Tag Archive: Peter Luczak


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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Notable Results From ATP Day One Qualifying

And on the first day of the new year, we suddenly went from a drowsy tennistical dormancy to a post-hibernation explosion of action.  Jeezum Pete!  It’s very difficult to keep up with it all.  If I had any discipline at all, and was true to my craft and my mission statement in any way, I wouldn’t focus on tour-level events at all.  After all, this is Challenger Tennis, right? 

But no – my OCD demands that I follow every player ranked outside the Top 90 (and even those inside it, though I will actually exercise restraint and refrain from writing about them).  Plus, it’s exciting to see the players who I (and maybe/hopefully you) have followed try to break through at the next level.  So, even though I have no time to do it properly, I’ll be following the qual draws of certain ATP tournaments (and possibly beyond), and probably doing a very poor job of it.  You’re just gonna have to deal.

And though my anal-lytic nature makes me want to separate all the different tourneys into different posts… to hell with it.  Here are some results I found particularly noteworthy from ATP Day One:

Brisbane International

[1] Adrian Mannarino def Carsten Ball 7-5 6-7(3) 7-6(7).  From all I’ve read, both lefties alternated playing lights out tennis.  And then the lights actually went out.  At 4-3 Ball in the final set tiebreak.  A crazy way to ring in the ATP New Year, and a match that I think will bookend the tennis year quite nicely.

Mannarino

Peter Polansky def [W] Ben Mitchell 6-1 6-7(5) 6-3.  Gotta love the 18 year-old Aussie.  Tremendous heart and a great attitude.  A solid effort in pushing the talented and more experienced Canadian to three sets and recovering from his first set sticking. 

[2] Ricardas Berankis def Jean-Rene Lisnard 6-7(4) 6-1 6-3.  I can’t believe Rycka got off to such a rickety start, losing the first set to The Lizard King.  And according to courtside reports, TLK was not happy with the next two sets, throwing a bottle at a ball kid and jawing with the chump.  Not all right.  Thankfully, the wee Lith recovered.  Otherwise, I’d have to eat Andy Roddick’s shortsNot all right.

Berankis is pleased.

[6] Peter Luczak def Alexander Peya 4-6 6-1 6-4.  Surprised that Looch lost that first set, but nice recovery from the 31 year-old.

[W] Greg Jones def [4] Simon Greul 7-6(2) 6-3.  This is my fave result of the day.  I’ve thought Greg was due for a breakthrough, and maybe this will be the springboard to better things for Jonesy in the new year.  We’ll see if he can beat his second German in a row when he plays Bastian Knittel later today.

Chennai

Vishnu Vardhan def [3] Conor Niland 4-6 7-5 6-4.  This was my big WTF *jaw drops* result from the first day’s matches.  Really thought Conor would be primed to hit the ground running this year.  But Vardhan had done well at the Asian Games, and I didn’t entirely discount his chances to do well in qualies (OK, maybe I did).  As for Conor, I think he’ll take it in stride, not getting too high or low and letting one result define his season.  He knows it’s a marathon more than most, I think.

Doha

Marko Djokovic def Ti Chen 6-4 6-3.  It ain’t easy being the middle child.  But it must be especially difficult for Marko Djoko.  Always in the shadow of his larger-than-life older bro, and trying to stay ahead of the reported talent of Djordje.  For this reason, I root for him.  Granted, a win over the #544 player in the world (with a career high of #255) isn’t the greatest thing he’ll hope to have on his resume when all is said and done.  But it’s better than losing.

Mikhail Ledovskikh def [7] James Ward 6-2 4-6 6-3.  The other big surprise of the day, but not as WTF’y as the Niland loss.  The 24 year-old Russian had finished last year with a run through the qualies into the quarterfinals at the Bratislava Challenger, and had beaten Marco Chiudinelli and Iliya Marchenko there.  So it’s not like he’s coming out of nowhere with this result.

Yup.  It’s officially that time of year again.  More specifically, it’s time to start breaking down those qualifying draws and seeing which Challenger Tour players can bust into the main draws this week.  Just to make it clear from the outset: as this is a Challenger Tour site, we’ll be covering top-tier ATP events only to the extent that they involve players ranked outside the Top 90.  Note: this number, while a darn good number, is also just a bit arbitrary and is subject to change at the whims of any of the writers here.  But it’s a good general rule of thumb for ATP tourneys, in any case.

