Tennis Prose




Nov/21

16

Kozlov’s 2021 Season Analysis

Stefan Kozlov began the year age 22, ranked 374, and then steadily made gains to improve his ranking to the current 187.

Not counting some small money tournaments, Kozlov accomplished a won loss record of 37-14 this year, including Futures, Challengers and qualifying rounds.

The season began slowly, winning a round of qualies at Delray Beach vs Jonathan Harteis, before losing to Donald Young 64 in the third.

At Naples Futures he beat Gonzalo Villanueva then lost to Mitchell Krueger 46 03 retired

In March after turning 23 in February, Kozlov won three quali rounds – third round win vs Botic van de Zandschulp – but fell in 1R to Cam Norrie 63 63.

After over a month off, he returned at Little Rock Challenger in late May and qualified with two straight set wins and then was beaten by Thai-Son Kwiatkowski 62 61.

At Orlando Challenger, Kozlov qualified by beating Robert Galloway and Adrian Andreev in three sets but lost in main draw 1R to Thiago Tirante 63 61. By this point Kozlov’s ranking was 349.

In Tulsa, he lost Greek player Michail Pervolarakis 76 64.

At Weston Futures, he won four matches and made semi but the tournament stopped.

Then at Cary Challenger, Kozlov won three rounds – vs Donald Young, Maxime Cressy and Christopher Eubanks – before a SF loss to Rankumar Ramanathan in three sets.

At Lexington he won three rounds – Riffice, Leshem, Eubanks again – before a R16 loss to Alejandro Tabilo 62 62. But he won the doubles with Liam Drax.

End of August, Kozlov went to Mallorca and beat the later US Open boys champ Daniel Rincon in three sets but lost to Fernando Verdasco in three sets.

At US Open qualies, Kozlov lost to Bernabe Zapata Miralles 63 in the third in 1R of qualies.

Then a quick trip all the way to Kiev, Ukraine for a Challenger and 1R loss to Franco Agamenone 64 75.

Back to Cary the next week of a busy September and a 1R loss to Zachary Zvadja 57 02 ret. In doubles, Kozlov and Polansky reached the finals and lost in a third set super tiebreaker 10-4.

The following week in Columbus, Kozlov won his first Challenger in over three years by beating Krueger, Kubler, Torpegaard, Wolf and Purcell in the final 64 in the third. This boosted his ranking up to 253 from 301. Kozlov also won the doubles title in Columbus, with Polansky 75 76 in the final.

At Indian Wells qualies, Kozlov beat Jason Jung in three and then lost to Eubanks in three 62 06 57.

Then at Las Vegas Challenger, Kozlov reached the finals and lost to Wolf 64 64.

Then Charlottesville Challenger, Kozlov took the title beating Fratangelo, Kubler, Nava, Wolf and Vukic in the final 62 63. This win elevated Kozlov’s ranking up to 188.

Last week, probably fatigued from all the pressure tennis of the last month, Kozlov beat Vukic in an immediate rematch 63 46 75 but then lost to McHugh 64 64.

This week Kozlov is in Champagne and last night defeated JC Aragone 63 in the third. So that’s 37-14 on the year. And right now Kozlov is the leader in the points race for the AO wildcard spot, which would be his first Grand Slam main draw match.

So if Kozlov can seal the AO WC slot, get himself in even better shape, keep building his confidence and arsenal, to inflict some damage in Melbourne, suddenly the young American will be in position to install himself into ATP prominence with his junior peers Zverev, Opelka, Fritz, Tsitsipas, Paul, etc.

Kozlov is proving perseverance and determination and continued learning can change the fortunes of a career.

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3 comments

  • Cory · November 17, 2021 at 1:40 am

    Kozlov’s unpredictable variety makes him pretty unique. He can lull you into a trance and then unload a nasty forehand. Much like a baseball player utilizes fastballs and then wields a changeup.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 17, 2021 at 8:23 am

    Cory, I read the recent ATP site interview with Kozlov and he said when people say he has great variety, Kozlov himself said he doesn’t know what that means. The sense was he feels his power game is underrated, his father told me also his power off both wings is deceptive. Since I heard those Team Kozlov comments I’ve watched his recent matches with more scrutiny and noticed yes indeed his power now is easy power, it looks like a push shot but the ball really fires, he’s hitting a lot more winners where the opponent just stands there, in the past I don’t remember seeing that kind of ability to snap winners like that by Kozlov. His forehand is a weapon now and his backhand is still rock solid reliable. Serve is now a weapon too. This year he truly has evolved some new dimensions to add to his extraordinary hands/touch. He won again Monday in Illinois and today plays Keegan Smith who beat Mmoh.

  • fob · November 19, 2021 at 3:15 pm

    Could not even wish to read something better than this.

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