Match Reports 1/30 - 2/5
Table of Contents
Tenerife 2 Challenger
- F: Matteo Arnaldi (-155) def Raul Brancaccio (+120) 6-1 6-2
- QF: Raul Brancaccio (-140) def Carlos Taberner (+110) 6-3 6-7(6) 6-0
- QF: Matteo Arnaldi (-125) def Oleksii Krutykh (+100) 6-4 6-1
- 2R: Oleksii Krutykh (-250) def Valentin Royer (+175) 6-4 6-7(5) 6-3
- 2R: Matteo Arnaldi (-300) def Shintaro Mochizuki (+215) 6-0 2-6 6-3
- 1R: Shintaro Mochizuki (+135) def Matteo Gigante (-175) 6-3 4-6 6-3
- Q2: Shintaro Mochizuki (-208) def Miguel Damas (+150) 7-5 6-3
- QF: Camila Osorio (+275) def Linda Noskova (-350) 6-4 7-6(3)
- 2R: Alycia Parks (-110) def Petra Martic (-110) 2-6 7-6(3) 6-2
- 2R: Camila Osorio (+120) def Jule Niemeier (-155) 7-6(5) 7-5
- 2R: Linda Noskova (-550) def Mayar Sherif (+400) 6-3 6-2
WTA Hua Hin
- 2R: Lin Zhu (-425) def Su Jeong Jang (+310) 6-4 7-6(6)
- 2R: Tamara Zidansek (+225) def Linda Fruhvirtova (-275) 6-3 4-6 6-4
- 1R: Dayana Yastremska (-150) def Moyuka Uchijima (+125) 6-3 6-7(3) 6-2
- 1R: Su Jeong Jang (+295) def Katie Boulter (-400) 6-3 4-6 6-3
- 1R: Lin Zhu (-175) def Xiyu Wang (+140) 4-6 6-3 6-0
Match Reports: Sunday February 5
Matteo Arnaldi (-155) def Raul Brancaccio (+120) 6-1 6-2
Tenerife 2 Challenger Finals
Arnaldi raced out to a 4-0 lead here and the result was never in doubt. Arnaldi and Brancaccio were both very steady in rallies all week, played excellent defense, and played controlled yet effective offense. The trouble here is Arnaldi was just better in every aspect. He has a much better first serve, better second serve, more power on both wings, with a similar repertoire of shots and similar levels of consistency. Brancaccio got blitzed by Arnaldi to start the match, getting overwhelmed by Arnaldi’s pace and consistency without Arnaldi even trying to do too much. So Brancaccio had to try to elevate his game, to hit riskier shots than he likes, to redirect balls when he’s rushed, to go for offensive shots where he’s normally playing a neutral or defensive ball against players his level. This led to a higher error count than usual for Brancaccio.
The major deciding factor here was the serve/return dynamic. Brancaccio started every return point on the defensive, which is understandable. Brancaccio also started every one of his own second serve points, and most of his first serve points on the defensive, or at best, neutral. Arnaldi converted 4 of 7 break chances in this match, Brancaccio had 0 break chances.
This match opened at a pickem, which in my opinion was not a fair representation of these two players’ levels. Even at -155, I think Arnaldi was still a good bet. But hindsight is 20/20, and the fact that the books opened Brancaccio as a pickem may have scared some people off, considering Arnaldi looked like the better player all week, and is a bit higher in ELO ratings.
Match Reports: Friday February 3
Raul Brancaccio (-140) def Carlos Taberner (+110) 6-3 6-7(6) 6-0
Tenerife 2 Challenger Quarterfinals
This match was not played at the same level as some matches on the other side of the draw such as Krutykh vs Royer, and Arnaldi’s matches. The pace was slower, the serving was mediocre, and there were a lot of extended rallies where neither player was really trying to create much. It had more a feeling of a clay court match, which makes sense given both of these players are best on clay.
