Match Points – April 28, 2015

News from around the game.

 Great ATP debut for Rublev

Here’s the skinny, according to the ATP’s Greg Sharko:



Let’s have a look; Murray had just turned 18 when he did all this.




Impressive, some good scalps and even the matches he lost, young Murray was quite competitive. Taylor Dent? Not so happy.

So far, young Russian Andrey Rublev has beaten Dudi Sela (No. 90) in Delray, Carreño Busta in Miami (No. 54), and this, in Barcelona:


Dzumhur, whom Rublev defeated 6-3, 6-3 on Tuesday in Istanbul, is ranked No. 86. He gets Santiago Giraldo of Colombia in the second round.

Last fall, he lost in the first round in Moscow to Sam Groth in his ATP Tour debut.

What did Federer do?

At 18, he lost his ATP-level debut in Gstaad to Argentine Lucas Arnold Ker (No. 88) on clay. Then he lost in the QFs of Toulouse to top-20 player Siemerink, after beating two top-50 players in earlier rounds. Then he lost in the first round at home in Basel – but to Andre Agassi. Rough one. After that, in Marseille, he upset No. 5 Carlos Moya in the first round before losing in the quarters to Arnaud Clément. In his fifth event in Rotterdam, he defeated two top-75 players before losing to No. 2 Kafelnikov in three sets.

Rafael Nadal?

At 15, ranked No. 762, Nadal made his ATP debut at a tournament at home in Mallorca and defeated No. 81 Ramon Delgado of Paraguay in the first round before losing to Olivier Rochus. Nadal didn’t play his next one for a full year, when he reached the quarters in Monte Carlo at age 16 and upset No. 7 Albert Costa in the second round before losing to Coria. In Barcelona, he won his first match on a retirement before losing to Alex Corretja in three sets. In Hamburg, he beat Paul-Henri Mathieu (No. 44) and Moya (No. 4) before losing to Gaston Gaudio. His fifth event was Wimbledon; he won two rounds before losing to world No. 11 Paradorn Srichaphan in straight sets.

Grigor Dimitrov – considered a prodigy at that age?

Dimitrov made his ATP debut shortly before his 17th birthday, losing to Andrey Golubev in the first round of qualifying in Barcelona. His next event was ‘s-Hertogenbosch on grass, on a wild card, where he was easily dismissed by No. 37 Igor Andreev in the first round. Next came the qualifying in Madrid that October; he lost in the first round to No. 64 Florent Serra of France in straight sets. In Basel, he defeated No. 126 Jiri Vanek in the first round of qualifying before losing to No. 270 Julian Reister, 6-2, 6-2. His fifth tournament was Rotterdam in Feb. 2009, when he was still 17. There, he upset No. 23 Tomas Berdych in the first round before taking Nadal to three sets.

So it means something, or it doesn’t. Only time will tell. But it’s a great start.


Bjorkman finally joins team Murray

Speaking of Murray, long-awaited new coach Jonas Bjorkman finally danced his way off Sweden’s version of Dancing with the Stars, and starts work with his new charge in Munich.

Murray’s main coach, Amélie Mauresmo, should be off on a maternity break after Wimbledon, so integrating Bjorkman is on the fast track. Everyone looks happy.

Team Murray


The Fed – a tad overdressed in Istanbul

Federer and friends

Roger Federer probably makes himself pretty scarce at player parties these days. So he might not necessarily know that the way his fellow competitors are dressed here is pretty much the typical uniform (the ladies, by contrast, tend to overdo it, which makes for an interesting contrast at joint events).

Then again, there’s NEVER a bad time to wear a suit and tie – especially if a tourney’s corporate sponsors are dropping a couple mil to have you there. Watch and learn, fellas; watch and learn.

(Pic from the ATP Tour site)


WTA top dogs hit the fashion circuit

Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic have both gone glam this week.


Sharapova Tweeted that the Esquire cover was one of several covers that will appear in various countries.

She’s ROCKING that one-piece, thus proving you don’t have to wear a bikini to rock it.


No. 1 in the qualies, No. 1 in the main draw

Facundo Bagnis-RG14_new

It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. And it’s happening this week at the Challenger tournament in Tallahassee, Fla. as Argentina’s Facundo Bagnis is top dog in both.

Canadian Philip Bester was in a similar situation a few weeks ago at a Futures event in Texas, where he was the No. 1 seed in the qualies – and the No. 2 seed in the main draw after he got through.

The first thing that has to happen is that the singles draw has to be made AFTER qualies are completed – obviously.

USTA supervisor Mike Loo explained to Open Court how it all came about.

Bagnis, a 25-year-old lefty very near his career best at No. 92 in the rankings, hadn’t entered the Tallahassee event but decided, after losing in the first round at a similar tournament in Savannah, Georgia last week, to play the qualifying.

It was a small draw – just two matches to make it and Bagnis, as the top seed, actually got a first-round bye. So one match. The qualifying was going to be completed on Sunday, Loo said. So he determined that it would be okay to wait for that one match to be completed and for Bagnis to qualify (assuming he won), because he would be the No. 1 seed.

Bagnis got by countryman Andrea Collarini (who at one time competed for the U.S.) 7-5, 6-1. And that was that.

“When practical, the main draw can be done after qualifying is completed.  This does not happen too often but neither is it very rare,” Loo told Open Court.

The bad-luck recipient of this was Bagnis’s first-round foe, young American Francis Tiafoe. This was his first pro match against a top-100 player. Of course, it could have happened anyway, the law of the draw being what it is.



Former Raonic coach has two new charges

Things really didn’t work out for former Milos Raonic coach Galo Blanco with his next Canadian project, Filip Peliwo. Seriously didn’t work out.

But the Spaniard has two interesting prospects under his tutelage these days.

The first is Karen Khachanov, an 18-year-old from Moscow who is already 6-foot-6 and ranked No. 237. And Blanco’s newest pupil is Sweden’s Elias Ymer, who has made a big of a splash of late and is ranked No. 171 at age 19.




It seems Blanco is carving a nice little niche for himself in that age bracket, players making the transition from the juniors to the pros.


New academy welcomes new coach

The All-In Academy, a facility just outside Paris which is now the training base for young Canadian Filip Peliwo, has added experienced pro coach Gabriel Urpi to its roster.

Urpi, called a “franco-espagnol” in the French media coached Flavia Pennetta for many years. In 2012, when Amélie Mauresmo took over the French Fed Cup team, she named Urpi as the coach. So his French connection was long established.

Urpi, 54, brought Arantxa Sanchez Vicario to No. 1 in the world, with titles at the French Open and U.S. Open in 2004. He also was working with Conchita Martinez when she reached the Australian Open final in 1998 and helped Pennetta to become the first Italian woman to reach the top 10.

With his experience mainly on the women’s side, it seems clear this fledgling academy, which doesn’t currently boast any female players of note, plans to change that.



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3 thoughts on “Match Points – April 28, 2015

  1. I agree. I find it very interesting to find out tidbits on either little-known or up-and-coming players.

    Thank you, Steph! 🙂

  2. Great article. I would love to know how you get all of these tidbits. Hard work no doubt.

    • Thanks. Yeah, that’s why I can’t do it every day. Too much of a time suck. No shortage of material though, that’s for sure.

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