Colombian 20-year old player Alejandro Gonzalez is this month’s featured player.
Gonzalez started the month as the No. 2 seed at Colombia F3, held in Barranquilla, a city on the Caribbean Coast in the north of the nation. Played on a clay court surface, Gonzalez’s tournament got off to a great start as he saw off the challenge of compatriot Andres Herrera, a Wild Card entrant, in straight sets, winning 62 61. In the second round, Argentina’s Kevin Konfederak provided a much tougher test for Gonzalez. The two players shared the first two sets, each winning 75 before Gonzalez took control in the deciding set, losing just one game to secure a 75 57 61 victory. Another Argentine player, sixth seeded Gonzalo Tur, was then defeated 63 61 in the quarterfinal to set up a semi final match with Miguel Gallardo-Valles, the No. 4 seed from Mexico who came into the draw via the qualifying event. Gallardo-Valles, a Mexican Davis Cup player, only won two games in each set as Gonzalez powered to a 62 62 win. The final saw Gonzalez take on another seeded player, fellow Colombian Juan-Sebastian Cabal. Gonzalez took the opening set 62 but faced more resistance in the second set before he eventually defeated the No. 3 seed 62 64 to claim his third singles title. Gonzalez was also named the No. 2 seed in the doubles event along with Colombian partner Eduardo Struvay. Together they reached the semi finals where they were defeated 61 63 by the No.3 seeded pair.
Following his triumph in Barranquilla, Gonzalez travelled to the capital city of Colombia, Bogota, where he competed in Colombia F4, again on clay courts. Gonzalez was seeded number three and following a 63 62 first round win over Michael Quintero from Colombia he then came through two tough three setters to reach the semi final. The second round saw him winning 63 57 61 which he followed up with a 57 61 75 quarterfinal win, the first time this month he has had to come back from a set down. Seeded seventh, Miguel Gallardo-Valles again faced Gonzalez for a place in the final for the second tournament running. Gonzalez, for the second match in succession, dropped the opening set and it appeared that Gallardo-Valles was going to gain revenge for his defeat to Gonzalez at the same stage the previous week. The second set saw Gonzalez level the match and following the conclusion of this set Gallardo-Valles was, unfortunately, unable to continue and retired from the match and in doing so handed Gonzalez a place in the final against Uruguay’s Davis Cup player, Marcel Felder. The No. 1 seed, playing in his first singles final on the ITF Pro Circuit since September 2008, became the third player at this tournament to take the opening set off Gonzalez but, unlike the two players before him, he was able to push on for the win. Gonzalez had got himself back into the match when he levelled the match, winning 64 in the second set, but Gonzalez only managed three games in the deciding set as Felder ran out a 64 46 63 winner. There was a change of partner from the previous week for Gonzalez in the doubles event as Colombian Felipe Mantilla took over from Struvay. Unseeded, the pair scraped through to the final, winning each round on a match tiebreak, including a first round win over the top seeds. The final though proved to be a step too far and their luck finally ran out as they were out played by the No. 2 seeds in a crushing 62 60 loss.
The last tournament of the month for Gonzalez, Colombia F5, took place in the nation’s second largest city, Medellin. This tournament marked the first time since October 2005 that Medellin was hosting a Futures tournament on the ITF Pro Circuit. Gonzalez was named the No. 1 seed in the singles event as he looked to make it into yet another final and see out the month in style. Victories in the first two rounds against unseeded opponents, the second of which requiring three sets, took Gonzalez into a quarterfinal against Peru’s Mauricio Echazu, seeded eight. A 63 64 win moved Gonzalez into a semi final with Ivan Endara from Ecuador who was then also seen off in straight sets. With the No.2 seed, Juan-Sebastian Cabal also making it into the final, this was to be a very interesting final. Not only was it a battle between the top two seeded players and, for this tournament, doubles partners, but also a repeat of the singles final two weeks earlier.
The day prior to the eagerly anticipated singles final, Gonzalez and Cabal lined up together on the same side of the net for the doubles final. As No. 1 seeds, they took on the No. 2 seeds, Daniel Garza and Michael Quintero, a doubles team whom Gonzalez had faced in each of his previous two tournaments. With Struvay, he lost a semi final to them in Barranquilla and then defeated them, with Mantilla, in the first round at Bogota. Coming into this final, Gonzalez & Cabal had yet to lose more than two games in a set and also had the luxury of having a semi final Walkover victory. Considering that this final was contested between the top two seeded teams, it was not as close as people might have expected and Gonzalez & Cabal were soon crowned champions, winning 61 64 but celebrations that night had to be kept rather subdued as the next day, Gonzalez and Cabal were to become opponents in the singles final. In this final, it was Gonzalez who moved into an early lead, taking the first set 63 before Cabal fought back to take the second set by the same score line to force a deciding set to be played. Gonzalez dominated the third, and final set, of this final and he took it with the loss of just one game. Gonzalez’s 63 36 61 victory meant he ended this final tournament of the month just as he had the first, with a singles final win over Cabal.
Gonzalez, who harbours dreams of one day cracking the top 10 in the ATP world rankings, had an extremely successful month of tennis. In three tournaments, none of which were on his favoured hard court surface, he contested three back-to-back singles finals and two successive doubles finals. From these finals he collected the winners trophy twice in singles and once in doubles, including, in his final tournament of the month, winning both the singles and doubles titles.
In addition to these titles, the release of the ATP rankings on August 31st, showed Gonzalez had risen to a career high of 322 in the singles rankings. In 2009 to date, Gonzalez has now played in seven singles finals on the ITF Pro Circuit, winning the title on four occasions. In Futures doubles events in 2009, he has won three titles from five finals.
Alejandro Gonzalez’s career title count on the ITF Pro Circuit now stands at four titles from eight singles finals and six titles from eleven doubles finals.
If Gonzalez is able to carry this form into the remaining months of 2009 and throughout 2010, then he can well expect to see his dream of a top 10 ranking coming closer to being a reality.