Americans Falconi and Min Advance to Semifinals @USTAMacon50K

Americans Falconi and Min Advance to Semifinals @USTAMacon50K

Falconi (Photo: R. Limpert)

Falconi (Photo: R. Limpert)

MACON, Georgia, (October 24, 2014) Bright sun and big time tennis have been the theme to week in Macon for the 2014 Tennis Classic of Macon.

The first match on at the Jaime Kaplan Tennis Center at Stratford Academy was Thursday’s upset winner and wildcard entry, Ellie Halbauer against tour veteran Petra Martic of Croatia. Martic, a former world No. 42 from Split owns three career ITF titles and she’s looking for No. in Macon.

Martic, an aggressive baseliner gave the 17-year old from South Carolina a lesson as she handed Halbauer a 6-2 6-0, an hour long lesson.

In an intriguing match on Court 1, Kateryna Bondarenko continued her comeback to tennis after the birth of her daughter, Karin with a 6-2 6-0 victory over American, Julia Boserup.

Bondarenko, a qualifier here in Macon felt that playing the qualifying has helped her reach the semifinals.

“It helped me get used to the courts as I was in Mexico and the weather was completely different,” explained Bondarenko.

Bondarenko is working her way back up the rankings as she gave birth to her daughter about a year and a half ago.

“I’m traveling with my daughter and husband. It’s different, now it’s all about my daughter and all the time I have, I spend with her.”

As for the sights Bondarenko and her family have seen while in Macon, one place stood out as it does to most new mothers.

“We went shopping to… Target,” added Bondarenko.
The general consensus in Macon on Friday morning was that Madison Brengle was playing the best tennis of anyone in the event.

Irina Falconi disagreed.

Falconi then let her racquet do the talking as she took out the second seeded Brengle with a strong forehand and a well devised gameplan, 6-2 7-5.

Grace Min grew up about 90 minutes from Macon in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

Grace Min (Photo: R. Limpert)

Grace Min (Photo: R. Limpert)

She knows what’s it’s like to play tennis in Macon and she appears in great form as she defeated fellow American, Sanaz Marand 6-2 6-2.

“It’s rare that I get to play in Georgia,” said Min after her victory. It’s nice since I have a lot of friends who live here and I get to see a lot of familiar faces.”

All singles semifinals will be held on Saturday and on doubles semifinal that will begin at 10 am..

Friday’s Results:

Petra MARTIC (CRO) def Ellie HALBAUER (USA)WS 6-2 6-0
Irina FALCONI (USA)[8] def Madison BRENGLE (USA) [2]WS 6-2 7-5
Kateryna BONDARENKO (UKR) def Julia BOSERUP (USA)WS 6-2 6-0
Grace MIN (USA) [4] def Sanaz MARAND (USA)WS 6-2 6-2
Anna TATISHVILI (USA) / Ashley WEINHOLD (USA) Irina FALCONI (USA) [2] / Petra MARTIC 6-4 6-2

This is one of the three fall events where U.S. players can earn points for the USTA’s wildcard into the first major of 2015, the Australian Open.

You can see the qualifying draw here: http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/qualifying_draw382.PDF

See the singles main draw here:

http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/singles_draw384.PDF

Friday’s Tennis Classic of Macon Fast Facts:

- The 32-player singles main draw features players from at least 12 different countries
-Tournament Director Eric Hayes is the men’s and women’s tennis coach at Mercer University. He ran this event in Troy, AL before bringing it to Macon in 2013..
– The Falconi/Min singles semifinal features two players with ties to the state of Georgia (Falconi – GA Tech and Min from Lawrenceville, GA)

Live streaming of the USTA Pro Circuit can be viewed on the USTA Pro Circuit’s website at http://www.procircuit.usta.com.

—R. Limpert

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2014 Pune, Cordoba Challenger Previews & Picks

2014 Pune, Cordoba Challenger Previews & Picks
Chris De Waard, Tennis East Coast

ATP Challenger Tour Official Page

A repeat of last week’s schedule, with one hardcourt event in India and one on clay in Argentina.

KPIT MSTLA Challenger

ATP Challenger Tour
Pune, India
20-25 October
Prize Money: $50,000

Seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)

1: Aleksandr Nedovyesov (118)
2: Alexander Kudryavtsev (125)
3: Somdev Devvarman (143)
4: Yuichi Sugita (146)
5: Hiroki Moriya (154)
6: Adrian Menendez-Maceiras (162)
7: Yuki Bhambri (183)
8: Kimmer Coppejans (202)

The last direct acceptance is Toshihide Matsui, ranked 419th.

First round match-ups to watch

Sanam Singh – Stefano Travaglia

Singh took out #2 seed Alexander Kudryavtsev last week on his way to the quarterfinal, while Travaglia had a good week as well, reaching the semi-final. Travaglia should be the favorite, but the Indians have shown themselves to play better than their rankings in their home country.

(4) Yuichi Sugita – Ramkumar Ramanathan

The same thing applies here: Ramanathan is a promising 19 year old who reached the semi-final last week and could well repeat that great result by upsetting the #4 seed in the first round.

Top Half

After he made the final last week, top seed Nedovyesov has a tricky draw. He is lined up to face the man against whom he lost last week in the final, Saketh Myneni, but this time even sooner, in the quarterfinal. Given their respective forms, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the winner of this encounter taking a decisive spot in the final.

