2016 Santo Domingo and Bergamo Challenger Previews & Predictions Chris De Waard, Tennis Atlantic
Milex Open At La Bocha 2016
ATP Challenger Tour
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
8-14 February 2016
Green Clay, Har-Tru
Prize Money: $75,000
Seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Victor Estrella Burgos (58)
2: Horacio Zeballos (118)
3: Gerald Melzer (120)
4: Roberto Carballes Baena (129)
5: Andrej Martin (141)
6: Alejandro Gonzalez (151)
7: Andre Ghem (153)
8: Joao Souza (154)
The last direct acceptance is Maxime Chazal, ranked 264th.
First round match-up to watch
(1) Victor Estrella Burgos – Gonzalo Lama
Estrella Burgos did the unthinkable in Quito last week, defending the title he amazed the tennis world with exactly one year ago. With a lot on the line, an early loss would have meant an exit from the top 100, he secured another year of ATP main draw tennis for himself. He will undoubtedly turn up to this event as it’s in his home country, but if he will actually play is uncertain and probably even unlikely after last week’s heroic effort.
Third seed Gerald Melzer has been in excellent form lately, reaching a career high ranking of #120 after winning the Bucaramanga Challenger two weeks ago. Especially with Estrella Burgos likely being out of the picture, he should bet he clear favorite to reach the final from this half. Outsiders might be fifth seed Andrej Martin and qualifier Pere Riba, the former world #65.
Second seed Horacio Zeballos has already left the tournament after a first round beatdown from Alessandro Giannessi, 6-1 6-3. It’s likely to see this half being decided in a quarterfinal showdown between Joao Souza and Roberto Carballes Baena, with the latter being the slight favorite. Carballes Baena is creeping closer to the top 100, reaching the second round at Quito last week, where he fell in three sets to top seed and world #20 Bernard Tomic.
Melzer d. Martin
Carballes Baena d. Giannessi
Melzer d. Carballes Baena
Trofeo Perrel – FAIP
ATP Challenger Tour
8-14 February 2016
Prize Money: €42,500
Seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Yuki Bhambri (100)
2: Ruben Bemelmans (107)
3: Nikoloz Basilashvili (116)
4: Mirza Basic (119)
5: Michael Berrer (121)
6: Go Soeda (127)
7: Dustin Brown (133)
8: Konstantin Kravchuk (135)
The last direct acceptance is Tristan Lamasine, ranked 195th.
First round match-up to watch
(5) Michael Berrer – (WC) Radek Stepanek
This should be a highly entertaining match-up between two veterans. 35-year-old Berrer comes off an excellent showing at Montpellier, where he beat Borna Coric and Kenny De Schepper before barely falling to Alexander Zverev, 7-6(2) 2-6 5-7. 37-year-old Stepanek reached the second round at the Australian Open in singles, but topped that in doubles, losing a very close final with fellow veteran Daniel Nestor to Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, 6-2 4-6 5-7. Stepanek and Berrer played each other once, in the second round of the 2009 Australian Open, with Stepanek winning 6-3 6-2 6-7(3) 7-5.
It’s not inconceivable that the winner of Stepanek – Berrer will determine the winner of this half. On the very quick Bergamo surface, they have the tools to succeed. However, there will be sufficient competition from someone like Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who also has the tools to succeed on indoor hardcourts and has a managable draw.
Seventh seed Dustin Brown is back to the Challenger grind after his heroic run at Montpellier last week. After beating Steve Darcis, Gilles Simon and Ruben Bemelmans for a place in the semi-final, he nearly beat world #10 Richard Gasquet, but fell after being up a set and a break and playing absolutely spectacular tennis, 6-1 4-6 3-6. As we know it’s anyone’s guess if he will repeat that form here, so it’s hard to put a prediction on it. He has a favorable draw, however, so he is definitely a favorite to at least reach the semi-final, where he might meet his quarterfinal opponent of last week, Ruben Bemelmans.
Becker and Edmund progress in ATP Doha Qualifying Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
The ExxonMobil Open will see world No.1 Novak Djokovic start his 2016 campaign. Prior to the main draw, 16 players battled against each during the qualifying tournament for four places in the main draw.
Spearheading the field was Spanish world No.72 Inigo Cervantes. The Spaniard ended 2015 on a high after winning the ATP Challenger Tour finals in Brazil. Despite the positive end to last year, Cervantes suffered a first round upset at the hands of Bosnia’s Mirza Basic.
After dropping the opening set, the former junior world No.6 battled back to upset the top seed 3-6, 6-2, 7-5. Basic’s reward was an encounter with German 7th seed Dustin Brown, who defeated Czech Republic’s Marek Michalicka in his opening match. Brown, who defeated Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon last year, edged his way past the Bosnian in two close sets (6-4,7-5) to reach the main draw.
Brown wasn’t the only German success in the qualifying tournament. Second seed Benjamin Becker overcame two close matches to progress to the main draw. After a slow start to his campaign, Becker defeated former world No.70 Flávio Cipolla 3-6,6-3,6-1, in his first match. In the following round he played veteran player Michael Berrer. Last year at the Qatar tournament Berrer stunned Rafael Nadal in the first round. Becker ensured that there was no chance that Berrer would create another shock in the tournament after he defeated the 35-year-old 5-7,7-5,7-5.
British tennis star Kyle Edmund booked his place in the main draw without dropping a set. The 20-year-old is currently ranked #102 in the world, three places below his career high. Last year he won three Challenger titles and was part of the winning Davis Cup team. Edmund booked a final showdown with Moldova’s Radu Albot after defeating Italy’s Andrea Arnaboldi in his opening match. During the 74-minute encounter, Edmund held eight of his nine service games during his 6-2, 6-4 win over Albot.
Finally Russian world No.195 Aslan Karatsev produced wins over the fourth and fifth seed to reach the main draw. In the first round he stunned Belgium Ruben Bemelmans 6-3, 6-3, to book a second round meeting with Lukas Lacko. After an early stumble in the match where he went down 0-3 to Lacko, the Russian maneuvered his way back to win 6-4, 6-4. The 22-year-old is yet to play in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament, however, last year he won his first challenger title in Kazan (Russia) at the age of 21.
