Another Twitter friend, Pale, was so kind to send me a report of his day at Ljubljana Futures. Thank you very much Pale.
As this futures tournament is played at my local club, I went to see some of today’s first round matches. Here are some short notes about what I saw.
Kočevar Dešman def. Habrman 6-3 6-3
Kočevar is probably one of the favourites of this tournament and as a local kid has big support from the stands as well. He has allround game, can finish off with a winner, moves pretty well too. Reminds me of another Slovenian tennis player Zemlja and maybe he will be able to breakthrough and start playing challenger events. Habrman can hit really big but he misses a lot, also his shot selection is really bad, so it was a routine victory for Slovenian.
Kalenichenko def. Razborsek 6-1 6-4
Ukranian kid is for me the biggest surprise of the first round. This guy can really play well. Razborsek was completely chanceless most of the match and was wondering outloud if it is possible for his opponent to miss any of his shots. Razborsek tried everything. From pushing to attacking, but Kalenichenko was always on the ball, hitting deep and frustrating his opponent. There was small chance for Slovenian to comeback after he broke back and hold for 4:4 in second. But Kalenichenko save 15:40 with few big plays and easily broke for match in next game.
Sebastian Ofner def. Janezic 6-0 6-3
Janezic probably bought this wildcard as he isn’t something special even for Slovenian standards. At least he looked good in his latest, brand new tennis apparel 🙂 Ofner won first set easily without losing a single game and didn’t push as hard in second. Austrian has big first serve, but his percentage was very low. He was dictating every point and it was only chance for Janezic to hope for some easy miss, that didn’t happen often.
Eremin def. Jurman 6-4 6-3
I must say I was expecting more from Eremin. I think he still doesn’t play well enough to be competitive on challenger events. He was missing quite a lot of easy shots versus Jurman, who looked a bit out of gas today. It was probably one match too many for him as he is competing only few times per year, because he is working as a coach in local club now. First set was very even, Jurman came back from 1:4, although it was quite an undeserved lead for Italian, but then broke himself with stupidities when serving to stay in the set. Same story in second. Jurman with a quick break, then gifted it away and it was game over, focus was gone and it was an easy job then for Eremin, who didn’t look too happy with his game during the match. He has enough quality in his shots to be one of the contenders for the title, but needs to improve accuracy in next matches.
Ternar def. Steficar 6-1 6-0
Steficar is probably from some rich family as he is getting wildcards often, but he just doesn’t belong here. Ternar was playing quite bad, or probably he wasn’t focused enough, but still lost only one game as his opponent couldn’t stay in rally for few shots.
Patrik Ofner def. Weidinger 6-3 6-0
At the start this looked like it was going to be an even match. Ofner really likes long rallies, he is small guy, with great court coverage and plays almost without mistakes, but his shots are very weak. Still on claycourts he is probably very tough to beat as you have to go for the lines to win a point against him and guys playing on futures events are usually unable to do that. Weidinger was playing very patient at the start, there were some really long rallies and games (for instance Ternar started at the same time and was over with his match before those two finished first set), but after Ofner took the first set it was one way traffic. Weidinger started to go for his shots too much and this is exactly what you shouldn’t do against a player like Ofner. I was surprised when found out Ofner was Top10 junior player, playing finals of Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl tournaments as I would be sure that he can’t win a match outside of clay.
This blog has not been updated for a while as I started writing also for Last Word on Sports (here you can find my summary of Santa Croce ITF Under 18 G1 tournament) and for Tennis Atlantic (where my reports from Roland Garros quali have been published). I will publish later here a gallery of best pictures and video from my unbelievable experience in Paris.
My friend Gabriele attended Vicenza Challenger on Monday and he was so nice to send me report and pics.
As soon as I arrived in Vicenza I noticed Gojowczyk warmin-up in the parking
Pereira def. Cipolla 61 26 76
I didn’t see Cipolla practicing before the match while Pereira was trying some volleys.
Cipolla had an awful start, Pereira very solid on serve, always moving to hit with his forehand and smarter than Flavio at the net. During the changeover on 0-5 Cipolla checked every ball because he could not believe he was missing so many backhand slices.
Different story in second set because Cipolla became more consistent and his slice more effective. Backhand winners for Cipolla and forehands netted by Pereira has been the second set summary.
Third set has been very close with Pereira looking more tired but he managed to win the final tiebreak. Funny that he had no more racquets on 6-5 and someone had to bring him one from off court. (Here below Pereira after a volley)
Roca Batalla def. Lama 46 62 61
During the first set Lama was in control of the match and Roca Batalla didn’t look anything special. Lama was often using a kick serve to disturb Spaniard’s one-handed backhand on return. Despite the leading position Lama appeared too impulsive with a lot of self talking and he was always prone to throw the racquet. Lama is a fighter but after first set he started losing almost every long rally because Roca Batalla was tactically smarter. After a discussion with the umpire during third set he basically gave up.
