Main draw action started today in Rome, where six first-round matches were played on top of the last seven qualifying matches. If Paolo Lorenzi defeating Nikolay Davydenko was a half surprise considering how good the Italian is on clay, I got particularly wrong in my prediction regarding Milos Raonic.
I honestly thought that Milos, who did improve a lot on clay, would easily get the better of a slumping Florian Mayer to get a very anticipated meeting with Rafael Nadal in the second round. How wrong was I! The ATP version of a Jack-in-the-box was as Jack-in-the-boxy as ever, as he quickly disposed of the new World no 21 (a career high!), 7-6(5) 6-4.
That was quite a surprise. So instead of the Canadian rising star, it’s the German veteran who will be across the net from Nadal in a couple of days and I’m pretty sure that since it’s on clay rather than on indoor hard, the result will be quite different from their only meeting.
There were two things that came most to my attention on the Challenger Tour this week. The first one was that Ivo Karlovic no longer holds the record for the fastest serve on the planet.
In fact, it is not once, but three times that Aussie Samuel Groth beat the 251 kph record serve of Dr Ivo, firing bombs at respectively 253.5 kph, 255.7 kph and the record 263 kph.
All of them were done in the same second-round match at the Busan (South Korea) Challenger, lost by Groth.
I knew that Groth had a great serve, but to be honest, I didn’t think it was powerful enough to beat Karlovic’s record mark. Congrats to Groth on his new record!
Double joy vs double heartbreak
Today’s finals at the Prague Challenger also caught my attention, as both finals, singles and doubles, opposed the same players, and in the end, both ended up the same way: Horacio Zeballos fighting and winning and Martin Klizan being on the heartbreakingly losing end.
In singles, Zeballos overcame a 1-6 in the first set to win his first title two and a half years, roughly (last time he won a title was at the Buenos Aires Challenger, in 2009), 1-6 6-4 7-6(6). A long-awaited end to a title draught that will assuredly bring more confidence to the lefty from Mar Del Plata.
A few hours later, Zeballos, this time with Lukas Rosol, defeated Klizan and Igor Zelenay, again saving match points, 7-5 2-6 12-10. As much as I’m happy for the Argentine, I admit I’m also very sad for Klizan, a very talented young Slovakian lefty, who twice in the same day ended on the losing end of a tight match.
Magic in Brazil
After finishing third in Medellín last week, Fabrice Santoro won his first title of his new career on the Champions Tour today, in São Paulo, as the Magician defeated Mark Philippoussis for the second consecutive week, this time in the final, 6-3 6-4.
At 39 years of age, it’s a very nice second career for Santoro, who made his Champions Tour debut last December, in London. This win also puts him third in the Champions rankings, behind Carlos Moyà and Mark Philippoussis.
Sadly, the next Champions Tour event will not take place until August, in Belgium.