Main draw matches for the qualifiers
(Q) Dustin Brown vs. (1) Novak Djokovic
(Q) Benjamin Becker vs. (8) Leonardo Mayer
(Q) Kyle Edmund vs. Martin Klizan
(Q) Aslan Karatsev vs. Robin Haase
All of the qualifiers have winnable opening round matches except for Brown, who will need to produce a long highlight reel to stun Djokovic in his first match of the season.
Today in Newport, Dustin Brown won yesterday’s suspended second round match against Sam Querrey. For once, a match was over as quickly as expected. It was over less than 10 minutes after it started, as Brown held serve twice to head to the quarterfinals.
He indicated that he didn’t stay up all night thinking about the timing of the thunderstorms that caused him to pause en route to victory.
Dustin Brown, Newport
“It would have been nice if we could have finished last night but on the other side, maybe I would have lost if we finished last night”, he said. His girlfriend and a good friend are traveling with him, so the companionship may have helped him keep his mind off the match.
Asked about his new celebrity status, he stated “When you’re at a tournament, with my looks and my hair, it’s hard for me to hide. I wouldn’t necessarily call it celebrity status. I can still go to the supermarket without someone jumping me”.
Adrian Mannarino jumped on Rajeev Ram early but Ram pounced late. In a match that lasted two hours and thirty minutes, Ram scalped a seeded player for the second time this week by winning the second and third set tiebreaks. He’s reached the semis for the third time here, and he saved match points against both Isner and Mannarino. He actually won this tournament as a lucky loser in 2009.
With their first ATP World Tour semifinal berth on the line for both players, Tatsuma Ito and John-Patrick Smith were expected to have a little case of the nerves. Ito sure didn’t look that way before the match, cool and composed and inviting me to take a photo, something that usually only irritates the pros pre-match. But that didn’t translate to an easy start for Ito. Ito calmed down and took the second in a tiebreak, but Smith broke him in the third and sailed away 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-3.
Tomorrow’s semifinal action includes Jack Sock against Jan Hernych and Ivo Karlovic takes on Dustin Brown. This is my last post from the tournament as I will be heading to the Islands tomorrow. Well, Block Island. See you in DC at Citi Open!
An Interview with Dustin Brown (@DreddyTennis) from Newport (@TennisHalloFame) Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
What do you think you need to do to follow up with big wins like the one against Nadal at Wimbledon?
The main thing is to go out there and try and play my tennis. Obviously, you don’t get to play on that stage and play those matches every week. Everyone keeps asking that but at the end of the day, it has nothing to do with that. If I go out here, I’m trying to do well at this tournament. It has nothing to do with how I did the last six months or how I played in February. I’ve got to go out there and try and win this match. At the end of the day, it’s great that I won that match but on the other side, it’s good for points, it’s good for money, but it doesn’t help me out here when I played Bossel today.
How has that Wimbledon win changed your lifestyle, if at all?
To be honest, I haven’t had time to do anything. I left the Wimbledon compound at 3 or 4 pm that day, got on a plane, and flew to Germany, played Bundesliga the next day, got in the hotel, slept and and then flew the next day to the States to be a little early to get used to the time change. So, basically, I’ve been going from match to match and tournament to tournament, so there was not a lot of time to change anything.
Have you ever thought about playing less agressively? You come to the net a lot.
If I were to do that, I would not be sitting here probably. I’ve said that playing futures and I’ll say it again: There are three or four hundred guys that play better from the baseline or do their type of game better. For me, It’s important that I play my game and that’s the game people don’t like and that’s what I can beat big guys with, which I’ve proven. Obviously, I’m going to lose matches because of that but that’s my tennis and that’s what I’ve learned to accept.
Do you think Serve and Volley will ever make a comeback in the ATP?
There’s a bunch of guys playing serve and volley, so I’m not sure. It’s just not being taught as much, the courts are a lot slower, so it’s not that easy. I mean Radek Stepanek, Ivo Karlovic, me, Rajeev Ram. There’s a lot of guys who like to play that style but not enough tournaments where you can play like that.
What’s on Dreddy’s Beats right now?
Still the same song I listened to during Wimbledon the whole time (A$AP Rocky: “Canal St”). I normally have the certain song I listen to all day, and right now it’s the same one.
Isner Falls to the Curse of the Cup, Other Seeds Cruise @TennisHalloFame Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
Jack Sock is here to play ball at the Tennis Hall of Fame Championships in Newport, Rhode Island. Sock advanced over Old Man Steps in 58 minutes today 6-2. 6-0, and in so doing, put Newport on notice that he wants to be holding the Van Alen Cup come Sunday.
American Sam Querrey followed suit, doing the ‘Tall Guy Thing’ to Matt Ebden: beating the qualifier in two consecutive tight tiebreaks, but John Isner followed that up with a Case of the Curse. Top seeds don’t fare well here, and Big John took it on the chin again and failed as a top seed. Rajeev Ram was patient, and after losing the first set tiebreak, held on for a victory over Isner, 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(8).
Lukas Lacko also held on for a win over Neils Desein 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to set up a meeting with Sock. Yuichi Sugita embarrassed Ryan Harrison 6-1, 7-5, 6-3. For his efforts, he has a wide-open draw and will meet Ram tomorrow.
Frenchman ERV won on Bastille Day versus Blav Kavcic 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 and qualifier Jan Hernych breezed past Tim Smyczek 6-3, 6-4 for his fourth straight victory in Newport this week. Malek Jaziri defeated Ante Pavic 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, sending home the Croatian after a nice run in qualifying. Jaziri sets up a match with Ivo Karlovic in Round 2.
But really, all eyes were on Court 1. The Phenomena that is Dustin Brown is bringing out everyone to have a look: children, elderly couples, and even security staff. Yes, he DOES look different than many of those who have been enshrined here at the Hall of Fame, but he played a patient game like the best of them today. Brown needed an hour to take the first set from qualifier Adrian Bossel, and then dismantled him in the second in a matter of twenty minutes. Brown will face a not-really-that-great-right-now Querrey and Brown better get him while he can, since Querrey usually improves throughout the summer as the game transitions to hard courts.