Pavlasek def. Novikov 64 62
The US player had a better start, showing his good firepower that Pavlasek could not manage, especially on the forehand side. Pavlasek had some tough holds but he went 5-4* up and on 10th game Novikov had a complete blackout, losing focus and first set. At the beginning of second set Novikov gave again troubles to Pavlasek with his good forehand but the Czech saved break point with the serve, a shot that helped him quite a lot today. Novikov hit a lot of dropshots and all them were bad dropshots: he has really to improve this shot or at least he should avoid dropshots when he realizes it’s not a good day to try them. Quite a close match (with similar style of play) in the end despite the score but Pavlasek’s serve was the key of the match.
Volandri def. Ward 60 62
Excellent performance by Filo in front of a big crowd, Ward really could do nothing
I watched also Donati training with Gombos, with Gombos very solid and Donati missing a lot. The Italian’s coach told him to stop because he was training since the morning and he looked very tired.
Training courts in Vicenza are 2 and some players complained because they could not train or warm-up: the bad weather on Saturday obliged the organizers to play official matches there.
Viola arrived to book 30 min training with his sparring Marfia but schedule was full and he could not train. He later complained with Supervisor because he was scheduled to play his first round on Tuesday. He looked motivated.
Other practice was Caruso-Gaio with Gaio playing very good tennis.
Rublev looked to be the main attraction of the tournament (he practiced with Khachanov): everyone (coachs included) had very good words for him.
The tennis club is in front of the local University so during the lunch break a lot of young people came to watch tennis.
The tournament is well organized to you better go there in the next days!
Dustov def. Hernych 76 75
I arrived at the venue for the tiebreak: during first set Hernych had better chances, wasting a 0-40 on Dustov’s serve. I consider Hernych a very smart player and I was surprised he played that bad the final part of the tiebreak.
Second set was dominated by serves, with both player holding easily and again an unexpected black-out from Hernych (broken to 0 on 5-5) gave Dustov the match.
In my opinion Dustov is not in his best form, I have seen him playing much better than this.
Marchenko def. Fucsovics 64 76
I expected a quite routine win for the Ukrainian here and despite not playing his best tennis he managed to go 64 53 up, with Fucsovics serving 15-40 (so 2 match points). Until there, match have been pretty close, apart from a couple of games on Fucsovics’ serve where the Hungarian played pretty bad. However, match looked ended but Fucsovics managed to hold (also with an ace on 30-40) and Marchenko choked: he started missing easy shots and the Hungarian played aggressive tennis. So in about 5 minutes we passed from 2 match points for Marchenko to 2 set points for Fucsovics. Serve helped Marchenko to hold and they went to a tiebreak where Marchenko played quite well and a frustratred Fucsovics destroyed his racquet.
Przysiezny/Hurkacz def. Huta Galung/Kravchuk 64 63
I was curious to see if Hurkacz would have kept serving big as yesterday and in fact he hit some serves above 210 kmh but generally he served as you should do in doubles (a 80-85% potential speed first serve) and results were anyway effective. Nothing much to say about this match, the polish players were much more interested in this match while the others, especially Huta Galung, played a sort of competitive training session.
Mertl def. Kapas 57 63 64
I arrived in the middle of first set with Mertl up a break and I was quite shocked watching him losing the set 5-7. I watched him last week vs Paire and he played very well so I could not believe him playing that bad. After the first set he took the toilet break and….it worked. A new player came out from the toilet: unreturnable on serve (32/35 on 1st serve in set 2&3, 40-8 points) and very solid on return and during rallies. Kapas did his best, also helped by the crowd but he could not do anything against a better player. Good tournament of the polish guy, that was very solid against Delic and also today gave everything on court.
Berankis def. Majchrzak 64 64
Already from the warm-up you could notice that Majchrzak is a solid baseliner, with way better shots than his 18 yo mate Hurkacz. However as I expected he gave to Berankis less troubles than “the new Karlovic” because he has a style of play very similar to Berankis but with lower consistency and power. Routine win for the seed #1 that played a very solid match.
Dancevic/Kapas def. Betov/Bury 36 62 11-9
Considering the last performances of Dancevic in singles I thought I was going to see a pretty easy match for Betov/Bury but I have to say that from the beginning Dancevic & Kapas looked motivated. They lost first set (wasted a 0-40 chance on return) so outcome of the match was still in doubt. Especially Betov played a bad second set, that ended with an amazing recovery from Dancevic. In the champions tiebreak Dancevic/Kapas played very relaxed while the Bielorussians were very nervous, especially Betov that looked not happy with Bury and he kept being very angry also on the bench after match.
Berrer def. Zopp 63 76
I missed the start of the match and the early break of Berrer that gave him the first set. Match was very close with both players showing good tennis (Berrer was surely better than vs Michon) and trying to attack the opponent. Zopp was pretty bad at the net, he could not believe how he missed basically every stop volley. Highlight of the match was during second set with Berrer serving 40-0 and Zopp missing a shot by maybe twenty centimeters: linesman called ball out but surprisingly the chair umpire overruled. Berrer could not believe this, and on his own knees was showing to the umpire his errors, he even asked the public about the ball and from the stands everyone replied ball clearly out so he got even more angry.
Zopp showed great fair play, telling Berrer “You can take the point if you want” but Berrer didn’t accept. Later Berrer conceded Zopp another first serve because a man on the stands was moving with Zopp ready to hit a second serve. Good sportsmanship in this match.