Bottom Half

Despite his early loss last week, second seed Alexander Kudryavtsev should be a favorite in this half, especially given his easy draw to the quarterfinal with a wild card and two qualifers being placed in his section. In the top half, Kimmer Coppejans and Somdev Devvarman are scheduled to battle it out for a semi-final spot, which is a difficult match-up to predict.

Predictions

Semis:

Nedovyesov > Bhambri
Devvarman > Kudryavtsev

Final:

Devvarman > Nedovyesov

This is all very hypothetical given Devvarman’s form, but he has played Kudryavtsev and Nedovyesov on hardcourt earlier this year and those matches ended in respectively 6-3 6-3 and 6-3 6-1, so that speaks greatly in his favor.

Copa Gobierno de Cordoba

ATP Challenger Tour
Cordoba, Argentina
20-26 October
Prize Money: $40,000

Seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)

1: Diego Schwartzman (89)
2: Alejandro Gonzalez (97)
3: Horacio Zeballos (99)
4: Joao Souza (104)
5: Maximo Gonzalez (113)
6: Facundo Bagnis (119)
7: Facundo Arguello (140)
8: Jason Kubler (152)

The last direct acceptance is Andrea Collarini, ranked 260th. Two brothers of well known players are in as well, Federico Coria on a wild card and Martin Cuevas through qualifying.

First round match-ups to watch

(1) Diego Schwartzman – Guido Andreozzi

It’s safe to say that Andreozzi would be ranked a lot higher without Schwartzman. This is the fifth time they face off this year, with Schwartzman winning all prior meetings. Three of them ended in a third set, of which two in a third set tiebreak, including their quarterfinal match last week.

(5) Maximo Gonzalez – Gianni Mina

It has been a while since Gonzalez has played on clay, playing on hardcourt since his first round loss at the San Marino Challenger in the first week of August. He hasn’t had much success, seeing his ranking drop from #83 to his current ranking of #114. Mina has had good results in the past weeks with two semi-finals, so he might be able to surprise a rusty Gonzalez here.

Top Half

Top seed Schwartzman should be a clear favorite once again, especially since he had a first round loss in between his three finals, so fatigue shouldn’t be kicking in yet. However, he has a tough draw with Andreozzi, Nicolas Jarry and Maximo Gonzalez on his road to the semi-final. His semi-final might even be less challenging, since he is likely to face Horacio Zeballos or Facundo Arguello, who are both in dodgy form.

Bottom Half

#4 seed Joao Souza can be marked the favorite here, especially after he reached the final last week, absolutely trashing the current #2 seed Alejandro Gonzalez 6-1 6-1 on his way. Perhaps #8 seed Jason Kubler can cause a surprise by taking out Gonzalez himself in the quarterfinal, although he has a tough opener against the veteran in his second life, Andre Ghem.

Predictions

Semis:

Schwartzman > Zeballos
Souza > Kubler

Final:

Schwartzman > Souza

This repeat of last week’s San Juan final would mean Schwartzman’s fifth Challenger title of the year, tying Gilles Muller.

2014 Indore, San Juan ATP Challenger Recaps

2014 Indore, San Juan ATP Challenger Recaps
Chris De Waard, Tennis East Coast

ATP Challenger Tour Official Page

Indore

There was a big difference between the seeds in the top and bottom half, as they held up in the former and fell like flies in the latter. I predicted #6 seed Yuki Bhambri to go all the way, but he lost in the second round to Ramkumar Ramanathan. The same happened to #7 seed Kimmer Coppejans, while the #2 and #4 seeds Alexander Kudryavtsev and Hiroki Moriya lost even sooner, both in straight sets. The way things unfolded resulted in a surprising semi-final between the home country players Ramanathan and Saketh Myneni, ending in an easy victory for Myneni: 6-2 6-1. Myneni won a gold medal at the Asian Games in mixed doubles two weeks ago, partnering with Sania Mirza.

In the top half, only #3 seed Somdev Devvarman failed to live up to his seeding, as he lost 6-7(4) 6-4 6-4 to Liang-Chi Huang in the second round. Huang fell to #8 seed Stefano Travaglia in the quarterfinal, who in turn lost to top seed Aleksandr Nedovyesov in the semi-final. The final saw another big surprise, as Myneni beat Nedovyesov 6-3 6-7(4) 6-3 to claim his first ever Challenger title. A huge jump in the rankings followed, rising 168 spots to #283. Nedovyesov climbed a modest five spots to #113.

San Juan

In San Juan, there was no such thing as seeds getting upset, as the only two who didn’t live up to their seeding (Zeballos and De Bakker) weren’t expected to make that big of a dent anyway.

Top seed Diego Schwartzman needed to overcome a thriller in the quarterfinal against #8 seed Guido Andreozzi to make it through: 2-6 7-6(4) 7-6(5). The same thing went for #3 seed Alejandro Gonzalez against Facundo Bagnis: 7-5 4-6 6-3. However, Gonzalez got absolutely hammered by #2 seed Joao Souza in the semi-final, receiving a double breadstick. Schwartzman came through as well for his sixth Challenger final of the year, while Souza went up for his fourth. The match ended with the exact score their previous match two years ago ended, a 7-6 6-3 win for Schwartzman, who took home his fourth Challenger title of the year and a new career high ranking of #77, rising twelve spots. Souza entered the top 100 at #97, jumping seven spots.

