Tag Archive: Facundo Arguello


It’s time for my beloved weekly series*, Sunday’s Challenger Champions!  If it’s Sunday, then it must be time to take a look at this week’s titlists.

First and definitely foremost, almost-Argie Pablo Cuevas is one of the more popular champions in recent memory. The former ATP #45 has been injured for the past two years, didn’t play a match in 2012 and was considering retirement. But the current ATP #401 rolled into the $75K Copa Topper Buenos Aires Challenger and promptly rolled through the field.

Cuevas, The Almost Argie

Cuevas, The Almost Argie

Well, it wasn’t that easy. But he started off with a straight-set win vs. 4th seed Thomaz Bellucci and straight-setted and walkovered his way to the semi-final, where he met and beat 22-year-old Argentine (and frequent WATCH Lister) Guido Andreozzi 7-6(0) 6-0 6-3. Then it was onto the final, where he faced the fiery Argie, Facundo Arguello, he of the fearsome forehand and Gaudio-esque temper.

Arguello’s been on my W.A.T.C.H. Lists practically every week, so he’s up and definitely coming.  And Arguello went up early 3-0*, his forehand seeming laser-sharp and -focused, but Cuevas rallied (literally, hurr hurr) to force a TB.  (Along the way, fiery Facu violently bounced his racket right in front of a frightened ballboy, and also destroyed a courtside microphone, making me quite terrified that I ever referred to his hair as Muppet-like. Don’t Fac with Facu!)

Cuevas had the breaker on his racket, but double-faulted to 5-all.  He got a set point on Arguello’s serve, but the Argie saved it with a wrong-footing forehand. The next set point was on Cuevas’s serve, and the Uruguayan made no mistake, opening the point up with a beautiful backhand down the line and finishing the point and the high-quality, ATP-level set with an inside-in forehand winner.

The next two sets weren’t as inspired, but the end was dramatic. Pablo went on walkabout in set two, with Arguello winning it 6-2.  Cuevas went up an early break and led 4-1*.  After a lengthy medical time-out for Arguello, the 21-year-old firebrand came out and held then broke and suddenly we were back on serve in the decider.

Tight from there until the very last point, where Cuevas broke to take the title 7-6(6), 2-6, 7-5 and fell to his knees in triumph. Since his mother is Argentinian, he was born in Argentina, and he trains in Buenos Aires itself, the crowd loved his victory.

Cuevas will leap back into the Top 250 with the win, and Arguello will rise to a career high ~#135 when the new rankings are released on Monday. It was Cuevas’s 7th Challenger title (in ten attempts), but his first challenger final since 2010.

At the Kazan Kremlin Cup $75K Challenger, former Oklahoma State University standout Oleksandr Nedovyesov continues his near-meteoric rise through the ATP ranks, claiming the $10,800 that comes with the title as well as the 100 ATP points to add to his ever-building cache.  Other than a three-set struggle in round two against Belarussian Egor Gerasimov, Nedovyesov veritably breezed into the final, where he met hit-or-miss Kazakh blaster, Andrey Golubev.

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Seemingly everywhere you look on the Challenger Tour, there’s a Facundo awaiting your gaze.  From challenger draws to W.A.T.C.H. Lists to social media, if there’s one thing life on the second- and third-best tiers of tennis teaches you, it’s that Argentina has an abundance of Facundos.  But just how many are there? And are they a threat to tennis’s top tier?  These questions I shall answer for you, dear reader, in this field guide to Facundos past, present and Futures.

First, have a seat somewhere. Are you sitting down? Because it may just shock you off your fickle feet to learn that there are sixteen (16) (!) Facundos that either play or have played on the ATP Tour.  All from Argentina (apparently they don’t make Facundos anywhere else).

BUT DON’T PANIC: only seven of them are currently active on tour, while a couple more are kicking around the juniors.  It’s still a lot, but it’s manageable. Get your field glasses ready, because it’s time to have a look.