He won the game with a big serve on next point and after that he threw the ball up to the roof: umpire probably was feeling guilty and didn’t give him a warning.
Also the tiebreak was very close and was decided by a double fault by Zopp on 6-6
During the match Zopp complained (as other players did in these day) about the ball bounce: “It’s not normal!”.
Basic def. Huta Galung 75 76
Another morning match with low attendance. Huta Galung played quite well recently and took and early lead in the match but he gifted away the break to 0. The level was quite good and I am impressed every time by Basic because he has not special shots or special power but he can do everything on court (serve, attack, defense) and it’s really not easy to face him indoors. Huta was not consistent today and when I was expecting a tiebreak got broken twice and was on the verge of being 57 14* down. He managed to held on *1-3 and Basic, that was in full control, started choking. He had to save 2 break points on 75 *43 and got broken on 75 *54, suddenly hitting shots in the middle of the net. Luckily for him he regrouped and played a solid tiebreak.
During the match Huta Galung hit a nice tweener lob, Basic missed the not difficult smash because of people clapping for the tweener with ball still in the air.
Kravchuk def. Martin 64 64
There is not much to say about this match, you always had the impression that Kravchuk would have won, he is in form and he played a very solid match, with just a little black-out when set and break up. Nice shorts for Martin, he was ready for a swim.
Berankis def. Hurkacz 76 75
I had not great expectations about this match, despite the polish boy being a top 50 junior.
I arrived just in time for the first game. Hurkacz served 223 kmh. Wow, I said, guy at least can serve. Then he kept hitting huge first serves as you can see in the picture below, he even hit a long first serve 255 kmh that I could not record!
I have never seen such a serve performance by a 18 yo, even if it has to be said that second serve is not good as well, 160 kmh average.
Surely Berankis was not prepared for such tough work on return and he looked frustrated for the whole time. The polish boy is not so consistent from the baseline, especially on the backhand but surely can play and he is not just a serve bot. He is an aggressive baseliner, I think he went to the net just twice.
Highlight of the match was on 76 34* when the Hurkacz had to save a break point and this happened: winner dive volley (and then he was hit by Berankis that got a warning for this). Thanks to Chris De Waard for the gif.
Berankis managed to win in the end because as soon as the polish guy realized he was about to win a set his game became weaker and first serve much slower.
I was impressed also by Hurkacz’s sliding skills, I think only Monfils can slide like this indoor, was crazy stuff.
Darcis def. Arnaboldi 75 62
I could watch only a few games of this match, with both players holding easily so I will not add anything bu as I wrote yesterday the Belgian is very motivated here.
Not many players in the club to be honest, when I arrived there were just Martin and his doubles mate Peng watching Champions League match. They played darts later, smiling all the time.
After the football match, other players arrived (Petz, Puetz and Fischer). Puetz today withdrew but his injury at least allowed him to play pool and they a had a lot of fun. Petzschner and Puetz played a sort of mixed doubles match with two local girls (I can’t say who won). Then they started playing darts as well. No polish players at the party but maybe they arrived after I came back to the hotel.
Zopp def. Dancevic 64 63
You know my impression about Dancevic from last week. I was curious to see if that was just a case and after the first games I have to admit to I started thinking my impression was wrong. Both players held easily in the first games and Dancevic was even smiling. As soon as he started missing some first serves Frank looked again spent and in a while he was break and set down. Zopp is clearly in form and full of confidence, I think he made just a few unforced errors and he is too solid at the moment for this Dancevic. So my opinion about the canadian is sadly confirmed.
Dustov def. Petzschner 76 67 61
I expected here a quite easy match for Dustov but I have to say we had a match. In the beginning Dustov was clearly in trouble to manage the effective backhand slice of Petz (he had some support by his doubles mate, Puetz) and the Uzbek was missing a lot. Petz went a break up but then decided to fail six serves in a row and to gift the break back. Both players alternated good shots and bad unforced errors and in the tie break Dustov took an early lead and didn’t allow the german to recover. I had to go to the other venue at the end of first set: not impressed by the level of this match.
Fucsovics def. Marterer 36 76 76
I was very curious to watch for the first time (apart from streaming) Marterer, rising player that dominated ITF tour in January.
Fucsovics last week in Bergamo was really terrible and at the start of the match he played quite bad and could not handle at all the power of Marterer. The german looked in control also in second set but he missed some easy shots on key points so he was forced to a tiebreak. He was very nervous because he knew he had a great chance here and he knew he was better than his opponent. I think he has still a pretty weak backhand for this level and surely he has to improve in shots selection: he can’t go all the time with all the power. I have to give credit to the hungarian, he didn’t give up despite being outpowered and he understood that his opponent was nervous.
I recorded a few games during second set.
And the match point
The courts here looks very faster than in the main venue and the surface is not regular as you can see by this pics
Basic def. Djere 63 64
I could not watch this match, just a few rallies. Basic confirmed his good form and appeared too solid for Djere; the Serbian, when I was watching, showed a good forehand.
Koolhof/Middelkoop def. Motti/Desein 63 76
You have seen for the previous video that funniest thing happened on court was the service line that got broken during second set.
