Challenger Roundup: Weeks 17 and 18
Florianopolis 2, Brazil
$50,000+H - Clay
(5)Paul Capdeville (CHI) d. Caio Zampieri (BRA) 6-2 6-4
(2)Juan-Pablo Guzman (ARG) d. Pablo Cuevas (URU) 6-4 6-7(5) 6-3
(5)Paul Capdeville (CHI) d. (2)Juan-Pablo Guzman (ARG) 7-6(0) 6-0
A nice win for Capdeville, who has been having a mediocre year. This title moved him up to #131. This time last year he reached a career high of #102, but he's slipped and he'll need to do some more work to become the third Chilean in the top 100. Juan-Pablo Guzman has had a decent year, but he gets his best result yet this week. He has sneaks up to #105, quietly on the verge of the ATP Tour
Caio Zampieri and Pablo Cuevas have both done well on the Latin American futures circuit over the past 12 months and are both starting to make inroads into the challenger tour. Zampieri, who turns 21 this month, moves up to #305 and Cuevas, who also reached the SF in Napoli, breaks into the top 200 at #184.
$50,000+H - Hard
(4)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) d. (8)Simon Stadler (GER) 6-3 6-0
Paul Baccanello (AUS) d. (7)Dudi Sela (ISR) 6-1 6-2
(4)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) d. Paul Baccanello (AUS) 6-2 6-2
In the sunny Canary Islands (not a bad place to play tennis, I imagine), Tsonga storms to yet another challenger title without dropping a set. He's now won 15 of his last 16 matches, with the one blip being a first round loss in Cardiff when he was surely tired after winning two titles in two weeks. He continues his march up the rankings, now at #148. Australian journeyman Paul Baccanello gets his first significant result of the year with an appearance in the finals. He's part of an army of challenger-and-future level Australians, but he's probably not going to be the next Aussie to break through.
Dudi Sela almost had a big breakthrough at the AO, but some rain screwed him over. He's now trying to crawl his way back to the main stage, but he has a lot of work to do. This season his best result other than this is a QF in Valencia (the challenger, not the ATP). Stadler has been solid though not spectacular this year. The 23 year old left-hander moves close to the top 200 for the first time in his career.
$50,000+H - Clay
(1)Robert Kendrick (USA) d. Benedikt Dorsch (GER) 6-4 4-6 6-1
Bobby Reynolds (USA) d. (7)Paul Capdeville (CHI) 6-3 6-3
Bobby Reynolds (USA) d. (1)Robert Kendrick (USA) 7-6(5) 6-4
Reynolds had a strong 2005 and finished in the top 100, but he had a terrible 2006 and dropped as low as #207 by early April 2007. Since then, he's really turned things around with his best four results of the season coming since then - SF in Tallahassee, QF in Valencia CH, QF in Bermuda, and now the title in Naples. All of a sudden he's back on the right track and is up to #161. If he can find his 2005 form, he may be able to rejoin the ATP Tour where he will try to improve on a dismal 6-23 career record.
Kendrick took the title in Dallas in February, but since then went 1-7 until this week when he reached the final. He's played well in challengers but has yet to experience much real success at the top level. Capdeville pushed his winning streak to 8 before running out of steam and moves up a few more spots to #120. Benedikt Dorsch is still trying to play catchup to college teammate Benjamin Becker. Dorsch started off his professional career as hot as Becker did, but he cooled off and hasn't played all that well lately. He lost to Kendrick in the final of Dallas and like Kendrick, didn't play well again until this week. He's inconsistent, but has shown he has talent.
Ostrava, Czech Republic
$35,000+H - Clay
Bohdan Ulihrach (CZE) d. (5)Peter Luczak (AUS) 2-6 6-4 7-6(3)
(2)Lukas Dlouhy (CZE) d. Julio Silva (BRA) 2-6 6-1 6-4
Bohdan Ulihrach (CZE) d. (2)Lukas Dlouhy (CZE) 6-4 6-4
Bohdan Ulihrach has been trying to come back for a while, and this is his best effort so far. He's 32 at this point, so it will be interesting to see how far he can make it. If he does, it will give all the doping people on MTF something to scream about. Drop-Shot Dlouhy has had an up-and-down year, he's now ranked #100 after he had dropped out for a while. Silva has struggled this year, so he'll be happy with his first SF of 2007. Luczak now has a challenger title, final, SF, and QF under his belt.
Also of note, Guillermo Coria was supposed to play in Ostrava, but was a late withdrawal. His saga continues...
$25,000+H - Clay
Thierry Ascione (FRA) d. (WC)Victor Hanescu (ROU) 6-3 6-2
Victor Crivoi (ROU) d. Marc Lopez (ESP) 6-4 6-2
Thierry Ascione (FRA) d. Victor Crivoi (ROU) 6-3 6-3
French journeymen never seem to go away. Just when you thought he was done, Ascione has played well this year. He is now ranked #168. He beat another comeback player in the SF, Victor Hanescu. Hanescu has been active for most of 2007, but this is his first success. He has a long road back. Victor Crivoi and Marc Lopez both pick up their best results of 2007.
$125,000+H - Clay
(6)Andrei Pavel (ROU) d. Denis Gremelmayr (GER) 7-5 6-7(0) 6-4
(5)Simone Bolelli (ITA) d. (7)Oliver Marach (AUT) 7-6(5) 6-3
(5)Simone Bolelli (ITA) d. (6)Andrei Pavel (ROU) 4-6 7-6(4) 6-2
Simone Bolelli has had a quality year. He has wins over three top 50 players, he's reached three challenger finals (this is his first title in big-money Tunis) and he reached the third round at Miami. He's the #3 Italian and is now firmly entrenched at the top level at #76 in the world. It will be interesting to see what he can do at the ATP level.
Andrei Pavel makes it a good week for Romanians by reaching the final. It's hard to believe that two and a half years ago he was ranked #13. He's getting up there in years, but he's had a solid career. Marach is one of the quintessential Challenger warriors out there. He's an iron man. Gremelmayr has struggled lately, so he really needed a jumpstart.