Tag Archive: Kazan


Whaddup, Halloweenies! It’s time for a very spoooooky edition of the W.I.T.C.H. List*. So follow me, and let’s see Whose Increased Their Career Highs this week:

Player NATIONALITY Age New High
Michal Przysiezny POL 29 65
Tim Smyczek USA 25 84
Oleksandr Nedovyesov UKR 26 99
Facundo Arguello ARG 21 137
James Duckworth AUS 21 147
Marco Cecchinato ITA 21 159
Radu Albot MDA 23 164
Blaz Rola SLO 23 179
Lucas Pouille FRA 19 184
John-Patrick Smith AUS 24 207
Miloslav Mecir SVK 25 211
Mohamed Safwat EGY 23 225
Lorenzo Giustino ITA 22 232
Daniel Cox GBR 23 245
Chase Buchanan USA 22 271
Aslan Karatsev RUS 20 286
Jose Hernandez DOM 23 287
Egor Gerasimov BLR 20 290
Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan IND 25 305
Adrian Sikora SVK 25 308
Tak Khunn Wang FRA 22 318

Do you see what I see?  I know!  Pick yourself up off the floor so we can discuss this: there’s only one Argie on this week’s List!  If that’s not a sure sign of the impending apocalypse, then I’m not sure what is.

Another cursory glance will yield yet another mind-blowing realization: that’s right, it’s not an apparition — at long last, Nick Kyrgios is no longer the only teen in the Top 200! Thanks to Lucas Pouille’s semifinal showing at the Kazan Challenger, the French teen creeeps up 22 rungs on the rankings ladder to #184.

When I wrote my scarily amazing Which Teen(s) Will Make The Top 200 Before Turning 20** article six weeks ago, I said that it was reasonable to expect that Pouille would join Kyrgios in the Top 200 soon (Lucas was #202 at the time). But honestly, I didn’t think it’d be this long. I mean, jeez, Lucas, get a move on.

"Ooh la la -- I finally made it to zee Top 200!"

“Ooh la la — I finally made it to zee Top 200!”

According to his ATP Profile, Lucas enjoys fashion, shopping, and hanging out with friends, so it seems Halloween is the perfect day for him — he can dress up in costumes and go door to door with his pals looking for bargain candy offerings. Course, he might have to do it while at this week’s Geneva Challenger. But they do celebrate Halloween there, don’t they?

Another name that catches my eye is 20-year-old Aslan Karatsev. The Russian roars his way up 30 slots to number 286 on Ye Olde Rankings Liste due to his quarterfinal showing in Kazan. He is now the 11th-best-ranked player under 21 years of age on the ATP Tour. What does this all mean? Who knows. Remember: while you’re trying to read the tea leaves, others are just enjoying their tea.

Karatsev

Karatsev

*warning: words may occasionally be orange for no good reason

**Should be “Witch Teens”, of course

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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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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Challenger Tennis Week Five – Tuesday In Review

Actually, Monday/Tuesday in review, and – where Burnie is concerned – maybe a little Wednesday as well, depending on how slowly I type this (although they’re in a rain delay for the moment). The first round is generally complete at all of of this week’s three challenger sites, so let’s check out this week’s second round survivors and first round divers.

BUT FIRST! Congratulations are in order to Dmitry Tursunov, who beat fifth-seeded Lukas Rosol 6-4 6-2 (Rosol played like he had a plane to catch) to take the title of the rain-delayed Singapore Challenger. The 28-year-old Russian pocketed $7,200 and 90 ATP Points for his efforts, which shot him 47 rungs up the rankings ladder to #150. Rosol, for his part, did hop a plane – to Burnie, where he was promptly upset in the first round by 412th-ranked Canadian Erik Chvojka, the poor guy. He’s on the OOP for doubles tonight, too. Ouch. Speaking of…

