Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Nextwavers of the Month: January Edition

AUSTIN KRAJICEK (’90/USA): Krajicek had an amazing month of January, going 12-2 including a title at China F2. The week before he reached the final at China F1 (losing to Vesely in the final). After his Asian adventure, Krajicek flew to Mexico where he reached the semi-finals after coming through the qualy. He lost to experienced local Daniel Garza in straight sets. In the first month of the year he has already improved his ranking 222 spots (from 756 to 534) and will be looking to get better as he continues playing futures in Mexico in early February.

JACK SOCK (‘92/USA): Sock’s rise through the ranking has been breathtaking. He rose roughly 500 spots last year despite trying to maintain eligibility for college. However, now that he has decided to go pro and focus 100% on tennis, this young man has been unleashed. He won USA F1 without losing a set, and then lost in the semis the following week to French veteran Nicolas Devilder (former top 100 who ended up winning the title). Not content with that, he then went to play the Honolulu Challenger, where he advanced to the quarter-finals without dropping sets. He ended up losing to top seed Go Soeda of Japan, who also ended up winning the title and reclaiming a spot in the top 100. In just 3 tournaments, Sock has already risen 82 spots to 300 (a new career high). And the scary thing is that he’s just warming up.

JASON KUBLER (‘93/AUS): The former ITF No.1 skipped the Australian tournaments (where he would’ve probably received wild cards to at least the qualys) to play futures in the USA. It proved to be a wise decision, as he reached the final at USA F1 and F3. He lost those finals to Sock and Brian Baker, nothing to be ashamed of. Sandwiched in between was a 3-set loss to top seed Victor Estrella at F2. During those 3 weeks, Kubler defeated more experienced players like Devilder and Nicholas Monroe. He has already cracked the top 500 (at 496) and is playing at USA F4 to begin the month of February.

STANISLAV POPLAVSKYY (‘91/UKR): The young Ukrainian had a very successful run in the Russian futures in January. He went 10-2, including winning the title at F1 and losing the final to Siarhei Betau of Belarus at F3 (whom he also lost to in the second round of F2). The quality of the players he beat wasn’t too impressive, but his results are undeniable and he’s already cracked the top 500 (and reached a new career high at 498).

ANDREY KUZNETSOV (‘91/RUS): The former junior Wimbledon champion is trying to get back in the right path. After reaching a ranking of 163 in 2010, he couldn’t maintain the pace and finished 2011 at 222. He started the year as the top seed playing at home at Russia F1 but was upset in a toss 3-set loss to Fufygin in the semi-finals. After that, he switched to clay, with much improved results. He won the 15k future event at Egypt F1 without dropping a set. He will play a few more tournaments in Egypt hoping to get his ranking low enough inside the top 200 to move back to the challengers.

JOZEF KOVALIK (‘92/SVK): The young Slovak had a breakthrough season in 2011 and if his performance in January is any indication he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Kovalik used his new ranking to play at the Sao Paulo Challenger in Brasil, reaching the quarter-finals before losing in straight sets to Federico Del Bonis. He then went back to Europe and reached the final at Israel F2, losing to Daniel Smethurst (‘90/GBR). The following week he was upset early, but it happened at the hands of Norbert Gombos, another Slovak with a great 2011. Kovalik already improved his ranking from 412 to 357 (career high) and will look to keep trying his luck against tougher competition at challenger events.

DENIS KUDLA (‘92/USA): The Ukrainian-born American seems to have put his futures days behind him and has moved on to bigger and better things. Kudla lost in R1 of qualifying at Auckland ATP but that did not put him down. He qualified for his first Grand Slam main draw after defeating Nikola Ciric and 2 former top 100 players like Carsten Ball and Eduardo Schwank. Once in the main draw, he took Tommy Haas to 4 sets before being eliminated. After that, he played at the Honolulu Challenger, where he reached the quarter-finals and lost to Tatsuma Ito of Japan. Thank to those performances he improved his ranking from 276 to 218, a new career high.

JAMES DUCKWORTH (‘92/AUS): This guy is the real deal. I picked him to crack the top 150 (with an outside shot of being in the top 100) by year end and he’s already halfway there at 205. Duckworth made great use of the wild cards he was granted. At Brisbane ATP he took out Nicolas Mahut in R1 before losing to world No.12 Gilles Simon. The following week he lost in R1 to Jarkko Nieminen, who ended up winning the title. However, his greatest performance came at the Australian Open, where he defeated Estonian Jurgen Zopp in straight sets in R1 and gave world No.9 Janko Tipsarevic all he could handle before bowing out 36 62 67 46. His ranking is already Challenger-worthy, so expect him to test himself at a higher level in the following months.


·         JIRI VESELY (’93/CZE), 2011 year end ITF No.1 won China F1
·         GLEB SAKHAROV (’88/FRA) went 9-3 with a title, a semi-final and a quarter-final appearance
·         CLAUDIO GRASSI (‘85/ITA) went 10-2 with a title and a final appearance
·         DIMITAR KUTROVSKY (‘87/BUL) went 9-2 with a title and a semi-final appearance
·         TOMISLAV BRKIC (‘90/BIH) went 8-1 with a title and a semi-final appearance
·         FRANK PEPE (‘88/FRA) came out of nowhere to win Germany F2 as a qualifier
·         YOSHIHITO NISHIOKA (‘95/JPN) qualified into 2 USA futures main draws, reaching the QFs at F3 at the age of 16.


·         TIAGO FERNANDES (’93/BRA): 1-3 record with disappointing performances in Great Britain and Egypt.
·         TARO DANIEL (‘93/JPN): 0-3 with back to back to back R1 loses in Turkey
·         DANIEL KOSAKOWSKI (‘92/USA): 0-3 record at USA futures
·         KEVIN KRAWIETZ (‘92/GER): 4-3 as a high seed playing futures at home

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