2014 ATP Challenger Tour Finals Preview and Picks

2014 ATP Challenger Tour Finals Preview and Picks
Chris De Waard, Tennis East Coast

ATP Challenger Tour
Sao Paulo, Brazil
19-23 November
Prize Money: $220,000

Entrants (ATP/Challenger ranking in parentheses)

1: Simone Bolelli (60/7)
2: Diego Schwartzman (77/7)
3: Victor Estrella Burgos (80/3)
4: Blaz Rola (81/11)
5: Andreas Haider-Maurer (84/9)
6: Joao Souza (90/4)
7: Maximon Gonzalez (105/14)
8: Guilherme Clezar (331/116)

As you can see some of the higher ranked players are missing, but a lot of those absences aren’t surprising. #1 Gilles Muller and #5 Go Soeda are far from admirers of clay, while #6 David Goffin hasn’t played the mandatory ten events to be eligible for this event. He is also ranked 22nd at the moment, of course, so he probably wouldn’t have entered anyway. #8 Albert Ramos-Vinolas and #10 Jan-Lennard Struff not competing might be a surprise, but then again, the schedule isn’t very convenient with both of them having played their last match in QR1 of the Paris Masters three weeks ago.

Groups

Group A

Simone Bolelli
Victor Estrella Burgos
Andreas Haider-Maurer
Maximo Gonzalez

Group B

Diego Schwartzman
Blaz Rola
Joao Souza
Guilherme Clezar

Round-robin match-ups to watch

Simone Bolelli – Victor Estrella Burgos
This is a heavyweight match-up between the two favorites to take down the title, there is a good chance we will see them face off in the final again. However, if they tire each other out too much, Schwartzman, who has an easier group, might take advantage. Estrella Burgos and Bolelli have never met each other, but you have to give Bolelli an edge here. Especially when they get entangled in backhand rallies I expect Bolelli to put a lot of pressure on Estrella Burgos’ defensive slices. Bolelli hasn’t played on clay since the first week of August, but he has time to find his rhythm since it will be the final encounter of the group.

Diego Schwartzman – Joao Souza

Schwartzman has had a great year, reaching six Challenger finals and winning four of them and climbing up to a career high ranking of #76. Souza has been less fortunate in finals, racking up a 1-3 record. However, he clearly had a great year, climbing fifty ranking spots to #90. They faced off once this year, in the final of the San Juan Challenger, with Schwartzman winning 7-6(5) 6-3. However, this tournament is played at the club where Souza grew up, so that might inspire him to make it a closer encounter this time around.

Group A

I have mentioned that Bolelli and Estrella are the favorites, but the competition isn’t too shabby. The last match Haider-Maurer played was in QR2 in Basel against Bolelli, with the Italian only barely scraping through: 3-6 6-4 6-3. Both players are very well-rounded, so a similar close encounter on clay wouldn’t be surprising. The wild card in this group is Gonzalez. It’s hard to predict what he is going to do. When is he on, he is as good as any of these guys, but he can just as easily have a bad day and become a walk-over. This happened at the Guayaquil Challenger last week, where he got hammered by Facundo Arguello: 6-4 6-0.

Group B

This group is likely to be unbalanced, with Brazilian wild card Clezar being ranked significantly lower than the other three. I expect Schwartzman to come through as the group winner, but the battle between Rola and Souza for the second spot is going to be really interesting. They met once this year, on clay, with Rola winning 3-6 7-6(2) 6-3. No doubt their match here will be just as close. Perhaps Souza’s home advantage can get him through this time.

Predictions

Group A:

1. Bolelli
2. Estrella Burgos
3. Haider-Maurer
4. Gonzalez

Group B:

1. Schwartzman
2. Souza
3. Rola
4. Clezar

Semis:

Bolelli > Souza
Estrella Burgos > Schwartzman

Final:

Bolelli > Estrella Burgos

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Djokovic Wins 3rd ATP Paris Title, Becomes 1st Player to Retain ATP Paris Title in Modern History

ATP Paris
Novak Djokovic won his third career ATP Paris crown with a decisive 6-2 6-3 dismantling of Milos Raonic in the final, which was rather uncompetitive. Raonic falls to 1-2 in ATP finals this season and is now 0-2 in his career in Masters level finals. Djokovic all but secures the year-end number one ranking by virtue of retaining his Paris title and he notched his sixth title of the season. He finishes 4-0 in ATP Masters level finals this year.

