Not so wild: Last week marked a big accomplishment for Dutchman Thomas Schoorel–he won his first challenger-level title, and ascended to a career-high ranking of #126. It’s now more than a big week, it’s a big nine days.
Schoorel entered this week’s tournament in Napoli with points to defend–last year at this time, he won a futures event in Italy. The task was challenging–after a week of beating guys with rankings in the 100s, he drew top-seeded wild card Jeremy Chardy. Today, he proved himself up to the task, dismissing Chardy in straight sets. It will only get easier from here–in the second round, he draws world #256 Pavol Cervenak.
The Dutchman is a lefty standing 6’8″, a combination that surely makes it tough for first-time opponents. His 22nd birthday was a couple of weeks ago, and with his new ranking, he’s among the top 15 players at his age or younger.
Also in Napoli: Thomas Muster is turning into an object lesson for former pros considering a comeback. It’s a rare man who returns to the tour with any level of success, but Muster is setting new lows. This week, he fell to Uladzimir Ignatik 6-3 7-5, moving his record on the year to 0-4. I’m sure the former #1 is drawing the crowds … but that’s why there’s a champions tour.
Nadal’s next victims: In Barcelona, we’re still plowing through an uneventful first round. Of the seven final scores so far today, the headline-grabber is Juan Carlos Ferrero’s successful return to the tour, as he dropped only six games in beating Xavier Malisse. He’ll face Andy Murray in the second round, if the Brit plays–his elbow is still an issue, and he may withdraw. If he does, it will create one of my favorite quirks of the tournament entry system–a lucky loser will get a bye into the second round.
The best matches of the day are still to come. The second round gets underway as Gael Monfils plays Robin Haase, in a match that has upset potential, if only due to Monfils’s rustiness and the usual crapshoot of whether good Gael or bad Gael takes the court. Finishing up the first round, Milos Raonic plays Radek Stepanek and Alexandr Dolgopolov takes on Nikolay Davydenko.
Yesterday I ran a full projection of the draw–if you haven’t seen it, click here.
That’s all I’ve got for today–see you tomorrow!