2014 Tashkent, Tiburon and Rennes ATP Challenger Recaps

2014 Tashkent, Tiburon and Rennes ATP Challenger Recaps
Chris De Waard, Tennis East Coast

ATP Challenger Tour Official Page


The seeds didn’t disappoint as three of the four top seeds made it to the semi-finals. The one who didn’t make it, top seed Dusan Lajovic, lost 7-6(5) 7-5 to Borna Coric in the quarterfinal, which was always going to be a hard match for him. Fellow top seeds Sergiy Stakhovsky, Lukas Lacko and Adrian Mannarino all had tough quarterfinal matches as well, as all three of them needed three sets to get the job done. In the semi-finals Lacko managed to beat Coric in two tight sets, while Stakhovsky followed a similar pattern against Mannarino. In the final it was a lot less close, however, as Lacko easily dispatched Stakhovsky 6-2 6-3 to win the title. Lacko’s victory saw him rise sixteen ranking spots to #83, while Stakhovsky jumped ten spots to #62.


Sam Querrey

Contrary to the situation at Tashkent, seeds were bombing out left and right here. Only three of them survived the first round, two the second and top seed Sam Querrey was the last one standing in the semi-finals. Qualifier Matt Reid managed to profit from #4 seed Peter Polansky pulling out and getting replaced by a lucky loser, as he made it all the way to the semi-final. In the bottom half another qualifier reached the semi-final, Nils Langer, after trashing #6 seed Thiemo de Bakker 6-1 6-3 in the first round. He almost managed to go a step further, but John Millman beat him 5-7 6-2 7-5 for a place in the final. There he faced the #1 seed and undisputed favorite Sam Querrey, who reached the final without losing a set. The final was no different, as Querrey beat Millman 6-4 6-2 to claim his third Challenger title in just as many weeks. Querrey rose eight spots to #40, while Millman made a big jump of 121 spots to #285.


Rennes provided an even worse scenario for the seeds, as none of them went through to the semi-finals. #1 seed Jan-Lennard Struff lost to Robin Haase in the second round, who then lost to wild card Enzo Couacaud in a dramatic match after missing three match points: 6-4 6-7(5) 7-6(4). Unfortunately Couacaud had to dig so deep that he was forced to retire from his semi-final match against Nicolas Mahut in the first set. In the bottom half Steve Darcis took out Dustin Brown in the semi-final, after which he reached the final by beating Marsel Ilhan, who took out two seeds in Thomaz Bellucci and Andreas Haider-Maurer. Darcis was very convincing in the final, as he beat Mahut 6-4 6-2 to win the first Challenger title of his comeback. With this result he re-enters the top 200 at #172, jumping 81 spots. Mahut dropped six spots to #108, as he was defending the title.

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2014 Indore, San Juan ATP Challenger Previews, Picks

2014 Indore and San Juan Challenger Previews, Picks
Chris De Waard, Tennis East Coast

ATP Challenger Tour Official Page

Only two tournaments this week: one in India on hardcourt and the other one in Argentina on clay.

Indore Open ATP Challenger

ATP Challenger Tour
Indore, India
13-19 October
Prize Money: $125,000

Seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)

1: Aleksandr Nedovyesov (121)
2: Alexander Kudryavtsev (129)
3: Somdev Devvarman (142)
4: Hiroki Moriya (157)
5: Adrian Menendez-Maceiras (163)
6: Yuki Bhambri (184)
7: Kimmer Coppejans (193)
8: Stefano Travaglia (215)

The last direct acceptance is Karunuday Singh, ranked 499th.

First round match-ups to watch

Gianluigi Quinzi – Ramkumar Ramanathan

Quinzi has been marked a great prospect and is making his comeback on Challenger level here after being out with injury for two months. Ramanathan is 19, a year older than Quinzi, so it will be interesting to see how these two youngsters match up.

Top Half

Two players here are the clear favorites here to make the semi-finals, #1 seed Aleksandr Nedovyesov and #3 seed Somdev Devvarman. It would be a pretty big surprise to see one of the other players in this half upset one of them. Nedovyesov and Devvarman have played each other twice this year, with Nedovyesov winning in four sets at Roland Garros and Devvarman taking down the final of the New Delhi Challenger very comfortably in two sets, 6-3 6-1. Given that New Delhi was played on hardcourt as well, I’d say that result is a better indication of how this match will pan out.

Bottom Half

This half looks considerably more open than the top half, with Yuki Bhambri, Hiroki Moriya, Kimmer Coppejans and Alexander Kudryavtsev all being decent picks to make it through. Bhambri has been struggling with injuries for a while, but if he is in good shape, he is my favorite to reach the final.



Devvarman > Nedovyesov
Bhambri > Coppejans


Bhambri > Devvarman

A home country final, resulting in a win for the new generation. They played each other in the beginning of the year at Chennai, with Bhambri comfortably winning in two sets, 6-2 6-4.

Copa San Juan Gobierno

ATP Challenger Tour
San Juan, Argentina
13-19 October
Prize Money: $40,000

Seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)

1: Diego Schwartzman (79)
2: Joao Sousa (89)
3: Alejandro Gonzalez (90)
4: Horacio Zeballos (104)
5: Facundo Bagnis (120)
6: Facundo Arguello (144)
7: Thiemo de Bakker (147)
8: Guido Andreozzi (150)

The last direct acceptance is Renzo Olivo, ranked 276th.

First round match-ups to watch

(5) Facundo Bagnis – Gonzalo Lama

Bagnis isn’t in the best of shapes, with a 6-6 record in his last six Challenger events. Despite losing to Bagnis twice this year, Lama should feel confident after pushing Victor Estrella Burgos to three sets in his previous tournament.

(3) Alejandro Gonzalez – Guido Pella

Both men have seen better days, but while their career high rankings are pretty close to each other, #70 for Gonzalez and #75 for Pella. Gonzalez is still in the top 100 at #97, while Pella is ranked a lot lower at #196. Their previous matches were both close encounters, with both men winning one, so this should be an interesting battle.

Top Half

After reaching back to back finals, top seed Diego Schwartzman got upset in the first round of the Cali Challenger, where he lost to Christian Lindell. However, that doesn’t mean he isn’t the favorite again here. There is some stiff competion awaiting him, with Jason Kubler or Guido Andreozzi in the quarterfinal and Horacio Zeballos, Andre Ghem or Facundo Arguello in the semi-final.

