In the only order our spinning planet could bring them to you, here were today’s Challenger happenings:
Eighth seed Andrej Martin kicked off the day’s play by kicking top seed Somdev “Millionaire” Devvarman to the curb, 6-3 6-4. The 21 year-old Slovakian has been on the ups for a while now, increasing his win percentage every year since 2008, his first full year as a pro. Last year he went 55/22, and this year he’s off to an even better 7/2 start. Currently ranked a career high #177 and headed for Monday’s WATCH List, he now stands to gain at least 10 spots on the rankings ladder for his efforts with possibilities of going much higher.
In the semis, Martin will play popular Russian Dmitry Tursunov, who avenged his ’09 Australian Open loss to Flavio Cipolla – albeit in a belated kind of way – with a 5-7 6-3 6-2 triumph. Cips came back from 0-2 to take the five-break first set, but then Tursunov took four of the five remaining breaks in the ten-break match. 1st serve winning percentage (67% to 58%) seems to have accounted for the difference in this one, going from a purely statistical perspective (which one must never do). Martin and Tursunov have yet to play one another. One assumes that will soon change.
5th-seeded, 25-year-old Czecher Lukas Rosol beat unseeded 30 year-old Uniter Michael Yani 4-6 6-4 6-2 in one of the other four quarterfinals on the day (’cause that’s how many they play, you know). Yani broke for the first set in the 10th game, but Rosol helped himself to the remaining three breaks this match had to offer. As with the Tursunov match, service effectiveness seems to be a major reason for this win. Rosol will meet 2nd seed Go Soeda, who pasted Tatsuma Ito 6-3 6-0 in the final QF, even while serving at 45% (an 80% winning pct on second serves will help where that is concerned). Soeda won their only previous meeting. Five years ago.
God, I hope Harri Heliovaara watched the tennis today. *crosses fingers and opens blog*
Nope, he spent the day inside watching figure skating and reading David Baldacci instead. Can’t say I blame him. Today’s Helioblog is still insightful and funny as ever. He thinks the backlogged/waterlogged schedule of play (it rained again) will help him if Stephane Robert (one of his doubles opponents) has to play back-to-back matches. Then again, “Let’s hope, however, that he did not play any matches in a marathon, because it would be nice to get to play at all. Here, it becomes dark already after six, and the field lights not bright enough that they should not play the race matches. Match is tomorrow, a special program jointly “To Be Arranged” when players are available “, ie it can begin at any time really!”
Haha – Harri rules blogschool. What? Tennis? Sure, some of that happened too.
8th seed David Guez apparently decided he didn’t want to be there anymore, sometime between when his match against countryman Mathieu Rodrigues was suspended at 7-5 0-2 and when he came back onto the court the next day to lose 5-7 0-6 0-6. Second seed Michael Przysiezny seemed like he was heading down the same path, losing the first two games of his rain-resumed 6-2 5-all match with Belgium’s Clement Maas, but – unlike Guez – he didn’t say “No mas” (or the Polish equivalent) and recovered for a 6-2 5-7 6-1 win. Przysiezny will play Heliovaara-defeating sixth seed Yuri Schukin in the quarters. Assuming he doesn’t disappear in the middle of the night, that is. (How close is Reunion Island to Easter Island I wonder?)
Top seed Florent Serra had himself a semi-handy 6-0 7-6(6) win over Italy’s Daniele Giorgini. And the aforementioned Stephane Robert, 4th seed, was a 6-4 6-2 winner over Austria’s Martin Slanar. He’ll meet the patron saint of my Twitter homepage, Alexander Sadecky, in the quarters. Sadecky beat qualifier Mark Sibilla 6-3 6-2.
Jesse Huta Galung survived a 49% first serve pct to beat Matthias Bachinger 3-6 6-4 6-2. One break of serve determined each of the first sets, and four breaks determined the third, with Huta coming back from 1-2 down and breaking three times to reel off the final five games of the match. Lots of basic primary numbers in that analysis.
JHG will face sixth-seeded Daniel Brands, who’s finally putting a string of wins back together after a bit of a dormant/lackluster period; it’s the first time he’s won three straight matches since his 4th round Wimbledon showing last summer. Brands beat the tourney’s second seed, Michael Berrer, 6-3 7-6(6). Berrer was broken twice in the first set, and then lost the last four points of the second set TB, missing out on a couple of set points along the way. The Brandsman won his only previous meeting with Huta. Four years ago. On carpet.
Ilija Bozoljac rode the momentum of a tough first set tiebreak to a 7-6(8) 6-2 win over Conor Niland. The enigmatic 25-year-old Serb had backhanded wide at *3-4 to cede the mini-break but then backhand winnered at 4-5* to get it back. Bozo hit long on his first set point, and then Conor erased another with a service winner. Niland had a set point at 8-7* but netted a return, and Bozoljac took the last three points of the breaker.
Bozo will play Bastian Knittel, who destroyed compatriot Dominik Meffert 6-1 6-2. The two have never met. Not even socially.
Two words: Fernando Romboli. Dude will never be beaten again, I’m telling you. For his latest trick, the 22 year-old Brazilian qualifier extraordinaire (and 2011 Challenger Tennis Player to Watch) defeated Giovanni Lapentti 6-3 6-4 to reach his first ever Challenger semifinal. “I played solid from the beginning,” Romboli said in Portuguese, “First time in the semis of a challenger is really a great tournament for me.” According to the tenisnewsbrasil Twitter feed, Romboli was set to play the Florida Futures tourneys that someone keeps so writing so damn much about round these parts, but changed his mind during the Sao Paolo Challenger, deciding to risk his game against a higher quality field in Colombia this week. Well, my loss is Romboli’s gain. His gamble has already paid off, and even if he doesn’t win another match, the Rio man will make the WATCH list inside the Top 260 on Monday, which is pretty damn good considering he was #491 in October and outside the Top 400 just two months ago. Well done, sir.
Romboli will play Jose Acasuso, who took a surprisingly easy 6-3 6-1 decision over Portugal’s up-til-this-match somewhat-on-fire Gastao Elias.
5th-seeded Frenchman Eric Prodon beat 3rd-seeded Brazilian Joao Souza 4-6 6-3 6-3, and Reda El Amrani continues to have a great tourney, having followed up on his three-set win over 2 seed Horacio Zeballos with another three-set victory over Andres Molteni.
6 seed Ryan Harrison notched a hard-fought (one assumes) decision over 3 seed Ryan Sweeting 7-6(8) 6-4. He’ll play top seed Michael Russell, who came through a similarly tough-seeming 6-4 7-6(3) scoreline over Vasek Pospisil. Harrison actually “beat” Russell earlier this month in the Brisbane International qualies 4-0 ret., but I daresay it’ll be a closer contest than that.
Meanwhile, 8 seed Jesse Witten clearly never wants to go back to Futures level ever again after his Tamarac experience. He upset Robert Kendrick 7-5 3-6 6-2 and will meet Alex Kuznetsov, himself an upset winner – 6-3 2-6 7-6(4) over  Bobby Reynolds – in the other semifinal. Witten holds a 3-1 head-to-head advantage over Kuznetsov, including a third-set-tiebreak squeaker at the Sacramento Challenger this past October.