Tag Archive: Igor Sijsling

So.  Hello.  I’m pretty sure it’s not me you’re looking for either.  And I know I’m supposed to be driving to Florida right now, but the Northeast is getting slammed with snow – bamboozled by blizzard, we are! – so I’m (Tom) delayed for one more day. Which means, despite my procuring of the finest guest-hosting talents (and they are doing a spectacular job), you are stuck with me for one more day. I don’t know what to do with myself, other than sully my site with more of my words. Therefore, I proudly present to you my Australian Open men’s qualifying day one wrap-up – cabin fever edition:

I was able to wake up in the middle of the night and watch the livestream of the John Millman v Sebastian Rieschick match as well as the Greg Jones v Olivier Patience contest. Then I fell asleep again (sorry Gooch!) Turns out that Greg and the Mailman were the only Aussies to come good out of the twelve who played yesterday.

That’s right, two wins out of twelve. Maverick Banes, Matt Reid, Chris Guccione, Sean Berman, Sam Groth, James Duckworth, Ben Mitchell, Luke Saville, James Lemke, and Brydan Klein all lost. Ouch. All Ozzed up, and no place to go. In fairness, Mitchell’s effort (some of which I saw) was superb, taking top seeded Blaz Kavcic to 4-6 in the third set. And Saville lost to a red hot Nicola Mahut. 

Benny Mitchell – Will He Escape From Full Screen Mode?

So I’m especially glad to have seen the rare instances of Aussome success in all their glory. And they were glorious indeed. If ever a match could be called “classic John Millman”, this match vs. Rieschick was the one. The Mailman seemed dogged by the conditions early, and easily distracted by “fans” with highly questionable etiquette. His shots were landing short in the court, and his opponent was taking those short balls and teeing off, making more than he missed.

Thus, the amiable Queenslander found himself down a set and a break, with the burly German serving for the match, when he was granted a rain-delay reprieve. After an hour or so break, Milkman came out raring to go, a noticeable spring in his step that was absent pre-precip. Maybe he enjoyed some caffeine during his break. I offer this as evidence for my hypothesis:

Meanwhile, Rieschick was nowhere to be found, and ambled out onto the court a good five minutes or so after John did. When play resumed, Mailman overcame match point, shoddy line calls, and dodgy inter-game spectator migrations to break twice and take the second set 7-5. Rieschick also could no longer find the court – that helped, too.

The third set opened with three straight breaks, Sebastian settled a bit more into his game after an extended walkabout during the previous frame’s conclusion.

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Noumea Tuesdea Preview

A very sparse OOP in Noumea for Tuesday (unless you count doubles, which I totally don’t) (kidding!) (about the doubles, not the spareness).  If I had the kind of forecast they have, I’d be making people play multiple rounds today.  I guess that’s why I’m not a tournament director – which I’m sure is for the better, as it would likely result in player mutiny and violent overthrow. All for the best.  Anyway, here’s a look at Tuesday’s matches, which are the only remaining first rounds to be played:

Igor Sijsling vs. Augustin Gensse: a first ever meeting between the top-seeded Dutchman and the 27 year-old Frenchie.  Sijsling ended the year on one of the better tears on tour, winning the Eckental Challenger then reaching the finals in Aachen before Dustin Brown halted his 9-match winning streak.  This will be his first pro match since that run in late November.  Gensse, meanwhile, had an amazing 72/21 season that saw him claim SEVEN Futures titles and reach the semis of the Palermo Challenger, pushing his ranking up from #578 into the Top 200.  So I would be very densse were I to write off his chances.  Will be an interesting one, for sure.

Igor Sijsling Dutching it up with pal Thiemo de Bakker

Freddie Nielsen vs. Kevin Kim: First meeting for these guys as well.  Two challenger tour veterans whose seasons (and possibly careers) took different trajectories at the end of last year. 2010 saw the 32 year-old Kim lose his final six matches of the year on the way to a 29/37 campaign.  The 27 year-old Dane, meanwhile, ended the year with a run to the finals of Loughborough (where he lost to the then-torrid Matthias Bachinger) and a 46/26 record.  All trends point to Nielsen getting through this one.

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2011 Challenger Tennis Players To Watch: Part 4

OK, I have to start this Fourth Day of Challenger Tennis Christmas profiles with a disclaimer: I’m never going to do a better job with this Benoit Paire profile than the fabulous Tumaini over at Footfault did with his. That Paire profile was, is and forever will be the high water mark of Paire pieces.

That said, I’ve had my own eye on the crazypants from France for about a year, and he is poised for great things*, so I figured I had to take a crack at this worthwhile crackpot meself. But really, I don’t blame you if you just read Tumaini’s article and then move on to my next profile. It’s probably what I would do, if I were me. But if you’re feeling extra ambitious and/or charitable, you should read his words first and then come back to mine.

OK. Ready? Here goes. *deep breath*

Well, after that colourful and high-flying introduction to the man…

…let me bring you back to bring you back down to earth with some boring stats.

It all began for the tall (1.94 meters/6 feet 4.5 inches) righty from Avignon with an ITF junior career in which he didn’t play very much, but compiled a 16/3 record when he did – including wins over fellow 2011 Players To Watch Thomas Schoorel and Dan Cox as well as a previously documented loss to Fernando Romboli). Then in July of 2007, having just turned 18, Benoit burst onto the pro scene with a Futures title in just his second professional tournament, beating the likes of Alexandre Sidorenko, Ivan Sergeyev and Eric Prodon on his way to the championship. Of course, this being Benoit, his triumph was immediately tempered by a craplustre 2-win, 5-loss conclusion to his season, thus introducing the world to his remarkable inconsistency straight out of the gate.

In 2008, Paire had an up-and-down 27/25 record for his first full year in the pros before breaking out at a 50/29 W/L clip in 2009, albeit mostly at the Futures level. Still, he improved his ranking almost 300 spots from #628 to #332 in ’09, and the 21-year-old (and 7 months) continued his yearly halving of his ranking this year, going 53/28 and whittling it down to a tidy #152. Benoit won 3 Futures tourneys, made the finals at the Arad and San Sebastian Challengers, and went 7/3 in Slams (counting qualifying matches, of course), including memorable runs at the French Open, where he lost a highly entertaining affair to Olivier Rochus in the first round, and the US Open, where he went down in five sets to 23rd seed Feliciano Lopez in the 2nd round. But along the way, he beat Filip Krajinovic and Igor Sijsling in qualies and Rainer Schuettler in the main round.

In addition to watching a few of Paire’s matches on various livestreams, I was finally able to see him in person this past summer, during that final qualifying round match against Sijsling. And it was a massively engaging match. Benoit is a playmaker extraordinaire – there is nothing he cannot do on the tennis court, shotwise, and there’s nothing he didn’t do in that match: impossibly athletic stretched-out squash saves/recovery slashes from deep in the corners, sublime stop volleys, deft drop shots, pounding aces, hitting over, under and through the ball, and really frustrating his able opponent, who is no slouch himself (Sijsling finished the year 9/1, winning the Eckental Challenger and finishing runner-up to Dustin Brown in Aachen).

Of course, the only thing Benoit cannot do on the tennis court has nothing to do with his shotmaking, and everything to do with his head. The legendarily flighty, flaky and temperamental Frenchman just couldn’t get out of his own way at times – constantly grumbling and glaring and asking the fans seated on the baseline if they saw the ball the same way the linespeople did. The chair umpire kept having to say, “Benoit – talk to me, not to them.” He was only mollified somewhat by his coach, who muttered, “Allez, Ben,” every now and then while looking vaguely terrified.

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