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Old 10-15-2022, 04:02 AM   #1301
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Roland Garros

With all that backdrop, Faille had to be the favorite at his home Slam, but it wasn't a foregone conclusion. The fun began in the 4th round. For the first time in more than two years, Cyprus no. 1 Xanthos lost to Cyprus no. 2 Alketas Albanos. Two of them were tiebreakers, but it was still straight shots. Fairly shocking. Meanwhile the wait for Oleg Urazov to make some noise ended also. That wasn't the surprising part; the surprise was that he beat Bardales, 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-7(1), 6-3. That's a big target to take down when you really haven't been pushing above your station. At the same stage, Goya Banqueria got off to an early lead and pushed Faille to five sets, but couldn't pull the upset.

The two surprises met in a stunning quarterfinal, with Albanos up a set and then 2-1, but Urazov outlasting him with a pair of 6-2 sets at the end. Solitris Papadias showed up to push Cananis to five sets, while Polychroniadis over Jochen Weigle and Faille over Ale Ballok proceeded more routinely.

Both semis had something to attract attention. Urazov took one set from Cananis ... but won four games combined in the other three. Clearly he was not truly ready for the stage. The second one was an epic. When it was over, the fans were not disappointed with Ben Faille eliminating Polychroniadis 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-3. Up and down the whole way. Renke Cananis appropriately stood in the way for the final, but not for long. Straight-sets for him, and the French phenom had claimed his first Slam!
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Old 10-15-2022, 04:25 AM   #1302
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Q3 Rankings Update

1. Renke Cananis (27, DEU) - 15,420

Cananis has opened up a considerable cushion now, with his Greek rival unable to replicate his past clay dominance. At the same time, Renke's skills are either just beginning to slowly fade or about to, and the future is no longer waiting around patiently.

2. Leon Polychroniadis (26, GRC) - 11,790

Don't write Leon's obituary just yet. He doesn't strike the fear in the other top players that he used to, but Polychroniadis still has plenty left to be a major threat. He's still among the favorites at any tournament, and could yet bounce back.

3. Ben Faille (22, FRA) - 9,790

The man of the hour, Faille has his first Slam and first pair of Masters. He should be able to replicate those results to some degree off of clay, but that has not yet been demonstrated. A lot of tough matches are ahead before he can claim the crown, but it does appear increasingly inevitable that it will happen.

4. Themis Xanthos (27, CYP) - 7,070

5. Toni Bardales (26, ESP) - 5,500

I expected to hear more from the top Spaniard on the clay this season. It feels like his best opportunities have passed him by. Back-to-back 4th-round exits at Roland Garros, after semifinal showings each of the two years prior, has to be bitterly disappointing.

6. Jochen Weigle (25, SUI) - 4,700

How's this for consistency: in the last year, Weigle has made the quarterfinals in every Masters and three of four Slams. He hasn't won any of those matches, losing a round earlier at last year's Wimbledon. Jochen is literally the walking definition of a solid second-tier player.

7. Solitris Papadias (27, GRC) - 4,560

Seems to be making a nuisance of himself somewhat less consistently.

8. Ale Ballok (25, ITA) - 4,005

Ballok continues doing just enough to hang here.

9. Alexander Reimann (27, DEU) - 3,420

Just about to fall off the first page.

10. Eddy Copperfield (28, AUS) - 3,230

Apparently impervious to the words 'GO AWAY'.

11. Oleg Urazov (23, CAN) - 3,030

There is now little doubt who the next face on the first page will be.

14. Johann Przalowick (22, DEU)

Przalowik gets an extra mention here because he's seriously charging up the rankings. Made the 4th round at RG and AO, but most of his points are from 250s and Challengers. We need to see more consistent showings in the Masters level to be convinced.

18. Goya Banqueria (21, ESP)

Did well overall on clay, Madrid notwithstanding. The draws could have been a bit kinder, but he's still on track.

295. Sushant Srivastava (24, SRI)

It's now obvious to everyone who the top player in Sri Lanka is. He won a FT2 in Australia a couple weeks ago, surprising me as I was thinking maybe semifinals with who he was playing against. Seems to be on a bit of a hot streak right now, looking to break out of futures sooner rather than later perhaps?

335. Manoj Datar (32, SRI)

Still grinding away. Futures semifinals is about his typical result.

1696. Aparna Chandrasekharan (19, SRI)

Against somewhat stiffer opposition, Chandrasekharan lost in the third round of his last Amateur. He's got another one coming up next week. Getting close, but probably not quite ready to escape this tier just yet.

339(J). Girish Raychaudhari (15, SRI)

Back-to-back JG5 titles have him set to jump up to JG4 soon. He'll play at least one more tier-5, probably should do two, but I expect the leap to take place this fall.
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Old 10-18-2022, 05:59 PM   #1303
Brian Swartz
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Year 100 Wimbledon: The Early Rounds

I think 8th-ranked Ale Ballok might have made an accidental tournament entry error; they played doubles only but not singles here. Still entered in singles going forward to other events. The beneficiary of this is Oleg Urazov, who has pushed up to 9th in the last month partly due to Reimann finally sliding out of the Top 10. Urazov had to get through five sets against 12th-seed Johann Przalowik, who is consolidating well, but he makes the second week.

The best eight all survived, but there was definitely drama elsewhere. Daniel Long (IRE) knocked out (14) Vinnie Goodbody (USA) in a first-round match that went all the way to 9-7 in the 5th. Truly weird was the journey of unseeded Italian Gaspare Ceresa. Ceresa is 27 and well past his prime, ranked 57th, and needed five sets in his opening round match against an unseeded opponent. He then proceeded to rally from two sets down against (20) George Voronets, 1-6, 6-7 (6), 6-4. 7-5, 6-4. Ceresa was so exhausted by this that he was triple-bageled by Long, who went on to provide a reasonable 4th-round challenge to Xanthos.

There was also a third-round all-Spanish epic, with (25) Ignacia Saravia ultimately losing out to (13) Goya Banqueria, 9-7 in the 5th for that one as well. Banqueria couldn't get by Papadias in the 4th round, but still a quality showing for him. So plenty of drama, but it all boils down to the usual suspects heading into week two.

Elsewhere ...

Sushant Srivastava had a reversal of fortunes, a disappointing QF loss to an unseeded player in his latest FT3. Call it a balancing out of his previous success. I think he's more or less had his ranking catch up with his ability; some of his better results will fall off soon and need to be replaced. He's among the better futures players, but still in the futures category at this stage.

Aparna Chandrasekharan had an unimpressive outing at the Trani Amateur, third round in singles and first-round exit in doubles. Still inching slowly upwards, but won't get much further until he can take the next step and make QF or better his baseline. Another tournament for him next week.

Girish Raychaudhari won his third straight JG5. I think it's time for him to try heading into the JG4 level if there are reasonable opportunities found for it.
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Old 10-19-2022, 02:10 PM   #1304
Brian Swartz
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Wimbledon: Championship Week

The trend of the higher seeds moving on forward continued in the quarterfinals, but most of the matches were competitive. Solitris Papadias took a set from Cananis, same for Oleg Urazov against Faille, and and Toni Bardales against Xanthos. That one was particularly tight on the surface; 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-3, 7-6(2). In actuality though, Xanthos had 10 break points to just 2 for Bardales. Jochen Weigle put up almost no fight against Polychroniadis in the other match; a bagel and a 6-2 set sandwiching a tiebreak.

Then it was time for another 'how much have things really changed' moment. Last year Renke Cananis stopped Ben Faille in the semifinals here. Faille comes in having won two out of three ... well, make that three out of four, as he takes this one in four sets. Leon Polychroniadis was upset in the fourth round a year ago, but he had no such intentions this season. Xanthos bows out after a tough four-setter as well. The final was ... well, here's the scoreline. 7-6(6), 6-7(4), 7-6(2), 7-6(5). Four sets, all tiebreaks. Faille blasted 28 aces to 11 for Polychroniadis, and perhaps that was the difference in putting him over the top in all of these tiebreaks. He was slightly better overall, but it was definitely a match where it could have gone either way; one break to each player even with a combined 18 chances.

It's hard to escape the conclusion that Ben Faille has become the de facto best player in the world. The rankings at the top tighten up as a result of this, closing the gap some between Cananis at #1 and Polychroniadis at #2, with Faille still at #3. If he wins again at the US Open on a couple of months though, that will look a lot different.

Elsewhere ...

A close third-round singles exit in Nicosia for Aparna Chandrasekharan, although he had a deep run in doubles.

We'll return for the Olympics in a month, which are being played on an Indoor venue in Prague, and then it will be time to return to the hardcourts. For all his recent impressive accomplishments, Faille does not yet hold a major title on the most prevalent surface. He looks ready, but we'll see what happens.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 10-19-2022 at 02:10 PM.
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Old 10-19-2022, 07:20 PM   #1305
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Race Standings
Post-Wimbledon Edition

In

Ben Faille - 8,910
Leon Polychroniadis - 8,140
Renke Cananis - 7,540

Probable

Toni Bardales - 3,830
Themis Xanthos - 3,780
Solitris Papadias - 3,330

Contenders

Jochen Weigle - 2,980
Oleg Urazov - 2,830
--------------------------
Ale Ballok - 2,575
Eddy Copperfield - 2,510

Long-Shots

Raul Ramirez - 2,210
Johann Przalowik* - 1,960

Outlook

I was really surprised to see Leon Polychroniadis as actually ahead of Renke Cananis so far this year. Cananis still has three Masters and the Tour Finals remaining on the schedule to defend, so you take those out and his advantadge disappears - even though the Greek won the US Open. Of course, the big news is that both of them are already chasing Ben Faille, but the battle for #1 isn't over just yet. It's conceivable that any of the trio could come out on top.

The #4 spot is still very much up for grabs thanks to the absentee tendencies of Themis Xanthos. There's also going to be one first-time entrant replacing Reimann this year ... but it's not certain who it will be. Mostly likely a battle between Ale Ballok and Oleg Urazov, but with the ebb and flow at the lower ends of the scale here, there's a lot of other players holding out some measure of hope. Because it's so early, I'm stretching the usual constraints of the Contenders section.

Of one thing we can be sure though; it's not as cut and dry as last year. There's good competition all the way up and down the range of top players, which pretty much never happens. Should be a lot of fun.

* Pralowik's number needs to be taken with massive grains of salt because it includes a few challengers. That is totally stupid at this level but it is what it is, and he either goes nuts in the remaining Masters and the USO, or more likely just drops off the scale.
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Old 10-22-2022, 08:11 PM   #1306
Brian Swartz
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Year 100 Olympics

As is usually the case, there's nobody around who won a medal last time. Renke Cananis lost in the bronze-medal match, and nobody else got that far. Two top players didn't participate, which can be a good idea to maintain form. For Ben Faille it's logical even though it would be nice to have him. For Jochen Weigle it makes no sense, because he's not going to consistently go deep enough in the big hardcourt events to be worried about his form.

Anyway, 7 of the top 8 into the quarterfinals, plus Matias Aldecoa, Spaniard ranked 24th. He knocked out Ale Ballok to book his spot. If you're wondering about Urazov, well ... he didn't show up either. Goya Banqueria lost to Bardales in the third round.