In press, Brown said he’s still listening to the same Dreddy’s Beats soundtrack from Wimbledon. Question is, will this be the Nadal-beating Brown or the one who fell to Vik Troicki in Round 3?
We’ll find out tomorrow. A brief rain interrupted the beginning of the Haas-Mannarino match which I imagine will be resumed tonight as there are still two hours of sunlight left in Newport and the rain has stopped.
The weather forecast for tomorrow doesn’t look great, with a chance of thunderstorms all day before good conditions return for the rest of the tournament. I may skip and return Thursday. Nothing drives a type A tennis fan like me crazier than a rain delay. You don’t want to be around me in a rain delay. No worries. I’ll be back.
2015 ATP Newport Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
One final grass court tournament remains on the year, as the classic 250 in picturesque Newport, Rhode Island in the USA is next up for the ATP World Tour. Those looking for a final chance at points on grass have headed to the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and Tennis Atlantic once again has on-site coverage this week of the tournament.
2015 ATP Newport Preview
Hall of Fame Tennis Championships
ATP World Tour 250
Newport, RI, USA
July 13-July 19, 2015
Prize Money: $488,225
Top 4 seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: John Isner (17)
2: Ivo Karlovic (25)
3: Bernard Tomic (26)
4: Jack Sock (31)
One top 20 player is in the field for the final grass court tournament of 2015. The seed cutoff is #77, which is quite high, even for a 250 in what should be a wide open week in Newport.
Haas is 10 years older than the top 40 Mannarino and this match could be a great grass court classic, with a lot of smooth hitting and graceful play from both players. Haas is of course a skillful veteran with a one handed backhand a good grass court record. Since returning from injury he’s 2-3, and lost in the second round of Wimbledon to Milos Raonic. Mannarino has gone 4-4 on grass this year with a quarterfinal in Den Bosch as his best result. Haas has more talent, but Mannarino has a tricky game for an opponent lacking rhythm, and thus I give him a slight edge over the still rusty Haas.
Jared Donaldson vs. Austin Krajicek
An all-American battle, the 18 year old Donaldson can cement himself as the rise if he has a good showing here. 25 year old former Texas A&M player Austin Krajicek stands in his way round 1, and he’s beatable on grass as he went 0-4 on the surface this year, much preferring clay and slow hard courts. Donaldson is an aggressive American baseliner and he qualified at ATP Queens on grass already. This year he won an ATP main draw match in Memphis, and reached the semis of the Tallahassee challenger, along with taking the title in Maui at the challenger out there. With a versatile game, look for Jared to slip past his countryman and into round 2.
Sock should be the favorite with his powerful and aggressive game that is built around his forehand, but the serve and volleying 36 year old Stepanek can’t be counted out. Stepanek has been struggling this season since returning from injury though, and while grass suits his game, Sock isn’t poor on it either, excluding his round 1 loss at Wimbledon. Stepanek could snatch a set if Sock struggles like he did there, but look for Jack to pull this match out.
John Isner will face off with 2009 champion Rajeev Ram round 1, in what will be a battle of former champions (Isner won the title here in 2011 and 2012). Ram is a lighting in the bottle serve and volleyer who normally does better in doubles than singles at this stage in his career, but can catch fire on grass at any time. That said, Isner reached round 3 at Wimbledon and the quarterfinals at Queens so he should be able to continue his relatively good form and get into round 2 where I’d expect him to beat either Ryan Harrison or Yuichi Sugita. Harrison comes off the semis in the Winnetka challenger, while Sugita is solid on grass and qualified at Wimbledon. Given Harrison’s mental errors at times, Sugita will have a shot, and I have him advancing before falling to Isner.
Haas/Mannarino is almost certain to be Isner’s quarterfinal opponent, the winner of that should get past Edouard Roger-Vasselin or Blaz Kavcic, both of whom have struggled this season. ERV has a slight edge to get out of round 1 before falling to Haas/Mannarino, and I have an Isner vs. Mannarino quarterfinal lined up. Isner beat Mannarino at Newport in 2013, and I give him an edge to do so again and reach the semis on home soil.
Bernard Tomic opens with his countryman J.P. Smith in round 1, Tomic, despite his frustrations with Tennis Australia, reached the third round at Wimbledon and the quarters in Stuttgart on grass, and has put together one of his most consistent seasons on tour thus far in 2015. Smith qualified for Wimbledon but he’s far less accomplished than Tomic at this level, and on grass, and thus Bernie is the favorite to win that one, and beat the Donaldson/Krajicek winner round 2. In the quarters, Steve Johnson is his likely opponent. Stevie J will face serve and volleyer Michael Berrer round 1, and then the winner of Noah Rubin/Tatsuma Ito round 2. Berrer has had a great season in his final season on tour thus far, qualifing for the French Open, Wimbledon and Stuttgart , but Johnson is on the rise overall and won matches at both Halle and Wimbledon.
Rubin is a young American, and at 19 has limited experience at this level, but he’ll have a chance against Ito, who qualified in Den Bosch and won a round, but otherwise has done little on grass. Look for Johnson to beat Berrer and Ito, and test Tomic, who he beat in Halle. I have a feeling that poor result from Tomic was more mental than anything else, and he’ll be able to recover and reach the semifinals with a win over Johnson.
Another veteran in this draw, the 36 year old Ivo Karlovic, continues to find success on grass regardless of his age, and he’s a favorite against his round 1 opponent Illya Marchenko, though the Ukrainian did reach the quarters in Den Bosch, a grass court event. Karlovic has had an excellent grass court season, reaching the quarters in Den Bosch, the semis in Halle (upset Tomas Berdych), and the fourth round at Wimbledon (upset Jo-Wilfried Tsonga). His massive and reliable serve, along with his experienced volleys should allow him to blitz past Marchenko, and a qualifier or Malek Jaziri, before facing Sam Querrey or Dustin Brown in the quarters.
the 6 seed Querrey played a decent match against Federer at Wimbledon, and can compete on grass. He opens with a qualifier, as does Brown, who upset Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in the performance of his career. Brown, a fan favorite, is my favorite to reach the quarters, as his game is best on grass, and Querrey tends to mentally struggle under relentless pressure, the type of pressure Brown can provide by net rushing and holding serve. Karlovic-Brown has historically been a close match, Karlovic won their Delray Beach meeting this year, while Brown won the two prior meetings, and each match has featured at least one tiebreak. Karlovic may be more fatigued, and thus I have Brown into the semifinals as a dark horse.