With that said, Brancaccio seems to have adapted his game better to hard courts. Although his serve is not good (it’s about Mochizuki-level), once the points got started, he had more ways to win points, was looking to create more in rallies, and was dictating more. Taberner spent most of the match just pushing the ball back cross court, waiting for Brancaccio to try something so he could counterpunch. But this was a long run losing strategy for Taberner, as Brancaccio has all the shots necessary to counter this strategy. Although Brancaccio doesn’t hit with much pace, he was great directional control of his groundstrokes and hits with good depth, and can comfortably direct his groundstrokes cross court or down the line without missing. Brancaccio also made liberal use of the drop shot when Taberner when he pushed him wide in rallies. Brancaccio on occassion can inject some pace into his forehand when he has time to set up, but he rarely overhits and rarely misses. Overall, neither player could overpower the other and neither player had a good serve, but Brancaccio was the more skilled and creative player. He was actually up a set and a break midway through the second set but had a little lapse which allowed Taberner to steal a set. However, this never had the feeling of Taberner being able to win. He came in with losing tactics and never adjusted.
By the way, some of these serving stats are almost comical for an ATP match
Break points converted:
- Brancaccio: 11 of 23
- Taberner: 6 of 19
1st serve points won:
- Brancaccio: 54%
- Taberner: 38%
2nd serve points won:
- Brancaccio: 42%
- Taberner: 46%
So yeah, based on this performance, I don’t give Brancaccio much of a chance against Arnaldi in the finals. Arnaldi has a strong serve, and has more power on both wings compared to Taberner. He’s also looking to create more than Taberner, and won’t allow Brancaccio to dictate rallies at will. Not only does Arnaldi have a better serve and more power than Brancaccio, he also doesn’t miss and is a skilled defender. Brancaccio has been grinding on challengers for several years, while Arnaldi is still young and improving, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him in the top 100 consistently playing tour level soon. My money is on Arnaldi.
Matteo Arnaldi (-125) def Oleksii Krutykh (+100) 6-4 6-1
Tenerife 2 Challenger Quarterfinals
Arnaldi was really good. Arnaldi seemed to have an answer for everything, and Krutykh was having to work really hard to score points. Defensively, Arnaldi was a wall, and this was quite a display of speed, endurance, and rally tolerance. And when he needed to go on the offensive, he was efficient in doing so. Krutykh only won 48% of his 1st serve points, and in the second set, he may have gotten a bit frustrated and impatient with his inability to close out points, and led to a lopsided scoreline.
With all that said, the skill difference did not seem to be very big between these two players. Krutykh is not far off from Arnaldi’s level, and this was also indicated in the pre-match odds, which had them at almost a pickem. But in this match, Arnaldi held the mental edge, and that made all the difference.
Camila Osorio (+275) def Linda Noskova (-350) 6-4 7-6(3)
WTA Lyon Quarterfinals
MERCI A TODOS! This past week has been the Linda Noskova show, some have even described her as a washing machine. But the washing machine stopped washing today. Osorio is through to a semi-finals matchup with Caroline Garcia after frustrating another big hitter into submission.
Osorio’s matches are often a break-fest, and this one was no different, with Osorio scoring 5 breaks and Noskova scoring 4 breaks. But the narrative of Osorio frustrating opponents into submission wasn’t the full story here. Osorio was also playing aggressive when she got the chance, opportunistically going for decisive winners. In the end, Osorio hit 18 winners compared to 20 for Noskova, with significantly less unforced errors. It’s time to start appreciating Osorio’s ball-striking ability, she was making clean contact against the full power of Noskova, utilizing Noskova’s power against her. And it wasn’t just on balls hit right to her. She was making clean contact, hitting balls back with depth while running at a full sprint, and also on first and second serve returns.
It’s easy to get distracted by how often Osorio’s serve gets broken… but let’s not forget the other side of the equation, which is how often she breaks her opponents. She is an elite returner. She displayed smart returning tactics here, consistently hitting Noskova’s powerful serve deep down the middle right at her, often rushing Noskova, and not allowing her to find any angles. When Noskova did manage to hit into the open court, Osorio was consistently able to hit a neutralizing shot on the run. Noskova rarely had an easy service game, and it will be interesting to see how Garcia’s elite serve holds up against Osorio’s elite return game.
When Noskova got down a break in the second set, she started to play with a sense of urgency, like a wounded tiger backed into a corner. When Osorio’s deep returns would come back down the middle, Noskova stopped trying to guide the ball, and instead started bashing the ball without hesitation. The result was, instead of her groundstrokes going boom, they went BOOM! And although Osorio is fast enough to hit a neutralizing shot on the run on boom shots, she can barely get a racket on BOOM shots. When Noskova is hitting every shot like BOOM, there’s not much an opponent can do.