Aldecoa lost to Cananis 7-5, 6-2 in the first quarterfinal; Raul Ramirez gave Xanthos a tough fight but ultimately lost in two sets as well. Eddy Copperfield barely survived Alketas Albanos in the previous round, and then got thumped by Polychroniadis. And Solitris Papadias provided surprisingly little resistance to Bardales.

Top four into the semis; top two seeds won in straight sets. Lie to me and tell me you're surprised. Closest was Themis Xanthos pushing Cananis to 6-4, 7-6 (6|). Xanthos would go on to easily defeat Toni Bardales and claim the bronze. Meanwhile in their 48th meeting, Leon Polychroniadis defeated Cananis 6-2, 7-6(11), 6-3 to take the gold. Even though he's lost the top spot, Polychroniadis has won three of the last four matches between the #1 and #2 ranked players. Just sayin'. He is now just 530 points behind in the current rankings.

Elsewhere ...

Sushant Srivastava won another FT3, this one in Lithuania, but lost in the doubles QF. Girish Raychaudhari took another JG5 in Nueva Leon, as there weren't good JG4 options that week; SF result in doubles was somewhat disappointing.

Time for the second hardcourt season with Canada and Cincinatti Masters coming up.
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Old 10-23-2022, 08:21 PM   #1307
Brian Swartz
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Canada Masters

Nothing too surprising in the opening rounds, best eight seeds all through to the quarterfinals. And then Oleg Urazov beat world no. 1 Renke Cananis, 6-4, 7-6(1). What?? His first win in eight meetings, first set he's won in a best of three, a couple five-setters have gone to four, but this is just a shocker. You have to seriously wonder about Cananis after a match like this.

Solitris Papadias lost to Faille routinely, Toni Bardales gave Leon Polychroniadis a serious run for his money before losing in three sets, and Jochen Weigle was more competitive than usual, still edged 7-5, 7-6(8) by Xanthos. In the semis, Urazov took a tiebreaker from Ben Faille, then was beaten 6-7(7), 6-1, 6-4. Pretty big statement being made here by Urazov, who had already surprassed Ale Ballok for the #8 spot. After a bad first set, Themis Xanthos came back to beat Polychroniadis in three sets. Neither of the top two in the final. This is starting to become not that rare of an event.

Faille claimed a competitive title in a 6-3, 6-4 finale over Xanthos, his 3rd Masters Shield. Meanwhile, for the moment Cananis falls to #2 and Polychroniadis is back to #1, but the margin is less than 300 points and it's possible Faille could take command as early as the US Open. The cracks in the power couple are now evident for all to see.
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Old 10-24-2022, 11:56 PM   #1308
Brian Swartz
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Cincinatti Masters

Stuff happened this week. Buckle up.

8th-ranked Oleg Urazov didn't show up. Boo. Johann Przalowik did, beating Voronets before pushing Cananis to three sets in round three. Ok. Gonna say it now;

I WAS WRONG ABOUT PRZALOWIK.

Just gotta get that mea culpa out there in all caps. He clearly belongs, and is likely Top 10 soon. I don't think I've ever seen someone who doesn't have generational abilities just leave challengers and totally skip the gradual progression phase, crashing the party of the higher tiers. But he's doing it somehow. The third round also had a fun all-Spanish battle, with Toni Bardales losing to Goya Banqueria, 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-4. This is a pretty convincing demonstration that Banqueria is going to be effective off of clay. Which leads to the next headline, not related just to this event:

THE SPANIARDS ARE COMING!! THE SPANIARDS ARE COMING!!

Banqueria lost in straight-sets to Polychroniadis, no shame there, in the quarterfinals. Still, he's ranked 17th and is 22. We knew that already. Hector Mendias is 21 and ranked 19th. Ene Caballero is ranked 20th and is 20, mentioned him as a shocking teen phenom at the start of the year. Matias Aldecoa is 24th, 24 years old, and still improving even if not in the class of the others.

This is not a off-in-the-future development. It is a clear and present danger. If your name is not Ben Faille and you aren't a fan of Spain, be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

Ok, back to the tournament. Bardales was the only top-eight seed to bow out before the quarters. Jochen Weigle gave Faille a surprisingly competitive battle before losing 6-4, 6-4; Renke Cananis rallied from a set down against ... Ale Ballok? I think basically Cananis is really falling off a cliff or is in a serious slump. He's just not himself. And Solitris Papadias made an upset bid before losing in three to Xanthos. So three of the four matches were quite competitive.

Straight-sets exit for Leon Polychroniadis against Faille in the semis, and Cananis looked downright bad in getting thumped 6-2, 6-3 by Themis Xanthos. Xanthos kept it up, surprising Ben Faille 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3 in an entertaining final. It could have gone either way and Faille probably was very slightly the better player, but the #4-ranked Cypriot takes his 6th Masters Shield, first in four years here at Cincinatti and first anywhere in a year and a half (IW '99).

The head-to-head was 5-5 coming in, but the French phenom had won five straight on hardcourt, the only recent defeats coming indoors. So this is a surprising and significant reversal of that trend. Or an interruption at least.

Heading into the US Open, the top three in the rankings:

1 - Cananis, 13,030 pts
2 - Polychroniadis, 12,920 pts

You can't get much closer than that.

3 - Faille, 11,880 pts

Last year's results: Polychroniadis over Cananis in the final, Faille QF. The veneer of invincibility for the top two is shattered now, but you can make a case for any of them as favorite, and for any of them to be #1 when it's over. My money is on Faille though.

Elsewhere ...

Not nearly as dramatic, but we had some excitement as well. Aparna Chandrasekharan found a weakness in the amateur schedule, with four events on the same surface - hardcourt - serving to dilute the opposition. He was seeded 2nd in both draws in Changchun, China. Doubles saw a second-round upset, and it didn't look good for him going into his third-round singles match against (12) Stephane Domench. In what I would term a moderate upset, Chandrasekharan rallied 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 for the victory ... and he would allow no more than four games in a match the rest of the tournament. First Amateur title!!

The danger of over-reacting is very real here. One win is great, but it doesn't mean he'll escape the Amateurs in the immediate future, and frankly he's not quite good enough for Futures yet IMO though he's getting close. But on the other hand, he'll now have a good seed in most events, and one more win in the next couple of tries will have him right on the edge of graduating the Amateur level. No points to defend the next two months-plus. He's getting close.
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Old 10-26-2022, 06:32 PM   #1309
Brian Swartz
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Year 100 US Open: Opening Rounds

Before we actually get to the tournament, we need to talk about Bartolome Riffo (GUA), poster child for 'alternative scheduling'. At the time of writing, Riffo is ranked 13th in the world and hasn't played a Masters or Slam tournament in more than two years. He's not playing here. What he does have is excellent WTC results, plus 4 250 titles and 3 250 finals. Of course, this is not sustainable. He's going to get 0-point results from Masters and Slams until he either drops out of the Top 30 by force since he won't have enough points from the remaining ranking slots, or until he changes his approach. But suffice to say Riffo should be here and he isn't, to his detriment. At 26 and less than a year from his peak I would guess, he doesn't have long to figure this out.

A couple of first-round exits for lower seeds: (27) Roger Manuel was the latest victim of Italy's Gespare Ceresa, who was bageled in the first set and then proceeded in win in four. A good match between young Irish players saw (28) Daniel Long outlasted by Matthew Hughes, 6-3, 7-6(9), 4-6, 7-6(3). As ever some good five-setters between some of the unseeded players, but nothing sticking out as noteworthy. Round two brought the downfall of (24) Mahjab Thabet (NLD) against crowd favorite Collin Tupper, who lost a two-set lead only to prevail in a 5th-set breaker. More surprisingly, one of the rising Spaniards (18) Hector Mendias was on the short end against British hardcourt specialist George Hood.

In the third round, there were no major surprises and the remaining unseeded players were swept aside. Some matches closer than expected, but the only lower seeds to advance were (20) Vinnie Goodbody (USA) over 14th-seeded Pet Sampras of France, and (17) Alketas Albanos dumping (9) Ale Ballok 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Ballok overplayed coming in, and he's not good enough to get away with that. Also worth noting is Ene Caballero beating Goya Banqueria in a matchup of Spanish young guns; Caballero went on to take a set from Polychroniadis before losing in four. He's definitely not biding his time.

The fourth round held a number of competitive matches; only three of the higher seeds, Cananis, Xanthos, and Faille, got through it without losing a set. But none of them lost. Particularly brutal was Xanthos' beat-down of fellow Cypriot Albanos, 6-1, 6-1, 6-2. Ouch. It does appear though that Urazov replacing Ballok in the top 8 is a secure change, and that for the time being nobody else is breaking into that club.

Elsewhere ...

Sushant Srivastava was easily the top seed at a FT2 in Japan, as many of the players at and above his level were at the US Open qualifying. I briefly considered putting him in there, but I don't think it's worth doing unless you are confident of at least making the final qualifying round. Srivastava won the tournament, but had a couple of close matches. He's losing more than winning in practice tournaments lately, which is right where you want to me in terms of improving, but it also shows he's not under-ranked in the high 200s.

Girish Raychaudhari had a less successful venture, heading to his first JG5 at Vina del Mar. I was thinking it would be an opportunity, what with the junior USO also ongoing. Seeded 5th, he lost in the first round of singles and QF of doubles. Message received; we'll go back to JG5 for another couple tournaments unless there's a clear opening.
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Old 10-27-2022, 04:36 PM   #1310
Brian Swartz
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US Open: Championship Week

The carnage for Renke Cananis continues, with a stunning straight-sets loss to Solitris Papadias. He had a 23-7 edge on Papadias coming in, including seven in a row going back a year and a half. He's not training doubles and his rating is still high - a cold streak of play is the only thing I can come up with here. Regardless of the reason, this means that his time at #1 has come to an end. Oleg Urazov picked up a whole seven games in getting crushed by Faille, Toni Bardales was easily dismissed by Polychroniadis, but the final quarterfinal held a borderline shocker.

The one player we always know is going to lose, and rarely put up a fight, is Jochen Weigle. We know he's going to lose. We know it. We know .... he didn't lose, defeating Themis Xanthos 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-3. Weigle's record against Xanthos on hardcourt was 0-5 coming in, 4-8 overall. And this wasn't even particularly close. What is going on?

First semi went as expected, straight-sets for Faille over Papadias. And of course Leon Polychroniadis put Weigle in his place as well ... by losing 7-6(11), 7-5, 7-6(2). We need a full investigation here. What alien being has taken over the body of Jochen Weigle, and what have they done with him? He even won a set in the final, before Ben Faille rectified the situation for a 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-4 win. It wasn't easy though. It was his hardest match of the tournament, against the most consistent 'quarterfinal patsy' I've ever seen. This is fortnight that, regardless of what happens from here, Weigle will never forget. Meanwhile, three Slams in a row for Faille, who will ascend to #1.
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Old 10-27-2022, 05:50 PM   #1311
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Year 100 Q4 Rankings Update

1. Ben Faille (22, FRA) - 13,520

Faille is 71-6 on the year, and has won the last 3 Slams. He has arrived at the summit, and now the only real question is how long he can stay. It's a question to be answered in years, plural, at a minimum.

