Tag Archive: Gastao Elias


Challenger Tennis Week Five In Review

Subtitled: Seriously – How Freaking Awesome Were My Previews? (A: Very.)

I know, I know. Challenger what now? For a site with “Challenger” in the name, I’ve sure written very little about them this week. I’ve been suffering from a bad case of Futurebrain (much worse than bed head, I’m afraid), but will be back to yammering daily about the challenger circuit soon. In the meantime, will you settle for this weekly summary instead? You have no choice, really. I’m just asking to be polite.

But seriously – how freaking awesome were my previews? (please see answer, above.) Let’s take a look at what actually transpired in this past week’s three events, and match it up to what I said would happen beforehand. This will be an exercise whose worth can be computed only on a scale of my own awesomeness. Ready? Doesn’t matter:

Courmayeur

I wrote:

“I’m pleased to see Lithuanian #2 (behind “Richard” Berankis, of course) Laurynas Grigelis has made it through qualifying…I would tell anyone who listened back then that Laury played well above his then-521 ranking. Less than 11 months later, my sentiment has been somewhat borne out as Grigelis will likely enter the Top 400 next week.”

So guess what? Turns out Grigelis made it all the way to the quarterfinals, and his ranking will be at a WATCH-worthy366 (or so) when the new rankings come out in about five minutes. You see? I’m smarter than even I thought I was! (Hard to imagine, I know, but it’s true.)

Grigelis, at right, with some other Lithuanian dude, laughing in awe re: my amazing intelligence

Then I wrote:

“A possible quarterfinal in the top section here pits Bolelli vs. fifth seed (and 2011 CT PtW) Benoit Paire… But Matthias Bachinger will probably beat them both anyway. Because that’s just the kind of thing he does.”

So what happened? Well, Bachinger did beat Paire, but couldn’t beat Bolelli because Grigelis had already done so. *feels doubly vindicated* He then beat Big Grig in the quarters for good measure, finally losing to Nicolas Mahut in the semis.

Matthias Bachinger, at left, with friend Daniel Brands, mocking you for doubting my prescience

All the seeds on the bottom half of the draw made the quarters, which is amazing because those are the only players I even mentioned in my preview. Never mind that I was short of time and mentioning the seeded entrants was the most obvious way to do the fastest preview possible. The important takeaway here is that I mentioned four players, and all four of them made the quarterfinals. Remark-a-balls. (Let the official record show those players were: Martin Klizan, Gilles Muller, Jerzy Janowicz and Olivier Rochus.)

Mahut went on to beat Muller 7-6(4) 6-4 in the final, which is fine because I mentioned him too.

All results!

Kazan

I wrote about top seed Conor Niland’s dodgy lunch. Then he withdru with the flew.  Coincidence?  I think not.

I wrote about there possibly being an upset in the Marius Copil vs. three seed Alexander Kudryavtsev match. And then he went on to win the whole damn tournament (he beat fourth-seeded Andi Beck 7-6(6) 6-4)! I mean, how’s that for an upset?! Nevermind that that’s not what I predicted, specifically. Or that I bunched his upset possibility with the fates of two other combatants, neither of whom came through as I’d insinuated they might. The point here is: I’m awesome. (Remember?)

Marius Copil, the Romanian Roddick, a long time ago in a completely different tournament

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Sao Paulo Challenger Preview – Thursday And Beyond!

Well now.  Another day, another Sao Paolo Challenger preview. Get psyched, peoples! But before I dig into today’s sOOPurb match menu, let’s check out what Mr. Weatherman has to say about the possibility of play today. Er. In a word: yikes! In a picture:

Not looking too good, haha

“Why is the sky crying?” some kid in Sao Paulo may ask. The proper answer, of course, is “Because God is upset that second seed Horacio Zeballos is scheduled out on Court Bumsquat (aka Quadra 3) while there are doubles matches scheduled on Court Central. Wassup wit dat, yo?”

Regardless, it’s hard to lay into today’s preview with appropriate zest and/or zeal now that I know Sao Paulo will apparently never see the sun again. Still, there will be no Challenger events for the two weeks following this tournament and Noumea, so I might as well write about it as if it will happen someday, no? “Make hay while the sun shines,” as they say. Oh, wait. Damn.

