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Old 01-29-2007, 02:52 PM   #1
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Default Challenger Roundup: Weeks 3 & 4

Note to mods - please don't move this to the Challenger forum, where threads go to die. Surely this is more main board worthy than a lot of the crap in General Messages.

Week 3
La Serena, Chile
$50k, Clay

Semifinals:
Mariano Zabaleta (ARG) d. Rainer Eitzinger (AUT) 6-3 6-2
(q)Juan-Pablo Brzezicki (ARG) d. Marcos Daniel (BRA) 3-6 6-4 6-2

Final:
Mariano Zabaleta (ARG) d. (q)Juan-Pablo Brzezicki (ARG) 6-2 6-4

While many of the worlds players were scrapping it out in qualies and the early rounds Down Under, there was an absolute festival for mediocre clay courters in Chile. In a tournament bereft of exciting young talent, Zabaleta finally broke through in his ongoing comeback attempt, re-entering the top 200. Brzezicki has also missed time with injuries, so he'll be pleased with his result. By and large though, it was just the usual suspects like Carlos Berlocq and Boris Pashanski (both lost in the QFs) who are allergic to the hard courts of the Australian Open.

Week 4
Durban, South Africa
$125k, Hard

Semifinals:
(6)Rik de Voest (RSA) d. (1)Stefan Koubek (AUT) 6-4 6-1
Mathieu Montcourt (FRA) d. Michal Mertinak (SVK) 6-3 7-5

Final:
Mathieu Montcourt (FRA) d. (6)Rik de Voest (RSA) 5-7 6-3 6-2

Mathieu Montcourt picks up some big wins in a big money challenger (he also beat Udomchoke in the QFs). He had an inconsistent 2006 both in his performance and ability to stay healthy, so this is a good start to his year. De Voest is one of those solid journeyman who slowly creeps towards the top 100; we'll see if he can get to the fringe in 2007 - he's currently ranked 132.

Heilbronn, Germany
$100k, Hard (Indoor)

Semifinals:
Michael Berrer (GER) d. Tomas Zib (CZE) 1-6 7-6(2) 7-5
(4)Michael Llodra (FRA) d. Ernests Gulbis (LAT) 6-3 6-4

Final:
Michael Berrer (GER) d. (4)Michael Llodra (FRA) 6-5 ret.

Michael Berrer wins a shortened final in another relatively big-money challenger on hard court, beating Llodra. Berrer, the very definition of a journeyman, moves up 37 spots to #120. The big name to watch here, of course, is Gulbis, who rebounds from a disappointing Australian Open qualifying campaign with a SF performance. He's just starting to heat up...

Santiago, Chile
$25k+H, Clay

Semifinals:
(q)Fabio Fognini (ITA) d. Oscar Hernandez (ESP) 6-3 6-7(4) 6-4
(2)Martin Vassallo-Arguello (ARG) d. Adrian Garcia (CHI) 5-4 ret.

Final:
(2)Martin Vassallo-Arguello (ARG) d. (q)Fabio Fognini (ITA) 1-6 7-5 6-4

Martin Vassallo-Arguello picks up a title in Santiago while most of the country was probably watching Fernando Gonzalez's AO run...not Vassallo-Arguello's glorious run to the title. He beats Fabio Fognini, who has been fairly highly regarded but was frustratingly inconsistent in 2006. He's 19 until May, so he's still got time - could this be the breakthrough he needs? After all, he did beat Oscar Hernandez... He moves up 48 spots to #194.

Waikoloa, HI, USA
$50k, Hard

Semifinals:
(q)Jamie Baker (GBR) d. Wayne Odesnik (USA) 7-6(5) 1-6 6-4
(5)Michael Russell (USA) d. (3)Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) 6-0 7-6(2)

Final:
(5)Michael Russell (USA) d. (q)Jamie Baker (GBR) 6-1 6-4

Russell finally blasts his way back into the top 100 with another impressive performance. Let's look at it this way: in 2007, Russell has played 14 matches for a record of 13-1. He's won two challenger titles and qualified for the AO. The only match in which he lost a set was his five-set loss to Lleyton Hewitt. Other than that, he's won 26 out of 26 sets. He's too good for challengers right now.

