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Old 04-04-2019, 04:59 PM   #951
Christy
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Join Date: Jun 2018
So the top 4 performing players of this year move onto the semi finals. Another frustrating loss for Perez. 3/4 slam losses this year he was the better returner than his opponent. I get his mentality is bad but 5/5 break points for Meiklejohn and 3/23 for Perez is just hard to look at. I really wonder how far it will hold him back. Still a missed opportunity but a solid result for now.

The missing generation is impressive in its absense. Still the only player to have won a masters or better under 27 years of age is Aas and I am not sure if he will manage to be in the top 32 after his Rome score times out. Solberg could still prove me wrong but so far it has been a victory for experience. A lot of really good players (and even going down the rankings there are good young players) but no one great standing up just yet.
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Old 04-05-2019, 03:51 AM   #952
Brian Swartz
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US Open

WTF hopefuls Stachovsky and Rhodes crashed out in the third round, basically proving Christy right and me wrong :P. Good call there. It looks like the Top 8 are going to stay who they are through the end of the year, though there's lots still to play. In fact, that group all made it to the quarterfinals. And then things got interesting.

Hart over countryman Seamus Hughes in a competitive but routine straight-sets affair; we've seen that movie before. Wimbledon was the only time in the last two years it's been a different result. Defending champ Molyneaux was down two sets to Isa Solheim, and then it was choke time. That would have been huge for the Dane who was already making his first appearance ever in the second week here. Just his third Slam QF ever, but he couldn't finish. Then it was Meikeljohn outlasting Nicolas Perez in the afore-mentioned catastrophe of BPs for the rising Argentine star. Perez actually does have average mentality, but Meikeljohn is very good in that category. Still, this is one of the more significant miscarriages of justice I've seen. The better player by a significant margin did not win on this day. I think speed has a lot to do with this result as well. The nigh-unaceable world no. 2 won that exchange 20-6, and that plays into the results on key points also. Makes him even tougher than the mental stats would suggest.

And then there was Sushant Chiba, going up against Ali Solberg. Could easily have lost in the previous round, where Chiba beat Srba Dogic, a semifinalist last year who he'd lost to recently, in four sets. It started off well, up a set and on serve midway through the 2nd set. And then Sushant remembered that he wasn't who he used to be. His serve went to shambles, and so did the match. A one-sided third set and a quick break to start the 4th had him all but dead. He attempted to rally at the end, staving off two match points with the Swede serving for the match and getting a break point of his own to get back on serve and try to force a 5th ... but from deuce Solberg finished off the match with back-to-back aces. 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. And the overall numbers were not close at all. 44 to 24 in terms of return points won. After that first set and a half it was domination. Chiba waves goodbye to the top contenders.

In the semis, the expected coronation of John Hart, looking for the career grand slam, was once again derailed. Molyneaux shockingly straight-setted him, with two close tiebreaks. Clearly the partisan crowd was the difference-maker. The second one was an epic, Meikeljohn defeating Solberg 7-5 in the 5th of a match that could have gone to either player. In the final, he crushed the hopes of the Flushing Meadows faithful. The pride of India, Brian Meikeljohn has now won the last two Slam titles with a 7-5, 6-4, 7-6(1) decision, a year after being dismissed in round two if you can believe that. Pushed to five in the previous two rounds, this has to have Perez spitting fire at what could have been.

There'll be a big shakeup in the Top 10 when we look at the rankings, but the bottom line is that Chiba continues plummeting, Stachovsky and Rhodes are pretenders ... and Meikeljohn takes a big step closer to being a serious rival to Hart for the #1 spot. He's still got a long ways to go to close that gap, but this makes it SF or better at 10 of the 13 big events currently in his rankings. One of the outliers is the Australian Open, so if he starts next year off well we could potentially have a real fight on our hands at the top.

