Topic: Challenger Chat 2021

Aussie Open 2021 Qualifiers - Men

Frederico Ferreira Silva, 25, #182, Portugal
The rare European who prefers hard courts to clay. Has never won a Challenger title nor played in the main draw of a Slam.  Defeated #1 seed Gregoire Barrere 3 and 4 to qualify here.

Carlos Alcaraz, 17, #141, Spain
This kid got some buzz at the end of last year in my Challenger Chat thread, and rightfully so. He won three Challenger titles last year (two of them came back-to-back), all on clay.  However, earlier in 2020, he played two hard court Futures events and won both of them.  Those were the only hard court matches he had last year, meaning he is now on a 13-match win streak on hard courts. He is 16-2 in his professional career on the surface. Obviously, at such a young age, this will be his first Slam main draw. He could technically still play Juniors here if he wanted (if they're even doing Juniors tournaments this year). He beat #2 Hugo Dellien 2 and 3 to qualify.

Aslan Karatsev, 27, #112, Russia
Aslan "The Lion" started to really find a rhythm at the end of last year, but still fell short in French Open qualifying because he had the misfortune to run into a certain Sebastian Korda in QR3 there.  However, he has now finally gotten into his first ever Slam main draw.  And with some style, too, only dropping 6 games in QR2 and QR3 combined.

Sergiy Stakhovsky, 35, #301, Ukraine
This dude is still playing tennis??  This former World #33 and oldest Qualifier on the Men's side had a weak draw in qualies, facing not one but two Wild Card players, but credit to him for winning win he should win.  He'll make for an easy R1 opponent for just about anyone.  Has a career Slam match win rate of 40%.

Elias Ymer, 24, #204, Sweden
One of the promising young Ymer brothers, both of whom have not achieved the results many hoped they might.  Elias here absolutely crushed #5 Taro Daniel to qualify.  He is 1-6 all time in Slam main draws.  With a losing record on hard courts over his career, could he be a potential upset waiting to happen in R1?

Quentin Halys, 24, #206, France
Once on the cusp of the Top 100, Halys is the quintessential journeyman, with a 53% career match win rate in Challengers, but only 22% at the Tour level.  It gets worse for him in Slam main draws, with an all time record of 2-9 there.  Defeated Robin Haase to qualify.

Kimmer Coppejans, 26, #175, Belgium
A former Top 100 player, he managed 55 match wins in 2018.  However, his Tour record is a poor 3-13, and he is 0-2 all time in Slam main draws.  Still, he could be dangerous, and he proved that by knocking out #7 Damir Dzumhur 0 and 2 to qualify here.

Michael Mmoh, 23, #174, USA
Points away from losing in QR2 to Ze Li, Mmoh is now entering his 9th career Slam main draw.  He's only ever won two matches in Slam main draws.

Tomas Machac, 20, #197, Czech
Mostly an indoor guy, this young kid just won his 9th, 10th, and 11th outdoor hard court matches ever to qualify for the AO. An able clay courter, he qualified for the French last year and lost in R1 in 5 sets to Taylor Fritz. He was a big favorite in all of his Q matches this week, and his career outdoor hard record is now up to 9-2.  Could he make some waves here?

Mario Vilella Martinez, 25, #186, Spain
It's-a me! Mario!  Not a plumber, our hero qualified for the AO last year to make his Slam main draw debut. He lost in 4 sets to Karen Khachanov, putting up an impressive fight.  His path to the main draw was easier this year with a walkover in QR2, but he still earned it with an underdog victory in QR3 over Wu Tung-Lin.  Let's-a go!

Viktor Troicki, 34, #202, Serbia
No idea who this is, but he's never been beyond the 3rd round at the AO.

Roman Safiullin, 23, #181, Russia
Another young-ish Russian grinder who is making his Slam main draw debut. Despite covid, he won his first career Challenger title last year, so his career is on an upward trend. At only 23, he may be familiar to all of us in time.