Burnie

Aussie Aussie Aussie – ay yi yi. The first round of the McDonald’s Burnie International was a special sauce-laden bloodbath for the Australian players, who were not, in fact, ‘lovin it’. The only Oz players to advance to the second round Tuesday without having to beat a compatriot were Matty Ebden, a 6-2 6-3 upset winner over third-seeded Slovenian Grega Zemlja, who himself flew over from the Honolulu Challenger (although he lost first round there, so – presumably – flew to Tasmania a lot sooner than Rosol did) and qualifier Benny Mitchell, a 7-5 4-6 6-3 victor over the carousing Ivo Klec. And the only ones who did so on Monday were qualifier Joel Lindner, who upset 7th seed Ivo Minar in a match I totally predicted (after the fact) and wildcard James Lemke, who had a nice 7-6(4) 4-6 6-4 victory over 2011 Challenger Tennis Player to Watch Tsung-Hua Yang.

Other than that: top-seeded Marinko Matosevic lost to Canadian Phillip Bester (a Honolulu second round vanquishee) 2-6 6-4 2-6; John Millman lost to Flavio Cipolla (a Singapore quarterfinalist) 3-6 2-6; four seed Carsten Ball lost 2-6 4-6 to James Ward, who promptly added insult to injury by making a hash out of Carsten’s name in a victory tweet. It was Wardy’s first win of the year, but Alex still leads the Top 500 British Wards in wins for the year, especially with James stuck in a 4-all match suspension limbo at the time of this typing); qualifier James Duckworth lost to Jan Hernych 6-3 4-6 1-6; Greg Jones (another Honolulu lulu) was beaten by 8 seed Tatsuma Ito (another Singapore quarterfinalist) 4-6 0-6;

All in all, 8 of the 11 losers from Tuesday’s play were Australian. And 6 of them were beaten by a non-Australian. Ouch. Bernard Tomic and Chris Guccione avoided the carnage, but only by beating up on fellow Aussies Sam Groth and Brydan Klein in the process. Peter Polansky also posted a nice win, 6-3 3-6 6-4 over Dusan Lojda.

Oh, and a piece of good-ish news before I move on: a kind Twitterer informed me that there is indeed a livestream for Burnie this year! It even has archived matches. You can spend your week at Burnie’s through this here livestream link. So I guess there goes sleep for another week, eh?

Kazan

Kazan, chop! Six seeds played, and three were cut down, including top seed Conor Niland, who lost to Ilya Belyaev 1-4 retired. On the combo draw sheet it says that the reason for Niland’s retirement is “flew” – so either the zany Kazanians are having homonym issues, or Conor just decided he’s had enough of the brown tap water and the dodgy lunches and went Russian out of there quickly. Either way, I dread the next J.Clusk twitpic.

Other seeds to fall included 3 seed Alexander Kudryavtsev, beaten by Marius Copil 6-3 7-6(3), and Marek Semjan, the 8th seed – he was deep sixed 2-6 6-3 6-3 by Alexander Bury. All of the Kazan-chopped seeds fell from the top branches of the draw, too, so it’s wide open up there, now that all the big names have been felled. And there’s an intriguing match at the very top, too, between two just-turned-20-year-old Russians Alexander Lobkov and Ilya Belyaev, both under brief consideration for 2011 Challenger Tennis Player To Watch Honors before the season started (maybe I’ll rotate one in now that I’ve disowned Souto). Big opportunity for both guys, though.

The only seed remaining in the top half now is [6] Uladzimir Ignatik, who – in order for my preview prediction to come true – must fall to Amir Weintraub, since [7] Jurgen Zopp didn’t have the common decency to lose to Henri Kontinen like he was supposed to (the Estonian won 6-3 7-5).

Jurgen Could Not Be Zopped

Speaking of Weintraub, you must go immediately (well, after finishing this article) to read his column about life in the tour’s trenches – it’s essential reading for you Challenger Tennis lot. You can access all his columnal installments through our friends at Shank Tennis. And if you find them any other way, I’ll come and ICE you like they did to atdhe.net.

