Category: Chennai


Young Guns Taking Shots At ATP Early

We’re only four days into the 2011 tennis season, and already some of the players who’ve spent most of their young pro careers at the Challenger level are making a bit of noise at this week’s ATP 250 events.  Here are the notable performances so far:

At the Brisbane International, unseeded 18 year-old Ryan Harrison made it through the qualifying tournament, taking out the hobbled third-seed Michael Russell before posting wins over solid Challenger players Matthias Bachinger and Jurgen Zopp to qualify.  Unfortunately for Ryan, he drew top seed Robin Soderling in the main draw, and went down to the fifth ranked player in the world 2-6 4-6 in a fairly respectable effort.

20 year-old Richie Berankis, last seen winning the Helsinki Challenger in a win that propelled him into the Top 100, has done Harrison one better: so far he’s not only qualified (including a tough three-set win against Peter Luczak in which the 5′ 9” Lithuanian served 23 aces against only 2 double faults) but then defeated former Top 25 player (and current #78) Arnaud Clement in straight sets.

 

Ricardas “Richard” Berankis and coach Remigijus “Regis” Balzekas after the Clement match

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Bad news, challenger fans.  I just had a look at the forecast for the two tournament locales, and the news is fairly grim.  See for yourselves:

And…

I’ll try to find out what the contingency plans are for both events. Pretty sure they can move indoors in Sao Paulo, but as you read in Jon’s Noumea Preview, Caledonia is shrouded in more mystery than the island from LOST, and they once cancelled the dubs due to rain.  So… we’ll see about that.

In the meantime, there’s good ATP 250 qualifying action taking place.  I’ll be watching both the Raonic vs. Roger-Vasselin and Goffin vs. Soeda final qualifying rounds from Chennai, and I’ll have full reports from those matches after their completion.  In the meantime, pray to the tennis gods or the weather gods or the atheist gods… whichever gods you’re on best of terms with.  And maybe there’ll be Challenger Tennis this week.  But right now, the outlook is not so good.

Notable Results From ATP Day One Qualifying

And on the first day of the new year, we suddenly went from a drowsy tennistical dormancy to a post-hibernation explosion of action.  Jeezum Pete!  It’s very difficult to keep up with it all.  If I had any discipline at all, and was true to my craft and my mission statement in any way, I wouldn’t focus on tour-level events at all.  After all, this is Challenger Tennis, right? 

But no – my OCD demands that I follow every player ranked outside the Top 90 (and even those inside it, though I will actually exercise restraint and refrain from writing about them).  Plus, it’s exciting to see the players who I (and maybe/hopefully you) have followed try to break through at the next level.  So, even though I have no time to do it properly, I’ll be following the qual draws of certain ATP tournaments (and possibly beyond), and probably doing a very poor job of it.  You’re just gonna have to deal.

And though my anal-lytic nature makes me want to separate all the different tourneys into different posts… to hell with it.  Here are some results I found particularly noteworthy from ATP Day One:

Brisbane International

[1] Adrian Mannarino def Carsten Ball 7-5 6-7(3) 7-6(7).  From all I’ve read, both lefties alternated playing lights out tennis.  And then the lights actually went out.  At 4-3 Ball in the final set tiebreak.  A crazy way to ring in the ATP New Year, and a match that I think will bookend the tennis year quite nicely.

Mannarino

Peter Polansky def [W] Ben Mitchell 6-1 6-7(5) 6-3.  Gotta love the 18 year-old Aussie.  Tremendous heart and a great attitude.  A solid effort in pushing the talented and more experienced Canadian to three sets and recovering from his first set sticking. 

[2] Ricardas Berankis def Jean-Rene Lisnard 6-7(4) 6-1 6-3.  I can’t believe Rycka got off to such a rickety start, losing the first set to The Lizard King.  And according to courtside reports, TLK was not happy with the next two sets, throwing a bottle at a ball kid and jawing with the chump.  Not all right.  Thankfully, the wee Lith recovered.  Otherwise, I’d have to eat Andy Roddick’s shortsNot all right.

Berankis is pleased.

[6] Peter Luczak def Alexander Peya 4-6 6-1 6-4.  Surprised that Looch lost that first set, but nice recovery from the 31 year-old.

[W] Greg Jones def [4] Simon Greul 7-6(2) 6-3.  This is my fave result of the day.  I’ve thought Greg was due for a breakthrough, and maybe this will be the springboard to better things for Jonesy in the new year.  We’ll see if he can beat his second German in a row when he plays Bastian Knittel later today.

Chennai

Vishnu Vardhan def [3] Conor Niland 4-6 7-5 6-4.  This was my big WTF *jaw drops* result from the first day’s matches.  Really thought Conor would be primed to hit the ground running this year.  But Vardhan had done well at the Asian Games, and I didn’t entirely discount his chances to do well in qualies (OK, maybe I did).  As for Conor, I think he’ll take it in stride, not getting too high or low and letting one result define his season.  He knows it’s a marathon more than most, I think.

Doha

Marko Djokovic def Ti Chen 6-4 6-3.  It ain’t easy being the middle child.  But it must be especially difficult for Marko Djoko.  Always in the shadow of his larger-than-life older bro, and trying to stay ahead of the reported talent of Djordje.  For this reason, I root for him.  Granted, a win over the #544 player in the world (with a career high of #255) isn’t the greatest thing he’ll hope to have on his resume when all is said and done.  But it’s better than losing.

