By Floria Heer
(March 30, 2014) In Sunday’s final at the US-$ 10.000 ITF Futures in Umag, Simone Vagnozzi faced Lamine Ouahab for the first time on European soil. Both previous meetings between the two players took place in Africa, the last encounter on the Futures circuit in Morocco in 2010. The matches have always seen Ouahab as the winner, but were hard fought and always went the distance. In front of about twenty spectators on Grandstand it looked like it was to be a quick affair on Sunday. The 29-year-old Moroccan capitalized on his first break point in the second game and was in total control of the match, hitting a couple of clean winners, whereas on the other hand Vagnozzi produced a lot of unforced errors. Ouahab bageled the Italian after only 25 minutes to take the opening set.
It took 42 minutes for Vagnozzi to get on the scoreboard by breaking the Moroccan’s service in the third game of the second set. From then on the final actually started and became the close match that was expected between the two good friends. The 30-year-old Italian had to save two match points in the twelfth game and the set went into a tiebreak, in which he capitalized on his only set point to take the match the distance.
Ouahab again had the better start by gaining an early break in the opening game. The fourth seed was the more solid player on Sunday and in the end maybe also a bit fresher than his opponent, who had to play a three-hour match on Saturday. Ouahab finally converted his fifth match point to gain his 21st ITF Futures career title winning 6-0, 6-7, 6-3 after two hours and 25 minutes.
“Physically I was ok, maybe I was just tired mentally,” Vagnozzi stated afterwards. “After eight games I found my rhythm into this match, I started to fight and it became better for me. I was lucky to win the second set and in the third I got a little injury on my finger. I tried to do my best but Lamine is a great player and he deserved to win the title here. It’s ok,” the Italian was a fair loser.
Ouhab was obviously satisfied with his week in Umag. “It’s always great to win tournaments. Then you know that you couldn’t have done better,” the Moroccan said. “It was a hard match today but I’m happy that it worked out for me. One of the hardest things is to stay focused, even when you know that you already had match points. Nonetheless I kept on fighting,” Ouahab told and is already excited about the coming weekend. “It will be my first time to play Davis Cup for Morocco. This is a dream come true, as this is also my favourite competition. This will be an unbelievable experience and for sure it’s going to be one thing to tell my kids about it,” the world number 257 said and is looking forward to the next weeks in Casablanca.
The ITF Junior Circuit also made a stop in Umag this week for the 30th edition of the Perin Memorial, a tournament of Grade 1 category. In the girl’s final second-seeded Slovakian Kristina Schmiedlova defeated Katarina Jokic from Serbia winning 7-6, 3-6, 6-2.
The boy’s final was an all – Spanish affair between the two sixteen-year-olds, Pedro Martinez Portero and Jaume Antoni Munar Clar, unfortunately with an unlucky ending. Portero was forced to retire at 1-6 1-2 and his friend took the title.