Tag Archive: Brisbane International


Hey guys?  Remember when I quoted Conor Niland in this post, the one with the terrific article about the Irish #1?  Well, allow me to do it once more, with feeling:

People just don’t understand the depth of talent out there. They see a guy ranked 100 and think ‘oh he can’t be very good. He must be a part-timer’. But there are guys in the 700s and they’re seriously good players. I’m not just saying that. It sounds a big number but there are hundreds of good tennis players. It’s a bottleneck. Everybody’s trying to beat each other. Everybody’s looking for the same thing.

Conor Niland, Seriously Good Tennis Player

I believe his point has been proven once more, in the form of the talented and hard-working Australian Matt Ebden, 23, ranked #196 in the world.  Matty, you see, just took out the 8th seed (and world #40) Denis Istomin to advance to the quarterfinals of the Brisbane International ATP 250.

Check out the highlights here.  Some spectacular play from both men.  Keep in mind, though, that Mr. Ebden is ranked just inside the Top 200 as you watch:

Now, I confess: I think Ebden is currently ranked beneath where his true talent and potential will eventually take him.  But allow me to claim (t)his success in two ways: 1) yet another illustration that Challenger Tour players are seriously good. And ii) men’s players are peaking at much older ages than ever before.

When I made my Challenger Tennis Players To Watch series (which, btw, is still in progress and shall resume after this week’s challenger events are completed), one of my selection criteria was that a player had to be under 22 years of age.  So, while I think there are loads of Top 250 Aussies who have Top 100 potential (and went with John Millmanwhom Ebden edged 4-6 6-2 6-4 in the 1st round), I was not allowed by my own arbitrary criterion to chose Matt as a PTW.  I know this sounds like opportunistic hindsight and/or Thursday morning quarterbacking on my part, but – I really wanted Ebden on my list, but he was “too old” at age 23 (and 4 months).

Well, the joke’s on me.  My feeling is, ATP players do not have to be in the Top 200 by age 22 in order to have Top 50 or Top 20 potential, even.  I’ve seen Ebden play a ton, and I know what he’s capable of.  And I also know that what you saw in that video above, you can see in Heilbronn, or Charlottesville, or Noumea, or wherever the challenger circuit may lead. 

Sorry if I’m sounding preachy.  Suffice it to say that Ebden’s win is a nice, concise symbol of everything I blather about so lengthily here. And of what Conor said above.  Don’t sleep on these guys in the Top 200.  In fact, go out to a Challenger or Futures event and see them for yourselves.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Which, if true, is pretty damn convenient, since I’m not feeling well and don’t feel like typing that many.  Anyway, behold the magnificent disaster that is the [Q] Ricardas Berankis vs. [7] Florian Mayer scoring history:

Notice all those red BP’s? Those are all converted break points – 13 in all!  Honestly, I think the whole match could have gone Ric(h)ard(as)’s way had he just been able to save that pivotal 22nd break point, haha. 

Anyway, so ends Berankis’ 9 match winning streak, which dated back to his Helsinki Challenger win at the end of last year.  What a wild ride vs. FloMax: down an early break, then breaks back in what becomes four consecutive breaks. Then down a set and break, wins 5 of next 6 games to take second set and then is up a break himself in the third before losing.  (I don’t know why I’m describing this all to you, when you can just refer to the damn picture – sheesh.)

Suffice it to say: them be two broken men.  But one of them much moreso. 

So that’s another young gun gone, the last of his ilk in the ‘bane.  And Thomas Schoorel lost brilliantly to some idiot trick shot artist from Switzerland.  Evs.  Which leaves David Goffin as the sole remaining Challenger challenger, challenging the main draw in Doha (having administered a comprehensive beating to Somdev Devvarman). Goffin will now try and lay into the “no time for a wife and kid, gotta focus on my tennis, so see ya!” stylings of third seeded Stan “The Running Man” Wawrinka. 

All of which was more than I ever intended to write.  Good night!

