2014 Izmir, Meknes, Trnava, Campinas and Quito Challenger Recaps
Chris De Waard, Tennis East Coast
The early round match-ups that we were looking forward to either didn’t happen or didn’t deliver. Philipp Petzschner had to retire in his first round match against top seed Malek Jaziri, while Alexander Zverev lost in the first round to qualifier Yaraslav Shyla to deny us of an interesting match-up of 17 year olds between him and Borna Coric. That same Coric didn’t disappoint, however. Not only that, he went all the way to the final, where he took down Jaziri 6-1 6-7(7) 6-4 to win his first Challenger title. He showed great tenacity in the final, keeping his composure after missing five match points in the second set and facing break points at 4-3 and 5-4 in the third.
The win puts him inside of the top 150 for the first time in his career, at #140, an increase of 38 spots. Jaziri jumps 14 spots to #18.
The aspirations of Pablo Carreno Busta to win back to back titles quickly ended when he got absolutely hammered by Lucas Pouille in the quarterfinal: 6-3 6-0. Matteo Viola continued his excellent form by beating #2 seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-4 6-3 in the second round, before losing to Kimmer Coppejans in the semi-final: 0-6 6-2 6-4. Pouille also reached the final, which guaranteed another young winner, since both are 20 years old. Coppejans won the encounter 4-6 6-2 6-2 to win his first title on the Challenger circuit. After a jump of 64 ranking spots it also means his first top 200 position, at #196. Pouille rises 29 spots, landing at #170, also a career high ranking.
Unsurprisingly, the tournament of top seed Robin Haase didn’t end well. The Dutchman has been slumping and lost eleven games in a row against Radu Albot in their second round encounter 1-6 6-3 6-0. Albot lost in the semi-final to Andreas Haider-Maurer, who made his second final in three Challengers. There he faced Antonio Veic, who took out second seed Blaz Rola in the quarterfinal: 7-5 6-3. In the semi-final seventh seed Marton Fucsovics got routined as well: 6-3 6-2. In a very close final Haider-Maurer eventually prevailed to take down his second Challenger title of the month: 2-6 6-3 7-6(4). Veic can’t be too displeased, however, as he was ranked outside of the top 300 only two months ago and after two finals finds himself at the verge of the top 200: #204. Haider-Maurer jumped 21 spots and finds himself in the top 100 again at #92.
For three of the four top seeds, the tournament already was over before the quarterfinal. #2 seed Facundo Bagnis lost 2-6 6-3 7-5 in the first round to Richard Becker, #4 seed Gastao Elias lost 6-4 7-5 to Ivo Klec in the same stage and #3 seed Facundo Arguello lost to Jose Pereira in the second round. The top seed didn’t disappoint, however, as Diego Schwartzman took down the tournament after two very tough three set matches 5-7 6-4 7-6(5) in the semi-final against #5 seed Guido Andreozzi and 4-6 6-4 7-5 against #8 seed Andre Ghem in the final. For Ghem, it’s yet another great run after a final and a semi-final and Prague and Medellin in his past tournaments. He rises 26 spots to #171, a new career high ranking, not too shabby for a 32 year old. Schwartzman rises 10 spots to #88.
A disappointing tournament for top seed and defending champion Victor Estrella Burgos, losing 4-6 6-3 7-6(4) to Gonzalo Escobar in the second round after missing several match points. #2 seed Joao Souza got upset in the semi-final by the surprise of the tournament Nicolas Jarry, an 18 year old Chilean. Another surprising semi-finalist was Andres Molteni, who took #3 seed Horacio Zeballos to the edge: 5-7 6-3 7-5. Zeballos got pushed again by Jarry in the final, but eventually prevailed: 6-4 7-6(9). He remarkably managed to win the tournament without beating a single seed, only facing players ranked outside of the top 300. Jarry jumped 61 places to #244, while Zeballos re-entered the top 100 at #96, rising 18 spots.