21-year-old Pablo Carreno, who missed a large chunk of the 2012 season due to injury and having undergone back surgery, enjoyed an incredible month out on the clay courts for the opening four ITF Pro Circuit tournaments of 2013 in his native Spain as he continues his comeback.
The young Spaniard, who once ranked as high as 133, had previously won five singles titles in his home nation coming into 2013 and by the end of the month he would have nearly doubled that figure.
Cala Millor on the island of Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, was host for the first two tournaments of 2013 in Spain.
An unseeded player, Carreno began the month against the number six seed Jason Kubler from Australia in round one of the Spain F1 tournament. A 63 76(3) scoreline saw Carreno progress.
The next two rounds saw Carreno record comfortable straight sets victories. This included a 62 63 defeat of Gerald Melzer, the fourth seed. Melzer’s defeat, along with seventh seed Jozef Kovalik’s loss to Alessio Di Mauro, meant there would be no seeded players in the semifinal.
A place in the final for Carreno was then secured with a 75 62 win over Colombia’s Cristian Rodriguez, a win that set up a final with the Italian player Di Mauro.
Rather surprisingly with the title at stake, Carreno posted his most comfortable win of the week, dropping just two games in a 61 61 triumph for his first title win in Spain since August 2011.
Carreno would soon be adding another title on the island to his name at the Spain F2 tournament taking place at the same venue.
Again unseeded, Carreno began with a straight sets win, this time despatching his compatriot Marc Garcia-Roman, a qualifier, 62 64. This win set up the first of four rounds against seeded opposition for Carreno.
First, in round two, he eliminated the top seed from Italy Simone Vagnozzi 63 61 and then eighth seeded Jozef Kovalik 75 61 who was making a second successive tournament exit at the quarterfinal stage. Another fellow Spaniard, Marc Giner, was then beaten 76(4) 62. Carreno’s semifinal defeat of the fifth seed took him into a final showdown with the number two seed, Taro Daniel from Japan.
During the course of the final, Carreno would drop his first set of the month. Having won the opening set 63, Carreno then lost a close second set 75 to bring to an end a run of 19 consecutive set wins this month.
Carreno, did not let this affect his game, at least not in a negative way, as he raced through the decisive third set to take the title with a 63 57 61 win. This also represented the first time in his career that he had won back-to-back singles titles.
With two Mallorca titles to his name, Carreno moved onto the Spanish mainland for two tournaments in the southeast of the nation, starting with a visit to the city of Murcia.
In Murcia, Carreno was once more an unseeded player in the draw and opening with a match against a fellow Spanish player.
Carreno conceded just five games to reach round two where Jose Checa-Calvo became the seventh seeded player to taste defeat at the hands of Carreno this month and managing to claim just three games in the process.
A further two straight sets wins followed to take Carreno into yet another Spanish final. In the title match he faced the eighth seed Roberto Carballes Baena, a 19-year old already with six career singles titles to his name.
This all-Spanish final required a tiebreak to separate the two players in the first set and with a 9-7 win it was the teenage player who moved into pole position to claim the title.
Carreno though, was not about to let the opportunity of claiming a hat trick of titles slip away and hit back to level the match with a 63 second set win. His recent new personal record of two consecutive titles wins was soon broken as a third consecutive title was secured as Carreno repeated the second set scoreline in the deciding set.
Having set new personal records in his previous two tournaments he was now looking to continue this trend in the city of Cartagena by winning a fourth singles title in as many weeks.
To see out the month, Carreno found himself in similar circumstances to the previous two tournaments, namely being an unseeded player and recording an opening round straight sets win over a fellow countryman, this time fifth seed Gerard Granollers-Pujol, 61 63.
A lucky loser from the qualifying event was then seen off in round two, once again in a straight sets win, to set up a quarterfinal with French second seed Florian Reynet.
Carreno, boasting a 100% success rate, 9-0, against seeded opposition this month, made it ten-in-a-row, but not without first surviving a first set scare, with a 46 63 62 win.
In the semifinal against Britain’s Kyle Edmund, a wild card entrant, Carreno got back to straight sets winning ways with a close 64 63 win to reach the final and keep the dream of a fourth straight title win very much alive.
Opposing Carreno in the final for the second week running was Carballes Baena, the eighth seed.
Their previous final went to three sets with Carreno fighting back from a set down to earn the victory but this time he had, possibly, his most straight forward victory of the month.
Conceding just the one game in the opening set of the final, Carreno then stormed through the second set winning six games without reply to complete a 61 60 win.
With the four back-to-back singles titles won, Carreno now has five titles from six finals to his name already this year and is well on course to set a new ITF Pro Circuit record for most singles titles in a calendar year.
He now needs just three more titles to equal the 2011 record set by his compatriot Arnau Brugues-Davi and if he can maintain his February form, which has seen him win 64 of 71 sets of tennis played, over the next 10 months then surely we can expect Brugues-Davi’s eight title haul to be surpassed.