Bottom Half

#2 seed Joao Sousa is by far the best pick to advance here. He’s been solid as of late and is less likely to throw in a random bad match like some others in this half are known to do (See: Thiemo de Bakker, Facundo Bagnis). However, he has a tough second round match against the up and coming Nicolas Jarry, who beat him in three sets at Quito a month ago.



Schwartzman > Zeballos
Sousa > Gonzalez


Schwartzman > Sousa

Don’t be surprised if you see Jarry in the final instead of Sousa, however. Their match is likely to be very close and decisive to determine the finalist coming from the bottom half.

2014 ATP Stockholm, Vienna and Moscow Previews, Picks

2014 ATP Stockholm, Vienna and Moscow Previews, Picks
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast

With just three weeks left in the ATP World Tour Season, the race is on for the final World Tour Final spots, while most other players on tour are seeking to boost their year-end ranking by earning some late season ranking spots. There are three 250 level indoor hard court events in Europe this week and here is a preview of each one.

Stockholm Official Site

ATP Stockholm
If Stockholm Open
ATP World Tour 250
October 13-October 19, 2014
Prize Money: €521,405

Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Tomas Berdych (7)
2: Grigor Dimitrov (10)
3: Kevin Anderson (16)
4: Alex Dolgopolov (24)

Stockholm attracts three top 20 players and it’s a solid field for a 250 level event.

Berdych and Dimitrov are in contention for the World Tour Finals.

First Round matchups to watch:

Marcos Baghdatis vs. Adrian Mannarino
Baghdatis had sustained periods of strong play this summer but he has not been healthy since the US Open, and he is looking to take his aggressive game indoors and enjoy success in Stockholm. He starts with the versatile Frenchman Mannarino, who has done very well at the challenger level on hard courts, but has struggled translating that success to the ATP level this year. This is a challenger-level round 1 matchup, and I think Mannarino will sneak through. The two veterans have never met before in a tournament match.

(6)Jeremy Chardy vs. (WC)Elias Ymer
The veteran Frenchman Chardy will take on the 18-year-old Swede Ymer, who gets a wildcard in a home event for him. Ymer is the most promising young Swede and he played reasonably well recently in a trio of USTA Pro Circuit Events. He scored two wins, and pushed the American trio of Sam Querrey, Denis Kudla, and Rhyne Williams to three sets in each tournament. Chardy should prevail, but it’s possible Ymer could earn his second career ATP main draw win this week.

Top Half:

Former Stockholm Champion Tomas Berdych opens with a qualifier or Swedish wild card Christian Lindell. Berdych went 6-2 on the Asian swing, and appears to be playing well at the moment with his only losses to Djokovic and the in-form Gilles Simon. Look for him to ease his way into the semifinals, after defeating Joao Sousa, the number 8 seed, in the quarterfinals. Sousa has lost two straight matches but he is known to play well on indoor hard, including Metz recently where he made the final, and his competition en route to the quarters, a qualifier, and Pablo Carreno Busta or a qualifier, is far from imposing.

Alex Dologopolov gets a bye, but he is 0-2 since returning to the ATP tour from a knee injury, and he could suffer a loss to the Baghdatis/Mannarino winner. Dolgo showed major improvement between his Tokyo and Shanghai losses though, and I think he has just enough game to reach the quarterfinals, given Baggy and Mannarino are both erratic. That said, Donald Young or Igor Sijsling have great shots at making the semifinals this week. Young opens with 5 seed Leo Mayer, who is far more comfortable on clay (though he nearly beat Roger Federer in Shanghai), and Sijsling opens with a qualifier. That said, both Young and Sijsling are also struggling: Sijsling has been far from impressive indoors on the challenger circuit in Europe, and Young lost to journeyman Malek Jaziri in Shanghai. Given Sijsling’s previous successes on indoor hard, I have him beating a qualifier, Young and then Dolgopolov (or even Baghdatis/Mannarino) to reach the semifinals in what is a toss-up section.

Bottom Half:

Defending champion Grigor Dimitrov opens with Teymuraz Gabashvili or Alejandro Falla. Neither of those players are playing good tennis at the moment and Dimitrov should set up a quarterfinal meeting with Chardy/Ymer or Jack Sock/Andrey Golubev. Sock just beat Golubev in Tokyo, and he has another great chance at a strong week, after winning consecutive matches in both Tokyo, where he beat Dolgopolov, and Shanghai, where he upset Kei Nishikori. Dimitrov, who is a year older than Sock, has never played him before, and I think Sock will put up a competitive showing, but I have Grisha into the semifinals yet again. He lost in the second round of Shanghai after making the quarters in Beijing.

Kevin Anderson is set to face Bernard Tomic in round 2. Tomic plays Swedish wild card Patrik Rosenholm in round 1. Tomic has beaten Anderson twice on hard courts, both times in 3 sets: once in 2013 in Sydney, and the other time in Shanghai in 2011. Tomic qualified in Shanghai, and Anderson went just 2-2 on the Asian swing, with losses to Chardy and Mikhail Kukushkin. Anderson has been more successful indoors than Tomic, but not by a lot, which is surprising given Anderson is a lanky big server. I have Tomic sneaking through to the quarterfinals in my bracket. At that stage he could face 7 seed Fernando Verdasco, Marinko Matosevic, Albert Ramos, or most likely, in my estimation, Jarkko Nieminen. Nieminen has always been a top performer indoors and he reached the semis in Kuala Lumpur. He also has beaten Verdasco before on hard courts, twice in fact, once in 2005, and once in 2013. Verdasco won a 3 setter in Stockholm last year, and once more indoors in Rotterdam in 2008, but I’m not very convinced by his form right now. He is just 2-3 in his last five matches, though two of those losses are to Dimitrov, and Marin Cilic. He still seems a bit lost at the moment.

Dark Horse: Jarkko Nieminen
I have the unseeded Igor Sijsling in the semis this week and the unseeded Tomic in the quarters, but neither of them really have the potential to make the final, in my estimation. Nieminen, on the other hand, should reach the semis, assuming he can upset Verdasco, and Verdasco may even lose to Matosevic in round 1. Nieminen-Tomic or Nieminen-Anderson would also be a tough contest, but Jarkko should get his upset shot against Dimitrov in the semis. He is 2-0 career against the Bulgarian, with both of his wins coming indoors. Dimitrov is much improved since those matches were played, but the h2h still is what it is.