The Sock/Stepanek winner will become a semifinal favorite in a weak section of the draw. Sock should beat Stepanek, and then Lukas Lacko, a talented player whose achievements have been well, lacking, over his career. His round 1 opponent Niels Desein isn’t a great fan of grass. Sock beat Lacko in Atlanta last year, and he should be able to do so again, which would result in him reaching the quarters.
In those quarters, I’d consider Alejandro Falla his most likely opponent, Falla will face Adrian Menendez-Maceiras round 1. AMM isn’t a fan of grass, and Falla qualified for both Halle and Wimbledon this year, he’s also a previous finalist on grass in Halle. After AMM, Tim Smyczek or a qualifier will be his opponent. Smyczek doesn’t do great on grass, and thus should have a hard time this week.
Falla-Sock is an interesting quarterfinal, they have never met before, and both have had up and down results. Sock has more talent, and they both have huge forehands, while Falla will be able to hit from a left handed angle. It’s a tough call, but on US soil I favor Sock to reach the semis.
Dark Horse: Dustin Brown
Dreddy (photo credit: Tennis Atlantic)
The unseeded Brown already showed his skillset off in the shocking upset of Nadal, and with a batch of less talented and well-known players in the draw this week, he could romp if he finds his groove on grass. Dreddy will need to get past Querrey, Karlovic in the quarters, and Sock/Falla in the semis but all of those opponents are beatable if he keeps the pressure on and sticks his volleys with pinpoint accuracy. In the final his opponent is likely to be Isner or Tomic, who are tough, but beatable opponents, as he could walk away with his first ATP title this week, on the heels of the win of his career at Wimbledon. His problem has always been consistency, not talent, and thus we’ll have to see what happens.
Semis: Isner d. Tomic
Brown d. Sock
Isner has beaten Tomic once previously, and he appears more focused at the moment. On grass I’d consider Tomic vulnerable to big servers with his less powerful game. As mentioned, I have the dark horse Brown reaching the final this week.
Final: Isner d. Brown
Brown beat Isner on clay in Houston last year, but I’d consider Isner the more consistent big server who is less likely to mix in a poor game, and with that in mind, I have him as the favorite to win a third Newport title. He has previous success here, and his form seems good another to win another American 250 level tournament.
Hollywood subjects us year after year to a never-ending amount of baseball, boxing or football movies, every one with pretty much the same struggle and the same conflict. Yet the film industry has yet to give us anything close to resembling a decent tennis movie. The first place they should look is the story of Dustin Brown, who on July 2, 2015 had his amazing story reach its pinnacle on the most cherished tennis court on the globe.
Those of us who follow the lower levels of the ATP tour have known about Dustin Brown for many years now. The storybook tale of him traveling obscure tournaments in Europe while lining in an RV camper to save money, stringing rackets for other pro players for 5 euros a pop, his trouble with the Jamaican tennis federation which led to his change to Germany and his love for doubles, playing with a variety of partners in pretty much every tournament he played in. We have known about his eclectic eye-catching style of play, where whether it is through the court or to the fence, the ball is always in some way whizzing past his opponent. And those of us that have followed him have always known that he was capable of great play, especially on grass courts.
Dreddy and Gillou (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
But despite this story and the exciting game, for a long time it seemed as if Dustin Brown would never truly have his one special moment to announce himself to the tennis world. Sure he had had semi big results before, beating Lleyton Hewitt in Wimbledon in 2013 and beating Rafa Nadal at Halle in 2014 just days after Rafa claimed his 9th Roland Garros title. But on July 2, 2015 the German-Jamaican tennis Talisman created his moment; the moment that had been building for years. Sometimes in sport all an athlete can ask for is one moment and whether or not they take that moment is entirely up to them.
So once the off-speed out wide ace went past tennis legend Rafa Nadal on Wimbledon Centre Court on July 2, 2015 and the Talisman dropped his racquet in part disbelief and part joy, what exactly was going through his head? What created this moment? The 6-3 6-2 loss to Adam Pavlasek this year in a challenger, just one of many head-scratching losses that have always been the bane of Brown’s tennis career? Playing in Jamaican futures as a young man with a dream? Or was it the time at Chris Evert’s academy where he was from all accounts the wildest player there and the one who people thought would never have the discipline to achieve anything big? All of these and more were simple hardships in the life of Brown all of which stitched together eventually and created the moment that he would either take or the moment he would let slip.
Classic sports movies almost always end with the hero seizing the moment in a glorious fashion. In Wimbledon’s movie, Dustin Brown seized his moment in spectacular fashion and provided us fans with an amazing validation of why we love the underdog and why sometimes the most amazing things are single moments in single matches.
Maybe the best part of this ride is still yet to come, Brown has an open draw now that he could take advantage of, but it would also be just as likely for him to fall next round. But even if he does fall in round 3 to Viktor Troicki, one thing that we can 100% certain of, is that Dreddy will be Dreddy as he always has been and that on July 2,2015 on the same court where legends old and new have lived and died, the Talisman made his own moment something special.
Introducing Your 2015 @Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Qualifiers Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
The Wimbledon qualifying draw encountered a series of shocks and surprises. It was a disastrous draw for the seeded players with none of the top ten players automatically qualifying for the main draw. Luca Vanni received a lucky loser spot in the main draw due to David Ferrer’s withdrawal. The highest seeded player to qualify was Dustin Brown, who was 12th. Despite the disappointing performance of the seeds, there are some qualifiers that have a good chance of causing a shock first round win.
Vincent Millot booked a place in his first Wimbledon main draw after an impressive qualifying competition. In the first round the Frenchman knocked out top seed Kimmer Coppejans. He then beat Marius Copil and Edouard Roger-Vasselin to book a place in the main draw. Since January Millot has reached the quarter-finals at two Challenger tournaments in Saint Brieuc and Tallahassee. In the first round, he will play Vasek Pospisil.