Jamie Baker shows that there's life outside Andy Murray for British players - although don't make the mistake of thinking that Baker has anywhere near Murray's potential; Baker is about a full year older and is only now breaking in to the Challenger circuit.

Wrexham, Great Britain
$25k+H - Hard (Indoor)

Semifinals:
(8)Richard Bloomfield (GBR) d. (1)Jean-Christophe Faurel (FRA) 6-3 6-4
Michal Przysiezny (POL) d. (2)Robin Haase (NED) 7-5 5-7 7-5

Final:
Michal Przysiezny (POL) d. (8)Richard Bloomfield (GBR) 6-2 6-3

Michal Przysghskjlaghdf takes home the title with a run of nice wins at Wrexham. Not that he has superstar potential, but he seems to be one of the more talented Poles; we'll see how far he can go. Bloomfield makes it a nice week for mediocre Brits by reaching the final. And Robin Haase picks things up after an 0-2 start to the season by reaching the semifinals. There's a lot of talent in the 100-200 range; Querrey, Bozoljac, Gulbis, Zverev, Haase, Cilic, Giraldo, Kuznetsov, Lacko, plus a few others - it will be interesting to see how many of them can crack the main tour this year....my guess is quite a few.


Edit: corrected Heilbronn's surface

Last edited by Balerion : 01-29-2007 at 09:16 PM.
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Old 01-29-2007, 03:53 PM   #2
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Default Re: Challenger Roundup: Weeks 3 & 4

Nice summary.
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Old 01-29-2007, 04:33 PM   #3
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Default Re: Challenger Roundup: Weeks 3 & 4

indeed good work, also interesting to follow the development of these youngsters you mention, expecially haase for me because dutch tennis is near to be dead
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Old 01-29-2007, 04:43 PM   #4
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Default Re: Challenger Roundup: Weeks 3 & 4

Quote:
Originally Posted by Balerion View Post
Note to mods - please don't move this to the Challenger forum, where threads go to die. Surely this is more main board worthy than a lot of the crap in General Messages.
I agree.. I enjoy your summary, its always handy when I don't have a chance to catch up with the Challenger action!
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Old 01-29-2007, 04:48 PM   #5
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Default Re: Challenger Roundup: Weeks 3 & 4

In fact Przysiężny does have a superstar potential but there's a long story why he isn't making it come true. He's not one of most talented Poles but he's the most talented player in this country together with Agnieszka Radwańska, and the player with the best technique since early precambre. He's 22 y.o. and even despite injuries and all other difficulties with national team, sponsors etc. he should make it higher than (mod-selfcenzorship) Kubot.
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Old 01-29-2007, 04:55 PM   #6
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Default Re: Challenger Roundup: Weeks 3 & 4

Quote:
Originally Posted by Klaas_nalbandian View Post
indeed good work, also interesting to follow the development of these youngsters you mention, expecially haase for me because dutch tennis is near to be dead
Yes, Robin Haase is a big part of the future of Dutch tennis, but it's possible that Thiemo de Bakker could be even better. If things go well, he'll be a regular on the Challenger circuit later this year.

Antal van der Duim and Igor Sijsling are also interesting young players, but I think they have less potential than Haase and de Bakker and I am less confident that they will make it to the ATP Tour.
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Old 01-29-2007, 07:54 PM   #7
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Default Re: Challenger Roundup: Weeks 3 & 4

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathaliia View Post
In fact Przysiężny does have a superstar potential but there's a long story why he isn't making it come true. He's not one of most talented Poles but he's the most talented player in this country together with Agnieszka Radwańska, and the player with the best technique since early precambre. He's 22 y.o. and even despite injuries and all other difficulties with national team, sponsors etc. he should make it higher than (mod-selfcenzorship) Kubot.
I saw Kubot at last year's US Open in his 2nd round match against Okun. He earned a hard-fought 5 set win, but I didn't see anything that would lead me to believe he is capable of improving much on his current ranking of #118. He just didn't have that much bite on his groundstrokes. However, it is possible to break into the back end of the top 100 briefly through hard work and hustle.