Berdych d. Sijsling
Dimitrov d. Nieminen

Berdych should cruise to the final, barely facing any competition, given the weak top half of the draw. He crushed Sijsling in Davis Cup earlier this year, and the result should be the same no matter who he faces in the semis.

I have Dimitrov beating Nieminen since he’s a superior talent at this point, and he cares about retaining the Stockholm crown.

Berdych d. Dimitrov

Dimitrov and Berdych have split h2h meetings this year, both times on clay, and Dimitrov was 2-0 before that, but both of those hard court meetings went to a decisive third set. After watching them both in the Asian swing, I think everyone would agree Berdych is playing superior tennis right now, and that should be enough to win him his second Stockholm title.

Chris De Waard’s picks

Berdych d. Dolgopolov
Dimitrov d. Tomic

Berdych d. Dimitrov

Vienna Official Site

ATP Vienna
Erste Bank Open
ATP World Tour 250
Vienna, Austria
October 13-October 19, 2014
Prize Money: €521,405

Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP Ranking in parentheses)
1: David Ferrer (5)
2: Andy Murray (11)
3: Feliciano Lopez (21)
4: Philipp Kohlschreiber (23)

Murray and Ferrer are fighting to make the World Tour Finals and they highlight the field in Vienna, which is balanced otherwise.

First Round matchups to watch:

Carlos Berlocq vs. (WC)Gerald Melzer
Berlocq is the far more accomplished player, but he’s very poor on indoor hard, and the younger Melzer won a couple of matches at the Mons challenger on indoor hard. The wild card is looking for his first career ATP main draw victory yet again and he should be motivated. Berlocq is likely to advance, but he is coming off playing clay court challengers, and this one has some upset potential.

Martin Klizan vs. Benjamin Becker
Two in-form players will do battle in a match that I am really looking forward to. Klizan is 8-3 over his last 11 matches, and he made round 2 in Shanghai after reaching the semis in Beijing. He lost to David Ferrer in a competitive 3 set battle in Shanghai that he very much should have won. Becker reached the semis in Tokyo after reaching the quarters in Kuala Lumpur and he pushed Kei Nishikori to 3 sets in Tokyo, very nearly pulling off a massive upset. With both players playing some of their best tennis all year right now, and given they both have aggressive playstyles, this one should be full of highlights. It’s very hard to predict and both are solid indoors, but I have Klizan sneaking through in 3 sets because I feel his game at a peak level is better than what Becker brings to the table.

Thomaz Bellucci vs. Paul-Henri Mathieu
Bellucci just beat Mathieu in the Orleans Challenger semifinals a couple of weeks ago, which was surprisingly their first head to head meeting, though they have both played on tour for a while. Bellucci is on a two match losing streak, while Mathieu lost in round 2 of the Rennes challenger, and they have both been playing indoor hard courts at the challenger level in Europe, rather than going to Asia for ATP competition this Fall. Given PHM has nominally been superior on indoor hard over the course of his career, I have him through to round 2 but it could go either way.

Top Half:

David Ferrer will need to be on upset alert for his first contest against either Simone Bolelli or Tobias Kamke. Both are competent on indoor hard and Ferrer is just 2-4 in his last six matches. He did manage to win consecutive matches in Shanghai, including a 3 set win over Andy Murray, and he’s fighting to make the World Tour Finals, thus I do have him through to the quarters after a test from Bolelli. Bolelli has a 2-0 h2h against Kamke and more peak potential than the journeyman German who has been plying his trade at the indoor hard court tournaments in Europe this fall. Look for a Ferrer vs. Ivo Karlovic quarterfinal. The big serving Croat made the third round in Shanghai, upsetting Marin Cilic en route, and he broke a poor run of form he was having for quite some time. His first opponent is Federico Delbonis, and then a qualifier or Jurgen Melzer, the home favorite, is to follow. Melzer is a two-time champion in Vienna, and he’s a career 5-1 against Karlovic, but he’s been struggling all year and he’s ranked outside the top 100. Though he played alright in Tokyo, his form has to be suspect right now, and that’s why I have Karlovic beating him. Ferrer is 2-1 against Karlovic, and I feel he’s motivated enough to the reach the semis.

Philipp Kohlschreiber opens with the Gerald Melzer/Berlocq winner. Kohli is struggling, and he suffered a shoulder injury in Metz from which he may not have fully recovered. However, barring a big upset, Kohli should reach the quarterfinals before falling to Klizan. Other potential quarterfinal opponents are Becker and local hope Dominic Thiem. Thiem opens with the pedestrian Robin Haase and then will face the Becker/Klizan winner. Of course, that should be a great match, and I feel form favors Klizan, or Becker, to reach the quarterfinals, though Thiem made round 2 in Shanghai and is far from a pushover. I have Klizan over Kohlschreiber given the form factor at the moment.

Bottom Half:

Andy Murray will open with Vasek Pospisil or a qualifier and he very well could fall to the Canadian, who played reasonably well in Asia without any deep runs to show for it. Murray is 9-2 since the US Open though, and he has not lost to a non-top 20 player since the grass court season. In fact, he has just three losses to a player ranked outside the top 20 in 2014, which has not been one of his best seasons by any measure.

Look for Murray to cruise into the semis if he can get past Vashy. His quarterfinal opponent, one of JL Struff/Guillermo Garcia-Lopez/Sergiy Stakhovsky/qualifier is far from imposing and he should not have any trouble. Stako is playing well at the moment: he won the Orleans challenger on indoor hard and fell in the finals of the Tashkent challenger on hard courts last week. However, he is 0-3 career against Struff, with all those matches taking place this year or last, and the German should be fresher for this tournament. Struff was a semifinalist in Metz and should have a good week.

Shanghai semifinalist Feliciano Lopez will look to make a quick turnaround and continue his fine play in Vienna. The Spaniard will open with the Mathieu/Bellucci winner and unless he’s worn out he should setup a meeting with Lukas Rosol in the quarters. Rosol opens with Tashkent champion Lukas Lacko, who should be tired, and then Victor Estrella or a qualifier. Rosol has lost six straight matches, but he actually has a rather easy path to the quarters. Mathieu/Bellucci will have an outside shot at making a run this week, but signs point to Lopez making the semis in this rather weak section.