The dutch doubles played stunning tennis at the beginning of the match and you could easily noticed that they are a stable team with good chemistry while Motti/Desein are not. Koolhof/Middelkoop were in full control of the match, set and break up but quite suddenly the match changed and Motti/Desein had even a few chances to turn the situation around but were not so clutch in important rallies that could have given them a break point. Second set was decided by a tiebreak where the Dutch players regrouped and played better. Motti/Desein complained about a couple of line calls, pretty terrible: they were right but it’s not so easy to be a linesman on such a fast court. Good attitude for Koolhof/Middelkoop that were often smiling during the match and that at the end didn’t go immediately in the locker room but stayed on court talking about what went right and wrong in the match. I was even in the transportation with them and Desein later nd all of them looked very relaxed, especially Middelkoop looks a very funny guy.
I watched the match with Motti’s girlfriend, very nice and kind girl, we did our best to pump them up but wasn’t their day.
Motti told me that he has been impressed by Marterer already one year ago when he beated Basso in Rovereto ITF, he told Basso that he lost to a player with a good future and he was right. I even commented with him the amazing Vanni’s run in Sao Paolo, we were both disappointed about the end of the tournament but happy especially for the win over the brazialian crowd in semifinal.
Kravchuk def. Nielsen 67 62 63
I could watch just a couple of games and the first set tiebreak of this match so no much to say, during the tiebreak the russian was quite nervous but he looked overall the better player
Darcis def. Przsiezny 76 36 76
This has been by far the best match of the tournament so far. When I came back to the main venue I was surprised to see the parking completely full and a big crowd on the stands.
Both players played quite well, with ups and downs of course but the level was very high. I was told that there is a long tradition of polish players losing 6-7 third set so the outcome of the match wasn’t so unexpected. Darcis was very motivated, often fist pumping and shouting “Vamos” after every long rally won. He didn’t serve very well (especially in term of serve speed), I could notice he had strips on his abs, probably still not 100% after his recent injury. The crowd (and some wrong calls) helped a lot the polish player but I have to say Darcis played really good tennis and won the match with a great passing shot. He complained often about the ball bounce that several times didn’t look regular.
For a lover of one handed backhands and slices like me this match was really great.
Arnaboldi def. Kubot 46 63 76
So what about the 6-7 third set loss tradition? Organizers should be very unhappy about the outcome of last two matches.
Kubot played at a nice level in first set, taking an early lead and serving very well (19/20 with first serve during first set). He looked very motivated here but Arnaboldi after the bad start played a good first set showing that he didn’t want to be the sacrificial lamb: he complained a lot about “local” line calls but you have to expect it when you play abroad against the local player. Unfortunately I had to go after first set, I have to say that after that set I was thinking about Kubot as one of the favourites for the tournament but tradition is tradition so today Arnaboldi will face Darcis.
Matches today will end earlier than yesterday because of this (I will be there):
My trip to Wroclaw started with the flight from Bergamo: Nedovyesov, recent finalist at Bergamo Challenger was on the same flight. I had a quick chat with him but he didn’t look in the mood for an interview, just replying “Ok” so I let him alone after a couple of minutes together.
The Wroclaw main venue (Orbita) is big (spectators are pretty distant from the court) and the attendance was good, some hundreds people. Entrance is free.
I met as planned the best tennis storyteller you could ever meet, Nathii and watched with her a few matches.
Huta Galung def. Bachinger 61 67 63
I arrived at the venue just for the last couple of games, where Huta tried to choke several times but Bachinger was too erratic and very unhappy with his performance, throwing the racquet after almost every rally. I could notice quite a big difference between this surface speed and that in Bergamo. Here serve is not gifting so many easy points as in the last italian challenger so we will see a lot of rallies despite being indoors.
Berrer def. Michon 46 62 63
I watched Michon last week and he was solid from baseline so I expected him to give some trouble to the obvious favourite Berrer. In the first set Michon managed to play very deep and didn’t allow Berrer to attack him: he won the set thanks to a truly bad serve game by the german. Berrer showed that he isn’t here on holiday, he became more aggressive and could take the second set very easily. First two sets were very quick, with just a couple of games that went to deuce.
In the beginning of third set both players lost focus on serve and surprisingly there were 3 breaks in the first 3 games. Despite being a break down, Berrer was still fighting, fist pumping and complaining with the umpire especially for a couple of overrules. From the middle of the set you understood why Michon has the ranking that he has, he started playing very short and he hit some very slow second serves (as you can see in the video below).
Berrer was just waiting for his opponent to choke and took the match with a powerful smash.
Kapas def. Delic 64 62
Good chance for Delic in this match as in this tournament with high prize-money had to face a local wild card, ranked outside top 400. Kapas had the support of the public and of his strong serve throughout the match but he had not to do anything special to take the win. Delic started complaining about the court conditions after a few rallies and played the whole match with a bad attitude, he looked ready to tank already in the middle of first set. As soon as Kapas managed to break him, the match virtually ended: Delic kept hitting serial unforced errors and got broken twice in the second set (once to 0). I really don’t understand how players that have to fight at every round to economically survive at this level can play with such a terrible attitude and lack of fighting spirit. However I give merit to Kapas that played a solid match and didn’t let Delic come back in the match.
I was told that in the other venue of the tournament courts are quicker than here so today I will go to watch a couple of match there and let you know.