Anyway, hereafter follows a needlessly in-depth analysis of the alleged upcoming action:

First matches on:

Uladzimir Igantik vs. Andrea Arnaboldi, Quadra 4: a first meeting between Iggy, the 20-year-old Belarussian and the 23-year-old Italian. I’m quasi-embarrassed to admit that Ulad, that gifted-yet-erratic young man, was one of my 2010 Players To Watch, back in the halcyon days before I full-on invaded the internet. Well, that arrangement didn’t work out for either of us, as Iggy finished the year with a resoundingly mediocre 30/33 record and a ranking that slipped from #193 to #224. Thus, I offer my sincere apologies in advance to all my 2011 PTW’s.

Iggy apologizes too

But shuck that fit – it’s a new year, it’s a new Ulad! Ignatik beat the ailing eighth seed, Paul Capdeville 7-5 3-6 6-0 in the first round, and has a spiffy 4/1 record in 2011, having reached the semifinals of the Brazil F1 to kick off the year. Arnaboldi, meanwhile, has done what, exactly? Beat Santiago Gonzalez in the previous round? Whatever, dude – I’m not impressed (pssst – I’m still trying to rile up the Santi fans into leaving me CAPS LOCKED hate comments). Iggy goes thru.

Fernando Romboli vs. Thomas Fabbiano, Quadra 3: Oh my, this is a good one. Then again, any Romboli match is good, amIright? How can one go against the man with a 20/2 record in his last 22 matches? I sure can’t. Sorry, Tommy – your fabbulosity ends here.

Maximum Fabbulosity

Andre Ghem vs. Rogerio Dutra Da Silva, Quadra 2: Ahaha, the divine tragicomedy of tennis in Sao Paulo this week. Let this match, which teeters on the brink of completion (Rogerio led 6-5* in the 3rd when God started crying about Horacio’s court assignment, halting play), be the symbol of this tourney. I say whoever wins the crucial 7th point post-resumption will win the match.

[3] Joao Souza vs. Giovanni Lapentti, Court Central: Another good one. And this one will be streamed. And/or floating away down an actual deluge-induced stream in Sao Paulo. Either way, Gio leads their head-to-head 3 to 2 and won their two most recent meetings last year, both on clay. I’ve got a feeling about Mr. Lapentti (G version) in this event. I say he gets through the third-seeded Souza here.

Ain’t Nuthin’ But A G Thang

Second matches on:

Andres Molteni vs. Adrian Menendez-Maceiras, Quadra 4: Really? I’m supposed to care about this match? Well, OK. Molteni is about as hot as any non-Romboli player on tour can be, finishing the year 13/3 and coming back to beat an enfeebled Christian Lindell (still Swedish!) in the previous round. AMM has not been nearly so am(m)azing, despite his upset of fourth seed Maximo Gonzalez in R1. I like Molteni in this one.  Satisfied now?

[2] Horacio Zeballos vs. [Q] Rafael Camilo, Quadra 3: Ah, the Divine Travesty. The reason why God is bawling HisorHer eyes out. I really don’t know what the tournament director was thinking here – maybe that the Onion will overwhelm the 448th-ranked qualifier so the match doesn’t deserve a big audience? I dunno. Bottom line is: Horacio might overwhelm Camilo in their first meeting, but the 20-year-old Brazilian posted some impressive results at the end of ’10 (including wins over Gastao Elias and two over Romboli!). So don’t take the young man for granted.

And p.s. No, it is no coincidence that an Onion is the one causing the crying.

He’s a real nowhere man.

Guillermo Alcaide vs. [7] Federico Delbonis, Quadra 2: Yes! Quality clash. Don’t ask me why I’m excited about this match. I really can’t explain it. Delbo was also one of my 2010 Players To Watch, so maybe that explains some of it. And despite limping to 4/12 finish last year, I’m confident that a leaner, fitter (he lost 3kg during preseason training) Delbo who’s been tweeting more in the new year will keep his 2011 record a clean and pristine 2/0 slate.

[1] Ricardo Mello vs. Tsung-Hua Yang: OK, maaaaybe I’ve been exaggerating my enthusiasm about some of these matches. But this, friends: this is, as they say, a good ún. Mello is the top seed. Yang is a 2011 Player to Watch. What more do you need?! The two have never met before. My prediction: whoever wins the coin toss, will choose to serve. Also: Mello comes through, but – even though the 30 year-old Brazilian outranks Yang by 225 rankings spots, and possibly because he outolds the 19 year-old by 11 years – it’s gonna be a tussle. (Disclaimer: you know I’m an idiot, right?)

