Monday, August 29, 2011

Futures: Week 33

Here are the highlights:

*COLOMBIA F4: Local Eduardo Struvay (‘90/COL) continued his hot streak, defeating Alejandro Gonzalez (‘89/COL) in the final to claim his second consecutive futures title, and the third one this year. He’s now 30-13 for the year and will jump to a new career high when the new ranking is posted (somewhere around 330). This 15K tournament had such a strong field that Struvay wasn’t event seeded. Struvay defeated Brazilians Guilherme Clezar (‘92),Fabiano De Paula (the only one to take him to a third set) and Caio Zampieri (fresh off a title the previous week) en route to the final. On the opposite side of the draw, Gonzalez (the third seed), upset the talented Christian Lindell (‘91/SWE) in the semis. There’s wasn’t much room for the youngest next-wavers due to the draw’s strength, but Felipe Mantilla (‘93/COL) and Felipe Escobar (‘94/COL) both managed R1 wins.

*ITALY F24: In a battle of the top seeds, No.2 Luca Vanni defeated No.1 Josselyn Ouanna in the final to claim his first title of the season. Vanni, who reached multiple semi-finals throughout the year, jumped to 32-21 in 2011. The 26-year old Italian survived an upset attempt in R1 and then got past Stefan Siefert of Germany in the semis. Ouanna, the highly-talented (and former top 90) Frenchman, reached his first final of 2011, a very irregular year for him, since he hasn’t been able to get to the form that took him to the elite in 2009. He took Massimo Capone in the semis and reached the final without dropping a set, but wasn’t able to get past Vanni in the final. The ever-promising Kevin Botti, a former ITF top 10 a few years back, reached the QFs. The 22-year old lost to the eventual champ in straight sets.

*NETHERLANDS F5: 23-year old Antal Van der Duim won his second title of the season, defeating former top 60 Nicolas Devilder in the final. Van der Duim is having a career year in 2011, and will reach a new career high inside the top 400, surpassing his previous high mark set in 2007. He’s now 27-13 and has cut his ranking in half since the beginning of the year. He reached the final without losing a set, putting away top seed Jonathan Eysseric (’89/FRA) in the semis, before winning a thriller final in 3 sets. Devilder, the 31-year old veteran, also reached the final without losing a set, and to do it, he had to beat Julien Obry (‘91/FRA) in the QFs and Gianni Mina (‘92/FRA) in the semis.

*POLAND F7: In his return to the futures circuit, Spanish wonder-kid Javier Marti (’92) won his second title of the season, defeating German Peter Torebko in the final. Marti has been mainly playing challengers all year and even managed to qualify into the French Open. His 30-19 record is better than it seems considering the quality of matches played. He will improve his ranking to about 205, a new career high. This week, Marti lost no sets and even dismissed Gregorz Panfil, last week’s champion, in the semis. Torebko defeated Michal Schmid in the other semi-final. The only other next-waver to make it past R2 was Andrei Vasilevski (‘91/BLR), who fell to Marti in straight sets in the QFs.

*ROMANIA F8: Australian Matt Reid (’90) won his second title of the season after coming from a set down to defeat local veteran (on the comeback trail) Gabriel Moraru. Despite the age difference, both players are having incredible seasons in the futures tour. Reid is now 39-17 in 2011 and will jump about 50 spots to 330 in the world, a new career high ranking. Reid had not lost a set coming into the final, and was fresh off defeating Robert Coman (‘90/ROM) in the semis. The 29-year old Moraru took out fellow Romanian veteran Adrian Mlendea in the other semi-final. Moraru improved to 23-6 and his ranking will jump to about 450. Among the next-wavers, Darius Florin Bragusi (‘93/ROM) reached the QFs before losing to Moraru. The upset of the week was the early elimination of top seed James Duckworth (‘92/AUS), arguably the best player in the futures circuit. He fell in straight sets to Teodor-Dacian Craciun in R2.

