Tag Archive: Benoit Paire


Whaddup, W.A.T.C.H.ers.

I was feeling especially industrious today, so I brought back a column of info that I used to have in WATCH Lists of yore: the “Why” column, which details what exactly a player did to achieve their career high this week.  You lucky devils.  So let’s do it:

Player NATIONALITY Age New High Why
Pablo Carreno-Busta ESP 22 65 Paris QR2
Tim Smyczek USA 25 82 others lost points
Julian Reister GER 27 85 Seoul F
Oleksandr Nedovyesov UKR 26 95 Eckental R2
Bradley Klahn USA 23 118 Traralgon F
Dominic Thiem AUT 20 122 Casablanca W
James Duckworth AUS 21 132 Traralgon SF
Facundo Arguello ARG 21 135 Montevideo R2
Guido Andreozzi ARG 22 143 Montevideo R2
Pierre Hugues-Herbert FRA 22 160 Paris R2
Gerald Melzer AUT 23 179 Casablanca SF
Norbert Gombos SVK 23 192 Geneva QF
Damir Dzumhur BIH 21 197 others lost points
Tim Puetz GER 25 207 Eckental SF
Jordi Samper-Montana ESP 23 211 others lost points
Mohamed Safwat EGY 23 214 Casablanca QF
Filip Peliwo CAN 19 245 Charlottesville R2
Valery Rudnev RUS 25 252 Seoul R2
Thiago Monteiro BRA 19 254 Montevideo R2
Hiroki Kondo JPN 30 275 Seoul R2
Tak Khunn Wang FRA 22 293 Spain F36 W

Today we welcome to the fold a new* WATCH Lister, Mr. Bradley Klahn. In contrast to recent List regulars like Dominic Thiem, Gerald Melzer, and Tim Smyczek — all of whom have charted career highs in six of the last nine weeks — the Stanford grad’s been drifting around the ATP rankings table of late; he’s been within 11 spots of his previous personal best (#123) since winning the Aptos Challenger in early August, before finally breaking through Down Under.

The 23-year-old was one of a very few Americans who sought his points outside of the States this week, and the move paid off for him as he made it to the finals of the Traralgon Challenger in Australia, going down to India’s Yuki Bhambri in a ridiculously close and rain delayed affair 7-6(13) 3-6 4-6. (For more on that match, check out the superb coverage provided by our friends at Aceland Tennis.)

The Wrath of Klahn - photo courtesy of Aceland Tennis

The Wrath of Klahn – photo courtesy of Aceland Tennis

During his years at Stanford, Klahn was a three-time All-American in both singles and doubles and was the 2009-10 NCAA Singles champ. This is his first full year on the pro tour, and he’s the latest of many former U.S. college players to appear on the W.A.T.C.H. List.  The upcoming week finds him at the Yeongwol Challenger, as the fourth seed in a stronger field.

Moving right along, Pierre-Hugues Herbert has been on the List five times in the past nine weeks, but it’s how he did it that bears noting this time around.  The 22-year-old Frenchman got a WC in qualifying at the ATP 1000 in Paris (Bercy), and knocked off Horacio Zeballos and Kenny de Schepper to qualify (coming back from a set and a break down and saving match point vs. the former).

But he didn’t stop there.  In the main draw, P2H maintained his focus while Benoit Paire managed to implode spectacularly on the other side of the net (as is his fashion).

Herbert Signs Your Computer Monitor After His Win Vs. Paire

Herbert Signs Your Computer Monitor After His Win Vs. Paire

And in the next round he was perilously close to taking the first set from some mug named Novak Djokovic.  Though he didn’t win the match, he became a cause celebre in Paris for the remainder of the week, playing dubs with the Schepper and making TV appearances all over town.

As Tennis East Coast reported, players at the Charlottesville Challenger cheered Herbert on, watching the lanky lad on Tennis Channel in the players lounge, thrilled to be watching one of their own making a splash at such an elite level.  You can practically see the thought bubbles above their heads when you picture it, right?  It reads: “If he can do it, why can’t I?”

And indeed, a few of those very players are sure to appear on these W.A.T.C.H. List pages one of these days.  Stay tuned.

*new in the past 9 weeks, anyway.