2. Renke Cananis (27, DEU) - 12,190

3. Leon Polychroniadis (27, GRC) - 11,640

The deposed former kings will now battle for the #2 spot, and we could easily see them in semifinal matchups against each other. That would just feel weird.

4. Themis Xanthos (27, CYP) - 7,300

5. Jochen Weigle (25, SUI) - 5,720

Weigle is up to a career-best, and the question now is if he can replicate the run at the USO, or if it was a magical one-off. I'll guess the latter for now.

6. Toni Bardales (26, ESP) - 5,590

7. Solitris Papadias (27, GRC) - 4,930

Nice showing at the US Open semis and big upset of Cananis. Solitris is still steady and ready to cause problems if given the opportunity.

8. Oleg Urazov (23, CAN) - 3,950

Continuing to establish himself at the 'grown-up table'.

9. Ale Ballok (25, ITA) - 3,115

Ballok's stop in the Top 8 was brief and fortuitous it would seem.

10. Eddy Copperfield (28, AUS) - 2,845

Just 45 points back is Johann Przalowik. He might be the player that finally kicks Copperfield off the front page.

246. Sushant Srivastava (24, SRI)

200 seems close from here, but in reality he needs about 50% more ranking points to get there and they won't be easy to come by. Srivastava is actually somewhat over-ranked at this point. He'll keep grinding away, and I definitely expect him to get there eventually. Playing at the Australian Open to start next year is a possible goal.

370. Manoj Datar (32, SRI)

Quarterfinal or semifinal appearances in futures are the most common for Datar these days. He's pretty much settled and just drifting slowly downwards.

1233. Aparna Chandrasekharan (19, SRI)

Chandrasekharan is in a similar situation vis a vis Amateurs as Srivastava is in futures. Next week he'll have an opportunity to push even closer to graduating.

261. Girish Raychaudhari (15, SRI)

I think Raychaudhari will be near the mid-200s for the rest of the year, then make the usual jump with other juniors turning pro.

Really the same tale for all my players to a degree - keep working, stay in the holding pattern or move up a bit, wait to see what happens with the WTC at the end of the year. We're now at 14 weeks until we find out if we get to participate next year.
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Old 10-27-2022, 06:00 PM   #1312
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
RACE STANDINGS
Post-USO Edition

In

Ben Faille - 12,510
Leon Polychroniadis - 10,330
Renke Cananis - 8,890
Themis Xanthos - 5,750
Jochen Weigle - 4,820
Toni Bardales - 4,710
Solitris Papadias - 4,570

Probable

Oleg Urazov - 3,760

Contenders

none

Long-Shots

none

Analysis

Best player in the world is no longer a matter for discussion. The Age of Faille has come. The only player unsure of his spot at this point is Oleg Urazov, who could lose some points from the WTC yet. Even so, I'm still basically calling the field at this point. There's nobody with a thousand points of him and nobody positioned to make a run. This is who we have for the Tour Finals this year.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 10-27-2022 at 06:00 PM.
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Old 11-01-2022, 09:33 PM   #1313
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Shanghai Masters

The last big hardcourt tournament of the year was the occasion for Johann Przalowik to make an announcement; he will no longer be ignored or marginalized. Ranked 46th coming into the season, the 22-year-old German crashed the party by knocking off (7) Solitris Papadias in the third round, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. For reference, the last time Papadias failed to make the final eight at a Masters or a Slam was over a year ago at Canada '99. Przalowik followed it up by pushing Renke Cananis to a close third-set tiebreak before losing in the quarterfinals. I can't remember ever seeing such as rapid ascent as this.

The rest of the quarterfinals went as scripted; all of the expected seeds were here, and Faille, Polychroniadis, and Xanthos all advanced in straight sets. Jochen Weigle took just four games from Polychroniadis, so whatever got into him at the US Open appears to have faded just as quickly. Oleg Urazov put in a decent effort against Xanthos, but went down to defeat as expected.

It was just a couple of months ago that Themis Xanthos defeated Ben Faille to win the Cincinatti Masters. This time around though, the Cypriot could manage only a pair of breadsticks in a semi-final humiliation. On the other side, Leon Polychroniadis lost is a competitive two-setter. Renke Cananis gave Faille a battle in the final, but fell a bit short 7-5, 6-7(4), 7-5. It actually probably shouldn't have been quite that close, but Cananis hasn't lost any of his mental prowess of course, and he did well in his limited break chances.

Race Standings Update

I know I called this after the US Open, but given Przalowik's performance here it seemed appropriate to run his numbers and Urazov's again. Przalowik is up to #9 in the rankings. Oleg Urazov sits at 4,100, Johann Przalowik at 3,365. He's also won the Japan Open 500 in the interim. So he's mathematically definitely in it, but from a practical perspective not really. He'd have to win one of the 500-level events the week before Paris and also make the final there to have any realistic chance. But next year he'll definitely be one to watch.

Elsewhere ...

Sushant Srivastava lost a close match in the final of Brazil FT2, but took home the doubles title. That's two quality doubles futures results in a row, which means more matches for him in tournament weeks and more weeks off in-between.

Aparna Chandrasekharan won another Amateur in Adelaide, quarterfinal finish in doubles. He's now knocking on the door to graduate, with a high of 1006th and a little below that now. If Chandrasekharan reaches the QF round in his next event coinciding with the Paris Masters, he will officially make the jump to futures at that point. I don't think he's quite ready yet, but the rules are the rules.

Girish Raychaudhari knocked out another JG5 title in Almaty, Kazachstan, then headed for another JG4 try to Quebec, Canada. A loss in the finals there was as good as a JG5 win, and he made the semifinals in doubles. Up now to the low 200s, his endurance (2.1) has improved to the point where he's starting to occasionally play doubles in practice weeks as well. All good signs of progress.
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Old 11-05-2022, 01:12 AM   #1314
Brian Swartz
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Paris Masters

For no good reason I can think of, #4 Themis Xantos (CYP) skipped this tournament. It wasn't accidental - he decided to play what had to be an inefficient practice event instead. On top of that the usual strangeness with an indoor tournament, with multiple seeds in the low teens losing their first match, others coming close to losing and winning in close three-setters. With just 16 seeds, some of the unseeded players are not actually much of an upset.

After nearly becoming an upset victim himself, [b](13) Dominic Stricker (SUI)[/], who we've not had much cause to mention this year, edged past Solitris Papadias 6-2, 6-7(3), 7-6(2). A second straight early defeat for the Greek no. 2; is this a developing pattern, or just a bit of a slump? German qualifier Davide de Laurentis, just missing out on not being a qualifier as he's ranked in the mid-30s, made it to the third round before Bardales told him to go away. And at the bottom of the quarterfinals two double-digit seeds made it in. (10) Eddy Copperfield didn't like the fact that we don't talk about him anymore, rallying against (4) Jochen Weigle 2-6, 7-5, 6-1. Similarly, (8) Johann Przalowik took his first top-8 seed and won the first set, then was a comeback victim against (11) Raul Ramirez.

The quarterfinals then still had the Big Three and four of the top five, but more of a hodge-podge after that with Stricker being the lowest-ranked to make it. He was promptly bageled by Faille and limited to two total games won. Leon Polychroniadis exited earlier than expected against Oleg Urazov, 6-2, 7-6(8). Toni Bardales was easily dismissed by Cananis, and Copperfield rallied against Ramirez in a fun 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 match for the last QF.

Straight-sets for both Ben Faille over Urazov, although one was a tiebreak, and Renke Cananis over Copperfield, with only the loss of four games there. The final was a little more competitive, but only a little. With the crowd fully behind him, Faille would not be denied, taking another title 6-1, 7-5. Cananis and Polychroniadis remain close for the #2 spot, but Faille is consistently pulling away at the top. Meanwhile with the run to the semifinals, Urazov is showing signs of inching his way upwards as well.

Elsewhere ...

Abijan, Cote de Ivoire was the site for Aparna Chandrasekharan to play his final amateur. It was more competitive than the others he's played in lately, and he lost a close final to unseeded German Otto Amstdater that went the distance; four points separated them out of 230 total. That was of little consequence however as Chandrasekharan had more than enough points to join the low end of the futures ranks. He lost in the third round of doubles. Now we will see if he can begin to consolidate that position.
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Old 11-08-2022, 01:10 AM   #1315
Brian Swartz
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World Tour Finals
Bath, Great Britain

It was a competitive pool stage this year; only Solitris Papadias went winless. It's the fourth appearance here for the Greek no. 2, and it's hard to shake the feeling that it may be his last. Ben Faille was the only player to win all three matches, surprising nobody, and both Cananis and Polychroniadis joined him in the knockout phase. But 4th-ranked Themis Xanthos did not. The theme for the tournament was this:

Will the real Jochen Weigle please stand up? After making a run to the USO final, he seemingly reverted to form in Shanghai and Paris. But here he was once again not content to just show up, rallying from a set down against Papadias and winning over Xanthos in straight sets to advance. It should also be noted that [b]Oleg Urazov[b] was one third-set tiebreaker away from beating Cananis and providing another surprise, as he then would have moved on and the world #2 would have been eliminated.

But back to Weigle; he upset Renke Cananis 6-4, 7-6(6) in the second semifinal, while Faille eliminated Leon Polychroniadis in a competitive first match. Weigle was once again outmatched in the final, 6-3, 6-3, and to his collection of first on the year Faille added the Tour Finals crown in unblemished fashion. Weigle is now knocking on the door of moving up to the Top 4, and whether he is able to add some more consistency in the coming year is an interesting storyline.

Elsewhere ...

Sushant Srivastava didn't have the best outing at an FT2 tournament in Oberstaufen, Germany. A close 11-9 loss in a doubles TB for the final, and a semifinal loss in singles, 6-2, 6-2. As bad as that sounds, his opponent was one of those who shouldn't be there. Aris Alunans of Latvia is a challenger-level player, but focuses more on doubles and for singles regularly gets knocked out early. It appears he only players futures this time of year when there are no bigger events to play, so it was just a wrong place at the wrong time kind of situation.

Girish Raychaudhari plowed easily through a JG5 in Kimberly, South Africa that he didn't really need for rankings but there were high-ranking players in all the available JG4 events. He's past ready for the year to turn so that more openings present themselves at that level.

#1 Germany faces #2 Greece again in the upcoming World Team Cup Finals, and it's now down to a few weeks until we learn our fate for the upcoming year.
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Old 11-10-2022, 05:45 AM   #1316
Brian Swartz
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World Team Cup Finals

Grass surface this time. Greece defeats Germany 3-2, the third consecutive year with the same opponents and the same score. Leon Polychroniadis claimed two victories, including a straight-sets win against Renke Cananis, and Alexander Reimann wasn't nearly enough to make the doubles competitive for Germany. Johann Przalowik won a five-setter in the last match against Solitris Papadias, but it was too little too late.

