Above photo: Blaz Rola of Slovenia. Photo courtesy of Karl Mendoza at www.kamera8studios.ca.
News from the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger, July 8-16 at Winnipeg Lawn Tennis Club.
Women’s top seed Nicole Gibbs and defending champion Francesca Di Lorenzo will play second round matches, with Gibbs taking on American Ronit Yorovsky and Di Lorenzo meeting Jessika Ponchet of France. Three Canadian men advanced to second round singles and all will be in action Thursday: Peter Polansky plays American Alex Rybakov, Brayden Schnur meets Luke Bambridge of Great Britain, and Samuel Monette plays Japan’s Yusuke Takahashi.
No. 1 Seed Kavcic Advances
Slovenia’s Blaz Kavcic, the top seed in men’s singles at the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger, erased a 4-1 third set deficit to defeat Canadian Frank Dancevic 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 Tuesday night.
“Frank is a really dangerous opponent,” said Kavcic. “I know he’s had a lot of injuries so that’s why his ranking (has dropped). Otherwise when he plays and when he wants his game is a top 100 player for sure.”
Dancevic reached a career high world ranking of No. 65 in 2007, the year he made the Rogers Cup quarterfinals before losing to Rafael Nadal in three sets. Kavcic, meanwhile, was a career best No. 68 in the world in 2012. He is currently ranked No. 110.
“That’s my goal in the future – to go in the top 100 and to be in the main draw in the Grand Slams,” said Kavcic, who reached the third round of the 2013 Australian Open and 2014 US Open.
Kavcic was a finalist at three Challenger tournaments earlier this year in Thailand, Japan and China. His defeat in Thailand came to former world No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia.
“I lost to really good opponents in the finals,” Kavcic said.
Kavcic also reached the final of the 2016 Winnipeg National Bank Challenger, losing to Japan’s Go Soeda 6-7, 6-4, 6-2. Last year in Winnipeg Kavcic was just returning to competition after recovering from a foot injury.
“Last year I didn’t play for half a year and when I came here it was my third tournament after surgery,” said Kavcic.
Rola Defeats Canadian Bester
Blaz Rola of Slovenia beat Philip Bester of Canada 7-6, 7-6 Tuesday in a match suspended Monday due to rain.
“Yesterday’s conditions were horrible with the weather, the wind and the rain,” Rola said after his win on Stadium Court. “But it was a little nicer today to play.”
Rola, who was a career best No. 78 in the world in 2015, is seeded No. 8 at the Winnipeg National Bank Challenger. He said he played the big points well against Bester, a player who reached the quarterfinals in Winnipeg last year.
“He had a lot of break points and a couple of set points even in the first set,” said Rola. “I think I served really well in the clutch moments on break points.”
In April, Rola won a Challenger tournament on clay courts in Tallahassee, Florida.
“I had a really good start (to the year) in March playing the clay court Challengers in Florida,” Rola said. “I then went to Europe – didn’t quite play as well as I wanted to. We’ll see how this goes on hard court season. Hopefully it will go well.”
Rola played on Stadium Court Tuesday prior to fellow Slovenian Blaz Kavic’s match against Frank Dancevic.
“We’re countrymen,” said Rola. “He’s been around for a long time so I’ll be definitely watching this match.”