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Thursday, February 3, 2005

Stakhovsky Downs Ancic in Milan

©Colette Lewis 2005
The Monfils bandwagon has been overbooked since his win over Enqvist in Paris last year, but you could still get a bargain fare on the Sergiy Stakhovsky ATP Express--until today. Stakhovsky, 19, has been producing some impressive results in European challengers, bringing his ranking up to near 300, but he's really emerged this week after qualifying in Milan. The Ukrainian beat Christophe Rochus in the first round and then stunned third seed Mario Ancic, 7-6 in the third today.

Stakhovsky was the forgotten junior at the 2004 U.S. Open, when the British press treated his loss in the junior finals as a mere footnote to their coronation of Andrew Murray as the prince of potential (see my [more balanced] story in the September archives). But if you saw Stakhovsky beat Donald Young in the first round or Andreas Beck in the semifinals, as I did, you would be unlikely to dismiss him that easily. His strategy in the Murray match was dubious, as he seemed unaware that Murray's court quickness would negate the drop shot arsenal that was so effective against Beck, a powerful baseliner. And he served poorly, as he pointed out repeatedly in his post match news conference (no British press in attendance).

Am I surprised he beat Ancic? Yes. Who can take that giant step from junior success to pro impact and who cannot remains the sport's supreme mystery. But who doesn't love a whodunnit?