OK. So every Monday, going back a long time, I’ve enjoyed combing through the newly released ATP world rankings to see who’s achieved their new career highs, usually on the backs of a good/great performance the week before. I’ve occasionally shared this list from week to week with a few of my tennis junkie friends through emails and the like, but now that I have this site I thought it’d be nice to share it with you fine internet folk.
Unfortunately, right when I went to do this, I saw that our friends from Shank Tennis had just published a similarly themed article, complete with my snappy WATCH (Who’s Achieved Their Career High?) acronym in their title. What to do? It totally looks like I’m stealing ideas from our Shanky colleagues here, but I swear I’ve been doing this for a while and just wanted to make it public in the new year. *throws self on mercy of the jurgement court* The best I can do is hope my friends back up my assertions in the comments section, sheepishly link to the Shank Tennis article, and hope they don’t shank me. Haha, life is so absurd. (or maybe it’s just me.)
Anyway, without further ado (’cause we’ve had plenty of ado already), here is today’s list. Wait! More ado: I arbitrarily start this list at #80 in the world and go up to #350, just because that’s about the range in which most Challenger Tour players are found. If I’m leaving out a fave of yours, make yer own damn list (heh). So here, finally, is the WATCH list; this is who’s achieved their career highs this week:
Great looking week for France, eh? Five players at new career highs (not even counting Michael Llodra, who also is WATCH-worthy at #22). Most of this is attributable to the Noumea Challenger, a French-territorial event in which Millot, Burquier, Gensse, and Reix all thrived. Fabbiano and Camilo appear courtesy of standout showings at the Sao Paulo Challenger.
So that’s this week’s WATCH list done with. I plan to make it a weekly Monday feature, assuming I don’t get shanked. :-0
In a match that seemed shorter than the weirdass opera ceremony/performance that preceded it…
…top-seeded two-time defending champion Ricardo Mello defeated Rafael Camilo 6-2 6-1 to win the Sao Paulo Challenger title. It’s the 2nd-ranked Brazilian’s 13th Challenger championship, which makes him tied for third all time in that category.
Rarely have I seen a match with such an air of inevitablity to it. “Never in doubt” is often said in a facetious fashion, but this one truly was. It seemed the big qualifier was out of gas after playing seven matches, saving match points in three, to get to this final. His groundstrokes misfired badly the entire contest, and the only thing that was keeping him afloat (barely) was his serve. Once the ball was in play, Mello won 80 percent of the rallies, I’d say. Maybe even more than that. The 30 year-old veteran brought power and consistency to the court today. The 20 year-old Camilo just brought the power – consistency was nowhere to be found.
Still, a great effort this week from the lad (whose older brother is judo champion Tiago Camilo, by the way).
Rafael will see his ranking jump from the upper 400’s to the lower 300’s as a result of his amazing run to the finals of this top $100,000 event. Alas, they’re still not spelling his name right.
Maybe when he breaks into the Top 300, they’ll get it.
Match reports up later, for now the results:
[Q] Rafael Camilo defeated Adrian Menendez-Maceiras 5-7 7-6 7-5 (saved a match point in the TB!)
 Ricardo Mello leads  Federico Delbonis 6-4 5-7 *5-4 (play suspended: rain!)
 Gilles Muller defeated Augustin Gensse (FRA) 6-3 6-4
Vincent Millot defeated  Jesse Huta Galung, walkover
Vincent Millot defeated  Gilles Muller 7-6 2-6 6-4
Update on lack of further updates:
Unfortunately, I’m not going to have the time to do a proper write-up up of these matches; I’m packing up to head down to Florida and cover the first four Futures events there. In the meantime, caioswim
has done an amazing job of covering the Sao Paulo
tournament all week with his Youtube videos.
