$100k+H - Hard (Indoor)
(1)Fabrice Santoro (FRA) d. (WC)Dennis van Scheppingen 5-0 ret.
(5)Simone Bolelli (ITA) d. Viktor Troicki (SRB) 7-5 4-6 6-4
(1)Fabrice Santoro (FRA) d. (5)Simone Bolelli (ITA) 6-2 6-1
Fabrice Santoro drops down to the Challenger Tour for a week and wins the relatively big-money Bergamo challenger. He was not the only top 100 participant, as Bracciali, Seppi and Sanguinetti were seeded (although Bracciali and Seppi pulled out). It's actually Santoro's second-biggest points amount from a tournament (including GS and MS!!) behind a SF at Moscow, so he moves up six spots back into the top 60. Van Scheppingen has been having a bit of a comeback lately and he has another decent week with a few nice wins over Sanguinetti and Montcourt. Also note that Bolelli is only 21, he has the potential to be another innocuous top 100 Italian.
And for that matter, Troicki is one to keep an eye on as well, having just turned 21 on Saturday. He moves into the top 200 with this result.
$25k+H - Hard
(WC)Greg Jones (AUS) d. (7)Joseph Sirianni (AUS) 6-3 6-2
(2)Nathan Healey (AUS) d. (4)Gouichi Motomura (JPN) 6-1 7-6(4)
(2)Nathan Healey (AUS) d. (WC)Greg Jones (AUS) 7-5 6-4
Burnie has traditionally been a glorified Futures tournament and this year was no exception with only the top seed being ranked inside the top 200. Nobody at Burnie would have made the cut in any other challenger this week except for Alun Jones and Healey. Anyway, Healey wins to move back into the top 200. More interesting was the man he beat in the final, Greg Jones, who just turned 18. Jones came into the tournament with exactly one ATP ranking point and jumps from #1539 to #601. Jones reached the AO Boy's QF where he lost to eventually champion and fellow Australian Brydan Klein. It will be interesting to watch the progress of those two and of a third Aussie youngster Nick Lindahl (who Jones beat in Burnie). A year ago Australian tennis looked completely bereft of young talent, but with this trio (and child prodigy Bernard Tomic waiting in the wings), the future looks a lot brighter.
$50k - Hard (Indoor)
Benedikt Dorsch (GER) d. (q)Marcus Sarstrand (SWE) 6-4 6-4
(4)Robert Kendrick (USA) d. (8)Zack Fleishman (USA) 7-6(10) 6-7(7) 6-4
(4)Robert Kendrick (USA) d. Benedikt Dorsch (GER) 6-3 6-4
Robert Kendrick wouldn't have to play challengers if he wasn't drawn against Rafael Nadal every time he appeared in a bigger tournament. Like Michael Russell, he's proven he's too good for the US Challenger circuit. Benedikt Dorsch played ahead of Benjamin Becker on the Baylor University team a few years ago and had a similarly strong start to his professional career, but has since tailed off. He now moves into the top 200 and will try to build off this result to reach the same level of his countryman and ex-teammate. Zack Fleishman, coming off a good AO showing, reaches a career high of #146.
$37,500+H - Clay
(WC)Mariano Zabaleta (ARG) d. Boris Pashanski (SRB) 6-1 6-4
(8)Oscar Hernandez (ESP) d. (q)Juan Pablo Brzezicki (ARG) 6-2 6-1
(8)Oscar Hernandez (ESP) d. (WC)Mariano Zabaleta (ARG) 7-5 7-6(6)
Oscar Hernandez, immortalized on the meta-pages of MTF, returns to the cusp of the top 100 at #106 with the title in Florianopolis. He knocked off Zabaleta in the final, whose comeback has fared much better in the early weeks of 2007 than it did in late 2006. Zabaleta moves up to #162. Brzezicki is a lower-profile comeback, but he's also had a good year, reaching the final in the La Serena challenger earlier this year.
$125,000+H - Hard (Indoor)
Werner Eschauer (AUT) d. Jan Mertl (CZE) 6-1 6-2
Tomas Zib (CZE) d. (4)Konstantinos Economidis (GRE) 3-6 7-6(9) 7-6(4)
Werner Eschauer (AUT) d. Tomas Zib (CZE) 5-7 6-4 6-4
Wroclaw was the biggest-money challenger of the week and only one notch down from maximum challenger points. The veteran Werner Eschauer of Austria takes home the title and the 90 ranking points, edging another veteran, Tomas Zib, in the final. Eschauer, who I believe was injured for a while, has come all the way back from dropping out of the top 300 to close in on a top 100 spot at the tender age of 32. Wroclaw is his fifth challenger final in the past calendar year. At his age he won't stick around for very long, but it's fun to see guys find their best form in the twilight of their careers. For a guy who has been fighting in the bushes for the better part of the last decade, it will be nice to see him get a few main draw ATP acceptances.