Croatia’s Kristijan Mesaros, 25, took in visits to four nations over the course of the month competing in clay court ITF Pro Circuit tournaments and is our featured player for August.
Mesaros saw action at the start of the month in Lermontov, Russia where he was named as the number one seed in the singles event and as the second seed in doubles with Czech Republic partner Michal Schmid.
Opening round wins of 76(5) 61 and 62 63 saw him progress to the quarterfinals of the singles event but it was here the adventure came to an end. Facing the fifth seeded Russian Valery Rudnev, Mesaros only managed to take three games as he fell to 63 60 defeat.
The doubles event, however, saw Mesaros in title winning form. Partnering with Schmid for the first time, the duo recorded a series of straight sets wins culminating in a 61 76(4) defeat of the top seeds in the final. Victory brought Mesaros his second doubles title of 2013 having also won in Germany in the opening week of July.
For the next three tournaments, the Croatian focused solely on singles play.
Having left Russia, Mesaros next competed in Iasi, Romania and was seeded two. An early exit looked to be on the cards when Romanian wild card entrant Bogdan Borza raced through the first set to take it 61.
Mesaros, however, struck back immediately taking the second set 62 before sealing the win 64 in the third. Wins of 61 61 and 64 64 followed and a place in the final was secured when his semifinal opponent, Costin Pavel, retired with Mesaros up 62 2-0.
In the title match, Mesaros faced tournament favourite Victor Crivoi and the pair split the first two sets. First Mesaros struck with a 62 win then Crivoi levelled things taking the second 64. The deciding set saw the Croatian triumph 63 to collect his second title of the year in Romania having also won in the last ITF Pro Circuit tournament held in the nation back in early July.
A trip to Poznan, Poland followed for his third tournament of the month in as many nations. Here, he was seeded third.
Mesaros moved through the draw with relative ease into another final with his closest contest coming in the second round where he defeated home nation player Blazej Koniusz 64 63. In all other rounds Mesaros dropped no more than two games in a set and this included a stunning 62 60 semifinal win over Portuguese fifth seed Rui Machado, a player ranked within the ATP Top 60 less than two years ago.
A chance for back-to-back titles now presented itself and opposing him in the final was Monaco’s Benjamin Balleret.
Mesaros took a close opening set 64 but Balleret, a Davis Cup regular for his nation over the last ten years, brought the players level with a 64 win of his own in the second set. This only proved to delay Mesaros’ second singles title win in August as he conceded just the one game in the deciding third set to wrap up a 64 46 61 victory.
To close out the month, Mesaros headed back to his homeland for a tournament in Osijek and, as he had started the month, was named the top seed.
Mesaros opened with two wins over Slovakian opposition to set up a quarterfinal with eighth seeded fellow Croatian Josko Topic. Mesaros came through this test in three sets 64 46 61 before easing past Serbian fifth seed Ivan Bjelica 60 62.
Nikola Mektic, another fellow Croatian and seeded third, was now all that stood between Mesaros and completing his hat trick of back-to-back singles title wins and ending the month on a high!
Coming into 2013, Mesaros had not won a singles title on the ITF Pro Circuit since March 2011 but his fortunes had changed dramatically this year and he had won all six finals in which he had appeared and was on the brink of title number seven.
Mesaros, title winner here back in August 2010, looked in formidable form as the match began, taking the opening six games and evoking memories of his semifinal triumph. Mektic though found it within himself to recover from Mesaros’ lightning quick start to the final and made the second set a real contest. Tied at 6-all the set entered a tie break and here Mektic prevailed 7-4 to force a title deciding third set.
In this final set Mesaros once again took control and secured a career 17th singles title on the ITF Pro Circuit with a 60 67(4) 63 win and remains unbeaten in all seven singles finals he has featured in during 2013.
Mesaros lists clay as his favoured surface and it is easy to see why. Throughout his career, Mesaros has contested 21 singles finals (winning the title 17 times) on the ITF Pro Circuit, all on clay!