FAIRFIELD, October 13, 2018
Bjorn Fratangelo lost a month of his tennis season to a knee injury this summer, but he appears to be strong again after three solid matches at the NorthBay Healthcare Men’s Pro Championship.
The 25-year-old Pittsburgh native took down top-seed Jordan Thompson of Australia 6-1, 6-4 on Friday at Solano Community College in Fairfield. It was a near-flawless performance by a lower-seeded player (158 to 105) that went just over an hour. It featured powerful returns, often hit with precision into corners.
“I knew I had to be solid, so I think I did that to a tee,” said Fratangelo, now an Orlando, Fla., resident. “We’ve played a couple of times and I have always played him well, so I knew what I had to do and competed well.”
Fratangelo lost his first set to John-Patrick Smith of Australia in his first ATP Challenger Series and U.S. Pro Circuit match this week, but he hasn’t dropped a set since. He beat Dominik Koepfer of Germany in straight sets in his second match.
Fratangelo has been as high as 99th in his career (2016) and won $980,829 in prize money. He had match wins in New York, Houston and Barcelona this season before the injury. Fratangelo returned in time for the U.S. Open and earned an opening win before falling in the second round.
Ruud cruises into semis
Now Fratangelo will take on Casper Ruud of Norway in the semifinals Saturday. The sixth-seeded Ruud continues to power through the tournament as well. Ruud was in total control of his quarterfinal match and took down qualifier Sebastian Fanselow of Germany 6-1, 6-0 in just over 48 minutes.
Ruud, ranked 137th, had more pace on his shots, broke serve often and worked the angles against Fanselow to reach the semifinals. The 24-year-old Fanselow had won five straight matches and was playing in his sixth match in six days.
Ruud hasn’t dropped a set yet at this tournament, beating Americans Kevin King and JC Aragone. It’s been a great 2018 for the 19-year-old Oslo resident who appeared in the Australian Open, the French Open and the U.S. Open this year. His trip to the Australian Open was the first Grand Slam appearance by a Norwegian in 17 years.
“The guys I’ve played so far are lower ranked than me on paper and I was supposed to win, but it isn’t easy,” Ruud said. “The players are all good here in the Challengers. It was close in the beginning today and then I got a break and things started to go my way. I started playing better and better.”
Menendez-Maceiras, Bolt advance
Fifth-seed Adrian Menendez-Maceiras of Spain stormed by 19-year-old Ohio State junior Jeffrey John Wolf 6-0, 6-4. Menendez-Maceiras, 32, is ranked 132nd in the world with nine Futures titles and four in the Challenger series. Wolf had an impression debut start with two wins but struggled against the veteran Spaniard.
Menendez-Maceiras will face eighth-seed Alex Bolt of Australia, who beat second-seed Lloyd Harris of South Africa 6-3, 6-4 in the evening featured match.
American Robert Galloway and Roberto Maytin of Venezuela advanced to the semifinals with a walkover. They were scheduled to face Americans Alex Lawson and Hunter Reese, but Lawson was unable to play on Friday because of an ankle injury.
The 26-year-old Galloway is from Greenville, S.C., and ranked 120th in the world. He has three Challenger doubles titles this year. Maytin, meanwhile, currently lives in Miami and is ranked 150, though he has been as high as 86 in his career. He has played Davis Cup for Venezuela and collegiately in the United States at Baylor.
Galloway and Maytin face Harri Heliovarra of Finland and Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland in a semifinal today. Sanchai Ratiwatana of Thailand and Christopher Rungkat Indonesia beat Marc-Andrea Huesler of Switzerland and Sem Verbeek of the Netherlands 6-4, 6-4 in the other semifinal doubles match on Friday night.
The tournament kicks into high gear this weekend with both semifinals and finals. Saturday’s action begins at noon with a semifinal doubles match, followed by two singles semifinals. On Sunday afternoon, the tournament wraps up with the doubles final, followed by the singles final.
Tickets this weekend are $15. A wheelchair tennis exhibition will be on display between matches Saturday. Junior tennis will give an exhibition between finals matches on Sunday.