The second set ended up going to a tiebreaker, and Osorio’s consistency and variety won out. Osorio would crush the ball one shot, slice the next, crush the ball next, loop the ball next, and then drop shot, etc. Noskova had a hard time finding a rhythm, and the cumulative pressure Osorio put on her got her in the tiebreak. After 3-3, Noskova lost 4 straight points, 3 of them where she was clearly in control of the point but couldn’t close it out (the other one was a double fault).
Match Reports: Thursday February 2
Oleksii Krutykh (-250) def Valentin Royer (+175) 6-4 6-7(5) 6-3
Tenerife 2 Challenger 2nd Round
Incredibly high quality match here between 22 year old Krutykh and 21 year of Royer, both of whom have been steadily improving and in good form recently. In this match, it did not feel like either player was better, and both players have similar play styles and strengths. Both guys are strong servers, and back up their first serves well with strong, reliable strokes on both forehand and backhand wings.
The first set was neck and neck, except for a slight lapse by Royer on one of his service games which gave Krutykh and early break. There was only one total break point in the first set, leading to Krutykh taking the first set 6-4. The second set felt like Royer was the better player, as he was holding his serve relatively easily while he had 8 break chances against Krutykh (I believe these were all in one game). Nevertheless, Krutykh somehow saved the break points, and sent it to a tiebreaker, which was dead even until 5-5 and Royer took a chance on a second serve return and charged the net, drawing an error from Krutykh. He then served it out up 6-5.
In the third set, Royer got up an early break, but Krutykh leveled up, playing a string of extraordinary points to break back, and seemingly startling Royer with his shotmaking. He carried this momentum to break Royer a second time, securing a 6-3 set.
Here’s some stats from the match to show you how close it was
- Krutykh: 10
- Royer: 9
- Krutykh: 4
- Royer: 4
1st serve points won
- Krutykh: 80%
- Royer: 83%
2nd serve points won
- Krutykh: 47%
- Royer: 51%
Break points converted
- Krutykh: 3/4 (75%)
- Royer: 1/11 (9%)
Matteo Arnaldi (-300) def Shintaro Mochizuki (+215) 6-0 2-6 6-3
Tenerife 2 Challenger 2nd Round
This was a match that when watching the first set, it didn’t feel like Mochizuki had any chance. Arnaldi hit an ace for his first service point of the match. Mochizuki hit a double fault for his first service point. Mochizuki immediately went down a break. He had several break chances at 0-2, but seemingly had a mental lapse and hit simple rally balls out on four straight points. He ended up losing the first set 6-0. It seemed like Arnaldi’s backhand was holding up well against Mochizuki, his forehand was a big advantage, and his serve gave him control of points while Mochizuki’s serve was putting him immediately on the defensive, even on first serves.
After dropping the first set 6-0, Mochizuki rolled in the second set 6-2. Again, another wacky scoreline, where it felt like he didn’t have much of a chance, but the stats say otherwise. Basically, Mochizuki served well for a whole set, and converted his break chances. Arnaldi’s level also slightly dipped. In the third set, even after Mochizuki won the second set 6-2, it didn’t feel like he had much of a chance, as Arnaldi raised his level, and Mochizuki’s serving percentages dropped a bit.
Some interesting stats:
1st serve %
- Arnaldi: 62%
- Mochizuki: 59%
1st serve points won
- Arnaldi: 67%
- Mochizuki: 67%
2nd serve points won:
- Arnaldi: 48%
- Mochizuki: 44%
Break points won
- Arnaldi: 4/4
- Mochizuki: 2/6
Total service points won
- Arnaldi: 49/82 (60%)
- Mochizuki: 35/61 (57%)
Pretty interesting that Arnaldi played 21 more service points than Mochizuki despite the percentages being pretty comparable over the course of the match. Arnaldi did play 1 more service game than Mochizuki, but that still doesn’t explain having 21 more service points. I believe the numbers came out like this because Mochizuki was consistently winning return points against the Arnaldi serve, especially doing well on 1st serve returns… but on Mochizuki service games, he was either winning them quickly or getting broken quickly, and not much in between.