Titles – 3 Futures and 11 Challengers
Alejandro Falla edged out Germany’s Andres Beck in four extremely close sets to book his place in his third Wimbledon main draw. Falla recently reached the second round at the Gerry Webber Open as a qualifier. During the tournament the Colombian beat Janko Tipsarevic and Lukas Lacko. He also took a set of Jerzy Janowicz before losing to him. He has reached one ATP quarterfinal in 2015 which at the start of the year in Auckland, New Zealand. In the first round he will play Robin Haase. Falla has beaten Haase once before on grass which was in the second round of last years Gerry Webber Open in Halle, Germany.
Titles – 5 Futures and 1 Challenger
19-year-old Elias Ymer has a 100% winning record in qualifying draws for Grand Slams in 2015. Following his victory over third seed Guido Pella, he became the first player since Julian Reister (2013) to qualify for the first three Grand Slam main draws in the same year. In the main draw he will play Ivo Karlovic. The Swede currently has a main draw win-loss of 11-12 in 2015.
Hiroki Moriya’s recent run of disappointing results finally ended with him qualifying for the main draw at Wimbledon. Going into the tournament, the Japanese player exit in the first round in five out of last six tournaments. During the qualifying tournament, Moriya beat fourth seed and countryman Tatsuma Ito before producing a straight sets win over Matteo Donati. The best result of 2015 for the 24-year-old was reaching the semi final of the Batman Challenger in April. Awaiting Moriya in the main draw will be 9th seed Marin Cilic.
Age – 21
Ranking – 182 (career high 152)
Titles – 6 Futures
Double junior Grand Slam champion Luke Saville booked his place in the main draw after recovering from two sets down to beat Luca Vanni. In the lead up to Wimbledon, Saville reached the final of the Surbiton Challenger where he lost in straight sets to Sam Groth. The 2011 Wimbledon boys champion will play Richard Gasquet in the first round.
Age – 27
Ranking – 170 (ranking high 52)
Titles – 5 Futures and 6 Challenger
Igor Sijsling will play in his 9th consecutive Grand Slam following an epic five sets win over Paul-Henri Mathieu in the final round of qualifying. Since making the quarter-final of the Zagreb Open in February, the Dutch player has endured a series of early tournament losses which has contributed towards he decline to 170th in the world. In round one he will face Sam Querrey. Sijsling has played the American twice in 2012. He lost to him on both occasions.
Titles – 6 Futures and 2 Challenger.
Pierre-Hugues Herbert overcame Íñigo Cervantes in five sets in the final round of Wimbledon qualifying. The Frenchman won the Wimbledon Boys doubles title back in 2009 with Kevin Krawietz. He also achieved success in doubles on the pro circuit by reaching the final of the Australian Open earlier this year. More recently, Herbert reached back-to-back doubles finals in S-Hertogenbosch and Queen’s. He won the Queen’s title partnering Nicolas Mahut. He will play 19-year-old South Korean sensation Chung Hyeon in round one.
Age – 26
Ranking – 149 (career high 116)
Titles – 12 Future and 3 Challenger
Yuichi Sugita ended British hopes by beating Dan Evans to make the main draw. This is the second Grand Slam main draw appearance in his career after Wimbledon last year. Sugita’s best result in 2015 was runner-up at the ATP Saint Brieuc Challenger in April. He was edged out in the final by Nicolas Mahut. Awaiting the Japanese player in the main draw is world number 111 Blaž Kavčič.
Titles – 10 Future and 2 Challenger
2010 Wimbledon Boys champion Nikoloz Basilashvili enjoyed a comfortable journey into the Wimbledon main draw. After producing straight sets wins in the first two rounds, he beat Marton Fucsovics in four sets (6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2). The Georgian has claimed one title this year which was at the ATP Raanana Challenger in Israel. He will play Argentina’s Facundo Bagnis in the main draw.
Age – 26
Ranking – 160 (career high 148)
Titles – 3 Future and 21 Challenger
John-Patrick Smith knocked out 18th seed Bjorn Fratangelo in the second round to reach the main draw. In the final round, he beat Czech Republic’s Jan Mertl in straight sets. Smith won his third Challenger title earlier this year in Drummondville, Canada. More recently he reached the quarter-finals of the Surbiton Challenger in Great Britain. He will play another qualifier, Kenny de Schepper, in the first round.
Titles – 1 Future and 10 Challenger.
Veteran German player Michael Berrer endured a grilling five set match against 11th seed Adrián Menéndez-Maceiras before booking his place in the main draw. Berrer started 2015 in incredible fashion by beating Rafael Nadal at the Qatar Open. The German however, hasn’t been able to capitalize on the stunning upset with a series of unspectacular results on the tour. Except Qatar, his best performance was a semifinal appearance at a Challenger event in Israel in June. Berrer has played at SW19 five times before this year, losing in the first round of four of them. In his sixth Wimbledon first round main draw, he will play Adrian Mannarino.
Age – 30
Ranking – 102 (career high 78)
Titles – 3 Future and 6 Challenger
Dustin Brown didn’t drop a set on his way to qualifying for his fifth Wimbledon main draw.
In the final round, he beat Italy’s Andrea Arbaboldi 7-6 (1), 6-3,6-4. Prior to Wimbledon, the German participated in back-to-back grass-court tournaments in Stuttgart and Halle. Brown’s best performance on the tour this year was reaching the quarter-finals in Doha at the start of the year. More recently he reached the quarter-final at a Challenger tournament in Rome last month. He will face Lu Yen-Hsun.
Titles – 6 Futures and 3 Challengers.
Kazakhstan’s Aleksandr Nedovyesov dismissed Belgium’s Yannick Mertens in three sets in the final round of qualifying. The Ukrainian born player has enjoyed success on the doubles tour in 2015 by winning two Challenger titles. In the singles he has recently reached the last four at the ATP Prague Challenger. He will play Serbian 22nd seed Viktor Troicki in the main draw.
Clay-court specialist Horacio Zeballos upset 14th seed Ivan Dodig to reach the main draw of Wimbledon. The Argentine is yet to make a final in 2015 but he has reached the semi-finals of Challenger tournaments in Moscow, Russia and Leon, Mexico. This will be the thirteenth time he will participate in a Grand Slam main draw. He will play David Goffin in round one, a player who he beat in Miami last year.
