2015 Launceston, Santo Domingo and Bergamo Challenger Recaps
Chris De Waard, Tennis Atlantic
#5 seed Hyeon Chung was in the running to win back to back Challengers after winning Burnie last week. Chung’s draw opened up tremendously when he was the last seed standing in the bottom half after the second round, with #2 Somdev Devvarman and #4 Hiroki Moriya both losing in the first round, while #6 Luke Saville made it one round further before falling 6-4 6-4 to Jordan Thompson. Despite his good form and cushy draw, Chung struggled tremendously in his first three matches, needing three sets to advance in all of them. There he faced Thompson, a match which he won as well and also, you guessed it, in three sets: 5-7 6-3 7-5.
In the top half a great candidate to reach the final, #3 seed Kyle Edmund, sadly had to retire from his first match with a lower back injury. It seemed to be contagious, as top seed Yuichi Sugita gave a walk-over in the second round citing that reason, as well as Zhe Zhang, who had to retire from his semi-final match with it. Bjorn Fratangelo, who also benefited from Sugita’s withdrawal, advanced to the final after that retirement, facing Chung. Another three set match ensued, but surprisingly enough it was Fratangelo who took down his first Challenger title, prevailing 4-6 6-2 7-5. Naturally, it also meant a new career high ranking for the American, improving fifty-three ranking spots and landing at #172. Chung is starting to get close to direct qualification for Roland Garros, rising nine spots to #120.
Unfortunately this tournament was not streamed, so this will be scoreboard journalism in its purest form. Victor Estrella Burgos was the top seed here in his home country, but I didn’t expect him to get far after his magic run at Quito, where he took down an ATP title. Understandably he didn’t even start and withdrew before the tournament began, leaving his place in the draw to lucky loser Patricio Hernandez, who profited by winning his first round match against Jose Hernandez before falling in the second round to Nicolas Jarry. Jarry in his turn lost 6-4 6-4 to #5 seed Damir Dzumhur, who ended up not dropping a set on his way to the final. #3 seed Horacio Zeballos fell in dramatic fashion to youngster Christian Garin, who beat him 1-6 7-6(3) 7-6(5) after saving three match points.
In the bottom half Renzo Olivo played not one, but four matches like that on his way to the final. 1-6 7-5 6-3, 3-6 7-5 7-6(4), 4-6 7-6(3) 7-5 and 6-7(6) 7-5 6-1 were the titanic scores, in which he saved a total of five match points after going down a set in each of the matches. Unfortunately this took a big toll on his body, as he was forced to retire in the final against Dzumhur with stomach problems, as the latter was leading 7-5 3-1. The result makes Dzumhur get close to the top 100 and his career high ranking of #101, rising eighteen spots to #105. Olivo also nears his career high ranking, #179, rising forty-one spots to #187.
Benoit Paire started off the tournament in vintage headcase fashion, entertaining us with a great racquet smash and shirt rip after dropping the opening set against Ilija Bozoljac in the second round. He managed to turn the match around, however, after which he started playing a lot better in his next two matches, beating #3 seed Farrukh Dustov 6-4 6-4 and Jurgen Zopp with the same score to book a place in the final. Zopp had taken out #2 seed Lucas Pouille a round before, 7-5 7-6(2).
In the top half top seed Andreas Beck got upset by Konstantin Kravchuk in the first round, 6-3 7-6(5). Qualifier and former world #51 Daniel Brands took advantage, beating Kravchuk in two tiebreaks to secure a quarterfinal spot. There #5 seed Iliya Marchenko was too strong, beating him 7-6(6) 6-3. In the other quarterfinal Aleksandr Nedovyesov beat Tim Puetz 4-6 6-1 6-2, after which he took out Marchenko as well after a marathon match, 6-4 3-6 7-6(3). However, in the final Paire showed why he used to be the world #24 and clearly was the better player during his 6-3 7-6(3) victory. Let’s hope Paire can put his knee problems behind him and return to a spot in that neighborhood. He made a good start in the rankings, rising twenty-two positions to #121. Nedovyesov rose a modest three spots to #116.