Match Reports 2/6 - 2/12
Table of Contents
Note on Cordoba court conditions: event is played at a bit of altitude, clay courts are lively, hot and slightly humid.
- QF Coria def F Cerundolo
- 2R JM Cerundolo def Schwartzman
- 1R Dellien def Cachin
- 1R Sousa def Etcheverry
- 1R Fokina def Humbert
- 1R Halys def Chidekh
ATP Tenerife 3 Challenger
- 2R: Gigante def Passaro
- 1R: Passaro def Mochizuki
- Q2: Mochizuki def Moroni
QF: Federico Coria (-150) def Francisco Cerundolo (+125) 6-3 3-0 ret.
Two straight matches now where Coria’s opponent has retired in the second set. On the one hand, this is promising for Coria because it means he’s still relatively fresh. On the other hand, we don’t know how good he actually is right now because he hasn’t had to do much to win.
In this contest, Coria was content to play steady and let the bigger hitting Cerundolo struggle with the conditions. Coria was rarely giving Cerundolo easy points and making him work for it, but also not playing overly aggressive. By the end of the first set, Cerundolo was becoming even more erratic, hitting multiple unforced errors which were all more than several feet out to break himself at 3-4. From there, Cerundolo struggled to keep the ball in the court until he eventually retired down 3-0 in the second.
Not sure what the physical issue was with Cerundolo, but the commentators mentioned a lingering issue going back to Davis Cup. They didn’t mention what it was exactly, and I didn’t notice anything physically hindering him, but something was clearly affecting his level of play.
Coria will get a nice test in the semi-finals against defending champion Albert Ramos Vinolas.
2R: Juan Manuel Cerundolo (+110) def Diego Schwartzman (-130) 7-6(6) 6-1
Young 21 year old Argentine lefty Juan Manuel Cerundolo (JMC) is the hottest player coming into this tournament, and this match was validation of his great form. JMC played a clean match here, and displayed decisive shot-making with both powerful forehands and deft drop shots. He served effectively, especially on second serve, serving with a lot of margin for error and generating nice kick, and Schwartzman was unable to attack his second serves.
Schwartzman did not come into this match in great form, struggling with his backhand consistency during the Australian Open, and those consistency issues continued with his returning and backhands here. When JMC needed to win key points, all he had to do was repeatedly hit deep topsin shots to Schwartzman’s backhand, and it would eventually draw an error or weak reply, which JMC would effectively attack or drop shot.
The first set was a back and forth encounter, with JMC taking an early lead, and Schwartzman fighting back. Schwartzman served effectively and was effective at taking control of points when he got a look at his forehand. In the tiebreaker though, JMC repeatedly attacked Schwartzman’s backhand, which eventually broke down. After Schwartzman’s backhand broke down in this key moment, it was a huge confidence booster for JMC, and confidence killer for Schwartzman, and JMC rolled through the second set with ease.
Next up for JMC is Hugo Dellien, a chance for revenge against one of the few players to beat him in the last couple months.
1R: Hugo Dellien (-165) def Pedro Cachin (+135) 6-3 6-4
Cachin just never really found his form in this one, and Dellien was sharp and steady throughout. Cachin is a local Cordoba guy, and the crowd was itching to get involved in the match to push their guy through, but he didn’t give them much to cheer about, save for casually winning a point with an unnecessary tweener. Cachin hung around throughout the match, and showed the ability to create break chances against Dellien, but with Cachin down a break and Dellien serving for the match, he offered up no resistance. The net kept cachin his returns.
Overall, Dellien clearly came into this match better prepared for these conditions and in better form. Cachin has yet to win a tour level match this year, and is not in great form.
1R: Joao Sousa (+275) def Tomas Etcheverry (-350) 3-6 7-6(5) 6-4
Joao f-in Sousa everyone. If you’re a fan of Ruusuvuori you probably know already it’s best to just never bet against Joao f-in mental giant Sousa. Now, fans of Etcheverry are also on notice. Sousa dropped the first set in somewhat fluky fashion. He got broken in a game at the end of the set where he seemed to get distracted with a couple close line calls (they were extremely close), and he tripped over himself on an important point to give Etcheverry the point. There was a good bit of frustration and talking to himself during this game, and when he got broken, Sousa let out a manic roar, like a hungry wolf that had just let his prey escape. But not to worry, Sousa fought like a maniac for the next two sets and came back to win an epic match, in typical Sousa fashion.