ON TO THE DRAW!  You can click and get an official .pdf with lines and whizbangs and suchlike here or you can just look at a typed out version after this here colon:

[1] MANNARINO, Adrian FRA vs BALL, Carsten AUS
POLANSKY, Peter CAN vs [WC] MITCHELL, Benjamin AUS
SERGEYEV, Ivan UKR vs ITO, Tatsuma JPN
CABAL, Juan Sebastian COL vs [5] KOUBEK, Stefan AUT
[2] BERANKIS, Richard LTU
vs LISNARD, Jean-Rene MON
KLEIN, Brydan AUS vs CRUGNOLA, Marco ITA
[WC] DUCKWORTH, James AUS vs TURSUNOV, Dmitry RUS
PEYA, Alexander AUT vs [6] LUCZAK, Peter AUS
[3] RUSSELL, Michael USA
vs HARRISON, Ryan USA
FARAH, Robert COL vs BACHINGER, Matthias GER
KINDLMANN, Dieter GER vs ZOPP, Jurgen EST
REYNOLDS, Bobby USA vs [7] KOROLEV, Evgeny KAZ
[4] GREUL, Simon GER
vs [WC] JONES, Greg AUS
KNITTEL, Bastian GER vs LOJDA, Dusan CZE
EBDEN, Matthew AUS vs CRIVOI, Victor ROU
[WC] GROTH, Samuel AUS vs [8] ZEMLJA, Grega SLO

  
Mmmmmm.  Tennis draws.  My true and delicious love.  Let me savour this one for a moment, eh? *drools Homer Simpson-style while looking it over*
 
Well, the first thing I notice is that the Aussies got shafted, for the most part.  Now, I realize that any time you have eight Australians in a 32-person draw, perfect distribution is just not a possibility.  However, to have a draw in which there’s an entire Oz-free quarter (i.e. the Russell-Korolev 3rd quarter) and another two quarters that have three Down Under dudes, well… this is less than ideal. 
 
 
From left: Matty Ebden, Greg Jones, Carsten Ball, Fitness Dude, Marinko Matosevic, Peter Luczak
 
Especially egregious is the 4th quarter, which crams legitimate Australian hopes Greg Jones, Matt Ebden and the newly-mohawked Sam Groth into the same pack.  Grrrrrr.
 
 
The infamous, the rarely-photographed Grothawk
 
The next thing I look for is: where are Dmitry Tursunov and Ryan Harrison placed, who are clearly the most dangerous floaters in this draw.  As you can see (do follow along with me, won’t you?), it is Harrison who probably got the more fortuitous placement (for him) – away from top seeds Adrian Mannarino and Ricardas Berankis, who – in my opinion – are the only players who can beat him more often than not.  Thus, I can see the 18 year-old American coming good in this section.  Tursunov, however, has a much rougher road.  After a reasonably solid but should-be manageable opponent in the scrappy WC James Duckworth, Tursunov faces the prospect of a rejuvenated Peter Luczak – who gave Marinko Matosevic all he could handle in the final of the recent AO Wildcard playoff – followed by the lights-out Lithuanean Berankis.  And, as we all know, Rycka has rocketed into the Top 100 and won a whole host of Newcomer and Breakthrough awards at the end of last season.  A tough ask for Tursunov to get through, but not entirely beyond the former Top 20 player by any means.
 
OK, so that’s the overall view. Now let’s take out the fine-toothed draw comb and do a more in-depth, line-by-line audit, breaking down the first round matchups. 

It’s been a crazy, stormy ride this week, following Tennis Australia’s AO Wildcard Playoff tourney to today’s conclusion. So quite fittingly, I guess, there’s a crazy, stormy forecast for Melbourne today. “Isolated showers, becoming widespread around midday with small hail possible later.” Great.

Regardless of rain, hail or whatever the angry hellfire the weather gods can throw down on the Melburnians, the finals will take place. Only question is: if they’re played indoors (which is the remarkably innovative contingency plan), will they be streamed?

Here’s my hope: there’s some rain early, then a miraculous clearing, so that the towel brigade is once again called into action and I can see this kid again:

I guess there are no child labor laws in Australia?

But, rain or shine, this match will be played:

[1] Peter Luczak vs. [2] Marinko Matosevic: Australia’s number two vs. number three players, #137 and 138 in the world, respectively. The two have never played before, so this final is all about form coming in.

I’ve seen two Marinko matches in their entirety this week – the dicey-at-times 6-4 7-6 (6) win over Michael Look in Round Two and his more convincing 6-4 6-2 win over seventh seed Greg Jones – plus a few of the now-notorious 5.2-second “live look-ins” of his semifinal match, including a miraculous game-long look-in as he closed out Adam Feeney yesterday. And from what I’ve seen, it’s Marinko that has the most impressive form at the moment. He’s cut down on both errors and tantrums, and is hitting with alarming power and precision. It’s tempting to say he’ll just roll right over Luczak in this final.

But I think I’ve seen every ball Looch has hit this week, and though he’s been shaky at times – losing a set in his first match to 16 year-old Luke Saville, eking out a win over ninth seed James Lemke, and saving 4 match points before beating 4 seed Ebden in the semis – you just can never count him out. A dogged and determined competitor to the end, the ever-youthful 31 year-old has an amazing resilience that may end up frustrating Marinko, especially if the match is played outdoors in dodgy conditions.

