2015 Maui, Bucaramanga, and Hong Kong Challenger Recaps
Chris de Waard, Tennis Atlantic
A lot of people were interested to see how Ryan Sweeting’s comeback at Challenger level would play out, but he clearly wasn’t ready to be competitive just yet, losing 6-3 6-0 to qualifier Nicolas Meister in the first round. Meister, however, would proceed to profit hugely from all seeds in the top half going out, making it all the way to the final without facing one. Meister beat fellow qualifier Takanyi Garanganga, who took out top seed Denis Kudla, in the quarterfinal and James McGee in the semi-final.
In the bottom half Ryan Harrison went through yet another disappointing loss, falling to Dennis Novikov in the first round. Jared Donaldson went on a great run, taking out second seed Bradley Klahn in the semi-final to reach the final without dropping a set. In the final Meister wasn’t a match for him either and got easily dispatched by Donaldson, outside of a small hiccup when he went up a double break in the second. Donaldson took down his first ever Challenger title after a 6-1 6-4 victory. Donaldson is now ranked inside of the top 200 for the first time, rising 73 spots to #178. Meister posts a new career high ranking just outside of the top 300 at #302.
The doubles draw held some controversy, as Wayne Odesnik and Michael Shabaz blatantly tanked the super-tiebreak of their second round match, giving absolutely no effort. See for yourself, it starts at the one hour mark and gets particularly ridiculous at 5-3, as Odesnik simply hits the ball to the ground and the team proceeds to get aced twice in a row http://new.livestream.com/ATP/royallahainachallenger2015stadium/videos/75406462
The tournament started off with a miracle that sent purists into a state of delight, as Enrico Becuzzi and Paolo Lorenzi entered the doubles draw as alternates, getting paired to Sam Barnett and Kevin Kim in the first round. Becuzzi and Barnett are the two most famous amateur players trying to make it as professionals, but as in their singles match two years ago, Becuzzi triumphed here as well, 6-1 6-4. In the second round they fell 6-1 6-2 to Martin Cuevas/Guido Pella. Another tanking controversy occured with Andre Ghem and Gerard Melzer, who blatantly gave away their doubles match in a 6-2 6-0 loss. In the singles draw Lorenzi got upset by Gerald Melzer in the second round, 6-4 3-6 6-3. Profiting from Lorenzi going out was Gastao Elias, who beat Melzer in the next round and went on to reach the final after beating Jordi Samper-Montana in the semi-final. Samper-Montana beat Kevin Kim in the first round, who was playing on a presumably bought wild card due to pairing up in doubles with the wealthy Barnett, considering the 36 year old Kim is unranked and has been effectively retired since 2012.
In the bottom half #7 seed Daniel Gimeno-Traver annihilated #2 seed Victor Estrella-Burgos 6-0 6-4 in the quarterfinal, after which he beat Facundo Bagnis 6-4 6-7(5) 6-3 for a place in the final against Elias. Another long three set match followed, with Gimeno-Traver once again coming out on top, 6-3 1-6 7-5. With that result Gimeno-Traver recaptured a spot inside of the top 100, rising 21 spots to #89. Elias rose 17 spots to #126.
Hong Kong Challenger
Quite remarkably not a single seed in the top half survived the first round. Top seed Ricardas Berankis fell to Saketh Myneni, #4 seed Jimmy Wang to Di Wu, #6 seed Yuichi Sugita to Matthew Ebden and #8 seed Hiroki Moriya to Niels Desein. None of them could really build on the upset, as the semi-finalists were Kyle Edmund and Yoshihito Nishioka. Edmund won their match 7-6(2) 6-0. In the bottom half #2 seed Tatsuma Ito did live up to his seeding, beating Hyeon Chung 6-4 6-0 for a place in the final. Both men didn’t drop a set on their way to the final, but Edmund clearly was the better player, comfortably beating Ito 6-1 6-2. Edmund rose to a career high ranking of #148, rising 44 spots. Ito marginally improved with three spots, landing at #86.