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Today I made an amazing discovery: it seems I have a website. Fancy that! So kindly allow me to make now make use this space, for I have amazing tales to tell. Namely, of the three young(ish) guns who each managed to snare their first Challenger titles this week. Two are from the class of ’89 and one is a ’90 vintage, which means: not one champion this week is over the age of 22. And all of them have quite interesting, uplifting and even mysterious back stories. Let’s meet them, shall we?

Our first first-time champ is 22-year-old Frenchman Maxime Teixeira, who made his extraordinary breakthrough at the 30,000 Euro Open Prevadies St. Brieuc Challenger,, winning 6-3 6-0 over his listless third-seeded countryman, Benoit Paire.

Teixeira’s story is kind of remarkable in that there is no story. At least, there’s no back story. You see, Teixeira’s emergence on the scene has been so recent (he’s won 9 of his last 10 challenger matches, but last week was not only his first Chal. final, but it’s the first time he’s made it past the 2nd round) and so out-of-nowhere that there’s really no decent information about him anywhere on the interwebs. And believe you me, I’ve googled the crap out of this guy for hours.

Let’s look at the (lack of) evidence: for one thing, according to the ITF site, he never played a junior match. OK, then. Also, before last year, he had only played a total of 29 pro matches between 2006 and 2009. So last year, after a 7/7 2009 campaign, he goes and posts a 50/21 record (mostly at Futures level) at age 20-21, not even playing his first challenger match until October, aka 5.5 months ago.

This year, he’s not only stepped up in class to Challenger events, but he’s upped his winning percentage too. Naturally. 25/6 for the year so far, yes sir. So who the hell is this mystery man? And how did he suddenly get so good? I spent altogether too much time using my best google fu know how (and know who), and – in lieu of finding anything about his history, as I was hoping to find – I at least was able to track down this Googily-translated French article, which at least has a few good quotes from the man.

Written around this time last year after a French pro league win over close friend (apparently) Kenny de Schepper, Teixeira says, “My goals are ambitious. I would like my ranking would allow me to play qualifying at Roland Garros next year. And in three to four years, I hope to become one of the Top 100.”

Ambitious?! Try outlandish, no? For someone ranked #705 at the time, with no pedigree to speak of? Well guess what: As a result of his play the past two weeks, Teixeira should find himself inside the Top 200 when the new rankings come out tomorrow. He’s a lock to make the RG quals as he’d hoped one year ago, and suddenly the Top 100 even seems within reach.

Incidentally, if you read the comments in the article I linked above, you’ll see the high regard in which this young man seems to be placed (at least among those inclined to read an article about him, haha). Which kind of makes me want to root for someone like him, a guy who’s “maximizing” his talents (so to speak) as opposed to a guy who’s throwing them away, like Paire.

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No, you goons – this is not a special edition for those who’ve contracted certain romance-related diseases. Rather, it’s a special Valentines Day edition of my weekly list detailing Who’s Achieved Their Career Highs (although some would call Valentines Day itself a romance-related disease. I abstain from comment on the grounds that it might incriminate me).

So what makes this Valentines Day edition so special? Nothing really. Only that’s it’s made with love and dedicated to you, dear reader. *gags on sappy sentiment* Also, I’ve added an “age” column. You’re welcome. You know the rules by now, right? Only those ranked #80-350 make my list, unless I’m feeling particularly in an inclusive mood (who knows? On Valentines Day, you may get lucky). For those Titans of the Top 80, you must confer with our friends over at Shank Tennis.

All right! Enough of this tomfoolery. Let’s get to this week’s WATCH List!

Player Age NATION New High Prev High Why?
Grigor Dimitrov 19.75 BULGARIA 84 85 Q’ed, R1 R’dam
Benoit Paire 21.75 FRANCE 120 136 Q’ed, R2 R’dam
Alexander Kudryavtsev 25.25 RUSSIA 141 147 SF Bergamo
Tim Smyczek 23.10 USA 158 168 QF San Jose
Matthias Bachinger 23.90 GERMANY 161 163 R2 Bergamo
Robert Farah 23.25 COLOMBIA 183 184 Q’ed, R1 San Jose
Jurgen Zopp 22.90 ESTONIA 198 211 SF Bergamo
Sebastian Rieschick 24.99 GERMANY 225 228 R2 Quimper
Facundo Bagnis 20.95 ARGENTINA 231 238 Q’ed, R1 Brazil
Andres Molteni 22.92 ARGENTINA 236 246 QF Colombia F2
Alexander Lobkov 20.33 RUSSIA 252 253 Others lost points
Fritz Wolmarans 24.93 S. AFRICA 254 255 Others lost points
Amir Weintraub 24.42 ISRAEL 255 259 R2 Quimper
Phillip Bester 22.35 CANADA 260 268 R2 Caloundra
Clement Reix 27.35 FRANCE 265 270 R2 Quimper
Karan Rastogi 24.35 INDIA 284 328 W Cambodia F2
Javier Marti 19.10 SPAIN 295 308 R2 Spain F5
Kenny de Schepper 23.70 FRANCE 297 370 F Quimper
Ludovic Walter 28.10 FRANCE 304 315 R2 Quimper