Dark Horse: Martin Klizan
Klizan can play some great tennis when his game is clicking, through his path of Becker, Thiem/Haase and Kohlschreiber, before a likely meeting with Ferrer. Ferrer in the semis is far from easy, but he’s talented enough to survive the gauntlet. He nearly beat Ferrer in Shanghai, but he couldn’t put the match away, and I don’t think he will beat Ferrer this time either, but I’m sure he’s hungry for revenge.


Ferrer d. Klizan
Murray d. Lopez

Ferrer just survived a battle with Klizan in Shanghai, and Murray has never lost to Lopez in nine career meetings, including two this season.

Murray d. Ferrer

Ferrer did just beat Murray in Shanghai, but I chalk that 3 set loss up to fatigue more than anything else, and the Scot should be motivated to take this title. It could be a close match, but I’m going with Murray as champion this week.

Chris De Waard’s picks

Ferrer d. Thiem
Pospisil d. Lacko

Ferrer d. Pospisil

Kremlin Cup Official Site

ATP Moscow
Kremlin Cup by Bank of Moscow
ATP World Tour 250
Moscow, Russia
October 13-October 19, 2014
Prize Money: $776,620

Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP Ranking in parentheses)
1: Milos Raonic (8)
2: Marin Cilic (9)
3: Ernests Gulbis (13)
4: Fabio Fognini (17)

Cilic and Raonic are both in contention to make the World Tour Finals and like the other two tournaments this week, it is a balanced field in Moscow.

First round matchups to watch:

(8)Andreas Seppi vs. Dusan Lajovic
The rising Serb Lajovic will have a nice upset chance against Seppi, who is a former champion in Moscow. Seppi has not had the best of seasons and he hasn’t played great on indoor hard at the ATP level the past two seasons. Seppi has a h2h win on clay and Lajovic has yet to have sustained success indoors, but I do see this match going 3 sets. I have Seppi getting through in my bracket but the upset possibility is there.

Mikhail Kukushkin vs. (WC)Karen Khachanov
The 18 year old Khachanov made a run to the quarterfinals last year in Moscow and now he has some major points to defend against Kukushkin. Kukushkin played well in Asia, going 4-2 overall, with wins over Kevin Anderson and Tommy Robredo in Shanghai, before narrowly losing to Novak Djokovic in 3 sets. Khachanov, who has yet to really break through and find the consistency he needs to compete with the top players, comes off qualifying for the Rennes challenger, where he lost in round 2. Kukushkin could win this comfortably but Khachanov will have home support, and it should at least be an enjoyable match.

Top Half:

Milos Raonic opens with a qualifier, then most likely Roberto Bautista Agut in the quarters. RBA has Andrey Kuznetsov, a home favorite, up first, then Sam Groth or wild card Andrey Rublev in his path. Rublev is currently the world number 1 junior player, and at 16, he’s making his ATP main draw debut at a home tournament in Moscow. Groth has a big serve but little else going for him, and Rublev will at least have a chance at getting his maiden ATP win. RBA comes off the third round in Shanghai and he has never played Raonic before. Raonic retired most likely due to fatigue, or perhaps the flu, in round 1 in Shanghai, but he should be fresh and fit here in Moscow. Given it’s an indoor hard court tournament, Raonic should cruise to the semis if healthy.

Ernests Gulbis is struggling: the Latvian appears to be carrying a shoulder injury and I’m honestly not sure why he’s playing Moscow nor why he played in Shanghai last week. He’s visibly injured and it’s affecting his game. He should fall to Jiri Vesely, who opens with dirtballer Daniel Gimeno-Traver, in round 2. Vesely has made two consecutive indoor hard court semifinals in Orleans and Mons, and he’s playing well right now. It should be a Vesely vs. Seppi/Lajovic or Ivan Dodig quarterfinal. Dirtballer Pere Riba is also in this section, the first opponent for Dodig. Dodig reversed a previously 0-4 h2h against Seppi across surfaces and beat him in Toronto in 3 sets this year, thus their match in Moscow is an unpredictable affair, should it occur. I have Dodig through to face Vesely, but I am not entirely confident.

Bottom Half:

Marin Cilic will open with Dudi Sela or Evgeny Donskoy. Sela is 2-0 against the underachieving Russian, so he should get through to round 2. Look for Cilic to face Tommy Robredo in the quarterfinals. Robredo will face Malek Jaziri or Filip Krajinovic in round 2 before Cilic. Robredo and Cilic have both lost two straight matches after previously playing well, but the h2h does favor Cilic who is 2-1 on hard courts and 2-1 against the Spaniard this season. Given the indoor hard court surface, it should be Cilic in the semis.

Fabio Fognini lost to a Chinese wild card in Shanghai and he really appears to be off the rails right now. I have him losing to Kukushkin in round 2, and his lack of focus and effort is shining through at the moment. Look for a Kukushkin vs. Mikhail Youzhny quarterfinal, assuming the former Moscow champ can get past a qualifier, and Juan Monaco/Paolo Lorenzi. Youzhny just beat Monaco en route to the Shanghai quarterfinals, perhaps his best result all season, a year in which he has fallen from the top 30 and struggled with consistency. Kukushkin and Youzhny have split indoor hard court meetings on Russian soil and they both had good runs in Shanghai. It’s a hard to predict matchup, given how poor Youzhny has been this season by and large, but he is playing at a tournament he normally does well at so look for the Colonel to advance.

Dark Horse: Jiri Vesely
Kukushkin will also have a chance to do well this week, but Vesely should make the semis with wins over DGT, an injured Gulbis, and Seppi/Dodig/Lajovic. Vesely vs. Seppi and Vesely vs. Dodig would be hard to predict, but the young Czech has a game built to do well on indoor hard and I feel he’s motivated and in the right sort of form to do well.


Raonic d. Vesely
Cilic d. Youzhny

Unless something is wrong with Raonic, he should make the final this week comfortably enough. He crushed Vesely on clay, his weakest surface, at the French Open this year and he’s motivated to make the World Tour Final.

Cilic has won the last 3 meetings with Youzhny, and 4 of the last 5, after the Russian started with a strong h2h advantage. This includes their last three indoor meetings, two of which went to a decisive third set, and though Cilic has lost two straight, he should recover and reach the final, given Youzhny has been poor most of the season.