Here’s a nice little chunk of the Camilo v Menendez
match. It’s a good illustration of the weaponry Camilo has at his disposal, as well as the work he still needs to do to improve his consistency and fitness (note: he’s in the far court):
I have to say, I’m really starting to love this kid and his game. And his breakout success in this event has not only been the story of the tournament (he’s now won 3 matches having saved match points), but further underlines how insane the tournament organizers were to put his epic match against Horacio Zeballos on an outside court, when the main court was available. I’m still trying to get over that one. Even his doubles final (he and Santiago Gonzalez are the top seeds and beat third seeds James Cerretani/Adil Shamasdin 6-4 6-7(6) 10-5 in the semis) won’t be on Court Central. The tournament director must hate him. (kidding)
Anyway, here are the final points of the Camilo-Menendez contest:
It’s a shame we don’t have someone like caioswim
but here are some pretty sweet pictures
of Millot’s championship victory over Muller. It was the 24-year-old Frenchman’s first Challenger Tour title (and his first final since June of 2009). Second seeds Freddie Nielsen
and Dominik Meffert
took the dubs trophy 7-6(4) 5-7 10-5 over top-seeded Flavio Cipolla
and Simone Vagnozzi
Regarding Jesse Huta Galung’s
withdrawal: apparently playing the semifinals would be too much of a pain in the butt.
Didn’t want to take any chances with Australian Open
qualifying so soon on the horizon. Speaking of which, we’ll be providing full coverage of the qualifying tournament down under, with a very special guest author/editor on board. Who could it be? Hint: it’s someone who writes much better then I do. (Yes, I know: that doesn’t narrow down the field too much, haha.)
It’s Saturday at the Sao Paulo Challenger, and somehow we are mostly on schedule in this rain-plagued tournament. How about that? As such, there will be two semifinals today. As opposed to, say, four.
The first contest is the decidedly non-marquee matchup between 20-year-old Brazilian qualifier Rafael Camilo and heretofore (and possibly still) anonymous 25-year-old Spaniard Adrian Menendez-Maceiras. But just because this is the semi with the lesser known (if known at all) names in it doesn’t mean this is an insignificant match. Quite the contrary, in fact.
As this is a $100,000 event (near the cream of the crop for the Challenger Tour), to say that this first meeting between the two unseeded semifinalists is a big opportunity would be a huge understatement. Nevermind the extra $3,460 the winner of this match can add to the $5,020 he’s already won this week (although they probably mind it very much); a finalist’s points at this event would see Camilo’s ranking jump from #448 to around #306 (his career high was #433 about a month ago), or send Menendez from #283 to around #238 (his career high was #174 in May of 2008). Suffice it to say: a lot on the line. Don’t even need Hawkeye to make that call.
If you’ll recall, Camilo was the guy who withstood second seed Horacio Zeballos’ 21 aces and 2 match points in the 2nd round. I got to see him in yesterday’s 6-4 6-2 quarterfinal drubbing of Thomas Fabbiano, and I was suitably impressed. Camilo’s got game, y’all. He’s also got a good bit of a gut (and not the Roberto Busto kind) too. So gutty is he, in fact, his shirt was riding up over the top of it at various intervals during his match.
Bust A Gut
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, he also possesses a very substantial weight of shot; large-and-in-charge serve, hefty forehand, and a backhand that looks shockingly like Robin Soderling’s (if not in quality than certainly in trajectory). I haven’t had a chance to see Menendez play this week (or ever), so I’ll just run with that ignorance and blissfully predict Camilo will score the upset here. After all, the guy’s already 6-0 on the year and has beaten two players even more highly ranked than Menendez-Maceiras this week. And if he wins this match, maybe they’ll even spell his name right during the post-match interview.
The final match has just been completed, and here are your Sao Paulo Challenger quarterfinal results:
 Ricardo Mello d Juan-Pablo Brzezicki 6-2 6-0
 Federico Delbonis d  Joao Souza 7-6(5) 5-7 6-4
Adrian Menendez-Maceiras d Uladzimir Ignatik 7-6(5) 7-6(1)
[Q] Rafael Camilo d Thomas Fabbiano 6-4 6-4
Save for Ignatik v Menendez, which was not streamed, I was able to watch all of the above matches and will be back with full recaps (and smashingly illustrative screencaps) later on today.
The Delbo-Souza match was… interesting…