Serbian 28-year-old Ivan Bjelica is our featured player for the month of August. His time during the month saw him competing in four tournaments in his home nation before ending it in Croatia.
The first of these five clay court tournaments took place in Sombor; here Bjelica was seeded second in both singles and doubles with partner Matej Sabanov from Croatia. Following a relatively comfortable opening round win, the Serbian had to battle through two tough three set matches, the first of which saw him come from behind to earn the win.
These two victories set up a semifinal with the third seeded Nikola Cacic to guarantee a Serbian player would contest the final. In a welcome change to his previous matches, Bjelica dropped just two games in each set of a straight sets win to surpass his achievement here in 2011.
Another seed opposed him in the final as Bjelica looked for a second 2012 singles title on the Pro Circuit in three final appearances but this was not to be as Bosnian Aldin Setkic, seeded fourth, ran out a 62 61 winner. A runners-up medal was also Bjelica’s reward for the week in the doubles event following a 62 76(1) loss to the Bosnian third seeded pairing of Ismar Gorcic and Aldin Setkic.
Next up was two events in Novi Sad where Bjelica was again the number two seed but only competed in singles play.
In the first of these two tournaments in the city, Bjelica dropped a total of five games in each of the opening two rounds to reach the quarterfinal where he faced a famous name in tennis; Djokovic.
Marko, younger brother of ATP world number two Novak, put up a tough fight but after two very close sets of tennis it was Bjelica who came out on top, winning 76(4) 75.
The semifinal brought about a quick re-match with Aldin Setkic, winner in their final encounter the previous week, and Bjelica wasted little time in avenging that defeat and reversed the scores from that final to win 62 61.
The final was a battle between the top two seeds. Croatian top seed, Dino Marcan, looked the more likely to take the title when he took the first set 62 but a far closer second set saw Bjelica level the match with a 75 win. Bjelica then lost just two games in the deciding set to secure the title.
The second of his back-to-back tournaments in Novi Sad saw him open with a 76(4) 76(2) win over Richard Gabb, his second round opponent from the previous week. These two tense tie break wins were followed by a 60 opening set win in the second round. A quarterfinal place was then achieved with a 63 second set win.
Four games were lost in the quarterfinal but Bjelica was unable to make it into a third straight final, having taken the opening set 63, his fellow Serb and third seed, Miljan Zekic, forced, and won, two tiebreak sets 76(1) 76(10).
Bjelica’s final Serbian ITF Pro Circuit appearance of the month was staged in Zlatibor, in the west of Serbia. After three tournaments as the number two seed, he was named the number one for this event.
A three set win was followed up with a 63 63 second round win and ensured that all eight seeded players made it through to the quarterfinal stage. Bjelica then despatched the seventh seed 61 75 and the fourth seed 64 61 to make it into a third final of the month.
The final pitted Bjelica up against a fifth Serbian player in succession as he took on third seeded Danilo Petrovic. The match played out much as his first round had done with Bjelica taking the title with a 64 36 63 win.
August came to a close for the Serbian with a tournament in Osijek, Croatia where he also made a return to doubles competition with Matej Sabanov.
Once again as the top seed in the singles event, Bjelica opened with back-to-back wins, over qualifiers, and then came face-to-face for the third tournament running with Ilija Vucic. This match was closer than their previous matches but Bjelica made it three wins from three against his fellow Serb.
In the doubles event Bjelica along with Matej Sabanov had made steady progress through the draw to contest the doubles final for the second time in their two doubles events played during this period.
The final saw them taking on Brkic and Setkic, two players who would be singles semifinal and final opponents respectively for Bjelica. Another runners-up finish had to be settled for as the number one seeds triumphed over Bjelica and Sabanov, seeded second, 64 61.
In singles competition, all four seeds had made it to the semifinal and Bjelica reached yet another final with a 63 62 defeat of the third seeded wild card entrant Tomislav Brkic from Bosnia.
Bjelica then repeated this score in the final to claim the title, his first in singles competition outside of Serbia, in a match which saw him facing Aldin Setkic, who had defeated him in their previous singles title match at the start of August.
Points earned during this time helped elevate the Serbian to a new singles career high ATP world ranking of 290 and saw his personal singles title count rise to nine. Two doubles final defeats though meant his doubles record remained at 12 from 29 career finals.