ETA: I'm kind of reaching for drama there a bit. Meikeljohn is aging faster than Hart, and it's a real long-shot that he ever truly gets close to #1. But when you've had the same guy on top for over two years, you look for what possibilities there are, and back-to-back Slams isn't nothing. NVM that he should have lost at least once along the way .

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 04-05-2019 at 04:03 AM.
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Old 04-05-2019, 05:09 PM   #953
Brian Swartz
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Race Rankings update will come later today. For now, there's this.

Q3 Rankings

1. John Hart(27, IRE) - 15,440

For a guy who's lost the last two Slam events, Hart is quite comfortable and still has an iron grip on the top spot. He has four Masters this year as well, and hasn't failed to reach QFs or better at any of the top tournaments. Not quite as dominant as I predicted, but there's no question who the best is. Early next year he'll start making his way into the Top 10 of players who have had the longest stay at the pinnacle of the sport. For all of my successes, I only have one player on that list - Prakash Mooljee is tied for 8th with Prince Karl 'First of his Name' Kaspar, and Hart is likely to surpass them. Sort of puts his excellence over the last couple of years into perspective. He's tied for 10th all-time right now with 10 Slam titles, ranks 8th in Masters shields, etc. John's already a third-tier great as he begins the decline phase of his career.

2. Brian Meikeljohn(27, IND) - 10,160

Also on the way down in terms of raw ability, but somebody forgot to tell him that. Or more accurately, he's been managed better this year than he was before. First two Slams of his career despite being on the downslope a bit. Meikeljohn now has put almost as distance between himself and the rest of the field as there is between himself and Hart. He's going to be #2 for a while, and the chance is there for him to close the gap and makes things more interesting.

3. Barry Molyneaux(27, USA) - 6,330

Didn't repeat at the USO, but beat the world no. 1 and got to the final so that's not nothing. Molyneaux has been consistently very good but no more than that for 3-4 years now. That puts him just ahead of a bevy of others.

4. Ali Solberg(26, SWE) - 5,750

Mr. Consistency takes advantadge of the struggles of others to sneak into the Top 4 for the first time. No big titles yet, but unlike the players still above him, he should still improve a bit more. Solberg should eventually make it even higher.

5. Seamus Hughes(28, IRE) - 5,640

Hanging out just behind Solberg, Hughes is poised to put pressure on him and take advantage of any slip-ups.

6. Isa Solheim(26, DEN) - 5,400

It was a good USO for Solheim who is now less than a thousand points out of the #3 spot. It could have been great without the collapse vs. Molyneaux, a win that would have eliminated that gap. Like Solberg, he has not yet reached his peak. Both of them continue to prepare for what could be a breakthrough, career-defining year next season.

7. Sushant Chiba(29, SRI) - 5,270

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Chiba may mount a rally at some point, but his ranking has finally caught up to the marginal Top-10 player he's been showing himself to be all year. It's just as likely that he keeps slipping.

8. Nicolas Perez(22, ARG) - 4,775

Fans have gotten disappointed by some of the close losses lately, but it's worth remembering that this phenom is over three years younger then the rest of the Top 10. He's close, and should start next year in the scrum of those ranked 3rd-8th, all of whom are going to be pretty close together it appears. Won't take much more for Nicolas to emerge from that group.

9. Mike Rhodes(27, PHI) - 3,710

The exact same point total as he had when last we looked.

10. Valery Stachovsky(27, RUS) - 3,575

Stachovsky has added a bit, but not enough to move up. Neither of them has impressed in the summer. .

12. Srba Dogic(23, CRO)

Made it as high as 9th, but was unable to recreate last year's breakthrough successes on his favored hardcourts. Still has a chance to re-insert himself in Shanghai, and is up from 16th last year but the surge appears to have stalled.

13. Samuel Aas(25, SWE)

Holding steady since that Rome success.

14. Tim de Jong(24, NLD)

15. Ollie Haas(23, NLD)

This Dutch pairing continues slow upward movement.

