The Oracle Pro Series kicked off the new year with a bang with events in Ann Arbor and Los Angeles. American Ulises Blanch fought back from a set and 1-4 down against No.4 seed Roberto Cid Subervi to capture his second title at the ATP Challenger level 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.
“I controlled what I could control this week,” said Blanch. “I just wanted to focus on the little things to get myself back on track. Thankfully it went pretty well all week. It gives me a lot of confidence with all the work I’ve been putting in with my team and my family.”
Blanch’s big week began early in the tournament, notching a huge win over No.2 seed Noah Rubin in the second round. The 21-year-old followed that up with victories over Oracle US Tennis Award winner JC Aragone in the quarterfinals and Oracle Pro Series – Malibu champion Daniel Altmaier in the semifinals.
In doubles, the American/Mexican duo of Robert Galloway and Hans Hach Verdugo took the title with their fourth consecutive match tiebreaker.
On the west coast, top seed Francisco Cerundolo emerged victorious with a 6-3, 6-3 win over No.6 seed Alexander Ritschard in Los Angeles. The Argentinian used variety and consistency to neutralize the German’s signature hard-hitting.
“I think I played really good,” said Cerundolo. “I tried to make him play every ball and not to give him any easy balls because I know he likes to hit hard. I moved him, created angles and used the middle so he didn’t have it easy.”
In his previous two rounds, Ritschard had to fight for more than 2hr 20min in each match to overcome Colin Altamirano and Brandon Holt. Despite the amazing form he had been demonstrating all week, the long matches caught up with the German in the final.
“He played pretty consistent and knew what to do to beat me,” reflected Ritschard. “He locked me into my backhand side. I feel like I didn’t play to the same level I’ve played all week because I was a bit gassed from the two three setters I played in the quarterfinals and semifinals. It showed me that I really need to work on the fitness.”
A bit of home-court advantage was evident in the doubles final as a duo of USC Trojans defeated another USC Trojan and his partner at Marks Tennis Stadium at the University of Southern California. The junior/senior wildcard team of Daniel Cukierman and Riley Smith defeated team captain Brandon Holt and Switzerland’s Sandro Ehrat in two tight tiebreak sets to win the title on their home court.