Photo: Srdjan StevanovicIlija Bozoljac (SRB)
LILLE, FRANCE: The beginning of 2013 marked the return of Ilija Bozoljac to the ITF Pro Circuit following a five-year absence. The 27-year-old secured consecutive singles titles in Antalya, Turkey, in the opening weeks of the year, and was hoping to make it a trio of victories when he took in the France F4 indoor event hosted in Lille.
Bozoljac, a Davis Cup player for his native Serbia, began the week with a routine straight sets victory over young British player, Lewis Burton, posting a 63 64 win.
The strength of the field in Lille was evident to see, with his second round opponent, first seed wildcard, Kenny de Schepper, currently sitting at a career high singles ranking of 102. De Schepper took the opening set 63, before the unseeded Bozoljac rallied to edge out his opponent 63 64 in the following two sets.
Victory meant Bozoljac would face another French wildcard entrant in the form of Constant Lestienne. The improving 20-year-old had not dropped a set en route to facing Bozoljac in the quarterfinal, and the two played out a close opening set, with the Serbian ultimately prevailing in a tiebreak, 7-4. Bozoljac was untroubled in the second set, seeing out a 76(4) 60 triumph.
To further emphasise the competitive nature of the $15,000 event, Bozoljac’s semifinal opponent was Dutchman Jesse Huta Galung; entering the tournament on the back of an impressive display that witnessed him take the Cherbourg Challenger title a week earlier.
Despite his opponent being on an eight-match winning streak, Bozoljac came through a tough two set encounter, ensuring progression to his third ITF Pro Circuit final of the year courtesy of a 76(5) 76(0) win.
His opponent in the final was sixth seed, Nicolas Renavand of France, who was yet to drop a set on his way to his fifteenth singles final on the ITF Pro Circuit. Renavand has five singles titles to his name, three of which were picked up in 2012, and had already secured the doubles title for the week alongside Jonathan Eysseric.
Bozoljac started the match in positive fashion, breaking serve early-on before seeing out the first set, 64. The second set went the way of the Frenchman, 63; only the second set Bozoljac had dropped during the week. At one set apiece, it was the Serbian who ground out the win, battling to a 64 36 63 victory, and with that his ninth ITF Pro Circuit singles title.