Match Reports: Wednesday February 1
Lin Zhu (-425) def Su Jeong Jang (+310) 6-4 7-6(6)
WTA Hua Hin 2nd Round
Zhu’s level was noticeably lower compared to in her first round against Wang, but that can partly be attributed to Jang’s play style. Jang actually came into this with a 3-2 H2H, and watching this match, you could see how she makes Zhu uncomfortable. Jang doesn’t give you many errors, stays steady, can mixes up her paces and spins, and hits the ball to uncomfortable spots. Zhu seemed to be the better player throughout, but was struggling again to convert her break points. For the match, Zhu was 6 of 15 on break chances. Every time Zhu tried to kick it into next gear like she did against Wang, it just wasn’t there; she couldn’t hit through Jang with any consistency. Neither player was significantly better in rallies, and Jang was extremely opportunistic in converting her break chances, which kept her competitive in both sets. Jang was 5 of 5 on break chances in the match. The difference in this match was the form and experience of Zhu. At the tail end of both sets, Jang became more erratic, and Zhu stepped up her level. Jang had multiple chances to serve out the second set but couldn’t come through. The second set tiebreaker was also a tight affair, with Zhu playing a bit tentative and content to let Jang struggle with her nerves. And in the end, this plan worked, as Jang uncharacteristically hit random rally balls out point after point. It seemed like if Jang didn’t make errors, Zhu had no way to close out the match, but Jang did make the errors. And in the end, lost the match on a double fault. Zhu said in the on-court interview she didn’t feel as good today, which is understandable given her grueling match against Wang in the first round.
It should be noted Zhu opened at several books at or around -300. The closing value on Zhu ML ended up around -425 on average. This led to the Jang game spread being pushed up to +5.5 -125 on some books, with other books offering something around +4.5 +115. Given Zhu’s current form, I believe -300 ML was a sensible bet. But I believe the line movement went a bit too far, especially given Zhu’s past struggles, and taking the Jang game spread here was probably the best bet you could have made.
Tamara Zidansek (+225) def Linda Fruhvirtova (-275) 6-3 4-6 6-4
WTA Hua Hin 2nd Round
At the start of the match, it was around 80 degrees F and 75% humidity, pretty hot and humid conditions. I believe this probably played into the strengths of Zidansek, who excels as a clay court player. Zidansek came out firing, dictating play from the start with her powerful heavy forehand. Speaking of Zidansek, let’s not forget she was a Roland Garros semifinalist in 2021 and cracked the top 25 in early 2022, so although many tennis fans might not realize, she is the more accomplished player compared to Fruhvirtova. There’s no arguing 17 yr old Fruhvirtova’s current form though, coming off a strong finish to last year and an Australian Open 4th round. Zidansek had a down year last year, with her ranking dropping to outside the top 100, but she looked reinvigorated today.
Zidansek raced out to a 4-1 lead in the first set of this match before Fruhvirtova was able to slow the charge. Zidansek was running Fruhvirtova back and forth and all around with her forehand, while Zidansek herself was doing a lot less running. After getting down 4-1, Fruhvirtova made a more concerted effort to target Zidansek’s backhand, and at times was able to take advantage of a slight backhand advantage. From 4-1 onwards, this match felt like a 50/50 match, an incredibly tight affair with many marathon deuce games and long, grueling points. When Zidansek’s first serve percentage dropped in the second set, Fruhvirtova was quick to aggressively attack her second serve and take control of points. When Zidansek was able to get a look at her forehand, she quickly took control of points, and was masterful with her point construction, running Fruhvirtova back and forth before finishing points. In the end, Zidansek got a few too many good looks on her forehand, it was in a good rhythm today, and Fruhvirtova couldn’t keep the ball away from her forehand enough. Overall, Zidansek hit 47 winners to Fruhvirtova’s 27.
Zidansek plays Zhu next round. This will be their first meeting.
Alycia Parks (-110) def Petra Martic (-110) 2-6 7-6(3) 6-2
WTA Lyon 2nd Round
Parks 1st set: “disappointing… disappointing… frustrating…”
Parks 2nd set: “nerves of steel”
Parks 3rd set: “riveting”
Overall, this was a professional performance from Martic, and a roller coaster for Parks, a lot of winners and a lot of errors. It took Parks about 6 games before she could hit balls in the court with regularity. By that time, she was already down 5-1. Parks was trying to hit winners every point, even when she couldn’t get balls in the court. There was a lot of emotion on the Parks’ side, frustrated yells, yells of joy, wild gesturing, talking with herself. On the other side, Martic took a more zen approach, with the attitude of “I’m going to play my game as best I can, if I win, I win, if I lose, I lose.” Parks on the other hand was determined to win this match with winners from her own racket.
