In the grand three-day Challenger Tennis tradition, we will now update you on today’s important events in the order the circling globe presented them to us:
Sweden’s Nick Lindahl (I’ll never tire of writing that) won a rain-delayed first round match against Canada’s Peter Polansky, only to have to retire down a 0-6 2-1 to Japan’s Tastuma Ito. True story. More details as events warrant (author’s note: this is probably the last you’ll ever read of this here – seek answers elsewhere!). Ito will meet Japanese countryman Go Soeda, the second seed, in the quarterfinals; Soeda saw off Ivo Klec 7-5 6-3, despite only getting in 49% of first serves. Soeda leads his head-to-head with Ito 3-1.
Fifth seed Lukas Rosol blew a 4-1* third set lead and three match points from 6-3* in a decisive tiebreak against Rajeev Ram before taking the match 7-5 4-6 7-6(6), tight as you like (both guys held after facing 2 break points each in the 9th and 10th games). Rosol will face 30 year-old wildcard Mike Yani, a 6-2 6-4 upset winner over third seed Paolo Lorenzi. The 29-year-old Lorenzi now has just 5 wins in his last 18 outings, dating back to last July.
Flavio Cipolla runs his 2011 record to 7/2 with a 6-0 40-15 ret. over Dusan Lojda, and will meet Dimitry Tursonov in the quarters, who won 6-3 6-2 over Indian wildcard Karan Rastogi. Cipolla won their only previous meeting, in four sets at the first round of the 2009 Australian Open.
The Mailman John Millman did not, in fact, deliver today, as he went down 4-6 3-6 to top-seeded Somdev Devvarman. Somdev Millionaire will meet eighth seed Andrej Martin in the QF’s, who won 6-4 7-5 over Matteo Viola.
I have to admit: my heart was in my throat when I saw that Harri Heliovaara had lost his singles match to sixth seed Yuri Schukin, 4-6 6-4 3-6; we can’t lose our Reunion Island ambassador so soon! (Heliovaara agreed with my initial assessment in his blog: “What a nuisance!” he begins. Exactly, son.) But then I clicked the combo draw and, much to my relief, I saw that he and Mathieu Rodrigues are still alive in doubles, having advanced via walkover over (over)* 2nd seeds Philipp Oswald and Pierre-Ludovic Duclos (who apparently bailed to make the ATP Johannesburg tourney). Phew – crisis averted!
Oh, Reunion Island – Never Change
I love Harri’s summation of the Duclos-Oswald decision, by the way: “I think it is pretty stupid in general to participate in the contest, if it is more difficult to play out… so I do not understand at all why they came here.” For an ambassador, he sure doesn’t pull any punches, does he? Anyway, we’ve got him in the draw until Saturday, people! Also worth noting: Helio’s efforts this week, combined with his winning the Great Britain F2 Futures last week in Sheffield, means that not only will he make next week’s WATCH List, but he’ll be very close to overtaking Henri Kontinen and Timo Nieminen for Finland’s coveted #2 position behind perennial torch-bearer Jarkko Nieminen.
Apparently, it was an even muggier day today on The Island than it was yesterday. But then a rain came, delaying play for an hour or so but also bringing some small relief – a decent trade-off, in my book. The trade-off might not be worth it in the books of David Guez, Mathieu Rodrigues, Michael Przysiezny and Clement Maas, though, as they had their matches suspended due to said rain, to be resumed on Friday. Guez led Rodrigues 7-5 0-2 and Przysiezny was up 6-2 5-5 on Maas.
Andreas Haider-Maurer could not be saved by the Reunion rain, however. The Austrian tried to play through a fever and a back problem but had to retire up 7-6 0-3. Poor guy is grounded by his illness now and can’t fly to Johannesburg (where he’d be into his second direct ATP main draw ever).
Conor Niland with another very good win, 6-4 2-6 7-6(3) over Bratislava Challenger champ Martin Klizan, following up on his victory over 8th seed Marco Chiudinelli in the first round. The Irish #1 held from 0-40 at 4-all in the first set and then broke for it from Klizan serving in the next game at 40-15. Klizan fought off break points in both the 2nd and 4th games of the 3rd set before breaking in the not-so-crucial 7th game to take a short-lived 4*-3 lead in the decider (he was broken back in the very next game). He called it “a wee bit ugly” on Twitter (7 double faults from each player contributing, I’m sure), but I still wish I’d seen it.