The Return of Nicole Vaidisova; Qualifying Continues @USTAMacon50K

The Return of Nicole Vaidisova; Qualifying Continues @USTAMacon50K

Vaidisova (Photo: R. Limpert)

Vaidisova (Photo: R. Limpert)

MACON, Georgia, (October 19, 2014) Singles qualifying began on Sunday at Stratford Academy for the 2014 Tennis Classic of Macon. Tennis fans were greeted with beautiful fall weather, with temperatures in the 70s.

Former world No. 7 Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic drew most of the onlookers as she took on a top junior player from Macon in Ariadna Riley.

Vaidisova powered her way to 6-1, 6-1 victory in front of about 200 spectators which is almost unheard for a first round qualifying match at a USTA Pro Circuit event.

Vaidisova’s serve and forehand made the difference as she fired two aces and a dozen or so forehand winners in keeping Riley off balance.

Riley actually broke to start the second set, but Vaidisova upped her game and she stayed aggressive throughout the second set to close out the top ranked junior.

Ariadna Riley (Photo: R. Limpert)

Ariadna Riley (Photo: R. Limpert)


“It was fun and great seeing how she hits the ball,” admitted Riley after the match. She hit a really big ball and it took some getting used to; her serve was really big too.”

Riley said she tried to grind with her and just get into the points, but then Vaidisova was able to overpower her.

Other winners on Sunday included Americans, Rianna Valdes, Ashley Weinhold, Jacqueline Cako, Andie K. Daniell and Jan Abaza.

Featured matches on Monday include:

Valdes taking top top seed in qualifying Kateryna Bondarenko and Vaidisova back on the court to face qualifying No. 2 seed, Danielle Lao.

Two courts will feature qualifying action on Monday.

“It was some great tennis,” says Mercer Head Men’s and Women’s Tennis Coach, Eric Hayes. “There are going to be some great matches and this sets us up for the rest of the week. The weather is going to be perfect and this is what we work all year for.”

This is one of the three fall events where U.S. players can earn points for the USTA’s wildcard into the first major of 2015.

You can see the qualifying draw here: http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/qualifying_draw382.PDF

Tennis Classic of Macon Fast Facts:

- There are 11 different countries represented in the qualifying draw.
– Andie K. Daniell, a junior player from Douglasville, GA won her match on Sunday. Daniell will be playing her college tennis next year at the University of Alabama.
– Danielle Lao, who will play Vaidisova on Monday, just finished playing in the doubles final at the USTA Pro Circuit event in Florence.

Additional 2014 Tennis Classic of Macon facts:

Headlining this year’s Macon 50K field is veteran Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who defeated Venus Williams to win the WTA event in Quebec City, last month. Americans Madison Brengle and defending champ Anna Tatishvilli are also scheduled to return to Middle Georgia. Also in the field are three players with Georgia connections in Melanie Oudin, Irina Falconi and Grace Min.

Hayes says once again the tournament will host a pro-am where local tennis players can play against the pros. A “players party” will also be held this year at Twangs, a local restaurant.

Live streaming of the USTA Pro Circuit can be viewed on the USTA Pro Circuit’s website at http://www.procircuit.usta.com.

—Rick Limpert

Top Ten Players Murray, Berdych and Cilic Claim ATP Titles

Top Ten Players Murray, Berdych and Cilic Claim ATP Titles

Andy Murray, 2012 ATP Cincinnati, Courtesy Courtney Massey
ATP Vienna
Andy Murray continued his strong run of play to finish out the 2014 season, as the Scotsman toppled fellow top 10 player David Ferrer 5-7 6-2 7-5 in a Murray-coaster final in the Austrian capital. The title is the second for Murray this season, and both of his ATP titles this year have come at the 250 level after the US Open, the other of course in Shenzen last month.

Ferrer served for the match in the third set, but could not finish the job, and Murray had a late push to win.
Murray bolstered his claim to one of the 8 World Tour Final spots with wins over Vasek Pospisil, JL Struff and Viktor Troicki to reach the final this week. He appeared comfortable throughout as he didn’t drop a set before the final.

Ferrer continues to befuddle fans and pundits alike with his topsy-turvy form. He actually played quite well this week, scoring wins over Tobias Kamke and Ivo Karlovic without dropping a set, and then winning a third set tiebreak against Philipp Kohlschreiber to reach the final.

The Austrian fans were able to celebrate one of their own lifting a trophy this week, as Jurgen Melzer, and his veteran pal Philipp Petzschner defeated Andre Begemann and Julian Knowles in the doubles final. Both pairings were made up of an Austrian and a German.

ATP Stockholm
Tomas Berdych also claimed a 250 title as expected this week. The in-form Czech won a hard fought match with Grigor Dimitrov, prevailing 5-7 6-4 6-4, and in the process preventing Dimitrov from repeating as the Stockholm champion. The match could have perhaps ended in two sets, but Berdych couldn’t finish off the first set and Dimitrov had a late charge to take it. Berdy was much better late in the second and third sets and that was enough to get him through.

The path to a second career Stockholm title for Berdych ran through Dustin Brown, Marius Copil and Matthias Bachinger this week, all without dropping a set as the Czech number one is serving lights out at the moment.