Facundo #1: Facundo Bagnis

W.T.Facu Bagnis

W.T.Facu Bagnis

23-year-old lefty Facundo Bagnis is (by just a little bit) the best Facundo ever to have played, with a current and career-high ranking of ATP #143. The three-time Challenger champ (Barranquilla ’11, Arad ’12 and Santiago ’13) from Rosario, Argentina has a solid 39/23 record this season after struggling last year.

Though he’s yet to break through at the ATP level in singles, he did take an ATP title in doubles (Stuttgart ATP 250 with Thomaz Bellucci) and is ranked #79, with four challenger doubles crowns.

Propects: with some continued hard work, I don’t see any reason Bagnis won’t make the Top 100 in his career, though I feel like Top 50 might be somewhat less attainable.

Facundo #2: Facundo Arguello

Though Facu #2 is currently the number two Facu, I predict that 21-year-old Facundo Arguello will hit higher heights than his first-Facu’ed countryman.  Ranked just behind Bagnis at a career high ATP #150, the aggressive, gruntacular righty was once a Top 10 junior, and he’s had virtually no trouble adjusting to the pro-tennis level.

The Spectacularly Coiffed Facundo Arguello

The Spectacularly Coiffed Facundo Arguello

The truco-playing, clay-loving competitor is 35/19 on the year, after a 41/24 campaign in 2012. Though he has yet to score a Challenger title, he has made the finals of four events, the most recent of which being Savannah, where he took out Tim Smyczek, Michael Russell and Donald Young before succumbing to Ryan Harrison in the finals.

Prospects: I’d be surprised if Arguello didn’t make the Top 50. (Full disclosure: he was also one of my 2011 Players to Watch.)

Facundo #3: Facundo Mena

The prospects might not be as bright for this Facundo, who’s currently ranked ATP #514 (career high #496) at age 21, but he’s a Facundo, dammit, and he needs to be acknowledged!  And there are plenty of late bloomers on tour, for that matter.

Mena-cing

Mena-cing

Mena is a decent 31/18 on the season, after posting finalist showings in consecutive Futures (Chile F5 and F6).  The wristy right-hander only started playing at age thirteen, and he has plenty of time to grow into (or out of) his somewhat unconventional strokes.

Prospects: partly cloudy with a 20% chance of Top 100.

Bonus Facundo: Facundo Alvo

I told you there were some wee Facundos kickin’ around the junior ranks, and so I bring to you — at no extra cost — this bonus Facundo: Facundo Alvo, a Facundo of the future!

Alvo Anywhere

Alvo Anywhere

The #4 junior in Argentina, 17-year-old Facundo Alvo beat 15-year-old American sensation Stefan Kozlov and took top-ranked Argieboy Pedro Cachin to a 5-7 third set in the Copa Milo 2013 final in February. More recently, he’s been trying his hand at the pro tour level — even notching a win against yet another Facundo (Facundo Jofre) at the Argentina F17 Futures last month.  So that’s something, no?

Also, how great is it when your Bonus Facundo has flowing, Leif Garrett locks? I love it when that happens!

Prospects: I have no idea.

Well, that wraps up this week’s field guide.  Now go forth into the world with a newfound confidence that can only come from fully knowing your Facundos!

[Angry author’s note: I had this article written and set to upload 7 hours ago, but then this damned blizzard we’re having blew out my cable and internet so I couldn’t post it. Now it looks like I missed Day 7 of my 12 Days of Christmas, but I didn’t miss it!  I was ready, I swear! Anyway, I’ll have another set of profiles up later today. Weather permitting, of course.]

Probably the most daunting challenge I encountered when assembling this year’s Watch list was figuring out which of the Argentinians to include. Or – more to the point – which ones not to include. So many Argies, so little time; how do I choose just one? (One was my arbitrary limit, based on absolutely nothing at all.)

It’s hard to limit it to just ten, for that matter. I know it’s a Captain Obvious kind of thing to say, but it’s just staggering how many quality clay court grinders are churned out by Argentina’s player-producing machinery. Federico Del Bonis, Facundo Bagnis, Guido Pella, Facundo Arguello, Diego Schwartzman, Marco Trungelliti, Nicolas Pastor, Agustin Velotti, Renzo Olivo, and on and on. Every single one of them under 21 years of age and heading for the Top 200 (if they’re not there already).