So I’d say it’s nigh impossible to pick this one (and some fans are thankful for this, as my pick would surely doom the pickee). Heck, we don’t even know where it will be played at this point. What I do know is that I really want to watch this match. So I pray that either the weather holds and the match can be played on our regularly-streamed main court, or that there’s somehow a stream of the indoor court. And I hope that the tennis gods aren’t as angry as the weather gods, so they don’t rain hellfire on my prayer parade.

Update at 11 a.m. AEDST/7 p.m EST: The radar looks grim, but play is on for now. Sounds like they’ll be streaming indoors or out!  Watch here:

http://live.tennis.com.au/

The final weekend of Aussie Wildcard Mania is upon us! And what a wonderful ride it’s been, as ever. Four men remain, as is the case with most semifinals. Lets have a look at who’s playing who, with some whats and whens and wherefores thrown in at no extra cost (other than your patience). First, let me lay down some OOP action:

Melbourne Park – Crt 6
   1. Starting at 10:00 AM AO Women’s Wildcard Playoff 2011 – Knockout Draw 
Olivia Rogowska [5]
Sophie Ferguson [2]
       
   2. Followed by AO Women’s Wildcard Playoff 2011 – Knockout Draw
Alicia Molik [1]
Jelena Dokic [3]
       
   3. Not before 12:30 PM AO Men’s Wildcard Playoff 2011 – Main Draw
Peter Luczak [1]
Matthew Ebden [4]
       
   4. Followed by AO Men’s Wildcard Playoff 2011 – Main Draw
Adam Feeney
Marinko Matosevic [2]

Our first semifinal features top-seeded veteran Peter Luczak against the rising-star fourth seed Matt Ebden (yes, you can be 23 and still be a rising star in men’s tennis; I proclaim it to be so! Plus he just turned 23 so get off my case JEEZ!). Ahem. These two have only met once, in the bronze-medal match of the Commonwealth Games in October, which Ebden won 6-3 6-3.

I happen to have watched both of Luczak’s matches this week – an unconvincing 6-2 4-6 6-2 win over 16 year-old prodigy Luke Saville and a tight 6-3 7-6(5) victory over 9th seed James Lemke – as well as the light hit he had with his 4 year old-son, Sebastian.

In his first match, the 31 year old Melbourne resident looked shaky and inconsistent, as perhaps befitting of a man playing his first match in almost a month. So unimpressive was his opening round performance that some people were strongly convinced he’d go down to Lemke in the next round (of all things!). But the #2 Aussie tightened up his game just enough to take advantage of a nervous start from his quarterfinal foe, and though the match was even, had enough wiles to just squeak through. Luczak hasn’t had the most convincing of years, going 25/35 coming into this event and slipping 73 spots in the ATP rankings since attaining his career high of #64 in October of last year.

On the other hand, Matt Ebden broke into the Top 200 for the first time this year and hit a career high of #162 in September, and he came into the event with almost exactly the reverse W/L record to Luczak at 35/24. But “the other hand” turned out to be the main problem coming in, as the man from Perth took a training tumble last weekend and badly bruised his right hand to the point where he couldn’t pick up a racquet for days, which even put his playoff participation in doubt. Thankfully, he was able to play, and though I’ve only seen 60-second snatches of his matches this week, it seems as if he’s been working himself back into form. He recovered from huge deficits in both sets of his encounter with young Ben Mitchell and pulled out a 7-6(5) 7-6(3) win in a nifty escape act. In his QF match he also had some work to do, coming back from a set down against the red-hot Sam Groth – a man many were picking to win the entire playoff coming in – and advancing in 2-6 6-4 6-2 style.

Interestingly, Luczak and Ebden will be playing doubles together in next month’s Open. “I have so much respect for him as a role model and a mentor,” the unassuming Western Australian said about his semifinal foe. “It’s hard (playing a friend) but at the same time…you’ve just gotta go out there and try to get the best out of each other and the best out of yourself and put it on the park and try to win.” And how. While they may be friends off the court, it seems as if the tennistical trajectories for both men have been going in opposite directions on the court all year long. Will this be the match where the younger Perth man further asserts his ascendancy?

The second match features the combustible second seed Marinko Matosevic against unseeded New South Welshman Adam Feeney. This will be the sixth on court encounter for the two 25 year-olds, and the fiery Matosevic has won 4 of their 5 previous meetings. As Marinko pointed out in a hilarious interview with Rob O’Gorman…

The Legend, Rob O’Gorman, broadcasting from the Rob O’Gorman Memorial Scaffolding

…right after his comprehensive 6-4 6-2 quarterfinal win over Greg Jones, he hasn’t lost to Feeney “in five or six years.” Make that six, Marinko, as Adam won their first encounter in November of 2004 and hasn’t won one since.

On paper, this looks to be an easy affair for the 2nd seed. But on that same paper, Feeney wouldn’t have beaten Colin Ebelthite, third seed Carsten Ball or James Duckworth in successive rounds, which he did and did and did. So THE PAPER LIES, PEOPLE! Don’t believe a thing it says!

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