17. Chisulo Mpakati(22, ZIM)

Pushed Andrejova to five sets at the USO just after his first 250 title at Winston-Salem. He'd been close multiple times previously. Mpakati has not played any of the Masters, which I think is a mistake. We'll see if that changes whey become 'mandatory' for him next year.

18. Constantino Gonzoles(25, ARG)

Another slow riser.

20. Emilien Mathious(24, FRA)

Up a few more spots the last few months. Made the QFs in Canada, but also stopped at that same stage in a couple of 250s.

21. Guillermo Valturri(25, MEX)

Also continuing to move up. Finalist at the Los Cabos 250, and got through to the 4th round at the USO.

24. Jose Luis Robredo(24, USA)

25. Il-Sung Jung(23, KOR)

Making his first appearance in our rundown thanks to a pair of strong recent results. QF in Canada adds to the one he had in Miami earlier in the year, and beat Rhodes to reach the fourth round at the US Open. Looks like he'll be worth watching.

26. Patrick Sanchez(25, ARG)

Treading water along with Robredo and others.

27. Clavet Moniotte(24, FRA)

Moniotte on the other hand is headed the wrong direction, and in danger of dropping back to the Challengers.

28. Santino Belmon(23, ITA)

Also diving after a promising spring.

29. William Todhunter(24, AUS)

Ameen's doubles partner, and recently up from the Challenger ranks. Todhunter was just 58th at the start of the year, so his rise hasn't been subtle - he's cut the number of players above him in half in less than a year.

32. Stefan Baloch(26, ITA)

Just barely hanging on here, and eventually even that will be too much for him.

46. Amrik Kasaravalli(23, SRI)

Kasaravalli is about 450-500 points shy of what he needs to move up, so he's now searching out the biggest Challenger events regardless of competition. He's close enough to give him a chance against anybody who hasn't yet made the jump. Sometime next year it'll happen for him - the question is just when, and that depends on how consistently he's able to be the last man standing.

70. Joao Narcisco(21, BRA)

Won CH3 Brasilia, and reached the QFs at three big ones. Overall, Narcisco is treading water right now. CH2 Campinas, in his home country next week, might provide another opportunity for a boost ...

101. Claudio Altichiero(19, ITA)

Cagide has now turned 20 and is up slightly to 64th. But this guy here ... he's not even halfway to turning 20 and knocking on the door. The top youngsters just keep on coming. Feels to me like the tour is getting more competitive.

513. Tommy Fitzpatrick(19, IRE)

Fitz continues to lead the pack of ex-juniors. His futures results now include one title, two runner-up finishes, and a SF. He's kept himself busy, but now seems to be taking a breather for practice.

655. Nasir Chittoor(18, SRI)

One futures event under his belt, he'll take a crack at another soon. Might be ready to move up to FT2 soon, but Guha is not and the pairing isn't ready in doubles yet either. So for now, he'll take another tournament or two in FT3. There's no harm in being patient so long as practice continues to be profitable, and Chittoor is taking his medicine at least as often as not right now. If anything, he's slightly overranked - seems to be playing at a level of around 700th-800th.

842. Ritwik Intodia(18, SRI)

Made it to a futures semi recently, and is the 2-seed in another event this week. I expect Intodia to grab his first title at this level soon.

865. Rakesh Kayeeda(18, SRI)

One futures QF to his credit so far. Also gradually working his way up.

1309(D). Satyajit Guha(19, SRI)

Guha's singles ranking is climbing, but still in the 1500s so it's somewhat behind his doubles yet. That boost is due to him getting his first Amateur title.
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Old 04-05-2019, 07:05 PM   #954
Brian Swartz
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Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-USO Edition

In

John Hart - 12,190
Brian Meikeljohn - 8,600

These two are still the only sure things, having split the year's Slams between them.

