Tag Archive: Alex Bogdanovic


The British Are Coming! USA F2 Futures Final Report From Tamarac

I’m not sure what Paul Revere would’ve made of the USA F2 Futures finals in Tamarac, FL, were he alive today. If he had shouted, “The British are coming!” he’d have likely been shushed ’cause – dude, you gotta be quiet at the tennis. Also: duh. We know, Paul – they’re already here in the final, in the form of Dan Smethurst and third seed Alex Bogdanovic.

The last time these two had met, in the second round of Queens Club qualies (“AEGON Championships” what now?), the Bog Monster prowled the grass and ate his younger foe up to the tune of a 6-1 6-0 drubbing. But for this final, we’d have much different circumstances: a different year, a different surface, a different country and a different Smethurst and Bogdanovic. Coming into the final, Smethurst had been hitting the cover off the ball and was the player who’d impressed me the most all week, while Bogdanovic was still making somewhat nascent strides back following a back injury. So I suspected we’d be in for a much more competitive encounter this time around and, for once, I was actually right.

An impressive crowd of over fifty people gathered on a sunny, if cool, day to watch the Brit-on-Brit action unfold. As one who champions the events and players I feel never get enough attention for their efforts, this was very nice to see. Oftentimes the locals can’t be bothered to come out and see top-tier pro tennis, even if the price is right (i.e. free) and they live within walking distance. But it was clear that tournament director Damon Henkel, club pro Diego Ayala and office manager/press liaison extraordinaire Kristen Lake had done a superb job of getting the word out, and as a result I heard more appreciative applause for points in this match than I’ve heard during countless matches featuring Top Hundred players at ATP events or the US Open.

The Assembled Masses

Happily, we were all treated to some terrific tennis. And thankfully, the match even went on at all as I almost ran over Boggo in the men’s room as I was walking briskly in and he was heading out just before warm-ups. In keeping with one of the week’s trends, the player who won the toss (Bogdanovic) elected to receive. Usually this hasn’t worked out well for the elector. But Boggo came up with two good, deep returns on the first points; and after a Smethurst-smothered forehand into net on the initial exchange, I feared that maybe lingering thoughts of Queens were still in the unseeded challenger’s head. A calm and confident point from the 20-year-old at love-15 showed me how stupid I am to conjure conclusions from just one point of tennis. Smetty closed the second point with a well-struck forehand volley, and held from there with two service winners and a missed-but-makeable forehand return from the Bogman. Smethurst, while a powerful guy, doesn’t necessarily have a serve that will blow an opponent off the court with a humongous ace count, but his delivery is strong enough to generate a decent amount of free points from service winners and short replies from which he can dictate with his forehand.

Smetserve

Initially, all of Bogdanovic’s serves went to Dan’s backhand. And after an almost-whiffed first return and three more misses off that wing, one certainly couldn’t argue with the strategy, as Boggo held to love for 1-all and didn’t lose a point in his first two service games.

Bog Monster Serve

In Smethy’s second service game, a stone-handed high forehand volley into the net had me again thinking of that damned Queens score (when would I learn?), but clearly I was more affected by it than Smethurst was. He pumped in an unreturned serve on the second point and then Boggo took over with his usual maddening mix of brilliant winners and head-scratching errors – one of the former, three of the latter – to help the ‘hurst get to double his total games won from their previous contest.

At 2-all, Smethurst played his best game to date, with two forehand winners and an ace up the T, and I finally (FINALLY!) stopped thinking about Queens. Go me.

At 2-3, Bogdanovic serving, Alex hit a forehand into net and a backhand wide to 0-30, then Dan decided to change things up completely with a backhand into net and a forehand wide. I still can’t decide which point-losing one-two punch I prefer. Either way: 30-all. A frankly Mr. Shankly Bogdanovic-framed forehand into orbit put the Bogman down break point. But some solid hitting yielded a Smethurst-sliced backhand long to deuce. Smethurst lucked out with a forehand net cord winner for another BP, but Boggo erased it with a nice serve out wide. They deuced it out a bit from there before two Smetted backhand errors made it 3-all. “C’mon Alec!” the woman next to me shouted encouragingly.

I don’t know if Alec was encouraged, but Alex did fairly well for the rest of the set. At 4-all, with Smethurst serving, Boggo served up a perfect drop shot/lob combo meal. I’m not sure if Smetty tweaked something running for those balls, but he came up a bit gimpy and wincy off a 0-15 double fault, appearing to favour (note: English spelling conventions will be observed for the duration of this Brit-focused article) his left leg and perhaps not able to push off on his delivery as well as he liked. Another second serve ticked long off the tape at 30-all. “30-15,” said the umpire. “Are you sure? That’s 30-40,” said Bogdanovic. “30-40,” said the umpire. And one Smetted netted backhand later, we had our first break of the match.