Djokovic’s path to the final emerged by defeating Philipp Kohlschreiber, Gael Monfils, Andy Murray, and Kei Nishikori without dropping a set, as he was dominant in Paris all week long.

Raonic secured his place in the World Tour finals, alongside Djokovic, Federer, Wawrinka, Murray, Nishikori, Cilic, and Berdych. The Canadian number one beat Jack Sock in 3 sets, Roberto Bautista Agut in straights, Roger Federer in a straight set upset, and Tomas Berdych in 3 sets to reach the final. His serving was impeccable this week even on a rather slow surface.

The Bryans beat Marcin Matkowski and Jurgen Melzer for the doubles title as both the world number one singles player and the world’s number one doubles team capped the ATP World Tour Season off in style by lifting tournament trophies in Paris.

—Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast

Super Saturday Set @CVilleTennis: Doubles Championship and Semifinals

Super Saturday Set @CVilleTennis: Doubles Championship and Semifinals
Charlottesville

Only four competitors remain alive in singles play after Friday’s intense action. When all was said and done, Denis Kudla, James Duckworth, Alex Kuznetsov and Liam Broady emerged as this year’s semifinalists. They will battle it out Saturday for a spot in Sunday’s championship match.

Kudla’s opponent, Tennys Sandgren, won Friday night’s first set convincingly, but the No. 3 seed forced a third set in which he cruised to a 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 win.

Duckworth, the No. 6 seed, won his first five games en route to a 6-1, 6-2 rout of Japan’s Taro Daniel on Friday.

Kuznetsov ended the run of French qualifier Laurent Lokoli, who upset No. 1 seed Sam Groth in the opening round of the Main Draw, with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 win in just under two hours.

Broady outlasted Ryan Harrison in a back-and-forth affair that lasted over two and a half hours, 6-7(2), 7-6(4), 6-3.

The doubles title is set for Saturday afternoon, as top seeds Treat Huey and Frederik Nielsen defeated Sekou Bangoura and Evan King, 6-3, 7-6(2). Huey and Nielsen will go up against the British tandem of Lewis Burton and Marcus Willis in Saturday’s doubles final at 1 p.m. Burton and Willis got past Gastao Elias and Sean Thornley in Friday’s opening match in a thriller, 7-6(9), 6-7(2), 10-6.

Huey will look to become the tournament’s first repeat doubles champion after winning the title with former University of Virginia teammate Dominic Inglot in 2011.

After Saturday’s doubles awards ceremony, the singles semifinals will begin (not before 3 p.m.) with Duckworth squaring off against Kuznetsov. The final match on Saturday pits Kudla against Broady.

—Scott Radcliffe

One Minute Post Match @CVilleTennis: The Return of @TennysSandgren

One Minute Post Match @CVilleTennis: The Return of @TennysSandgren
Steve Fogleman, Tennis East Coast

Former University of Tennessee standout Tennys Sandgren looked like a man on a mission in a 61 minute 6-3, 6-1 win over James McGee in the first round of the Charlottesville Men’s Pro Challenger today.

Having spent most of the year sidelined due to a hip injury, Sandgren is determined to finish the year strongly.

Sandgren briefly discussed returning to top physical form and his preference for the Australian Open Wild Card being decided over three challengers rather than a weekend playoff.

“I feel really good. Today was a good day for me. This is one of my best days since coming back”, he said.

He continued, “It’s just finding that match energy for a whole match. A tennis match is generally pretty long. It’s a marathon. Finding that right intensity for a whole match is tough and I feel like I’m starting to get that under my belt”.

