2016 ATP Clay Season Wraps Up With Veteran Champions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The 2016 ATP clay court season wrapped up with a trio of 250 tournaments that saw veteran presences on the tour capture coveted titles and boost their confidence.
Fabio Fognini won just his third career ATP title, as he did one better than his previous finalist result in Umag and defeated Andrej Martin 6-4 6-1. Martin was playing his first ever ATP final, and has just now broken into the top 100. Fognini dominated all week in Umag, as he was one of the better clay courters in the field.
Fognini defeated Renzo Olivo, Damir Dzumhur, and surprise semifinalist Gastao Elias, the match against Dzumhur going three sets, last week. Martin had to battle past Sergiy Stakhovsky, Martin Klizan, Joao Sousa, and Carlos Berlocq to reach the final.
In doubles, Klizan and David Marrero defeated Antonio Sancic and Nikola Mektic to capture the 250 level title.
Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez was a surprising champion on clay as he defeated Robin Haase, who was playing in his first ATP title since 2013, 6-4 7-5. It’s the fifth ATP title for Lopez and his first on clay. He defeated Jan Mertl, Elias Ymer, and fellow serve and volleyer Dustin Brown to reach the final. With such a weak draw, Lopez seemed to be at the right tournament, at the right time.
Haase best result of the season came with wins over Thiemo de Bakker, Horacio Zeballos, the young gun Thiago Monteiro, and Paul-Henri Mathieu to reach the final. Despite struggles this week, he showed strong play on clay for most of the tournament.
Peralta and Zeballos beat Pavic/Venus for the clay doubles title.
34 year old Paolo Lorenzi claimed his first ever ATP title, as his dirtballing specialty came through, and with his new found form this year, he’s making his move up the rankings. Lorenzi won in convincing fashion against Niko Basilashvili 6-3 6-4 in the final, as Niko was contesting his first ever ATP final.
Lorenzi beat Roberto Carballes Baena, J.L. Struff, and Gerald Melzer in matches earlier this week. Melzer’s brother Jurgen lost to him in a close match, but did stun top seed Dominic Thiem in one of the upsets of the season. The top 10 Thiem fell to a quickly fading Melzer, who was once a top ATP player. Lorenzi is the first ATP winner this season, to also have a challenger title in 2016.
Lukas Rosol, Igor Sijsling, Adam Pavlasek and Dusan Lajovic were Basilashvili’s path to the final as he had to battle in some matches, showing his mettle, and potential to be an ATP tour regular.
Wesley Koolhof and Matwe Middelkoop took the doubles title over Novak/Thiem, as the Austrian #1 went home empty handed this week, and may be tiring out.