Notable things to note:

The average age of this week’s WATCHers is 23 years old and 4 months. The youngest player achieving a career high today is Javier Marti at 19 and 1 month, while the oldest is former Duke University standout (two-time ITA All-American) Ludovic Walter at 28 and 1 month (warning: all age numbers are achieved by rounding off, for the most part, and are thus approximations).

Ludovic Walter quimping it up at the Quimper Challenger in France

Walter is an interesting case, having not even achieved a pro ranking until after his college days were over in 2006 at age 23. I suspect that, with college ball being an increasingly viable route for top talents and the age of the Top 100 skewing ever older, we’ll start to see many more players in the “Ludovic Walter” mold in the future.

Anyway, congrats to all who’ve achieved career highs this week. And to all the rest of you, I hope you achieve various highs of your own on this Valentines Day.

Here Comes The Nouméa – Not Like The Oldméa

With Sao Paulo rained out for the day, and the forecast looking dicey for the rest of the week in New Caledonia, it was good that one of the challenger events was actually able to fit some tennis into their week.  The first day’s play went off without a hitch (well, unless you were Benoit Paire – then there were plenty of hitches).  Here are the results, as expertly cut and pasted by moi from the INTERNATIONAUX DE NOUVELLE-CALEDONIE 2011 webpage itself:

Simple messieurs, premier tour

[3] G Muller (LUX) b D Udomchoke (THA) 46 75 76(5)
V Millot (FRA) b [4] M Gicquel (FRA) 63 75
S Rieschick (GER) b [5] B Paire (FRA) 61 61
[6] J Ouanna (FRA) b [Q] M Yani (USA) 63 64
[7] D Guez (FRA) b [Q] F Wolmarans (RSA) 61 64
[8] S Vagnozzi (ITA) b [WC] N N’godrela (FRA) 64 61
P Cervenak (SVK) b R Jouan (FRA) 76(8) 63
[WC] C Reix (FRA) b [WC] C Brezac (FRA) 64 76(2)
F Cipolla (ITA) b M Viola (ITA) 75 64
R de Voest (RSA) b [Q] D Meffert (GER) 76(1) 76(1)
[Q] A Weintraub (ISR) b O Patience (FRA) 16 63 63
G Burquier (FRA) b L Rochette (FRA) 63 62

I’m still waiting on the results for the more complicated messieurs, but those are scores for the simple ones at least. 

A lot of surprises there: that Gilles Muller was so extended by Danai Udomchoke, for one.  But at least Gilles deLUXe actually won.  4th and 5th seeds Marc Gicquel and Benoit Paire were not so fortunate.  I suppose it’s less shocking that Paire went down to Sebastian Rieschick, who is a quite capable player himself.  And, as has been recounted here, Benoit is entirely capable of imploding.  Plus Vincent Millot, that fire hydrant-shaped Frenchman, is only ranked 50 spots lower than his 33 year-old countryman at this point. 

 Benoit udomchokes another one away

So actually, now that I look at it – I’m not surprised at all.  I take it all back.  I’d erase the above paragraph, but then I’d have to write something else, and I’m far too lazy to do that.  So we’re all stuck with it.

All the qualifiers bit the French island dust, save for Amir Weintraub, who’s put together a nice little run of wins lately.  I am surprised (no, really) that Fritz got blitzed so badly, but that’s about it.

Anyway, there’s your update.  I hope you like it, because we might not have another for quite some time.  In the meantime, I’ll be blathering about Challenger tennis players who’ve been making inroads into ATP 250’s.  But you’ll have to find such blather in a different post.

