2013 USTA Tallahassee Tennis Challenger Main Draw Preview
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
The main draw for the Tally Challenger starts bright and early Monday, and here is a preview of the action that will be on tap this week. I’ll provide three days of on site coverage.
USTA Tallahassee Tennis Challenger
ATP Challenger Tour/USTA Pro Circuit
Tallahasssee, Florida, USA
April 28-May 4, 2013
Prize Money: $50,000
Top 8 seeds:
1: Michael Russell
2: Ryan Harrison
3: Wayne Odesnik
4: Jack Sock
5: Tim Smyczek
6: Steve Johnson
7: Denis Kudla
8: Mischa Zverev
7 of the 8 seeds are Americans, and they represent the crowded American pack between the top 100 and the top 150.
Muscles Russell, coming off quarters in Savannah, will take on Suk-Young Jeong of Korea before facing the winner of Tennys Sandgren/Cedrik-Marcel Stebe. Russell just beat Sandgren in Savannah round 2. While the 22 year old German Stebe was formerly known as a very promising young talent, he has flatlined a bit in his career, hovering inside the top 200 but not having won consecutive matches since January. He was ranked as high as 71 last year.
Steve Johnson, who lost to Sandgren in Savannah, will play a qualifier, and the winner gets a qualifier or defending finalist Frank Dancevic of Canada. The only caveat about defending finalist being is that last year’s event was on hard court, and this year’s event is on Har-Tru clay. Dancevic is 1-2 in his last 3 matches, all on the Har-Tru clay challenge circuit.
After breakthrough quarterfinals in Memphis, Sock has been a bit below average, and is on a two match losing streak heading into Tally. He will get the tough draw of Alex Kuznetsov, who of course won the Sarasota challenger and made the quarterfinals in Savannah. With those showings, Kuznetsov has nearly put a lock on the French Open wildcard spot and another win would clinch it for him. The winner gets current Florida State Seminole Dominic Cotrone, a wild card, or struggling Canadian Peter Polansky, who has lost two straight opening round matches.
Defending champ Tim Smyczek will face a qualifier, and the winner gets Gerald Melzer (the promising younger brother of well known ATP pro Jurgen Melzer) or current FAMU player Salif Kante, a wild card who hails from Senegal.
Odesnik is the only other player in the running for the French Open Wild Card, but he would need at a minimum to make the final, and probably take the title, along with getting some help from Kuznetsov in the form of an early loss in order to have more overall points. With that in mind, he starts against Denys Molchanov, who he just beat in the Sarasota semis in 3 sets and the winner gets former Duke standout and wild card Reid Carleton, of Naples, Florida, or Savannah finalist Facundo Arguello. Odesnik just beat Arguello in Sarasota.
Denis Kudla is nearing his career high ranking inside the top 140 again, and he will open against Sarasota semifinalist Somdev Devvarman. The winner gets Bradley Klahn or Nicolas Barrientos.
Savannah champ Harrison will look to make a quick turnaround as he takes on Taro Daniel of Japan, who qualified in Savannah. The winner gets Alex Bogdanovic or wild card Austin Krajicek.
Veteran Mischa Zverev will take on Nikoloz Basilashvili and the winner gets Donald Young or a qualifier.
Melzer d. Russell
Young d. Devvarman
Russell or Stebe should emerge from the first quarter, while Melzer is due for a good run and seems to be the freshest talent in the 2nd quarter, though Kuznetsov is playing great right now. Odesnik and Arguello are both good on clay but you would have to assume both are worn out from Savannah and Sarasota runs, and Devvarman has shown he can do well on Har-Tru.
Young is slowly improving this year, and you would also have to assume Harrison is going to be tired out from the Savannah title. Watch out for Taro Daniel as well.
Melzer d. Young