Dimitrov beat Teymuraz Gabashvili, Jack Sock in a 3 set comeback, and Bernard Tomic to reach the final this week.

Eric Butorac and Raven Klaasen defeated Treat Huey and Jack Sock in the doubles final.

ATP Moscow
Marin Cilic laid claim to his twelfth career ATP 250 level title in Moscow, and he completed the trio of top 10 winners on the ATP tour this week. The Croat #1 defeated Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4 6-4 in the final and in the process qualified for the World Tour Finals.

Cilic did not have smooth sailing to the final, as he needed 3 sets against Evgeny Donskoy in his first match, and against an in form Mikhail Kukushkin in the semifinals, but along with dispatching Tommy Robredo in the quarters, he did reach the final and gave RBA few opportunities to win the match.

Bautista Agut, who has had a tremendous season in his own right, was a well-deserved finalist, and this year he has cemented himself as one of the top 5 Spanish players on tour. The Spaniard with the powerful forehand defeated Andrey Kuznetsov, Sam Groth, Ricardas Berankis and his bad blood rival Ernests Gulbis without dropping a set to reach the final.

Frantisek Cermak and Jiri Vesely combined to win the doubles title over the Aussies Sam Groth and Chris Guccione.

—Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast

2014 ATP Basel, Valencia Previews & Picks

2014 ATP Basel, Valencia Previews & Picks
By Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast

Basel Final
The ATP 500 series of tournaments will conclude for the year with a pair of indoor hard court tournaments in Switzerland and Spain as the fight for ranking points, prize money and the final two World Tour Final Spots continues. Both tournaments offer very enticing entry lists and possible matchups.

ATP Basel
Swiss Indoors Basel
ATP World Tour 500
Basel, Switzerland
October 20-October 26, 2014
Prize Money: € 1,458,610

Top 8 seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Roger Federer (2)
2: Rafael Nadal (3)
3: Stan Wawrinka (4)
4: Milos Raonic (9)
5: Grigor Dimitrov (11)
6: Ernests Gulbis (13)
7: David Goffin (28)
8: Ivo Karlovic (30)

Basel boasts 3 of the top 5, 4 of the top 10, and 6 of the top 20 ATP players in the field this week, it’s a stellar field for a 500 level event.

First Round matchups to watch:

Jarkko Nieminen vs. Vasek Pospisil
A former finalist in Basel, Nieminen is likely to have trouble getting out of the first round this year because his opponent is the in-form Vasek Pospisil. It’s a battle between a young power baseliner and a speedy, defensively adept, veteran shotmaker. Nemo and Vashy have never met before and neither are playing poorly at the moment. In an unseeded contest that I see going to 3 sets, Pospisil should survive.

(3)Stan Wawrinka vs. Mikhail Kukushkin
Stan the Man is a home favorite and one of the stars headlining Basel, but he will need to be on upset alert against the in-form Kukushkin. Kuku reached the semifinals in Moscow and pushed top 10 player Marin Cilic to 3 sets. He also has wins over solid ATP competitors Tommy Robredo, Kevin Anderson, Fabio Fognini and Mikhail Youzhny in recent weeks, and he pushed Novak Djokovic to 3 sets in Shanghai. He may be a bit fatigued, but Wawrinka is entering Basel on a 3 match losing streak. I doubt motivation will be an issue for him as a home player, but if Kuku can provide some pressure against Stan here, he may well fold up shop early.

(7)David Goffin vs. Dominic Thiem
Goffin has already beaten Thiem three times this season on three different surfaces, and he is currently on a 10 match winning streak. Thiem, by contrast, has lost 4 of his last 5 matches, including most recently in the first round of Vienna. That said, Thiem is still a rising young gun with a lot of talent and two of the three previous head-to-head meetings went to a decisive third set. Goffin is a player on a tear right now, and should win this contest against a competitive opponent.

(6)Ernests Gulbis vs. Borna Coric
Another seed who should be on upset alert: Gulbis made the semis in Moscow, but his shoulder injury continues to be suspect, and it will be a quick turnaround physically for him in Basel. Coric is a driven, hungry, young player who is looking for marquee wins to make a name for himself, and taking out a top player like Gulbis would be huge for his confidence. The teenager is on a two match losing streak and he hasn’t exactly been winning a lot of matches against top competition, but with Gulbis being in suspect physical condition, anything is possible.

(2)Rafael Nadal vs. (Q)Simone Bolelli
It befuddles me why Rafa is still playing right now. He needs appendix surgery and has opted to put it off until the end of the year. Perhaps he really wants the appearance fee he will make for playing Basel. All that said, he is clearly in precarious physical condition, and he lost to Feliciano Lopez in Shanghai, his last match. Feli is an opponent he has dominated before, and I believe if Bolelli can put up any sort of competitive resistance, Nadal may be weakened enough for him to win this. Nadal has a 3-0 lead in the h2h, but Bolelli did grab a set off the Spaniard indoors in Rotterdam, and though it’s an iffy pick I have Bolelli winning this one, having come through the qualifying rounds with a pair of wins. Bolelli is a feisty enough player to not be intimidated by Nadal, and he has talent, so it seems like a reasonable pick.

