Subtitled: Seriously – How Freaking Awesome Were My Previews? (A: Very.)

I know, I know. Challenger what now? For a site with “Challenger” in the name, I’ve sure written very little about them this week. I’ve been suffering from a bad case of Futurebrain (much worse than bed head, I’m afraid), but will be back to yammering daily about the challenger circuit soon. In the meantime, will you settle for this weekly summary instead? You have no choice, really. I’m just asking to be polite.

But seriously – how freaking awesome were my previews? (please see answer, above.) Let’s take a look at what actually transpired in this past week’s three events, and match it up to what I said would happen beforehand. This will be an exercise whose worth can be computed only on a scale of my own awesomeness. Ready? Doesn’t matter:

Courmayeur

I wrote:

“I’m pleased to see Lithuanian #2 (behind “Richard” Berankis, of course) Laurynas Grigelis has made it through qualifying…I would tell anyone who listened back then that Laury played well above his then-521 ranking. Less than 11 months later, my sentiment has been somewhat borne out as Grigelis will likely enter the Top 400 next week.”

So guess what? Turns out Grigelis made it all the way to the quarterfinals, and his ranking will be at a WATCH-worthy366 (or so) when the new rankings come out in about five minutes. You see? I’m smarter than even I thought I was! (Hard to imagine, I know, but it’s true.)

Grigelis, at right, with some other Lithuanian dude, laughing in awe re: my amazing intelligence

Then I wrote:

“A possible quarterfinal in the top section here pits Bolelli vs. fifth seed (and 2011 CT PtW) Benoit Paire… But Matthias Bachinger will probably beat them both anyway. Because that’s just the kind of thing he does.”

So what happened? Well, Bachinger did beat Paire, but couldn’t beat Bolelli because Grigelis had already done so. *feels doubly vindicated* He then beat Big Grig in the quarters for good measure, finally losing to Nicolas Mahut in the semis.

Matthias Bachinger, at left, with friend Daniel Brands, mocking you for doubting my prescience

All the seeds on the bottom half of the draw made the quarters, which is amazing because those are the only players I even mentioned in my preview. Never mind that I was short of time and mentioning the seeded entrants was the most obvious way to do the fastest preview possible. The important takeaway here is that I mentioned four players, and all four of them made the quarterfinals. Remark-a-balls. (Let the official record show those players were: Martin Klizan, Gilles Muller, Jerzy Janowicz and Olivier Rochus.)

Mahut went on to beat Muller 7-6(4) 6-4 in the final, which is fine because I mentioned him too.

All results!

Kazan

I wrote about top seed Conor Niland’s dodgy lunch. Then he withdru with the flew.  Coincidence?  I think not.

I wrote about there possibly being an upset in the Marius Copil vs. three seed Alexander Kudryavtsev match. And then he went on to win the whole damn tournament (he beat fourth-seeded Andi Beck 7-6(6) 6-4)! I mean, how’s that for an upset?! Nevermind that that’s not what I predicted, specifically. Or that I bunched his upset possibility with the fates of two other combatants, neither of whom came through as I’d insinuated they might. The point here is: I’m awesome. (Remember?)

Marius Copil, the Romanian Roddick, a long time ago in a completely different tournament

Seriously, though – I’m as pleased for Marius as I am gutted that Amir Weintraub was so trounced in his match against Uladzimir Ignatik. I’m expecting the next edition of Weintraub’s column to be especially tear-jerking; that dude just seems to be feeling so much pressure at the moment, and not dealing too well with it to boot.

Conversely, it’s wonderful to see the Romanian Roddick (as I call Copil, and will do until it catches on) do so well. Not only was he one of my 2010 Players to Watch (and my second lowest-ranked pick to start, behind Gastao Elias), but I remember how upset he was when he missed the cutoff for US Open quals by just one spot (ironically, this is the very same thing Weintraub was sweating at this year’s Australian Open). But all that’s in the past, and now the 20 year-old with the well-rounded all-court game will be very close to the Top 200 when the new rankings come out. So he should no longer have to worry about Grand Slam qualifying cutoffs for quite some time. I’m looking for him to go still higher than that, however.

All Kazanian results (including doubles) can be found by clicking your cursor right here.

A funny and Ka-zany interview with the winner can also be found with a bit of skilled cursor clickage here.

p.s. I’m pleased that Andi Beck’s back seems to be holding up, after a long layoff. He’s my tennistical doppelganger, you know (i.e. the player who’s game most resembles mine) (or vice versa) (so is it just a coincidence that I have a bad back, too? Doubtful).

Burnie

I wrote about the special-sauced Aussie bloodbath in my Tuesday review. That theme continued with the withdrawal of Chris Guccione before the final due to an achilles injury, leaving Italian champ Flavio Cipolla with nothing to do other than walkover him, which he did (that heartless bastard!). But well done to Ben Mitchell and Bernard Tomic to survive the first round Aussie massacre and dominate their quarter of the draw, advancing to the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively (Tomic beat Mitchell 6-3 3-6 6-4 in their matchup). Well done also to the Great British Beanpole (TM Colin Fleming), James Ward, who got his second win of the season, thus tying Alex Ward for most British Wardwins in 2011.

Oh, and I totally called that Ivo Minar upset. Final draw/results can be found right here.

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