*ARGENTINA F12: Top seed Juan Pablo Villar won his first title of the season, defeating fellow Argentine Facundo Mena (’92) in the final. The 29-year old veteran has been splitting his time between playing and coaching, which explains his irregular results and lower than expected ranking. He’s 26-10 for the year. To reach the final, he defeated 7th seed Gabriel Hidalgo (‘90/ARG) in the semis. On the other hand, it was the first pro final for Mena. He topped Nicolas Jara Lozano in the other semi-final. Among the younger players, Juan Ignacio Amarante (‘91/ARG) reached the QFs, while Franco Agamenone (‘93/ARG) re-entered the ranking with a R1 win over Dante Gennaro (‘93/ARG).

*AUSTRIA F7: It was the second title in 3 weeks for Riccardo Bellotti (’91/ITA), who defeated German starlet Kevin Krawietz (’92) in the final to claim the crown. The young Italian has won 10 of his last 11 matches and is now 25-13 for the year. He started 2011 ranked 1152 and with these points he will rise all the way to 520, a new career high. The unseeded Bellotti cruised through the week without dropping sets, taking out 2nd seed Anthony Dupuis in R2 and fellow Italian Filippo Leonardi in the semis. On the opposite side of the draw, top seed Krawietz improved to 36-18 for the year and despite losing the final, will get a new career high ranking, inching closer to the top 400. Krawietz defeated local Tristan-Samuel Weissborn (‘91/AUT) in the semis. Among the next-wavers, Robert Rumler (‘93/CZE) reached the QFs before losing to Weissborn.

*BELGIUM F9: French veteran Baptiste Dupuy won his first title of the season, defeating top seed Alexandre Folie (‘90/BEL) in the final. The 30-year old has had a very irregular year, improving to 15-16 for the year. Besides defeating the top seed, Dupuy toppled both of last week’s finalists in Tak Khunn Wang (‘91/FRA) and Germain Gigougnon (‘89/BEL). Folie, on the other hand, has still to win a title this year. The tall Belgian is 44-24 for the year and will rise to a new career high, but is 0-5 in finals. In the rest of the field, it was shocking to see locals Arthur de Greef (’92) and Yannick Reuter (’91) lose in R2.

*CROATIA F7: Serbian Nicola Cacic (’90) won his second title of the year after defeating Croatian Dino Marcan (’91) in the final. Cacic extended his great run of 2011, improving to 33-15 and gathering enough points to crack into the top 500 for the first time in his career. The winner advanced to the final after defeating the highly talented Damir Dzumhur (‘92/BIH) in the semis. Dzumhur had taken out last week’s winner Toni Androic (‘91/CRO) a round earlier. Marcan has been on a tear as of late too, winning 13 of his last 15, with 1 title and 2 more finals. He defeated Blaz Rola (‘90/SLO) in the semis. Among the next-wavers, a trio of Croatians earned R1 wins. ’93-born Duje Kenez and the better-known Mate Pavic were in that group along with Franco Miocic (’95), who earned his first ever ATP point.

*FINLAND F3: Richard Becker (‘91/GER) won his first title of the year, defeating top seed Timo Nieminen in the final. Becker, a former ITF top 30, has played limited tennis in 2011 but found his game this week in order to grab the trophy. Becker broke the hegemony of the select group that had been splitting all the wins in Finland over the last month. He took out No.2 seed Juho Paukku in R1 and never looked back, eliminating Jordi Samper-Montana (‘90/ESP) in the semis. The 29-year old Nieminen, brother of Jarkko, improved to 35-16 as he inches closer to his career high, set July of 2003. He took out last week’s champ Patrick Rosenholm of Sweden in the other semi-final. The only other youngster to get past R2 was Alessandro Bega (‘91/ITA) who lost in the QFs to the eventual champ.

*GERMANY F12: 27-year old Austrian Johannes Ager doesn’t play much, but when he does he wins. This week, in his 3rd tournament of the season, he clinched his second title, defeating local top seed Denis Bloemke in a 3-set final. Ager is now 10-1 this year. He got past Nils Langer (’90/GER) in the semis, and got to the final without dropping a set. In the other semi-final Bloemke defeated Raphael Lustenberger of Switzerland. The tournament was marked by the early elimination of some very talented youngsters. Renzo Olivo (‘92/ARG), Pierre-Hughes Herbert (‘91/FRA) and Sami Reinwein (‘92/GER) were all eliminated in R2.

