Tag Archive: Nicolas Mahut


The rambunctious crowd at the Mouilleron-le-Captif* Challenger had a few Frenchmen to cheer for on today’s finals docket: 2nd seed Nicolas Mahut, playing 33-year-old German Michael Berrer in a singles duel between tour vets; and unseeded Fabrice Martin and Hugo Nys, competing in the doubles final against the back-from-injury-and-doing-well Henri Kontinen and his “Spanish matador”** Adrian Menendez-Maceiras.

The crowd was lively from the very start, clapping their rhythmic support of Martin/Nys even in the beginning games of the match. It didn’t work early on, however, as Kontinen/Menendez-Maceiras took the 1st set 6-3.

But the French never flagged. After three service holds to start the second set, Martin waved his arms at his sides, exhorting the crowd to get even louder at 15-all on the Spinnish serve.  The result was a break for *3-1, the happy spectators chanting “HUGO! *clap clap clap* FABRICE! *clap clap clap*”. And that break must’ve been made of very sticky stuff, as the Frenchmen made it stick quite easily and closed out the 2nd frame 6-3.

So it was on to the Stupor Tiebreak to settle things.  Menendez-Maceiras broke out his tactical grunting early on, and the French grunted mockingly in return. They spoke with their rackets too, getting the first mini-break blood and changing ends up *4-2.

Turns out Kontinen had a mini-break Band-Aid, however, and the Finn mini-broke back with a splendid one-handed backhand return up the alley. The French team responded by moonballing, lobbing and ultimately poaching their way to another mini-break, and ends were changed again at 7-5*. They then closed out the match 3-6 6-3 10-8 in front of an elated home cheering section.

Trophies were given, speeches were made. This picture was posed for:

The Winning Couple

The Winning Couple

And it was on to the singles final. Mahut jacked up the already upjacked crowd to a fever pitch, getting an early break and then another to feed a ‘stick to the hefty lefty Berrer, 6-1.

With the fans in the stands doing their best chanting and clapping, both players held serve until 5-4. Then Mahut double-faulted at 30-all, and Berrer siezed the opportunity, taking the net and pressuring the Frenchman into a forced error.  Just like that, Berrer had stolen the 2nd set 6-4.

And he wasn’t gonna give it back. The 8th seed played his role of the spoiler brilliantly, getting two break points early in the third set with deft passing shotting, then converting the break on a super point in which Mahut made a dive volley, only to miss an overhead on the next ball.

The big GER man played smart, aggressive and well-executed tennis, keeping Mahut on the defensive and coming forward at every opportunity.  With the crowd still urging their man gamely, Mahut saved a match point, but Berrer quickly conjured another with an ace.  And then closed the deal, taking the title 1-6 6-4 6-3.

The Winning Moment

As one observer noted, beating the top two seeds, Michael Llodra and Mahut, indoors in France was just about the best you can do at the Challenger level.  What a week for Berrer, who will rise over 30 places and back into the Top 150 when the new rankings are released. The win was Berrer’s tenth challenger title in thirteen finals.

*now that the tourney’s over, I really hope they free the captive.

**per a Kontinen tweet.

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Challenger Tennis Week 10 Recap

Three Week 10 challenger events came to a close on Sunday, each with its share of interesting/feelgood highlights.

First and foremost, Amer Delic made his first return to the challenger winner’s circle in almost 3 years, netting his 6th Challenger title overall when opponent Karol Beck had to retire in the warm-up before the Sarajevo Challenger final, citing a back injury.  Beck had defeated top-seed Grigor Dimitrov in the first round, fifth seed Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the quarters, and surprise semifinalist Mirza Basic to get the last stage, so it’s a shame that his run had to end so ingloriously.

Still, despite the anticlimactic final, it was a thrilling tournament overall – one that saw two Bosnians (Basic and Delic) reach the semis of their home tourney. And Delic’s thrilling semifinal victory over second seed Nicolas Mahut – saving three match points in a 6-4 1-6 7-6(8) win – provided enough excitement to mitigate the disappointment of a finale unrealized.  Delic’s win will likely land him back in the Top 300, after losing so much time to injury. 

Amer In Red

On a personal level, it’s great to see Amer – one of the game’s nice guys and a terrific ambassador for the sport – playing again at such a high and healthy level.  I know he reached the finals of the Champaign Challenger last year, but I wasn’t able to actually witness it.  So it was great to see (albeit on a stream of questionable quality) him playing great ball this week.

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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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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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