Today Michał Przysiężny turned 31 and polish journalists prepared for him a funny cake in the press room.
Today I could stay only for the first matches and you can imagine my disappointment for missing Paire-Bozoljac.
Dustov def. Authom 76 63
Both players held very easily during first set, with Dustov showing his very powerful forehand and Authom obtaining a lot of free points on serve. After 12 games with just 14 points won on return in the tiebreak Dustov became more aggressive and also thanks to three (!) netcords dominated it (7-0). As often happens, the tiebreak became a boost for the winner while the Belgian lost self-confidence and got broken early in the second set. Authom was about to give up but he saved break points on 6-7 *1-4 and somehow managed to hold until the final 6-7 3-6. Dustov played a solid match but Authom’s level dropped quite quickly after tiebreak.
Zopp def. Petzschner 63 62
I had quite big expectations from this match as I really admire attacking players like Petz. First four games were very promising because the german looked focused and in good form on serve, but as soon as he had to face the first difficulties he stopped fighting and just played the rest of match without focus and will to come back and win. Of course he hit a couple of very nice volleys but he was very inconsistent. It is difficult to judge Zopp because he did not have to do anything special.
Nedovyesov def. Dancevic 76 63
I watched Dancevic on stream vs Falgheri in the first round and I didn’t have a good impression, while from the stands Nedo in the match against Marcora looked highly motivated and in good form, so I expected the kazakh to have good chances to reach Quarterfinals.
After the first games Nedo was clearly the better player on court and managed to break Dancevic to 0 and to go 30-0 up in the following game. Match was in full control but Nedo choked from nowhere, missing some easy shots and a few break points in the following games. He was also broken once, so the first set went to the tie break. The kazakh played a good tiebreak and in a few minutes he was 7-6 3-0* up. Dancevic didn’t do anything to come back and despite Nedo tried again to choke when serving for match, he managed to serve it out to win 7-6 6-3. In my opinion he played better tennis against Marcora, today was still good but not so consistent.
I have to spend a few words about Petz and Frank: both have been legends of the game, both are now 30 and both have a best ranking more than 5 years old. They didn’t show any particular emotion on court, they gave up pretty early in their respective match and in my opinion is very difficult for them now to compete vs young and rising guys that fight for every single point because a single point means money to continue their career. Of course they are still able to win matches and to hit some incredible shots but I had the impression that we will not see them many more times on court as they don’t seem to enjoy the game anymore.
Unfortunately I left the venue after the third match but a friend of mine was so kind to send me some videos about Bozo vs Paire.
First time for me at Bergamo Challenger and I have to say that both venues (Bergamo and Alzano) are quite good: tournament has a lot of sponsors and the entrance is free.
The public is very educated, Bergamo has a quite long tradition (10 years) in organizing this tournament, so the umpires never need to ask the public to be quiet or not to use flash cameras.
Before coming here I read about courts being super fast: honestly the bounce is low but they didn’t look super fast as for example in Brescia a few months ago.
I have pics and videos but at the moment my connection is pretty bad and I can’t add, will do it this evening.
Paire def. Mertl 46 75 64
This match has been played on Monday but I add it since I managed to get there on time.
Paire is probably the biggest attraction in Bergamo and the public was looking forward to watch him.
After a few games Paire started complaining about court conditions (I think the complain was about the surface being not plane) and asked the supervisor to come and check, but of course he could not do anything.
Mertl kept serving above 200 kmh with peaks over 220 and Paire at the beginning could not handle these big serves. Then he started hitting chop returns and it worked. I have to say that he looked very prudent moving on court. He delighted the public with some sexy dropshots and stop volleys but from the baseline he could not outpower Mertl and had a lot of self-talk complaining about his own level.
Mertl had a very solid level for two sets and was very close to the win when on break point for 64 *54 Paire hit a shot pretty clearly out but chair umpire overruled the linesman call: Mertl went nuts and lost focus. Paire then just needed to be solid and wait for the chances that a very nervous czech conceded serving to stay in the match on *4-5 third set. Benoit capitalized and Jan destroyed his own racquet.
Surely not the best performance by Paire, but he didn’t give up and tried to stay focused until the end and he managed to stay calm even if an aged woman close to me shouted blatantly “Oh no!” and “Mon Dieu” after every shot missed by Benoit. I would have killed her.
Hernych def. Fucsovics 61 62
Not much to say about this much. The only game won by the hungarian in the first set was a game where he saved 0-40. Hernych has an amazing footwork indoor (huge difference for example compared to Paire) and played a very solid match showing that indoors, even without much power, you can use angles to outplay your opponent.
Fucsovics was truly bad throughout the match, clearly frustrated by Hernych´s level and he didn’t even show any particular emotion like he didn’t care a lot about the tournament.
Won’t be easy to beat Hernych here.
Daniell/Motti def. Skupski/Skupski 76 76
I went to the other venue of the tournament (Alzano) to cheer for one of the kindest guy on tour: Ale Motti.
