February ATP Challenger Tour Recap: Rising Rola and Herbert Capture Titles, Vets Bolleli and Estrella Impress
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
Chennai Challenger (February 2-February 9, 2014)
Bollettieri Academy product and home Indian player Yuki Bhambri took home the Chennai Challenger title on hard courts over Alexander Kudryavtsev in 3 sets, and the result helped catapult him to a career high ranking inside the top 150 at the age of 21. Bhambri upset Somdev Devvarman in the semis, while Kudryavtsev a formerly top 130 player upset countryman Evgeny Donskoy in the semis.
Dallas Challenger (February 2-February 9, 2014)
Steve Johnson won the Challenger of Dallas this year, 6-4 6-4 over Malek Jaziri, the veteran Tunisian. Johnson crushed Victor Estrella in the semis, while Jaziri beat Tim Puetz.
Top seed Michael Russell was upset by Rajeev Ram in the opening round, Jaziri upset Rhyne Williams en route to the final, 4 seed Denis Kudla fell to Sam Groth, and 2 seed Alex Bogomolov was walloped by James McGee in an upset-laden tournament.
West Lakes Challenger (February 2-February 9, 2014)
Top seeded American Bradley Klahn has catapulted himself inside the top 65 as he won the West Lakes challenger on hard courts in Australia over Japan’s Tatsuma Ito. Klahn beat Hiroki Moriya in the semis, while Ito beat James Duckworth via retirement. The top 4 seeds were all semifinalists here and the top seed won the tournament.
Bergamo Challenger (February 10-February 16, 2014)
Italian veteran and wild card Simone Bolelli, a former top 40 player, who, after injuries kept him out of the game has fallen outside the top 300. So it was a great day when he won the indoor hard court title at home in Italy over JL Struff, who yet again came up short in a challenger final. Bolelli beat Dustin Brown in the semis while Struff defeated Andrea Arnaboldi. Seeds Damir Dzumhur and Ricardas Berankis lost early to Lorenzo Giustino and Marton Fucsovics, respectively.
Kolkata Challenger (February 10-February 16, 2014)
Serbian Ilija Bozoljac crushed Evgeny Donskoy outdoors in India on hard courts to win this challenger title. He had a massive comeback against Aleksandr Nedovyesov in the semifinals, coming back from 0-6 and a double break down in the second set to win in 3. Donskoy also won a 3 setter against Somdev Devvarman in the semis.
Quimper Challenger (February 10-February 16, 2014)
Rising Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert has boosted himself up to a career high ranking in the top 140 with a win at the Quimper challenger on indoor hard in France. Herbert beat his countryman Vincent Millot in the final, and beat Gilles Muller, a veteran on the comeback trail, in the semis. Millot defeated Gregoire Burquier in the semis. 2 seed Marc Gicquel was upset by Henri Laaksononen in round 1.
Astana Challenger (February 17-February 23, 2014)
Top seed Andrey Golubev won at home in Kazahkstan on indoor hard over Gilles Muller, who continued his comeback trail with semis and a final in consecutive weeks on the challenger tour. Golubev, who has been playing well this year, beat qualifier Nikoloz Basilashvili in the semis, while Muller beat Farrukh Dustov.
Morelos Challenger (February 17-February 23, 2014)
Gerald Melzer won on outdoor hard in Mexico, in straights over Victor Estrella, who has been very strong recently on the challenger tour. The Austrian beat Malek Jaziri in the semis while Estrella beat Rajeev Ram. 2 seed Andrej Martin was upset by Carlos Salamanca in round 2.
New Delhi Challenger (February 17-February 23, 2014)
Somdev Devvarman won at home in India on outdoor hard over Aleksandr Nedovyesov, who defeated Ilija Bozoljac in the semis to get some revenge from Kolkata the previous week. Devvarman beat Evgeny Donskoy, who had a strong Indian swing in the semifinals. 3 seed Peter Gojowcyzk lost in round 1 to Mohamed Safwat in an upset.
Cherbourg Challenger (February 24-April 2, 2014)
Top seeded Frenchman Kenny De Schepper won on home soil on indoor hard over Norbert Gombos in the Cherbourg final. De Schepper beat Farrukh Dustov in the semis, while Gombos beat Ricardas Berankis. 3 seed Dan Evans was upset by Jan Mertl in round 1, and Gombos also beat 2 seed Dustin Brown en route to the final.
Guangzhou Challenger (February 24-April 2, 2014)
Former NCAA champion and rising player Blaz Rola, who played at Ohio State, won his maiden challenger title in China on outdoor hard courts. Rola, who had a strong end of the season last year, and has been great this year so far as well, is now ranked in the top 130 at the age of 23. He beat Yuichi Sugita in the final and Michael Venus in the semis. Sugita got past Go Soeda in the semis.
Salinas Challenger (February 24-April 2, 2014)
Dominican Victor Estrella has entered the top 100 unexpectedly at the age of 33, and a win on clay in Ecuador helped him do it. Estrella beat Andrea Collarini in the final and Renzo Olivo in the semis, while Collarini, a former top prospect who hasn’t really panned out, beat Emilio Gomez.