Tag Archive: Giovanni Lapentti


Delray Day One – aka Aussie Wildcard Playoff Redux

The day dawns warmly and beautifully at the ATP 250 Delray Beach for the first day of qualifying action. It’s so toasty, in fact, that this February day in South Florida offers a reasonable facsimile of what I’d imagine Australia was like around, say, the Tennis Australia Wildcard playoffs. Not content to merely imagine, I proceed to track down every Aussie on the grounds throughout the day, it seems.

I arrive early and scavenge the practice courts. First and best stop of interest is out on Court 6, where none other than International Tennis Hall of Famer Mark Woodforde is out with new charges Marinko Matosevic and Matt Ebden, helping them with their serves (note: they’re all Australian). “Use the same setup when you go down the ‘T’,” he advises Matosevic. “Gotta get that disguise.” Matosevic scolds himself for each little technical transgression but is very supportive of Ebden.

In the first match of the day, I see Ebden put that serve to good use, as he faces 2010 Easter Bowl champ, 17-year-old Bjorn Fratangelo, who received a wildcard into qualifying. Ebden serves five aces and just one double fault, connecting successfully on seventy percent of his first deliveries, and winning 79% of those.

Ebden serves vs. Fratangelo

Fratangelo is overmatched, sure, but it’s among the more impressive less-than-an-hour defeats I’ve seen in a while. If that sounds like I’m damning with faint praise, I don’t mean to be. He hits some terrific-looking backhands, displaying excellent footwork, balance and technique, outright catching the man from Perth flat-footed on a few. Good movement and the occasional ripping forehand, too (although he seems a bit more inconsistent off that wing).

Ultimately, though, the Western Australian is just that much stronger and steadier, on serve and otherwise. He advances 6-2 6-3 to the next round, where he’ll face second seed Igor Kunitsyn, a 7-5 4-6 6-2 winner over Tim Smyczek.

I watch a bit of Smyczek, who looks good in the set I see him play (I’ll let you guess which one that was), then move to catch top-seeded Blaz Kavcic against the popular Ecuadoran, the 28-year-old Giovanni Lapentti. From Smyczek to Kavcic – seems poetic enough to me. Oh, wait. Back up a bit. While watching Smyczek, I’m treated to the unintentional hilarity of well-meaning fans accosting poor Woodforde while he watches yet another Aussie, Mr. Samuel Groth, fire some first balls.

One gent tells Woody that he got his autograph at Disneyworld in 1999. Another quizzes him about long ago matches vs. the Bryan Bros. “Do you remember that match?” the beset upon coach is asked. “Yeah, we played them a few times,” Woodforde answers patiently, while trying to do his job. Good man.

OK. Kavcic. Lapentti. What can I say? Blaz blazed through the tired-looking younger Lapentti bro, taking some time to gripe along the way, as per. The 23-year-old Slovenian is one of those players whose venting just amuses me (though not in a Joe Pesci way). With others’ negativity, there’s a real sense of menace. With Blaz, it’s just what he does. The Courier-esque baseliner, currently on a career high of #83 in the rankings, displays his usual tenacity and scrambling – with bits of skill and volleying thrown in for good measure. The net result is all kinds of not bad – he advances 6-2 6-2 and will play Rajeev Ram in QR2, who won 7-5 6-2 over local fave and wildcard winner Eric Hechtman.

As today is turning into an Ozsome theme day, I check in on how Matosevic is faring against 28-year-old South African Raven Klaasen.

That’s So Raven

Under a watchful Wood(e)y(e), he’s playing haphazardly, as has been the case for 2011. At 3-all in the third set, he looks up at the chair umpire. “Score?” he inquires. Then he ma-tosses in three consecutive service winners from 15-0 and flashes a cheeky, little-boy smile to his coach, like, “Look what I just did!” He reels off the next eight points to win the match 7-6(1) 3-6 6-3. Amazing how he can just seem to click his game “on” sometimes and thereafter look unbeatable. He’s similar to Alex Bogdanovic, in that respect. When it’s all going right, you think, “How is this guy not Top 50? Top 25?” It seems so effortless. Sadly for them (and possibly for us as well), it hardly ever all goes right.

