Qualifiers Vesely and Troicki take ATP titles in Auckland and Sydney As Unheralded Players Shine Before the AO
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
It was a tremendous week for young gun Jiri Vesely in Auckland, the Czech qualified without dropping a set (wins over Thomas Fabbiano and Lucas Pouille), and then beat Thomaz Bellucci, top 15 player Ernests Gulbis (in 3 sets), Donald Young, Kevin Anderson, and finally Adrian Mannarino in the final 6-3 6-2 to win his maiden ATP title. Neither Vesely nor Mannarino had ever contested an ATP final, and it was a new experience for them both, that said the 21 year old Vesely is the player that fans are most excited about, as he is making his move and has now broken into the top 40 in the world. It will be interesting to watch what he does this season.
Mannarino had a great week as well, he will be at a career high ranking inside the top 40 when the new rankings come out. The eclectic Frenchman beat Federico Delbonis, an ill Roberto Bautista Agut, and lucky loser Alejandro Falla without dropping a set, then he defeated another lucky loser, Pouille, in the semis to reach the final, needing three sets as the two traded winners in an exciting match. The draw was entirely blown up in Auckland this week, but the tennis was still exciting, and it’s nice to see some lesser known names have great results at the ATP level.
Raven Klaasen and Leander Paes won the doubles title over Dominic Inglot and Florin Mergea.
Viktor Troicki continued his admirable comeback, and captured his second career ATP title in Sydney. The title is his first since 2010 and he was contesting his first final since 2011. The Serbian beat fellow qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin who was contesting just his third career ATP final. With the 6-2 6-3 victory over Kukushkin in the battle of a qualifiers Troicki has very nearly returned to the top 50 in a short span of time since his comeback to the tour, and he is a motivated, tenacious player at this point in his career, having found renewed spark and fire.
Troicki qualified with wins over Enrique Lopez-Perez, Nicolas Jarry and Stefano Travaglia. In the main draw he upset Martin Klizan, and then needed three sets to oust Pablo Andujar and Simone Bolelli. He beat Gilles Muller, another comeback king, to reach the final.
Kukushkin beat Christopher O’Connell, Denis Kudla and JP Smith to qualify, then beat Denis Istomin, Pablo Cuevas, Juan Martin Del Potro and Leonardo Mayer without dropping a set to reach the final. Kukushkin has never been able to have consistently sustained success in his career, but he is a talented player and perhaps he can have a career year this year.
Rohan Bopanna and Daniel Nestor beat Jean-Julien Rojer/Horia Tecau to win a much more predictable doubles final.