All hail Steen Kirby for the following 2300 word Men’s Qualifying preview! Due to travel, I was not able to post it this morning.
2012 US Open Men’s Qualifying Preview
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
In what is a competitive and respectable “mini” tournament in its own right, qualifying for the final slam of the year, the US Open kicked off today at Flushing Meadows in New York. On the men’s side, 128 players will vie for 16 main draw qualifying spots. The tournament will also be televised for the first time. While the players may not be big names, they bring big game to every match and here is your long preview.
Top 16 Qualifying Seeds (32 Total)
1: Igor Sijsling
3: Ricardas Berankis
4: Lukas Rosol
5: Roberto Bautista
6: Grega Zemlja
7: Vasek Pospisil
8: Horacio Zeballos
9: Florent Serra
10: Fredrico Gil
11: Matthias Bachinger
12: Michael Berrer
13: Ruben Bemelmans
14: Joao Sousa
15: Daniel Brands
16: Frank Dancevic
The rankings cut-off for the main draw was right around 100, so the players competing usually split their time between lower level ATP main draws, ATP qualifying and challengers in addition to competing in the grand slams.
First round matchups to watch:
Vasek Pospisil vs. Rhyne Williams
Pospisil is becoming a somewhat familiar name on the ATP World Tour as the Canadian #2 has played in all three majors this year, Canada’s Davis Cup tie against France in February and a couple of the Masters series events. His only win at the ATP main level this year came in Canada at the Rogers Cup over Andreas Seppi. He has had success at the challenger level, winning two this year in Canada. He is a talented player who is still trying to live up to the hype.
Williams is a former University of Tennessee standout and has only played one match at the ATP level in Indian Wells, where he lost in three sets. He did win one futures event and reached the final of another this year and he was also one of the hitting partners for the US Davis Cup Team. Time will tell if he breaks through and becomes another American standout at the pro level.
(15) Daniel Brands vs. Thiemo De Bakker
Brands and De Bakker are a couple of guys who have shown they have talent and have played well in the past, but this has just not been their year… For the German Brands, who had a career high in the top 70 just two years ago, his best result this year is a quarterfinal in Bucharest. Otherwise, his results have been lowly.
De Bakker was once ranked 40 in the world just a couple years ago, and was once the number one junior in the world and one of the top Dutch players. He now languishes just inside the top 200. De Bakker did manage to win two futures and a challenger this year, but otherwise both guys are in quite a funk and could use a kick-start at the USOpen.
(16) Frank Dancevic vs. Teymuraz Gabashvili
Dancevic is a veteran Canadian who was actually having a good early part the year before being sidelined with a pretty serious back injury that kept him off the tour for almost two months. He has also struggled with injuries in previous years and will be trying to get his groove back.
Gabashvili is a veteran grinder who has had some success on tour but has been stuck playing challengers most of the year, reaching one final.
James Ward vs. (25) Dmitry Tursunov
Tursunov is a Russian Olympian and former solid performer in a year-long slump. He has a 1-10 record on the ATP World Tour this year and was even quite amused that he had to qualify for the Aptos Challenger, tweeting “U know u r not a hot commodity when u can’t get a WC into a challenger anymore! Screw glamour, bring on the grind!!!”. He is awesome with twitter if you can’t tell…
While the Brit Ward is a veteran challenger-level player who did manage to win a futures event this year, otherwise he hasn’t done much to catch attention.
(31) Guido Pella vs. Michael Yani
Pella is a rising young Argentine player who could be their next great one. He has won a pair of challengers in South America this year and is at a career high-ranking of 150. At the age of 21, he possesses a solid and mature game. Yani is an American journeyman who won the Binghamton challenger this year.
Izak Van Der Merwe vs. Rik De Voest
In a battle for South African bragging rights, Van DerMerwe, who made the quarters in Newport, will take on De Voest, who is ranked above Van Der Merwe but is 0-3 at the ATP main draw level this year.
Paul Capdeville vs. J.P Smith
After the retirement of Fernando Gonzalez, Capdeville became the top ranked Chilean tennis player and usually splits his time between the ATP and challenger level. The Chilean vet and grinder won a challenger and reached the final of two others this year. He prefers clay.
