Quimper Challenger preview: Jeremy Chardy and Adrian Mannarino in action in France - UBITENNIS
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Quimper Challenger preview: Jeremy Chardy and Adrian Mannarino in action in France



Adrian Mannarino is the top seed in Quimper (Zimbio.com)

The post-Australian Open European Challenger circuit really gets under way as players continue to chase the tour after the main Australasian swing has been completed, bar a few remaining Challengers.


Unsurprisingly, there is a large French contingent in Quimper with the top two seeds Adrian Mannarino and Jeremy Chardy leading the home nation. Other interesting players include former Wimbledon semi-finalist Jerzy Janowicz and former Roland Garros semi-finalist Jurgen Melzer, though both are unseeded.

Selected matches (picks in bold)

(1) Adrian Mannarino vs Evan Furness: Should be a comfortable win for Mannarino, as Furness’ best win to date this season is against Remi Boutillier, a player with a ranking below no.400.

Mathias Bourgue vs (2) Jeremy Chardy: Chardy’s form this season is a little misleading. He made the quarter-finals in Auckland, but was afforded an easy draw against a New Zealand doubles player using a wildcard, and then a Feliciano Lopez withdrawal. Also benefited from Nicolas Almagro’s now infamous retirement in Melbourne. Bourgue reached the semis in Rennes last week, losing to eventual champion Ignatik, and is in good form.

Qualifier vs (3) Sergiy Stakhovsky – Would be unfair to pick until qualifier’s identity is known.

(4) Evgeny Donskoy vs Teymuraz Gabashvili: Two tough players to separate, as both have featured in the Top 100 before. Taking into account a narrow head-to-head lead for Gabashvili, he is my pick.

(WC) Geoffrey Blancaneaux vs (5) Julien Benneteau. There are promising signs from the eighteen year-old Blancaneaux, and had he been afforded a better draw might have hoped for a surprise win or two in Quimper. Veteran Benneteau should have enough experience here though.

Qualifier vs (6) Vincent Millot – See Stakhovsky.

(7) Andrey Rublev vs Stefanos Tsitsipas: Arguably the most intriguing match-up of the first-round. Rublev’s development appeared to have slowed somewhat, but making it through qualifying to the second round in the Australian Open is impressive. Tsitsipas is another NextGen talent, but his best surface is still clay, with mixed results on hard.  A first round qualifying defeat in Australia and last week in Rennes for Tsitsipas means I hand the edge to Rennes runner-up Rublev.

(8) Peter Gojowczyk vs (WC) Maxime Hamou: Gojowczyk was in stunning form in the early part of the season, storming to the Happy Valley Challenger title before retiring hurt in the second round of Australian Open qualifying. That is where this tie is won and lost, a fully fit Gojowczyk should win this. Anything else, and Hamou has a chance.





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Luca Nardi beats Flavio Cobolli but it’s not enough to advance to the semifinals at the Next Gen Finals



World number 115 Luca Nardi overcame Flavio Cobolli in an Italian match 3-4 (4-7) 4-2 4-3 (7-1) 1-4 4-3 (7-3) in 2 hours and 14 minutes in the final round robin match of Green Group at the Next Gen Finals at King Abdullah Sports Club in Jeddah. 


The win was not enough to earn a semifinal spot for Nardi. Arthur Fils is the first player to qualify for the knock-out stage. The top seeded Frenchman will face Dominic Stricker later today. Stricker needs to win just one set to reach the semifinals. 

Both players went on serve in the first set en route to the tie-break. Cobolli earned two mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-4. 

Nardi saved two break points in the third game of the second set to take a 2-1 lead. The world number 115 broke serve in the sixth game to close out the second set 4-2. 

Cobolli converted his second break point in the first game of the third set. Nardi pulled back on serve in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Nardi opened up a 3-0 lead with two mini-breaks. Cobolli pulled one of the two mini-breaks back for 1-3. Nardi won the final four points with two mini-breaks to claim the tie-break 7-1. 