Daniell was coming from the ATP title in Montpellier so you could even expect his to be a bit empty of mental energies but in fact Daniell/Motti looked the better team from the beginning.They were not able to capitalize good situations during rallies and on 5-5 with Motti on serve they went 15-40: this was the turning point of the match as Motti played 3 super clutch points and in a few minutes they were set and break up. When the match seemed over, Daniell had a little black-out on serve and the match went to another tiebreak which they won pretty easily. Good chemistry between Daniell and Motti that later translated the menu at lunch (with Flavio Cipolla) for his mate. Motti should play Wroclaw Challenger next week. Funny that during second set tiebreak Skupskis had to ask the umpire which of them had to serve because they forgot.
Basic def. Gaio 57 63 64
In the first set Gaio played a great attacking tennis for the joy of his coach Rianna on the stands, going to the net as soon as possible and being pretty solid on serve. There is a reason why Gaio has that ranking, he could not keep the level for the whole match. Basic started serving better and Gaio could not return anymore (won 9 points on return during last 2 sets). Basic had just to wait for Gaio to offer him a chance and he got one per set, that was enough. Gaio fought till the end but Basic didn’t offer any chance to break back.
Nedovyesov def. Marcora 64 64
I could watch only the first set and I think this was the best match of the day with both players showing attacking tennis and powerful shots. Nedovyesov played a great first set trying to take the initiative as soon as possible, Marcora was often the second best on rallies despite showing good attitude on court and good technique. Nedo looked very motivated here.
Puetz def. Fischer 63 64
I sincerely expected a better performance by the austrian, but Puetz despite framing some shots at the beginning of the match was dominating almost every rally. Both players were playing similar tennis but one of them was way more solid. Both players complained with umpire about line calls: I have to say this happened in every match. Petz and Andy Beck were attending the match.
Michon def. Teixeira 36 63 64
First set was one-way traffic with Teixeira serving very well (8 aces) and being more solid during the long rallies. It was however pretty clear that if Teixeira would have started missing some first serves, Michon could have bounced back into the match. This exactly happened a few games later: Teixeira had no more free points from serve and Michon started believing he could win and trying to be more aggressive. Both players complained about opponent´s serves being out (anche they were out!) but the umpire never overruled. I have to say that Teixeira never gave up and tried to fight until the end, but Michon didn’t allow him to come back especially hitting some nice lobs.
Teixeira had to correct the chair umpire twice: first time when he announced the winner of the coin toss, second time when he announced Michon 2-1 up in the third while in fact the score was Michon 3-2.
Pouille def. Martin 63 64
Pouille’s power was very impressive here, his forehand is really an huge weapon and Martin was not able to handle it. Pouille showed also good defensive skills hitting amazing passing shots when Martin tried to attack him. Martin went a break up in the second set but it was pretty clear that the set wasn’t in danger for the French.
In the end I think that Pouille and Nedovyesov have been the most impressive players today, with Henrych and Puetz slightly below them.
I will attend the tournament also today and then come back home, will be at Wroclaw Challenger from Monday to Friday next week.
My dear friend Nathii went to Zawada ITF last week, here below her impressions and pics: remember that I am looking for contributors for ITF/Challenger reports (we can discuss about the reward), if you are interested just write a comment and I will contact you.
It’s been 10 years since I first visited the ITF tournament in Zawada, Southern Poland. The first player I saw was teenage Angelique Kerber. First it was hard to have any feelings about an unknown German, but as soon as she started to curse in Polish, it became obvious she must have had local roots.
Zawada is literally in the middle of nowhere. Opole is not even close to being a major city in Poland, and the venue is in the village 6 km away. The owner of tennis hall built it for his daughter, thinking she’d be a professional player, but she gave up sport early. “All I have now is this tournament,” he says. Despite small money prize of 25,000$, the event always hosts promising players. Besides Kerber, also Agnieszka Radwanska, Simona Halep, Iveta Benesowa, Monica Niculescu, Kristina Mladenovic and Camila Giorgi made their first steps here. Katerina Siniakova was last year’s winner and Tereza Smitkova won doubles. Now they’re both in the middle of top 100.
I believe the same nice career awaits three of the tournament semifinalists: winner Oceane Dodin (France, 18 yo, 206 WTA), runner up Jelena Ostapenko (Latvia, 17 yo, 310 WTA) and Anhelina Kalinina (Ukraine, 17 yo, 281 WTA). It is quite possible none of these comes here next year again.
Dodin had the largest team with her. It consisted of her parents, Georges Govin (previous coach of Pierce and Cornet; now he is moving Dodin’s career to a new level) and her hitting partner. She is right handed, despite what ITF says. She’s a tall, skinny and very powerful player. Experts compare her to Sharapova, though while the similarities can be seen, she’s still Sharapova in a making. When she started the tournament, her technique was so bad that it reminded Giorgi on a bad day (either sparkling winner or ridiculous error that most juniors wouldn’t make). Maybe it was a problem for her in the unknown venue, maybe she didn’t feel well, maybe coming from bigger tournaments in Poitiers and Limoges she didn’t feel easy behind the window, having 2 other courts beside her and no vocal support of the team. There was no way she should lose 3 games to gutted Angelique Svinos, whose coach was counting shots she managed to make in a rally. The match against Olga Ianchuk was also quite of a mugfest and Ianchuk bossed Dodin in 2nd set tie-break. I think the Ukrainian, who passed the quallies, didn’t have more energy in her to continue this game in the 3rd set.