Top Half:

Roger Federer begins his quest for a sixth title in Basel against Gilles Muller, who will likely give him a test but I do not see much upset potential there given how well Federer played in Shanghai, and the fact he leads the h2h 4-0. Denis Istomin or Jerzy Janowicz awaits the world number 2 in the second round. Both can be dangerous at times, but Fed is 5-0 against Istomin and has a h2h win over Janowicz on clay, so again he should advance into the quarterfinals.

Look for another Federer vs. Grigor Dimitrov match in Basel, this time in the quarterfinals. The Stockholm finalist opens with the young gun Alex Zverev, who is not as skilled indoors as he is on clay, and then will get the Pospisil/Nieminen winner. Vashy or Nemo could test a possibly fatigued Dimitrov, but I’m going to stick with the favorite through to the quarters. After that, it’s Federer over Baby Fed given it’s Basel, and Dimitrov would have put in a lot of matches in consecutive weeks by that point.

The Wawrinka/Kukushkin winner is likely to face Benjamin Becker in round 2, assuming the veteran German defeats qualifier Gastao Elias. Becker comes off quarters in Vienna and like Kukushkin, he is playing well. I see Becker beating Wawrinka if he emerges from that round 1 match with Kukushkin, and a Becker-Kuku match is a toss-up for me, giving a very slight edge to Becker, who I have making another quarterfinal this week. He made the quarters in Kuala Lumpur and the semis in Tokyo this Fall as well.

A weak quarter of the draw exists below the Wawrinka section, headlined by 8 seed Ivo Karlovic, who opens with a struggling Lukas Rosol. Karlovic comes off quarters in Vienna, while Rosol has lost four of his last five matches. Karlovic should be favored to reach the quarters, because his round 2 opponent will be either Federico Delbonis or Kenny De Schepper, a qualifier. De Schepper is in many ways a poor man’s Karlovic, relying almost exclusively on his powerful serve, but less effectively, and Delbonis was just defeated by Karlovic in Vienna. The Argentine clay courter has not proven himself to be a viable competitor indoors. Becker/Kukushkin should topple Karlovic to reach the semifinals, though Ivo has a 6-1 h2h edge over Becker. Becker beat him this year in Cincy, and I feel form favors him to advance.

Bottom Half:

The Nadal/Bolelli winner will face qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert or Edouard Roger-Vasselin. ERV is saddled with a five match losing streak at the moment and he’s been poorly for a while. Herbert, on the other hand, has done very well in the fall indoor events in Europe even while having to play the qualifying rounds. He qualified here in Basel and in Stockholm, where he won a match. If Bolelli gets through, I’d put Herbert into the quarterfinals by virtue of the fact he’s at his best indoors and mainly has struggled to live up to his potential throughout his career thus far.

If Nadal is notably weakened and loses early, this section will open up for the Coric/Gulbis winner, given Teymuraz Gabashvili, and Andrey Golubev, their possible round 2 opponents, are far from imposing. I have Gulbis into the quarterfinals, and then defeating Herbert just given the ranking discrepancy, but this is an incredibly hard section to predict and I could see it breaking a multitude of ways. Coric, Bolelli and of course Nadal could all make cases for why they should be the semifinalist in this section of the draw. It’s a shaky toss-up section and quarter based upon the health of Gulbis and Nadal, and the form of Herbert, Coric and Bolelli.

Goffin/Thiem will be in the drivers seat in the section above Gulbis. The winner of that match is likely to face Ivan Dodig, assuming he dispatches Marco Chiudinelli, and either Goffin or Thiem should be favored to reach the quarterfinals over the inconsistent Dodig, who can play really well at times, but then quite poorly in his next match. Look for Goffin to reach the quarterfinals here and continue his winning streak.

Milos Raonic lost his first match in Moscow, but he was likely still recovering from being ill, and he ought to be in good enough condition to beat Steve Johnson and Carlos Berlocq/Donald Young to reach the quarters. Johnson has a dark horse chance at being a quarterfinalist if Raonic is not up to par, but Raonic has a h2h edge. Given how well Goffin has played since Wimbledon, I have him in the semis over Raonic. Raonic is one of the four players left competing for the final two World Tour Final Spots. He’s on the outside looking in, though and he is the only one of the four (Berdych, Murray, and Ferrer) who is playing Basel this week, losing early in Moscow while Murray, Berdych and Ferrer all gained ground with a pair of titles and a final respectively, really hurting the Canadian’s chances.

Dark Horse: Benjamin Becker
It is quite possible that two non-seeds will reach the semifinals, and Becker is my pick to be one of them. The German has been consistent this fall and he plays well indoors on quicker surfaces. His late career resurgence should set him on a path to the semifinals to face Federer, who he is very unlikely to defeat.

Predictions

Semis:
Federer d. Becker
Goffin d. Gulbis

Fed and Goffin have to be favorites this week, unless Nadal, Dimitrov, Raonic or others like Becker, Pospisil or Kukushkin can exceed expectations and rise to the occasion. Both have been two of the most consistent performers this fall and they would be well-deserved to make the final.

Final:
Federer d. Goffin

It’s hard to pick against Federer in Basel. Goffin might be playing out his socks right now but Fed is a whole different level and he is also playing well right now.