Nardi clutched his groin when he was serving at 0-1 in the fourth set and called a medical time-out at 0-3. Cobolli earned a break in the second game to close out the fourth set 4-1. 

Cobolli saved two break points to hold serve in the second game. Nardi fended off two break points in the fifth game. Both players held on serve en route to the tie-break. Nardi earned his first mini-break with a backhand flick from out wide to take a 2-1 lead. Cobolli pulled the mini-break back to draw level to 2-2. Nardi closed out the match with a return down the line winner.   

Nardi hit 27 winners to 12 unforced errors. 

“I am happy with the win. Even if I did not qualify, I think today was the best match I played out of the three. I am a bit sad I did not qualify, but I did not want to leave Jeddah without a win. I kept fighting today and I am happy”, said Nardi. 

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Hamad Medjedovic moves to 2-0 in Red Group at the Next Gen Finals in Jeddah



Hamad Medjedovic edged past Luca Van Assche 4-2 2-4 4-3 (9-7) 4-1 to move to 2-0 In Red Group at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah one day after winning a marathon five-set match against Alex Michelsen. 


Medjedovic broke serve in the third game of the opening set to take a 2-1 lead. He held serve and saved two break points in the sixth game to close out the first set 4-2. 

Van Assche saved three break points at 2-2 before breaking serve in the sixth game  with a running forehand pass to seal the second set 4-2. 

Medjedovic earned a break point in the first game of the third set, when Van Assche made a double fault. Van Assche saved them to hold on his serve. Both players held on serve en route to a tie-break. Van Assche raced out to a 5-1 lead. Medjedovic won three consecutive points to claw his way back to 4-5. Van Assche earned three set points at 6-4, 6-5 and 7-6, but Medjedovic won the final three points to win the tie-break 9-7. 

Medjedovic left the court for nine minutes for a bathroom break. 

Medjedovic broke serve in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. When he was serving out the match, he saved three break points as he closed out the win with two unreturned serves. 

“For sure the tie-break changed a lot of things in this match. He had three set points. I stayed focused on the important points. I was consistent, hitting the ball hard, and I am glad that I won the tie-break”, said Medjedovic. 

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Abdullah Shelbayh upsets Alex Michelsen to win his first win at the Next Gen Finals in Jeddah



Jordan’s wild card Abdullah Shelbayh beat world number 97 Alex Michelsen 4-2 1-4 4-0 4-0 to clinch his fourth top 100 win. Shelbayh moves to 1-1 in Red Group. 


Shelbayh hit 26 winners, including seven aces. The Asian player will face Serbia’s Hamad Medjedovic in his third round robin match. 

Shelbayh earned the first break in the third game of the opening set to take a 2-1 lead. The wild card held his next two service games at 30 to close out the first set 4-2. 

Michelsen, who reached the ATP 250 final in Newport last summer, broke in the second game of the second set to take a 2-0 lead, when Shelbayh made a backhand error. 

Michelsen earned a break point in the first game of the third set, but Shelbayh saved it with an ace. The Jordanan player held serve before breaking serve to close out the third set 4-0. Shelbayh won four consecutive games with two breaks of serve to win the fourth set 4-0. 

“Having the opportunity to play here now to finish here, I could not ask for a better end to the year. I appreciate all the support throughout the week that I have been receiving already, throughout the year and from the Arab world especially. It makes me happy to represent my country. There is some pressure but you feel like it’s good pressure to have on you shoulders when you are representing your country and the region you come from”,said Shelbayh. 

Shelbayh improved his ATP ranking from world 470 to 185. His tennis idol is Rafael Nadal. Shelbayh has trained at the Rafa Nadal for more than five years. Toni Nadal flew to Jordan when Shelbayh was 13 years old to recruit him to train at the Rafa Nadal Academy. He became the first Jordanan player to win a main-draw ATP Tour match last April against Elias Ymer in Banja Luka. 

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