By Steve Pratt
(January 9, 2015) LOS ANGELES– Two and a half years ago, Frederik Nielsen lifted the winning doubles trophy from the world’s most famous tennis tournament.
On Friday, Nielsen came so close to winning another doubles title, this time at the USTA Pro Circuit Southern California Futures Tournament taking place on the campus of USC.
The No. 4-seeded team of Dimitar Kutrovsky of Bulgaria and former UCLA star Dennis Novikov came back to beat the top-seeded team of Nielsen of Denmark and Ireland’s James Cluskey to capture the doubles title at the $15,000 event, 4-6, 6-1, 10-4.
Nielsen, who in 2012 teamed with Jonathan Marray to win the Wimbledon doubles title at the All England Club, is currently ranked No. 359 in the ATP World Tour singles rankings, and at age 31 is hoping to get his ranking high enough to play qualifying at the three remaining Grand Slams, something he’s done numerous times during his career.
“I don’t think Indian Wells or Miami is going to happen, but we’ll see if I play well enough in time for the other Grand Slams,” said Nielsen, the No. 4-seed who also fell in his quarterfinal singles match to the No. 6-seeded Kutrovsky earlier in the day, 6-4, 1-6, 6-2.
Kutrovsky is the only non-American that moved on with a quarterfinal win on Friday. He meets No. 8-seeded Mitchell Krueger in the second semifinal on Saturday, not before 11 a.m. The first semifinal will pit 17-year-old wild card Taylor Fritz against former University of Michigan All-American Jason Jung starting at 10 a.m. Fritz downed 16-year-old American Stefan Kozlov, 6-4, 6-4, in the first match of the day on Thursday to reach his first ITF singles semifinal.
Nielsen said coming to California to play the Futures circuit was the best decision he could have made. “We had the option to stay in Europe and train indoors where it’s five degrees and everyone is depressed, or come here where it’s nice and sunny,” he said. “It’s pretty much a no-brainer. USC is doing such an amazing job of putting this tournament on and I’m very happy with my decision to come here and play.”
Nielsen, the first Dane ever to win a Wimbledon Championship title, is on Denmark’s Davis Cup squad. The weekend of March 6-8, Denmark will face Russia in the first round of Europe/Africa Zone Group I with the winner of that tie to face Spain in the second round.
“Even if I did get into Indian Wells, it would take five days to get there from Siberia,” he joked.
Nielsen said being a professional tennis player is his “dream” job. “It’s what gives me the most joy and not many people are given the opportunity to live their life like this,” he said. “I’ve traveled the world and been to so many countries and met so many interesting people and I’ve been able to compete at the highest level.
“It’s just something that makes me so happy, and has given me so much pleasure and joy and has given me the maximum quality of life.”
Not one singular memory or victory is at the top of the list for Nielsen.
“Wimbledon is obviously going to stand out, but I think the experience of playing Davis Cup is the most memorable thing,” he said.
Friday’s Quarterfinal Singles Results:
Jason Jung, U.S., (3) def. Alexander Ward, Great Britain, (5) 7-6 (8), 6-4
Taylor Fritz (wc), U.S., def. Stefan Kozlov, U.S., 6-4, 6-4
Dimitar Kutrovsky, Bulgaria, (6) def. Frederik Nielsen, Denmark, (4) 6-4, 1-6, 6-2
Mitchell Krueger, U.S., (8) def. Nathan Ponwith, U.S., (q) 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-1
Friday’s Final Doubles Result:
Dimitar Kutrovsky, Bulgaria / Dennis Novikov, U.S., (4) def. James Cluskey, Ireland / Frederik Nielsen, Denmark, (1) 4-6, 6-1, 10-4