Chris De Waard’s picks

Semis:
Federer d. Kukushkin
Nadal d. Goffin

Final:
Nadal d. Federer

valencia2014
ATP Valencia
Valencia Open 500
ATP World Tour 500
Valencia, Spain
October 20-October 26, 2014
Prize Money: € 1,496,095

Top 8 seeds (ATP Ranking in parentheses)
1: David Ferrer (5)
2: Tomas Berdych (7)
3: Andy Murray (10)
4: Feliciano Lopez (14)
5: John Isner (15)
6: Roberto Bautista Agut (16)
7: Kevin Anderson (17)
8: Gilles Simon (18)

Valencia has three of the current top 10, and all of the tournament seeds are top 20 players. This tournament is not as star-studded as Basel, but it is more balanced and competitive.

First Round matchups to watch:

Mikhail Youzhny vs. (Q)Thomas Bellucci
The defending champion, who also has another final in Valencia on his resume, is in danger of failing to advance out of the first round against an in-form Bellucci. Normally known for his prowess on clay, the veteran Brazilian has surprisingly found some late season form indoors and he has now won four of his last five matches, including a quality three set win over Feliciano Lopez in Vienna, where he made the quarterfinals. Youzhny was likewise a quarterfinalist in Moscow but he has had few impressive wins this season and didn’t have a difficult path to the quarters. Youzhny is 2-0 against Bellucci on hard courts in his career, but I’m going to go out on a limb and pick Bellucci to get an upset win over the seemingly fading Russian in a battle of the veterans.

(6)Roberto Bautista Agut vs. Santiago Giraldo
RBA, a finalist in Moscow, should be a heavy favorite over Giraldo, who has lost three straight matches. That said, both players are gifted shotmakers with strong forehands, and they tend to play well in a streaky manner. Both have had career years in many respects and I expect this to be an entertaining and underrated encounter, even if RBA gets through comfortably.

(8)Gilles Simon vs. Alex Dolgopolov
Simon is 8-3 since the US Open, and he of course made the Masters final in Shanghai, where he lost to Federer in a pair of tiebreaks. After struggling all season, the Frenchman has suddenly found a run of excellent play. Dolgo, by contrast, had a hot start to his season but since injuring his knee he has lost 3 straight matches to equal or inferior opponents in terms of talent and ranking, most recently to Adrian Mannarino in Stockholm. This has the potential to be a fantastic match because both guys bring a lot to the table, and the defensive grinding of Simon contrasts with the quick aggressive play of Dolgopolov. Dolgo leads the h2h, all on hard courts, 2-1, but Simon is playing much better right now and should advance, evening up the h2h in the process.

Top Half:

Hometown hero David Ferrer, who has won his local ATP tournament 3 times previously, opens with the veteran Italian Andreas Seppi in round 1. Ferrer played well and reached the final in Vienna last week, keeping up with his fellow competitors for one of the final two World Tour Finals spots. Assuming Ferrer doesn’t suffer another shockingly underwhelming result, he should get into round 2 to face his countryman Fernando Verdasco, who will take on Leo Mayer in round 1. Verdasco made the quarters in Stockholm and the two Spaniards have had contrasting careers of over and underachievement in many respects. Ferrer is 4-1 on hard court in his career against Verdasco and with the World Tour Finals and hometown pride at stake, he should reach the quarterfinals with RBA/Giraldo or Youzhny/Bellucci awaiting him. Assuming RBA is not overly fatigued, he is most likely to reach the quarters. Ferrer is 2-0 career against RBA, and I’d give him a very slight edge to reach the semis, though RBA has a case as well and it’s not cut and dried.

Shenzen and Vienna champ Andy Murray will open with a slumping Jurgen Melzer. Melzer is still capable of good tennis, but I don’t see him troubling Murray currently, given how well the Scot is playing this fall. Murray should also crush Albert Ramos or a tanking Fabio Fognini without any trouble as he pursues one of the final two World Tour Final spots available. The former Valencia champ could find himself in the quarters against Philipp Kohlschreiber, a semifinalist in Vienna. Kohli opens with a struggling Kevin Anderson, who appears ready for the season to be over, and then should face Martin Klizan in round 2, assuming Klizan defeats young American wild card Stefan Kozlov. Klizan pulled out of Vienna, but he was, of course, a semifinalist In Beijing, where he beat Nadal and Gulbis, and he could make a streaky run in Valencia as well. I’ll go out on a limb with my own bracket and put Klizan into the quarters over Kohlschreiber, but falling to Murray at that stage.

Bottom Half:

Stockholm champ Tomas Berdych, who has been playing very well this fall, should roll past Pablo Andujar and Joao Sousa/Dusan Lajovic before colliding with John Isner/Tommy Robredo in the quarters. Robredo made the quarters in Moscow, but Isner is 3-0 career against him, including 2-0 on hard courts, so he should be favored to win that round 1 battle. Isner/Robredo will face Guillermo Garcia-Lopez or Rendy Lu in round 2, both streaky players who are unlikely to put up much resistance. Berdych has won his last four meetings against Isner, including most recently in the Beijing quarterfinals. The Czech tends to do everything the American does as a strength, only better, and with more variety to his game. Look for Berdych to make another semifinal or better this week.

Feliciano Lopez was upset in Vienna, but he should get past round 1 on home soil against qualifier Norbert Gombos, and I’d also favor him over one of his countryman in round 2. Pablo Carreno Busta or Marcel Granollers. That said, Gilles Simon should be able to roll to the semifinals if he can defeat Dolgopolov, Jeremy Chardy or qualifier Malek Jaziri, who might put up some resistance, but Simon should be in the right form right now to get himself to the semis.