Titles – 7 Futures and 5 Challenger
15th seed John Millman beat a trio of unseeded player to reach the main draw. In the final round Millman overcame a slow start to edge out France’s Enzo Couacaud 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2. The Australian has been runner-up in two Challenger tournaments this year (Vicenza, Italy and Kyoto, Japan). He will play 16th seed Tommy Robredo.
Titles – 2 Futures and 4 Challengers.
Finally, Kenny de Schepper overcame tough resistance from countryman Stéphane Robert to set up a main draw showdown against another qualifier, John-Patrick Smith. The Frenchman achieved his best Grand Slam performance at Wimbledon by making the 4th round of the 2013 tournament. Since the start of the year, Schepper has only won seven main draw matches.
Serve and Volleyer Groth Reaches Quarters @MercedesCup ATP Stuttgart 2015 Andreas Thiele for Tennis Atlantic
Groth volleys into quarters (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Wednesday in Stuttgart wasn’t as windy as the previous main draw days, yet almost as cold as we had yesterday, maybe a bit warmer. However, conditions weren’t relevant for the first time at this tournament and many players didn’t want to forfeit their chance to have some good practice on the practice courts.
Almost every player was practicing today, even those who lost their matches in singles and doubles. Grass season recently started and not everyone feels comfortable with the grass. Dominic Thiem for example practiced a lot with Lukas Rosol who was also his doubles partner. They were joking a lot and talked about tennis, while working on their forehands. Thiem’s forehand looks a bit better, backhand was a bit worrying though. Thiem really didn’t look happy with his progress at the beginning, but he cheered up with every backhand cross which went on the line. I reckon Rosol is a bit injured, since he didn’t move as well. Dustin Brown and Gilles Simon also practiced in front of fans. Just like Rosol and Thiem they laughed a lot and put on a show with some great shots.
Dreddy and Gillou (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Next to them on the same court were Alejandro Falla and Mikhail Kukushkin training, though the Colombian got defeated by Sugita on Sunday. Falla worked on sharpening his game on grass and his backhand got more effective now, he really displayed a much better tennis than he did on the weekend. Especially his backhand slice looks pretty good. Kukushkin on the other side wasn’t as inspiring as the Colombian and appeared frustrated.
Rafael Nadal was practicing today and expected his second doubles match. Unfortunately Robert Farah had wrist problems and had to call off (wish you a speedy recovery). His forehand was looking very solid with depth and power. However, his backhand didn’t improve a lot and he needs time to fix it.. He looked very pleased about his training and smiled, he really enjoys the grass-practice in Stuttgart. Francisco Roig looked happy too, as he watched Rafa’s down-the-line forehands land in again and again. Still, one has to admit the conditions made the grass courts very slow and the grass here doesn’t have a low bounce.
Marin Cilic got the biggest court to train on, Court 1! He hit many backhands at practice, trying to fix the shot that bedeviled him in doubles. His cross-court forehand looked to be a strong weapon, but he wasn’t clicking on down the line shots.
Cilic on the practice courts (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Wednesday Second Round Matches
Alexander Zverev was up in the first match against Viktor Troicki on Center Court and I’m certain that a member of his team watched Troicki’s match yesterday. Zverev employed a strategy more suited to clay than grass, but his gameplan was to stay in rallies and to attack Viktor’s flaws (his almost careless shot selection and his poor groundies). Though the scoreline would indicate otherwise, Viktor didn’t play great Tuesday against Borna Coric hitting many forehand unforced errors, so it wasn’t a bad idea to be more defensive for your second grass match ever if you’re Zverev.
Problem was his shots lacked depth and Troicki was able to dictate the rallies like he wanted. Zverev started very bad in the first set losing his serve and having many problems on his second serve. He didn’t find his rhythm at first, and by the time he did, the first set was in the books in favor of Troicki. Second set started similar, problems holding his serve and lost his service again. Troicki hit the balls very well and moved quickly on grass. He was very often at the net, Zverev almost never and he got too passive during rallies, the Serb toyed with him playing the balls back and forth. The young German couldn’t always yield an advantage of his serve today to be more competitive. Troicki served a bit better and returned very much better than Zverev who had problems anticipating the Troicki serve.
Troicki had a very good depth today, hence Zverev the younger had to move very often on the baseline and slipped and fell quite often. After a while Troicki lost his focus and was inattentive, he started to prefer the worst option and his shot selection was awful. He lost his two match points in the breaker due to this, and lost the second set with a stab volley right into the net. Once again, in the third set, Zverev had many problems with his serves as he didn’t aim to hit a winner and let Troicki dictate the game. This match was full of very long rallies, seemed to be more a clay event than a grass match in reality. Zverev failed to break Troicki again, and the Serb served it out though with some silly UEs 6-3 6-7 6-3.
Gael Monfils routined Andreas Haider-Maurer 7-6(6), 7-6(5), a typical scoreline for a match on grass. Both served very well in the first set, Monfils couldn’t convert the first break point at the first game thanks to an ace the Austrian hit and Haider-Maurer couldn’t convert his break point (which was a set point too) because of a very strong forehand cross winner Monfils hit. Breaker had to decide the first set and the Austrian had a very rare problem: His two foot faults cost him greatly as he double faulted twice. Monfils couldn’t hold the edge with the first mini-break, but converted his next set point on his serve. Second set started like the first one with lots of service winners due too good serves. The Frenchman lost again his concentration and couldn’t break the Austrian. He put up on a show to amuse the crowd after he started to return well. Haider-Maurer had more problems returning, so Monfils didn’t have many problems with his serve apart from a service game. Just like Zverev before Haider-Maurer, a dirtballer, played like on clay, very defensive and cautious. He wasn’t as often at the net with serve-and-volley as Monfils was, but when he decided to take over the rally, he went forward and won it. In contrast to his rival who tried many hot shots and serve-and-volleys, some of them enchanting the crowd.
