Kuznetsov Wins Champaign Challenger; Nedunchezhiyan Takes Futures in India; Keys, Min Added to USTA's Australian Open WC Tournament Field
Unseeded Alex Kuznetsov of the US won the $50,000 Champaign Challenger today, his first title on the Challenger circuit since he won the Winnetka Challenger in July of 2009. Kuznetsov, who was unseeded, is now 24 years old, and his career-high ATP ranking of 158 was set more than four years ago, in April of 2007. By beating No. 4 seed Rik de Voest of South Africa 6-1, 6-3, Kuznetsov earns 80 ATP points, which should boost his ranking considerably from its current 218, but not close to the main draw of the Australian Open. In fact, Kuznetsov has not been in the main draw of a slam since he received a wild card into the US Open in 2007, although he has been in qualifying regularly over the past four years.
My point in mentioning this is nothing more profound than it's tough out there, big wins are hard to come by, and nothing is guaranteed. Also of note, there were five retirement/walkovers during the course of the tournament, which probably signifies that it's time for the brief off-season to begin.
Although de Voest lost in the singles final, he did take the doubles title with former Old Dominion All-American Izak Van der Merwe, also of South Africa. The No. 4 seeds beat top seeds Martin Emmrich of Germany and 2007 NCAA doubles champion Andreas Siljestrom of Sweden 2-6, 6-4, 10-4. For more on the singles and doubles finals, see the tournament website.
For the second week in a row, an Indian qualifier who played college tennis in the United States captured a Futures title in India. Last week it was Alabama's Saketh Myneni, this week it was former Washington Husky Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan winning the singles title at the $15,000 Futures event in Pune, India.
Nedunchezhiyan, who graduated in 2011 and just began playing professionally, had only 1 ATP point to his credit, but will now add 27 points to that total with his win. He had lost to Myneni in the first round last week. For more on the final match, in which Nedunchezhiyan beat No. 3 seed Vishnu Vardhan 6-4, 7-5, see this account from NewDelhiNews.net.
The USTA announced a few days ago that Madison Keys and Grace Min have been added to the women's field at the upcoming Australian Open wild card tournament. Keys, 16, and Min, 17, join Melanie Oudin, Alison Riske, Jamie Hampton and CoCo Vandeweghe, with two more women to be announced. So far there are only three men announced: Denis Kudla, Jack Sock and Robby Ginepri. For more on the event, which takes place December 16, 17 and 18 at the Racquet Club of the South in Norcross, Georgia, see the tournament website.
Tennis Australia is also hosting a wild card playoff for the Australian Open, and it's considerably larger, with 24 men and 16 women competing. JP Smith, the eight-time All-American from Tennessee, is expected to compete. For more on that tournament, which is December 6 through December 11, see the Tennis Australia website.