Beyond that, Juan Pablo Brzezicki awaits the victor of the delayed Ghem-Silva game. Methinks he’ll be awaiting a long time. And then it’s just doubles. Cruel, Zeballos-displacing doubles. “After suitable rest,” says the OOP. Ohohohoho & jajajajaaja – that’s a good one, OOP. I’m sure that, if the forecast is to be believed, the rest will be quite suitable indeed.

Sao Paulo Challenger Wednesday Wrap-up

So, an actual full slate of singles play took place at the Sao Paulo Challenger today (well, almost, haha), and – on the off chance that my nauseatingly-detailed tweets weren’t enough for you (or you missed all of my 140-character gems entirely) – I will now provide a nauseatingly-detailed recap of Wednesday’s action out of the goodness of my heart.  And at no extra cost to you, dear reader!

Well, I woke up and was writing my snarky preview about how there’d be no tennis today.  When all of a sudden, on a whim, I decided to launch livestreams and scoreboards and stumbled upon a minor miracle: after days of deluge, there was play in Sao Paulo! Hallelujah and praise Jesus (that’s the guy with the squeegee’s name, I’m pretty sure: Jesus Silva, no doubt).

We joined the action with Federico Delbonis (one word, the ATP spells it wrong – thanks Marcos for the tip!) leading Tiago Lopes 7-5, Guillermo Alcaide over Daniele Giorgini 6-3 2-3, Giovanni Lapentti in a first set tiebreak with Ricardo Hocevar, and Joao Souza warming up with Matteo Trevisan on the postage stamp-sized livestream.  It wasn’t long before the seventh seeded Delbo had closed out his match in dual 7-5 sets, while Alcaide wrapped up his match in three, winning 6-3 4-6 6-3.

A Little Delbo Room – Federico Delbonis, clearly practicing on Petr Korda’s home court

As it should have done after several days delay, the tennis was coming faster and furiouser than Vin Diesel on a Wayne Odesnik hypodermic cocktail.  Before I knew it, Souza had come back from a set down to win the second set 6-3 with a hearty cry of “Vamos!” for good measure.  Trevisan was then sprayed/rubbed and otherwise fondled (and possibly deloused) in the legular region, MTO-style.  And before I knew it (again), Souza had closed out the match (this time with a hearty cry of “Allez!” – such variety!) 4-6 6-3 6-1, much to the delight of the local crowd.  But the real question we need to ask here is: why did things keep happening before I knew them?  A disturbing trend, to be sure.  Anyway, the 3rd-seeded Souza will play Giovanni Lapentti, who beat Ricardo Hocevar 7-6(6) 6-4 in the 2nd round. Lapentti leads their head-to-head 3 to 2.

And then the still-Swedish wildcard Christian Lindell made it into my livestream crosshairs against the always-Argentinian Andres Molteni.  Lindell dictated play early, serving 4 aces, ruling rallies and racing to a 4-1* first set lead.  Molteni was muttery.  Meanwhile, on another court, I notice that Uladzimir Ignatik has bageled eighth seed Paul Capdeville in the third set, getting the upset 7-5 3-6 6-0.  Later I learned that Capdeville had been sick and cramping in that final set.  Oh.

Also meanwhile on another court, Horacio Zeballos was upwarming for his match against Julio Silva.  Why the second seed was scheduled to play a Brazilian on any court other than Court Central left me mystified and bewildered.  I mean, I know they’re backlogged with matches, but only 4 total contests were even scheduled on the main (and streamed) court today, with 5 matches on all the others.  Surely they could’ve made some room for their second seed, no?  No.

Regardless, Molteni started to make a good go of it on Court Central while he was there (and why not?). He charged back in the 2nd set, served to force a tiebreak, and found himself at triple set point 6-3*. Lindell held to 5-6*, but then Molteni netrushed and Lindell melted, making an error of induction on set point numero tres.  Second set to Molteni to the 22 year-old Argie, 76(5).

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Ok, peoples. I suppose I should forge forth with some Sao Paolo Challenger analysis as if it’s a tournament that’s going to actually, you know, happen. You know it won’t, and I know it won’t, but – like we’re a good action movie audience – let’s suspend our disbelief and just pretend for a while. Cmon, it’ll be fun!

As of right this now, the event is, of course, a shambles. Rain, rain, rain. And after that? More rain. The Bradesco Prime Cuppers have been scrambling to find indoor accommodations for their backlogged (and waterlogged) matches, but can’t find many tennis clubs that both a) will yield court time to them and 2) have regulation ATP-acceptable courts. As a result, we’re still awaiting main draw action in the middle of the week.