Dark Horse: Martin Klizan
Klizan seems to the non-seeded player who is in the right kind of form to make noise while having a good spot in the draw. If the Slovak can get past Kohli/Anderson in round 2, he would almost assuredly face Murray, who appears to be a very tough out right now, but he’s still more beatable than he’s been on previous occasions. I don’t see Klizan getting past the quarters, but the possibly is there if something goes wrong with Murray.

Predictions

Semis:
Murray d. Ferrer
Simon d. Berdych

Murray just beat Ferrer in Vienna. It was a close match, but still the result is likely to be the same a week later. Simon likewise just defeated Berdych recently in Shanghai and he’s 2-1 on indoor hard against the Czech in what has been a pretty even h2h history. Simon should be fresher than Berdych and that is why I give him the edge.

Final:
Murray d. Simon

Murray won a great 3 setter with Simon in Acapulco this year when both players were struggling to find their form. He’s totally dominated the h2h with the Frenchman, including a 7-0 record on hard courts because he’s a superior counterpuncher and returner compared to Simon, and has more weapons than the Frenchman when it gets down to it. Murray wants to play in front of the home crowd in London at the World Tour Finals and a title in Valencia would go a long way towards clinching him a spot.

Chris De Waard’s picks

Semis:
Murray d. Ferrer
Simon d. Berdych

Final:
Murray d. Simon

2 @USTASOUTHERN SECTION TEAMS TO PLAY FOR @USTA JUNIOR TEAM TENNIS 14U NATIONAL TITLES SUNDAY

2 @USTASOUTHERN SECTION TEAMS TO PLAY FOR @USTA JUNIOR TEAM TENNIS 14U NATIONAL TITLES SUNDAY
Finals set for 14U Advanced and Intermediate Divisions in Cayce, S.C.

USTA Texas (Austin) Advances to JTT Advanced Championship Match on Sunday

USTA Texas (Austin) Advances to JTT Advanced Championship Match on Sunday

CAYCE, S.C. (Oct. 18, 2014) — The USTA Southern Section Advanced team from Madison, Miss., will take on USTA Texas from Austin in the final of the Junior Team Tennis 14U Advanced National Championships on Sunday morning at 9 a.m. at the Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center.

Madison defeated the USTA Eastern Section NJTL team from Queens, N.Y., 54-30, to advance to the final. Austin downed Flight 4 winner Midwest from Columbus, Ohio, in the other semifinal matchup of Flight winners on Saturday, 55-27.

The Intermediate 14U National Championship will be contested at 9 a.m., also at the Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center.

The Southern team from Woodstock, Ga., downed Caribbean of San Juan, Puerto Rico, 52-28, and will face the Midwest winner from Ann Arbor, Mich., which just barely got past Flight 3 winner Eastern from Maywood, N.J., 49-44.

Every team will play on Championship Sunday, determining National rank for all participants.

All the 1st-8th place matches for both Advanced and Intermediate will take place at the Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center on Sunday. All 9th-16th matches for Advanced and Intermediate will take place at the Lexington County Tennis Complex and will be played at 9 a.m.

Sunday’s Championships Schedule

Starting at 9 a.m.

NOTE: 1st-8th place matches at Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center; 9th-16th match played at the Lexington County Tennis Complex

ADVANCED CHAMPIONSHIP: Flight 2 winner Southern (Madison, Miss.) vs. Flight 3 winner Texas (Austin, Texas)

ADVANCED 3rd-4th: Flight 1 winner Eastern (Queens, N.Y.) vs. Flight 4 winner: Midwest (Columbus, Ohio)

ADVANCED 5th-6th: Flight 2 2nd place Northern California* (Los Gatos, Calif.) vs. Flight 3 2nd place Southern California (Temple City, Calif.)

ADVANCED 7th-8th: Flight 1 2nd place Northern California (Berkeley, Calif.) vs. Flight 4 2nd place Northern (Minneapolis)

ADVANCED 9th-10th: Flight 2 3rd place New England (Stamford, Conn.) vs. Flight 4 3rd place Southern California* (San Diego, Calif.)

ADVANCED 11th-12th: Flight 1 3rd place Midwest* (Wheaton, Ill.) vs. Flight 3 3rd place Southern* (Johns Creek, Ga.)

ADVANCED 13th-14th: Flight 2 4th place Mid-Atlantic (Washington, D.C.) vs. Flight 3 4th place Mid-Atlantic* (Richmond, Va.)

ADVANCED 15th-16th: Flight 1 4th place Middle States* (Hershey, Pa.) vs. Flight 4 4th place Eastern* (Brewster, N.Y.), 57-28

Starting at 9 a.m.

NOTE: 1st-8th place matches at Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center; 9th-16th match played at the Lexington County Tennis Complex

INTERMEDIATE CHAMPIONSHIP: Flight 1 winner Southern (Woodstock, Ga.) vs. Flight 4 winner Midwest (Ann Arbor, Mich.)

INTERMEDIATE 3rd-4th: Flight 2 winner Caribbean (Puerto Rico) vs. Flight 3 winner Eastern (Maywood, N.J.)

