Our first featured player of the new year is Krajicek, no, not Richard the 1996 Wimbledon champion from the Netherlands but Austin Krajicek, a 21-year-old from Florida, USA.
During the course of January the young American was out in China for two ITF Pro Circuit tournaments in the southern city of Shenzhen before rounding the month off in Monterrey, Mexico.
The opening tournament in Shenzhen saw Krajicek partnering fellow American Devin Britton for the first time but, unseeded, the pair made an early exit with a 76(2) 60 first round loss to fourth seeds Weerapat Doakmaiklee & Kittiphong Wachiramanowong from Thailand.
This would not be the last time the pair would be teaming up this month and improved fortune would come their way as the month progressed.
Krajicek also found himself unseeded in the singles event of the China F1 ITF Pro Circuit tournament and up against the tournament’s top seed, China’s Ze Zhang, in the opening round. Welcome to 2012 Austin!
A comfortable win was expected from the supporters of the Chinese player and that was exactly what they got, except it was in favour of the American! Krajicek’s stunning 62 64 defeat of Zhang would have sent out a warning to the other entrants that he meant business.
The second round saw him see off a scare as his Korean opponent, who had come through the qualifying event, levelled their match but Krajicek then won six games in a row for a 64 46 60 win. He followed this by coming from behind in his quarterfinal and eventually moving into the semifinal with the retirement of his Indian opponent with Krajicek up 3-2 in the third set.
In his semifinal he once again found himself going a set down before hitting back in two close sets to see off his second seeded opposition of the week in sixth seed Zhe Li, also the second Chinese player he had faced here.
In what was a second singles final of his career on the ITF Pro Circuit – the first ending in defeat in America in 2010 – Krajicek, for the third match running, once again dropped the opening set.
The Czech Republic’s Jiri Vesely, his opponent in this title match, had, like Krajicek, eliminated a highly seeded player early in the tournament and both players appeared evenly matched with little between them both on the court and in ranking positions.
The two players fought hard for this second set which was finally settled by a 75 score line in favour of Vesely. This win, 64 75, bringing him a second career ITF Pro Circuit singles title. For Krajicek, the wait for a first title would continue.
With his first tournament of 2012 over it was now time to concentrate on the second. Held at the same venue in Shenzhen, the China F2 ITF Pro Circuit tournament again featured Krajicek as an unseeded player in both singles and with Devin Britton in the doubles.
The opening two rounds of this tournament saw the American rack up two straight sets victories including the elimination of the fourth seeded Ivo Klec from Slovakia in round one.
Into the quarterfinal and a clash with Chinese Wild Card entrant Ya-Nan Ma who edged the opening set in a tie break 7-5. Krajicek hit back immediately, conceding two games in the second set before winning a tie break himself in the deciding set with the loss of just one point.
Highly fancied number two seed Hiroki Moriya from Japan occupied the opposing half of the court as Krajicek aimed for a second successive final appearance.
The Japanese seed was unable to halt the American’s progress and in a repeat of his opening round score line of 64 63 Krajicek was into another final. In the final he was to face Ze Zhang, a Wild Card entrant and number one seed who would be looking to avenge his first round defeat to Krajicek from last week!
Before this final scheduled for the Sunday, Krajicek was involved in the doubles final, held on the Friday. The run to the final for Krajicek and his partner Britton was not an easy one as they faced three of the four seeded teams!
In the opening round they defeated the fourth seeds and their conquerors in round one last week Doakmaiklee & Wachiramanowong and followed this with a straight sets win over an unseeded Japanese pairing.
The semifinal pitted them against the number two seeds, Pierre-Hugues Herbert & Ivo Klec, from France and Slovakia respectively. A 61 63 win carried them into their first final together but the Chinese Taipei top seeds of Cheng-Peng Hsieh & Hsin-Han Lee proved too strong and they took the title with a 76(5) 60 win.
The singles event still left Krajicek with a chance of glory but when Zhang took the opening set 63 it looked like the Chinese player was on course to pay him back for defeat in their last encounter and hand Krajicek a second successive singles final loss.
In the second set, however, Krajicek managed to turn things around and reversed the opening set score to level the match and take the players into a decisive third set. This was a closely fought set and in the end required a tie break to decide the winner.
The tie break ended 7-4 and with the umpires call of ‘game, set and match’ it was Krajicek who was celebrating winning a first ever ITF Pro Circuit singles title.
Following this triumph, Krajicek set off for Mexico and a five day break before playing, as the number one seed, in the qualifying event in Monterrey.
Krajicek had little trouble in qualifying, wrapping up wins of 64 62 and 62 60 having had a first round Bye, and his progress through the main draw was equally comfortable. Three wins of 62 64, 61 64 and 64 62 helped him into a third straight semifinal appearance.
In the semifinal he faced the number two seed, Daniel Garza from Mexico, and it was here that his participation in the singles event came to an end with a 63 76(8) defeat.
This loss did not bring about an end to the tournament though for Krajicek as, for the third time, he was still involved in the doubles event with Britton.
As second seeds, the American’s did not drop a set all week, including in a semifinal win over the fourth seeded pairing, as they reached their second final in only their third tournament.
Having finished as runners-up in their last tournament together in China they would go one better this time as they collected a first title together with a 62 63 victory and ensure Krajicek’s month ended on a positive note with a title win.