Botic Van De Zandschulp, 25, #156, Netherlands
Sporting the dumbest (or most awesome?) name on tour, BVDZ really came into his own on the Futures and Challenger circuit in 2016, but then underachieved for two years. He turned it back around in 2019 winning his first Challenger title. This will be his Slam main draw debut and only his 2nd-ever match on the Tour level.

Bernard Tomic, 28, #228, Australia
*sigh*

Henri Laaksonen, 28, #133, Switzerland
A long-time Swiss journeyman, Laaksonen squeaked past 22-year-old Croatian opponent Borna Gojo, 9-7 in a 3rd set TB, to qualify for the AO.  This will be Laaksonen's 7th Slam main draw and he'll be looking to get his 4th career Slam main draw singles win here in R1.

Maxime Cressy, 23, #168, USA
Known for being stupidly loud on court, this French-American upset fan favorite Dustin Brown to qualify for the AO this year. He is 1-1 all time in Slams and has a big enough game to get an upset here depending on his draw.



Aussie Open 2021 Qualifiers - Women

Kaja Juvan, 20, #104, Slovenia
The #1 player in the Q draw here, Juvan qualified without dropping a set.  She qualified last year as well, but was double-breadsticked in R1 by Dayana Yastremska.  She's 3-5 all time in Slams.

Francesca Jones, 20, #241, Britain
Born with 8 fingers and 7 toes, Francesca Jones has proven here that hard work can overcome quite a lot. She started to show some promise at the end of last year but was unable to have a true breakthrough.  Qualifying for a Slam, though, is more than a breakthrough.  This will be her first Slam.  She upset Jedi Masters favorite Jana Fett (cue Han Solo: "Jana Fett?!") in QR2, and then annihilated China's Lu Jia-Jing in QR3, 0 and 1, to qualify. Her R1 match will likely get some buzz, regardless of opponent or result.

Greetje Minnen, 23, #110, Belgium
Won a good 3-set match against Lepchenko to qualify here.  This is her 2nd time successfully qualifying for the AO, having done so last year as well, and winning her R1 match before succumbing to Rybakina in R2.  Has the potential to be a dangerous floater in the draw.

Sara Errani, 33, #131, Italy
The former World #5 once made the quarterfinals here, almost a full decade ago in 2012 (where she beat the most lovely and precious and wonderful tennis player in history in the R16).  Errani needed 3 sets in all of her Q matches this year, but she has an 11-10 record at this tournament, and a 59-42 Slam record for her career. She has the experience to trouble younger players.

Whitney Osuigwe, 18, #161, USA
Osuigwe has been getting a lot of hype amongst the US tennis cognoscenti, but so far has no truly big result to her name, with a 1-9 Tour record and 0-4 Slam record.  Qualifying here may change that, as she is in good enough form to beat the #5 and #22 players in the draw.  She's the youngest Women's Qualifier at the AO this year, so it's safe to assume that she will only improve with time.

Clara Burel, 19, #236, France
Speaking of very young, French teen Clara Burel did not let covid prevent her from making 2020 the best year of her career.  She played 36 matches last year (her previous high was only 26) and finished with a 21-15 record.  She currently maintains a winning record on all three surfaces she has played on: clay, outdoor hard, and indoor hard.  She made her Slam main draw debut here 2 years ago, but had no wins until a few months ago at the French, where she made waves by winning two matches.

Timea Babos, 27, #115, Hungary
Big-serving Babos has not had to play Qualies here since 2012, having direct entry to the AO every year since then until now. Despite that, her record here is a miserable 3-8.  However, she did beat Schmiedlova in 3 sets to qualify here, despite being an underdog in that match.  It may be that she is peaking at the moment.

Mayo Hibi, 24, #182, Japan
This will be Hibi's first Slam main draw since the 2015 USO, and only her 2nd ever Slam main draw singles match. She seems to be in excellent form, not dropping a single set here in qualies, and not losing more than 4 games in a set. Last year was the worst of her career, finishing 7-13, the only year she ended with a losing record. She seems ready to make 2021 a much different experience.

