2015 Raanana, Le Gosier and San Luis Potosi Challenger Recaps
As I expected, top seed Blaz Kavcic had a very tough opener against Igor Sijsling, but eventually he managed to survive in a tough three set match, 6-7(2) 6-3 7-5. However, his second round match against Nikoloz Basilashvili showed to be an even tougher one, as Kavcic got cleaned up 6-3 6-2 by the man who did the same (6-3 6-1) against John Millman in the round before. In another very exciting first round match-up, Evgeny Donskoy managed to outlast #8 seed Alexander Kudryavtsev 3-6 6-4 6-2. The biggest first round upset was probably #6 seed Lucas Pouille losing to his veteran countryman David Guez, 6-7(2) 6-4 6-2. Amir Weintraub made his comeback at Challenger level after being out with injury since Wimbledon and was on the receiving end of a remarkable gift. He faced countryman Dudi Sela in the first round, who had to retire after winning the first set, due to dizziness. Weintraub was unable to capitalize further, losing 6-4 7-5 to Michael Berrer in the next round.
Berrer ousted #4 seed Marsel Ilhan 4-6 6-4 6-4 in the quarterfinal, before falling to #2 seed Lukas Lacko in another highly contested encounter, 6-1 6-7(4) 6-4. Lacko’s opponent in the final was Basilashvili, who continued to impress and beat Radu Albot 7-6(3) 6-4 in the semi-final. His run didn’t stop there, as he also beat Lacko, 4-6 6-4 6-3. An impressive run for the 23-year-old player from Georgia, claiming his second career Challenger title and rising to a career high ranking of #137, improving forty-three spots. Lacko rose nine spots, to #90.
Things can change quickly in tennis, as Hyeon Chung demonstrated. After impressing at the Miami Masters last week, taking out a top 50 player in Marcel Granollers and losing 6-3 6-4 to Tomas Berdych in the second round, he lost to a player ranked outside of the top 400 this time around, falling 6-3 2-6 6-4 to qualifier Omar Jasika in the first round. Top seed Marcos Baghdatis got absolutely hammered by Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the second round, 6-2 6-2. Roger-Vasselin continued his good showing in the following rounds, beating Jasika and Kyle Edmund, who upset Benoit Paire a round before, comfortably to reach the final.
The tournament lost #2 seed Pablo Andujar after only one set, retiring against Ivo Klec citing a back injury. This enabled Brazilian qualifier Henrique Cunha to become the undisputed surprise of the tournament, taking out John-Patrick Smith in the quarterfinal to set up a semi-final encounter with Ruben Bemelmans, who did well to take advantage of his comfortable draw. Bemelmans showed that he is on a different level than the qualifier, easily disposing of him with a bagel in the process, 6-0 6-2. Bemelmans came into the final as an underdog against Roger-Vasselin, but came out on top and took down the title without dropping a set, winning the match 7-6(6) 6-3. He is now really close to cracking the top 100 for the first time, rising thirty-two spots to #102. Roger-Vasselin rose eight spots to #132.
San Luis Potosi
There were several great stories in San Luis Potosi, beginning with the revival of Guido Pella. The former world #75 has struggled ever since and now found himself on the verge of dropping out of the 200 when this tournament started, but he played well above his ranking here. He took out #7 seed Austin Krajicek 7-6(3) 7-5 in the second round, #1 seed Teymuraz Gabashvili 2-6 6-4 6-3 in the quarterfinal and #4 seed James Duckworth 6-3 6-3 to book himself a place in the final, already having an amazing tournament after this extraordinary run. In the bottom half there was a huge opportunity in the first section for someone to make a surprise run, as #4 seed Luca Vanni withdrew with a back injury and was replaced by lucky loser Giovanni Lapentti. #3 seed Damir Dzumhur couldn’t do it, losing 7-5 6-3 in the first round to James McGee.
McGee capitalized fully, becoming the player to take advantage of the opening in the draw as he beat Andres Molteni 6-1 6-4 for a place in the semi-final. However, here he was facing second seed and defending champion Paolo Lorenzi, a match in which he was the strong underdog. On top of that he lost in six earlier attempts to reach a Challenger final. But his luck finally changed, notching up one of his best career wins as he beat Lorenzi 6-3 5-7 6-3. In the final Pella was clearly too strong however, as the Argentinean took down his seventh Challenger title after a 6-3 6-3 victory. A more than impressive week for Pella, but ranking wise he is still a long way from where he wants to be at #155. McGee improves to a career high ranking of #170, rising thirty-three spots.