You'd think Papadias' decline is likely to signal the end of the road here for Greece, but if they keep winning doubles, Polychroniadis might be able to continue getting it done. As far as I know the record for most consecutive WTC titles is five; Spain won four in a row and six of seven shortly before Greece began this run, so we'll see if they can keep it going. There are no other singles players for them in the Top 150, so once Polychroniadis can no longer lead the way, their time at the top will end.
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Old 11-10-2022, 12:27 PM   #1317
Brian Swartz
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WTC Playoffs

- China (18th) v. Chile (23rd)

Two countries apparently going in opposite directions here. China is in their second promotion playoff in three years; Chile their second relegation in three years. But in actuality it appears that they are both simply treading water, and Chile at a higher level. China has De Cheng An (54th), and nobody else in the Top 200. The status quo holds, Chile winning 5-0 with the loss of only one set.

- Guatemala (25th) v. Argentina (12th)

Guatemala is trying to move up from Level 2; Argentina faces their second relegation challenge in a row. The first match really decided this. Guatemalan star Bartolome Riffo (15th) lost to aging Jonathan Estela (42nd), 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-7(1), 6-4. Argentina holds on by the slimmest of margins, 3-2; Guatemala took the doubles, but their #2 singles was very non-competitive.

- Ireland (9th) v. Canada (8th)

Two Top 10 countries in a playoff is weird. Even weirder; both are Level 2 nations! They met in the Level 2 final, and then again here, both with the same result; Canada wins 4-1. Poor preparation by the Irish didn't help. The worst singles player on either side is 52nd; both countries are good enough to play at Level 1. But when you have #7 Oleg Urazov and another improving player in the mid-30s, you're going to be a tough country to knock out here.

Ireland probably should be Level 2 favorites next season, and I'll be surprised if they don't make it up soon.

- Russia (21st) v. Poland (17th)

In this matchup, both countries recently made it up to Level 1. Russia two years ago, Poland last year. Neither is doing very well at the top competition though, so here they are. Somebody's going down.

Poland has no Top 100 singles players. Russia has George Voronets (23rd) and another player around 80th. You can see where this is going. Poland wins one set, and is relegated 5-0. Objectively, they belong at Level 2 so good on them for making it up for a year. Their #2, Kryszstof Derlanga, is about to turn 20 and will eventually lead them back up I think.

Elsewhere ...

In his first futures tournament, Aparna Chandrasekharan had ... a bad time. Lost in qualifying in doubles, and his first-round singles matchup was against a 2-seed ranked about 290th. He won two games, and will try again next week.
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Old 11-10-2022, 04:47 PM   #1318
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Year 100 Final Country Rankings

1. Greece - 2,720
2. Germany - 2,439
3. Spain - 2,264
4. United States - 2,155
5. Mexico - 2,081
6. Cyprus - 2,052
7. France - 2,048
8. Canada - 2,008
9. Ireland - 1,954
10. Italy - 1,945

55. Sri Lanka - 1,026

Greece has a stranglehold at the top, but Germany and Spain are the ones to watch. Both have a raft of talented young players coming up, and it seems almost certain they will battle annually before too long.

Year 101 Preview

We ... have nothing. Sri Lanka has been dealt the ultimate insult; we have been removed from the World Team Cup entirely, deemed not even good enough for Level 4.

On the basis of national ranking, only 7 of the countries participating at the bottom level this year are higher. That doesn't seem fair. But Manoj Datar's singles ranking has recently plummeted to about 600th, and Anant Sankait is even lower, leaving Srivastava as our only quality competitor. This is a more likely basis for our exclusion, but I still cry foul:

- Egypt finished last in their group last year, and their best are 543rd and 724th. They are still in.

- Bosnia finished last as well. They have 110th and 1511th for their best two; one much better and one much worse, so meh.

- Peru was activated this year after a 4-year hiatus. 322nd and 432nd for their best, which is better than we can muster.

- Algeria was activated as well, and they'd been out for 8 years. With players at 99th and 221st, one has to wonder why it didn't happen sooner.

- Morocco was the other nation kicked out, 316th and 454th for their best.

All of which is to say I don't really understand how this works. We will get another chance eventually, and probably can increase the chances of it being sooner by improving our players, but Sri Lanka is now at the whim of the inscrutable system. For all I know it may just swap a pair of nations every year at random with one who hasn't had a chance in a while, although there at least was a time in the past when it appeared to be more merit-based than that. And every year we're not in the World Team Cup, we lose the potential development we could get, most notably right now for Sushant Srivastava.

Welcome (back) to Rock Bottom, Population Us.

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Old 11-10-2022, 05:35 PM   #1319
ntndeacon
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Go Algeria!
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Up the Posh!
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Old 11-11-2022, 10:23 AM   #1320
Brian Swartz
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You forgot a word in there ... 'Go Away Algeria!'.

In all seriousness, I fully expect them to promote this year and settle in Level 3 minimum.
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Old 11-11-2022, 05:08 PM   #1321
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Year 101 Top Ten Rankings

1. Ben Faille (22, FRA, 97%, 9.32, +0.18) - 15,810

The top of the sport is going to be boring for a while. Faille is destined to be an all-time great. He's competing with history, not with anybody in this current era. My prediction is that it's four years before we can reasonably discuss who knocks him from the perch. 3 Slams, 5 Masters and a Tour Final this year was just the beginning.

While Ben chases history, we'll document his accomplishments to be sure, but also focus on the re-arrangement happening beneath him. Taking over the top spot was the start of the changing of the guard - others are pushing upwards as well.

2. Leon Polychroniadis (27, GRC, 90%, 9.09, -0.04) - 11,020

Polychroniadis just narrowly edged out his long-time rival Cananis to get back to the #2 spot. Their battles will continue as they gradually recede from the apex.

3. Renke Cananis (27, DEU, 88%, 9.15, -0.10) - 10,440

At present, Cananis is tied for 5th all-time with four World Tour Finals trophies. That's the biggest feather in the cap of his career.

4. Themis Xanthos (28, CYP, 89%, 8.84, -0.03) - 6,370

'Best of the rest' may be about to change, but for now Xanthos is holding on. Added another Masters Shield this year at Cincinatti, but also missed a Slam and two other Masters events.

5. Jochen Weigle (26, SUI, 92%, 8.92, +0.15) - 6,030

Weigle is second-best; a very distant second obviously, but still second-best among players who are still improving. In an era such as this it's easy to ignore anyone who isn't at 9+, but Jochen made noise at the end of the year in reaching the USO and WTF finals. The next two years should be his best, and he could well reach #2 for a while. That's as much as anyone could ask for. No longer laminated as a reliable quarterfinal pushover, he appears to be a legitimate factor and really made good strides this season.

6. Toni Bardales (26, ESP, 90%, 8.68, +0.02) - 5,550

Bardales made the Monte Carlo final and a couple of semis, but he never did as much as I thought he could do on clay. Time has probably run out - perhaps he'll have one last hurrah this year but I doubt it. A solid second-tier player for quite a while, his decline is now set to begin.

7. Oleg Urazov (23, CAN, 96%, 8.91, +0.29) - 4,700

Urazov really broke through this year, as you can see by the numbers. He was looking quite serve-focused previously, but has mostly balanced that out, and his improvement at the back of the court paid dividends. A semifinal showing at Roland Garros was the key moment, and was followed by a couple more at the Canada and Paris Masters.

Urazov is arguably the best in the next generation, 'not Faille' category. He's definitely the highest-ranked of that group, and figures to join Weigle in kicking out Polychroniadis & Cananis for the #2 and #3 spots - although that's probably still a year away from really starting to happen.

8. Solitris Papadias (27, GRC, 88%, 8.68, -0.04) - 4,470

Papadias has held on bravely, but he was clearly not nearly the player at the end of the year that he was at the start. It's probably as much to do with other players improving than his regression, but the 'other Greek' is now reduced to the role of gatekeeper. I expect he's seen his last year as a member of the Top 8.

9. Johann Przalowik (23, DEU, 97%, 8.57, --) - 3,355

As I've noted, I didn't think enough of Przalowik to rate him last year. Clearly this was in error. Having said that, he's still probably a bit of an over-achiever. Technical abilities are getting close but not quite to the world-class level, good mental game and very good power. In an era without Faille, his endurance (~4.8 peak) would be the talk of the Top 10, and even here it's still definitely notable.

Maybe Johann proves me wrong again, but I think he hangs out right around where he is this year, and pays the price for his hubris so to speak. He's the first-in of the contingent of new top-quality German players, and I definitely see him as a Top-5 player down the road.

10. Ale Ballok (25, ITA, 92%, 8.46, -0.07) - 3,050

Ballok continues to over-emphasize his serve, which has surpassed that of Cananis as the best in tennis. So why did he slide a spot? Mental game is still weak, baseline play is inadequate for a world-class player, and everyone pays the piper on that eventually. I'd say he's more regressed to about the spot where he should be.

Analysis

Overall, the Top 10 is a hair better than a year ago; 8.86 average rating compared to 8.85. Reimann and Copperfield left, replaced by Urazov and Przalowik. The replacement process will continue, players churning below the unreachable Ben Faille. Starting this year, I expect the French legend-in-the-making to put up some truly stupidly-dominant numbers.
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Old 11-11-2022, 08:37 PM   #1322
Brian Swartz
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Year 101 Rankings, 11+ Notables

13. Ene Caballero (20, ESP, 101%, 8.65, +0.47)

Last year I said I thought Caballero, then 45th, was 'probably out of the Challengers in a year at most'. Clearly I sold him short. Technical side is still a work in progress, but reaching this level while still at his physical peak is fabulous. Given his outstanding dedication to the game, I don't see any reason why he can't be in the Tour Finals this year.

14. Dominic Stricker (24, SUI, 95%, 8.54, +0.09)

In this era of dynamic talents, Stricker is kind of ... boring. He just keeps making a little progress each year, this time boosting his serve to a solid level though the rally ability still leaves some to be desired. Neglecting clay in favor of grass + indoor play may not have been the best move either. He's definitely on a path which should take him into the Top 10 at a minimum though, up 5 spots from #19 last year.

15. Bartolome Riffo (27, GUA, 91%, 8.54, --)

I mentioned Riffo a few months back as a player who was just not getting it scheduling-wise. He was as high as 13th this year, but not playing any Slams or Masters. Bartolome is a clay specialist and could potentially be an interesting spoiler in the spring, but he has to get out of the habit of just spamming almost exclusively 250-level events. If it's going to happen, it'll have to be this year - he'll be on the decline afterwards.

16. Goya Banqueria (22, ESP, 98%, 8.40, +0.18)

Banqueria is another of the young talented Spaniards, up only modestly from 21st a year ago. He's leaning into focusing on clay, and also unfortunately leaning very hard into having a big serve, which he's accomplished at 4.1. Skill is only 4.4 though, woefully inadequate for a top player. No question that is slowing down his progression.

17. Pet Sampras (25, FRA, 91%, 8.27, +0.02)

Sampras is up three spots from 20th, but it doesn't look he's going to go much further as this will probably be his peak year in terms of level. A good but definitely not stellar talent who was managed competently but not optimally from what I can see, Pet is one of those who is just going to come up short of reaching the first page.