Raonic d. Cilic

Raonic and Cilic have a 1-1 hard court h2h and Cilic won indoors in Valencia in 2011. Both guys have had excellent seasons, and Cilic has perhaps had the higher peak given he won the US Open, while Raonic has just been a very consistent top 10 player in a variety of tournaments and across surfaces. He plays some of his best tennis indoors and that should be enough to give him the edge.

Chris De Waard’s picks

Bautista Agut d. Dodig
Cilic d. Kukushkin

Cilic d. Bautista Agut

Federer Wins First in Shanghai, Bryans Claim Golden Masters Crown

Federer Wins First in Shanghai, Bryans Claim Golden Masters Crown
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast

Roger Federer

One of the greatest singles players of all time, and perhaps the greatest doubles tandem of all time both made more history at the Masters series tournament in Shanghai this past week. Roger Federer defeated Gilles Simon, who was competing in his second career Masters 1000 level final, 7-6 7-6 to win his maiden Shanghai title. The title is the 23rd at the Masters Series level for the Swiss and he returns to the World Number 2 ranking at the age of 33.

Federer saved five match points against Leo Mayer before winning a third set tiebreak 9-7 to advance to round 3, and he took control of all his other matches, comfortably handling Roberto Bautista Agut, and Julien Benneteau before winning a thrilling contest with world number 1 Novak Djokovic in the semifinals 6-4 6-4.. The two titans of the game battled each other and Federer took just the slightest advantage, knocking out the two time defending Shanghai champion with a pair of breaks.

Simon has been playing some great tennis at the end of the season, and he has had a surprising run of form in Asia. The Frenchman was untroubled by Guillermo Garcia-Lopez after a poor first set, he survived a long match with Stan Wawrinka, eventually prevailing in 3 sets, as both players had chances to take the match, and Wawrinka gave away a break advantage a couple of times. Simon had an easier time against Melake Jaziri in round 3, and then he beat Tomas Berdych in 3 sets to setup a semifinal with Feliciano Lopez, who had beaten Rafael Nadal and John Isner earlier in the week. Simon won that one in two sets with a lone tiebreak, and as I said he has been showing some great fighting spirit in recent weeks, outlasting and out grinding his opponents in some tight contests.

The Bryan Brothers have no other accomplishments to lay claim to in terms of the ATP doubles circuit, after they won Shanghai over Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin. They have now won all of the ATP Masters Series events as a men’s doubles team, along with all of the Grand Slams, and they remain the World’s Number 1 ranked Men’s doubles tandem.

Five Shine @ITATennis Tulsa Fall All-Americans

Five Shine @ITATennis Tulsa Fall All-Americans
Jeff McMillan, Tennis East Coast


Players from around the country competed in the Tulsa Fall All-Americans the past week and a half. The event in Tulsa is an annual tournament, mammoth in size and comprising players from nearly every D1 team in the nation. The tournament started in the pre-qualifying, continued through the qualifying draw and concluded in the main draw Monday. The players were placed in each draw based on pre-season ranking and previous season accomplishment. Players starting in the pre-qualifying draw had to win 7 matches in order to get into the 64 player main draw. 4 players fought their way all the way form the pre-qualifying draw and into the main draw: Jack Murray of North Carolina, AJ Catanzariti of Texas A&M, Jonathan Ho of Wake Forest and Thomas Stillman of Texas-San Antonio.
The 10-day event was full of great matches, upsets, emerging players and overall great play. Of the many players who played in Tulsa 5 in particular stood out:

Ben Lott: Drake. Junior from Newcastle, England.
Tulsa results
QR1: def Wayne Montgomery, Georgia, 6-1 6-4
QR2: def Benjamin Lock, Florida State, 6-2 6-3
QR3: def Ashok Narayana, Columbia, 7-5 6-3
R1: lost to Jared Hitzlik, Illinois, 6-4 7-5
CON: def Harrison Adams, Texas A&M, 6-4 6-4
CON: lost to Chris Diaz, Ohio State, 7-5 6-2

Lott came into Tulsa as an unseeded player in the qualifying draw. He announced his presence in Tulsa with a dominating win over Wayne Montgomery of Georgia who was the hottest young player in the nation prior to this tournament, having just won the Southern Intercollegiate event in Athens. He followed that up with a routine win over Lock, who will likely be the #1 player for Florida State this year. He qualified for the main draw with a win over Narayana. His dream of winning it all was lost with a first round loss to Hitzlik but he backed up his qualifying success with a straight sets win over Texas A&M’s top player Harrison Adams. His tournament ended with a loss to eventual consolation draw runner-up Chris Diaz. Overall, it was a very impressive result for Lott of Drake, who always puts out a very solid tennis program.

Nicolas Alvarez: Duke. Freshman from Lima, Peru.
Tulsa results
QR1: def Nathan Rakitt, Georgia Tech, 6-4 6-4
QR2: def Stefan Lindmark, Ole Miss, 6-4 7-5
QR3: def Tin Ostojic, Wichita State, 6-2 7-5
R1: def Andre Goransson, Cal, 6-0 3-6 6-2
R2: def Jared Hitzlik, Illinois, 2-6 7-5 6-4
R3: def Roberto Cid, USF, 6-3 5-7 6-4
QF: lost to Yannick Hanfmann, Southern Cal, 6-1 6-1

Alvarez was a highly touted freshman coming into Duke this year. He is an accomplished ITF player and figured to immediately make a big impact for the Duke Blue Devils. He proved those thoughts to be exactly right this week in Tulsa with his impressive display. He began his run with a win over Georgia Tech’s #1 player Rakitt and followed that up with two straight set wins over Lindmark and Ostojic. He then won 3 straight 3 set matches to get all the way to the quarterfinals. His wins over Hitzlik and Cid are the particularly good ones considering the elite nature of those two players on a national scale. He will be a big player in the ACC and the nation as a freshman this year.

