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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Kozlov Wins Los Angeles Futures; Eddie Herr Videos

Seventeen-year-old Stefan Kozlov collected his second career Futures title Sunday at the $25,000 tournament in Los Angeles, beating No. 4 seed Philip Bester of Canada 7-6(7), 6-7(3), 6-3 in a nearly three-hour battle.

The first set featured six breaks of serve and six holds, with Kozlov getting a break three times and failing to consolidate three times. The most frustrating instance was undoubtedly when he was serving for the set at 5-4 and failed to convert his two set points.  In the tiebreaker, Kozlov trailed 6-3, but saved all three set points and earned a third set point for himself at 7-6. He again didn't convert but did take his fourth set point to close out the 65 minute set.

Kozlov went up 3-1 in the second set, but was again immediately broken back.  At 4-all, Bester broke Kozlov, but was unable to serve out the set, and Kozlov held for a 6-5 lead.  Bester saved two match points in that game to force another tiebreaker, and this time his 6-3 lead held up, sending the match into a third set after two hours and 13 minutes.

In the third set, Kozlov got his break with Bester serving at 2-2, and Kozlov was able to consolidate.  Bester had a game point to make Kozlov serve out the set, but Kozlov won the next three points to secure the title.

Kozlov will play fellow 17-year-old American Michael Mmoh in the opening round of the $25,000 Long Beach Futures. The final round of qualifying will be played Monday, with the main draw starting on Tuesday.

The following is the report from the Los Angeles singles final from tournament press aide Steve Pratt:


Florida 17-year-old topples Canadian Philip Bester to take home
$3,600 first-prize money and 27 valuable ATP points

LOS ANGELES (Jan. 10, 2016) – Stefan Kozlov survived a shaky service performance to capture his first USTA Pro Circuit $25,000 Futures title in the United States as he beat No. 4-seeded Philip Bester of Canada in an exciting two-hour, 50-minute match, 7-6 (7), 6-7 (3), 6-3, on Sunday at the Southern California Pro Futures Tournament at USC.

“I served very bad today compared to what I did during the week and it got me into a lot of trouble,” said the No. 6-seeded Kozlov, who pocketed $3,600 with the victory. “I got up 3-1 in the second set and just got tight because I thought I had already won. But he was able to come back. It was a really tough match today.”

Kozlov hit more doubles faults (five) than aces (four) on the day. He did come up big on his service return, especially in the third set, on the fast USC courts.

Kozlov survived three set points against him in the first set as Bester took a commanding 6-3 lead in the tiebreaker. Down 5-6, Kozlov benefitted from a Bester double fault on a net cord and the two changed sides all even. At 7-8 and Bester serving, Kozlov hit a short return that barely cleared the net on a rushing Bester who dropped the low backhand volley into the net giving the first set to Kozlov.

Kozlov, who won an ITF $15,000 level pro event in Belarus back in October, said he hadn’t played well in his only other Futures final in the U.S., losing a 6-0 third-set in Florida in May of last year. In 2014, Kozlov lost in his only Challenger-level final, the $100,000 Sacramento Challenger, falling 6-3, 6-4 to American Sam Querrey.

“I always have a tough time playing these finals in the U.S. for some reason,” Kozlov said. “Today I had a great team around me and was able to come through.”

Just like the first set, Bester went up in the tiebreaker 6-3. But the 27-year-old didn’t mess around, this time ending it on his first set point of the second set nailing an ace right down the T.

Kozlov will now rest and get ready for the Long Beach Pro Futures event this week, before heading off to the Maui Challenger.

Sunday’s Final Singles Score
Stefan Kozlov (6), U.S., def. Philip Bester (4), Canada, 7-6 (7), 6-7 (3), 6-3
I managed to process all the Eddie Herr videos from last month, with those of the 18s champions Kylie McKenzie and Felix Auger Aliassime below.  The You Tube videos of the champions and finalists in the younger age divisions, available by clicking on the links below, are much shorter, which is due to all six of those finals being played at the same time.