2014 ATP Bangkok, Como Challenger Recaps Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
Top seed Go Soeda fought through his US Open disappointment, where he lost in the first qualifying round against Oscar Hernandez, to comfortably go through to the semi-final without dropping a set. However, he got upset by unseeded 18 year old Hyeon Chung, who went through after a tough three set match, 6-4 2-6 6-4. This tournament was a great place to be for the new generation, as another unseeded youngster in the other half of the draw made a deep run as well: 20 year old Jordan Thompson.
Thompson showed incredible form as he didn’t just beat the higher ranked opponents on his path: he obliterated them. First up was second seed James Duckworth in the second round, as the Australian fell 6-2 6-4 to his younger countryman. In the quarterfinal, sixth seed Kyle Edmund had no chance as Thompson comfortably beat him 6-3 6-1. A similar pattern followed in the semi-final, when third seed Luca Vanni fell 6-1 6-3.
An all-youngster final between Chung and Thompson it was, in which Chung went down 2-5 in the first set, but ultimately ousted Thompson 7-6(0) 6-4 to win his first title on the Challenger tour. Needless to say that their rankings will rise significantly after this success: Thompson jumps approximately 50 spots from his current ranking of #278, while Chung will crack the top 200 for the first time and lands around 185th spot, a jump of 65.
Prior to the tournament the biggest question was where qualifier Viktor Troicki would end up in the draw, since that was bound to change the entire dynamic. He ended up in top seed Facundo Arguello’s quarter, which set them up for a bombshell meeting in the quarterfinal. They both made it there and Troicki showed he is the former top 20 player between them, comfortably winning 6-3 6-2. Another qualifier on the comeback trail, Jurgen Zopp, finally showed some good form and set up a semi-final meeting with Troicki after he took out two seeds playing in their home country: fourth seed Filippo Volandri (6-3 6-1) and sixth seed Potito Starace (3-6 7-6(4) 6-0).
In the bottom half, the seeds fell like flies, as #3 seed Adrian Ungur and #7 seed Marco Cecchinato lost in the first round, while #2 seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert and #5 seed Victor Hanescu lost only one round later. Louk Sorensen and Ilija Bozoljac took advantage as they made it to the semi-final, in which Sorensen scraped by Bozoljac 4-6 6-2 6-4.
However, Troicki was clearly the man of the tournament as he beat Zopp 6-3 6-4 and Sorensen 6-3 6-2 to take the first title of his comeback and his third overall Challenger title. This, of course, means a huge ranking jump for the Serb, rising from 408 to around 260. Sorensen posted a new career high ranking as he broke the top 200 for the first time, landing around the 185th ranking spot.
2014 Bangkok & Como Challenger Previews Chris DeWaard, Tennis East Coast
It’s not only about the US Open this week, with two Challengers on the schedule. One in Thailand on hardcourt and the other in Italy, on clay.
Chang-Sat Bangkok Open 2014
ATP Challenger Tour
Prize Money: $50,000
Seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Go Soeda (107)
2: James Duckworth (155)
3: Luca Vanni (170)
4: Thomas Fabbiano (227)
5: Matt Reid (236)
6: Kyle Edmund (237)
7: Yasutaka Uchiyama (242)
8: Elias Ymer (244)
The last direct acceptance is exceptionally high here: Congsup Congcar, ranked 2078th.
First round match-ups to watch
Danai Udomchoke – Hyeon Chung
Udomchoke has had a long career in the shadow of Thailand’s most successful player, Paradorn Srichaphan, which saw him reach a career high ranking of #77 in early 2007. This happened after arguably the greatest tournament of his career, the Australian Open, where he beat 24th seed Juan Carlos Ferrero in the second round and took a set off Novak Djokovic in the third round. You can watch a great point he won against Djokovic in that match below. A year earlier, he pushed #3 seed David Nalbandian to the brink in their first round match, falling 2-6 2-6 6-1 7-6(4) 1-6.
2007 was also the last year in which the now 33 year old Udomchoke was ranked inside of the top 100. Currently he is ranked just outside the top 300 at #308 and one has to wonder how long he will keep playing. Perhaps he can make a final run at his home event here. He will take on the South Korean youngster Chung, who is fifteen years his junior and ranked 249th.
Last week, top seed Go Soeda was involved in what arguably was the upset of the year, losing 6-3 6-3 as the second seed to Oscar Hernandez in the first round of qualifying at the US Open. Hernandez had been retired for four years and came back on a protected ranking to solely play the qualifying tournaments of Grand Slams. During his professional days, he was known to be awful on hardcourt (5-32 on the main tour), so his win was an enormous surprise and quite humiliating for Soeda. However, Soeda thrives at Challenger level and should be able to brush off that loss here with a deep run.
Perhaps eighth-seeded Elias Ymer can threaten him, although it is yet to be seen how he performs on hardcourt, since the strides he has made this year have solely come on clay. I can’t see the other two seeds, Thomas Fabbiano and Yasutaka Uchiyama, threatening Soeda. A run by Udomchoke is a possibility to consider and would be a nice surprise.
James Duckworth heads this half and should be a comfortable favorite to reach the final, fighting it out with Kyle Edmund in the quarterfinal for that spot. Matt Reid and Luca Vanni will battle it out in the other section for a semi-final spot against a variety of low ranked Indian and Thai players, which should be no problem for them. However, against Duckworth or Edmund, I see them as a solid underdog.
