Weekly Roundup: Challenger/ITF

ATP Challenger Tour

Aptos (Hard)

Two-times NCAA Singles Champion Steve Johnson took his first title on the professional circuit with a 6-3 6-3 victory over Colombia’s Robert Farah. Johnson dropped his serve just once in the final breaking Farah four times overall. On his route to the trophy, wildcard Johnson did not lose a set and only once did an opponent get to five games in a set. South African Rik De Voest and Australian John Peers came from a set down to win the Doubles, defeating second seeds Frank Moser and Chris Guccione 6-7 6-1 10-4. This was Peers’ fifth doubles title of the year, but his first with De Voest.

Pozoblanco (Hard)

Roberto Bautista-Agut defeated fellow Spaniard Arnau Brugues-Davi in fairly straight forward fashion to earn his third title of the year on the Challenger circuit and second in three weeks.  Bautista-Agut was broken just once by Davi in a 6-3 6-4 to add Pozoblanco to his Rome and Portobello titles. The Russian/Ukranian pairing of Konstantin Kravchuk and Denys Molchanov took their third title as a pairing (Astana 2011, 2012) with an easy 6-3 6-3 win over the French duo of Adrian Mannarino and Maxime Teixeira.

Samarkand (Clay)

After losing last time out in the Portobello final Dusan Lajovic went one better in Uzbekistan as he took the title, defeating home hopeful Farrukh Dustov 6-2 6-3. Lajovic was dominant on serve throughout, dropping just 13 points and never having his serve broken. Meanwhile, there was a shock in the doubles as the unseeded Ukranian pairing of Oleksandr Nedoyvyesov and Ivan Sergeyev defeated the top seeds Divij Sharan and Vishnu Vardhan 6-4 7-6(1).

San Marino (Clay)

In what was an overall dominant tournament for the top seed, Martin Klizan took the title without dropping a set. He broke the serve of Italy’s Simone Bolelli five times on his way to a 6-3 6-1 victory. This was Klizan’s fourth challenger title of the year surely signals that he should make the step up to the main tour, given the ease of his victory here. Lukas Dlouhy and Michal Mertinak added another doubles title to their long list of successes, but this was only their second as a team. The Czech/Slovak team edged out Matteo Viola and Stefano Ianni in a tight 2-6 7-6(3) 11-9 victory.

Sibiu (Clay)

In an all-Romanian final between the top two seeds, it was Adrian Ungur who came out on top. Ungur, the top seed, did not drop a set throughout the whole tournament and broke early on and was always in control of the first set. Ungur wasn’t so comfortable in the second and had to come from a break down to earn a straight sets victory over Victor Hanescu 6-4 7-6(1). There was no Romanian success in the doubles as Alexandru-Daniel Carpen and his Chilean teammate Cristobal Saavedra Corvalan lost in a tight three setter to the Croatians Marin Draganja and Lovro Zovko. The second seeds won in a final set tiebreak for a 6-4 4-6 11-9 victory.

ITF Mens Pro Circuit

Latvia F1 Futures Arthur DE GREEF (BEL) [2]     6-3 1-0 Retired    Andis JUSKA (LAT) [1]

Russia F11 Futures Boy WESTERHOF (NED) [1]     6-4 6-4     Nikoloz BASILASHVILI (RUS) [4]

Brazil F20 Futures Jose PEREIRA (BRA) [4]     6-3 6-7(4) 6-3     Nicolas SANTOS (BRA)

Argentina F19 Futures Leandro MIGANI (ARG) [3]     6-4 6-4     Juan-Pablo AMADO (ARG) [4]

Serbia F8 Futures Ivan BJELICA (SRB) [2]     2-6 7-5 6-2     Dino MARCAN (CRO) [1]

Great Britain F13 Futures Daniel EVANS (GBR) [3]     6-2 7-5     Daniel COX (GBR)

Germany F13 Futures Steven MONEKE (GER) [3]     6-2 6-2     Dane PROPOGGIA (AUS) [5]

Slovakia F2 Futures Jan STANCIK (SVK)     6-2 6-4     Jan BLECHA (CZE)

Finland F1 Futures Vladimir IVANOV (EST) [2]     6-4 6-2     Milos SEKULIC (SWE)

Belgium F7 Futures Jonathan EYSSERIC (FRA) [3]     6-4 6-3     Julien CAGNINA (BEL)

Turkey F31 Futures Alberto BRIZZI (ITA) [2]     6-2 6-1     Claudio FORTUNA (ITA)

Austria F5 Futures Jiri VESELY (CZE) [2]     6-2 6-2     Marc RATH (AUT) [3]

USA F23 Futures Ante PAVIC (CRO) [2]     7-6(3) 7-5     Eric QUIGLEY (USA)

ITF Womens Pro Circuit

50k Bronx Romina OPRANDI (SUI) [1]     5-7 6-3 6-3     Anna CHAKVETADZE (RUS)

25k Hechingen Masa ZEC-PESKIRIC (SLO)     6-0 6-4     Mervana JUGIC-SALKIC (BIH) [7]

25k Monteroni D’Arbia Estelle GUISARD (FRA)     6-3 6-1     Anne SCHAEFER (GER)

25k Koksijde Annika BECK (GER) [1]     6-1 6-1     Bibiane SCHOOFS (NED) [2]

10k Pirot Teodora MIRCIC (SRB) [1]     6-3 6-1     Lina GJORCHESKA (MKD)

10k Piestany Katerina VANKOVA (CZE) [5]     3-6 6-3 6-2     Katerina KRAMPEROVA (CZE) [1]

10k Bursa Victoria KAN (RUS) [5]     7-6(4) 6-4     Laura-Ioana ANDREI (ROU) [3]

10k Arequipa Aranza SALUT (ARG) [7]     7-6(4) 4-6 6-1     Luciana SARMENTI (ARG)

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July 16th-22nd ATP Previews

It’s another packed schedule this week, with three mens tournaments to look at. The North American hard court swing carries on with ATP Atlanta while the European clay courters move on to Gstaad and Hamburg complete the clay trio.