Monfils won in two tiebreaks (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Furthermore, both had problems volleying, since Haider-Maurer waits for these net approaches to pass Monfils and the Austrian went forward after a very harmless shot. Many volleys landed at the net. Gael played very well when he needed to and had an eye on the clear space for the winners. However, breaker had to decide the second set again and the Austrian led with a mini-break, but gifted it right back to Monfils. Then he again committed the first UE to lose his serve after a good return while the Austrian played serve-and-volley. Monfils closed the match of course with an ace. Monfils has promised his fitness trainer the new Mercedes-Benz car if he wins the title.
Against Feliciano Lopez, a grass court expert, big serving Aussie Sam Groth notched a huge win. After losing a service game in the first set in routine fashion, he didn’t lose another service game. His match would have been easier if he converted all the volleys and smash opportunities that Lopez offered up. Both were serving fantastically without any big problems they couldn’t handle. Lopez began suddenly to play less slice and more top-spin which helped the Australian a lot and his returns became less hazardous. The Spaniard lost his confidence as the match continued, whereupon Groth gained more confidence in his groundgame which got more threatening as the games went by. Lopez’ surprising slice shots vanished Groth’s rhythm during the second set and so it got very difficult to break him. The Spaniard’s usual return position was a few meters behind the baseline, His distance was even farther away from that line returning in the 2nd set.
This wasn’t the best approach against Groth, as Flopez’s passivity in the second set resulted in a losing result unlike in the first. When Lopez failed to get amazing return winners he was going for, Groth didn’t have any problem with his serve-and-volley to win the points on serve. Lopez hit slice and topspin body shots at Groth when the Australian went forward, but Lopez couldn’t repeat this strategy to success execution wise. The second set tiebreaker seemed to be very even for a long time, but after a very good return on the line and a long slice rally Groth hit a miraculous and lucky bh slice in front of Lopez’ feet. Furthermore the ball had a rare bounce, rendering it unreachable. Groth served fantastically well and Lopez didn’t have the ghost of a chance to break him. The third set tiebreaker was more of a nailbiter than even the second set tiebreak, and after Groth’s incredible forehand on the line Lopez’ backhand slice reached the net. Groth served it out without problems and won the match after losing first set 3-6 7-6(5) 7-6(6).
Philipp Kohlschreiber posted another routine win in round 2, defeating Jerzy Janowicz 6-4, 6-4. Kohli played very well today and Janowicz couldn’t keep up the level he had in his match against Brown. Kohlschreiber moved very well and anticipated Janowicz’ shot selection well. As a contrast to the Pole, Kohli served with accuracy not just power. Kohlschreiber often played the ball in to stay in the rally, expecting an UE from Janowicz and JJ had no clue how to handle this approach. It was a very one-sided match as Kohlschreiber dominated the whole match and didn’t lose the control of it. Janowicz didn’t have his serve today, so his groundies were even worse, as he didn’t have much confidence during the match. He had a very negative body language as well.
Kohli served well (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
The German did everything right: He stood a few meters behind the baseline to return weak Janowicz serves, and pulled surprising returns out of his hat. Jerzy, who moved poorly on the day, struggled with the fact Kohli didn’t give him a chance to gather rhythm. Kohli was able to trigger forehand and baseline shanks out of Janowicz. The Bavarian counter attacked with his power, very clever shot-selection and very good movement. A big quarterfinal match with Gael Monfils will be next for him.
Tomic Back in the Groove, Coric Shelled Tuesday at ATP Stuttgart 2015 Andreas Thiele for Tennis Atlantic
Tomic back in the groove (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
It was the fourth day of this year’s ATP Stuttgart tournament and it was the coldest and windiest day yet. It’s always the worst what can happen here in Germany in terms of weather, with dark clouds, strong winds, and no rain: A winter day during summer. Many players had problems today, especially muscular problems. We witnessed the first retirement in a main draw match and many tennis players moving poorly. Conditions were a challenge today, but matches were completed in full.
Difficult wind created the highest amount of unforced errors per match today, yet very beautiful winners which were powered by the wind. Even in the press centre it was quite cold. In the cold, fans gathered around Rafael Nadal, Gael Monfils and Dustin Brown seeking an interaction with their favorites. Nadal had to call the security team to get through the crowds, when he played doubles with Feliciano Lopez.
Main Draw Round 1
The schedule looked promising on Tuesday, especially for the German crowd. as German was featured in 8 out of 11 matches. Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki led off the day.
Borna Coric’s father was quite optimistic this could be the day he wins his first match on grass, before the match began. With Croatian journalists in the stands Borna just absolutely disappointed his countrymen and couldn’t end his negative run of four losses in a row on grass (0-4 career record). His first service game looked promising, though he had problems holding it. He still doesn’t know how to move on grass and gets too passive during rallies. Troicki was the way more aggressive player and hit some great winners, but some funny unforced errors. While the beginning of the first set was competitive, Borna lost his second serve with a fight, it seemed he wasn’t up for the match entirely. The second serve game he lost was on him and Troicki didn’t even have to play well.
The second set was just pathetic, Coric only won nine points out of 36 and just won a lone return point during the whole set. I stopped watching it after the first break which was very hard-fought (three times deuce) and Troicki won it a few minutes later. Troicki’s forehand didn’t look that bad at all, in contrary to Coric’s which can’t be even called a weapon. Given he’s a young gun, Coric will have the time to develop his game on grass, but in the present day Troicki rolled 6-2 6-0 in a blowout.
Jan-Lennard Struff struggled on the day, though he offered some great forehand-shots and even nicer volleys. Bernard Tomic was out of his league, he offered up great variation in his serve and delivered what he needed, to win, throwing in some great winners. The first set was very one-sided, Tomic won the very first game which was a break to love and broke him at the end of the first set again. However, like is often the case with his matches. Bernie wasn’t consistent enough to close out the match routinely, leading a set and a break ahead.
Struff started to hit one good return after another, and dictate the rallies – He almost always won the point at the net and almost always lost the points on longer rallies, as he hit many forehand unforced errors under pressure. After Tomic broke his serve with a fantastic forehand down-the-line winner, he immediately was broken bakc after serving two double faults and committing a very easy backhand ue after a poor return. The set built up its tension because of the fact both served very well till the second set breaker, when the Borussia Dortmund-fan suddenly led 3-0. Two long forehands later, and Tomic took a decisive advantage, eventually closing out the breaker 7-5 for a 6-3 7-6 victory. Tomic’s game looked quite sharp today, although there was room for improvement. Bernie has to face now another German he lost to in Halle three years ago, Tommy Haas.
