You know the drill by now: circling globe, timezones, order, blah blah…

Singapore

You know what they say: “When it Singarains, it Singapores.” And if you don’t know they say that, it’s probably ’cause I just made that up. Regardless: it rained, it poured – I hear that somewhere an old man even snored. And play is delayed another day.

Reunion Island

Should I just link to the Harri Heliovaara blog now instead of typing a whole update at this point? I’ve been stealing from it all week, and it certainly would be easier on this end. Well, let’s see what he has to say today, shall we? *opens Helioblog*

“Hohhoijaa, no one played here today…because of rain and thunderstorms continued throughout the day, almost without a break,” is how he starts (I can’t be sure, but I think he sneezed there at the very beginning). My heart was in my throat as I read this part: “…hope that none of them use Google Translate to read the blog and drag the pea nose! :-D”

“Whaaa?!” I thought. “Is he talking about me?” And before you think that’s too delusion-of-grandeural, I know for a fact I’ve sent tens of people Harri’s way from this site this week (actual number: 56 at the time of this typing). My second panicked thought was: “How does he know I do that with the pea nose?!”

But, no – it just turns out I had read ahead without any context and also that I have no reading comprehension skills. Harri spends his blog today comparing and contrasting whom he feels are the best young up-and-coming players, based on who he’s played, and it’s a fantastic read (especially since I do a lot of that myself, having played absolutely no one). But he’s worried that the players will use Google Translate and then do their pea-nose dragging. Which is totally something they would do, let’s face it. Anyway, his list is fascinating, and it’s comforting to see a lot of the same people that have made an impression on me have made one on him as well (although his evaluation of Dan Cox is way off base, haha). I won’t give away his findings, but if you’re a fan of up-and-coming players, I highly encourage you to go read the crappy Google Translation of it. And take the pea nose only if you must. Last chance.

Heilbronn

What? There was actually tennis played at the Challenger level today? How did that happen?! (Nevermind that it’s indoors.) OK, I guess I’ll write about tennis now.

In the first semifinal, Ilija Bozoljac took us on a wild ride, as he often does. The 25 year-old Serb saved a match point at 4-5* in the third against Bastian Knittel, then had a match point at 6-5* in the third, before losing 6-4 3-6 6-7(4). That’s our Bozo! But it’s a great run for the 27 year-old German, who reaches his first challenger final since Blunmenau last April (which was also, I think, his only challenger final ever – though you might wanna fact check that for me. Thanks.)

His opponent will be the oft-maligned Daniel Brands, who is once again performing well on home soil, as he has been known to do (he’s a proud Bavarian Deggendorfer, don’tcha know? And if you don’t know, then I do). Did you also know that the only players who have had more consecutive years with an improved year-end ranking are Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic? It’s true.  They’ve improved-or-equaled their year-end rankings for 8 consecutive years (ties count), while Mr. Brands is just behind them at 7.

Anyway, Daniel beat Jesse Huta Galung 7-6(1) 7-5, with the Brandsman relinquishing an early second set break but then rebreaking in the 11 game, when the rebreaking is often so good. Served it out at 15, too. Good man. (For those wondering, I have no nifty stats with which to dazzle you about Jesse, other than the fact that I think “Fruit of the Loom” whenever I hear “Huta Galung”)

Brandi und Basti have thrice played, with Brands holding a 2-1 head-to-head edge. Of course, they haven’t played in five years, but that shouldn’t stop you from using those H2H numbers to bet loads and loads of money, now should it?

BUCARAMANGA!

I saw a tweet where Bucaramanga doubles finalist Pablo Galdon wrote about Bucaramanga in ALL CAPS, and I thought I had started a trend here. Then I remembered that no one actually reads this shit. Ah well, his loss! (He lost the dubs final, btw – maybe next time he’ll remember the names Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal, jajaja).

And I have to start a new paragraph, because surely that “l” word can’t be used in the same stanza with Fernando Romboli’s name, as he will never “l” again (as accurately (so far) predicted here a couple of days ago). Jose Acasuso was my 2011 Challenger Tennis Player To Watch’s latest victim, going down hard 1-6 2-6 to the talented Brazilian 22 year-old, who now reaches his first challenger final (this one I’m sure of, thanks).

“This is the most important win of my career,” he said again in Portuguese (he keeps doing that!). If you go to that linked article right there, you will also see that Dr. Bang is still giving advice to conduct a pre efficient. This comes as no small relief to me, especially as I’ve been doing a lot of pea-nose dragging of late.

Romboli’s next victim will be fifth seeded Frenchman Eric Prodon, who beat Martian Reda El Amrani 6-2 6-4. “If I impose my game, get the block to rock you have great chances in the match,” said Fernando about tomorrow’s final. And truer words were never Google Translated.

Honolulu

I’m very pleased to see that Alex Kuznetsov is through to a challenger final. And no, it’s not because he beat the guy who insulted the beloved Futures events I’ve been covering the last few weeks, Jesse Witten. I’m over that. Really. I am. No, see, I’ve been partial to Alex ever since hearing about that car accident in which he broke his leg so many years ago. I even wrote an article about him awhile back, somewhere (he says cryptically). So to see Al.Kuz (not to be confused with An.Kuz, my 2011 Player To Watch selection) in his first Challenger final in five years is heartening indeed to a softy like me.

He beat Witten 4-6 6-1 6-4, and will face another come-from-behind winner, as sixth seed Ryan Harrison beat top seed Michael Russell 2-6 6-3 6-3 (I told you it would be closer than 4-0 ret. this time). It may surprise you to know: Al.Kuz has a 2-0 H2H record against Ryno. Sure, one of those times was when Harrison was just 16, but the other was less than a year ago at the US Clay Courts in Houston. Hmmmm.

On edit: ah yes, Al.Kuz also made the final of the Lexington Challenger in 2009, losing a tough 4-6 6-4 2-6 decision to Harel Levy. Thank you to faithful and eagle-eyed reader Joca for the correction!

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