By Steve Pratt
LONG BEACH, Calif., (Jan. 17, 2015) – Steadiness and experience have gone along way for Frederik Nielsen this week at the USTA Pro Circuit $15,000 Long Beach Futures Tournament taking place at the El Dorado Park Tennis Center.
The 31-year-old 2012 Wimbledon doubles champion and No. 6-seeded singles player this week, Nielsen of Denmark held off 2014 NCAA singles runner-up Alex Sarkissian from Glendale, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, to advance to Sunday’s final.
Nielsen, who avenged a 2013 loss to Sarkissian at the Aptos Challenger in their only career meeting, will play qualifier Takanyi Garanganga of Zimbabwe in the 11 a.m. final.
Garanganga battled to the very end against hometown favorite Jason Jung of Torrance, pulling out the close 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5), 6-4 victory over the No. 3 seeded former University of Michigan star.
The average age of the four players Nielsen beat this week was an average age of 19.5, including Martin Redlicki (19), Mackenzie McDonald (19), Stefan Kozlov (16) and Sarkissian (24).
Sarkissian held a 4-2 lead with Nielsen serving in the second set, and had two break points to go ahead 5-2 and serve out the match. But Nielsen stayed steady and held on to win the game and eventually the set.
“At the start of the match I felt like he was a step ahead of me and he was playing better than me and faster than me,” Nielsen said. “I started slicing and slowing the pace down.”
He added: “Physically I feel amazing, and mentally I feel tough. All and all I’m very happy with where I’m at.”
Nielsen has made some time for some sight-seeing this week and has been enjoying the picture-perfect 72-degree sunny weather this week. On Friday, he saw the sunset and views of the Pacific from the Griffith Observatory, and on Saturday evening he was headed to the Santa Monica Pier for dinner.
He surprised many with his 6-0 win in a third set against Kozlov in the quarterfinals on Friday. “I think it’s very tough to evaluate him now because of his age,” Nielsen said of Kozlov. “He’s only 16 years old and it’s outrageous his composure and how impressive he handles everything. I do feel he let me play a little too much on my terms and that he may have some physical limitations over the next couple of years. But he’s very mature and he’s a great fighter. I’m just glad I was able to beat him now.”
USTA League Captain’s Appreciation Day is Sunday, Jan. 18, beginning at 10:30 a.m. The tournament is free and open to the public.
Saturday’s Semifinal Singles Results:
Frederik Nielsen (6), Denmark, def. Alex Sarkissian, U.S., 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
Takanyi Garanganga (q), Zimbabwe, def. Jason Jung (3), U.S., 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5), 6-4
Friday’s Final Doubles Result:
Nick Meister, U.S. / Eric Quigley (3), U.S., def. Dimitar Kutrovsky, Bulgaria / Dennis Novikov (4), U.S., 6-3, 6-2
Sunday’s Final Singles Schedule
Starting at 11 a.m. PT
Frederik Nielsen (6), Denmark, vs. Takanyi Garanganga (q), Zimbabwe
SINGLES: Prize Money Points
Winner $2,160 27
Runner-up $1,272 15
Semifinalist $753 8
Quarterfinalist $438 3
Round of 16 $258 1
Round of 32 $156 —
DOUBLES: Prize Money (per team)
Round of 16 $108