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

Continue reading

Yup.  It’s officially that time of year again.  More specifically, it’s time to start breaking down those qualifying draws and seeing which Challenger Tour players can bust into the main draws this week.  Just to make it clear from the outset: as this is a Challenger Tour site, we’ll be covering top-tier ATP events only to the extent that they involve players ranked outside the Top 90.  Note: this number, while a darn good number, is also just a bit arbitrary and is subject to change at the whims of any of the writers here.  But it’s a good general rule of thumb for ATP tourneys, in any case.

ON TO THE DRAW!  You can click and get an official .pdf with lines and whizbangs and suchlike here or you can just look at a typed out version after this here colon:

[1] MANNARINO, Adrian FRA vs BALL, Carsten AUS
POLANSKY, Peter CAN vs [WC] MITCHELL, Benjamin AUS
SERGEYEV, Ivan UKR vs ITO, Tatsuma JPN
CABAL, Juan Sebastian COL vs [5] KOUBEK, Stefan AUT
[2] BERANKIS, Richard LTU
vs LISNARD, Jean-Rene MON
KLEIN, Brydan AUS vs CRUGNOLA, Marco ITA
[WC] DUCKWORTH, James AUS vs TURSUNOV, Dmitry RUS
PEYA, Alexander AUT vs [6] LUCZAK, Peter AUS
[3] RUSSELL, Michael USA
vs HARRISON, Ryan USA
FARAH, Robert COL vs BACHINGER, Matthias GER
KINDLMANN, Dieter GER vs ZOPP, Jurgen EST
REYNOLDS, Bobby USA vs [7] KOROLEV, Evgeny KAZ
[4] GREUL, Simon GER
vs [WC] JONES, Greg AUS
KNITTEL, Bastian GER vs LOJDA, Dusan CZE
EBDEN, Matthew AUS vs CRIVOI, Victor ROU
[WC] GROTH, Samuel AUS vs [8] ZEMLJA, Grega SLO

  
Mmmmmm.  Tennis draws.  My true and delicious love.  Let me savour this one for a moment, eh? *drools Homer Simpson-style while looking it over*
 
Well, the first thing I notice is that the Aussies got shafted, for the most part.  Now, I realize that any time you have eight Australians in a 32-person draw, perfect distribution is just not a possibility.  However, to have a draw in which there’s an entire Oz-free quarter (i.e. the Russell-Korolev 3rd quarter) and another two quarters that have three Down Under dudes, well… this is less than ideal. 
 
 
From left: Matty Ebden, Greg Jones, Carsten Ball, Fitness Dude, Marinko Matosevic, Peter Luczak
 
Especially egregious is the 4th quarter, which crams legitimate Australian hopes Greg Jones, Matt Ebden and the newly-mohawked Sam Groth into the same pack.  Grrrrrr.
 
 
The infamous, the rarely-photographed Grothawk
 
The next thing I look for is: where are Dmitry Tursunov and Ryan Harrison placed, who are clearly the most dangerous floaters in this draw.  As you can see (do follow along with me, won’t you?), it is Harrison who probably got the more fortuitous placement (for him) – away from top seeds Adrian Mannarino and Ricardas Berankis, who – in my opinion – are the only players who can beat him more often than not.  Thus, I can see the 18 year-old American coming good in this section.  Tursunov, however, has a much rougher road.  After a reasonably solid but should-be manageable opponent in the scrappy WC James Duckworth, Tursunov faces the prospect of a rejuvenated Peter Luczak – who gave Marinko Matosevic all he could handle in the final of the recent AO Wildcard playoff – followed by the lights-out Lithuanean Berankis.  And, as we all know, Rycka has rocketed into the Top 100 and won a whole host of Newcomer and Breakthrough awards at the end of last season.  A tough ask for Tursunov to get through, but not entirely beyond the former Top 20 player by any means.
 
OK, so that’s the overall view. Now let’s take out the fine-toothed draw comb and do a more in-depth, line-by-line audit, breaking down the first round matchups. 

