03 Feb 2014

Spotlight - Amir Weintraub - January 2014


By Nick Fishpool

Photo: ImagellanAmir Weintraub (ISR)

January 2014


During the opening weeks of the year, Amir Weintraub made early exits from a Challenger event and during qualifying for the Australian Open where he had been hoping to make the main draw for the second time following his 2013 appearance.

The middle of the month saw a return to ITF Pro Circuit play for the 27-year-old at a series of three tournaments in his homeland of Israel and an upturn in his fortune.

A shaky start in Eilat, host to all three Israeli tournaments this month, saw him make second round exits in both singles and alongside his partner Bar Tzuf Botzer in the doubles event.

His singles exit proving a shock as he had been named the top seed for this event whilst British duo Lewis Burton and Marcus Willis, a pair he would encounter again, went on to claim the title following their 64 61 elimination of Weintraub and Botzer.

From here his season began to pick up and following his initial disappointment from his opening tournaments of the New Year, Weintraub would see out the month on a high note.

Once again named as the singles number one seed, he opened the second of the three tournaments with a swift 61 61 win and followed with two more straight sets wins to move into the semifinals.

Good progress was also being made in the doubles event with new partner Liang-Chi Huang from Chinese Taipei. Seeded second the two players won the opening two rounds in straight sets before coming from behind to reach the final which brought about another meeting for Weintraub with Burton and Willis.

Straight sets winning ways continued for Weintraub in the singles semifinal with a 62 76(5) defeat of Croatian seventh seed Mate Delic giving him a shot at a singles title for the first time since a May 2012 final at the Fergana Challenger.

Ahead of this singles final though was the doubles final. Having lost to the British pair the previous week, Weintraub this time found himself on the winning side and a 63 76(9) defeat of the top seeds saw him claim a first doubles title since May 2011.

Now looking to make it a double title winning week, Weintraub faced the sixth seeded Frenchman Martin Vaisse in the singles final.

The final, undoubtedly, produced the shock result of the week as Weintraub raced through the first set taking the opening six games and then dropped just the one game in the second set to wrap up a comprehensive 60 61 win.

In adding the singles title, his first since winning in Israel in April 2012, to his earlier doubles triumph, Weintraub found himself holding the titles from both events at the same tournament for the second time in his career, the first coming back in May 2011.

The third of this Israeli series of tournaments named him as number one seed for both events and also saw a third different player taking to the courts alongside Weintraub for the doubles event; Italian Claudio Grassi, with whom Weintraub had partnered once before during the February 2013 Bergamo Challenger which ended with a runners-up finish.

The pair received a first round bye before seeing any on court action and when it came, the pair saw off two challenges in straight sets to move into the final where, yet again, Weintraub found himself looking across the net at Burton and Willis.

In his opening two rounds of singles action, Weintraub dropped a total of just four games before facing three familiar faces in successive rounds as he made it into back-to-back singles finals.

A quarterfinal match against seventh seed Federico Gaio was a repeat of their encounter in the same round the previous week and, following a 63 64 win, Martin Vaisse had the chance to avenge his mauling in the final a week earlier.

That final saw the French fourth seed claim just one game and when he took the opening set 64 in this semifinal it looked likely he would banish the memory of that loss. It was not to be though. Weintraub rediscovered his form from their last encounter and swept through to the final taking the next two sets by a 61 scoreline.

In keeping with the theme of reuniting with previous week’s opponents, the final pitted him against Mate Delic, seeded fifth. The pair met last week in the semifinal but this time it was for the title.

As before, the doubles final was first up for Weintraub. Going into this third meeting in as many weeks with Burton and Willis the head-to-head between Weintraub and the British pairing stood at 1-all.

The final was settled in two close sets and a 63 75 result in favour of Burton and Willis meant Weintraub and Grassi had to settle for the runners-up trophy once more.

The next day, the disappointment of the doubles final defeat were put aside as Weintraub took to the court to contest the singles final for the second week running.

Despite long periods between singles final appearances on the ITF Pro Circuit for the Israeli Davis Cup player, Weintraub could actually boast a record of having won his last nine title matches, a run stretching back to his triumph in Nigeria during October 2010.

In the mood to make it ten wins, Weintraub edged a close ten game opening set 64 and was soon claiming back-to-back singles titles when dropping only two games in the second set and ensuring the month ended much better than it had begun.