20. Matias Aldecoa (24, ESP, 93%, 8.43, -- )

Aldecoa was not in last year's rundown. He was in the mid-30s of the rankings until reaching the Halle final, which really was the break he needed to jump himself up into the professional tier. Baseline play needs work, but he has enough time to be a factor and potentially crack the Top 10 at least briefly if he can boost that up. A quality serve and good speed around the court are Matias' best assets.

21. Hector Mendias (22, ESP, 99%, 8.24, --)

Mendias is already the 5th player from Spain, and 4th on the upside of their careers. Their building strength is not in doubt. Another player aiming for clay success, but Hector has more work to do than the others. Athleticism is above-average but not spectacular, so he'll need to get his technique up to standard before he can progress much further.

22. George Voronets (23, RUS, 95%, 8.21, +0.13)

Voronets is up four positions from 26th, but he's aging too quickly to really make a major push much further. Serve blindness is a factor here as well. I think about 15th is probably where he peaks, in a couple years.

23. Santino Consiglio (25, ITA, 92%, 8.33, +0.08)

Consiglio continues to make slow progress, partly because more work appears to be going into doubles. He had Top 10 potential, but that ship has sailed. Currently 80th in doubles, he might well end up having a better career in that discipline.

26. Morten Ejlersgaard (24, DMK, 94%, 8.29, +0.02)

Really no excuse for not progressing faster ast Ejlersgaard's age. Endurance isn't great but it's decent, good athlete, very good mental game; he's got a couple of years left but basically in a similar boat to Voronets. Not enough time to reach the first page now.

27. Esteban Cabarcos (24, ESP, 94%, 8.15, --)

The Spaniards just keep coming from everywhere it seems. Cabarcos won the Gstaad 250, then had another final the next week - both of them on clay. That pattern holds firm. Really was the luck of the draw in this case though, as he's evenly split between surfaces. Esteban has a weak mental game and is another case of over-investing in serve technique. Has pretty good speed as well, but he'll float into the teens at best.

29. Patrik Rask (24, SWE, 94%, 8.31, --)

Rask is actually better than a fair number of the players ahead of him. He's not a premium talent, but technique is coming along, above-average speed and mental game ... he could make the low teens yet if this year goes well for him,.

30. Anil Janhyala (23, IND, 95%, 8.07, --)

Good mental game, above-average strength, yet another example of over-emphasis on serve, but mostly Janhyala seems to be a case of 'somebody has to fill the spot'. He's aging fast and not likely to amount to much.

31. David de Laurentis (22, DEU, 98%, 8.54, --)

There are more Germans coming behind him, but it's a crime against player management that de Laurentis is this low. Possessing a quality serve already as well as good mentality and very good power, he lacks only improved baseline play and is a borderline Top-10 caliber player right now. At least in part, David seems to be a classic case of a player who tried to jump from the Challenger ranks too early, but I also suspect poor form management. We'll see how he does next year.

32. Mathieu Mallarme (23, CAN, 96%, 8.01, --)

Mallarme is Canada's #2 behind Urazov. He is also physically weak, technically still lacking, and other than a strong natural talent really doesn't have anything that stands out at the top end of the sport. Mathieu has done well to reach this high.

82. Basilis Pavlopoulos (19, DEU, 101%, 7.40, --)

There are a number of players in the 20-21 range that could well push in to the Top 32 within the next year, but I'll just mention Pavlopoulos specifically as the next Top 100 teenager.

He's no Caballero, and a bit of a mirage IMO. Speed and mental game are good, but there's nothing that jumps out, endurance is merely above-average and technique has a lot of work. More flash than substance I would say.

Analysis

It feels like an in-between year in terms of new talent; more fresh faces are expected next year, but for now I'm most watching Cabellero and Banqueria, with de Laurentis the one notable exception and most of the rest composed of declining players or those without a particularly bright future, comparatively speaking. The Serve Addiction is pretty painful to see as well.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 11-11-2022 at 08:38 PM.
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Old 11-11-2022, 08:50 PM   #1323
Brian Swartz
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Year 101 Rankings, My Stable

274. Sushant Srivastava (24, SRI, 94%, 6.83, +0.29

Srivastava has been competitive with the best futures players in practice recently; it feels like he's about ready to take the next step and it probably won't be long before I start sending him out to FT1 events. Another two years roughly until he reaches his peak. I expect him to make the jump to Challengers sometime roughly the second half of this season.

607. Manoj Datar (33, SRI, 72%, 6.47, -0.04)

Datar has recently reached a threshold where he's just not competitive in futures anymore, and the ranking has plummeted. On the trainer side, he stands at 4.12 and is on a 2-year plan of his own. By that time, he should be about ready to become a trainer at the 4.5 level, and it's also roughly when I expect he'll be needed.

942. Aparna Chandrasekharan (20, SRI, 99%, 5.95, +0.98)

Now at his physical peak and fresh out of the amateur ranks, Chandrasekharan has a clear goal for this year; establish himself as a futures player. The first couple of tournaments haven't gone well, losing his first match in both disciplines. He might well have to see-saw back and forth, going back to the amateur level temporarily if he loses some points.

96 (J). Girish Raychaudhari (15, SRI, 71%, 3.45, +1.22)

Raychaudhari finished off last year with his first JG4 title, and he'll be looking to add some more of those for at least the first half of this year. I'm satisfied with his progress so far; three junior seasons remain.

Once Datar becomes a trainer, then I'll look to the future and perhaps start planning when to bring in a new player. Until then, all we can do is keep improving and try to be as ready as possible for whenever the WTC door swings open again.

Manager Ranking

Up 24 spots to 82nd, and up about 1150 points to 1611.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 11-11-2022 at 08:51 PM.
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Old 11-15-2022, 01:08 PM   #1324
britrock88
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Originally Posted by Brian Swartz View Post
All of which is to say I don't really understand how this works. We will get another chance eventually, and probably can increase the chances of it being sooner by improving our players, but Sri Lanka is now at the whim of the inscrutable system. For all I know it may just swap a pair of nations every year at random with one who hasn't had a chance in a while, although there at least was a time in the past when it appeared to be more merit-based than that. And every year we're not in the World Team Cup, we lose the potential development we could get, most notably right now for Sushant Srivastava.

Welcome (back) to Rock Bottom, Population Us.

Had been thinking something similar when wondering if my Zimbabwean will see any WTC action.
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Old 11-15-2022, 05:47 PM   #1325
Brian Swartz
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I don't know of course, but it doesn't look good. Kind of a strange situation with the one good player at a bad country, and it looks like they've been out of action for a decade. Might have to get into the Top 100 before they listen to reason.
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Old 11-15-2022, 05:47 PM   #1326
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Australian Open: Early Rounds

The first Slam of the year started off well for the established players. I think all of the Top 10-plus showed up, and the seeds were perfect in the first round. In the second round, (27) Patrik Rask and (32) Mahjab Thabet were knocked out, neither particularly surprising. The only third-round surprise was veteran American (28) Vinnie Goodbody knocking out (12) Raul Ramirez in four sets; that's probably the first real upset of the tournament. There were some more competitive matches, most notably (23) Morten Eljersgard pushing Stricker to a long fifth set before losing 11-9.

The fourth round was mostly as expected as well, but there were a couple of party-crashers in the top half of the draw. Toni Bardales and Ene Caballero met up, with Caballero taking a competitive straight-sets decision that could be an official announcement that he's already Spain's best player. That puts him in his first Slam quarterfinal ever, and he'd never made it past the first round here in two previous attempts. Then the trend of decline we noted with 8th-seed Solitris Papadias continued with a loss to Dominic Stricker. Fresh off barely surviving the previous match, Stricker prevailed 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-0, 6-4. It's his first Slam QF as well. As for Papadias, it breaks a streak of nine straight Slams that he'd made the final eight in.

So #6 and #8 are out, with two double-digit seeds still playing. The Top 5 continue on though to week two.

Elsewhere ...

Sushant Srivastava has had a nightmarish start to the year. A second-round exit at his first futures event against one of those players who has no business in a futures. Then this week he played his first FT1, because why not? Thought about qualifying for the AO but I figured he isn't ready yet, and a lot of the competition would be sucked into that with a weaker field remaining for him to deal with ... in theory. He was the top seed, and proceeded to get bounced 6-2, 6-1 by wild-card Jan Schleicher, former world #1 juniors player who just recently turned pro. Awesome sauce. Did better in doubles in both events than singles, but just really a nice collection of misfortune there. Leaves a bad taste in the mouth having it happen in back-to-back tournaments.

Aparna Chandrasekharan made it to the second round of his first futures, then got blasted in the first round this week by the 3-seed. Overall his luck in the draws has been quite unkind also.

Girish Raychaudhari hasn't played yet this year, his first tournament will be a JG4 next week.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 11-15-2022 at 05:48 PM.
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Old 11-17-2022, 09:42 PM   #1327
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Australian Open: Championship Week

The two double-digit seeds acquitted themselves quite respectfully before exiting stage left in the quarterfinals as anticipated. Ene Cabellero had a competitive straight-sets loss to Faille, and Dominic Stricker also left in three against Xanthos ... but two of the three sets were tiebreakers and it could easily have gone at least four. Jochen Weigle turned back the clock to go into patsy mode against Cananis, but the Urazov-Polychroniadis match went the distance. Form still held, but not before Leon Polychroniadis had a legit scare; 5-7, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 was the scoreline. Not all the quarterfinal losers are equal here; Oleg Urazov won every set the first week and overall had an impressive event.

The semifinals were kind of disappointing overall. Both ended in three sets. Themis Xanthos went more quietly against Faille than Polychroniadis against Renke Cananis, the second match featuring close tiebreaks in the second and third sets. This was the 52nd meeting between the two for those of you scoring at home, Cananis has won three straight on hardcourts while consistently losing on other surfaces, which makes no sense given the similiarities between the players but .. *shrug*.

As for the final, it was just weird. Ben Faille was in cruise control after a 6-0, 6-2 start ... and then a competitive match broke out, the players splitting 6-4 sets as Faille beat Cananis in four. The third set was the only one the French legend-in-the-making lost in the tournament, but the way the match started was just brutally one-sided..

A number of players did well, while others were strange - what is up with the yo-yo Weigle is doing? And Cananis regains, at least for now, the #2 spot. Ben Faille now holds all four Slams and the tour finals and five of the nine Masters, a number that is likely to increase. One way to encapsulate his dominance is this; I have no idea when to expect him to lose again.

Elsewhere ...

Girish Raychaudhari was beyond exhausted by the end of his adventures in the Diourbel JG4, and still won singles while narrowly losing the doubles final. Doesn't look like he's having any problems adjusting to this tier, just needs to grind through a few more events and see what happens.
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Old 11-24-2022, 02:22 PM   #1328
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Indian Wells Masters

The early rounds were the picture of form holding virtually. All top eight seeds made the quarterfinals, and the only outlier - and it's not really one - was Alketas Albanos continuing his decline with American (30) Colin Tupper doing the honors. With that backdrop, it was of course completely expected to see Ben Faille continuing to cruise through all opposition .... by losing to Bardales in the quarterfinals 6-4, 1-6, 7-6(2). Wait. Is that a misprint? No, it is not. After 20 straight wins to start the season, this is one of the biggest upsets I've seen in a long while. I have no explanation beyond 'stuff happens'.

