2015 Sarasota and Mersin Challenger Recaps
Chris De Waard, Tennis Atlantic
Upset after upset happened in Sarasota this week, with only my predicted winner holding up in the end. The biggest onslaught already took place in the first round, with top seed Tim Smyczek, third seed Paolo Lorenzi, fifth seed Ruben Bemelmans and eighth seed Hyeon Chung all going out. Seventh seed Radek Stepanek lost as well, to Jared Donaldson, but that can’t be called a surprise, with Stepanek returning from a lengthy injury lay-off. Smyczek lost 6-4 6-2 to Facundo Arguello, Lorenzi 3-6 7-6(5) 6-1 to Bjorn Fratangelo, Bemelmans got hammered 6-2 6-2 by wild card Mitchell Krueger, with Chung also losing comfortably to Horacio Zeballos, 6-3 6-2. Another remarkable first round loss came from Alexander Zverev, who lost 3-6 7-6(5) 6-1 to sixth seed Facundo Bagnis, while missing five match points and simply giving up in the end.
The miraculous escape seemed to awaken Bagnis, who started to clean up the opposition and didn’t drop a set on his way to the final, beating Chase Buchanan 6-3 7-5 in the semi-final. Buchanan beat 17-year-old Frances Tiafoe in the quarterfinal, who had a great run in his first ever Challenger. Interestingly enough none of the players who upset a seed in the first round were able to keep it up, as they all lost in the second round. Second seed Federico Delbonis never missed a step, winning his first four matches comfortably, beating Renzo Olivo 6-1 6-2 for a place in the final. There he continued his march, beating Bagnis 6-4 6-2 to claim his fifth Challenger title. Bagnis reclaimed a spot in the top 100, rising twelve places to a career high #90, while Delbonis won eighteen spots and now sits at #70.
Top seed Filip Krajinovic had something to prove after his disappointing loss against Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo in the second round of Napoli last week, and despite a very tricky first round draw against Roberto Carballes Baena he started off well, beating the Spaniard 6-4 3-6 6-3, after which he went on to easily reach the semi-final. Third seed Marsel Ilhan and eigth seed Victor Hanescu faced off in the quarterfinal after both coming through a tough three set match a round prior, with Ilhan prevailing 6-3 6-4 to set up a semi-final encounter against Krajinovic. After a more than tough start, home player Ilhan once again won, beating the top seed 0-6 6-4 6-4 for a place in the final.
The bottom half knew an exodus of seeds, with three of them losing in the first round and second seed Damir Dzumhur going out in the second round against qualifier Antonio Veic, giving an opportunity to lower ranked players to make a move. Veic got ousted by another qualifier, Inigo Cervantes, in the quarterfinal, with the Spaniard winning 6-2 6-4. Cervantes was no problem for Kimmer Coppejans, however, who dismissed him 6-1 6-3 to reach his second Challenger final of the year. It immediately became his second title as well, absolutely dominating Ilhan 6-2 6-2 in the final. It also meant a new career high ranking for the 21-year-old Belgian, rising twenty-one spots to #125. Ilhan rose eleven spots to #84.