Two notable things have somehow been able to happen amidst all this calamity: 1) last week’s Brazil F1 winner Gastao Elias has made it through qualifying, and b) 17 year-old Tiago Fernandes has not; Fernandes lost a heartbreaker (and a tiebreaker) to Andrew Lauret 6-4 4-6 6-7(4) in the second qualifying round. (Lauret, in turn, lost to Henrique Cunha, whose name always sounds exotic and dirty to me) (which says a lot more about me than it does him, I’m afraid.)

We interrupt this preview for a Special Update: Holy crap, peoples! I suspended my disbelief for a moment, launched the livescores and the livestream, and they’re actually PLAYING in Sao Paulo right now! Tennis, even! Livescore here, and livestream here.

Federico Del Bonis up a set on Tiago Lopes (as well he should be), Guillermo Alcaide up a set but down a break to Daniele Giorgini, Giovanni Lapentti with a first set TB over Ricardo Hocevar, and Matteo Trevisan vs. Joao Souza on serve early in the livestream.

Pictorial evidence of an actual dry court in Sao Paulo

We now resume my preview:

I predict Del Bonis will take the first set over Lopes (as he should), Alcaide will start strong but then struggle, and Lapentti will take a close first set. Stay tuned for more!

Once again, you probably thought I’ve become such a Brisbaniac that I’d forgotten about the Challengers, right? Wrong! Allow me to smack you upside the head with my spectacular Sao Paulo Challenger preview.  Allegedly an outdoor hard court tourney (the weather is abysmal and they may have to move indoors), this $100,000 Challenger hosts a field of tremendous quality and depth, as one would expect from most 100K’s. Let’s take a look at the draw and break it down, OCD-style:

First Quarter: Top seed Ricardo Mello (ATP #76) has drawn a qualifier in the first round, as has 2011 Player to Watch Tsung-Hua Yang, whom Mello is slotted to meet in the 2nd round. Which is all well and good, except for the fact that Brazil F1 champion Gastao Elias lurks in the quallies and might have been granted enough meteorological reprieve to be firing at full strength in the main draw. Elias is a truly dangerous floater, and I feel that his placement in the draw might eventually factor in the outcome of this tournament. With three qualy spots in the top quarter of the draw, they’re likely to find this Portuguese party crasher in their midst. Teen phenom Tiago Fernandes also lurks as a potentially potent qualifier.

Have you never been Mello?

As for the only match whose participants are now known, I find Juan-Pablo Brzezicki vs. Joao Sousa (Portuguese “s” variety) an intriguing first round match. The 28 year-old Brzezicki is having a late career renaissance of sorts, playing well in the two Buenos Aires Challenger events last year, making the semis of one (l. Maximo Gonzalez) and the finals of the other (l. Diego Junqueira). Sousa, meanwhile, is coming off a 57-win season that saw the 21 year-old’s ranking rise from #443 to his current #244 (that’s almost 200 places, for you non-math whizzes). Can he continue his rise against the former Top 100 JPB in their first career meeting? We gonna see.

In a related story, I can’t see the name “Joao” without thinking of Flava Flav:

Is something wrong with me? (Please don’t answer that.)

Second Quarter: Joao Souza (Brazilian “z” variety) vs. Matteo Trevisan is another interesting first rounder. The sixth-seeded Souza (ATP #111) prevailed in their only previous encounter, 6-4 4-3 ret. in last May’s Alessandria Challenger, but Trevisan was a #1 world junior in 2007 who is a really good ball-striker. Now ranked #276, can the oft-injured (he retired from five matches last year) Italian start to make his mark in 2011? Some say he’s too short to make it in the big leagues. I say let’s wait and see what this season holds.

On zee next drawlines we find the popular Ecuadoran Giovanni Lapentti vs. Ricardo Hocevar (popularity undetermined). These two have a history, and that is: Hocevar leads their head-to-head 4-2, but little Gio has won the two most recent meetings, both last year, one on clay and one on hard courts. I’d look for Mr. Lapentti (G variety) to continue his winning ways here.  Daniele Giorgini and Guillermo Alcaide have a history as well, and it’s fairly ancient; Giorgini squeaked out a three-setter in 2005, which means absolutely nothing at in today’s terms. Alcaide had the better 2010, and is better on hard courts, so I’m expecting the Spaniard to come through this one. If he does, he’ll probably meet seventh seed Federico Del Bonis in the 2nd round. The 160th-ranked Argentine 20 year-old meets 650th-ranked wildcard Tiago Lopes in his first round.

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