Probable

Barry Molyneaux - 5540
Ali Solberg - 5255
Seamus Hughes - 5145
Isa Solheim - 4610
Nicolas Perez - 4080

Molyneaux, Solberg, and Hughes are all going to qualify. I could have put them as 'In', but I wait until a player hits 6k points or is mathematically certain to do that ... and they aren't quite there yet. They will be though. Solheim is nearly as certain, and Perez now has a cushion between himself and the bubble. I'd be very surprised if this group didn't all qualify. That leaves only one spot. More interesting though is 3-6 being within a thousand points. The question of reshuffling that group is probably the most compelling for the rest of the year.

Contenders

Sushant Chiba - 3655
--------------------
Mike Rhodes - 3605

Only a decent USO run has Chiba, who it must be said again was #2 at the start of the year, narrowly ahead here. He's definitely got the edge over Rhodes, but could still lose it if he doesn't get one more acceptable showing out of either Shanghai or Paris. I don't see anyone other than Rhodes, and probably not even him, upsetting things at this point though. Despite how close this comparison is, the Top 8 seem set.

Long Shots

Valery Stachovsky - 2895
Harald Balzer - 2815

Stachovsky should do well in Paris, but is too far back for that to matter if he doesn't manage something good between now and then.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 04-05-2019 at 07:06 PM.
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Old 04-06-2019, 05:56 PM   #955
Christy
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Stachovsky seemed to go out of his way to prove me right with first round exits in both summer masters.

Some frustrating losses but it is good to be in this position. Especially as Perez is up from 19th at the start of the year and 76th at the start of the year before. He has a good chance to finish 7th at the expense of Chiba. It is looking like he might not bother play a final 500. 7th/8th doesn't make a massive difference so he won't push it if he has no real need.

He is still getting the benefit of the ranking bug but won't have enough competitions to help by the end of the year.

You got Intodia's first futures title coming soon right.

Chiba might rally but you feel it has to happen before the Australian open points go away unfortunately.

20,000 points down from the top club so it will take a bit of work to climb up.
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Old 04-09-2019, 03:42 AM   #956
Brian Swartz
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Should have a more sensible overview of how my players did during the last month tomorrow, but Chiba just won four matches or more in back-to-back tournaments for the first time all year, as he's made the China Open final. It was just the second time this year that he even won three matches in back-to-back tournaments. It was courtesy of some upsets - there've been a lot this week in both 500s - but so what. I'm taking it as a sign of not sucking as much.
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Old 04-09-2019, 06:13 PM   #957
Brian Swartz
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October

Sushant Chiba won his first tournament in nearly a year, defeating Molyneaux 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-6(3) to take the China Open(500). That should go a long way towards cementing him for the WTF. It'll take a strong performance at the Shanghai Masters this week to keep him in contact with those above him though, as he was a finalist last year. Japan was won by Isa Solheim, who moves up to career-best 4th. We'll see if that lasts I have my doubts.

Amrik Kasaravalli took several weeks in a row off to train. While the top players are dueling in the final hardcourt masters of the year, he's beginning the big year-end Challenger push. For the next seven weeks he'll be playing more often than not, hoping to close the points gap and get closer to the Top 32. How well he does in this stretch will determine how much more remains to be done next year.

Nasir Chittoor won both singles and, more narrowly, doubles in a FT3 event in the Ukraine a couple of weeks back. Last week's practice wasn't stellar, so if that continues he'll be back on the court sooner than later and moving up to the FT2 level. Satyagit Guha lost in the second qualifying round in that event, but the doubles title moved both players into the Top 1000 in the pairs competition. They're looking good enough now that, over the course of the coming months, I expect them to move up enough to be Sri Lanka's standard bearers for doubles in the WTC. Right now they are 6th and 7th nationally, but there's nobody ranked within the Top 300 in doubles and only two better than 500th. Continued futures success would make that happen probably by the end of group play next season.

