A similar story to the one of 2003 when the best Korean of the 00s, Hyung-Taik Lee
 stunned Juan Carlos Ferrero  in the Sydney final as a qualifier. This time, Lee’s
compatriot Soon-Woo Kwon [lucky loser, 84] edged Ferrero’s compatriot – Roberto
Bautista Agut . “Since being beaten in [qualifying], I told myself I’ve got nothing to lose,
and then I came all the way to the finals,” said Kwon, the 10th “lucky loser” champion
at the main level since 1978. “And why not? I put every energy into it, and that
worked.” Quite intriguing that Kwon overcame Tomáš Macháč [115, second-best Czech currently] in the first round – the Czech player had defeated Kwon in their qualifying meeting. In the final, Kwon came
back from a break point down at 0:2 in the decider against 34-year-old Bautista .
The big surprise in Auckland. I considered Richard Gasquet  as a finished player
already a few years ago, I thought that he’d sting only in French “250” events
indoors; meanwhile, the 36-year-old Frenchman claimed his 16th title (the first one in
almost five years) outside Europe, under the antipodes scorching sun, producing one of
the best comebacks of his career in the final – he trailed *0:3 (0/40) in the 3rd set
against one of the fittest guys on the tour, a local favorite to some degree (Cameron
Norrie was representing New Zealand until 2013 when as an 18-year-old boy he switched his
allegiance to Great Britain). Gasquet took advantage of several things during the
week: super easy draw in 1R, quite good in the next two rounds, in the semifinal he
didn’t have to enter the court (Lestienne’s walkover), and the temperature was a bit lower than usual in Auckland.
Generally, it was a great week for French tennis which suffers a big crisis lately:
Constant Lestienne  reached the semifinal while Quentin Halys  advanced to the
quarterfinals and was defeated second straight week 6-7, 6-7. Very good results for the second-tier French guys, new ATP faces, especially for Lestienne. It’s worth mentioning that he needed nine years to finally enter the Top 100 – it occurred last year in August thanks to good results in hardcourt Challengers (Spain, France). The 30-year-old man from Paris will play his first major event next week in Australia!