2015 Napoli, Leon, Batman and St. Brieuc Challenger Recaps
Chris De Waard, Tennis Atlantic
This tournament proved to be harsh on the seeds, with many surprises. Top seed Andrey Golubev had an early second round exit against wild card Matteo Donati, 6-7(3) 6-4 6-2. Third seed Blaz Rola went out in the first round against another wild card, Gianluigi Quinzi, 6-3 6-1. To top off a successful showing for the home players in the early rounds, Andrea Arnaboldi took out fifth seed Thiemo de Bakker in the first round, 6-2 3-6 6-3. Potito Starace almost joined that list, but he fell to second seed Filip Krajinovic after missing a spectacular eight match points in the second set, losing 3-6 7-6(4) 6-2. Krajinovic didn’t capitalize on being given a second chance in the tournament, losing 6-2 6-2 to veteran Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo in the next round.
Qualifier Thomas Fabbiano took out sixth seed Norbert Gombos 7-5 6-3 in the second round, after which he continued his surprise run by beating last week’s Raanana winner Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-1 5-7 6-2. However, in the semi-final he was stopped convincingly by Daniel Munoz-De La Nava, who won 6-0 7-5. In the top half Donati had continued his surprise run by beating Marco Cecchinato 7-6(5) 6-2 for a place in his first ever Challenger final. There Munoz-De La Nava was way too strong, however, claiming the title and the second of his career after a 6-2 6-1 beatdown. The victory saw him rose fifty-four ranking spots to #145, while Donati rose more than a hundred spots to a career high #247.
Sixth seed Michal Przysiezny experienced one of his many disappointed losses of the past year, going out in the first round against qualifier Nicolas Barrientos, 6-4 6-3. In contrast to the happenings in Napoli, here the seeds held up very nicely, with four of them making up the semi-final line-up. Top seed Adrian Menendez-Maceiras faced fifth seed Horacio Zeballos and they made it a memorable encounter, with Menendez-Maceiras prevailing after a marathon match, 7-6(3) 5-7 6-4. Fourth seed Austin Krajicek took out second seed Alejandro Falla 6-1 7-6(3), setting us up for another epic encounter in the final, one that Krajicek won 6-7(3) 7-6(5) 6-4. The victory meant a new career high ranking for Krajicek, rising twenty-one spots to #121. Menendez-Maceiras as well locked up a new career high ranking, rising eight spots to #115.
Second seed Dudi Sela made a better start to this tournament, after retiring from his home event at Raanana last week due to dizziness, booking two easy straight set victories to notch up a place in the quarterfinals. The most impressive player however was top seed Blaz Kavcic, who first took out fifth seed Radu Albot 6-3 6-0 in the quarterfinal, after which he laid down the hammer even worse on Hiroki Moriya, trashing him 6-1 6-0 to book a place in the final. Sela faced Saketh Myneni in the semi-final, beating him 6-4 6-3 to set up a meeting with the on fire Kavcic. There Sela showed that he was the right man to stop Kavcic’s impressive run, beating him 6-7(5) 6-3 6-3 in a high quality affair. The victory meant Sela’s seventeenth (!) Challenger title, putting him second on the all-time list, passing Takao Suzuki and Go Soeda, while trailing Yen-Hsun Lu’s record of twenty-one titles. It also meant a return to the top 100, rising nineteen spots to #93. Kavcic rose eight spots to #77.
Top seed Lucas Pouille had a lot more troubles in the early rounds than he wanted to experience, coming through 7-5 3-6 7-6(4) and 6-4 3-6 6-3 in his first two rounds. He had less troubles in the quarterfinal, but had to bow for third seed Nicolas Mahut in the semi-final, 7-5 6-4. In the bottom half second seed Andreas Beck fell to Jesse Huta Galung in the second round, 6-3 6-4. Huta Galung in his return had to retire during his match against fifth seed Yuichi Sugita in the next round, due to a right calf injury. Sugita easily beat qualifier Constant Lestienne for a place in the final, 6-4 6-2. Here Nicolas Mahut barely edged him out in a very close encounter, 3-6 7-6(3) 6-4. It meant the twelfth Challenger title for the Frenchman, which saw him get close to a return into the top 100, rising fifteen spots to #109. Sugita rose eighteen spots to #140.