3rd-7th are separated by just 440 points going into Shanghai. Of course those players have varying amounts of points to defend, but there's quite a bit of potential for another shakeup. And afterwards I'll take another look at the Race as well.
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Old 04-10-2019, 11:10 AM   #958
Christy
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Well that went alright. Made a mistake with Aas. Had not realised I had him signed up for another 500. Ah well, nice to see him show signs of life with that 250 win after some pretty poor results.

Perez was saving himself for Shanghai and really showed a powerful serve. He had a comfortable enough win against Haas and managed to deny Molyneaux a single break point in the quarter final! Dominated on his own serve and decent on the return.

His match vs Hart have all gone the distance recently and this one was no different. Well it was finally a little different in that Perez managed to sneak out the win on the other side to reach his 3rd masters final of the year.

There he met another surprise finalist in Dogic making a late (probably too late push). Again Perez was dominant on serve. He won 5 service games to love in the opening set, losing 2 in the final game. He only managed to break once but it was enough.

The second set things were a bit more even but he managed to win enough return points for his first masters shield and second professional title!

Dogic had a great competition as well going through Meiklejohn, Solberg and Solheim in a tough route to the final. I noticed in the final set tie break Solberg had 3 match points against him and still lost (Solberg managing to double fault on the only match point on his own serve).

Chiba sent notice to Brian that the last few weeks were not a sign of revitalisation with a second round loss to another aging player.

Last edited by Christy : 04-10-2019 at 11:11 AM.
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Old 04-10-2019, 03:34 PM   #959
Brian Swartz
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Shanghai

Not only did Chiba lose his first match, he got flat-out embarassed by Jacek Andrejova. Who was the top unseeded player in the draw, but still. 6-2, 6-3, and it was every inch that ugly. So yeah.

Amrik Kasaravalli had to go three sets in the last two rounds, but won another challenger in CH1 Rennes. He'll look to take advantadge of the incompetence around him in CH+ Orleans this week, seeded 4th ... but the top 3 are all overplayed and will not be close to their best by the time he would meet them. I think the odds are strong for another trophy.

With Perez breaking through for his first Shield, 3rd-7th are still close together. They just don't involve the same players.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 04-10-2019 at 03:35 PM.
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Old 04-10-2019, 04:09 PM   #960
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-Shanghai Edition

In - 5020 points required to qualify

John Hart - 12,550
Brian Meikeljohn - 8,780
Barry Molyneaux - 5,920
Isa Solheim - 5,340
Ali Solberg - 5,330
Nicolas Perez - 5,280

Four more players join the field, leaving just two remaining outstanding. Your guess is as good as mine how 4-6 finish. The Shanghai title leaves open the possibility that Nicolas Perez could be Top 4 going into next year - that would be huge for accelerating his climb. It's more than close enough to make the chance of a ranking calculation bug screwing things up a live concern.

Probable

Seamus Hughes - 4925
Sushant Chiba - 4120

Hughes is all but certain, and even if Chiba returns to full-time throwing up all over himself the rest of the way, which is entirely possible, he's still a strong favorite for that final spot.

Contenders

none

Long Shots

Mike Rhodes - 3490
Srba Dogic - 3340
Valery Stachovsky - 3305

Stachovsky's status as an indoor specialist gives him the best chance, but it's still very much a remote one esp. given how he has played lately. Anybody here would pretty much need to win one of the 500s and then go deep at Paris. Possible, but highly unlikely.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 04-10-2019 at 04:10 PM.
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Old 04-11-2019, 01:49 AM   #961
Brian Swartz
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Ok so, Orleans CH+ has the top four seeds in the semifinals. I find this situation amusing:

1) Harald Wentz - AUS, 22. Wentz is a monster at this level. He's kind of scary period. 4.5 skill, 4.2 serve, 4.1 talent, 4.6 endur, 3.6 str, 4.0 spd, 2.8 mentality. Won't peak for like three years. Normally he'd crush

4) Amrik Kasaravalli - me - like a bug. Except that his form is 34.7. Mine is in the sweet spot. That works out to an advantage of 0.6/0.6, or 0.88 on the rating scale, which is MASSIVE. If Wentz wasn't being overscheduled to the point of felonious misconduct, he wouldn't be a challenge player anymore. I want to scream and slap his manager - who is 13th, just ahead of me - into the middle of next week. But instead I'm a nearly prohibitive favorite to steal this tournament instead of the odds being the other way around. Thanks for the cheap 125 points, assuming I don't blow this.

