28-year-old German Bastian Knittel is our featured male player for the month of April.
Ranked as high as 157 in February 2011, Knittel came into the month searching for a first ITF Pro Circuit title win since January 2010 although a lot of his time in that period was spent competing on the Challenger Circuit.
The month began with a trip to Croatia and a clay court tournament in Vrsar where the German was named as the top seed in the singles event.
Knittel seemed on course for the final following successive straight sets wins including a 62 75 quarterfinal defeat of a fellow seeded player in sixth seed Taro Daniel from Japan but in his semifinal against compatriot Steven Moneke, seeded fifth, he retired with the score at 64 16.
Knittel then had a week off before returning to action in Italy for two more clay court tournaments to see out the month.
First up was a visit to Padova. Seeded seventh Knittel survived a scare in the opening set of his second round match before bouncing back to eliminate Serbian qualifier Denis Bejtulahi 26 61 62.
From here, he conceded only three games in two rounds of action with comfortable quarterfinal and semifinal wins of 60 61 and 61 61 over the third and fifth seeds respectively.
Austrian second seed Philipp Oswald was his opponent in the final but he was unable to halt Knittel who claimed his first title of 2012 with 63 63 win.
Success also came in the doubles event where he was seeded second with Italian partner Matteo Volante. After three close rounds of tennis the pair romped to a 63 60 victory in the final against top seeds Claudio Grassi & Antal Van Der Duim.
The month was brought to a close for Knittel on the clay in Vicenza. Knittel’s second Italian tournament saw him seeded fourth.
Entered into the singles event only, Knittel was looking to win back-to-back ITF Pro Circuit singles titles for the first time in his career.
Three straight sets wins saw him into the semifinal, where he found himself the last seed standing. Facing him for a place in the final was Serbia’s Ivan Bjelica, a player who had already dismissed two seeds including the top seed in round one.
Knittel though, was not about to join the list of seeds to have fallen to the Serbian and edged out a 63 36 64 win.
With the chance now of making the dream of back-to-back titles a reality, Knittel faced the quarterfinal conqueror of the second seed, Marc Rath.
Triumph in the final would also see him record consecutive final wins over an Austrian opponent. The first set was closely matched and eventually went the way of the German 64 and from here Knittel raced through the next set with the loss of just two games to secure the title.