With Boggo serving for the set at 30-all, Smethurst was set up to crank a mid-courtish forehand into some undetermined corner of the court but dumped it into the net instead. “Fucking footwork,” he self-admonished and followed it up with little dance-like manoeuvre that I swear recalled Michael Jackson’s move by the pool table in the “Beat It” video. His leg may have been tweaked a tad, but his self-mocking movement parodies were still right up there with the legends.

On Boggo’s first set point, the 26 year-old showed catlike quickness at net, reflexing a Smethursted pass off the net cord, only to be passed overhead with a nifty Smethoisted lob. But the third seed closed out the set 6-4 with an inside-out forehand winner and an ace out wide.

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Tamarac USA F2 Semifinals – Now With Ballkids!

The day started off overcast, blustery and chilly as the USA F2 Tamarac 10K semifinals kicked off in the form of unseeded American qualifier Phillip Simmonds, a former Australian Open junior doubles champ, meeting the third-seeded Alex Bogdanovic, the only seed remaining in the tournament. The first semi was played, counter-intuitively enough, on Court 2, where gusts of wind blew little showers of leaves all over the court. In addition to the leaves, linespeople and ballkids also dotted the court – in some cases just as randomly – for the first time all week.

Mr. Simmonds won the toss and elected to receive. Which didn’t work out so well for the 24 year-old, as the British Boggo (not to be confused with the American Boggo, Alex Bogomolov Jr.) only paused for a few chairs to blow over on his way to a quick four-winner (three forehand, one service) hold. Boggo was rocking the inside-out forehand early, as he knocked off his third of the match on Simmonds’ first service point.

The Bogman Unleashed

At 15-all, some elderly country club yokel started shouting “HELLO! HELLLO!” to tournament director Damon Henkel mid-point, resulting in a netted Simmonds backhand and a sour Philface, the American as distracted at the outset as the Brit was plugged in. Three points later, Bogdanovic had broken to 2-0 on a forehand down-the-line passer.

The 26-year-old ball-striker par excellance was not leaving a single shot in his bag in the first set, throwing in an ace, a couple of successful net ventures and a nifty half-volley drop shot winner on his way to a quick 3-0 lead. Simmonds made it all the way to deuce in his next service game before he was passed by another forehand from the Bog Monster and then unceremoniously dumped a forehand into the bottom of the net (I find it’s always better to do one’s forehand dumping in a ceremonious fashion, but that’s just me).

The Sky Is Falling – Simmonds Shields Himself From A Collapsing Universe

The American deuced it up again in the next game but then netted a backhand after a 20-shot rally and promptly self-flagellated with his ball cap (and here, Phil gets it right: if you’re going to self-flagellate, by all means be prompt about it). More shots were hit, as sometimes happens in tennis matches, and before you knew it, Bogdanovic had the first set in his posession, 6-1, with no intention of ever giving it back.

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Friday’s Tamarac USA F2 Quarterfinal Report

OK. So. For the USA F2 Tamarac quarterfinals, I’ll be doing my match reports a bit differently. Instead of my usual 7,912-word treatise on who hit what shot on which point and the expression on their faces when they hit them, I’ll be giving you more of a big picture sense of how things unfolded on the day. You know, a sense of the larger drama and the overall context within which today’s tennis was framed (and sometimes even stringed). The devil is in the details, after all, and I’ve heard that distance can add perspective.

All of which is another way of saying: I spent most of the day socializing my fool head off, and blithely ignored most of the day’s details. But I regret nothing! The socializing, it was good.

Some snapshots from today’s play, which we’ll say is indicative of the larger whole:

Phillip Simmonds USA d David Souto VEN 7-6(3) 6-3: The 18-year-old Venezuelan is a big, lefty beast, more growling than grunting with every viciously topspun shot.

Beast Mode: Engaged

Unfortunately for me, my 2011 Player To Watch prospect exhibits behavior this match that is fairly beastly as well. Serving at 2-3 15-30, he ambles in to retrieve a poor Simmonds drop shot but dumps the ball into the middle of the net once he gets there. Then, for good measure, he throws his racquet into the middle of the net as well. He gets a code violation for racquet abuse, after which he mockingly intones “Warning, warning.” Simmonds closes out the break a few points later with a forehand crosscourt volley.

After the match, Souto self-destructs even more, slamming water bottles and coolers and chairs, saying “Warning, Warning, Warning” all the while and sounding like that annoying robot from Lost In Space. Perhaps the chair umpire’s name was Will Robinson too, as he gave Souto a wide buffer/berth as he warily left the court. “Danger, Will Robinson!”