On the Australian Open Wild Card Challenge: “I’m excited at these three events instead of the tourney in Atlanta. That was a heart breaker for me last year. I put in a good tournament and I didn’t have a lot to show for it. At least here, if I come in second, I probably get a lot of points under my belt. I’m excited to be playing well and I’m looking forward to these three weeks”.

Sandgren is a Tennis East Coast fave. He’ll face 5 seed Gastao Elias next in Charlottesville for a berth in the quarterfinals.

Main Draw Begins @CVilleTennis: Results, Tuesday OOP

Laurent Lokoli

Edward Corrie

Edward Corrie

Taro Daniel

Taro Daniel

RESULTS – OCTOBER 27, 2014
Men’s
Singles – First Round
[6] J Duckworth (AUS) d [WC] E Escobedo (USA) 16 63 64
A Kuznetsov (USA) d R Ginepri (USA) 76(3) 64
T Daniel (JPN) d [WC] M Styslinger (USA) 63 60
E Corrie (GBR) d D King (BAR) 64 66 Defaulted

Men’s
Doubles – First Round
[1] T Huey (PHI) / F Nielsen (DEN) d [WC] S Kozlov (USA) / R Ram (USA) 62 75
S Bangoura (USA) / E King (USA) d [WC] L Corinteli (USA) / D Kudla (USA) 36 63 13-11
F Dancevic (CAN) / M Reyes-Varela (MEX) d W Odesnik (USA) / P Torebko (GER) 62 61

Mens
Qualifying Singles – Third Round
Qualifying – L Lokoli (FRA) d S Bangoura (USA) 63 61
Qualifying – K King (USA) d M Giron (USA) 62 16 64
Qualifying – D Nguyen (USA) d E King (USA) 76(1) 62
Qualifying – F Nielsen (DEN) d M Willis (GBR) 62 62

Mens
Qualifying Doubles – Second Round
Qualifying – [1] C Ball (AUS) / R Harrison (USA) d [WC] J Shane (USA) / R Shane (USA) 57 76(3) 10-8

ORDER OF PLAY – TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2014
COURT 7 start 10:00
G Mina (FRA) vs C Buchanan (USA)
W Odesnik (USA) vs [3] D Kudla (USA)

Not Before 12:30
R Williams (USA) vs [8] F Dancevic (CAN)

Not Before 14:30
[1] S Groth (AUS) vs [Q] L Lokoli (FRA)

Not Before 17:00
L Broady (GBR) vs [2] T Smyczek (USA)
R Harrison (USA) vs [WC] M Frank (USA)

COURT 9 start 10:00
T Sandgren (USA) vs J McGee (IRL)
[5] G Elias (POR) vs [Q] K King (USA)

Not Before 12:00
[4] M Russell (USA) vs M Arevalo (ESA)
H Cunha (BRA) vs [Q] F Nielsen (DEN)
[7] R Ram (USA) vs [Q] D Nguyen (USA)
P Torebko (GER) vs [WC] S Kozlov (USA)

Darian King Defaulted After Linesman Injured(?) @CVilleTennis UPDATED

Darian King Defaulted After Linesman Injured @CVilleTennis
Steve Fogleman, Tennis East Coast

Darian King Defaults

Darian King Defaults

Darian King Defaults

Darian King Defaults

Darian King Defaults

Edward Corrie won a first-round match today at the Charlottesville Men’s Pro Tennis Challenger at the Boar’s Head Resort, but in most peculiar fashion. After taking the first set, 6-3, from Darian King of Barbados, Corrie shook off a break and took King to a second set tiebreak. King, who had been animated and argumentative throughout, lost a point at 2-5 in the breaker. Disgusted, he very aggressively tossed his racket behind him toward the curtain. What happened next is a bit of a mystery. It needn’t have been, but it was.