INTERMEDIATE 5th-6th: Flight 3 2nd place Southern California (Coronado, Calif.) vs. Middle States (Skillman, N.J.)

INTERMEDIATE 7th-8th: def. Flight 4 2nd place Pacific Northwest (Seattle) vs. Flight 2 2nd place Southwest (Albuquerque, N.M.)

INTERMEDIATE 9th-10th: Flight 1 3rd place Mid-Atlantic (Alexandria, Va.) vs. Flight 3 3rd place New England (Madison, Conn.)

INTERMEDIATE 11th-12th: Flight 2 3rd place Missouri Valley (St. Louis, Mo.) vs. def. Flight 4 3rd place Northern California (San Francisco)

INTERMEDIATE 13th-14th: Flight 2 4th place Northern (Fridley, Minn.) vs. Flight 3 4th place Hawaii-Pacific (Lahaina, Hawaii)

INTERMEDIATE 15th-16th: Flight 1 4th place New England* (Longmeadow, Mass.) vs. Flight 4 4th place Texas (Kerrville, Texas)

14U – Advanced Single-Elimination Results:

Flight 2 winner Southern (Madison, Miss.) def. Flight 1 winner Eastern (Queens, N.Y.), 54-30

Flight 3 winner Texas (Austin, Texas) def. Flight 4 winner: Midwest (Columbus, Ohio), 55-27

Flight 2 2nd place Northern California* (Los Gatos, Calif.) def. Flight 1 2nd place Northern California (Berkeley, Calif.), 54-41

Flight 3 2nd place Southern California (Temple City, Calif.) def. Flight 4 2nd place Northern (Minneapolis), 46-44

Flight 2 3rd place New England (Stamford, Conn.) def. Flight 1 3rd place Midwest* (Wheaton, Ill.), 46-36

Flight 4 3rd place Southern California* (San Diego, Calif.) def. Flight 3 3rd place Southern* (Johns Creek, Ga.), 59-27

Flight 2 4th place Mid-Atlantic (Washington, D.C.) def. Flight 1 4th place Middle States* (Hershey, Pa.), 56-22

Flight 3 4th place Mid-Atlantic* (Richmond, Va.) def. Flight 4 4th place Eastern* (Brewster, N.Y.), 57-28

14U – Advanced Round Robin Results:

Flight 1: Eastern (Queens, N.Y.) advanced with 172 total games won over Northern California (Berkeley, Calif.) 154; Midwest* (Wheaton, Ill.) 118 and Middle States* (Hershey, Pa.) 49.

Flight 2: Southern (Madison, Miss.) advanced with 162 total games won over Northern California* (Los Gatos, Calif.) 155; New England (Stamford, Conn.) 117 and Mid-Atlantic (Washington, D.C.) 68.

Flight 3: Texas (Austin, Texas) advanced with 179 total games won over Southern California (Temple City, Calif.) 130; Southern* (Johns Creek, Ga.) and Mid-Atlantic* (Richmond, Va.) 68.

Flight 4: Midwest (Columbus, Ohio) advanced with 167 total games won over Northern (Minneapolis) 152; Southern California* (San Diego, Calif.) 116 and Eastern* (Brewster, N.Y.) 68.

14U – Intermediate Single-Elimination Results:

Flight 1 winner Southern (Woodstock, Ga.) def. Flight 2 winner Caribbean (Puerto Rico), 52-28

Flight 4 winner Midwest (Ann Arbor, Mich.) def. Flight 3 winner Eastern (Maywood, N.J.), 49-44

Flight 1 2nd place Middle States (Skillman, N.J.) def. Flight 2 2nd place Southwest (Albuquerque, N.M.), 53-39

Flight 3 2nd place Southern California (Coronado, Calif.) def. Flight 4 2nd place Pacific Northwest (Seattle), 54-28

Flight 1 3rd place Mid-Atlantic (Alexandria, Va.) def. Flight 2 3rd place Missouri Valley (St. Louis, Mo.), 56-34

Flight 3 3rd place New England (Madison, Conn.) def. Flight 4 3rd place Northern California (San Francisco), 50-42

Flight 2 4th place Northern (Fridley, Minn.) def. Flight 1 4th place New England* (Longmeadow, Mass.), 45-40

Flight 3 4th place Hawaii-Pacific (Lahaina, Hawaii) def. Flight 4 4th place Texas (Kerrville, Texas), 47-46

14U – Intermediate Round Robin Results:

Flight 1: Southern (Woodstock, Ga.) advanced with 155 total games won over three other teams: Middle States (Skillman, N.J.) 146; Mid-Atlantic (Alexandria, Va.) 116 and New England* (Longmeadow, Mass.) 56.

Flight 2: Caribbean (Puerto Rico) advanced with 177 total games won over: Southwest (Albuquerque, N.M.) 134; Missouri Valley (St. Louis, Mo.) 111 and Northern (Fridley, Minn.) 62

Flight 3: Eastern (Maywood, N.J.) advanced with 161 total games won over: Southern California (Coronado, Calif.) 145; New England (Madison, Conn.) 123 and Hawaii-Pacific (Lahaina, Hawaii) 90

Flight 4: Midwest (Ann Arbor, Mich.) advanced with 163 total games over: Pacific Northwest (Seattle), 147, Northern California (San Francisco) 108; and Texas (Kerrville, Texas) 78

* denotes wildcard

—S. Pratt