1R: Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (+125) def Ugo Humbert (-150) 1-6 7-6(2)
Fokina: “he killed me in the first set. I went to the bathroom, and thought to myself: he wants to fight? Ok, we will fight”
And fight he did. Humbert came out sharp and decisive in the first set, overwhelming Fokina every time he got to swing his forehand. In the second set, Fokina came to fight. Fokina and Humbert went back and forth in the second set, like two boxers in the tennis ring. Fokina jumped out to a 5-2 lead, but Humbert refused to go down and came back to push it to a tiebreak. In the tiebreak, Humbert went down for the count, but not from anything Fokina did. Humbert was running at full sprint for a ball, his legs got tangled up and he went flying to the ground, slamming his hip and knocking his head. A concerned Fokina immediately came over to check on Humbert. Humbert took a MTO and then tried to continue, but his hip was visibly hurt; he let out a loud yell of pain when he went to hit his first serve. Hopefully, Humbert is back soon, as he was starting to round into form. It looked like a contact injury as opposed to a non-contact injury, which usually means it should be less serious.
All credit to Fokina though, he played at a very high level that second set, and was up 4-1 in the tiebreaker when Humbert went down. There was a good chance Fokina would have won if Humbert had not gotten hurt.
1R: Quentin Halys (-300) def Clement Chidekh (+250) 7-5 2-6 7-5
The French crowd was treated to an entertaining match between two Frenchmen. Chidekh played this match with a lot of passion and intensity. It was an inspired performance against one of the inch for inch best servers in tennis right now in Halys, and he needed all of that inspriation to hang with Halys’s 25 aces and 84% 1st serve points won. Chidekh is comfortable playing inside the baseline and did serious damage with his backhand. Chidekh vaguely resembles Humbert in the way he plays and the way he looks. There wasn’t much to separate the two players today, with Halys dominating on first serve points, but Chidekh aggressively attacking Halys’s second serve. And on the Chidekh serve, Halys was constantly playing aggressively, coming to net and pressuring Chidekh to come up with passing shots over and over. In the end, whether it was fatigue or Halys’s cumulative pressure I’m not sure, but Chidekh starting having longer lapses on serve in the third set. He was almost finished serving at 3-4 0-40 in the third set, but miraculously came away with that game. And then at 5-6, he dug himself into another 0-40 hole without Halys doing much at all, and this time it Halys was able to close out the win.
Tenerife 3 Challenger
2R: Matteo Gigante (+130) def Francesco Passaro (-170) 5-7 6-2 6-2
Passaro lost his head in this one. Gigante won the match on an ace and Passaro disagreed with the call. Frustration boiled over. He gave a sarcastic handshake to Gigante, borderline disrespectful, and then smashed his racket, threw his hat at his chair, and continued complaining to the chair umpire. Disappointing behavior to follow a sad effort in the third set.
Passaro fought hard to win the first set, he was much less sure of his tactics in this match against the lefty Gigante compared to the last match against Mochizuki. It seemed like Passaro was getting broken or in danger of getting broken on every service game. Part of this is he relies on his kick serve a lot, even on first serves, but this serve would go straight into the strike zone of lanky lefty Gigante.
Gigante’s backhand was the winning shot in this match. In the second and third sets he was effectively hitting his backhands flat with depth, not giving Passaro time to get a full swing on his extremely topsin heavy forehand. It also seemed like Passaro sometimes hit unforced errors just from being unsure of where to hit next. Passaro also seemed like he was throwing the match for parts of the third set; after he got down a break he acted like Bublik when he doesn’t want to play anymore. He was just hitting error after error, many of them just dumped into the net. He got down 5-1 before he put in a serious effort again, and managed to win one more game before being put away by Gigante.
Although I’d have to investigate this further, my impression of this match is Passaro has a problem with lefties on fast courts. Additionally, his attitude is a liability, and he seems to lack resilience.
1R: Francesco Passaro (-185) def Shintaro Mochizuki (+140) 6-3 6-4
Passaro did his homework on Mochizuki. While he often makes liberal use of his drop shot, he refrained from doing this, as Mochizuki has Alcaraz-like speed and incredible hands at net. Passaro served very well this match; he only had 2 aces and got broken twice, but he was effective in serving out both the first and second sets after Mochizuki had been threatening to break in previous service games. Passaro gets a ton of action on his serve, and when he was serving out sets, you could see he put a little extra on his serves, and Mochizuki couldn’t get enough on his returns to be aggressive. Passaro also has a heavy topspin forehand which is deadly when he has time, and fortunately for him, Mochizuki generally hits his forehand without much pace, which allowed Passaro to do damage with his forehand throughout the match. Passaro also baited Mochizuki to net numerous times, and Mochizuki had trouble closing out points at net against Passaro’s speed, defense, and skilled passing shots. The weather in Tenerife was pretty cool and the balls weren’t flying too fast, so the pace that Passaro was able to generate was unique compared to the rest of the field. A comprehensively good performance by Passaro. A good fight from Mochizuki, but he was outclassed.
Q2: Shintaro Mochizuki (+105) def Gian Marco Moroni (-140) 6-1 6-1
This match was a clinic by Mochizuki on abusing one handed backhands. Moroni could not consistently get enough depth and pace on his one handed backhand when Mochizuki attacked it. Mochizuki bullied Moroni’s one handed backhand all match, constantly utilizing his elite backhand to draw weak replies and take control of points.
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