And they’ve all beaten up on one another at some point, so it’s nearly impossible to pick out the Alpha Argie among them, for the most part (surprising fact, though: it’s Marco Trungelliti who has by far the best W/L record vs. the others from the above-listed group – an impressive 11/2. This fact becomes less surprising when you realize he’s also the oldest in that group, sometimes by over two years, and has spent a good deal of time puttin’ a whoopin’ on the young ‘uns. Let’s check back in on those H2H’s a few years down the road and see how that record’s held up, eh?)

You know what would be absolutely amazing? I’ll tell you: if there were a Tennis Australia-style, livestreamed wildcard playoff for Argentina’s nueva legion, competing in a round robin tournament (not the single elimination draw TA did this year) for a spot in the French Open. I would pay good money to see that happen.

Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, the Delbo would get into the French main draw directly via ranking (it could happen) (plus we gotta make some Delbo room in my hypothetical scenario) and you threw the other 8 into a two-group round-robin tourney. Who do you think would be the eventual WC winner? Answer me that, Argiephiles!

Anyway, back to the problem at hand. Which to choose? Heck, it’s difficult to limit myself to just one Facundo – never mind one Argie. (And on that count, I’m tempted to pick Facundo Mena just ’cause he has a ridiculously wristy forehand like mine, but he’s not even in the Top Thousand yet, so that will have to wait.)

It would also be tempting to just be lazy and pick one of the highest ranked among them – Del Bonis, at #160 and Bagnis (#242) lead the way in that category – but closer inspection reveals that the three players who began the year ranked the highest among the young guns (Guido Pella being the third) (and all three lefties, by the way) arguably struggled more than anyone this year.

Sure, Delbo won the Rome-2 Challenger, and was a finalist at Napoli and Rimini (Italy must be full of tailors, as it really suited him), but he just went 34/27 on the year and only picked up an additional 35 ranking spots. Certainly not the kind of breakout year I was expecting from him.

Federico Del Bonis

Pella’s year was borderline disastrous, as he dropped over 100 places in the rankings on the heels of a 26/22 year.

 

Guido Pella

Of the three, Bagnis was the most successful, but that’s damning with faint praise, to be honest.  Thanks to a season-ending win at the Brazil F36 Futures, Bagnis ended his season on a high note, and his 5 straight wins to take the title pushed his 2010 W/L record to a far more decent-looking 37/29. But apart from a run to the finals at the Bytom Challenger, during which he scored victories against Martin Klizan, Marius Copil and Matthias Bachinger before succumbing to Pere Riba, even Facu didn’t really do as much as I had anticipated from him.

Facundo Bagnis

I have to say, I was kind of fascinated by Marco Trungelliti’s year; he’s really come on strong, and out of relative obscurity. The almost-21-year-old “veteran” of this crew had no junior success to speak of (his ranking high was #630), but he finished this year at a brisk 16/5 pace, which certainly caught my attention. That said, his 35/18 season only amounted to a gain of 45 spots in the rankings, up to #429 from #474. I remain unconvinced, but I’ll be keeping my eye on him for sure.

So that left me with five from which to pick: Arguello, Schwartzman, Velotti, Olivo, and Pastor – all of them under 20 years old, the youngest of the young guns. Olivo, at 18 years old (and 9 months), gained the second-most ranking ground this year, racing up to #618 from a starting point of #1,125. A former #8 junior (and by “former”, I mean April of this year), he won the Bolivia F4 futures in addition to his QF Boys showings at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. But he’s still a year or so off, I think, from my being able to tout him as a Player to Watch.

Renzo Olivo and El Mago Guillermo Coria

Pastor – who’s coached by Javier Nalbandian, brother of a certain someone you might have heard of (hint: his name rhymes with “Shmavid”) – and Schwartzman have very similar resumes, both for this year and for their careers. The 18 year olds largely eschewed the junior tourneys and have focused on the pros; both made the finals of three Futures events this year and gained a lot of ground in 2010. But, as with Olivo, I feel they’re just a bit too raw for me to feel comfortable putting my 2011 PTW betting chips on their names.

Diego Schwartzman

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