A.J. Catanzariti: Texas A&M. Freshman from Pittsburgh, PA
Tulsa results
PR1: def Sergio de Vilchez, Wichita State, 6-4 6-0
PR2: def Simon Freund, LSU, 6-2 6-3
PR3: def Matt Frost, Drake, 6-3 6-4
PR4: def Ben Davis, MTSU, 7-5 6-1
QR1: def Eric Johnson, Southern Cal, 6-4 6-7(5) 6-3
QR2: def David Biosca, ETSU, 7-6(2) 6-1
QR3: def Chris Diaz, Ohio State, 7-6(4) 4-6 6-3
R1: lost to Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, Virginia, 7-6(5) 6-4
CON: def Albert Wagner, Louisville, 6-1 6-2
R2: lost to Ronnie Schneider, North Carolina, 7-5 7-5

Catanzariti was the only player in the entire field to win 7 matches in a row to get into the main draw (the other 3 pre-qualifiers had byes in R1 so they only won 6 matches to get in the main draw). He mowed down players in the pre-qualies with the signature win being over Davis of MTSU. In qualifying he knocked off Eric Johnson, one of the key parts of USC’s national title team from last year. His win over Chris Diaz is the standout win of the tournament for the freshman. Catanzariti’s two losses were to two of the best players in college tennis and he was able to give them two tight sets each. Catanzariti proved this week that he will play a role in A&M’s season this year in the SEC.

Thai-Son Kwiatkowski: Virginia. Sophomore from Charlotte, NC
Tulsa results
QR1: def Kevin Metka, Ohio State, 3-6 6-2 6-3
QR2: def Martin Redlicki, UCLA, 6-2 7-6(4)
QR3: def Felipe Rios, Baylor, 6-2 6-4
R1: def AJ Cantazariti, Texas A&M, 7-6(5) 6-4
R2: def Winston Lin, 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3
R3: def Austin Smith, Georgia, 6-1 6-7(3) 6-3
QF: def Julian Lenz, Baylor, 6-2 6-3
SF: lost Sebastian Stieflemeyer, Louisville, 6-1 3-6 6-1

The Virginia sophomore was a quiet rock last year as a freshman. He went through the whole season with only 1 loss with little fanfare. His stellar record may have gone unnoticed on the national scale because he was playing lower in the UVA line-up. But in Tulsa, Thai-Son showed that he will be unnoticed no longer. In his first match he avenged his only collegiate loss by rallying to beat big serving Buckeye veteran Kevin Metka. He then dispatched highly touted UCLA freshman Michael Redlicki, who is expected to be one of the best freshmen in the nation this year before finishing the qualifying campaign with a dominating win over Felipe Rios. After beating Catanzariti in round 1 of the main draw, Kwiatkowski showed his true potential. He defeated Winston Lin and Austin Smith, both of whom were top 15 players in the country last year. Thai-Son showed solid mental strength in each match after he lost the 2nd set and the momentum in both before putting together rock solid 3rd sets. In the quarterfinals Kwiatkowski dominated the #1 seed in Tulsa and Baylor kingpin Julian Lenz in a match that shows just how good the Cavalier is going to be this year. His run came to an eventual end to red-hot Sebastian Stieflemeyer in 3 sets but nonetheless it was an immense week for Thai-Son Kwiatkowski and shows that he will be one of the nation’s top players this year and will be a big part of UVA’s attempt to recapture the national title.

Sebastian Stieflemeyer: Louisville. Senior from Vienna, Austria
Tulsa results
QR1: def Ace Matias, UNLV, 6-1 6-2
QR2: def Ricky Medinilla, Purdue, 6-0 0-6 7-6(3)
QR3: def Robert Kelly, North Carolina, 6-2 1-6 6-2
R1: def Bruno Semenzato, Duke, 4-6 6-2 6-0
R2: def Soren Hess-Olesen, Texas, 6-4 6-2
R3: def Samir Iftikhar, New Mexico, 6-1 7-6(1)
QF: def Dominic Koepfer, Tulane, 4-6 6-3 6-2
SF: def Thai-Son Kwiathowski, Virginia, 6-1 3-6 6-1
F: def Yannick Hanfmann, Southern Cal, 6-3 6-2

After the 10 day event, the many many matches and the players from around the country competing in Tulsa, an unlikely winner emerged. That unlikely winner was Sebastian Stieflemeyer, a senior from Austria for the Louisville Cardinals. Stieflemeyer has always been a solid #1 player for the Cardinals but never considered one of the nation’s elites. But that changed through a week of inspired play. His championship run almost ended in the qualifying draw after he barely survived a roller-coaster match with Purdue’s Ricky Medinilla. After the two traded bagel sets, Stieflemeyer outclassed the Mexican in the 3rd set tiebreak to keep his tournament alive. He then beat two ACC players in three sets each in order to get to a 2nd round showdown with Soren Hess-Olesen. Hess-Olesen was a big favorite coming in and a seemingly bad matchup for Stieflemeyer but the Louisville senior rolled through the Longhorn in two sets. Two fellow surprise players, Iftikhar and Koepfer, were Steiflemeyer’s next victims as he kept rolling into the semifinals. As previously mentioned, he knocked off the on-fire Kwiatkowski to set up a final with Southern Cal’s Yannick Hanfmann. Hanfmann, now a veteran, is one of the best players in the nation and arguably the one with the most ATP potential. He was expected to dismiss the upstart Stieflemeyer but the opposite occurred as Sebastian shockingly routined the USC Trojan to capture the title.

An overall amazing week that comes out of nowhere for Sebastian Stieflemeyer and it will be very interesting to see how he backs up this All-American championship.



Florida’s Adam Decker, background, of Panama City, Fla., and Joey Rudy, (hitting ball) of Boynton Beach, Fla., led the Gators to the final win over Auburn. Photo: USTA/TOC

Florida’s Adam Decker, background, of Panama City, Fla., and Joey Rudy, (hitting ball) of Boynton Beach, Fla., led the Gators to the final win over Auburn. Photo: USTA/TOC

The Gators Take Down Auburn, 25-18 in Championship Match;
N.C. State Takes Home Third Place for Second Straight Year

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C., Oct. 12, 2014 – University of Florida became the first repeat winner at the USTA Tennis On Campus Fall Invitational as the Gators defended their 2013 title with a 25-18 win over Auburn University on Sunday at the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center.

Captained by sophomore Max Koller of Daytona Beach, Fla., Florida showed its strength in doubles and won four out of the five matches in the World TeamTennis format final, including all three in doubles, at the fifth annual event that serves as the kickoff to the popular Tennis On Campus season.

