The return of Miracle Matteo
I first wrote about Matteo Viola at the Australian Open. You can read the details of his ridiculous comebacks here but the short version is he won his first two qualifying matches from a total of 11 match points down and qualified for the main draw after trailing Rik De Voest by a set and a break.
Well he’s at it again. Today he trailed Tim Smyczek *0-3 in the third set and saved a match point on serve at *5-6 30-40 before eventually coming through 8-6.
In his first match, he beat Alexander Kudryavtsev 3-6 7-6(3) 6-2 so it’s highly probable that he came with a whisker of defeat there too (I’m not sure if match points were involved).
When you add the fact that Viola has won a further two matches from match points down this year (Attila Balazs in Zagreb qualies, Rogerio Dutra da Silva at the Monza Challenger) the picture of a quite incredible fighter emerges.
What makes it all the more remarkable is that Viola makes compatriot Filippo Volandri look like a big server, so it’s clear that he’s not bailing himself out with bombs.
That’s at least five matches won from match points down in less than six months. It is almost certainly a record of some kind.
For some perspective, it’s more than the likes of Andy Murray (4), Gilles Simon (3), Richard Gasquet (3), Janko Tipsarevic (3), Viktor Troicki (2) and Rainer Schuettler (!) (4) have won in their entire careers on the main tour.
(Check out an interesting collection of match point stats here.)
Nine British players were awarded wildcards into the qualifying draw, including David Rice and Chris Eaton who earned theirs by reaching the final of a play-off tournament.
The lone round two survivors both went close but ultimately came up short with Eaton losing in two tiebreaks to top seed Jurgen Zopp and Kyle Edmund going down to Marcel Felder having lead 6-0 *2-1.
There will now be even more pressure on main-draw wildcards James Ward, Jamie Baker and Oli Golding to make an impression at SW19 ahead of the inevitable post-tournament British tennis autopsy.
Breaking new ground
The following players have already surpassed their previous career best results at a slam by reaching the final qualifying round:
Adrian Menendez-Maceiras, Inigo Cervantes, Peter Torebko, Maxime Authom, Erik Chvojka, Marcel Felder and Farrukh Dustov.
Felder and Dustov are experienced Davis Cup players with Uruguay and Uzbekistan respectively but for the others the final qualifying round will be their first official best of five matches as pros.