Aussie lefty J.P Smith was a standout at the University of Tennessee alongside Rhyne Williams and Smith is one of the rising Australian players. He most recently won the Winnetka Challenger in Illinois, along with another futures event this year. He has a good chance to pull off an upset in this match.
First Quarter Draw Preview and Predictions
Top qualifying seed Sijsling, who has won three challengers on the year and broken his way into the ATP level, takes on Maximo Gonzalez of Argentina in the first round. After that, he likely faces Uldzimir Ignatik of Belarus, who has won a futures event this year and is a young Belarussian looking for a breakthrough. Radu Albot is also an option.
In the final round of qualies, Sijsling could face Josselin Ouanna of France, a former top junior who played an outstanding match at the French Open a couple of years back, beating Marat Safin in a marathon five setter. VIDEO: http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/french-highlights-safin-ouanna/12saf3w7?cpkey=d89c248e-c7c9-4f3d-8c40-47de8a18d072%7C%7C%7C%7C
2 seed Bedene is a Slovenian player in the draw along with Grega Zemja and the winner of four challengers this year, one of which was on hard court. He faces Ze Zhang of China and could get veteran Dutchman Jesse Huta Galung or young American Daniel Kosakowski in the second round. Kosakowski is a former UCLA standout and is just 20 years old.
In the third round, the winner likely faces scowling veteran Wayne Odesnik, who keeps moping his way around the tour and is 4-6 at the ATP level this year. Clement Reix, a former Clemson standout and Frenchman is also an option.
3 seed Ricardas Berankis, the still young ATP LA finalist, who has broken back into the top 100 after dealing with injuries, takes on Maxime Teixeria of France and could face former USC standout and Aptos Challenger finalist Roberto Farah in the second round. Farah plays Austrian vet Martin Fischer who tends to prefer clay.
In the third round, Berankis likely faces Dustin Brown, one of the more interesting players on the tour. He was once in the top 100 and has a 4-5 ATP level record this year. Another option is Tim Smyzcek who enjoys the hard court and who will play Harri Heliovaara of Finland in the 1st round. It is a matchup of great names!
Lukas Rosol, the Nadal beater, takes on Kamil Capkovic of Slovakia in the first round and then the winner of Farrukh Dustov vs. Alejandro Gonzalez.
In the third round, Rosol could face Guido Pella or Michael Yani or another young American Tennys Sandgren. He shouldn’t have too much trouble with this draw, though, as he has played most of his matches at the ATP level this year and has a .500 record.
Second Quarter Draw Preview and Predictions
Roberto Bautista-Agut, who is at a career high ranking inside the top 100 but is only 1-7 at the ATP level this year, just won the Pozoblanco challenger on hard court. He starts off against Marek Michilicka and will face either Israeli Amir Weintraub or Mathieu Rodrigues of France in the second round.
In the third round, he could face veteran Karol Beck of Slovakia, who was once ranked in the top 40 but is only 2-8 at the ATP level this year. Beck will play Alex Kuznetsov, who has not had a very good year but did qualify for the Aussie Open this year.
Grega Zemlja will take on wild card Christian Harrison (Ryan’s brother) in the first round and then will face the winner of Czech veteran Jan Herynch vs Dutch journeyman Matwe Middlekoop. Herynch was once ranked in the top 60 and has won one challenger this year, along with being 2-1 at the ATP level, so he has potential here.
In the third round, the winner could face either Belgian Yannick Mertens, Yuichi Sugita of Japan, Adrian Menedez Macerias or Thai veteran Danai Udomchoke. This is a pretty open draw for anyone who wants to seize it.
The winner of Pospisil vs. Williams will take on either former top 40 player Andrey Golubev or Augstin Vellotti of Argentina. Golubev has talent, but he has slipped considerably in the rankings.
In the third round, the winner could face Spaniard Inigo Cervantes, who reached the 2nd round of Wimbledon this year, Austrian Phillip Oswald, Peter Gojowcyzk or Frenchman Jonathan Dasnieres DeVeigy.
