Despite competing in a Challenger Tour event for the very first time, 20-year old Alexander Shevchenko managed to take out Geoffrey Blancaneaux and Evan Furness to make the main draw in Poznan. The Russian took titles at M25 Velenje and M15 Tbilisi earlier in the season and finally landed an opportunity to debut in a higher tier of events.
Back in January, Shevchenko also managed to score a win over Juan Manuel Cerundolo. Since then, his rival not only became a Challenger Tour champion in Rome, but also defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas to win an ATP event in Cordoba.
Shevchenko found himself pretty far down the list of alternates to the qualifying draw, but decided to risk it and come to Poznan anyway. “There was no plan B. The plan B was to go home to Vienna for practicing,” said the 20-year-old, who managed to make the most out of the opportunity.
The Russian first took out Blancaneaux 6-2 6-0. The higher-ranked opponent could barely find the court but Shevchenko never allowed him a way back with his baseline stability.
In the final round, he had to take on the second seed Furness, also a much more experienced player at this level. Shevchenko impressed with his speed around the court and once again managed to stay a lot more consistent than his opponent, while not really holding back, especially on his great double-handed backhand. “I was surprised with my performance these two days and I’m very happy about it”, said Shevchenko about his matches in the qualifying draw.
The 20-year-old praised the organization of the tournament and admitted he felt more prestige compared to his experiences on the ITF Men’s Tennis Tour–“It feels very different from Futures to Challengers…You feel little bit like a tennis player here.”
When asked about his win over Cerundolo, he said, “I finally understand that in tennis and in every single sport maybe you have one lucky week, and then you’re more confident… If I can beat these guys and they’re winning ATPs, then I can maybe (do it) also.”
Shevchenko will play his first Challenger Tour main draw match on Tuesday. He was drawn to face Leo Borg in the opening round. It’s a great chance to make a deep run, because should he advance, he’ll take on a qualifier in round two (Elmar Ejupovic or David Poljak).
Main Photo courtesy of Dawid Szafraniak/Poznań Open 2021.