Other matches did take place at Kazan today, but they were not worth typing about here. Trust me.

Courmayeur

What got into little second seeded Ollie Rochus, do ya think? 6-0 6-0 over poor 1,433rd-ranked wildcard Matthieu Vierin in under 49 minutes! Oh, I guess that 1,433 number does account for some of that. Never mind! (Heh – the pocket Rochus won 68% of return points. Vierin did have 2 break points, though. So that’s a wildcard well used, then.)

8th-seeded Frenchman Vincent Millot, who got off to an 8/0 start this year after winning the Noumea Challenger and making it through quals at the Australian Open, has now lost in three straight first rounds. Including this one, 3-6 6-7(4) to co-Frenchie Romain Jouan. A good day for the other seeded Freedommen, however, as WATCH Lister [5] Benoit Paire took his sweet, flambuoyant time in beating qualifier Clement Reix 6-3 3-6 6-3, and [4] Nicolas Mahut experienced some score symmetry of his own, taking out Dieter Kindlmann 7-6(4) 7-6(4). All the other French people lost. Give them not another thought this tournament.

Qualifier Laurynas Grigelis, however, remains somewhat thinkworthy, as he justified all the attention I paid him in my Courmayeur preview by straight-setting Matwe Middelkoop. He’ll beat play top seed Simone Bolelli next. Ruben Bemelmans struggled with 370th-ranked Italian wildcard Luca Vanni before putting him away 7-6(5) 6-7(5) 6-3. Third seed Gilles Muller capped things off with a breezy 6-3 6-3 win over Alberto Brizzi. And Heilbronn Challenger champ Bastian Knittel continued to roll, albeit over an easily rollable Elie Rousset, a 979th-ranked 21-year-old Frenchman playing just the 17th professional match of his career. Well I never.

Week Five Challenger Preview – Courmayeur, Kazan & Burnie

Yeah, yeah. I’m way behind on this (as I noted last night, it’ll be more like a midview than a preview), but I’m determined to go through with it anyway. Better later than never, no? Plus I get to seem like I’m smart by predicting upsets that have already happened. Everybody wins! (Except for the players who lost, of course.)

We gots three events on the Challenger Map this week:

Courmayeur, Italy (Indoor Hard, €30,000 plus some good, old-fashioned hospitality):

Hmmm. I don’t know if I’m just having an off day today or what, but I’m having a hard time getting very excited about this one. And you know if I’m having trouble getting excited about a tournament, then something’s either wrong with me or with it.

Simone Bolelli is the top seed here, but we all know he’s not going to win. Then again, I thought the same thing about the Turin Challenger last year and look what happened (hint: he won).

I’m pleased to see Lithuanian #2 (behind “Richard” Berankis, of course) Laurynas Grigelis has made it through qualifying. I’ll never forget that fifth live rubber the honorary Italian (he trains there and speaks the language fluently) played against Dan Evans last year, when Big Grig became a national hero and Dan continued to cultivate his national doormat status.

Everyone gave Evans such a hard time for that one, because he lost to a guy outside the Top 500, but 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. He’ll play 27 year-old Dutchie Matwe Middelkoop in the first round, with the winner getting Bolelli. A possible quarterfinal in the top section here pits Bolelli vs. fifth seed (and 2011 CT PtW) Benoit Paire, which would be a tasty match indeed. One only hopes they fix their livestream by then, should that come to pass. But Matthias Bachinger will probably beat them both anyway. Because that’s just the kind of thing he does.

Fourth seed Nicolas Mahut headlines the second quarter of the draw, third seed Gilles Muller and sixth seed Martin Klizan are slated to meet in the quarters of their section, which could be good, and [7] Jerzy Janowicz and [2] Olivier Rochus make up the long and the short of it in the bottom quarter.

Full draw is here.

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