*MEXICO F9: Local veteran Miguel Gallardo-Valles won his second title of the season, defeating Australian Chris Letcher in the final. The 30-year old improved to 30-10 and reached the final after defeating last week’s champ Marcel Felder of Uruguay in a 3-set thriller ending with a third set tie-breaker. For Letcher it was his best showing of the year, as he tries to get back to his career high ranking set in 2004. He took out Adam El Mihdawy from the USA, who happened to be the other finalist from the previous week. Among the next-wavers, Marcelo Arevalo (‘90/ESA) and Darian King (‘92/BAR) reached the QFs before being eliminated. Also, American Sahak Bazrganian (’93) obtained his first ATP point while Jeson Patrombon (‘93/PHI) also advanced to R2.  

*PERU F3: Former Junior Roland Garros champion Agustin Velotti (‘92/ARG) seems to be in breakout mode, winning his second consecutive title and third of the season. Velotti, a former ITF top 3, defeating fellow class-of-’92 Duilio Beretta (PER) in the final. The diminutive Argentinean is now 31-9 for the year and will crack the top 400 for the first time in his career. He cruised through the week without dropping a set, including the dismantling of talented compatriot Guido Pella (‘90/ARG) in the semis, whom he beat 61 60. Beretta showed some great potential too, losing only 2 games to top seed Cristobal Saavedra-Corvalan (‘90/CHI) in the semis. Both Velotti and Beretta showed that they are ready to move to the challenger tour, and added their names to a list of player born in 1992 that will be dominating the ATP tour over the next decade (a list that includes Tomic, Arguello, Duckworth, Marti, Kovalik, Mitchell, Dzumhur and others). Among the younger guns, Jorge Brian Panta Herreros (‘95/PER) obtained points for the third week in a row, while fellow Peruvian Ismael Merino (‘93/PER) also entered the ranking with a R1 win.

*RUSSIA F7: 25-year old Andrey Kumantsov won his first title of the year, defeating Richard Muzaev (‘92/RUS) in the final. The winner has been having a down year, as he improved to 18-12 due to playing lots of challengers and ATP qualifiers. He won the tournament without dropping a set, showing why he was the top seed. He was up 5-0 in the semis when Vitali Reshetnikov retired. Muzaev, for his part, reached his first final of the year but is still 10-17 in 2011. He has to defend an important number of points until the end of the year, so this performance comes at the right time to give him confidence for the rest of the season. As the third seed, Muzaev reached the final after defeating Mikhail Fufygin (‘90/RUS) in the semis. Among the younger players of the draw, ’91-born Russian trio of Artem Ilyushin, Stanislav Vovk and Yury Vaschenko made it to the QFs before being eliminated.  

*SERBIA F8: 27-year old local Ivan Bjelica won his first future title of the season after defeating Goran Tosic of Montenegro in the final. It was a dream week for Bjelica as he won the title without dropping a set and took out the top seed Aljaz Bedene (‘89/SLO) in the semis. He’s now 25-18 for the year. Tosic took out surprise semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato (’92/ITA) to get to the Serbian. The young Italian had upset 2nd seed Miljan Zekic in the QFs. Among the next-wavers, Dimitar Kuzmanov (‘93/BUL) reached the QFs before losing to Bedene. However, the shock of the tournament was the end of Michael Linzer’s 16-match winning streak. The Austrian lost to Arsenije Zlatanovic of Serbia in R2 after winning his last 3 future events.

*SPAIN F30: 28-year old Miguel Angel Lopez-Jaen won his first tournament of the season, defeating surprise finalist Ivan Arenas-Gualda (‘90/ESP) in the final. The veteran has played a lot of tennis this year, and improved his record to 24-25. It’s worth mentioning that at one point earlier this year Lopez-Jaen lost 8 matches in a row over a span of more than 2 months. This week, Lopez-Jaen survived a pair of early 3-set matches and then took out up and coming Venezuelan Ricardo Rodriguez (’93) in the semis to reach the final. Arenas-Gualda is having a career year and reached his first final after taking out Roberto Ortega-Olmedo (‘91/ESP) in the semis. Arenas-Gualda was also responsible for eliminating a pair of well-known next-wavers. He took out Taro Daniel (‘93/JPN) in R2 and then Andres Artunedo-Martinavarr (‘93/ESP) in the QFs. Artunedo-Martinavarr had taken out top seed David Rice in R2.

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