Albano Olivetti Makes Strides on the Comeback Trail

by John on July 22, 2016

A. Olivetti (1)

Frenchman Albano Olivetti’s return to the ATP Tour after an extended injury layoff has had its ups and downs, but as of late it appears to be on the upswing. The big-serving Frenchman was on the sidelines for 18 months after surgery for a cervical hernia following Wimbledon in 2014, and only returned to the tour this January. Prior to the injury, suffered in an auto accident, the 24-year-old Olivetti had established a reputation as one the Top Guns of Fast Serve. The 6-foot-8 Frenchman cracked a 160-mph serve at the Bergamo Challenger in February of 2012 and thus the legend grew. Only Sam Groth’s 163.7-mph missile three months later at Busan tops it. Olivetti also has a 158-mph bomb on his resume. More important than the locker room bragging rights that the monster serve could afford him was the fact that Olivetti had reached a career-high No. 161 ranking on May 26, 2014, shortly before the injury. The big Frenchman’s career was on the rise and his upside looked very promising. Olivetti started the comeback trail unranked and posted a 4-4 record in four Futures events, before gaining entry in February to the Wroclaw Challenger via protected ranking. He reached the quarterfinals before losing to German Dustin Brown. That would unexpectedly start a string of eight consecutive losses leading up to Wimbledon. Olivetti got his mojo back in London, winning three qualifying matches at Roehampton, before losing one of the best matches of the early rounds at the All England Club. Fellow qualifier Matt Barton of Australia defeated Olivetti 6-7 (7), 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-7 (5), 14-12 in an epic first-round marathon stretched out to three days due to rain stoppages. Olivetti served 56 aces in the match, the fourth most ever in a men’s contest. Since Wimbledon, the Frenchman has reached the quarterfinals at the Portugal F8 Futures (upping his ranking to No. 552) and Wednesday lost to top seed and 80th-ranked Evgeny Donskoy 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-7 (5) in the second round of the Recanati Challenger. Olivetti served 26 aces in the match and never faced a break point. The improvement shown in his last three tournaments should give the Frenchman a boost in confidence. That and more match play could be the answer to a significant climb up the ladder. Olivetti certainly has the talent and the athleticism. And the serve.

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