Category: Meknes

Meknes Challenger First Round In Review

Things got off to a riproaring start Monday in Meknes (or, if you’re Denis Gremelmayr, a R.I.P. roaring start, perhaps) as the top-seeded Gremel was deep-sixed by Guillermo Olaso in the very first main draw match of the tournament. (Actually, he was deep-seven-sixed and then deep-six-twoed, if you wanna get technical about it.) Olaso only served 47% first serves all match, too, if the stats are to be believed, plus he was broken in the first game of the match, and missed two chances to break right back.

He waited until Gremelmayr was serving for the first set at 5-4 to get the breakback, but get this: Gremel then broke a second time to secure another chance to serve it out. But you know how that went: no go. Olaso saved a set point, then broke for the breaker and came back from 2-4* down to win the last five points of the TB, winning the match 7-6(4) 6-2. This win alone might not be enough to take the 22-year-old to the next WATCH List, but another one certainly will. I’m really annoyed I didn’t wake up early enough to see this match, by the way, because the ATP lists his playing style as “Ambidextrous” and that’s something I’d like to verify with my own eye, TYVM.

So in my preview, I said that second seed Simon Greul would have a “less tricky” first rounder against Matteo Viola than Gremelmayr would have against Olaso; and my prescience was more than borne out, as Greul cruised to a 4-6 7-6(5) 7-5 victory. (What? It’s certainly “less tricky” than losing, no? It’s all relative.) The 29-year-old German only had to save a break point at a set down and 4-all, another one at 5-all, and then break in the crucial thirty-fourth game of the match and serve it out. Easy peasy.

But do you want to hear something shocking about this whole sordid affair? Here’s something: despite there having been 10 breaks of serve and 31 break points total, neither player was broken from 3-all in the second set until the penultimate game. Put another way: there were nine breaks in the first fourteen service games. Yikes.

I also wrote, in my preview, that the match between Nikola Ciric and seventh seed Augustin Gensse would be “a tough one to call”. Then I proceeded to call it anyways, in favor of Gensse. Of course, that sealed it right then and there, and Ciric went on to win 7-5 7-6(6), winning the last four points of the breaker from double set point down.

Other than that, there were no upsets on the day (although losing the first, second and seventh seeds out of only eight matches played on the first day should really be enough for most of you, honestly). Heilbronn champ and sixth seed Bastian Knittel initially had a tough time with Attila Balazs before drumming him out of the tournament 4-6 6-1 6-1. And I’m sad to report, for reasons that should be obvious to anyone who knows how infantile I can be, that wildcard Anas Fattar laid an egg against fifth seed Alessio Di Mauro, getting blown out of the singles 6-1 6-3. But he’s still alive in doubles (possibly because he hasn’t played his match yet – he’s up against the top seeds, don’tcha know. Poor Anas.)

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Week Seven aka Meknes Challenger Preview

Yup. Only one Challenger event to challenge you challenged/challenging fans this week. So expect me get microscopic on this beeyotch this week. Like, I’ll be analyzing the draw electron by electron this week. You’ll get every result in triplicate. All photos in three different sizes. I’ll be all over this here tourney:

Meknes, Morocco (Outdoor Clay, 30,000 Euros with lovely hospitality, 4,300 Euros/80 points to champion, last direct acceptance: Kevin Kim #261): Interestingly, this tournament has a more exclusive cutoff than any of the bigger money tournaments that happened last week. The reason? This is the only game in town, baby. Or the world, for that matter.  If you didn’t want to risk your luck in ATP qualies this week, or relegate yourself to Futures play, then the only thing a Challenger-level player could do this week is either rest/train or play here. Many chose the latter option.

28-year-old German top seed Denis Gremelmayr (ranked #108 in the world) has a tricky first rounder against 22-year-old Espaniard Guillermo Olaso, #230, who was last seen beating Challenger Tennis Player to Watch Javier Marti in the Spain F4 finals. [Author’s note: Damn it! I wrote this last night and fell asleep after the Prodon paragraph. Now I’ve woken up to Olaso winning 7-6(4) 6-2, and people will think I wrote the “tricky” part after the fact. But I didn’t! Sometimes I actually know stuff, I swear!)

29-year-old German second seed Simon Greul (ranked #111 in the world) has a less tricky first rounder against 23-year-old toe-tapping Italiano Matteo Viola, #211, who is only 1/5 on the year so far.

I’m very keen to see who faces Gremel in the second round, since another CT PtW, the just-signed-to-IMG Andrey Kuznetsov squares off against similarly-ranked Portugeezer Leonardo Tavares in An.Kuz’s first match since the Australian Open. Not sure what Kuz’s form will be like, but he likes the clay so he should be OK against his almost-exactly-seven-years-elder, 26-year-old opponent. ‘Course, Gremlin wiped Kuz off the court in their last (and only meeting) on clay (or anywhere), at the Poznan Challenger, 1 & 2, and had a tougher time on the dirt vs. Tavares in Marburg last year.  (Please note: this paragraph is almost entirely moot now that Olaso has won.)

Hey! Here’s some great news. On line 18 of our singles draw, we find one of my fave players listed there: the wildcard FATTAR, Anas. I’ll leave you to guess why he’s a fave of mine, however.

In that same quarter of the draw, we not only find Lamine Ouahab, but also Talal Ouahabi. I always used to say there was no “i” in “Ouahab”, but now I’m not so sure…

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