[Editor’s note: it’s only the second day of the year, and already I’m overtaxed/lazy.  So I outsourced my Noumea preview to friend, contributor, and general tennistico Jonathan Artman aka @jonnyboy613 on the Twitter.  I hope you enjoy his art(man)icle – please leave your praise/blame in the comments.]

 

The first week of the brand spanking new 2011 tennis season begins for the Challenger players in Nouméa, a French owned island which is actually nowhere near France. This beautiful island, part of New Caledonia, is part of the Pacific Ocean territories, and is just a short boat (or cruise ride, if you will), from Australia.

Whilst this mysterious island is still owned by France, the French have gradually released power over the island in favour of New Caledonia itself. Regardless, French is still the official language; in fact, less than 1 % of its inhabitants reported that they don’t know how to speak la Française. Now you may be wondering the significance of the geography of Nouméa; it is quite a fascinating place and like no other; it appears on the map nowhere near its genuine owners and the island even has its own New Caledonia football team, a part of FIFA since 2004. Its population is relatively small, at just under an estimated 250,000. The Nouméa tennis championships are not just clouded in mystery, it possesses some genuinely amusing stories, too. In 2009, the island suffered a deluge of highly unusual rain, which quite literally forced the 2009 doubles tournament to be “Cancelled Due to Rain”.

Rather like Cancun, the scenery is nothing short of spectacular, as is rather evident by the above image. This may lend the destination to a pure holiday resort, where professionals can play a bit of tennis during the week too. Far from it – the tournament has a proud heritage and Gilles Simon, once a Top 10 player in the ATP rankings, is a double champion, having won the tournament twice consecutively back in 2005 and 2006. Florian Mayer, the German, currently ranked 37 in the World, was the champion in New Caledonia last year, and crushed his final opponent Flavio Cipolla of Italy 6-3, 6-0. The Italian himself is not a stranger to success in Nouméa; he will have fond memories of his success 3 years ago in 2008 where he fought off the improving Swiss Stephane Bohli in straight sets to clinch one of the more coveted and unusual Challenger titles.

The lack of live scoring over the years for these mystifying Championships is perhaps not surprising considering its somewhat remote and remarkable location. Thankfully however, thanks to internet communications, we have access to the players who are turning up this year, and the match-ups that they have been placed in, so let’s take a look at the key fixtures of the first round that start on a fairly modest Monday’s play:

Gilles Muller (3) v Danai Udomchoke
 
The big serving lefty who hails from Luxembourg will face off against Danai Udomchoke, one of few notable tennis professionals originating from the nation of Thailand. Muller can be proud of what he has achieved for his country’s sporting reputation; he is by far the most successful male tennis player that is affiliated with Luxembourgish origin. He turned Pro exactly 10 years ago and once upon a time, he was ranked 59 but is now outside the top 100 and sits 134 in the ATP World rankings. In 2008 Gilles enjoyed a spectacular run in the US Open where he advanced to the Quarter Finals, which was a big shock at the time. His serve being his obvious main weapon, he can be a real handful for any player on his day; he is also one of a diminishing number of players that possesses a fancy two-handed backhand.

His opponent Udomchoke will turn 30 in August of this year. He was once ranked at no. 77 in the World and his best performance at a Slam was the 3rd round of the Aussie Open back in 2007. The Thai’s most recent Title was in Busan, South Korea, where he defeated up-and-coming Slovenian Blaz Kavcic in straight sets 6-2, 6-2 just a couple years ago.

Danai endured a rather miserable 2010 and is now ranked in the 400’s so he is sure to be itching to get back on the tennis circuit for 2011 and climb back up the rankings, where no doubt he feels his ability warrants. He did appear in the Bangkok ATP event in his home country, of course, but his Wildcard only took him as far as the first round where he lost to the ever impressive Finn Jarkko Nieminen in straight sets.

It would be foolish to expect too much from Muller’s opponent today on the back of a very disappointing 2010 season. Although Muller remains outside the top 100, he had a relatively successful season last year and he continues to hold his own against some top players; he took big John Isner, the American, to 3 very tight sets before succumbing to a harsh defeat. Muller went 40-23 (W-L) over the past 12 months, a highly respectable record indeed.

The Luxembourger should take this in straight sets barring any surprises. Both men possess plenty of experience but Muller should be able to find his groove early on, and if he brings the confidence from 2010 it should be a relatively straight forward task for the 27-year-old. For Danai Udomchoke, I expect it will be a case of hard work, determination and practise to get his career right back on track.

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