Only Girsh and Mehul participated here, with the rest of Sri Lanka's contingent electing to skip this event. There is one player worth noting though that Umbrella is familiar with I think. Canadian Luc Janin
, the most dominant junior the sport has ever seen, was a wild card and won his first-round match against a qualifier. About a year ago, Janin set the record for youngest challenger titlist at 18 years 29 weeks. He is presently just over 19 and a half, and ranked 85th in the world. He's got very good athleticism, good though not great endurance, and a solid balance in his technical abilities. I'll definitely be watching his progress closely - well handled, he could be a monster for a while. He's almost three years younger than Mooljee, and three years older than Dudwadkar, so I can at least be thankful his career arc won't directly coincide with my players
. I can't think of another notable Canadian in this world.
At any rate, the first round had a pair of surprises with middling seeds Federer and Agustin Herrera losing in third-set tiebreaks to Fabricio Gilardino
and Xavier Caminha
. The second round went mostly to form, with Janin bowing out to Benda, 2 & 2. Antonin Iglar
was pushed far more than expected by the occasionally relevant Mockler, but prevailed in three sets, and Girsh had to go the distance against similarly inconsistent Zourab Andronikov
. Bjorn Benda
headed to the exits early in the third round, bounced 6-2, 7-5 courtesy of Thiago Herrera
, but form held everywhere else.
Nobody lower than ninth then made the quarterfinals, another case of the cream rising to the top. Girsh easily bounced Kinczllers, who didn't give as much resistance as he had last week in China, Gustavo Caratti
prevailed over Herrera in three, Mehul lost a tiebreak before ralling against Trulsen, and Iglar annihilated Gaskell. That left the top four seeds for the semifinals. Yawn :P. Girsh had another close one against Caratti, a match he could have lost but did better on the break chances for a 6-4, 7-6(5) win. The Argentine has shown himself to be increasingly dangerous recently. Anil Mehul
took the first set against Iglar but couldn't hold it, falling 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-3. A solid tournament for him at this stage to be sure.
Iglar had been pushed to three sets twice this tournament already, but he was ready for the final and dusted Girsh 7-5, 6-2 for his 29th Masters Shield. The Czech legend will actually lose ground in the rankings here as he defends his lone Masters from last year while Girsh had gone out in the semis the previous season, but more important is that he continues to show himself a recovering threat. Antonin has taken three out of the last four matchups, and appears to be set up well to make up significant ground this summer and fall.
Coming Up ...
We'll do it all over again next week in Cincinatti. This time though the field will be deeper, as more players elect to play instead of taking the week for practice. Mooljee and Ujjaval will be among the additional participants. This is a rare departure for me from the 'only play where you're seeded' mantra, but Mooljee would have virtually no Top 50 competition for practice which would make it a terrible week for him. Lesser of two evils as it were, and both of the lower-ranked Sri Lankans are very dangerous floaters.