2016 Le Gosier and Napoli Challenger Recaps
Chris De Waard, Tennis Atlantic
After being forced to withdraw from his second round match at Miami due to sickness, Rajeev Ram took a wildcard into this event and became the top seed. 15-year-old revelation Felix Auger-Aliassime received a wildcard as well, but had to withdraw in the third set of his first round encounter against Gianni Mina. He cited weakness as the reason, which I don’t think I have ever seen before. Ram survived the first two rounds, but then received a beatdown at the hands of sixth seed Yoshihito Nishioka in the quarterfinal, 6-2 6-2. The other semi-finalist from the top half was 18-year-old Stefan Kozlov, who beat Vincent Millot 5-7 7-5 6-2 in the quarterfinal. In a great match between youngsters, Nishioka is 20, Kozlov managed to squeeze out the win, 3-6 7-5 6-3.
In the bottom half second seed Taylor Fritz survived a spectacular match in the second round against Gonzalo Lama, surviving four match points in his 6-7(9) 6-4 7-6(10) win. Fritz’s eventual loss followed in similarly spectacular fashion, losing 6-7(5) 6-4 7-5 to third seed Malek Jaziri in the semi-final. The final put a halt to all the marathon matches, with Jaziri convincingly beating his 14-year younger opponent, 6-2 6-4. Jaziri rose twenty ranking spots to #74 after winning his fifth Challenger title, while Kozlov made a big jump of seventy spots to #225, a career high ranking.
Top seed Filip Krajinovic barely survived his first round match against qualifier Julian Reister, after which Arthur De Greef beat him in the second round, 6-4 7-5. Third seed Jan-Lennard Struff went out in the first round to wildcard Gianluca Mager, 7-6(4) 4-6 6-4. De Greef took out another seed in the quarterfinal, fifth seed Roberto Carballes Baena, 7-6(2) 6-3. Marius Copil offered even less resistance in the semi-final, with De Greef prevailing 6-3 6-2. In the bottom half the seeds did equally bad, with, fourth seed Thomas Fabbiano going out in the first round and second seed Rogerio Dutra Silva only going one round further.
Dutra Silva lost to Jozef Kovalik, who took full advantage of the draw opening up. He beat old-timer Filippo Volandri in the quarterfinal, 6-4 6-7(4) 6-2, before beating sixth seed Gastao Elias 6-1 6-7(6) 6-3 in the semi-final. Kovalik had it easier in the final, beating De Greef 6-3 6-2 to win his second Challenger title. Kovalik rose thirty-two ranking spots to a career high ranking of #139, while De Greef rose eight spots to crack the top 200 for the first time at #198.