“It was a long tournament and all the teams were really good,” Koller said. “The talent level was extremely high and we are happy to repeat as champions.”

Koller did not play on last year’s championship team, joining the squad in November. “After they won I saw a post on Facebook that they had won the big Fall Invite and I knew they had a really good team,” Koller said. “I wanted to be part of that and had heard how fun Tennis On Campus is.”

Both Florida and Auburn earned an automatic bid to compete for the national title at the 2015 USTA Tennis On Campus National Championship, to be held April 9-11, 2015, in Cary, N.C.



Auburn’s men’s singles player Mitchell Vegas of Spanish Fort, Ala., had the only set win in the final for Auburn, beating Florida’s Joey Rudy of Boynton Beach, Fla., 6-1.

“They had stronger doubles play today,” said Auburn Captain Christian Lyerly. “This is the farthest we’ve ever gotten so we were excited to be in the final.”

Past winners of the event include: University of Alabama (2010), University of Virginia (2011) and Duke University (2012).

Earlier in the day, Florida just got past University of Georgia’s “B” team in one semifinal as the match went to a supertiebreaker with the Gators prevailing, 23-22. Auburn beat N.C. State “A”, 23-16 in the other semifinal.

In the third-place match, N.C. State “A” was down by two points going into the final mixed doubles match but pulled out a 6-3 set win for a 22-21 narrow victory over the University of Georgia “B”.

“We played really well and we won most of our matches by one or two points,” said N.C. State captain Phillip Cardella, whose team was beaten by Georgia “B” in pool play on Friday. “I think our girls are a lot better than last year so we should be pretty good this year.”

It was the second consecutive year the Wolf Pack has finished third at the Fall Invite. N.C. State won the Bronze title at the TOC Nationals in April.

Forty-eight teams competed in the tournament. Alabama won the Silver Bracket; Ohio University won the Bronze and Indiana University captured the Copper.

Individual Results Final Match
Women’s Doubles
Women’s Doubles

Florida’s Natalie Boruk (Clearwater, Fla.) / Anna Rachman (Daytona Beach, Fla.) def. Auburn’s Jennifer Costigan (Naples, Fla.) / Holly Maxey (Stockbridge, Ga), 6-0
Florida leads 6-0
Men’s Doubles
Florida’s Adam Decker (Panama City, Fla) / Joey Rudy (Boynton Beach, Fla). def. Auburn’s Danny Hester (Nashville, Tenn.) / Jonathan Hibbert (Montgomery, Ala), 6-4
Florida leads 12-4
Women’s Singles
Florida’s Barrie Eisenberg (Weston Fla.) def. Auburn’s Courtney Johns (Mobile, Ala.), 6-4
Florida leads 18-8
Men’s Singles
Auburn’s Mitchell Vegas (Spanish Fort, Ala.) def. Florida’s Rudy, 6-1
Florida leads 19-14
Mixed Doubles
Florida’s Decker / Eisenberg def. Auburn’s Vegas / Johns, 6-4
FINAL: Univ. of Florida 25, Auburn 18

Other Auburn players included: Captain Christian Lyerly (Birmingham, Ala.), Jake Muller (Windermere, Fla.) and Michael Feirer (Milton, Ga). Other Florida players included: Koller (Daytona Beach, Fla.), Spencer Ong (Tampa, Fla.) and Stephanie Cruz (Palm Harbor, Fla.).

Sunday’s Results
Univ. of Florida 25, Auburn 18
Univ. of Florida 23, Univ. of Georgia (B) 22
Auburn 23, N.C. State (A) 16
Third Place
N.C. State (A) 22, Univ. of Georgia (B) 21
Consolation Final
Harvard 26, Kentucky 17
Consolation Semifinal
Kentucky def. Wisconsin (withdraw)
Harvard 25, UNC-Charlotte 21
Georgia Tech (A) 26, Boston College 19
Georgia (A) 24, Virginia 16
Georgia (A) 25, Georgia Tech (A) 23
Clemson (A) 28, William & Mary 19
Cornell 21, Ohio State 20
Cornell 21, Clemson (A) 19
Boston College 23, Virginia 19

Alabama 22, South Carolina (A) 19
South Carolina (A) 28, Tennessee (A) 18
Alabama 24, Cincinnati (A) 22
Third Place
Cincinnati (A) 27, Tennessee (A) 13
Consolation Final
Elon 27, UNC-Charlotte 15
Consolation Semifinals
Elon 27, Duke 14
UNC-Charlotte 26, Wake Forest 24
Georgia College 21, Villanova 17
Cincinnati (B) 30, Ferris State 28
Georgia College 24, Cincinnati (B) 9
Virginia Tech 24, College of Charleston 17
Georgia Tech (B) 24, Virginia Tech 18
NC State (B) 28, College of Charleston 17
Georgia Tech (B) 27, NC State (B) 21

Ohio University 25, Connecticut 19
Vanderbilt 30, South Carolina (B) 17
Consolation Final
Colorado School of Mines 25, Furman 24
Old Dominion 26, Coastal Carolina 11

Indiana 28, Ohio State 16
Third Place
Clemson (B) 30, Tennessee (B) 21
Consolation Final
Dayton 11, Armstrong Atlantic State 11
Mercer 24, Middle Tennessee State 16

Past USTA Tennis On Campus Fall Invitational Champions
2010 – University of Alabama
2011 – University of Virginia
2012 – Duke University
2013 – University of Florida
2014 – University of Florida

—S. Pratt


Whitlock (center front)
The University of Georgia’s “B” player Callie Whitlock at front and center after clinching a tiebreaker win over Boston College, 27-26, in the most exciting finish of the day.

Adam Decker of Florida

Defending champion University of Florida is led by senior Adam Decker, who has made three finals appearances at the TOC National Championships.


Florida, Georgia “B”, N.C. State, Auburn Advance to Semifinals Sunday

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C., Oct. 11, 2014 – University of Florida knows the feeling of the thrill of victory at the USTA Tennis On Campus Fall Invitational having won the 2013 title at the fifth annual tournament currently taking place at the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center.

The Gators also know all too well the agony of the defeat at the TOC National Championships in April as they have been the Buffalo Bills of TOC finishing runners-up four of the past five years.

