2014 Mons, Sacramento and Cali Challenger Recaps
Chris De Waard, Tennis East Coast
Steve Darcis managed to take out fifth seed Dudi Sela in the most anticipated first round match-up, 6-1 7-6(3). Igor Sijsling was upset by Gerald Melzer in the second round, losing 6-4 1-6 7-5 after missing two match points. Melzer retired Olivier Rochus in the previous round, with the Belgian not going out without a stern fight, 4-6 6-3 6-3. Darcis took advantage of the second seed going out and advanced to the semi-final, where he surprised third seed Jiri Vesely, 6-4 6-4. In the top half, Marsel Ilhan was in good form, as he took out last week’s Orleans finalist Thomaz Bellucci and Tobias Kamke on his way to the semi-final. There, he managed to snap #1 seed David Goffin’s streak of 37 consecutive sets won on Challenger level, but it wasn’t enough, 7-5 4-6 6-1.
In the final, Goffin clearly was Darcis’ superior and brushed him aside in a comfortable 6-3 6-3 victory. Goffin rose four spots on the ranking to a career high of #27, while Darcis made a huge jump from #355 to #253.
The half of top seed Sam Querrey was quickly cleared of his fellow seeds, as Michael Russell and Thiemo de Bakker retired during their first round matches, while Frank Dancevic lost to wild card Bjorn Fratangelo. Querrey did have a similar scare to his match against Elias Ymer in Napa last week, as he beat John Millman 5-7 6-4 6-3 in the semi-final.
In the bottom half, 16 year old wild card Stefan Kozlov was the sensation of the week. He had never won a Challenger match before entering this tournament, but he went all the way to the final after beating Ryan Harrison, John-Patrick Smith, Rhyne Williams and Tim Smyczek. Even more remarkable is that all of those matches went to three sets. In the final, Querrey was simply too strong. Kozlov went up a break in the first set, but after that it was one-way traffic and Querrey triumphed 6-3 6-4. Querrey actually dropped a ranking spot, as he was defending 90 quarterfinal points from Beijing last year. Kozlov naturally made an enormous jump, going from #763 to #443.
The loss wasn’t that big of a surprise, but the manner in which it happened surely was.
Top seed Alejandro Falla lost in the first round to qualifier Marcelo Arevalo, but got absolutely hammered in the process, 6-2 6-2. Guido Andreozzi, who survived a tough first round draw against Daniel Munoz-De La Nava, took advantage and reached the semi-final after beating #8 seed Facundo Bagnis. There, he fell to Victor Estrella Burgos in a remarkable encounter, 3-6 7-6(3) 6-0. In the bottom half, #2 seed Paolo Lorenzi was on fire, as he didn’t lose a set en route to the final, while facing tricky opponents in Alejandro Gonzalez and Joao Souza. A veteran match-up between 34 year old Estrella Burgos and 32 year old Lorenzi ended in a victory for the latter, after a quality match in which Estrella Burgos also entertained with an epic racket smash. The 4-6 6-3 6-3 victory resulted in a jump of eleven spots on the ranking for Lorenzi, landing at #69. Estrella Burgos reached a career high ranking, rising six spots to #65.