Shenzhen Challenger Day 1 Predictions Including Teymuraz Gabashvili vs Yuanfeng Li

The WTA Finals is not the only tennis event taking place in Shenzhen this week. For the first time, LWOT brings you picks for the Shenzhen Challenger. The seeds start their campaigns on Tuesday and Wednesday, but nevertheless there is a lot to look forward to on the first day of the action. Former ATP #43 Teymuraz Gabashvili will be contesting his first-round encounter against wildcard Yuanfeng Li. Who will prevail?

Shenzhen Challenger Day 1 Predictions

Sadio Doumbia vs Ivan Nedelko

Head-to-head: First meeting

Often nicknamed “Prince of Uganda” for his unbelievable results in Futures tournaments in this African country (34-1 win/loss record in the last two years), Ivan Nedelko has been struggling to transfer these performances onto the ATP Challenger Tour. The 33-year-old Russian plays a very physical style and being healthy is definitely a requirement to pull it off. Last week, Nedelko had to pull out against Yuta Shimizu after just 45 minutes of play.

Sadio Doumbia usually performs best on clay but he’s had some good results in Asia (won Pune Challenger in 2016). Although he won’t exactly blow Nedelko off the court, his one-handed backhand is a good rally tool that should allow him to expose the Russian’s fitness.
Prediction: Doumbia in 3

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Goncalo Oliveira vs Jie Cui

Head-to-head: First meeting

If you thought Benoit Paire has played a packed schedule this year, you clearly haven’t heard of Goncalo Oliveira. The 24-year-old Portuguese played competitive tennis every week of the season until the middle of August. He was supposed to play an ATP Challenger event in Cordenons but was disqualified after engaging in a quarrel on a training court. Following that incident, he took a week break. These two weeks in the middle of August were the only two he has missed this year. The Portuguese has played 90 Challenger Tour events in the last three years and made only four semifinals. During that period he also made 18 Challenger doubles finals, winning seven of them.

The Chinese wild card, Jie Cui, has recently failed to qualify for ATP events in Beijing and Chengdu. The 21-year-old might look like an easy draw but despite lacking huge weapons, Cui has a nice all-round game and a good ability to construct points. Oliveira isn’t exactly the type of player that will punish the Chinese’ weak-ish second serve and there’s some definite upset potential here.
Prediction: Cui in 3

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Duck-Hee Lee vs Kaichi Uchida

Head-to-head: Uchida 1-0

The best deaf player in the history of the sport, Duck-Hee Lee has been struggling with injuries lately. After getting his first ATP main draw win over Henri Laaksonen in Winston-Salem, the Korean missed two months of play. He only came back last week at the Liuzhou Challenger. It was hardly a success as he dropped his opening match to the aforementioned Jie Cui.

The match rhythm advantage might be important here. Kaichi Uchida has already defeated Lee this year at Taipei City Challenger and if Lee isn’t fully fit yet, he might be able to do it again. However, I’ll stick with the superior player to take some time but get things going in the very end.
Prediction: Lee in 3

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Teymuraz Gabashvili vs Yuanfeng Li

Head-to-head: First meeting

The former World No. 43 has been through a lot but he’s still finding the motivation to compete at various levels of professional tennis competitions. Searching for points even in 15K ITF tournaments at the beginning of the year, the 34-year-old has actually managed to find some form lately. He won at least a match in his last six Challenger events and he should continue to do that here.

Yuanfeng Li is hardly a tennis novice himself, but he’s never won a main draw Challenger match in seven tries. Even at the twilight of his career, Gabashvili will be a big step up compared to the players Li usually faces in 25K and 15K ITF events.
Prediction: Gabashvili in 2

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Disagree with our Shenzhen Challenger Day 1 predictions? As always, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.


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