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This first U.S. men’s pro tournament of 2011 is unfolding in a most unusual fashion; all of the second rounds have been played at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation Central Park, and not a single seed is left standing. There are no seeds even left leaning or squatting.  Remarkable.  Let’s take a look at some of the surprising results:

Luka Gregorc SLO #464 d [Q] Andrea Collarini USA #580 7-5 6-1. Even though the 26-year-old Slovenian had ranking and experience on his side, I’m somewhat surprised that the 18-year-old ex-Argie and current 2011 Challenger Tennis Player To Watch, Andrea Collarini, was handed his first loss of the year in this match. I mean, sure, occasionally Gregorc’s been known to string together some wins – such as when he beat Jose Acasuso, Ivo Karlovic and Andreas Seppi on his way to the semifinals of the Pilot Pen New Haven in 2008 – but the big guy hasn’t made it past the 2nd round of any event since the Ojai Challenger in early June of last year. He also had a sub-.500 record on clay the past five years. Meanwhile, Collarini usually does quite well on the dirt. So, yeah. Tennis. It’s a weird game sometimes.

[W] Wayne Odesnik USA d [Q] Thomas Cazes-Carrere FRA #582 6-3 6-2. I’m sure you’ll find enough coverage of this result at other sites and outlets. I’m here to chronicle and celebrated the unsung athletes, remember? And, at least for the moment, Mr. Odesnik is well-sung enough. Moving on.

Dan Smethurst GBR #497 d [Q] Christian Harrison USA 5-7 6-4 6-1. So end’s Christian’s comeback after a year-and-a-half layoff, but there’s a tremendous amount of upside for the 16-year-old’s efforts this tournament: four wins, his first ATP point, and a set off of a very underranked (in my opinion) main draw opponent. That’s a terrific foundation from which he can continue rebuilding.  Meanwhile, if Smethurst can just become more consistent in this new year, I expect him to be a Top 300 player and start moving up to Challengers later this year.

Smethurst, Doing His Best Gulbis Impersonation

[Q] Phillip Simmonds USA #570 d [6] Roman Borvanov MDA #431 6-3 6-2. Another upset on paper, but not in my mind (that said, hardly any matches ever play out properly in that particular venue). Heck, Simmonds once racked up junior dubs titles with World Team Tennis stalwart Scott Oudsema and was a two-time Coffee Bowl finalist, taking sets off the likes of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray back in the day. Dude’s got more than a little bit of game.

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USA F1 Futures Update – Plantation Open First Round Results

All of the first round matches have now been played at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation, Florida, and the scores have finally been postedAnd there are lots of interesting results to chew on:

[Q] Andrea Collarini USA #580 d [1] Jesse Levine USA #289 4-3 ret. – A forearm injury for the top seed, here. But 2011 Challenger Tennis Player To Watch Andrea Collarini is now a perfect 4-0 for this season, having come through qualifying, so I’m feeling pretty good about that pick right now. Thanks, Andrea, for making me look good! The Americanized Argentine will play Slovenia’s Luka Gregorc (#464) in the next round. Gregorc beat qualifier Chris Kwon (#844) 6-4 6-0.

W] Wayne Odesnik USA d [Q] Teodor-Dacian Cracian ROU #602 6-2 3-6 6-3. For some reason, people are paying a lot of attention to this unranked player. I won’t do that (for now). Odesnik will play the formerly Sideshow Bob-haired qualifier Thomas Cazes-Carrere #582 in R2.

Dan Smethurst GBR #497 d [4] Nicholas Monroe USA #348 7-5 7-6(5). The 20-year-old Brit is, I feel, much better than what he’s currently ranked. Coming off a fairly abysmal 29/24 season in 2010 that saw his ranking slide 160 spots from a high of #337 in May, this win sees the inconsistent former Top 30 world junior start the year in a direction more reflective of his promise.

Conversely, Nick Monroe is someone who ended his 2010 campaign with some promising results, winning 9 straight Futures matches in Canada in September and qualifying for the main draw of the Knoxville Challenger, making it all the way through to the semifinals before going down to Kei Nishikori. This obviously won’t be the start he was looking to have, but as I said, Smethy is a better player than his ranking and I don’t think this result is as much of an upset as it looks on paper.

[Q] Christian Harrison USA d [W] Jeremy Efferding USA 6-4 7-5. While older brother Ryan was off playing strip tennis with Michael Llodra, John McEnroe and Henri Leconte, Christian racked up his first ATP point here. Normally this would be a good achievement in its own right. But considering the 16-year-old is returning to competition here after being sidelined for 18 months, I’d say it’s a fantastic achievement.

[Q] Phillip Simmonds USA #570 d [Q] Andrei Daescu ROU #814 2-6 6-4 6-2. OK, this wasn’t a very interesting result. But that’s just because the 24 year-old Simmonds has been near the Top 200 in his career and is by far the more experienced campaigner. Hey – how many interesting results do you need in the first round of a 10K Futures, anyway? Tough crowd! Moving on…

[6] Roman Borvanov MDA #431 d Daniel Garza MEX #454 6-0 6-4. An unusually lopsided score, for two players ranked so close to one another (Garza just missed being seeded here). Sure, the 28 year-old Borvanov has now won the last 7 matches against his 25 year-old opponent, but 4 of those matches have been 6-4 in the third or closer. This one wasn’t.

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