Our featured player for November is Gerald Melzer from Austria. The 22-year old reached a new ATP singles career high ranking of 290 earlier in the month the week prior to his first ITF Pro Circuit tournament of the month.
Melzer’s ITF Pro Circuit action in November took him to the African continent for three tournaments, beginning in Burundi’s capital city; Bujumbura.
This venue has been kind to Melzer in the past couple of years. In 2010, the young Austrian won his maiden ITF Pro Circuit singles title and in 2011 he made a successful title defence.
As he looked to make another successful defence of his title, Melzer, seeded one, made light work of his opening round match and raced to a 60 61 win. He met with more resistance in round two where Italian Luca Pancaldi stretched him to three sets but a 63 46 63 win saw the Austrian safely through to the quarterfinals.
Melzer eased to a 61 60 win against a Serbian qualifier as the top three seeds all progressed to the semifinals where Melzer was to face the third seed, Riccardo Sinicropi.
A close match between the two seeded players saw Melzer emerge a 63 64 victor and this win set up a final clash between the top two seeds and saw Melzer taking on a third Italian opponent of the week.
Looking to end Melzer’s reign as champion was Alessandro Bega, whom Melzer had defeated 62 64 at the semifinal stage en route to his 2011 title triumph.
This final followed a similar course as that semifinal and Melzer won the title here for the third year running with a 62 63 win.
The remaining two tournaments of the month for Melzer were staged in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, which was hosting its first two tournaments of 2012.
Melzer had played in the opening Rwandan tournament in each of the past two years with mixed success. In 2010 he took the title but only reached the second round in 2011, although he did triumph last year in the doubles event.
As he was in Burundi, Melzer was named the top seed in the singles event; he was also the number one seed in the doubles event with fellow Austrian Lukas Jastraunig.
There was almost a shock defeat in the opening round for Melzer who fell behind in his match with Jan-Wouter Roep from the Netherlands, losing 7-4 on a tiebreak. Melzer narrowly avoided making an early exit as he recovered to earn a 67(4) 62 63 win.
This first round match was to set the tone for Melzer’s time in this tournament as he looked to regain the title he won in 2010.
Another qualifier faced Melzer in the second round and another tough match looked in store with twelve games shared in the first set. Melzer was more greedy though in the second set and kept all the sets to himself to win through to the quarterfinal 75 60.
The quarterfinal brought about another three set battle for Melzer who was up against Francesco Picco. The Italian seventh seed forced the match into a deciding set when he levelled the match with a 62 second set win but could not halt Melzer’s charge into the semifinal.
A second consecutive final appearance was earned, when Melzer, the only seed left in the tournament, edged a tense match with Venezuelan Jordi Munoz-Abreu 76(3) 64.
Now looking good for the title the top seed was facing a third qualifier of the week in Christian Magg, a fellow Austrian.
The opening set was decided on a tiebreaker which Magg took 7-3 and in the second set Melzer could only manage three games as Magg completed the upset to win 76(3) 63.
There was title success though for Melzer in the doubles event where he retained the title won with South African Ruan Roelofse in 2011 with new partner Lukas Jastraunig. The Austrian pair won all matches in straight sets including wins over the third and fourth seeds in the semifinal and final respectively to claim their second title together of 2012.
The month was to end on a real high for Melzer. Playing at the same venue as the previous week he was again seeded one in singles and doubles where he continued his partnership with Jastraunig.
Just as he had done the previous week, Melzer opened with a match against a qualifier and dropped the first set on a tiebreaker. This proved a very minor setback as he would lose only one game in the next two sets to wrap up a 67(7) 61 60 win.
Melzer then repeated the scoreline of those last two sets to set up a quarterfinal with Munoz-Abreu, his semifinal opponent the previous week.
Munoz-Abreu was unable to avenge the defeat suffered in their last meeting, going down in a close match 63 75.
Playing for a place in the final, Melzer found himself up against his doubles partner who was also seeded fifth. Knowing each other’s games well from their time playing on the same side of the net a tough match was expected and delivered.
In two tense sets Melzer prevailed to reach a third singles final in as many weeks with a 64 76(2) win. Egyptian player Sherif Sabry, the number two seed, was now all that stood between him and a fourth singles crown of the year.
Sabry was looking to end a three year title drought and put up a real fight but with a tight 64 64 win, Melzer retained his title.
Melzer also made a successful defence of his 2011 doubles title. Defending champs Melzer and Jastraunig came from behind in the title match against second seeds, Venezuela’s Jordi Munoz-Abreu and Dutchman Mark Vervoort, to win 36 63 [10-3].
At only 22 and having already flirted with a place in the ATP Top 300 this month, can Melzer push on in 2013 and break into the Top 200?