The Argentine vet once near the top 50, Horacio Zeballos will take on Yuki Bhambri and then the winner of Maxime Authom vs.Matteo Viola. Zeballos prefers clay and is only 3-8 at the ATP level this year, while 20-year-old Indian Bhambri has won a challenger this year.
In the third round, the winner of all that could face Thiago Alves of Brazil (former top 100), Canadian Peter Polansky, fellow Brazilian Julio Silva, or Argentine Facundo Bagnis. Most of these guys prefer clay, so this is another open draw.
Third Quarter Draw Preview and Predictions
Florent Serra, a veteran Frenchmen who was once top 40, will start off against Carlos Salamanca and then likely faces former top 70 player Ivo Minar in the 2nd round. Serra is 5-6 at the ATP level this year and has made the second round of all three majors this year, along with beating Brian Baker in DC.
In the 3rd round the winner likely faces the 3rdbest Swiss player Marco Chiudinelli, who was once top 60 but is only 2-6 at the ATP level this year. 2 Argentines Diego Junqueira and Marco Trungelliti are in this part of the draw as is American Bradley Klahn.
Former top 70 player and top Portugese player Fredrico Gil starts off against young Frenchman Pierre Hugues-Herbert and will face the winner of Guido Andreozzi of Argentina vs. Josh Goodall, a veteran Brit. Gil is a respectable 11-13 at the ATP level this year and has much more experience compared to the rest of his draw.
In the third round, his most likely opponents are Sergei Bubka of Ukraine or German Stefan Seifert.
Matthias Bachinger is 9-14 at the ATP level this year and starts off against Arnau Brugues-Davi. He would then see countryman Mischa Zverev or Marsel Ilhan of Turkey in the second round. Ilhan and Zverev are both former top 100 material. Zverev was once top 50, though his results have been pretty poor this year.
In the third round, the winner of will face Gastao Elias of Portugal, who is at a career high ranking, Dominik Meffert of Germany or Adrian Mannarino. Mannarino plays a flashy style, but has taken a nose-dive in the rankings from top 50 last year to outside the top 200 now.
Serve and volleying veteran Michael Berrer of Germany, who is 4-7 at the ATP level this year, will take on Thomas Schoorel a former top 100 young gun from the Netherlands. He wold then take on the winner of Jan Mertl vs. Sergio Gutierrez-Ferrol.
In the third round, Berrer could face Ukranian Illya Marchenko, a former top 70 player who takes on 20 seed Bobby Reynolds in the first round, wild card American Chase Buchanan or young Aussie James Duckworth.
Fourth Quarter Draw previews and predictions:
Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium, who is at a career high ranking right around 120, starts off against Ivan Sergeyev of Ukraine and will face the winner of Gianluca Naso vs. Marius Copil in the second round.
In the third round, he could face young Argentine Fredrico Del Bonis (who is 6-8 at the ATP level this year but prefers clay and hasn’t played a tour match since July), Jimmy Wang or former top 70 player Nicolas Devilder of France (who made the third round of the French Open this year).
Joao Sousa of Portugal, who is a respectable 4-4 at the ATP level this year, starts off against Ricardo Mello of Brazi,l a veteran who was formerly top 70 but is slumping this year. Sousa will then face the winner of Alessandro Giannessi vs Victor Estrella.
In the third round, Sousa likely faces De Voest or Van Der Merwe or Martin Alund of Argentina. Also in this part of the draw is young American wild card Mitchell Krueger.
The winner of Brands vs. De Bakker will take on the winner of Capdeville vs. Smith, then likely faces Tursunov/Ward, top 70 Austrian Andreas Haider-Maurer, who prefers clay and is only 1-4 at the ATP level this year is also an option.
Last but not least, the winner of Dancevic/Gabashvili will take on either Simon Greul, the German grinder who was once top 60 but is now out of the top 200, or Pedro Sousa of Portugal.
In the third round, the player who advances could face Frenchman Marc Gicquel or Croatian Antonio Veic. Gicquel, a former top 40 veteran, is easily the most familiar name here. Veic is 3-6 at the ATP level this year.