By Florian Heer
(February 15, 2014) MALLORCA – The Spanish ITF Futures series has started with tournaments in Mallorca for two consecutive weeks. Play took place at the Tennis Academy Club in Paguera located in the southwest of the largest Balearic Island, about 30 kilometres away from its capital Palma. Paguera itself only counts about 4.000 inhabitants but during high-season thousands of tourists dominate the cityscape and the beaches. Players are accommodated in the town’s first built hotel in walking distance to the venue, which celebrated its 30th anniversary last year.
In the first week Australia’s Jason Kubler’s victory came without losing a set winning the final 6-4, 6-4 against German Peter Heller.
Kubler also cruised into the final of the second week by losing only one single set in the semis against Marc Giner. The day before the Spaniard had to play three matches and just ran out of steam in the end of the encounter. The 20-year-old Australian took the match winning 5-7, 6-1, 6-4.
In the second semi-final Oriol Roca Batalla defeated seventh-seeded Swede Markus Eriksson in straight sets 7-6, 6-3.
Saturday’s final took place in sunny conditions and temperatures of about twenty degrees when sixth-seed Jason Kubler faced Oriol Roca Batalla for another title. The only previous meeting between the two was won by the Australian in straight sets at another Spanish Futures event in El Prat de Llobregat last year. During the two weeks, the 20-year-old from Barcelona was playing his first event of the season. Before winning the title in Paguera’s first week, Kubler had already played two more ITF tournaments in Sharm El Sheikh and reached the final at the second one.
In front of about sixty spectators the Australian had the better start, capitalized on his break point chances and served the first set out in the eighth game. Roca Batalla began to find his rhythm in the second frame. Kudler still remained the more aggressive player of the two when he tried to hit the balls early but the world number 494 from Barcelona adapted the game better now. Roca broke serve in the sixth game and closed the set out in the ninth after one hour of play. In particular the Spaniard’s backhand improved the longer the match lasted. He hit some winners from the baseline with his single handed backhand. Consequently Roca Batalla gained the decisive break in the opening game of the final set to eventually capitalize on his third match point to take the title in Paguera winning 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 after one hour and 45 minutes.
“Actually I started very good today,” the winner told us afterwards. “I tried to keep the level as I think that he (Kubler) is a bit better than me but I made a lot of unforced errors at the beginning of the match and I started thinking that I had no chance,” he added. “Then I started to play for fun without any pressure, which seemed to help as my game improved in the second set. I also began to feel better on the court, I gained more confidence and maybe my opponent was a bit tired in the end. I’m just happy today, as this is only my second title on the ITF Tour,” Roca Batalla stated.
Jason Kubler also took the doubles title winning the final with his Spanish partner Pol Toledo Bague 6-1, 6-3 against the team of Oriol Roca Batalla and Jean-Marc Werner.
Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit! Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.