2) Bruno Niedzwicki - 28, POL. Well past his prime but a talented player with elite strength. And 31.2 form for the semis. He'd be favored over Amrik if he wasn't tired.

3) Kamil Smok - 27, POL. 4.5 talent, slightly better technique than my charge and slightly worse athleticism - woudl be a good match. Except he'll be at 31.4 form. So whoever makes it to the final is going to be even more fatigued.

These guys just shot themselves in the foot with a double-barreled shotgun, then reloaded and fired again.
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Old 04-12-2019, 07:54 PM   #962
Brian Swartz
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Sushant Chiba did everything he could to avoid qualifying for the WTF, losing in the first round of the Swiss Indoors 500 to Spaniard Calisto Aviles - ranked all of 48th - by a 6-3, 6-4 count. The only player to take advantage of this was Srba Dogic, who made the final but was thankfully beaten there by Balzer.

Race Standings

So Seamus Hughes is in. One more spot to fill, and here's how that looks going into Paris.

Sushant Chiba - 4120
--------------------------------
Srba Dogic - 3640
Mike Rhodes - 3490
Harald Balzer - 3175

If Dogic had won the Swiss Indoors, he would be just 280 points behind. Which probably would still have been too much.

Stachovsky is at 3125, meaning even if he won the title - he made the QF last year, his only Masters appearance that far on record - Chiba would get 10 pts for merely showing up and that would keep him five points ahead. Rhodes and Balzer would each need to win the tournament in order to catch Chiba, a remote possibility. Dogic would only have to reach the final. On his end, Sushant needs to reach the final in order to guarantee the final spot. If he loses in the semi, Dogic could win the trophy and still beat him. All of which boils down to basically waiting for our three technically-still-alive longshots to lose. As soon as they do, my embarassing vet backs his way in for one last hurrah. His impressive record of futility at the WTF - five straight appearances, all ending in a round-robin exit - has I'd say over a 99% chance of being extended.

Elsewhere ...

Orleans did indeed go to Amrik Kasaravalli, who edged Wentz and then had an easier time in the final. He took a week off, and then entered CH2 Charlottesville, which has by far the weakest field for some reason of this week's four CH2 events. Only one other player in the Top 100, so he should be able to waltz through. Nasir Chittoor and Satyagit Guha took more time to train, but that's about to end. Chittoor was getting 'meh' results from practice, and I thought about throwing him back out into a tournament early. I decided against it because that would mean moving up a level and then possibly reaching the final in suboptimal form, resulting in more chance of losing. So instead I put him out for more practice on his weaker surfaces. Results that way have been better, but not great. Both of my youngsters are now facing a problem of being underranked and need to get more points and boost their competition. Guha is playing an amateur this week to do that - singles only as his doubles ranking is too high, but he's not good enough to handle futures-level singles opponents. Then we'll make the jump to a FT2 event the following week, and see what shakes out after that.

I'll track the Paris results today as long as it is relevant to the Race.
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Old 04-12-2019, 08:44 PM   #963
Brian Swartz
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So Chiba now has a four-match losing streak. Qualifier Algot Hakanson(SWE) bumped him out at the first hurdle, 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-4. I suppose I should be happy he even bothered to put up a fight. Meanwhile, Srba Dogic lost to Abinati, 6-3, 7-6(6). That should all but seal it.

