Week 2

…2023…

A similar story to the one of 2003 when the best Korean of the 00s, Hyung-Taik Lee
[85] stunned Juan Carlos Ferrero [4] in the Sydney final as a qualifier. This time, Lee’s
compatriot Soon-Woo Kwon [lucky loser, 84] edged Ferrero’s compatriot – Roberto
Bautista Agut [18]. “Since being beaten in [qualifying], I told myself I’ve got nothing to lose,
and then I came all the way to the finals,” said Kwon, the 10th “lucky loser” champion
at the main level since 1978. “And why not? I put every energy into it, and that
worked.” Quite intriguing that Kwon overcame Tomáš Macháč [115, second-best Czech currently] in the first round – the Czech player had defeated Kwon in their qualifying meeting. In the final, Kwon came
back from a break point down at 0:2 in the decider against 34-year-old Bautista [26].
The big surprise in Auckland. I considered Richard Gasquet [67] as a finished player
already a few years ago, I thought that he’d sting only in French “250” events
indoors; meanwhile, the 36-year-old Frenchman claimed his 16th title (the first one in
almost five years) outside Europe, under the antipodes scorching sun, producing one of
the best comebacks of his career in the final – he trailed *0:3 (0/40) in the 3rd set
against one of the fittest guys on the tour, a local favorite to some degree (Cameron
Norrie was representing New Zealand until 2013 when as an 18-year-old boy he switched his
allegiance to Great Britain). Gasquet took advantage of several things during the
week: super easy draw in 1R, quite good in the next two rounds, in the semifinal he
didn’t have to enter the court (Lestienne’s walkover), and the temperature was a bit lower than usual in Auckland.
Generally, it was a great week for French tennis which suffers a big crisis lately:
Constant Lestienne [65] reached the semifinal while Quentin Halys [64] advanced to the
quarterfinals and was defeated second straight week 6-7, 6-7. Very good results for the second-tier French guys, new ATP faces, especially for Lestienne. It’s worth mentioning that he needed nine years to finally enter the Top 100 – it occurred last year in August thanks to good results in hardcourt Challengers (Spain, France). The 30-year-old man from Paris will play his first major event next week in Australia!

…1993…

Pete Sampras [3] successfully began his campaign to become not only the best player of
1993, but also the best one in the 90s. The 21-year-old American dropped the inaugural
set (to 18-year-old Andrei Medvedev, 23 – the highest ranked unseeded player), then he went through the Sydney event effortlessly, winning five matches within five days (nonetheless he had to save a set point in the
final against Thomas Muster, 18) wearing a baseball cap which was unusual to him. “I’m
playing pretty well, (but) I’m pretty tired right now,” he stated after the final
referring to high temperatures.
The second week running in Indonesia, this time with a superstar Michael Chang [6], who loved Asian events and decided to make a trip to the resurrected Jakarta Open (not held in years 1975-92). The Chinese American dropped a set only in the final, it was his 10th title, Sampras claimed his 13th – these two prodigies, along with Andre Agassi, were at the same level more or less then: each of them had won one major. Chang will be distanced by Sampras & Agassi soon. Fourth best US player of that generation – Jim Courier – won a six-man lucrative exhibition (180K $) in Adelaide; after two easy group wins, Courier defeated 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 Petr Korda in the final to collect the winner-take-all 100,000 prize money. “Petr has a lot of talent,” Courier said, referring to their French Open 1992 final. “No one gets to the final of a Grand Slam without being able to win it. He is a threat anywhere.” They face each other two weeks later in the Aussie Open quarterfinal, and Courier destroys Korda 6-1, 6-0, 6-4.
…Finals 2023…
Adelaide-2 (ATP 250)
(LL)Kwon Soon-woo d. (4)Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(4)
Auckland (ATP 250)
Richard Gasquet d. (1)Cameron Norrie 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
…Finals 1993…
Sydney (275K $)
(1)Pete Sampras d. (7)Thomas Muster 7-6(7), 6-1
Jakarta (275K $)
(1)Michael Chang d. (8)Carl-Uwe Steeb 2-6, 6-2, 6-1
Auckland (157K $)
(2)Alexander Volkov d. (1)MaliVai Washington 7-6(2), 6-4
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