2014 Cordenons and Meerbusch Challenger Recaps
With practically all the good Italian players placed in the top half of the draw, a home country finalist was likely, although the eventual player to make it was not first seed Paolo Lorenzi. Potito Starace had the honor to play the final after ousting Lorenzi in a marathon match: 5-7 7-5 6-4. This meant his first top 100 victory since beating Kenny De Schepper in QR1 of Monte Carlo in April.
With Lorenzi at 32 years of age and Starace 33 this looked to be a tournament for the veterans, a trend that got confirmed in the bottom half, where Albert Montanes (33) and Daniel Gimeno-Traver (29) took on each other. They already had an extensive history of playing each other, with the head to head being dead even at 3-3. Their last meeting at Viña del Mar last year ended in a 6-4 6-4 victory for Gimeno-Traver. Things were different this time around, however, as Montanes took home the match in three sets: 6-7(4) 7-5 6-2.
This set up a repeat of last week’s match between Montanes and Starace in the first round of the San Marino Challenger, where Montanes booked a relatively easy victory: 6-2 7-6(3). This week’s final followed a similar pattern as Montanes crowned himself the 2014 Cordenons champion with a 6-2 6-4 victory. The final only meant a minor jump of five ranking spots for Starace, as he reached the semi-final last year, he now is ranked #156. For Montanes the jump was more significant, as he rose twenty spots to #114.
One thing is for sure: nobody predicted the Meerbusch winner correctly. The tournament began on a negative note with the match fixing scandal between Boy Westerhof and Antal van der Duim, which is currently being investigated by the Tennis Integrity Unit. More details on that are surely to come. The only top 100 player in the draw, top seed Albert Ramos, got upset in the first round by Mattias Bachinger in straight sets: 6-4 7-6(4). The other clear favorite to reach the final, Andrey Kuznetsov, didn’t disappoint as he made it. However, he was the only seeded player to reach the semi-finals as he was joined by #340 Jozef Kovalik, #289 Tristan Lamasine and #259 Peter Torebko, making Kuznetsov obviously the clear favorite with his 108th ranking spot.
However, it was 21 year old wild card Kovalik who absolutely crushed Kuznetsov in the final, winning 6-1 6-4. Amazingly enough he only dropped one set the entire tournament and even that match was a comfortable win: 2-6 6-2 6-0. This obviously resulted in a major ranking jump, as he rose 105 spots to #235, only five shy of his career high ranking of #230. Kuznetsov had some consolation as well, as he re-entered the top 100 at #97, a jump of eleven spots.
—Chris De Waard, Tennis East Coast