Tag Archive: Denis Istomin


On Monday’s Order of Play at this week’s Champaign Challenger, I couldn’t help but notice there were four (4) (FOUR!) different players named Dennis (or Denis) (or Denys) playing that day.

You See? I Wasn't Lying!

You See? I Wasn’t Lying!

And the last names are almost as similar: Zivkovic, Novolo, Novikov, Molchanov — you could practically spell all these surnames with the same rack of Scrabble tiles*. There’s also a Dennis Novak in the Top 400.

Add Denis Kudla and Denis Istomin to the list, and you gotta whole lotta Den(n)i(y)s goin’ on. And you wanna see something spooky? OK:

Dennis Nevolo Dennis Novikov
NATIONALITY USA USA
Age 23 20
Rank 579 625
Plays RH RH
Backhand 2H 2H
Career High 566 457
C High Was 10/28/13 08/12/13
Jr High 102 30
Best surface Clay & hard Clay
College Illinois UCLA (now pro)

They’re practically the same player**. Hell, they were the only two Dennises to even play collegiate tennis in the U.S. Plus, all these guys I’ve mentioned are right-handers with two-handed backhands. Methinks a field guide is in order! Follow me as we distinguish and differentiate all of tennis’s Dennisses***. In order of ranking, we have:

What Istomin of This?

What Istomining of This?

Denis Istomin

Nationality: UZB
Age: 27
Ranking: 45
Career High: 33
Career High Date: 8/27/12
Best Junior Rank: 412
Best surface: Hard
Identifying marks: Trademark goggles
Frequently seen with: his mother, who is also his coach
Interesting fact: He once won a refrigerator for winning a tourney.
 
I'm A Kudla Not A Fighta

I’m A Kudla Not A Fighta

Denis Kudla

Nationality: USA
Age: 21
Ranking: 113
Career High: 90
Career High Date: 10/28/13
Best Junior Rank: 3
Best surface: Hard
Identifying marks: Blonde hair
Maybe you can see him with: his USO Runner-up and Eddie Herr trophies
Interesting facts: Used to write all tweets without punctuation. Andy Murray had a dream he was playing Kudla in the Wimbledon finals. Also was one of my 2011 Players to Watch (though I’m not sure that last one really counts as “interesting”).
 
Molchin' It

Molchin’ It

Denys Molchanov

Nationality: UKR
Age: 26
Ranking: 261
Career High: 206
Career High Date: 5/6/2013
Best Junior Rank: 70
Best surface: Hard
Identifying marks: Shoulder-length brown hair
Frequently seen with: Headphones (main listed interest is: Music).
Interesting fact: When you google him, you get a Denny’s ad as part of search results.
The Other Novak!

The Other Novak!

Dennis Novak

Nationality: AUT
Age: 20
Ranking: 365
Career High: 365
Career High Date: 11/11/13
Best Junior Rank: 29
Best surface: Hard
Identifying marks: Frankly, I don’t feel comfortable revealing this.
Frequently seen with: Ping pong paddle (enjoys table tennis).
Interesting facts: Protege of Gunter Bresnik, trains with Dominic Thiem.
 
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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.

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