Things started going on the right track for Dodin in the quarterfinal against Ana Vrljic. Experienced, technical Croat came after she had won ITF 25K in Minsk. Oceane took the first set, Ana won the second and asked a physio to the court. She got many tapes on her back and stopped playing any semi decent tennis. On the other hand, Oceane got herself into the match and into the tournament.
Semifinal against Anhelina Kalinina was a demonstration of power. In no time she took the 4-0 lead. This match took place on the middle court, that became the centre court and had stands for about 100 people to watch. She was in constant touch with her team and exchanged positive energy with them. Confidence and positive attitude generally seem an important issue for the French players. No different here. Dodin finally showed she’s able to perform rhythm changes, different spins, she even played successful dropshots and went to the net. Kalinina did a tactically bad thing trying to outhit Dodin (haha good luck). In the few attempts of playing a low bouncing ball to the Frenchwoman’s feet Kalinina actually had a point. So, this seems to be the weakness of Oceane and it can stop her for a while, because top 100 players are very smart and they know how to use such weaknesses. On the other hand, Dodin has a very high peak potential, she has a flat finishing shot and she is in good coaching hands. So far she’s won two ITF 25K titles. Probably next season has more in the store for her. Her movement is good for her height (at least seems very solid on ITF level); maybe serve could be stronger for these height conditions. She has no diva attitude towards staff or fans and she is willing to work.
Ostapenko is a funny chick. She’s the current Wimbledon junior champion and she became one for a reason, but if she ever fails at tennis, she should try to pick up an umpire or lineswoman career. Seems like her hobby anyway. Jelena would question most of the calls and argue about footfaults. I think her problem is that she’s still living in the world of junior tennis, where several of her shots would be blistering winners, while here an opponent like Kostova sends a ball to the baseline with double power. Bencic showed similar type of attitude when she showed up, “why didn’t I win this ball? I should have!” But Jelena can regain focus even when down and step up to win a lost match as soon as the chance emerges. She hits hard, but she looks where she’s hitting. She has good down the line shots. Actually the only funny shot from her is a pushed double-handed volley. A bit ugly for a Wimbledon champion. Regardless, Ostapenko left a very positive impression. The final of this tournament is her biggest achievement up to date. Not sure if Jelena will be a media darling though. She gives more of an Azarenka vibe (including shriek when serving) and has a dad who reminds of Yuri Sharapov. I certainly like her (she’s not rude to ballkids or doesn’t play a big star at the time being), but public opinion can be sometimes unforgiving about such things.
Anhelina Kalinina is the US Open junior finalist. She has all shots, though she prefers hard hitting the most. It also seems doubles game is her forte. At times, her game is spectacular. Movement is also ok for this level. Though what she needs is some experience and a bit more of tactic, because a player like Magda Frech could dismantle Anhelina’s game, keep her off the baseline and play her spinned shots and Anhelina lost the lead and the set went on forever. It’s too early to really criticize her. She also left positive impression. I had good time watching her stuff.
Elitsa Kostova of Bulgaria was the remaining semifinalist. She’s already 24 and her ranking is below top 200. She’s never achieved anything significant in her career, which is quite strange, because she is capable of playing top 100 tennis (in terms of both strength and tactic) for a whole set. For example, she totally outplayed Ostapenko until 6-2 4-2. Then she started to double fault or send weak and ridiculously bad shots (a topspin that lands nearly at the back wall among others). It seems head is her problem.
Indy De Vroome is very much hit of miss. She plays Florida styled tennis, although she travels with the Dutch team. Good serve, good forehand, sometimes spectacular drive volleys. Double faults and ability to lose the grip are her weaknesses. When Indy is angry, be sure you don’t stand nearby as she’s able to smack balls left and right, without looking.
Other promising players are Tayisya Morderger of Germany – strong and imaginative, but sometimes her imagination is far ahead her abilities. She must stay focused and not try to risk in every shot. Karolina Muchova – that’s a big surprise, because she’s a bought WC. The Czech girl is 18 years old and ex pro Pavel Snobel (with short hair now) is her coach. Karolina is a technically capable player (for example, uses all sorts of backhand), good mover. She reached the quarterfinal in singles and final in doubles with 38 y.o. Gabriela Chmelinova (ex Navratilova; AO semifinalist from 2005). I also enjoyed the Ukrainians Olga Ianchuk, who is 19 yo and she’s moving her level from ITF 10K to 25K. Competent ITF 25K player in all departments, except sometimes gets angry and bashes without looking. Anna Shkudun is also 19 yo and she played way above her ranking which is beyond top 500. She played with sacrifice. Has strong shots and defense shouldn’t be her good side, but she played the heart out doing all the running. Anna passed the quallies, beat Cindy Burger and was outplaying Ana Vrljic for a set and a half until she ran out of energy. Also she won doubles with Kalinina. They showed up as a strong team.
I’m a little disappointed with Magda Frech, our Polish 16 yo player, who didn’t really move up from a level she had last year. She seemed to have bad physical preparation (doesn’t stand well for shots… I think if she improves this, her tennis would be waaay more effective). But she’s a big fighter and defended a 0-4 in the 3rd set against seeded Pemra Ozgen. Ozgen started hitting her head with a racquet, Youzhny style.