Why don't you like Kubot? I don't know much about him in terms of backstory/attitude.

Also, what do you think of Marcin Gawron? Does he have much potential, after reaching the Wimbledon boys final?
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Old 01-29-2007, 08:00 PM   #8
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Default Re: Challenger Roundup: Weeks 3 & 4

Nice summary.
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Old 01-29-2007, 08:13 PM   #9
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Default Re: Challenger Roundup: Weeks 3 & 4

Like the report good job

Querrey is actually ranked at 100 now so he's broken through with Bozoljac one place behind him
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Old 01-29-2007, 09:01 PM   #10
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Default Re: Challenger Roundup: Weeks 3 & 4

Quote:
Originally Posted by Balerion View Post
Heilbronn, Germany
$100k, Clay
I don't think that Heilbronn is played on clay,
it was played in Indoor_Hard.

And why did Michael Llodra retired for?
He plays tommorow in Zagreb...
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Old 01-29-2007, 10:29 PM   #11
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Default Re: Challenger Roundup: Weeks 3 & 4

Quote:
Originally Posted by Balerion View Post
I saw Kubot at last year's US Open in his 2nd round match against Okun. He earned a hard-fought 5 set win, but I didn't see anything that would lead me to believe he is capable of improving much on his current ranking of #118. He just didn't have that much bite on his groundstrokes. However, it is possible to break into the back end of the top 100 briefly through hard work and hustle.

Why don't you like Kubot? I don't know much about him in terms of backstory/attitude.

Also, what do you think of Marcin Gawron? Does he have much potential, after reaching the Wimbledon boys final?
Haha .. as for Kubot, I do support him after all, he's from my country though and I'm a journalist so his victories give us money as we can describe them. In other word, I prefer to stay politically correct

I agree with you about Kubot's potential. I wrote last year if he keeps moving in pace 5 positions per year, he might have a chance of reaching top 100 before hitting 30. Today's loss to Levine was a perfect example, though he starts officially (as we joke) his season in Wrocław challenger, where he's a home player (yes, it's very smart to lose one round in US, come to PL, then come back to US). About his biting groundstrokes I have to say his match against Horna was the best match in Szczecin's challenger history, and he won. With awesome groundstrokes and volleys. But but... but....... our humble opinion is that he's a lady.

No no Gawron was accidental. He is the nicest boy out of Polish tennis players, he is very small though and has got the talent, but I don't see any future for him on tour.

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Old 01-29-2007, 10:38 PM   #12
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Default Re: Challenger Roundup: Weeks 3 & 4

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Originally Posted by Balerion View Post
Note to mods - please don't move this to the Challenger forum, where threads go to die. Surely this is more main board worthy than
Couldn´t agree more.

Keep them coming, thanks
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Old 01-29-2007, 10:42 PM   #13
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Default Re: Challenger Roundup: Weeks 3 & 4

Great thread, appreciate the work that's gone into it and deserves to be in here among a lot of the "Roger doesn't like Andy" dross that we otherwise endure.

I don't get a lot of time to keep an eye on the lower echelons so it's good to get a little summary like this to see who the movers and shakers are.
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Old 01-29-2007, 10:43 PM   #14
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Default Re: Challenger Roundup: Weeks 3 & 4

Thanks for this and it's great to see Russell back in the top 100 after all the crap he went through.
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Old 01-29-2007, 10:57 PM   #15
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Default Re: Challenger Roundup: Weeks 3 & 4

Montcourt
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