Soeda > Udomchoke
Duckworth > Vanni
Duckworth > Soeda
Udomchoke lets his hometown inspire him to make a good run, but Soeda will simply be too solid for the veteran. The quarterfinal between Duckworth and Edmund will be the real final, as I can see Edmund beating Soeda in the final as well.
Citta Di Como 2014
ATP Challenger Tour
Prize Money: €35,000
Seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Facundo Arguello (121)
2: Pierre-Hugues Herbert (136)
3: Adrian Ungur (137)
4: Filippo Volandri (148)
5: Victor Hanescu (150)
6: Potito Starace (156)
7: Marco Cecchinato (160)
8: Andrea Arnaboldi (172)
The last direct acceptance is Christian Lindell, ranked 285th. Viktor Troicki is in the qualifying draw and is very likely to make it into the main draw.
First round match-ups to watch
(5) Victor Hanescu – Jan Hajek
Long time top 100 player Hanescu (33) looks to have dropped out of it for good this year and currently is barely holding onto a top 150 position at #150. Fellow veteran Hajek (31) has made an even bigger drop this year and currently resides exactly 200 spots lower at #350 after starting the year at #105. A big contrast to only a year ago, when he played Federer in the third round of a 500 event. This may very well be the last couple of months on tour for both gentleman and perhaps they can make something interesting out of this match, as both their previous encounters went into a dramatic decider, both won by Hanescu: 6-7(8) 6-4 7-5 and 5-7 6-1 6-4.
As expected from a European Challenger the field is a lot more in balance than its Asian counterpart this week. Facundo Arguello heads the field and will be challenged by three Italian seeds in his half, Andrea Arnaboldi, Filippo Volandri and Potito Starace. Volandri and Starace are projected to battle it out in the quarterfinal, just like two weeks ago in Cordenons. However, it is yet to be seen if Volandri is fit enough, considering he retired from that match in the second set. I can’t see a lot of suprises coming from the non-seeded players, so an Arguello – Starace semi-final is very likely here. Unless, of course, Viktor Troicki qualifies and lands in this half, in which case anything can happen considering he would be among the top seeds. For my predictions, considering there is a 75% chance he draws a spot in the bottom half, I’m going to assume that will be the case.
Pierre-Hugues Herbert leads this half, but he has been in poor form lately, so there might well be a surprise finalist coming out of this half. #7 seed Marco Cecchinato is projected to play him in the semi-final and I think the young Italian should be marked a favorite there. From the upper section, #3 seed Adrian Ungur should prevail over his countryman Hanescu. Ungur won a Challenger three weeks ago in San Marino, which should give him a confidence boost.
Troicki > Arguello
Cecchinato > Ungur
Cecchinato > Troicki
Top seed Arguello hasn’t had the best of showings on European clay this year, even losing in straight sets to world number 379 Roman Jebavy in his last tournament. If Troicki ends up in the bottom half, he plays Cecchinato in the semi-final, which would determine the winner of the tournament.
Cecchinato has been sniffing at main tour success lately, but coming up short in deciding sets on a lot of occasions. Here at a Challenger in his home country, he should feel less pressure and prevail. He has posted good results in Italy this year, with three semi-finals and a final in clay Challengers.
August 2013 ATP Challenger Tour Recap: Carreno-Busta Continues Winning Ways
Rio De Janeiro Challenger (August 5-August 11, 2013)
Agustin Velotti took out the up and coming Blaz Rola for this clay court title. Velotti beat Eduardo Schwank in the semis, while Rola beat Emilio Gomez, who notably beat the tournament top seed Thiemo De Bakker.
San Marino Challenger (August 5-August 11, 2013)
Wild card Marco Cecchinato shocked a lot of people when he took care of Filippo Volandri in the final to take this challenger title on clay. Cecchinato took care of seeded players Jesse Huta Galung and Jiri Vesely before beating Jan-Lennard Struff in the semis. Volandri beat Daniel Gimeno-Traver in the semis.
Cordenons Challenger (August 12-August 18, 2013)
Pablo Carreno-Busta won yet another clay court challenger title, topping Gregoire Burquier in the final after defeating Pablo Lorenzi in the semis. Burquier beat Potito Starace in the semis.
Kazan Challenger (August 12-August 18, 2013)
Sergiy Stakhovsky found his game again after a post-Wimbledon hangover and won this hard court Russian challenger over Valery Rudnev after beating Alex Kudryavtsev in the semis. Rudnev reached the final by defeating Konstantin Kravchuk.
Meerbusch Challenger (August 12-August 18, 2013)
The Maserati challenger on clay was won by Jan Hajek in straights over Jesse Huta Galung, who continues his solid showing on the challenger tour this year. Hajek beat Miloslav Mecir in the semis while Huta Galung dispatched Pere Riba.
Bangkok Challenger (August 26-September 1, 2013)
Top seed Blaz Kavcic got back in the winner’s circle taking the title on hardcourts in Bangkok easily over Suk-Young Jeong. Kavcic beat Jimmy Wang in the semis while Jeong took care of Matt Ebden.
Como Challenger (August 26-September 1, 2013)
Pablo Carreno-Busta won his second title of the month, again on clay over the young Austrian Dominic Thiem. PCB beat Marco Crugnola, while Thiem beat Lorenzo Giustino.