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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
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
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
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
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
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
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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