Tag Archive: Ivo Minar


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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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:

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Young Guns Taking Shots At ATP Early

We’re only four days into the 2011 tennis season, and already some of the players who’ve spent most of their young pro careers at the Challenger level are making a bit of noise at this week’s ATP 250 events.  Here are the notable performances so far:

At the Brisbane International, unseeded 18 year-old Ryan Harrison made it through the qualifying tournament, taking out the hobbled third-seed Michael Russell before posting wins over solid Challenger players Matthias Bachinger and Jurgen Zopp to qualify.  Unfortunately for Ryan, he drew top seed Robin Soderling in the main draw, and went down to the fifth ranked player in the world 2-6 4-6 in a fairly respectable effort.

20 year-old Richie Berankis, last seen winning the Helsinki Challenger in a win that propelled him into the Top 100, has done Harrison one better: so far he’s not only qualified (including a tough three-set win against Peter Luczak in which the 5′ 9” Lithuanian served 23 aces against only 2 double faults) but then defeated former Top 25 player (and current #78) Arnaud Clement in straight sets.

 

Ricardas “Richard” Berankis and coach Remigijus “Regis” Balzekas after the Clement match

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ATP 250 Chennai Qualifying Draw Analysis

This qualifying draw breakdown comes with one qualifier: to help expedite this analysis, I will be assuming that all Indians save for Sanam Singh, Vishnu Vardhan and Karan Rastogi cannot quite compete at this level and will thus not be advancing to QR2. Oh, and let’s pretend the same is true for all German wildcards as well. Please note: I did not say this would be a particularly fair or accurate assumption, but it will certainly make this draw analysis a hell of a lot easier.

And now, with almost half of all potential qualifiers eliminated from consideration by my reckless and sweeping assertion, let’s see which four gents might actually have a chance to advance into the main draw, shall we?  Oh wait, am I missing something here?  Oh yes – the drawIs as follows:

[1]SOEDA, Go JPN vs [WC] PUTTKAMMER, Daniel GER
SINGH, Karunuday IND vs [WC] GREMELMAYR, Andreas GER
GOFFIN, David BEL vs WAGH, Akash IND
PRASHANTH, N Vijay Sundar IND vs [7] MINAR, Ivo CZE

[2] ROGER-VASSELIN, Edouard FRA vs KHAN, Shahbaaz IND
SKUGOR, Franco CRO vs SINGH, Sanam IND
[WC] SELVARAJ, Ajai IND vs KIRILLOV, Evgeny RUS
SETKIC, Aldin BIH vs [5] RAONIC, Milos CAN

[3] NILAND, Conor IRL vs VARDHAN, Vishnu IND
PAVIC, Ante CRO vs QURESHI, Aisam-Ul-Haq PAK
RASTOGI, Karan IND vs RAM, Rajeev USA
RAJA, Purav IND vs [6] KUDRYAVTSEV, Alexandre RUS

[4] KRAVCHUK, Konstantin RUS vs SHARAN, Divij IND
PERANAMALLUR, Vignesh IND vs [WC] ROY, Rupesh IND
FRIEDL, Leos CZE vs MARTIN, David USA
VIRALI-MURUGESAN, Ranjeet IND vs [8] SUGITA, Yuichi JPN

First Quarter: So, based on my simple yet effective formula, it’s looking like top-seed Go Soeda will face the winner between David Goffin and [7] Ivo Minar for a main draw spot here. The case for Minar being that winner: he’s ranked higher (#167). The case for Goffin being that winner: he’s one of Challenger Tennis’ 2011 Players To Watch. Advantage: Goffin. For Go’s part, he hasn’t told it on the mountain (i.e. played) against either Goffin or the non-doctor Ivo. Who advances: much as I’d like to see one of CT’s chosen folk thrive early in the year, I suspect it will be the top-seeded Soeda getting through his section. But I wouldn’t mind being wrong at all, at all.

David Goffin

Second Quarter: I’m gonna call my first reckless upset of the season here, and tout Sanam Singh as the guy who emerges from the top half of this quarter. The UVA vet is no slouch at the professional level, though he’s played most of his ball in college thus far. Plus, Skugor had a less-than-convincing end of 2010 (losing his final five matches) and Roger-Vasselin ain’t exactly a hero on hard courts. So I say Singh pleases the locals and slides past Vasselin into the final qualifying round, where he’ll meet… Milos Raonic, of course. The Canadian with the cannonball serve has had time to rest his shoulder and he’s got very high aspirations for this year. I can’t see Aldin Setkic or Evgeny Kirillov really troubling him. Nor Singh, for that matter. Who advances: Raonic.

The Raonic Man – with Carsten Ball

Third Quarter: Well, even though Vishnu Vardan is someone I can’t offhandedly eliminate before my draw analysis gets underway, I can eliminate him now at the hands of Conor Niland. The top-ranked Irishman finished last year too well to be wholly bothered by the third-ranked Indian. Though he may be partially bothered by him. There’s definitely room for some partial botheration. I like Conor to come through over Ante Pavic or Aisam Qureshi as well.

I think Karan Rastogi might go a bit further toward making an impact on Rajeev Ram‘s game deeper into the third quarter, but I expect Ram to come good, even though he didn’t give the Entouraj much to cheer about last year (if anything). And that leads us to an interesting QR2, because Alexander Kudryavtsev – despite impressing in his run to the semis of the Bratislava Challenger semis late last year – has an 0-2 head-to-head against Raj, with both losses coming on hard courts and one coming last year in Chennai. Things look as favorable as they could for the American to find his way into the FQR against Niland. But that’s as far as I expect him to go, assuming he gets that far. It’s Niland who advances out of this section, I think.

Fourth Quarter: I think the one player with the most to be pleased with in all of the Chennai qualifying draw is 4th seed Konstantin Kravchuk. Besides the other seed in his section, Yuichi Sugita, the highest ranked player is outside the Top 500, and Kravchuk won his only previous meeting with Sugita. So look for the 25 year-old Russian to join Soeda, Raonic and Niland in kickstarting their 2011 campaigns with an ATP main draw appearance.

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