Conor will face Ilija Bozoljac in the QF’s, who – in addition to beating third seed Tobias Kamke 6-4 3-6 6-3 (with 10 double faults to go with his 18 aces) – has the Twitter line of the day, courtesy of Dusan Vemic. I’ll be watching this one. (Livestream here, probably.)
Jesse Huta Galung won a crazy one, 4-6 7-6(7) 7-5 over Sweden’s Michael Ryderstedt, finally converting his 5th set point in the 2nd set TB, then breaking in the penultimate game of the match and fending off breakback points in the last one. JHG had 25 aces and 6 doubles, while Ryder had 21/6 – wow. He’ll meet Matthias Bachinger now (well, later, at the current time of typing), who won 6-1 6-4 over The American Boggo, Alex Bogomolov Jr. Huta and Bachi are 1-all in their H2H, but haven’t met in three years or so.
The only other Heilbronnian result of the day is: Michael Berrer over Jerzy Janowicz 6-3 7-6(5)
Gosh – some amazingly interesting results from the ‘manga today. Where to start? How ’bout here: remember how I said Fernando Romboli would never lose again? Well, I was right. At least for one day. The qualifier ousted 8 seed Diego Junqueira 4-6 6-4 7-6(5) to make his first Challenger quarterfinal. Dude’s only 41-7 in his last 48 matches. No biggie. The Brazilian 22 year-old (a Player to Watch selection) was broken serving for the second set only to break right back at 5-4* to take it anyway. Chuky led 5-2* in the deciding breaker too, but couldn’t fend off the inevitable.
And that was kind of a terrible place to start, actually, as there were three upsets even bigger than that one. Gastao Elias, probably the only player as comparably hot in the last couple of months as Romboli, upset Federico Delbonis 6-4 3-6 6-0; the Martian Reda El Amrani beat second seed Horacio Zeballos 6-4 3-6 6-4, despite 11 double faults; and Giovanni Lapentti took out top-seeded Alejandro Falla 6-4 6-1. Other winners on the day:  Joao Souza d Jorge Aguilar 7-5 6-2,  Eric Prodon d [Q] Julio Cesar Campozano 4-6 6-3 6-4, Andres Molteni d Ricardo Hocevar 6-1 6-4, and Jose Acasuso d Rogerio Dutra Da Silva 6-2 6-4.
Vasek Pospisil’s determined to not be outdone by his Canadian compatriot, Milos Raonic – well, I suppose a Challenger quarterfinal doesn’t come close to equaling a R16 Slam result, but I’m still impressed by the 20 year-old’s 6-1 6-2 smoking of seventh seed Tim Smyczek; it was his first win in three tries over the 23 year-old (and a mirror image of when they last played in September at the Tulsa Challenger). Not a bad result over a five-time Challenger quarterfinalist in 2010, I say. He’ll play top seed Mikey Russell next, who breezed past Nick Monroe 6-0 6-2. Nick and partner Brett Joelson also lost a heartbreaker in doubles today, 9-11 in the match tiebreak to Canadians Phillip Bester and Kamil Pajkowski (what is it with Canucks in paradise these days). Bester did lose in singles, however, 6-4 4-6 4-6 to Alex Kuznetsov.
Sixth seed Ryan Harrison romped over Ryler Deheart 6-3 6-0 and will meet third seed Ryan Sweeting, who had a decidedly tougher time with Greg Jones, whose perpetually hard-seeming luck continued in the form of a 4-6 7-5 5-7 R2 loss. At least you’re in Hawaii, dude. (Harrison won his only previous meeting with Sweeting, by the way – a straight set win at the Charlottesville Challenger in November). Fifth-seeded Bobby Reynolds scored a convincing 6-4 6-2 win over Texas A&M standout Austin Krajicek and will meet Kuznetsov in the QF’s. Reynolds leads their head-to-head 4-3.
Eighth seed Jesse Levine, no doubt thrilled he’s no longer playing Futures, pulled through a tough 5-7 6-4 7-6(5) battle with local wildcard/fave Dennis Lajola and will meet the 4-and-4-Roman-Borvanov-defeating Robert Kendrick next.