Column: A look back at 2005 - part 1
December 03, 2005, 03:51 PM | Community Column | kundaliniAndy started the year optimistic that he could break through into the top 100. Whilst still eligible to play juniors it was decided that he was ready for the challenge of the professional game. He had already enjoyed considerable success at Futures level in 2004, winning four tournaments in Spain and Italy so there were high hopes both in the UK and at Sanchez-Casal, his training base in Barcelona, that he was good enough to make a rapid rise.
Ranked just outside the top 400 there was no chance of joining the elite in Australia for the first grand slam event of the season. Instead his coach Pato Alvarez took him to Chile to compete in the qualifying rounds for the Challenger events in La Serena and Santiago played on Clay.
The initial plan was to use these tournaments as a warm up for attempting to qualify for the ATP event at Vina del Mar at the beginning of February but Andy didn't make it through to the main draw in either of the two events, losing to Marin in the final qualifying round of La Serena and then Parada in the opening qualifying round at Santiago; hardly the start they had expected and Vina del Mar disappeared off the agenda.
An unexpected growth spurt seemed to be causing Andy problems as his body readjusted itself to his new height. February was a month of rest, just a single event at Futures level that Andy entered at the last minute after a change of plans, and so had to play qualifying. Continuing the pattern of the year he failed to make it through to main draw - this time retiring in the final round.
The Davis Cup tie against Israel gave Andy an opportunity to kickstart his season. He partnered David Sherwood in the doubles against Erlich and Ram in a match that few expected the brits to win. But Andy started the match on fire, driving a fierce return for a winner and the pair went on to gain a sensational victory 6-4 7-6(5) 2-6 7-6(5), helping Great Britain to win the tie.
March saw more qualifying for clay court Challenger events this time at Barletta and Napoli in Italy. Wins over Abel and Petrazzuolo gained Andy his first place in the main draw of an event in 2005. He eased past Arnaud Di Pasquale 6-4 6-3 only to lose heavily to Di Mauro in the 2nd round.
Then in Napoli Julio Silva beat Andy in the first round of qualifying to complete a frustrating and extremely disappointing opening 3 months. High expectations at the start of the year made this period of little progress all the more difficult to take. Plans were continually being revised as Andy's inability to improve his ranking denied him the opportunity to compete in the events they had imagined.
The choice of Pato Alvarez, a highly experienced and successful coach, to accompany Andy during this first phase of his career was beginning to look like a mistake. The lack of harmony between the pair off-court, due largely to the considerable age gap between coach and player, was making life on tour a real struggle for Andy and contributing to his poor displays on court.
At the end of March the top 100 seemed a long way off and already there were whispers in the UK that the outspoken teenager was somewhat overrated.
Community Column | kundalini
Australian Open: 19 January - 1 February