Oleg Urazov seized the opportunity given. He edged past Xanthos in a tight third-set tiebreaker, then dismissed Bardales in the semifinals routinely to make his first Masters final. On the bottom half of the draw, it was turn-back-the-clock time. Renke Cananis and Leon Polychroniadis both were pushed, but both managed to advance against Weigle and Papadias. Their semifinal was a very competitive one, Polychroniadis eventually coming through 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-5, and he went on to score a deceptive 6-4, 6-4 win over Urazov to add a 13th Masters shield, equalling Cananis' career total. I say deceptive, because Urazov actually was the overall better player on the day. Points were almost even, but the Canadian won 33% of his return points compared to 28% for the Greek. The difference was in the break chances; 0 of 3 for Urazov, 2 of 3 for Polychroniadis, one in each set. He moves back up to the #2 spot in the rankings as a result.

Elsewhere ...

It's been a couple months since the AO; here's what my players have been up to. Sushant Srivastava claimed a couple of singles wins in China, one FT3 due to their not being a good selection of tournaments, and the other a FT2. Aparna Chandrasekharan hilariously won in doubles his last time out, but otherwise has only one second-round singles showing out of several events. Girish Raychaudhari added another JG4 title in Asuncion a couple of weeks ago. He is still struggling some with fatigue at the end of those tournaments, but not enough for any serious setbacks.

After Miami we'll take a bit more of a look at the outlook for the next few months.
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Old 11-26-2022, 11:05 PM   #1329
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Miami Masters

The final eight did have one unexpected crasher this time out, but it wasn't exactly a huge surprise; Johann Przalowik edged past Toni Bardales 7-6(2), 7-5 to book his reservation. There were a couple of other pretty close calls, but ultimately the rest of the quarterfinalists were the expected group. Faille was challenged once again but this time narrowly pulled through against recent IW finalist Oleg Urazov in three sets. All of the matches were competitive, and only one failed to go the distance; Jochen Weigle seems to have lost the magic, bowing out against Cananis. Xanthos over Solitris Papadias and Polychroniadis against Przalowik both were tight enough that they could have gone the other way.

That trend continued in the semifinals, where Ben Faille showed for certain that Indian Wells was not a fluke; he's in a serious slump, and lost in a third-set tiebreaker 7-1 against Xanthos. A few months ago, that would have been nigh unimaginable. Leon Polychroniadis couldn't repeat his showing, losing to Renke Cananis 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-4. Themis Xanthos got the last laugh in the final with a straight-sets win over Cananis, concluding a very unpredictable month at the two big US Masters. Xanthos won his 7th Masters Shield, and while it doesn't change the official pecking order, it does raise a lot of questions going forward.
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Old 11-26-2022, 11:26 PM   #1330
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Year 101 Q2 Rankings Update

1. Ben Faille (22, FRA) - 16,400

I see no obvious reasons for Faille's recent slump. There's no question he's still the best player in the world, it's more a matter of when he will snap out of it.

2. Leon Polychroniadis (27, GRC) - 10,900

3. Renke Cananis (28, DEU) - 9,040

The jockeying back and forth between these two former #1s has no end in sight, and also no clear victor.

4. Themis Xanthos (28, CYP) - 7,300

Xanthos' big win at Miami has provided him some insurance against being overtaken in the immediate future by any more upstarts.

5. Jochen Weigle (26, SUI) - 5,980

Weigle has reverted to 'reliable quarterfinal loser' form after his strong finish last year. Who knows what to expect from him.

6. Oleg Urazov (24, CAN) - 5,800

The flashes of brilliance are becoming more consistent from the top Canadian player. Perhaps by the summer he will be ready for his next breakthrough.

7. Toni Bardales (27, ESP) - 5,070

8. Solitris Papadias (28, GRC) - 4,370

Bardales and Papadias remain the gatekeepers, maintaining a comfortable cushion.

9. Johann Przalowik (23, DEU) - 3,490

10. Ene Caballero (21, ESP) - 3,425

Caballero is already up three spots on the year, knocking Ale Ballok off the first page. It seems prudent to expect even more from him in the clay portion of the year. I wouldn't be shocked to see him surpass Bardales as the top-ranked Spaniard by summertime.

217. Sushant Srivastava (25, SRI)

This is a bit of an elevated ranking for Srivastava; he's about to have one of his futures wins last year drop off. Something in the mid-230s is more representative, but he's rallied from the rough start to the year, winning his last three tournaments. A gradual, but inexorable climb to the top of the futures ladder continues, and I think he's close to being ready to complete it.

630. Manoj Datar (33, SRI)

Continuing to slide slowly, and fatigue is an ever-increasing issue.

903. Aparna Chandrasekharan (20, SRI)

This is a new career high, thanks to a quarterfinal finish at Brazil FT3, his most recent event. It was just in time to keep him from falling back into the amateur ranks, at least for now.

131(J). Girish Raychaudhari (16, SRI)

Continuing to stabilize at the JG4 level, Raychaudhari is undefeated in singles this year. Doubles results have been more mixed, but are certainly no cause for concern.
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Old 11-28-2022, 07:28 PM   #1331
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Monte Carlo Masters

The expected and the unexpected basically joined forces in the first clay Masters. #5 Jochen Weigle and #8 Solitris Papadias both lost their first match of the tournament, in the second round. This created a path for (15) Alketas Albanos and un-seeded Santino Consiglio - haven't mentioned his name in a while but he won a close three-set match over Weigle - to make the quarterfinals. Four Spanairds made the round of 16, but all of them went no further, including Bardales.

That meant three of the final eight were unexpected to some degree. Johann Przalowik was offered up to be smashed by Faille, Albanos gave Cananis a tough two-set battle before losing, and Consiglio actually took a set from Polychroniadis before order was restored there. The only 'yep, they were supposed to be here' match was between Xanthos and Oleg Urazov, a match in which only six points separated the players. Tight one, won eventually by the Cypriot 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

Which brings us to the expected part. Top four players in the semis, and Ben Faille eliminated Renke Cananis 7-6(4), 6-1 in a match that would feature his only competitive set of the tournament. Themis Xanthos was dismissed routinely by Leon Polychroniadis, but Faille cruised past him in the final to restore order and announce that he's not going anywhere long-term. Just had a bit of a hiccup there a few weeks ago.

We'll have to see if Weigle or the Spanish contingent has any more to say in the rest of the clay season.

Elsewhere ...

Aparna Chandrasekharan continues to tread water more or less, making the second round of a FT3 in Spain. Girish Raychaudhari lost a three-set final at JG4 Ostrava, marking his first defeat of the year.
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Old 12-02-2022, 10:07 AM   #1332
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Madrid Masters

Last year the Spanish contingent didn't do much of anything at their home Masters. They seemed determined to avenge that this year, with unseeded Hector Mendias and (10) Ene Cabellero joining (7) Toni Bardales for a trio in the quarterfinals. Early losses by (4) Themis Xanthos and (5) Jochen Weigle were the price of these inclusions.

Oleg Urazov was easily brushed aside by Faille, but Caballero kept going, rudely dismissing Solitris Papadias 6-2, 6-3. None of the quarterfinal matches were really competitive; Bardales took a set from Polychroniadis, but was beat down badly in the other two sets. And Mendias as expected was slapped aside by Cananis.

Caballero's run finally came to an end 6-2, 6-2 against Ben Faille in the semifinals, but it was still a fine showing. Already the second meeting this year of the current king of tennis against possibly a future one. The latest edition of 2 vs. 3 was won 7-5, 7-5 by Leon Polychroniadis over Renke Cananis, and he went on to upset Faille in a super-tight epic final, 6-7(5), 7-6(3), 6-4. Masters Shield #14.

Caballero was probably still the story of the tournament though. This has him on pace to break into the Top 8 by the end of the clay season if he can keep showing strong results.

Elsewhere ...

Aparna Chandrasekharan keeps grinding away, adding yet another second-round FT3 finish. Meanwhile Girish Raychaudhari appears he will be spending most of the year at the JG4 level after another singles loss in the final at Belgrade. That makes three titles and three runner-ups for him at that level in the last several months.
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Old 12-02-2022, 06:29 PM   #1333
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Rome Masters

You might think we would revert to form now that we're out of Spain, and everyone has two clay Masters under their belt. You would be wrong. Three unexpected quarterfinalists showed up.

- (16) Alketas Albanos came out of nowhere. He hasn't been doing anything notable in a really long time. The common thread here seems to be 'what is wrong with Jochen Weigle', who narrowly lost to Albanos in the previous round. Weigle made all three clay masters quarterfinals last year. This year, he made none of them. So much for any momentum he had coming into this year.

- (10) Johann Przalowik is not a particularly big surprise. He pushed Toni Bardales out of the way to reach this point.

- (14) Goya Banqueria is the one Spaniard who didn't have much to say in Madrid. He edged past Themis Xanthos, who is having himself a right cruddy clay season also.

Much unexpected action had preceded it, but nonetheless the quarterfinals commenced. Solitris Papadias gave a better effort than anticipated before lose to Faille 6-4, 6-4. Albanos took a set from Renke Cananis before eating back-to-back breadsticks to conclude the match. Przalowik made Leon Polychroniadis work for a 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 scoreline; he's getting dangerous it would seem. And Banqueria ... well, he wasn't done, dismissing Oleg Urazov 6-3, 6-3. Urazov is acting like the new Weigle, with QF exits in four straight masters events going back to Miami. It's always something with him.

A tight first semifinal, but Ben Faille took control in the third set to oust Cananis. Polychroniadis needed a third-set tiebreak to get rid of Banqueria, who really put on a fine show this week. It was tough sledding to get the title, but Faille prevailed 6-3, 7-6(4) for his 7th Masters. Although it hasn't been an easy clay season for him, he has two shields and a final to show for it so it does seem that he's righting the ship for the most part. It's definitely not a foregone conclusion that he repeats at the French Open though - he's not dominating like he was expected to. And there's just something about Rome for Banqueria. He has two career SFs in Masters events, and the other one was last year at this same tournament.

Elsewhere ...

Sushant Srivastava tried out his first FT1 in Portugal. He was the top seed, but ran into a couple 'better than their ranking' type floaters. Narrowly won the first match, but lost in the semifinals. It was actually a good event for him in terms of experience gained, but he's hitting enough bumps in the road that I'm not sure about him getting out of futures this year.
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Old 12-04-2022, 08:12 PM   #1334
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Year 101 Roland Garros: Opening Rounds

No obvious players missing. It seems, at least for now, that the guys from Cyprus have figured out it's a good idea to show up for the big tournaments. (26) Santino Consiglio was the lone first-round exit of a seed, a five-set struggle against regular spoiler Ignaci Saravia. In the second round it was time to name another Spaniard that I don't think has come up before, Fabiano Tibljas. Tibljas is 23, ranked 79th, and still improving. He took down (18) Andre Mexicano in four sets, while another of the low seeds was eliminated in five by Renato Delpin. Yep, another player from Spain. It's almost as if their reputation on clay is well-deserved.