Continue reading

Australian Open Men’s Qualifying Preview!

I’m not sure if you know this, so let me tell you: Grand Slam draws are like crack to fans of the Challenger circuit. They’re like the ultimate Challenger event: a tourney featuring players ranked between 100 and 300, and nearly everyone plays. Granted, there are only three rounds instead of five, and it’s kinda like the tourney gets canceled halfway through, but my point stands: pretty much every challenger-level player of interest is here, gunning for a place in a grand slam main draw. What’s not to like?

And after a few glitches and false starts, the Australian Open men’s qualifying draw has finally been unlocked and unleashed upon unsuspecting (or, in my case, very suspecting) cybercitizens. And in my tried and true OCD-tinged maniacal fashion, I am here to break it all down for you. No info-nugget will remain unearthed, no useless factoid shall remain buried, no know-balls will remain unlobbed. (Huh? Well, you get the idea.)

Let’s dig in!

First Quadrant

Top Quarter:

Much as I want to be impressed by Blaz Kavcic’s Chennai Open showing (he beat Jeremy Chardy and destroyed Robert Kendrick before falling 3&3 in the quarters to Berdych), I’m gonna be silly right from the get go and say there are no obvious favorites in this segment. A line-by-line breakdown:

[1] Blaz Kavcic SLO (World Ranking #100) v [W] Benjamin Mitchell AUS (#610): a tough draw for the likeable 18-year-old Queenslander, but not a completely impossible task for the lad who made the final in Bendigo and took Brisbane International quarterfinalist Matt Ebden to two tough TB sets at the Tennis Australia AO Wildcard Playoffs (having a lead in both sets). I’ve seen both play their fair share of matches, and to my mind they’re similar in game, style, speed, grit and even countenance. Blaz just does everything a bit better than Ben does. Odds are extremely good Blaz beats Ben in straights. But I expect Mitchell to give a good account of himself, I really do.

Rik de Voest RSA (#179) v Laurent Recouderc FRA (#204): Recouderc won their only match 6-4 6-4 two years ago on hard courts in Dubai. The big South African, however, has had better recent results, reaching the semis of the Charlottesville Challenger and the quarters in Knoxville at the end of last year. So on recent form as well as ranking, I’ll buck the two-year-old head-to-head data and pick Rik. Kavcic has never played de Voest, but he manhandled Recouderc 2&0 last June on clay, if you want to hedge yer bets.

Greg Jones AUS (#254) v Olivier Patience FRA (#196): The two have never met before, but Greg’s gonna win this one. Based on absolutely no data at all. Just trust me on this one. I’m tired.

Guillermo Alcaide SPA (#216) v [25] Ilija Bozoljac SRB (#152): Bozoljac beat Alcaide pretty comprehensively 6-3 6-2 in a recent meeting at the US Open qualifying tournament. And even though the Spaniard has played more matches recently (and gave Tsung-Hua Hang a pretty good fight in the Brazil F1 QF’s), I’d expect Bozo to make it through to face Greg in the next round. Those two have never met neither.

Who makes it through: De Voest beats Bozoljac (what? He’s won the only two matches they’ve played!)

Second quarter: this is where Simone Bolelli tries not to screw things up, as is his wont. He faces some fairly formidable competition along the way, but they’re all people he should honestly beat. Will he? Probably not. Let’s have a closer look:

Continue reading

Sao Paolo Challenger – My So-Called Thursday Wrap-Up

All right, my friends. You all are gonna hafta earn your Thursday Sao Paolo Challenger recap today.  How?  Well, I’m about to get insanely autobiographical, and you’ll have to wade through terrifying glimpses into my mania in order to pick out snippets of tennistical insight and actuality. Why? Because I like you!