Olga Danilovic, 19, #183, Serbia
Another teen phenom, you may remember her (but probably not) from her utterly absurd run to the title in the 2018 Moscow 2 WTA tournament, where she beat (in order) Schmiedlova, Kanepi, #1 Goerges, #5 Sasnovich, and then wild card Potapova in the final to win it all.... at the age of 17... as a lucky loser!!
Despite that result, and despite reaching a career-high rank of #96 on the back of it, she has never played in a Slam main draw until now.

Chloe Paquet, 26, #187, France
This will be Paquet's first Slam outside of the French Open, where she has played 4 times and won one match. She did not face a seeded player in the Q draw here, but also failed to lose a single set on her way to the main draw. Let's see if she can perform better off of home soil.

Rebecca Marino, 30, #312, Canada
Well, this name is a blast from the past.  This will be her first time in a Slam main draw in 8 years, and she qualified without dropping a set. She did not play any pro tennis last year at all, and as a result is the lowest-ranked Qualifier here, so to start her 2021 campaign with this result is impressive.  Most impressive.  *breathing noises*

Elisabetta Cocciaretto, 19, #132, Italy
This Italian teen qualified for the AO last year, looking quite impressive in Qs, and then was rewarded with a match against Kerber in R1, where she had her head aslpoded with a 2 and 2 loss.  Her Q run this year wasn't as dominant, but perhaps we can see more what she is capable of with a kinder draw.  She has 4 career ITF titles, including 2 W60s in 2019. She already sports a career W-L record of 84-40, so she knows how to win matches.

Valeria Savinykh, 29, #225, Russia
One of many young Russian women who never quite broke through (despite a career high rank of #99), Valeria is not content to end her career with a Slam record of only 2-2.  This is her 3rd time qualifying for the AO, but her first in the last 7 years.
True story: Adunar once came down with a terrible case of Valeria while backpacking across Europe. Stay safe, Ad.

Tsvetana Pironkova, 33, #136, Bulgaria
We all saw what the intensely charming Pironkova is still capable of just a few months ago at the USO, where she stomped her way to the QFs out of nowhere and even took a set off Serena.  Tsvetana played the AO main draw 12 years in a row, from 2006 to 2017, but never even made it to R3.  Could 2021 be her year here?

Ludmilla Samsonova, 22, #127, Russia
Samsonova qualified here last year, too, but is 0-4 all time at Slams.  She had a good win over Tsurenko today to qualify, so depending on her draw she may finally get over that Slam hump here.

Mayar Sherif, 24, #128, Egypt
Everyone's favorite Egyptian player is looking very strong here in qualies.  She dropped a 6-2 set in QR2 to Grace Min, but besides that one bad set, she qualified without losing more than 3 games in a set.  She looked similarly impressive last year at the French, where she not only qualified but took a set off of Karolina Pliskova in R1.  Can she go one better here and win herself two sets in R1?

Re: Challenger Chat 2021

GOOOOOOOOO Francesca

Yoda Cups: Roland Garros 15, 18, 20; Wimbledon 17; US Open 20; Yoda Guru 2021
Obi Wan Master 16, 17, 20 Lord Vader 15
Han Solo Captain 19, 20
Player of the Year 17, 20

Re: Challenger Chat 2021

Brilliant—thanks Arvis.

2016:-Diamond Droid and Captain Plasma Helmet Champ.
2018:-Ruby Droid and Jar Jar Dartboard Champ.
2019:-Yoda Crew Most Improved Player. 

Re: Challenger Chat 2021

Thanks! Nice as always

Re: Challenger Chat 2021

Incredible insights - Thanks

2020 Padme Cup WTA Team Champion & 2020 Rey Saber WTA Bracket Champion
2020 Yoda Crew Most Improved Player & 2020 Yoda Crew Trophy Case Award
2019 Obi Wan Master ATP Bracket Runner-up & Yoda Crew Green Quarter/Quindecim Award
2018 Lord Vader ATP Team Champion & 2018 Yoda Crew Best Newcomer