Another German moving on here is Mischa Zverev who’s showing great grass tennis as a veteran. The underrated grass specialist had many problems at the beginning against Dominic Thiem and lost even his serve, but he managed to catch himself and rebroke, converting his first break point of the match. As the match progressed, both started to serve better and the breaker had to decide the set. After three consecutive mini-breaks Zverev held his serve to get set point and Thiem failed to save another set point, as he didn’t serve well under pressure. Zverev looked fresher, though he played every day in the last three days, and could break him again. Thiem broke himself with a lot of unnecessary errors. The German served well in set 2, broke Thiem again returning and moving very well to hit one forehand after another in his last service game to close the match 7-6 6-2.
Marcos Baghdatis vs. Lukas Rosol looked like a great match on paper, but Rosol played poorly on the outer court. Baghdatis lost the first game and his serve, but Rosol couldn’t maintain the advantage and ended up losing the first set with a double break. Rosol moved poorly and showed signs of rust. He didn’t have the fortune to trust in his first serve, it was either too long or into the net in big moments and Baghdatis even started to return well when given the chance. The veteran Baghdatis had very good and strong groundstrokes, made Rosol run, and in this way the Cypriot hit many winners. His form looked excellent, throwback in a way and could have some great results in the next week overall like today where he won 6-3 6-4. Depending on Rafael Nadal’s form on the day he could come even through in their match.
Baghdatis was smooth in Stuttgart (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Benjamin Becker came back to Germany in good form after some wins at Roland Garros, and was excited to start the grass court season, his best surface, but unfortunately the shoulder-problem he had in Paris discomforted him again and he was in pain. Therefore he slumped in defeat against Andreas Seppi. After the first set he asked for a medical timeout and it went better afterwards. He held twice his serve, and he had signs of a comeback, but after Seppi served again his should flaired up once more. The German let the match slide and wants to focus now on getting completely recovered again. Wish you all the best, Benjamin, and a speedy recovery! Seppi defeated injured Becker 6-1, 6-2.
Similar to Becker Sergiy Stakhovsky had medical problems against Sam Groth. The first set Stakhovsky won with a classic grass court serve and volley game, often chipping and charging with brilliant volley winners. Groth, famous for his fastest serve ever recorded at a Challenger in South Korea, served again very well, but was too slow to reach Stakhovsky’s volleys. Especially the second serves were attacked by Stako, till the Australian let off steam and yelled
“he always gets my 2nd serve” after 0-30, *3-5 in the first set. Bit by bit Stakhovsky started to play more passively and gave Groth some opportunities at the net that he could approach.
Groth and Stakhovsky volleyed away (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Nothing changed in the second set and Stakhovsky’s serve lessened in effectiveness, he had to save seven break points in the second set alone, as Groth wasn’t always attentive at his chances. On the eight break point chance in set 2, a set point as well, Groth finally won it. Stako lost his serve at the beginning of the third set, and then retired 5-3 down in the third. At the end his serves were a shadow of the his serving in the 1st set, so Groth won it 4-6, 7-5, 5-3. Wish you a speedy recovery as well, Stako!
Matthias Bachinger again displayed great tennis against Peter Gojowczyk. Gojo dictated with his forehand in very good rallies and the Bavarian Bachinger ran left and right to get the balls. Both were serve-and-volleying very well and little things decided this match. One of these things was Bachinger’s fighting spirit, and his poison slices which were a hazard for Gojowczyk. He committed unforced errors and many forehands landed at the net after Bachinger’s slices.
Bachinger was very clutch on important points and didn’t give up any game. Gojowczyk was leading in his last service game in before a theoretical breaker 40-0, but many forehand unforced errors and an incredible forehand smash into the net after a long slice-rally and a well played lob gave Bachinger a break. The Bavarian served the match out, just like in the first set he did after winning the break and will face #2 seed Marin Cilic. Bachingers win was 7-5 7-5.
Alexander Zverev was the better player against Mate Pavic and deservedly won after losing the first set 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. It was a bad start at the beginning facing a break point, and he eventually got broken and lost the first set. In the second set the young German improved his serve on break points, and his forehand was very sharp against Pavic, who likes to attack at the net with his backhand volley. Zverev was aware of that and could read his serve-and-volleys, as he stood meters behind the baseline and didn’t give Pavic many free points.. All in all Zverev played with a very good strategy and kept his head cool, against a nervous Pavic. He finally won the match with a very strong forehand triggering a Pavic error.
Both Zverev brothers advanced on the day (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
The old German master Tommy Haas returned finally to the tour! His win over Mikhail Kukushkin was a graet match, based on good serve and offensive forehands. Kukushkin didn’t have any clue how to react and it says a lot about his tennis on grass when he gets dominated by the rusty Haas. In the second set Haas lost his rhythm and started to gift Kukushkin games he never would have been able to win. Giving that Kukushkin at the end couldn’t hold the break and Haas was able to raise his level again to finished it in two 6-4 7-5.
The last German who played today, Dustin Brown lost in three to Jerzy Janowicz. Both were rock solid on serve, and Brown lost some points due to easy unforced errors he hit. The first set went quickly as Dreddy took it in a tiebreak but Janowicz was able to break him in the second and third sets, while Brown wasn’t able to convert break points. Janowicz completed the comeback 6-7 6-4 6-3. It was still a successful tournament for Brown as he qualified for an ATP event for the first time since Munich.
Janowicz vs. Brown was a quick match (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
In the other singles match on the day, Andreas Haider-Maurer dashed the hopes of young German wild card Max Marterer 7-6 6-3.
Tuesday Doubles Scores
Lopez/Nadal d. Junaid/Shamasdin 7-6 6-2
Cabal/Farah d. Rosol/Thiem 7-6 7-6
Matkowski/Zimonjic d. Monfils/Simon 6-3 6-4