The sound caused by the racket hitting the curtain was very loud and echoed throughout the cavernous indoor facility. As all eyes turned to the sight of the boom, the linesman behind King fell over and let out a cry. I raced over to Court 7, where King grabbed his racket and quickly left the scene of the accident. He went to the net and told a curious Corrie, “She’s fine”. He stayed at the net for several minutes, apparently ready to keep playing. The linesman remained down for at least five minutes. The longer she remained on the ground, King told anyone who would listen that “I didn’t hit her”. Finally, Challenger Supervisor Keith Crossland came over and told King that he would likely be defaulted for his negligence. King appealed and asked to go to the match video. Crossland initially allowed this request, and I thought for a minute that he might go “under the hood” like an NFL referee. King was upset that the camera operator could not pull up a replay, and Crossland said, “Maybe we’ll watch it later”. As King stormed off to the locker room, he continued his Not Guilty plea.

“I did not hit her!”, he proclaimed, as he disappeared into the toilet-and-shower sanctuary.

One twitter user who was watching the feed said that King’s racket hit her in the neck. After speaking with several onlookers, the consensus was that the racket hit the linesman on the ricochet off of the curtain. Tournament officials indicated that they believed the linesman would be alright. Still, what a loveless job.

I mentioned that it needn’t have been a mystery. Last year, I was aggressively forbidden to shoot a point at this same Challenger by Keith Crossland, due to “video rights”. Yeah, right. Like anyone watches this stuff except us tennis junkies. So I comply. I can’t find a link anywhere online to show you what happened. If I had been allowed to shoot video, you know I would have had it on youtube within the hour. And the mystery would’ve been solved before dinner. Way to go, Crossland!

UPDATE: Our own Chris De Waard just sent me a youtube link from someone who stole the feed. Maybe Crossland should go after him for being such a terrible scofflaw. Thanks to that scofflaw, you can now judge for yourself.

2014 Charlottesville Challenger (@CvilleTennis) Preview & Predictions

2014 Charlottesville Challenger (@CvilleTennis) Preview & Predictions
Chris De Waard, Tennis East Coast

Charlottesville Facebook Page

ATP Challenger Tour
Charlottesville, VA, USA
27 October – 2 November
Prize Money: $50,000

Seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)

1: Sam Groth (87)
2: Tim Smyczek (99)
3: Denis Kudla (128)
4: Michael Russell (129)
5: Gastao Elias (138)
6: James Duckworth (140)
7: Rajeev Ram (142)
8: Frank Dancevic (143)

The last direct acceptance is Tennys Sandgren, ranked 309th.

First round match-ups to watch

(3) Denis Kudla – Wayne Odesnik

Denis Kudla

Denis Kudla

A tricky opening round for Kudla against one of the most dangerous non-seeded players in the draw. Odesnik has been struggling with injury in his last couple of tournaments, but if he is fit he could pose a serious threat to Kudla, who got upset by Jordan Thompson in the first round of his last tournament at the Tiburon Challenger.

(8) Frank Dancevic – Rhyne Williams

Rhyne Williams, Charlottesville 2012 (Photo: Steve Fogleman)

A good chance for Williams against a struggling Dancevic. Dancevic is on a six match losing streak, including three Challengers, in which he lost to players outside of the top 250. Williams has been having problems with his temper lately, but if he can keep his cool here, he has an excellent chance to advance.

Top Half

Sam Groth

Top seed Sam Groth clearly is the favorite in this half. He has been holding his own on the main tour and should have no problems reaching the final. Fellow seeds Dancevic, Michael Russell and James Duckworth haven’t been in their best form and outsiders like Williams, Odesnik and Taro Daniel probably don’t have what it takes to eliminate Groth. For Daniel, this is a great opportunity to reach the semi-final, since he is placed in the section with Russell and Duckworth.

Bottom Half
Tim Smyczek, Charlottesville

Tim Smyczek has been performing well at the American Challengers and will be happy that Sam Querrey finally isn’t in the draw. Groth is a great player as well, but not on Querrey’s level. He does have the dangerous youngster Stefan Kozlov in his section, however, as they are projected to meet in the second round. #7 seed Rajeev Ram is set to meet a slumping Ryan Harrison in the second round, if the latter gets past wild card Mitchell Frank. The upper section has an interesting opening round between Tennys Sandgren and James McGee, the winner of which will face #5 seed Gastao Elias in the second round.

Predictions

Semis:

Groth > Daniel
Smyczek > Elias

Final:

Groth > Smyczek