Perhaps I should have put 'break' in parentheses. The only real break the tour ever gets is from the Tour Finals to the start of the new year, and even that is dubious given that futures and below keep rolling all year long. But September has gone and we're well into October, and more stuff has happened.
World Team Cup Quarterfinals
Sri Lanka vs. Mexico
Haven't been here in a while and as mentioned Mexico is a much better draw than we deserved. I expected to win routinely. I was wrong. Mexico has had top-notch doubles for a while, but Sushant Chiba got a couple wins for us. That meant all Amrik Kasaravalli had to do was get one, and we would advance. On Monday, veteran Jorge Campos was his opponent. After dropping the first two sets, Amrik rallied to win tiebreaks in the next two. And then came an epic 5th. Both players had chances - IIRC both of them served for the match and were broken doing so. Eventually though it was my guy who blinked first, losing 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-7(2), 13-11. Overall he didn't deserve for it to be that close, but the mental game almost carried him to victory. I don't think I've ever seen him have 30+ aces (36) or 10 DF in a match.
Never fear, Amrik had another shot against Guillermo Valturri, another veteran around his ranking, on Friday. This was for all the marbles with the tie leveled at 2-2. He took the first set, but that was it, losing in four ... and Mexico advanced to get drilled by Ireland, who will play the Netherlands in the final. And assuredly win. Really disappointed, both for national and personal reasons, that Kasaravalli couldn't win either one of those matches. Both figured to be toss-ups, but he was outplayed twice.
There was more to come in the weeks that followed. Faced with a tough choice of events, Chittoor/Guha eventually entered Izmir CH2 (Hard). I wanted a clay event but the field seemed weakest here. Naturally there was another last-second entry, but some things you can't control. Nasir Chittoor took another step closer to his first challenger title, easily reaching the final where Imre Wessely(HUN, 75th), the guy who entered late, handled him pretty easily. BP fortunes didn't go Nasir's way, but he was a bit outmatched in that encounter. Doubles was splendid, as the pairing got through a tight QF match and reached the final. Matched up against the top seeds, they lost a tight first set ... and then thumped them mercilessly the rest of the way for a 5-7, 6-1, 10-1 championship! That's a pretty rare scoreline - it was cool to see them turn it on like that. Satyagit Guha had a close loss in the first qualifying round, so that made it a worthwhile week for him also. Both took a major jump with the 90 doubles points from this title (and Chittoor a more modest one in singles). They are now pretty much even with the top doubles players in the country, and should be representing Sri Lanka in the WTC next year.
Then the senior players headed out to some smaller events. First, Kasaravalli went to the Shenzhen 250 (Hard) and was upset in the QF by unseeded Clavet Belgraver(FRA). Belgraver is a solid player but Amrik outplayed him by a solid margin, a little better and a lot more consistent - and then went 0-for-6 on BPs in a 6-4, 6-4 defeat. Amrik really needed to get one more round here. He has his final four Challenger titles coming off the points in the next two months, and I'm not at all confident that he won't still slip back down into that group at the end of the year. This was a bad stretch for him.
Chiba then headed to the China Open (500, Hard), which he won last year. Demonstrating that anything Amrik could do, he could do better - or worse - he was also a QF upset victim. Two tiebreak sets to Santino Belmon, unseeded. And that one should have been worse. In a demonstration of ineptitude, the competitors combined to fail to convert all 13 break chances, nine of them by Belmon. With this loss, there's a solid chance Sushant drops out of the Top 16 and isn't seeded in the last two Masters of the year. Super-great.
Coming Up ...
Shanghai, the last hardcourt masters of the year. The battle between Perez and Hart for #1 definitely is the headliner here, but a lot of others need to do well to secure a WTF berth or get back in the Race. And both of my players need a good showing there; Chiba to try and have a spot in the Top 16, and Kasaravalli to avoid tumbling out of the Top 32 and all the way back to challenger play.
Last edited by Brian Swartz : 05-31-2019 at 05:12 AM.