The Top 16 all made the third round, and only one would fail to advance; Ale Ballok. Haven't heard from him in a while. He hasn't exactly been doing well, and here 21-seed Patrik Rask of Sweden got the better of him 6-4, 2-6, 6-1, 6-3. Would we see more of a shake-up in round four? Ehh, somewhat. (14) Goya Banqueria pushed past (5) Oleg Urazov in five sets, a real missed opportunity here for the rising Canadian. Jochen Weigle managed to avoid another early loss in a strange match. Going against Swiss no. 2 (11) Dominic Stricker, he handed out three breadsticks to his countryman, 6-1 sets in the first, second, and fourth. And then lost the third set in a 12-10 tiebreak. Don't ask me what happened there. The only other drama was (8) Solitris Papadias losing in straight sets to (9) Ene Caballero, a result that isn't an upset esp. on clay.

Banqueria is really the only player who is even a mild surprise to see in the quarterfinals. We haven't mentioned any of the top players because they've convincingly handled their business. We'll see next week if Ben Faille has what it takes to hold off the others.

Elsewhere ...

Aparna Chandrasekharan's last outing was a disaster, losing in the first round of qualifying in both singles and doubles. He usually is able to skip qualifying, but yeah. It was close, but not a good look for him.
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Old 12-05-2022, 02:29 PM   #1335
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Year 101 Roland Garros: Championship Week

Playing the part of patsy in the quarterfinals was Jochen Weigle, who won seven total games against Cananis. Color me unsurprised at this point. The other three matches were at least competitive though. Goya Banqueria went away in straight sets against Faille, but it wasn't a wipeout; Ene Caballero took a set from Polychroniadis, and there was one upset of sorts with Themis Xanthos going out to Bardales, 7-6(6), 7-5, 6-3. Just got worn down it seemed.

Toni Bardales couldn't keep it going in the semis though, competitive straight-sets against Polychroniadis. The other semifinal was much closer, with Renke Cananis eventually failing to unseat defending champion Ben Faille. Cananis rallied from two sets down to force five, but couldn't finish. The final between Faille and Leon Polychroniadis was even closer, arguably a classic. Finals scoreline was 6-7(7), 6-3, 4-6, 6-1, 8-6, a surprisingly difficult title defense although ultimately a successful one for the world no. 1. Without a favorable crowd, it seems the outcome of this tournament would have been much different. Polychroniadis secures his #2 position more, the Spaniards definitely showed up with three of the final eight players and Bardales into the semis, and Faille - despite his relative struggles - has won five Slams in a row now. He still doesn't look like he's playing his best though.

Elsewhere ...

In a stunning development, Aparna Chandrasekharan had a breakout performance reaching the final in a futures event in Tianjin, China. Previously he'd made a quarterfinal once and never beyond that. We'll have to wait and see if this is a sign of things to come or just an aberration, but it will definitely help his chances of avoiding slipping back down to the amateur level.

I somehow forgot to enter Girish Raychaudhari in a practice event, so he had to take a bunch of mostly bad friendly matches. Bad manager, no development. Every time I lose a close match with him, I'll look back at weeks like this and wonder if not making this kind of mistake might have made a difference. But I try to leave myself room for the occasional mulligan without getting too upset.

Rankings update coming soon.
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Old 12-06-2022, 01:04 AM   #1336
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Q3 Top Rankings

1. Ben Faille (23, FRA) - 16,440

Faille has done just enough to keep winning Slams, but is just 2 of 5 in Masters so far this year. The question marks will continue unless he can retur to dominating form.

2. Leon Polychroniadis (27, GRC) - 10,810

3. Renke Cananis (28, DEU) - 8,320

Cananis actually is winning at about the same rate as last year, but he's had some unfortunate seeding draws. That has a much to do with him falling off the pace of his long-time rival than anything else.

4. Themis Xanthos (28, CYP) - 7,540

Improved consistency has Xanthos comfortably holding his spot at #4.

5. Jochen Weigle (26, SUI) - 5,720

It wasn't a good clay season for Weigle to put it kindly - but it wasn't a good one for his main competition either, so he's regained a spot well behind Xanthos and the rest of the Top 4.

6. Oleg Urazov (24, CAN) - 5,190

An earlier-than-expected exit at RG, his first loss before the quarterfinals at a Slam in over a year, has Urazov looking to pick up the pieces. He has work to do over the summer if he's going to make this year a success.

7. Toni Bardales (27, ESP) - 5,990

Still solid enough on the clay to keep treading water.

8. Solitris Papadias (28, GRC) - 4,070

9. Ene Caballero (21, ESP) - 3,905

Caballero is about to take his next step upwards, and Papadias begin his slide down the rankings.

10. Johann Przalowik (23, DEU) - 3,350

Przalowik continues to be a solid, steady threat.

13. Goya Banqueria is the only player really making any serious upwards noise. I'll be surprised if he manages to push onto the first page this year.


255. Sushant Srivastava (25, SRI)

Srivastava has slipped almost 40 spots in the last couple of months. I don't think he's playing worse, it's more just the ups and downs of being a good futures player and very slowly improving, much depends on what draws he gets. Not much else to say really other than the grind continues and he'll get there eventually ... but probably next year.

571. Manoj Datar (33, SRI)

Flip side of a similar coin. Datar is +59 from the last report, but that's just getting a couple of better runs than you would expect in his recent tournaments. It's a blip - at his age he's not actually improving of course.

796. Aparna Chandrasekharan (20, SRI)

Chandrasekharan is close to being ready for more consistent futures results, but not quite there I don't think. In a couple months he'll start having his better amateur results drop off, so he's not out of the woods yet.

138(J). Girish Raychaudhari (16, SRI)

Raychaudhari needs to stop dinking around with JG4 tournaments and put a string of wins together. He's been close though - I expect it will happen.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 12-06-2022 at 01:05 AM.
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Old 12-09-2022, 04:56 PM   #1337
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Year 101 Wimbledon: Opening Rounds

There are times when the first week of a Slam is quite interesting. This is not one of those times. All of the top 16 made the fourth round, 7 of the top 8 made the quarterfinals. There are some matches worth noting, but pretty much this is a 'yawn and get to the real stage' week this year.

A fun third-rounder between German players; (23) Davide de Laurentis lost narrowly to (10) Johann Przalowik, 2-6, 7-5, 7-6(4), 3-6, 9-7. Then there was a four-tiebreak affair with Matias Aldecoa losing eventually to Ene Caballero. (16) Ale Ballok slid past (18) Patrik Rask 7-6 (2), 6-7(2), 6-1 .... and 7-6(16). That's quite the tiebreak there, 18-16! (11) Eddy Copperfield is still out there battling, surviving Santino Consiglio in five sets.

Fourth round produced two more five-setters, both with the higher-seeded player winning. Caballero was outlasted by Themis Xanthos, the young Spaniard led two sets to one after fierce battling in the first three sets, but faded as the Cypriot rallied. Then (8) Solitris Papadias got the upper hand against time and (12) Dominic Stricker, 6-4, 6-7(3), 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4. That one was tense all the way to the end. Our lone upset comes at the expense, yet again, of (5) Jochen Weigle. This is definitely a trend. In another all-tiebreak affair, Przalowik advanced 7-6(5), 6-7(3), 7-6(1), 7-6(9). It's hard to imagine this year being anything but a big disappointment for Weigle at this point. It wouldn't even shock me if he doesn't make the Tour Finals.

Elsewhere ...

Sushant Srivastava gave another try at an FT1 this week. Losing in the first round of doubles was soon forgotten as he won the singles title comfortably in Monaco, his first hardware at the top futures tier. That's a big bounce-back for him and a step in the right direction. Girish Raychaudhari won JG4 Maracaibo in singles, runner-up in doubles. Chandrasekharan has had some well-earned time off for training; he's out there for another futures event this coming week.
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Old 12-10-2022, 01:44 PM   #1338
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Wimbledon Championship Week

I'm not going to try to build fake drama here; there was not one upset the rest of the way. Not a one. The quarterfinals had two four-set matches, Solitris Papadias losing to Xanthos and Oleg Urazov to Polychroniadis, a couple of tiebreaks in each match, while the other two matches went by in the minimum three. In the semifinals Themis Xanthos lost to Faille in four, while the best match of the tournament probably was Renke Cananis against Leon Polychroniadis. Their 57th meeting was Leon's 4th victory in the last 5, 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 8-6. Normally I'd expect the German to come out on top of such a close one due to his mental fortitude. He tried; BPs were 3 of 5 for Cananis and just 4 of 17 for Polychroniadis. But the Greek had the upper hand overall and twice rallied from trailing by a set.

Another four sets in the final, and Ben Faille claimed his 6th consecutive Slam crown. It was as if the tennis tour just decided to be boring for this event. Wimbledon often has surprises as it's not the most sought-after surface, but this year it was just a collective 'meh'.

Elsewhere ...

Seeded for the first time in a futures tournament, 6th at FT3 in San Benedetto, Italy, Aparna Chandrasekharan did what he was supposed to do. Bashed his way through the first two rounds, but then lost in the quarterfinals. Seems his next step is to do this regularly, and hopefully occasionally find a favorable matchup to push further.
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Old 12-10-2022, 04:56 PM   #1339
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Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-Wimbledon Edition

In

Ben Faille - 11,590
Leon Polychroniadis - 7,930
Renke Cananis - 6,420

Probable

Themis Xanthos - 4,250
Oleg Urazov - 3,490
Toni Bardales - 3,095
Jochen Weigle - 2,850
Solitris Papadias - 2,830

Contenders

None close enough. Yet.

Long Shots

Eddy Copperfield - 2,370
Johann Przalowik - 2,350
Goya Banqueria - 2,310
Ene Caballero - 2,210
Dominic Stricker - 2,015

Assessment

We have a pretty clear Top 4, but after that it gets jumbled. As I noted before, Jochen Weigle's spot in the field is far from certain. He should have a thousand more points at this juncture. And the list of players still with a shot at crashing the party is long and distinguished. It'll be interesting to see if the list of Probables and Long Shots gets closer together and opens up the Contenders category, or if it grows further apart and some of them drop off.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 12-15-2022 at 08:14 PM.
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Old 12-14-2022, 06:29 PM   #1340
Brian Swartz
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Canada Masters

The second hardcourt season begins ... strangely. At the bottom of the draw a couple of expected quarterfinalists left a round early. (4) Themis Xanthos was pushed out in three sets by Davide de Laurentiis of Germany, who really hadn't been doing all that much but decided to break out here because reasons. Jochen Weigle's disastrous year continued in a 7-5, 7-6(4) setback against Przalowik also. They did better than 6th-ranked Oleg Urazov, who didn't bother to show up.

Then it got really strange in the quarterfinals. Sometimes a scoreline isn't everything. Toni Bardales stunned Ben Faille 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, but this isn't the disaster for Faille that you might imagine. The world no. 1 dominated the match, but still lost. Total points were 76-66, but even more telling was the fact that he won 37% of the points returning serve, to only 22% for Bardales. The top Spaniard won only 13 points on Faille's serve ... but somehow managed two break points, converting both of them, one in the first set and one in the third. I think this is the most undeserved match result I've ever seen. Usually if you win 5% more on your return than the opponent does on theirs, you're going to win fairly easily. This was triple that margin. Bizarre.