I don’t cross Magda out, I really hope someone helps her so she has her head clean and can focus on tennis and on getting better, because she doesn’t have a sponsor and even federation doesn’t help her. Yes, we talk about the only young WTA player in Poland capable of breaking into the top 100, who is not Piter/Linette/Kania (by the way, Kania got no help even when she was ranked in 170s… now she’s at least signed for a club and plays bigger tournaments… qualified for slams, for Stanford… But it’s absolutely ridiculous how people at the federation take money for nothing and hope for another Radwanska to show up with some grandfather’s money to pay ITF journeys. Another funny thing is that the boys, even the very bad and unpromising ones, actually receive some federation aid – as Frech says).
I’ll be keeping fingers crossed for my Zawada girls next season. Probably some of them will come for Katowice quallies so I can take note of their progress.
I arrived at the tournament venue just in time to follow the first match: yesterday I forgot to mention that I really liked the venue even if I have been only in the main one (doubles and quali have been played in another venue).
Marti def. Licciardi 75 76
Marti was not in his best shape and missed a lot during the whole match while Licciardi tried his best but he was clearly not at the same level of the swiss. Generally this kind of matches ends with a close first set won by the better player and a pretty easy second one: history was repeating until 75 53 then Marti had a terrible black-out and went 75 *56 0-30. A player with killer instinct would have put a lot of pressure on Marti but Licciardi didn’t, hitting some unforced errors and in the tiebreak Marti regrouped. Licciardi is currently coached by Renzo Furlan, former ATP top 20 and now working within Italian Tennis Federation, I appreciated his attitude on court and I know he is working hard to improve his ranking.
Krajicek def. Delic 76 76
My dark horse for the tournament showed again that he wants it, oh yes he really wants it.
Krajcek was really unreturnable as he lost just 9 points on serve, especially when serving from left Delic couldn’t do anything. I expected a worse performance from the croat but he played quite decently.
In the end this has been a sort of servefest (18 – 17 Aces) but Krajicek kept calm and positive while Delic got angry quite often especially for calls on Austin’s serves: I have to say that on a fast surface it is really not easy to be a line judge.
A 76 76 result could look like a sort of lottery but I was pretty sure Krajicek would have won both tiebreaks.
Dustov def. Kavcic 64 36 76
Kavcic had a quite terrible start (first official match after US Open 3rd round walkover) and Dustov took advantage outpowering the slovenian. First set was one way (Dustov could have broken at least one more time) but in the end of the set Kavcic became more solid. Dustov started the second set looking more and more tired (coming from a long week in Bratislava) and got broken for 64 13: after that break everything was pointing to a Kavcic’s win in 3 sets. I even thought that Dustov could have started tanking but in fact even if tired he hanged on his serve (3 aces Set 1 – 2 Aces set 2 – 10 Aces set 3) and he managed to win the tiebreak probably because more used than Kavcic playing big points recently.
Not a bad comeback on tour for the slovenian, he fought a lot but after 2 months of inactivity it is not easy to play a long and close match.
Dustov showed the most powerful baseline shots in these two days but I am not sure he can have a long run also here after Bratislava final.
Artunedo Martinavarr def. Travaglia 64 62
Both players have to be admired because they managed to come back on tour after terrible injuries (especially Stefano’s one). I was looking forward to watch Travaglia because he is at his best ranking and still quite young (22 yo) so I was excited to look his progresses.
The match started with Travaglia serving 0-40 and that was a clear sign about what was waiting for me. The support of the crowd was decent at the beginning but after a few games Steto started having a pretty bad attitude on court so in the end he didn’t deserve a big help.
There is not so much to say about the match because Artunedo was extremely solid while Travaglia was terrible: he got very angry for a bad call (ace Artunedo on *5-4 30-0 1st set) and shouted “It’s my fault, I should have not come here”. Well, this sentence represented exactly his feelings: he played like he didn’t want to be there.
I don’t know if this was just a bad day in the office for him but I was really disappointed by his performance: of course I am not a coach but in my opinion Travaglia has to work on attitude, shot selection, patience and backhand. It’s really a shame watching him in these conditions as he surely has a way better potential and I am sure that with the right help he can reach the top 100.
If you look at stats, Artunedo could seem a serve bot (27/28 1st serve & 9/12 2nd serve) but his serve is not so effective.
I have been really impressed by the spaniard defensive skills, he always obliged Travaglia to hit one more shot and Travaglia often missed it. I think that Dustov could outpower him tomorrow but in case the uzbek will not be 100% fit the spaniard could have his chances because he is really a big fighter.
I hope you enjoyed my reports and live tweeting, I am planning to attend more and more tournaments in the future.
Special thanks to Brescia Challenger organizers: it has been a pleasure for me to be there, I really hope to come back next year for the second edition of the tournament.
Last but not least the blog owner with Seppi, he could not play but was on the stands.
I am looking for contributors for ITF/Challenger reports (we can discuss about the reward), if you are interested just write a comment and I will contact you.
I should be able to offer some reports from the Zawada ITF starting this weekend, thanks in advance to my dear friend Nathii for the help.