28-year old Stephane Robert from France is featured this month.
Robert’s 2009 season began with a trip to Scotland for a $15,000 ITF Futures tournament. This tournament took place on the west coast of the country in the city of Glasgow, Scotland’s largest. This was followed by a journey south into England and a $15,000 ITF Futures tournament in the city of Sheffield. Finally, Robert continued on his southbound journey for his final tournament of the month, a $15,000+H tournament in the German town of Mettmann.
Andrew Fitzpatrick, a British qualifier, provided Robert with his first test of 2009 in the opening round in Glasgow which the Frenchman, seeded sixth, passed with relative ease, defeating his opponent 62 61. Robert repeated this score line in the second round, defeating another British player, Burnham Arlidge, a Wild Card entrant, to move into the quarterfinal. For the third match in succession, Robert found a British player on the opposite side of the net, and, like the two before him, wasted little time in securing victory. His 62 62 quarterfinal victory over Ken Skupski, also in the tournament courtesy of a Wild Card, set up a semi final with fellow French player, Romain Jouan. After three matches in which Robert dominated, this match proved a far tougher encounter and he had to come from behind before taking his place in the final with a 67(7) 63 76(3) win. The final saw him take on a fourth British player and third Wild Card entrant, 24-year old Colin Fleming. It was Fleming who seemed on course to take the title as he took the first set 62 but Robert fought back, just as he had done in the semi final, to take the next two sets 64 64. This victory gave him his eleventh career singles Futures title.
Robert also took part in the doubles event where he partnered Olivier Charroin from France for the first time. Together they were seeded second but were defeated by an all-British partnership in the opening round despite having led by one set to love.
Next, he crossed the border into England where he was looking to build on his success in Scotland. The location for his second tournament of 2009 was Graves Tennis & Leisure Centre in the city of Sheffield in South Yorkshire. Nicknamed “The Steel City” due to its worldwide recognition for the production of steel in the 19th Century, Robert took part in another $15,000 ITF Futures tournament. History would also have provided a boost to his confidence, if he needed it after winning the title the previous week, as this was only the third time that Sheffield had staged an ITF Futures tournament, and on the previous two occasions, also at this same venue, the singles winners were, like Robert, both Frenchmen. Robert had to earn his place in the main draw and following a first round Bye, he, as the number two seed, won through to the main draw without losing a set in the two matches played. For the main draw Robert was named as the fifth seed and in the opening round he faced Romain Jouan, the player he defeated at the semi final stage in Glasgow the previous week. Robert, despite dropping the first set to Jouan, once again came out on top, winning 46 64 64. A second round match against British qualifier Neil Pauffley saw Robert get off to a perfect start, winning the first set 60. Pauffley, however, was not about to allow Robert to have things all his own way and levelled the match by taking the second set 63. Robert went on to secure victory with a 62 win in the deciding set. The quarterfinal saw Robert take on British opposition again as he ended Matthew Illingworth’s tournament with a 60 62 win. Third seed Lukas Lacko from Slovakia now stood between Robert and another final appearance. The semi final clash required a tiebreak to separate the two players in the first set, won 7-4 by Lacko. Robert was unable to recover from this set back and only managed to win two games in the next set. Some comfort could be taken from this defeat as Lacko went on to claim the title. Unlike in Glasgow, Robert did not take part in the doubles event.
After leaving Sheffield, Robert headed for mainland Europe and to a $15,000+H ITF Futures tournament being held in the town of Mettmann, situated in the North Rhine-Westphalia state of Germany and venue for an ITF Futures tournament each year since 2005. Unseeded, Robert saw off Britain’s Jonathan Marray 60 64 in the opening round and followed this up with another straight sets victory, this time over third seed Marsel Ilhan from Turkey. Unseeded Farrukh Dustov then provided Robert with a tough quarterfinal match which Robert narrowly won 76(8) 63 over the player from Uzbekistan. The semi final saw Germany’s Julian Reister, who was the fifth seed, coming close to taking the first set before Robert took control of the match to win 76(6) 62 and earn a place in his second final in three tournaments. In the final, Robert faced the top seed, Lukas Rosol from the Czech Republic. For the third match running, Robert found himself involved in a first set tie breaker and with both players fighting hard it was Rosol who just edged it 8-6. Neither player let up in the second set but Robert was unable to force a deciding set as Rosol secured a 76(6) 64 victory to take the title in a thrilling final. The doubles event ended in a first round defeat for Robert and partner Ludovic Walter. Playing together for the first time and named fourth seeds, they were defeated by another all-French partnership 26 63 [10-8].
Following this month’s action, which saw Robert reach two singles finals, his career record now stands at eleven ITF Futures singles titles from sixteen finals.