Brazil F1 Semifinals Are Set!

If you’re a good headline reader, as I suspect you may be, then you’ll know that the semifinals are now set for the Brazil F1 tournament.  You’ve also rendered the first sentence of my article completely worthless – I hope you’re happy!  You may have also guessed that if the semifinals are set, that means the quarterfinals have been played.  Wow – you’re on a real roll today, aren’t you, champ? 

Yes, the quarterfinals have been played, and – as my twitter sidebar would only be too happy to tell you – Andre Ghem defeated fourth-seeded Caio Zampieri 6-3 6-4, 6th seed Tsung-Hua Yang beat 2 seed Guillermo Alcaide 3-6 6-2 6-1, 3rd-seeded Belarussian Uladzimir Ignatik overcame [5] Ricardo Hocevar 3-6 7-6(4) 6-4, and unseeded Gastao Elias upset seventh seed Thomas Fabbiano 3-6 6-1 6-2.

Thus, this here is today’s semifinal line-up:

As you can see, four different nations are represented in our first semi of the season.  Andre is the only remaining home country Ghem after knocking out two of his other compatriots – Charles Costa and Daniel Silva –  in the first and second rounds in addition to Zampieri in the QF’s.  But, hey, it was either them or him, ya know?  Certainly can’t blame the guy.  Unsurprisingly, this will be the first meeting between the 28 year-old Sole Remaining Brazilian and his 19 year-old Taiwanese opponent (and 2011 Challenger Tennis Player To Watch), Tsung-Hua Yang.

And look, I know I’ve been referring to this far too much of late, but it keeps coming up.  Yes, I’m talking about the “Young Guns” spreadsheet from stevegtennis.com.  But it’s interesting that the two players meeting in today’s other semifinal (Ignatik and Elias, in case I’ve lost you) both shared top-tier honors in the 2009 preview.  Rather than making you click on it again and launching all sorts of scary-seeming dialog boxes, I’ll just cut and paste the pertinent info here: 

“Young Guns” 2009
   












 
Tier I     2009                            
Player Nat Year W-L 2008 End Jan 5 Feb 2 Mar 2 Apr 6 May 4 Jun 8 Jul 6 Aug 3 Sep 14 Oct 5 Nov 2 Dec 7 2009 End
Berankis, Ricardas LTU 1990 58-27 455 454 458 462 465 490 466 512 539 455 423 417 324 319
Elias, Gastao POR 1990 16-17 578 575 675 667 648 627 612 583 908 854 824 810 774 769
Eysseric, Jonathan FRA 1990 32-29 361 360 358 373 371 369 414 410 520 373 532 506 490 490
Gojowczyk, Peter GER 1989 40-26 346 344 385 430 435 426 409 384 399 411 565 481 392 386
Ignatik, Vladimir BLR 1990 65-25 433 433 475 474 473 461 521 566 523 370 323 279 192 192
Jones, Greg AUS 1989 47-30 434 434 439 404 404 401 367 348 306 265 279 269 252 247
Klizan, Martin SVK 1989 50-24 606 604 603 740 613 594 483 442 328 253 244 236 234 234
McClune, Michael USA 1989 43-25 450 451 480 483 456 444 504 433 391 337 334 341 329 328

I, of course, can go on and on about the different paths and fates of the above-listed players.  But for now, suffice it to say that Ricardas Berankis is now down at the Brisbane International ATP 250 and is now known as “Richard”, and Gastao and Uladzimir – who apparently was once known as “Vladimir”? – are slugging it out in Sao Paulo.  So much can change in a year, eh?   

Or even three years, for that matter.  Which is when these two last met, in a rather exotic locale:  Iggy defeated Elias 6-3 1-6 10-3 in their only previous meeting, at none other than the 2007 Wimbledon Boys Quarterfinals.

Bonded by spreadsheets!  Steeped in lawn-tennissed traditions!  It will be interesting to see what the Futures hold for them today.

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