Martic is a very smart player, she gives players a lot of different looks with varying pace and spin. She is also a very good server, so that made the margin of error very small for Parks on her service games. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Martic was the opponent and Parks took 6 games to finally get balls in play. What’s really impressive is that Parks actually came back and won this match. Parks actually had two “shot of the year” candidates in this single match. One in the second set, where she hit a tweener lob winner. One in the third set, where Martic hit an overhead right at Parks’ feet, and Parks reflexively got it back over the net in a perfect defensive position, and won the point a couple shots later. The second set was played at an incredibly high level, with no breaks of serve for either player. By the end of the second set, Zen Martic turned into Frustrated Martic; even though Martic had told herself “if I lose, I lose,” it seems she still didn’t like the idea of losing. And when Parks won the second set, it started to become apparent that Parks was going to win. In the third set, Parks was much more calm, and her game was calibrated. There wasn’t much Martic could do once Parks’ put everything together. Parks hit 44 winners to 41 UE this match, and Martic hit 15 winners to 22 UE this match.
Parks isn’t just a big hitter and big server, she has incredible reflexes and is pretty strong at the net. She also displayed great mental strength today against a tough opponent. Although Parks was emotional and animated this match, she never panicked, and dug deep to come back and win. The only time Parks panicked was when the on-court interviewer after the match asked her to say one word in French for the crowd, any word. And Parks looked about ready to run away, because apparently she doesn’t know any French.
Camila Osorio (+120) def Jule Niemeier (-155) 7-6(5) 7-5
WTA Lyon 2nd Round
Osorio was down in both sets but ended up frustrating Niemeier into submission. Osorio had 23 winners to 21 unforced errors, and 5 for 11 on break points. Niemeier had 29 winners to 42 unforced errors, and 4 for 7 on break points.
The interviewer asked Camila for a word in French at the end of the on court interview. She replied: “Merci a todos”
I thought it was funny. But you’ll only understand the joke if you know more French than Alycia Parks.
Linda Noskova (-550) def Mayar Sherif (+400) 6-3 6-2
WTA Lyon 2nd Round
In 26 yr old Sherif’s first ever indoor hard main draw match, we found out it might as well be her last. Her grunts, which sound exactly like “HEY!!” are even more magnified indoors. Sherif actually didn’t play particularly bad here, but Noskova is really good. Sherif excels on clay and has great drop shots and touch, but Noskova’s power on indoor hard courts was too much for Sherif, especially on key points. Sherif hit 14 winners to 10 unforced errors, and was 0 for 3 on break chances. Noskova hit 28 winners to 16 unforced errors, and was 4 of 6 on break chances.
Noskova will have the day off tomorrow and then will play Camila Osorio in the Quarterfinals.
Match Reports: Tuesday January 31
Shintaro Mochizuki (+135) def Matteo Gigante (-175) 6-3 4-6 6-3
Tenerife 2 Challenger 1st Round
You’ll often find some wacky stat lines in a Mochizuki match, and this one was no different. In the first set, Mochizuki got 81% of 1st serves in, winning 57% of those points. On the other hand, he won 86% of 2nd serve points. In the second set, his 1st serve % dropped down to 52%, and he won 71% of those points. However, he only won 38% of his second serve points.
Mochizuki did call the trainer for his back after losing the second set, and took a medical timeout. He then came back and zipped Gigante 6-1 in the third set, but this was more due to dialing in on Gigante’s serves and dictating on return points.
Gigante is a young Italian lefty, and he did much better to hold his own on 1st serves than Mochizuki’s previous opponent in Damas. Gigante’s stronger side seemed to be his forehand, but it’s more of a clay-court-topsin-heavy forehand. Mochizuki’s elite backhand actually seemed like the stronger shot compared to Gigante’s forehand, especially on hard courts. Mochizuki showed the ability to step in the court and redirect his backhand down the line with ease, forcing a weak reply from Gigante’s backhand, and when Gigante would look up Mochizuki would already be at the net with a put-away volley. When it came to Gigante’s backhand against Mochizuki’s forehand, Gigante’s backhand was about even or better, but the story of this match was Mochizuki’s improved returning and ability to do whatever he wanted with his backhand. Mochizuki’s forehand was noticeably sharper in this match compared to last match, especially on forehand returns. Gigante, like many clay courters, also has a nice drop shot and was using it quite liberally at first, but with Mochizuki’s speed and incredible hands at net, Mochizuki more often than not would turn these points in his favor. Getting into cat and mouse points with Mochizuki does not seem like a long term winning strategy, unless he’s noticeably hurting and you’re trying to wear him out.