Mikhail Ledovskikh def [7] James Ward 6-2 4-6 6-3.  The other big surprise of the day, but not as WTF’y as the Niland loss.  The 24 year-old Russian had finished last year with a run through the qualies into the quarterfinals at the Bratislava Challenger, and had beaten Marco Chiudinelli and Iliya Marchenko there.  So it’s not like he’s coming out of nowhere with this result.

This qualifying draw breakdown comes with one qualifier: to help expedite this analysis, I will be assuming that all Indians save for Sanam Singh, Vishnu Vardhan and Karan Rastogi cannot quite compete at this level and will thus not be advancing to QR2. Oh, and let’s pretend the same is true for all German wildcards as well. Please note: I did not say this would be a particularly fair or accurate assumption, but it will certainly make this draw analysis a hell of a lot easier.

And now, with almost half of all potential qualifiers eliminated from consideration by my reckless and sweeping assertion, let’s see which four gents might actually have a chance to advance into the main draw, shall we?  Oh wait, am I missing something here?  Oh yes – the drawIs as follows:

[1]SOEDA, Go JPN vs [WC] PUTTKAMMER, Daniel GER
SINGH, Karunuday IND vs [WC] GREMELMAYR, Andreas GER
GOFFIN, David BEL vs WAGH, Akash IND
PRASHANTH, N Vijay Sundar IND vs [7] MINAR, Ivo CZE

[2] ROGER-VASSELIN, Edouard FRA vs KHAN, Shahbaaz IND
SKUGOR, Franco CRO vs SINGH, Sanam IND
[WC] SELVARAJ, Ajai IND vs KIRILLOV, Evgeny RUS
SETKIC, Aldin BIH vs [5] RAONIC, Milos CAN

[3] NILAND, Conor IRL vs VARDHAN, Vishnu IND
PAVIC, Ante CRO vs QURESHI, Aisam-Ul-Haq PAK
RASTOGI, Karan IND vs RAM, Rajeev USA
RAJA, Purav IND vs [6] KUDRYAVTSEV, Alexandre RUS

[4] KRAVCHUK, Konstantin RUS vs SHARAN, Divij IND
PERANAMALLUR, Vignesh IND vs [WC] ROY, Rupesh IND
FRIEDL, Leos CZE vs MARTIN, David USA
VIRALI-MURUGESAN, Ranjeet IND vs [8] SUGITA, Yuichi JPN

First Quarter: So, based on my simple yet effective formula, it’s looking like top-seed Go Soeda will face the winner between David Goffin and [7] Ivo Minar for a main draw spot here. The case for Minar being that winner: he’s ranked higher (#167). The case for Goffin being that winner: he’s one of Challenger Tennis’ 2011 Players To Watch. Advantage: Goffin. For Go’s part, he hasn’t told it on the mountain (i.e. played) against either Goffin or the non-doctor Ivo. Who advances: much as I’d like to see one of CT’s chosen folk thrive early in the year, I suspect it will be the top-seeded Soeda getting through his section. But I wouldn’t mind being wrong at all, at all.

David Goffin

Second Quarter: I’m gonna call my first reckless upset of the season here, and tout Sanam Singh as the guy who emerges from the top half of this quarter. The UVA vet is no slouch at the professional level, though he’s played most of his ball in college thus far. Plus, Skugor had a less-than-convincing end of 2010 (losing his final five matches) and Roger-Vasselin ain’t exactly a hero on hard courts. So I say Singh pleases the locals and slides past Vasselin into the final qualifying round, where he’ll meet… Milos Raonic, of course. The Canadian with the cannonball serve has had time to rest his shoulder and he’s got very high aspirations for this year. I can’t see Aldin Setkic or Evgeny Kirillov really troubling him. Nor Singh, for that matter. Who advances: Raonic.

The Raonic Man – with Carsten Ball

Third Quarter: Well, even though Vishnu Vardan is someone I can’t offhandedly eliminate before my draw analysis gets underway, I can eliminate him now at the hands of Conor Niland. The top-ranked Irishman finished last year too well to be wholly bothered by the third-ranked Indian. Though he may be partially bothered by him. There’s definitely room for some partial botheration. I like Conor to come through over Ante Pavic or Aisam Qureshi as well.

I think Karan Rastogi might go a bit further toward making an impact on Rajeev Ram‘s game deeper into the third quarter, but I expect Ram to come good, even though he didn’t give the Entouraj much to cheer about last year (if anything). And that leads us to an interesting QR2, because Alexander Kudryavtsev – despite impressing in his run to the semis of the Bratislava Challenger semis late last year – has an 0-2 head-to-head against Raj, with both losses coming on hard courts and one coming last year in Chennai. Things look as favorable as they could for the American to find his way into the FQR against Niland. But that’s as far as I expect him to go, assuming he gets that far. It’s Niland who advances out of this section, I think.

Fourth Quarter: I think the one player with the most to be pleased with in all of the Chennai qualifying draw is 4th seed Konstantin Kravchuk. Besides the other seed in his section, Yuichi Sugita, the highest ranked player is outside the Top 500, and Kravchuk won his only previous meeting with Sugita. So look for the 25 year-old Russian to join Soeda, Raonic and Niland in kickstarting their 2011 campaigns with an ATP main draw appearance.

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