The rest of the round went more normally; Solitris Papadias out against Cananis in straight sets, credible showing by Ene Caballero before losing to Polychroniadis, and Johann Przalowik won the match of players who weren't expected to be here, 6-4, 6-4 over de Laurentiis. Straight-set wins by the favorites in the semifinals set up yet another match between Renke Cananis and Leon Polychroniadis for the title. The Greek rallied after dropping the opening set for his third straight win their rivalry, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Now we'll do it all over again in Canada, where Urazov is expected to play, and Faille can only hope being the better player will be enough to win him matches.

Elsewhere ...

It's been a banner few weeks for my players. Sushant Srivastava notched another FT1 victory in Haifa, Israel, this time taking the doubles title as well. Perhaps he's finally broken through. Aparna Chandrasekharan made his second FT3 final in three events, once again losing the championship match, but it's still enough to guarantee he won't sink back to the amateur level. It seems likely his first futures title isn't far away. Girish Raychaudhari added another dual title at a JG4 in Porto, Portugal. All three appear to be progressing smoothly, and are getting plenty of quality practice weeks in between tournaments. Just keep that train a-rolling, fellas.
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Old 12-15-2022, 08:12 PM   #1341
Brian Swartz
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Cincinatti Masters

Jochen Weigle had yet another early disaster. It's at the point where it's surprising when he doesn't. It's beyond absurd for a player this good to play this bad. Anyway, it was de Laurentiis who did the honors, later beaten again by Johann Przalowik. The rest of the quarterfinals were the expected players.

Oleg Urazov returned to give Ben Faille his toughest match of the tournament; 6-3, 6-2. You read that correctly. Faille was apparently rather cheesed off at having lost last week. Both his semifinal and championship matches resulted in 3 total games surrended in each. That's ... uh, turning it on. On the top of the draw, a competitive win by Renke Cananis over Przalowik before he was given the treatment. On the bottom, it was the Spanish Show. Leon Polychroniadis was narrowly beaten in the best match of the round by Bardales, 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-3. Then Themis Xanthos lost to Ene Caballero in one of the rising phenom's best wins to date. In an all-Spanish semi, Caballero edged out the first set but ultimately lost in three. He's not quite King of Spain .... just yet. And then Bardales was smashed like everyone else when he went up against Faille.
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Old 12-16-2022, 10:48 AM   #1342
Chas in Cinti
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Location: Cincinnati, OH
Quick feedback as a reader from the beginning and a Cincinnati local... it's spelled with double n and one t... not that it hurts the story, but thought I'd share...
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Old 12-18-2022, 09:03 AM   #1343
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The forum spellcheck doesn't seem to like it no matter how I spell it
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Old 12-18-2022, 09:14 AM   #1344
Brian Swartz
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Year 101 US Open

The early rounds were mostly a snoozefest, with some exceptions. Solitris Papadias had his earliest exit yet in the third round, a five-set defeat to Davide de Laurentiis. Then at the bottom of the draw the significant upsets were all concentrated in one section. (7) Oleg Urazov pretty much guaranteed a disappointing year in a loss to up-and-coming American Joss Fraikes in four sets, while (32) George Voronets outlasted 16-seed Ale Ballok. Voronets would go on to defeat Fraikes in another five-setter in the fourth round, leaving 7 of the Top 8 in the quarterfinals ... as well as the very last seed in the field. Quite bizarre. There were some close calls on some of the other players, but ultimately the favorites made their way through.

Voronets' demise finally occurred against Renke Cananis, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3, 7-6. Four sets were required for Polychroniadis against Jochen Weigle, and for Xanthos to beat Toni Bardales. Ene Caballero was not so fortunate, meeting up with Faille and losing in straight sets. All of the suprisers having been dispensed with, a very pro forma last couple of rounds commenced. Ben Faille knocked out Themis Xanthos and Leon Polychroniadis got rid of Cananis once again, both matches lasting four sets. It would be the only set Faille would lose in the tournament; 7-6(5), 6-3, 7-6(5) was the scoreline for the championship match. Three sets, but about as close as it gets without being extended further. All in all, the US Open was a victory for the status quo.
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Old 12-18-2022, 09:41 PM   #1345
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Q4 Rankings Update

1. Ben Faille (23, FRA) - 16,220

Faille appears to be out of his funk, at least for the time being. The freak loss to Bardalis notwithstanding, he hasn't actually been outplayed in a few months. 7 Slams in a row, and a full year at #1. And counting.

2. Leon Polychroniadis (28, GRC) - 11,000

Polychroniadis has seized the #2 spot fairly securely it would seem.

3. Renke Cananis (28, DEU) - 9,100

Cananis actually had a good summer as well.

4. Themis Xanthos (28, CYP) - 6,330

5. Toni Bardales (27, ESP) - 5,590

By default. Bardales lost 400 ranking points and moved up two spots from 7th after the French, which tells you everything you need to know about how it's going for the Second Four.

6. Ene Caballero (21, ESP) - 4,990

Caballero is the one player actually doing what needs done in this range.

7. Oleg Urazov (24, CAN) - 4,740

8. Jochen Weigle (26, SUI) - 4,690

These two should be named Fail and Epic Fail as far as I'm concerned. This was supposed to the be the year they made strides in consistency and challenging higher up. Nope. Not at all. Not even a little bit.

9. Johann Przalowik (23, DEU) - 3,570

10. Solitris Papadias (28, GRC) - 3,190

Papadias is very close to sliding off; at press time Copperfield is just 5 points behind. The cliff has finally arrived. Banqueria is coming but I still it's probably next year for him.


200. Sushant Srivastava (25, SRI)

After a third straight FT1 title in basically two months, Srivastava has turned his year around after early disappointments. It's weird how sometimes it's just a switch that flips like that. It's borderline whether he'll have one more futures event - probably will - but after that it's time for the Challenger struggle that will define Sushant's peak years.

617. Manoj Datar (33, SRI)

Ambling along and progressing slower than I hoped towards becoming a trainer.

749. Aparna Chandrasekharan (20, SRI)

Still a couple of amateur results to drop off, but I think it's more likely than not his ranking improves further by year's end. He's surpassed Datar to become the theoretical second-best Sri Lanka player, but officially is still 4th.

123(J). Girish Raychaudhari (16, SRI)

Raychaudhari now has a full set of JG4 titles, and might dabble in the JG3 range if he can find the right situation. It's back to the stage of waiting for the next year and for more juniors to graduate. He's still consistently losing against players in the low 100s, so strong practice gains continue.

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Old 12-18-2022, 10:01 PM   #1346
Brian Swartz
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Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-USO Edition

In

Ben Faille - 12,970
Leon Polychroniadis - 10,310
Renke Cananis - 8,360
Themis Xanthos - 5,240
Toni Bardales - 4,620
Ene Caballero - 4,470

Probable

Oleg Urazov - 4,060

Contenders

Jochen Weigle - 3,330
-------------------------
Solitris Papadias - 3,190
Johann Przalowik - 3,160

Long Shots

Eddy Copperfield - 2,935
Goya Banqueria - 2,785

Assessment

Ene Caballero has won three 500-level events this year, which puts him in the field comfortably for the first time. He has doubled his point total on the year since Wimbledon. That's ... kind of scary actually. The Spanish sensation was a Long Shot then, and he just completely skipped over the 'challenging for a spot' phase.

That leaves just the flagging Jochen Weigle as a question mark. It's a big question mark though, and Johann Przalowik has erased the margin for error. Papadias is still there in the conversation, but that feels like a technicality. There's even a couple of other chasers very much in it.

I would lay pretty good odds on Przalowik ending up in that 8th spot, but it definitely remains a very open question. I can't overstate how much of a disaster that would be for Weigle. He should easily be in, period - but he hasn't earned that.

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Old 12-19-2022, 09:41 AM   #1347
Chas in Cinti
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Swartz View Post
The forum spellcheck doesn't seem to like it no matter how I spell it

Hahahaha! I thought maybe the game spelled it wrong...
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Old 12-20-2022, 08:10 PM   #1348
Brian Swartz
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Nah, the game has it right. It's just one of those words - I'm normally good with spelling, but it's always looked wrong to me. It looks to me like it 'should' have another t, and maybe even only one n. It's like there's part of my psyche that is annoyed with the city for spelling itself 'wrong'.

I mean, it couldn't be my brain that is just wrong. That could never happen.

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Old 12-25-2022, 08:11 AM   #1349
Brian Swartz
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This actually happened a couple of days ago, but ... I was busy in the run-up to Christmas.

Shanghai Masters

The Spanish contingent made themselves the theme of the week. Only missing player in the quarterfinals out of the Top 8 was (5) Toni Bardales, beaten by compatriot Goya Banqueria by a razor thin margin in a third-set tiebreak. Banqueria would lose to Xanthos in three sets in the quarterfinals, and two of the others were straight-sets for the expect winners; Faille over Oleg Urazov, Cananis over Jochen Weigle. Ene Caballero provided an upset though, breaking through over world no. 2 Leon Polychroniadis, 6-3, 6-4.

Ben Faille won a competitive match in the semis over Renke Cananis, also 6-3, 6-4, while Cabellero kept right on going in downing Themis Xanthos in three sets. It was pretty even until the third, which was dominated by the young Spaniard. He was thumped fairly good by Faille in the final, 6-4, 6-2; the French champion didn't lose a set in the tournament, confirming the idea that his slump is over. It definitely looked like a coming-out party for Caballero though. He appears to be ready to push his way further upwards.

Elsewhere ...

Sushant Srivastava officially graduated from futures tournaments with a fourth straight FT1 title, this one in Pecs, Hungary. Now he'll need to play a few Challenger events to end the year and hopefully get enough matches in but there will be some training to do yet before that push.

Mixed results continue for Aparna Chandrasekharan, a first-round loss and then a semifinal. Still searching for that first futures hardware, while Girish Raychaudhari grabbed another JG4 to ensure his position.
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Old 12-25-2022, 08:25 AM   #1350
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-Shanghai Edition

* These are actually as of two weeks after Shanghai, the week before Paris.

In

Ben Faille - 14,070
Leon Polychroniadis - 10,540
Renke Cananis - 8,620
Themis Xanthos - 5,910
Ene Caballero - 5,120
Toni Bardales - 4,560

Probable

Oleg Urazov - 4,070
Jochen Weigle - 3,830

Challengers

Long Shots

Solitris Papadias - 3,440
Johann Przalowik - 3,250

Assessment

Ene Caballero continues his rise; he's currently 6th in the rankings but could see 4th by the end of the year. Early next year I would expect at the latest. Jochen Weigle righted the ship, which sucked the drama out of the Race this year. He won the China Open 500-level tournament, and is playing another one this week. Meanwhile Johann Przalowik has fallen victim to a case of the rare ranking bug - he's not been given credit for all of his points, and he's suffered some early losses which have made it quite unlikely he'll be able to crash the party.

It looks like Caballero in, Solitris Papadias out is going to be the only change in the field this year.
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