(Click tournament name for draw links)

ATP Tour

Hamburg 500

Former multiple winners of this tournament include Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal but since it’s demotion from a Masters 1000 to an ATP 500, the German tournament has struggled to attract the very best names. In 2010, the tournament was won by the unseeded Kazakh Andrey Golubev but a fairly strong set of seeded players make it seem unlikely that such an event could happen again.

Favourite – Nicolas Almagro is one of the best clay courters around, but unfortunately suffers from being from a country where he is considered probably 3rd best on the surface! Thankfully, neither of his compatriots David Ferrer (who defeated him once more to earn the Bastad title and make it 11-0 head to head) or Rafael Nadal will be taking part in the tournament this week. Almagro repeated wins last year in Nice and at the Brasil Open for his two titles this year and also made the final in Buenos Aires where he was defeated by Ferrer once more. A finalist last year, I think Almagro has improved enough to have a great chance of winning it all.

Outsider – Fresh from a successful trip in Umag, where he picked up the title in his home country, Marin Cilic can go deep again here. The Croatian will feel he has been placed in the kinder side of the draw with Viktor Troicki a potential quarter final opponent. Cilic appears to be feeling no ill-effects from his Wimbledon run which included the epic 5hr30 third round encounter with Sam Querrey. Although often inconsistent, Cilic is hard to write off when he gets into a run of a form as he has done the past month.

One To Watch – A former French Open Boys winner, Martin Klizan has finally made the breakthrough to the main tour after a successful year winning three challenger events and making the final of another. Klizan qualified for the French Open directly through his ranking – the first time he has done so for a slam in this way. He suffered a defeat to Nicolas Mahut in the second round but put up a decent enough fight to show he could be a threat at this level.

Did You Know…?

Only Rafael Nadal (36) and Juan Carlos Ferrero (13) possess more clay court titles than Nicolas Almagro (12) of active ATP players.

All 4 top seeds possess at least one clay title this year.

Atlanta 250

Atlanta is a fairly new tournament on the tour, having been moved from Indianapolis only two years ago. Mardy Fish and John Isner have competed in the final both times with Fish coming out on top both times. These two lead a strong field which also includes two-times Indianapolis winner Andy Roddick.

Favourite – Having suffered from major health problems Mardy Fish appears to be back to near his best after a fairly impressive Wimbledon display where he made the fourth round and gave eventual semi-finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga a big scare. Having won this tournament twice before, he has to be the pre-tournament favourite, especially with the 3-0 hard court record he holds over second seed John Isner.

Outsider – With many writing him off after a poor season to date, there have been some calls for Andy Roddick to perhaps retire. Roddick silenced some of the doubters for at least a while with a strong performance at Eastbourne where he picked up the title as a wildcard. He continued this impressive showing with almost two sets of great grass court tennis against David Ferrer before the Spaniard eventually battled through in four sets. While clearly the former world No. 1 is way below that level, the serve and forehand can still be a big threat on these hard courts and it is silly to write him off.

One To Watch – The story of Brain Baker has been an inspiring one. The former Junior star fought back from terrible injuries and after coming out of retirement last year has been on an excellent run to make the Top 100. A fourth round appearance as a qualifier at Wimbledon showed just what this American is capable of. He has been handed a wildcard here and it will be interesting to see how he shapes up against some of the more established Americans if he can make it that far. He faces Igor Kunitsyn in the first round here.

Did You Know…?

John Isner is one of only two players to have reached the 300 aces barrier this season on hard courts, the other being Milos Raonic.

The draw contains four college champions, 2x winner in Singles Steve Johnson (2011,2012) and doubles champions Rajeev Ram (2003), John Isner (2005) and Kevin Anderson (2006)

Gstaad 250

While the Swiss tournament does not get an appearance from now No. 1 and former winner Roger Federer, his fellow countryman Stanislas Wawrinka and Janko Tipsarevic lead a fairly weak field. The draw suffers from the withdrawal of David Ferrer so it will be up to Marcel Granollers to lead the charge of the Spaniards here as No.2 seed.

Favourite – Both the top seeds Marcel Granollers and Janko Tipsarevic have a fair case for being seen as the favourite. Granollers is coming off a final appearance in Umag and won Gstaad last year defeating fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the final. Meanwhile top seed Tipsarevic is also following up a final appearance last week, having taken the Stuttgart title in three sets. Tipsarevic managed to shrug off the loss off a second set when 4-0 and break point up to defeat Juan Monaco in three sets.

Outsider – While yet to pick up his first ATP Tour title, Santiago Giraldo was a regular victor on the challenger circuit before he made the step up. Giraldo has reached the Bogota Challenger final and faces Alejandro Falla tomorrow so will be high on confidence coming into the tournament.

One To Watch – Swiss-Finnish Wildcard Henri Laaksonen is a former French Open Boys semi finalist, in 2009 as a 17-year old. Laaksonen was close to qualifying last week for Bastad but was defeated in the final qualifying round by Ivo Minar – who went on to push Nicolas Almagro extremely close.

Did You Know…?

Mikhail Youzhny possesses winning records over 5 of the other 7 seeds, having never played Bernard Tomic and a 2-4 record against Feliciano Lopez.

Only twice in the last 20 years has a European not won the Gstaad title (Thomasz Bellucci 2009, Gaston Gaudio 2005)

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