovic both advanced to the QFs. Jankovic achieved an impressive straight sets victory over Bosnian starlet Damir Dzumhur (’92), who was back on tour after almost 2 months.  

*SLOVAK REPUBLIC F3: 24-year old Czech Marek Michalicka won his first title of the season after defeating Daniel Lustig in the final. Michalicka is now on the tour full time after graduating from the University of Wisconsin, where he played for 4 years. After starting the season in late June, he has amassed a 14-6 record with a title and a final appearance. He will rise to a career high ranking right outside the top 600. It was definitely another frustrating week for Slovakians, as the 2 heavy favorites (and top seeds) were upset in the semis. Norbert Gombos (‘90/SVK) lost to Michalicka while Jozef Kovalik (‘92/SVK) fell to Lustig. Among the other next-wavers to leave their mark, Filip Vittek (‘93/SVK) and Henri Laaksonen (‘92/SUI) both reached the QFs.

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