Berankis In Red-Hot Form In Asian Challengers
The Lithuanian has won 12 of his past 13 ATP Challenger Tour matches
Ricardas Berankis has normally spent his spring competing on red clay tournaments in Europe, but the Lithuanian has switched it up this year by instead competing in Asia on the ATP Challenger Tour.
The new approach to his schedule his paid dividends for the 25-year-old. He finished as runner-up earlier this month at the $100,000 event in Raanana (Israel), then breezed through the draw at last week’s $50,000 tournament in Gwangju without losing a set. This week at the $50,000 event in Nanjing, his first of the year on clay, Berankis has once again advanced to the semi-finals as the No. 1 seed.
“Clay is not my favourite surface. I usually prefer faster courts,” said Berankis in explaining why he chose to play in Asia this year. “I’ve never played Challengers in Asia before, so it was also interesting to see what was happening with the events here. The tournament in Gwangju was really nice with two big stadiums and a very good hotel, and the facilities this week in Nanjing are great as well.”
Although Berankis is ranked significantly higher than most of the players in Nanjing. that doesn’t mean his matches have been easy. He advanced past Danilo Petrovic in a tight two-set match in the second round, then needed three sets to prevail over Nicolas Barrientos in the quarter-finals.
“Challengers can be difficult because once you get to the seeded players or the later rounds, you’re going up against people with good rankings and who are playing well,” said Berankis. “It’s never easy to win one or even get to the final of one, so I’m happy with the way my form has been in these tournaments.”
Berankis will step off clay for his next two ATP Challenger Tour events in Asia, a $75,000+H event in Taipei and a $100,000+H event in Busan, before trying his luck at Roland Garros. The surplus of matches and confidence under his belt could translate into a good run even on a surface he admits isn’t his best.
“I’m playing really well, so it’s a great feeling,” said Berankis. “I think continuing to go up this year is very possible if I keep playing like this.”