Challenger Roundup: Week 11
$125,000+H - Clay
Santiago Giraldo (COL) d. (7)Dick Norman (BEL) 7-6(3) 7-6(5)
(5)Flavio Saretta (BRA) d. Juan-Pablo Guzman (ARG) 6-3 7-6(3)
Santiago Giraldo (COL) d. (5)Flavio Saretta (BRA) 7-6(4) 6-2
Despite the big names in Sunrise, this tournament was actually the challenger with the biggest prize money this past week. However, the draw didn't feature many players outside the typical South American challenger crowd. Santiago Giraldo took advantage of this, taking the title and 90 points in his home country, catapulting him to #140. He's still only 19, so he's definitely one to watch for the future.
Flavio "Magic Clown" Saretta moves to within a few spots of the top 100 and Juan-Pablo Guzman continues his good run of form to move to #125.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
$50,000+H - Hard
(SE)Pavel Snobel (CZE) d. Bastian Knittel (GER) w/o
Farrukh Dustov (UZB) d. Stephane Bohli (SUI) 4-6 6-3 7-6(4)
(SE)Pavel Snovel (CZE) d. Farrukh Dustov (UZB) 6-3 7-6(3)
One week after reaching the SF in Kyoto, Snobel comes back to take the title in Ho Chi Minh City. Despite all this, he has two fewer ranking points than he did at the start of the year and he's still a challenger title away from the top 200. The man he beat in the final, Farrukh Dustov, reaches a career high of #195. Dustov is still 20 and looked quite promising at 18 when he broke into the top 300 in 2004. However, he stalled out and lost a lot of ground in '05 and '06 but he's coming on stronger now. Interestingly, the same thing has happened to the other young Uzbek, Denis Istomin (except Istomin hasn't started playing well again).
Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
$25,000+H - Hard (Indoor)
Jan Mertl (CZE) d. (3)Michael Berrer (GER) 6-4 6-4
(2)Ernests Gulbis (LAT) d. Marco Crugnola (ITA) 6-2 6-4
(2)Ernests Gulbis (LAT) d. Jan Mertl (CZE) 4-6 6-4 7-6(2)
I suggest you get on the Gulbis bandwagon before it runs out of space. He picks up his second challenger title in a row, moving up to #85. He won't turn 19 until August. Of the current crop of youngsters moving up - Haase, Zverev, Cilic, et al, Gulbis is among the youngest and highest ranked. Of 1988s, only JMDP is ranked higher (JMDP is a month younger as well). Marco Crugnola isn't that young (he's turning 24 soon), but he's played rather well over the last few months. He and Jan Mertl may turn out to be a new generation of journeymen, but let it be noted that they are playing well lately.
$100,000+H - Hard
(5)Gael Monfils (FRA) d. Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 6-7(4) 4-2 ret.
Andreas Seppi (ITA) d. (6)(WC)Nicolas Massu (CHI) 3-6 7-5 6-1
(5)Gael Monfils (FRA) d. Andreas Seppi (ITA) 6-3 1-6 6-1
Sunrise is a strange tournament, clearly the strongest field out of any challenger out there. It's definitely a better tournament then a few ATPs...Newport comes to mind. In any case, Monfils and Seppi will be pleased with their results since both players have had ugly starts to the season. Monfils was perhaps a bit lucky with Karlovic's retirement, but he took advantage by taking the title. Monfils is still 20, so while there are those disappointed in his career to date, he still has a lot of time. Seppi returns to the top 100.