I had updated the Tournaments of the Week section of the page in the morning, but caught up in the action in St. Petersburg and Metz (particularly the former), I hadn’t paid any attention to the draws until I saw this tweet from Dustin Brown:
— Dustin Brown (@DreddyTennis) September 22, 2012
So I went to check the draw, and what a surprise I had to see the field, led by World n° 18 Philipp Kohlschreiber.
The last direct acceptance (cut) was Josselin Ouanna, ranked 147th in the world, which is also very telling as to the quality of the draw, comparable if not better than in some ATP250 tournaments. Just to compare with this week’s tournaments, in Asia, the cuts are 103 (Vasek Pospisil) in Kuala Lumpur and 111 (Dudi Sela) in Bangkok.
Apart from Kohlschreiber, some of the players at the Orléans Challenger would have their place in the main draw of any of the two events taking place in Asia this week: David Goffin, Xavier Malisse, Nicolas Mahut, Simone Bolelli, Jesse Levine, Gilles Muller, Steve Darcis, Michaël Llodra, Ernests Gulbis, Ricardas Berankis, etc.
And yet, this is a Challenger Tour event.
I wonder why that is so… Is it because the tournament organisers give a lot of money to the participating players? Is it because of the costs of travelling to Asia for one (or two) extra weeks? Is it to stay near home a little longer?
Only the players can tell, but it is really a manna for the tennis fans in Orléans, who will see high quality tennis during the next week.
Meanwhile, in Asia…
In Asia, it seems like it is the opposite, as far as the tournaments are concerned. Indeed, the ranking cut is higher than in Orléans, but looking at the qualification draws raises the same questions as the why that many quite highly ranked players take part in the French Challenger Tour event.
There were no less than 11 doubles specialists (six in Bangkok, five in Kuala Lumpur) taking part in the qualifications for those events. It is not so rare to see one or two of them testing the grounds in singles at a lot of ATP250 tournaments, but 11? That’s a lot.
In Bangkok, three of them passed the first round of qualifications: Jamie Murray, Eric Butorac, and Jean-Julien Rojer. I don’t think that, unless they really play out of their minds, they will go any further, as they are respectively facing Kevin Anderson (who most probably entered late and so had to go through the qualifications despite being ranked 35th in the world), Evgeny Korolev, and Yuichi Sugita.
In Kuala Lumpur, all five doubles specialists passed the first round, but three remain for a place in the main draw: Dominic Inglot, Treat Conrad Huey, and Julian Knowle. I would say Inglot has the best chance to qualify, as he will face Austin Karosi, ranked 1,352nd in the world, and who advanced to the final round of qualifications by walkover, as Vasek Pospisil was promoted to the main draw. Huey and Knowle will respectively face Riccardo Ghedin and Toshihide Matsui.
A Challenger Tour event with an ATP250 field and two ATP250 qualification draws talking doubles players to sort of fill the blanks. It makes for quite a bizarre week…