To continue with the Challenger Tennis Blogs year end ones to watch series from last December, I bring you the next highlighted player, from Finland – Henri Kontinen.
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Confession: I think I’ve seen nearly twenty Henri Kontinen matches in my lifetime. And I can’t say enough about this guy’s game (although I will attempt to). For my money (and I have very little), Henri is a surefire Top 50 player; and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he were Top 5 two or three years down the road. But it’s not just me saying that; some Top 50 pros, like Michael Berrer and Jarkko Nieminen, have gone on record saying Henri is a future Top 20 player. And they have a lot more money than I do.
Though Michael Llodra has certainly done his part this year to ward off any non-believers, those who still think serve and volley tennis is dead and buried would do well to see Henri Kontinen play. Armed with a huge serve and a feel at the net that recalls, dare I say, Stefan Edberg (I dare say it!), Henri has a style of play rarely seen in the ATP today. With his one-handed backhand, his always-looking-to-attack attitude and the touch at net when he gets there, it’s actually quite difficult not to make the lazy Edberg association as you see the blond-haired flying Finn careening about the court. And though Kontinen isn’t necessarily a pure serve and volleyer – he picks his spots, depending on surface obviously, but plays a lot of S&V on grass – he has an all-court game in which he’s itching to get to net at the first opportunity that his flat and penetrating groundstrokes can provide him. Having to see so many players using “hit and retreat” tactics and forgoing short ball invitations to net all season long makes watching Henri’s game style such a refreshing change of pace.
OK – enough of me spinning my introductory wheels; let’s get down to the resume, here. Henri, aka HenKon, Henkka, Kone, The Kontinental Soldier, The Jark Shadow, Henk, etc., is a former Junior #4 and French Open boys’ doubles champ (with Christopher “Rug Rat” Rungkat) who perhaps most famously was the 2008 Wimbledon Boys Singles runner-up to Grigor Dimitrov.
Henri began 2009 ranked #1,818 and finnished it at #288, accomplishing his meteoric rankings ascent even while overcoming a wrist injury that kept him out for 3 months. After starting his 2009 campaign in March, he was able to post a 41-19 record in his first almost-full year on the men’s tour. Consequently, Henri gained the most ranking spots among all ATP pros in 2009. To top it all off, he was also a Davis Cup hero, winning not one but two live fifth rubbers.
Injuries and inconsistency plagued Henri throughout 2010, and as a result he tread tennistical water this past year. The 20 year-old (and 5 months) from Helsinki ended up playing 12 fewer matches than he did in 2009. He badly injured an ankle training for Davis Cup in South Africa this summer, and this ailment really hurt him as he limped through the rest of the season. (He was able to take time, however, to go to an oversized Pretoria petting zoo. So. Silver lining? Probably not.)
Yes, Henri won 13 straight matches upon his return (taking two Futures titles along the way), but his ankle and leg woes wore him down as he ultimately hobbled to a 6/7 conclusion. He got into a worrisome pattern at the end of the year, too, appearing to go away in some final sets and making meals of matches he should be otherwise feasting on, but I don’t know how much of that is attributable to his ankle, leg, or other ailments. Although he went a respectable 31/17 in the matches he was able to play, the player who picked up the most ranking spots in 2009 picked up only 18 more in 2010, ending it ranked #270.
Alas, more heartbreak soon followed, as he lost 2-6 5-7 to Matthias Bachinger in a Salzburg Challenger R1. “It’s tough to win matches when one moves like a fat elephant,” he wrote in what might be the tennis tweet of the year. (As an aside, I can think of few players as funny as the Finn; though he can be moody and petulant at times (I can relate!), I feel it would be good for the tour if someone with his kind of smarts and silliness were to make it to the highest level.)
CLICK HERE for the whole article
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Henri forced to a knee arthroscopy !
A little over a week has passed from the Davis Cup tie between Finland and Poland where Henri shined in both singles and doubles rubbers. In examinations that were made before and after the tie, it was confirmed that he still has the “Jumpers Knee” -injury in his left knee. After trying many different kinds of treatments and rehabs this injury that has bothered him for nearly one and half years hasn’t gotten noticeably better.
“For me to take the big step towards to the top and to be able to compete at the highest level I need to be fit to play week in week out without having to worry about an old injury. Therefore I have taken the decision to undergo surgery on my knee. Even though it would have been possible to play out the season with painkillers and by leaving some tournaments from my schedule, I felt that this was the right move to make. I know I am capable of so much much more with my tennis that if I get the chance to practice and compete without injuries there will be many good and great things in front of me in the future.”
The operation, on this week’s Wednesday, will be done by an internationally well-respected orthopaedic surgeon Eero Hyvärinen. The estimated time of recovery won’t be known until after the operation.
Henri Kontinen is the first player from this list that we have highlighted whose ranking hasn’t improved due to his injury. He remains one to watch, as he recovers from knee surgery. Will his career be over, or will the surgery enable him to rise to the top 20? Time will tell! One thing is for sure – his game is huge – see video
Recent Henri KontinenTweet and the attached video
henrikontinen Henri Kontinen
and i thought fishing programs were boring… youtube.com/watch?v=Q_BLgg…
Henri Kontinen’s ATP Page – CLICK HERE
Henri Kontinen’s Web Site – CLICK HERE
and another Tweet
henrikontinen Henri Kontinen
what’s all this fuss about iphone 4S and 5… i’ll make it simple for u, trust the finns and go buy a nokia!