Mochizuki plays the winner of Arnaldi and Giannessi. You’ll notice Mochizuki rarely goes deep in tournaments and seems to have durability issues. He came through qualifying and has played 3 matches already, so I’m hesitant to back him again unless he gets an extra day off. And even then, if he faces Arnaldi I’m probably staying away. Giannessi is another Italian lefty clay courter who could be a comfortable matchup for Mochizuki if he gets through.
Dayana Yastremska (-150) def Moyuka Uchijima (+125) 6-3 6-7(3) 6-2
WTA Hua Hin 1st Round
“See ball, hit ball, as hard as you can.”
This is how the commentator described Yastremska’s gameplan today. The commentator pretty much nailed it.
This match was a roller coaster ride. Yastremska overpowered Uchijima in the first set and got off to an early lead, and did well to skillfully close points at the net to avoid prolonged rallies. Uchijima’s plan for the whole first set was to repeatedly hit the ball deep down the middle, over and over, until Yastremska tried to go for a shot that she shouldn’t be going for. And a good percentage of the time, Uchijima’s plan worked. However, Uchijima fell short on the execution of her plan, partly because Yastremska’s power was causing her to miss routine rally balls, and partly because she kept double faulting and setting herself back in service games. The serving, by the way, was not pretty. 0 aces and 10 DF for Yastremska, 1 ace and 9 DF for Uchijima. Yastremska broke 9 times, and Uchijima broke 6 times.
In the second set, Yastremska got off to another early lead, but then kept trading breaks until she got up 4-2. At this point, Yastremska was getting frustrated she couldn’t put Uchijima away. It should be noted that Uchijima changed her gameplan a bit after getting down 2-0 in the second set, she started playing more aggressively, hitting to the open court and forcing Yastremska to run more. With Yastremska not able to generate as much power on the run, this seemed to level the playing field for a while. Some double faults and wild errors from Yastremska eventually allowed Uchijima to level the set, and Yastremska began to struggle to hold it together, but managed to stay relatively composed despite almost getting a point penalty for racket abuse (the chair umpire was a bit lenient there). Once Uchijima planted this seed of doubt in Yastremska’s mind though, she got the upper hand in the set, and ended up closing it out in a tiebreaker.
After the second set Yastremska took a lengthy toilet break. And when she came back, she was a different player. And Uchijima went back to more of her 1st set form, missing routine rally balls, while Yastremska was dictating and overpowering. Yastremska got up to a 4-2 lead just as she did in the second set, but this time around, there was no doubt in her mind, and she raced to a 6-2 third set finish.
Yastremska plays Tatjana Maria in the 2nd round. It should be noted Yastremska won this tournament the last time she played here in 2019. During the on-court interview, Yastremska and the interviewer talked more about riding elephants in Thailand than her actual match against Uchijima.
Match Reports: Monday January 30
Su Jeong Jang (+295) def Katie Boulter (-400) 6-3 4-6 6-3
WTA Hua Hin 1st Round
I started watching this match when Jang was up a set and a break. It was evident that Boulter is the more powerful player and the superior athlete. However, she was very erratic in this contest, struggling with focus, while Jang was steady throughout the match, stubbornly getting balls back over the net in any way she could. Jang would get put on the defensive pretty quickly by Boulter, which resulted in a lot of short balls from Jang. Jang is someone who stubbornly gets balls back over the net in any way she can, and although she’s generally not getting rallies back into neutral with her defensive shots, she often leaves the ball in uncomfortable spots. Boulter got a lot of short balls from Jang, but seemed to have no confidence once she took a couple steps inside the baseline, erratically missing what seemed like the majority of her approach shots. The approach shots she did make, Jang was often able to get a good look at a passing shot.
Jang faces Lin Zhu next round. Zhu beat Jang 6-3 6-4 in Seoul last September.
Lin Zhu (-175) def Xiyu Wang (+140) 4-6 6-3 6-0
WTA Hua Hin 1st Round
The first half of this match can be summed up by one line from the commentator: “Pieces of brilliance, followed by errors.”
Zhu had 12 break points in the first set, and was only able to convert one. This first set was a long, fierce battle, with Wang constantly under pressure on her service games, while she often gave away easy points on Zhu service games. With that said, Wang was still able to create some break chances of her own, and was more opportunistic in converting them. Wang eventually stole the first set 6-4 after 66 minutes, in one of the most brutal 6-4 sets you’ll ever see on the WTA.
