2015 Caltanissetta, Moscow, Prague and Surbiton Challenger Recaps
Chris De Waard, Tennis Atlantic
Where a week prior to this event Elias Ymer seemed to struggle with a hand injury, it clearly wasn’t a serious one, as he marched through the field convincingly in Caltanissetta. He took out fifth seed Maximo Gonzalez 7-6(1) 7-6(6) in the second round, after which fourth seed Guido Pella fell 6-3 3-6 7-5 a round later. In the semi-final he faced top seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who had only dropped twelve games so far in the tournament. In yet another close encounter, Ymer managed to beat him as well, 7-6(9) 3-6 6-4. In the bottom half a remarkable match happened in the quarterfinal, with sixth seed Marco Cecchinato handing Guilherme Clezar a double bagel, 6-0 6-0. In the semi-final he was ousted by Bjorn Fratangelo, however. Fratangelo knew a similar path to the final as Ymer, with all matches he played being tight. 7-6(6) 7-6(4), 3-6 6-3 6-2, 3-6 7-5 6-1 and eventually 4-6 6-3 6-3 against Cecchinato. In the final the pattern was broken, with Ymer comfortably beating Fratangelo 6-3 6-2 to take down his first Challenger title. It also meant a new career high ranking for Ymer, rising forty-one spots to #130. A new career high ranking for Fratangelo as well, rising twenty-two spots to #122.
Top seed Marcel Granollers already struggled during his first round match against Jules Marie, 6-2 4-6 6-4, and couldn’t survive his second long match in the quarterfinal against Daniel Munoz-De La Nava, with the older Spaniard winning 6-3 5-7 6-4. In the second section Horacio Zeballos finally posted a good win again, beating third seed Damir Dzumhur 7-6(4) 6-3 in the quarterfinal. Munoz-De La Nava ousted him in the semi-final, however, winning 6-7(9) 6-4 6-1. In the bottom half a lot of controversy spurred, as Renzo Olivo claimed to have been threatened by spectators and his opponent Andrey Rublev during their second round encounter, which he lost. He complained that the umpire failed to do anything, while the rules state that the match should have been suspended.
Rublev went on to reach the semi-final, where he lost 6-4 6-7(6) 6-3 to fifth seed Radu Albot, who beat second seed Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-3 6-4 in the previous round. A remarkable final then took place, with Munoz-De La Nava completely tearing Albot apart, 6-0 6-1, to win his third Challenger title. Rising twenty-seven spots to #107, this means a new career high ranking for the 33-year-old, who joins the list of players in their thirties playing their best tennis. It would be quite an achievement if he manages to reach the top 100 for the first time, practically out of nowhere, as he started the year outside of the top 200. A new career high ranking for Albot as well, rising ten spots to #119.
After a rough year, 34-year-old Albert Montanes has started to find some of his old form as of late. He continued that trend here in Prague, beating fourth seed Aleksandr Nedovyesov 1-6 6-3 6-2 in the semi-final to set up his second final in a row, after losing the final of Fürth to Taro Daniel last week. Daniel competed here as well, but lost to Nedovyesov in the quarterfinal. In the bottom half Kimmer Coppejans continued his march to the top 100, reaching the semi-final after a three-set victory over Marton Fucsovics, 6-4 5-7 6-1. Despite his loss to Norbert Gombos, 7-6(4) 6-2, in the next round, it was enough to reach the top 100 for the first time, entering at #98. The final between Montanes and Gombos was an absolutely titanic struggle, with Montanes failing to come out on top in consecutive weeks. After a 7-6(5) 5-7 7-6(2) win, Gombos secured his second Challenger title. Quite a contrast to last week, when he missed eight match points against Martin Klizan in his opening round. He also rose ten ranking spots to #127. Montanes is very nearby, rising eleven spots to #125.
Top seed Luca Vanni is very inexperienced on grass and it showed, falling 7-6(2) 6-2 in the first round to the 2011 Wimbledon Juniors champion Luke Saville., who reached the final of Manchester last week. In this half it was Matthew Ebden who was by far the most impressive player, not dropping more than three games in a set on his way to the final, only losing seventeen games in four matches, including a 6-0 6-2 win against third seed Ryan Harrison in the quarterfinal. In the final he faced Denis Kudla, who knew pretty much a similar tournament trajectory, dropping twenty-one games on his way to the final. The final was a spectacular one, with Ebden just edging out the important points in the end and saving two match points in the process, eventually winning 6-7(4) 6-4 7-6(5). Ebden is now nearing the top 150 again, rising thirty-five spots to #154. Kudla rose eight spots to #131.