Anyway, take a look at this:

click to enlarge

What is this? This, my friends, is my so-called life. An actual screenshot of how my computer looked a few hours ago, as I stretched into hour *mumble* of Deadly-Sinworthy tennis watching. In the upper right is the heart of the operation, the tennis stream, usually pirated off of livescorehunter.com, although I pay for tennistv.com as well (don’t ask me why). This is where the tennis viewing takes place, primarily. A lot of the time, the streams I watch aren’t even as glamorous-looking as the one above (Lapentti-misspellings, horrible font and all). They’re usually smaller and blurrier. And still I watch. Very still, ’cause I’m afraid any slight movement will cause me to lose the feed (kidding) (mostly).

In the bottom-right corner is the control panel of the operation, the “live” scoreboard (though it’s often frozen). There’s another one I have open behind the one in the picture above, which I control-tab over to so I can keep (controlled) tabs on the action in Auckland, Brisbane, Chennai and Doha (it’s as easy as A,B, C) (and D).

The left portion of the screen contains the context, the brain, the additional info that adds substance to what I’m seeing. In this case, it’s a Google-translated (per)version of a just-completed article about a just-completed tenis match (that’s Spanish for “tennis match”). This week, these translations are from Portuguese, and are quite necessary since a) I don’t speak Portuguese and 2) no English media outlet gives a rat’s ass about the kind of tournaments I follow (Challengers and Futures, keep up). I’m using the idiomatic “rat’s ass” phrase on purpose, by the way, in case you’re also reading this on Google-translate, as I’m sure its translation into another language will be titter-inducting.

Often, these articles come with the added hindrance/hilarity of mangled translations, so really, who even knows if the info I give you is correct most of the time? For instance, the one open in the above screenshot has the headline “Delbonis expects tough game in front of beans in SP 4As Open” – I shit you not. Will he really play in front of beans tomorrow?  I have no idea.  Another article I’ll read as background for today’s matches is entitled, “Mello is choking, but eliminates talented pupil of Larri Passos.” Now, I don’t know if this is a crazy translation error, or if the press in Sao Paolo is just refreshingly candid and no-holds-barred. You’ll have to judge for yourself.

Anyway, this is what I go through to produce the kind of high-quality, well-informed, and thoughtful (haha) pieces you read here. The things I do for you people. The things I do for (thirty) love. You’re welcome.

Continue reading

OK, I should’ve alerted you to this earlier. Asleep at the switch, I am (which is all too appropriate as I’ve had two hours sleep).

Second round action is well underway at the Sao Paulo Challenger.  Take that, Mr. Weatherman!  Plus there’s a new improved stream.

Results So Far:

[7] Federico Delbonis d Guillermo Alcaide 63 36 76(5) & will face [3] Joao Souza in the QF’s. Delbo won their only previous meeting 76(8) 61 at the Braunschweig Challenger in June of 2009.

Thomas Fabbiano maintains his fabbulosity after all, handing Fernando Romboli his third defeat in his last 23 matches, 36 61 61.

Uladzimir Ignatik d Andrea Arnaboldi 76(5) 67(4) 64. He’ll face winner of Molteni v Menendez-Maceiras in QF’s.

[3] Joao Souza d Giovanni Lapentti 6-1 6-4.

 

Right now, Tsung-Hua Yang and top seed Ricardo Mello are engaged in a quality contest, with the 19 year-old Yang taking the first set 6-3.  Impressive match – more points being won than lost, clean ball-striking, baseline-hugging attack-minded tennis.  Good stuff.  Update: 2-all in the 2nd set, Mello serving at 15-30, gets into an argument with the chair umpire, and Yang doesn’t like it so the two players do a bit of jawing.  The Brazilian fires up and takes the next three points to 3-2*, much to the delight of the home crowd.

Updated Update (now 50% updatier):

(Spoiler alert!)

[1] Ricardo Mello d Tsung-Hua Yang 3-6 6-4 7-6(4)

Juan Pablo Brzezicki d [6] Rogerio Dutra Da Silva 6-4 7-6(2)

Adrian Menendez-Maceiras d Andres Molteni 6-1 6-2

[Q] Rafael Camilo d [2] Horacio Zeballos 7-6(5) 3-6 7-6(7)

Will have full match reports up soon.  But I’m watching the Goffinator take on Stan Wawinka at the moment. Don’t hassle the Goff!

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.

%d bloggers like this: