Challenger Roundup - Week 15
$75,000+H - Clay
(3)Simone Bolelli (ITA) d. (WC)Mounir El Aarej (MAR) 6-4 6-7(4) 6-4
Marin Cilic (CRO) d. Frederico Gil (POR) 6-4 6-3
Marin Cilic (CRO) d. (3)Simone Bolelli (ITA) 4-6 6-3 6-4
Marin Cilic had been having a rather quiet year on tour, but he broke through this week in Casablanca with a number of quality challenger wins including wins over Robin Vik and Lukas Dlouhy. Cilic, a former junior #1, had reached the SF in Sarajevo but otherwise had been having a modest 2007. He won't turn 19 until September so such inconsistency is not surprising. If he keeps up this form he'll be hot on the tail of other 1988 guys like JMDP, Korolev, and Gulbis. Bolelli reaches his second challenger final of the year having achieved the same feat in Bergamo (l. Santoro) and he reaches a career high of #103. He had two quality wins in Miami against Monfils and Tursunov, so he's more than a typical Italian claycourt joker. He should be able to establish himself on the ATP Tour (he's only 21 and nearly in the top 100), but only time will tell if he'll achieve more than his compatriots like Volandri and Starace.
Frederico Gil reaches a career high of #145, although he's had a mediocre year. El Aarej is a journeyman who gets lots of wild cards in Morocco. Don't expect many more SFs from him.
$25,000+H - Clay
(3)Werner Eschauer (AUT) d. Roko Karanusic (CRO) 7-6(5) 1-6 6-3
(4)Michael Berrer (GER) d. (6)Alexander Waske (GER) 6-3 1-6 7-6(6)
(3)Werner Eschauer (AUT) d. (4)Michael Berrer (GER) 6-3 6-2
Yawn. Another challenger title for Eschauer - his 3rd of the year in his 4th final of the year. He won Chiasso last year but it was a week earlier in 2007 so he moves up even higher - #85 now. He's really on fire now with 10 match wins in a row. It's great to see such an old vet in career-best form. Hopefully he can grab a QF or two on the ATP Tour later this year.
Michael Berrer and Alexander Waske are both journeymen - Waske has been around longer while Berrer has been at the top of the challenger pile for a year or so now without quite being able to break through any further. Neither have much upside, but with hard working challenger players, you never know what will happen...just ask Werner Eschauer.
Mexico City, Mexico 
$25,000+H - Hard
(3)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) d. (1)(WC)Adrian Garcia (CHI) 6-1 6-1
(2)Bruno Echagaray (MEX) d. (q)Gustavo Marcaccio (ARG) 6-2 6-3
(3)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) d. (2)Bruno Echagaray (MEX) 6-4 2-6 6-1
Eschauer may be riding a 10 match winning streak, but Tsonga is on 15 now after winning France F5 and then Tallahassee CH recently. He's really playing well and he's obviously tremendously talented. His health will determine how far he goes. He's too good for the challenger tour, but he's only up to #160. He's playing in Cardiff next week, so he'll ply his trade in challengers a bit more before diving into ATP qualies.
Bruno Echagaray likes playing challengers in Mexico City - he reached the SF in the first one back in March. Between these results and two early-season futures wins, he's now at a career high of #162. He was a fairly successful junior and now's established himself as the top Mexican. He has some work to do to become relevant on the ATP Tour though. Adrian Garcia has played pretty well this year, but he's getting old, almost 29. Marcaccio is even older, and he's coming back from injury. It's tough to do, we'll see what he has left.
(3)Alex Bogdanovic (GBR) d. Harel Levy (ISR) 6-3 6-2
(4)Zack Fleishman (USA) d. (2)Kevin Kim (USA) 6-2 6-7(4) 6-4
(3)Alex Bogdanovic (GBR) d. (4)Zack Fleishman (USA) 6-4 6-7(4) 6-3
No, not that Valencia; this one is in California. It was the March of the Journeymen in the semifinals, with Bogdanovic emerging victorious. The frustrating Brit has always played well in challengers, but he's never been able to win in key situations. He's still just 22, although somehow it seems like he's older.
Fleishman had a nice run in the AO with a win over Agustin Calleri. This is his best result since then. The AO run now seems more like a fluke than a brekathrough. Kim and Levy are both on the tail ends of their careers but are still soldiering on. Kim has had a particularly poor year, so he really needed some kind of a result.
And of course, Donald Young was given a wild card and reached the QFs with a win over Kenneth Carlsen. It seems that he's still as much of a lightning rod as ever, but he is showing signs of improvement in 2007. He still needs lots of work and may never pan out, but the fact is that he's ahead of his peers at the moment.