Young guns impress at the 2012 US Open qualifications

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The U.S. Open qualifications are well under way, with the second round to be played this Thursday, and if, ranking-wise, there have been a few upsets, there haven’t been many surprises.

In fact, to me, the biggest surprise was seventh-seed Vasek Pospisil’s demise in straight sets to former University of Tennessee player Rhyne Williams, who won convincingly, 6-3 6-4, on opening day. Williams, who chose to turn pro a year ago, is without a doubt a young player to follow. However, the Canadian, who had reached a career high of n° 85 just a month ago (and currently ranked 104th in the world’s rankings), was the heavy favourite to win. It is to wonder if his wrist, which he injured in Toronto a couple of weeks ago, was still bothering him. Then again, Williams is a very talented young player and a strong prospect to reach the top 100 in a near future (he is currently ranked n° 283).

Other surprises came from Adrián Menéndez-Maceiras, who defeated Danai Udomchoke 6-4 7-5, Jimmy Wang (d. [17] Federico Delbonis 7-6(1) 6-3), Yuki Bhambri (d. [8] Horacio Zeballos 4-6 6-3 7-6(5)), Mitchell Krueger (d. [23] Martín Alund 6-3 6-3), Bradley Klahn (d. Diego Junqueira 6-3 6-2),Tsung-Hua Yang (d. [19] Antonio Veic 6-4 6-3), Teymuraz Gabashvili (d. [16] Frank Dancevic 3-6 7-5 6-2), and Laurent Rochette (d. Andreas Haider-Maurer 6-2 7-5).

However, what really impressed me was how well some of the young players in the draw did in the first round. I wrote a little about Rhyne Williams, but a few others also have their place in this category.

Mitchell Krueger
The 18-year-old received a Wild Card into the Qualifying event. Wimbledon Junior semi-finalist (lost to eventual winner Filip Peliwo in an epic match), Krueger is one of the brightest prospects of U.S. tennis.

In the first round of qualifications, the Fort Worth native defeated veteran Argentine Martín Alund in straight sets, his biggest win to date. Currently ranked n° 141, Alund knows the best season of his career and, if he is known to be more of a clay court specialist, he remains experienced and was the logical favourite to win.

However, Krueger is a resourceful and talented youngster and was able to log the “W”. He will face a big test in the second round in South African Rik De Voest, a very good hard court player. Seeing Krueger into the final round of qualifications, considering his opponent, would be one of the biggest surprises of the qualifying event.

Guido Pella
When the first-round match opposing Guido Pella to Michael Yani completed, many were those who wondered who Pella was, as Yani is a solid veteran, very at ease on hard courts, whereas the n° 31 seed is, rightfully so, considered as a clay court specialist and is not well-known on Tour, as he is mostly playing on the Challenger Tour at the moment.

However, I was not surprised to see the 22-year-old from Bahía Blanca (Argentina) winning this match, for he is a player known never to give up and to fight and grind his way into matches on an almost daily basis, often coming back from deficits to log the win in the end (which he did in the second set against Yani, has he was down a break, then down in the tiebreak as well, and still found a way to win).

Sidelined for three months in 2011 due to a wrist injury, which slowed his progress a bit, Pella has been growing in strength and regularity since the end of last year and won his first Challenger Tour event at the beginning of March, in Salinas.

The lefty’s fighting spirit and his way of never giving up no matter the circumstances reminds me a lot of Lleyton Hewitt. Moreover, both are incredible grinders, but there stop the comparisons between the two.

In the second round, Pella will face young American Wild Card Tennys Sandgren, a quite winnable match for the Argentine.

Bradley Klahn
Stanford University Senior Bradley Klahn caused a surprise yesterday when he easily dismissed Argentine veteran Diego Junqueira in the first round of the qualifications. The 22-year-old lefty, who has been sidelined for the end of last year and the beginning of this season with a back injury, is one of the best talents to be seen at the moment in College tennis, along with three-time NCAA champion Steve Johnson.

Klahn has a very potent forehand and an aggressive game that really attracts the eye and should, really quickly, win him many fans.

In the second round, Klahn will face Argentine Marco Trungelliti, who benefitted from the retirement of Marco Chiudinelli in the first round. This should really be a match to watch, as the colourful 22-year-old from Santiago del Estero is another of those players who just never give up and fight their way through matches in a way that always makes for great battles and thrillers. An interesting contrast of styles in perspective.

Other interesting Round 2 battles

  • Vincent Millot vs [27] Josselin Ouanna
  • Tim Smyczek vs [21] Dustin Brown
  • Yuki Bhambri vs Maxime Authom
  • Facundo Bagnis vs Peter Polansky
  • James Duckworth vs [30] Bobby Reynolds


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