One of Florida’s top players and senior Adam Decker has been on three of those four finalists teams at Nationals. “We’re hoping for a different outcome at Nationals this year, but we have to get there first,” said Decker, who on Saturday led his team into Sunday’s semifinals with wins over William & Mary (29-16) and a close 22-20 overtime win over Georgia Tech’s “A” team.

The winner and runner-up from the Fall Invitational will qualify for an automatic bid to compete for the national title at the 2015 USTA Tennis On Campus National Championship, to be held April 9-11, 2015, in Cary, N.C.

The Gators, from the USTA Florida section, moved one step closer to that automatic bid and will face Georgia’s “B” team on Sunday in an 8 a.m. Gold Bracket semifinal. A total of seven points is all that separated all four semifinals as the University of Georgia “B” team eked out a 27-26 victory against Boston College to advance.

Georgia was down heading into the final mixed doubles match, which involved former NCAA Division II player Callie Whitlock, who this year transferred from Rollins College to Georgia. Whitlock and her partner pulled out a 6-3 win to tie the match, then won the supertiebreaker 7-2 to clinch the win.

Whitlock could be the new poster child for Tennis On Campus as she said the pressure of collegiate tennis became too much, and she wanted to return to playing tennis “just for fun.”

“Plus my dad went to Georgia and I wanted to study music business and they were voted as one of the top programs for that major,” Whitlock said. “I love this format. This is the first time I got to play the ‘redemption’ match where we were down, tied it, then won the tiebreaker. It’s so much different but I just like it. I like the mixed doubles, and how much of a team environment there is.”

Whitlock said ever since coming to Georgia she has enjoyed college. “I was a little bit burned out on tennis,” she said. “We had practice every day for two hours and morning practice three times a week. I wanted to just enjoy college a little bit more. There’s just a lot more pressure and I wanted to get back to just playing for fun. That’s what Tennis On Campus is all about.”

Georgia’s “A” team came so close to having both Bulldog teams facing each other in the semifinals, but the “A” team dropped a 20-17 decision to Auburn.

Both Georgia teams are sharing a rented house on the beach, said senior captain Marissa Pulido, who plays women’s doubles for the “A” team. “To have two teams get to the quarterfinals is incredible,” Pulido said. “It’s never been done here before so we have a new record.”

Pulido said the depth of the Georgia Tennis On Campus team speaks to how strong the Metro-Atlanta area is in tennis. Led by Pulido, the Bulldogs beat — you guessed it — Florida to win the 2013 TOC National title. “That was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences I’ve ever had on the court,” Pulido said.

Pulido said that both the “A” and “B” teams were equal and were a mix of the program’s best players. She added that the “A” team also has a former varsity player in Brian Brandt, a transfer Birmingham Southern.

The Bulldog “A” team beat Harvard, 28-20, in the Round of 16 earlier in the day. Later in a battle of Ivy League schools, Harvard downed Cornell, 25-17.

Saturday’s Final Pool Play Results
Pool 7
N.C. State (A) 30, Indiana 8
Univ. of Georgia (B) 30, Vanderbilt 6
Pool 8
Boston College 29, Tennessee (A) 18
Ferris State 28, Mercer 15
Pool 9
UNC-Chapel Hill 30, College of Charleston 9
Ohio University 25, Tennessee (B) 12
Pool 10
Auburn 27, William & Mary 14
Cincinnati (B) 25, Middle Tennessee State 11
Pool 11
Cornell 24, Cincinnati (A) 19
Wake Forest 27, South Carolina (B) 21
Pool 12
Georgia Tech (A) 23, Harvard 20
Furman 27, Old Dominion 19

Winners’ Bracket Round of 16
Florida 29, William & Mary 16
Georgia Tech 24 (A), Kentucky 19
Georgia (B) 28, Wisconsin 17
Boston College 24, Clemson (A) 21
N.C. State (A) 22, UNC-Charlotte 20
Virginia 28, Ohio State (A)
Auburn 24, Cornell 13
Georgia (A) 28, Harvard 20
Florida 22, Georgia Tech (A) 20
Georgia (B) 27, Boston College 26
N.C. State 24, Virginia 23
Auburn 20, Georgia (A) 20
Losers’ Bracket Quarterfinals
Kentucky 23, William & Mary 17
Wisconsin 27, Clemson (A) 19
UNC-Charlotte 26, Ohio St. (A) 21
Harvard 25, Cornell 17
Round of 16
South Carolina (A) 28, Wake Forest 15
Virginia Tech 23, Georgia College 22
Georgia Tech (B) 24, UNC-Charlotte 20
Tennessee (A) 24, Villanova 16
Alabama 26, Cincinnati (B) 15
College of Charleston 25, Duke 18
N.C. State (B) 22, Elon 21
Cincinnati (A) 30, Ferris State 7
South Carolina (A) 30, Virginia Tech 8
Tennessee (A) 23, Georgia Tech (B) 21
Alabama 29, College of Charleston 18
Cincinnati (A) 26, N.C. State (B) 15
Consolation Quarterfinals
Wake Forest 23, Georgia College 18
UNC-Charlotte 26, Villanova 23
Duke 20, Cincinnati (B) 14
Elon 30, Ferris State 20

Ohio University 30, Coastal Carolina 11
South Carolina (B) 27, Furman 24
Vanderbilt 25, Old Dominion 15
Connecticut 21, Colorado School of Mines 19
Ohio University 26, South Carolina (B) 19
Connecticut 28, Vanderbilt 19
Back Draw
Furman 30, Coastal Carolina 17
College of the Mines 21, Old Dominion 20

Tennessee (B) 21, Middle Tennessee State 15
Indiana 27, Armstrong Atlantic State 8
Clemson (B) 22, Mercer 21
Ohio State (B) 30, Dayton 14
Indiana 27, Tennessee (B) 12
Ohio State (B) 27, Clemson (B) 17
Back Draw
Armstrong Atlantic State 26, Middle Tennessee State 13
Dayton 27, Mercer 18

Sunday’s Schedule
8 a.m. – Gold, Silver, Copper Bracket Playoffs
10 a.m. – Gold, Silver, Bronze Bracket Playoffs
Noon – Gold, Silver, Copper Bracket Playoffs
Noon – TOC National Fall Invitational Gold Bracket Championship Match

Past USTA Tennis On Campus Fall Invitational Champions
2010 – University of Alabama
2011– University of Virginia
2012 – Duke University
2013 – University of Florida

—S. Pratt