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Old 09-24-2016, 06:45 PM   #507
Brian Swartz
Pro Starter
Join Date: May 2006
2047 World Team Cup Level 1 Playoffs

** Austria(20th) vs. South Africa(8th) -- You can't tell from the world rankings, but Austria's the Level 1 nation here, South Africa bounced down to the second tier last year. They'll stay there thanks to Julian Hammerstein. He's still good enough to make a significant difference at this level, getting a pair of singles wins and taking part in the doubles in a 3-2 victory. Nkomo is 33rd and rising for the South Africans, but Beamer is almost out of the Top 100. It's an open question whether they can get up in the next couple years with only one good player.

** Denmark(11th) vs. Croatia(18th) -- Denmark lost 3-2 in the Level 2 finals for the second straight year ... and got blanked in the playoffs 5-0 both years now as well. This finishes off a disappointing year for Croatia, but they're on the rise behind Sava Cirakovic(20th) and Blagota Cojanovic(49th).

** France(6th) vs. Serbia(17th) -- Talk about a disappointment. Last year's WTC finalists, the French see their top singles players reach new heights in finishing 6th and 7th individually, but they have to deal with Serbia in the playoffs. They didn't lose a set on their favored indoor surface. Serbia's been stuck at level 2 for three years, and has done better each year, winning the level this year but this was an unfortunate matchup for them. Petko Ljaljevic is still 23 and ranked 31st leading their charge, but like South Africa's situation it remains to be seen whether he'll get any real help.

** Japan(19th) vs. China(34th) -- Japan's in a what-could-have-been situation. Former rising star Akihiro Sugiyama's manager has gone AWOL. As a result, a year after bouncing up with a somewhat optimistic future, they get sent down 4-1. For China's part, they've got a couple of Top 100 players but no big talents, and for them to get to the top tier still ranked outside the Top 30 as a nation is a big deal. They were seemingly stuck in level 2 for eight straight years, but break through in their second year in a row in the playoff. It's the first time China's ever made it to Level 1, so worth celebrating for them even if they have pretty strong odds to get sent right back down next year.

Elsewhere ...

Ritwik Dudwadkar was in Antalya, Turkey for another tier-2, his final event of the year. Easily taking the title in both singles and doubles, he finishes off a very successful season and moves up a bit heading into the new year.
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