Whittington beats the heat to take Hong Kong F2 Futures title

Under scorching conditions at Victoria Park on Saturday, No. 1 seed Andrew Whittington saw off qualifier Daniel Nolan in straight sets, 6-3, 6-0, to capture the Hong Kong F2 Futures men's singles title. After bagging his second title in as many weeks, the Australian is now at a new career-high of ATP No. 282.

The 22-year-old from Melbourne started strongly and broke his compatriot's serve right off the bat to set the tone for the final. Although the 878th-ranked qualifier managed to concoct several sweetly-struck forehand down-the-line winners, they were simply too few and far between to establish any sustained threat to Whittington's stranglehold.

The number one seed then conjured a second break of serve to go up 5-2, but he failed to serve it out, as Nolan unexpectedly came up with the set-saving break to stay afloat, 5-3.

To his credit, the F1 winner did not allow any negative emotions from the missed opportunity affect his play, as he responded with a break of his own by winning an assortment of protracted rallies to bag the first set, 6-3.

After Nolan threw down two double faults in the ensuing set to concede an early break to trail 2-0, the advent of adverse body language was becoming more apparent.

The top seed continued with his no-nonsense approach and held his next service game at love to consolidate for a quick-fire 3-0 lead. Even though his opponent dug deep to produce temporary resistance, Whittington was able to see out a couple of long deuces with timely forehand down-the-line winners to catapult himself four games in front.

With the finish line nearing, Whittington proceeded to open the next game with a booming ace down the centre and then finished it off with his umpteenth first serve winner to secure a commanding 5-0 lead.

The prospect of any potential fightback was quickly evaporated when Nolan belted another pair of double fault to swiftly fall behind, 15-30. The 19-year-old then sent an overhead smash beyond the baseline before slapping a backhand halfway up the net to concede his serve and the match, 6-3, 6-0.

Despite the sweltering heat, a number of Whittington's match statistics were rather impressive.

Besides putting in close to 75% of his first serves, he won a staggering 21 out of those 25 points and faced just the lone break point over the course of the match. He had a clear upper hand in just about every significant statistical category, most noticeably Total Points Won (51-25), Break Points Conversion (6 out of 7), and embarked on a seven-game run to finish the match.

The winner has had considerable success on the pro circuit in the past six months, with five of his seven career singles titles coming during that stretch.

He started the year with consecutive clay court titles in Australia before registering hardcourt wins in Guam and Hong Kong.

Ranked as high as No. 6 (16 May 2011) on the ITF Junior Circuit, Whittington had found prior success on the doubles court as well. He owns a pair of men's doubles titles from the Challenger circuit, in addition to eighteen more via the Futures circuit.

Currently riding a ten-match win streak, Whittington will attempt to make it three titles in a row when he takes on local wildcard entrant, Kelvin Lam, in the opening round of this week's Hong Kong F3 Futures where the Melbourne native is also the top seed.

Qualifiers Jack Wong and Karan Rastogi will face-off with one another with a place in the last sixteen at stake.

Meanwhile, in this week's F3 doubles, the pairing of Kevin Wong and Karan rastogi upset No. 4 seeds He Yecong and Wang Aoxiong of China, 6-1, 7-5. They will next face unseeded Shintaro Imai and Arata Onozawa of Japan.

Over in the top half of the draw, the combination of Kelvin Lam and Jackie Tang defeated Mohit Mayur Jayaprakash of India and Jeson Patrombon of Philippines, 6-2, 7-5, to set up a showdown with top-seeded Francis Casey Alcantara and Mikelis Libietis in round two.

Elsewhere, Jack Wong and Brian Yeung lost in two tight sets, 7-5, 7-5, to China's number two-seeded Gao Xin and Qiu Zhuoyang.



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