Xiyu Wang is a 22 yr old tall athletic lefty, moves well for her size, has a long Sinner-like wingspan which allows her to aggressively attack returns, and has a rocket of a forehand. Zhu is a 29 yr old tour veteran, skilled tactician with solid, compact groundstrokes and an underrated ball striker. The power differential was on display in the first set and a half, with Wang able to dictate and control points with her rocket forehand, and staying aggressive with her flat penetrating backhand too. Wang looked to come to the net as much as possible, and displayed superb net skills at times, despite some fantastic defense from Zhu. Zhu is not the fastest player, but when she gets her racket on the ball, it is generally coming back in an uncomfortable position for the opponent.
Zhu was definitely the more steady player throughout the match, while Wang had stretches of brilliance followed by mental lapses. For the first set and a half, most of Wang’s errors were from overcooking aggressive shots, which is how you want to be missing if you’re going to miss. But at the end of the second set and throughout the third set, we stopped seeing less Wang unforced errors, and more Wang forced errors, with Zhu dictating points and Wang looking helpless. It seemed like Wang lost her edge in the second set; although she was still crushing some massive forehands from time to time, her lapses became longer, and you could feel Zhu take control. In the third set, it was one way traffic for Zhu, dictating and hitting winner after winner, moving Wang around the court, taking the ball early, wrong-footing her, making her look helpless. Perhaps Wang’s fitness failed her, or perhaps she’s not 100% healthy, I don’t know. I didn’t notice any specific physical issue, but she did noticeably lose her power advantage in the third set. Wang had only played two matches this year, with the first match ending in her retirement, and her second a straightforward loss to Pliskova, so I’m subscribing to the theory that Wang is still not fully in match shape yet. Zhu, on the other hand, got stronger as the match went on, and was an absolute machine in the third set. She was totally ruthless, and I fear for what she will do to Jang in this next round. I don’t give Jang much of a chance against this version of Zhu.
Mochizuki (-208) def Damas (+150) 7-5 6-3
Tenerife 2 Challenger Qualifying Round 2
This was a fairly routine win for rank #311 Shintaro Mochizuki against rank #619 Miguel Damas. The story of this match was Mochizuki breaking Damas’ will with his returning. Mochizuki won 58% of first serve return points to go with 50% of second serve return points… ending up with 7 breaks on 13 chances. Mochizuki had an almost identical win % on serve points and return points at around 56%. On the flip side, Mochizuki was only winning 60% first serve points and 44% second serve points against a guy ranked outside the top 600. Mochizuki had to serve for the first set 3 times because he kept getting broken when trying to close out the set. I’ll give Damas some credit, he has played above his ranking, especially in his win yesterday against rank 278 Steven Diez (who previously beat Mochizuki). This is the knock on Mochizuki; if he struggles like this to hold serve against futures level players, how can he break into the top 100?
If you haven’t watched Mochizuki before, let me tell you, you have never seen a player like him. He is a 19 yr old Japanese kid who is listed as 5‘9’‘ (175 cm) and 155 lb (70 kg). He won junior Wimbledon in 2019 as a 16 year old his first time playing on grass. He is lightning quick like Alcaraz, and has an absolute laser backhand like Fokina which is flat, penetrating, and rarely misses. He has the best hands I’ve ever seen at the net, and uses his lightning quick speed to blitz the net and finish points before his opponent even realizes he’s at net. And despite his size, he is adept at finishing points with overheads. I’ve seen several tight matches where his unreal touch at net has broken the will of opponents. On the other hand, he has an Ymer-like forehand which is not as penetrating and sometimes goes in and sometimes goes out. His forehand often lacks depth and pace and allows opponents to take the offensive against him. He has a serve which he just kind of gets in play, and which I would rate as worse than Schwartzman’s. As of right now, he is an exceptional talent who has glaring weaknesses which cap his ceiling at the Challenger level.
Mochizuki plays rank 235 Matteo Gigante in the 1st round tomorrow, and is currently listed as a +130 underdog
What is everyone’s thoughts? Anything you disagree with, anything to add? Stop by the DegensClub discord to discuss! Also feel free to participate in DegensClub’s Pick the Draw and Odds Competitions to test your betting ability against other degens.