Balzer and Rhodes both won, and are technically still alive. Rhodes will likely be playing Perez which should be the end of that, but Balzer goes up against Hakanson so he could well advance to the quarters, dragging this out.
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Old 04-13-2019, 01:48 AM   #964
Brian Swartz
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The plot stinkens in the third round of Paris. Rhodes upset Nicolas Perez, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, while Balzer defeated Hakanson in straight sets. Both are still highly unlikely to prevail, but this book is far from closed. Esp. with the upsets elsewhere. Rhodes will face (13) de Jong and Balzer goes up against (15) Samuel Aas, who beat Meikeljohn and is trying to go for a repeat of his Rome shocker. It would get tougher after that if either of them keep going, but while four of the top six seeds made the QFs the rest is a hodgepodge and another round would start to be too close for comfort.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 04-13-2019 at 01:51 AM.
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Old 04-13-2019, 05:50 AM   #965
Brian Swartz
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The quarterfinals ended all chance of drama, and put Chiba officially in the WTF field. The last four are Hart(big surprise there), Molyneaux and also de Jong and Aas. That last pair beat Rhodes/Balzer by nearly identical 6-4, 7-6 scorelines.
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Old 04-16-2019, 01:02 AM   #966
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Somebody snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. AGAIN. I'll give you three guesses who, but you'll only need one.

At the World Tour Finals in San Jose, California, USA, where they would never hold an indoor tennis tournament except under pain of death, this happened. Sushant Chiba got that win he didn't expect right away in the opener, defeating world no. 2 Meikeljohn 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(5). Had his chances to blow it, but didn't. Made up for it by losing to Perez 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(3) in the next match, and then straight-setted by Molyneaux. So once again he loses out in the round-robin. This group also featured a cross-table with two BMs. There are two jokes there.

In any case, the two Irish twits, Perez, and Molyneaux are your semifinalists. My math says Perez needs to beat Hart - GL with that - in his matchup to get into the year-end Top 4. Otherwhise he'll still be behind Solberg. 4-7 could still finish in multiple orders, 1-3 is going to be Hart/Meikeljohn/Molyneaux barring something weird, and Chiba at 8 is set in stone.

Sushant Chiba: The Lost Year

Let's play 'what in the name of the bouncy yellow ball just happened'. Win-loss records since he went full-time pro:

'58: 58-15
'59: 59-19
'60: 62-23
'61: 72-15
'62: 75-14
'63: 67-16
'64: 77-18
'65: 46-22

The year after his best year, he has his worst. By, like a mile. He didn't just lose a step, he took a freaking header off a cliff, accelerating himself into the ground with a jetpack. This difference is almost completely not to be found in his ratings. He just sucked.

Ahh well.
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Old 04-16-2019, 09:04 AM   #967
Christy
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Ran Hart closer than I expected. Plus getting to the semi final of an indoor court competition is a surprise. Next year the goal is obviously top 4 and put as much pressure on the top guys as possible. Make them beat Perez. He is 12-10 vs the rest of the current top 8 this year which is even better when you consider 2-7 of that is vs Hart ). He can beat the rest and he can steal the odd match off of Hart.

Aas could well get fired after this season. I want to give him a chance to defend his points but I will need a new trainer eventually.

On the one hand it is hard to see Chiba staying in the top 8 for long past the Australian Open. However he still ends up being one hell of a banana skin to have lying around the top 16.

Last edited by Christy : 04-16-2019 at 09:05 AM.
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Old 04-16-2019, 05:17 PM   #968
Brian Swartz
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I'm going to go with third as my prediction for Perez next year. Wouldn't shock me to see him be #2, probably depends on how the draws work out and how often he ends up on Hart's side. I figure you're due for some better luck on that front. And you're right about Chiba, who figures to be reduced to the role of gatekeeper, esp. after the AO.

4. Solberg - 5870
5. Perez - 5620
6. Solheim - 5480
7. Hughes - 5460

We've decided nothing here yet, but I think Perez's first big success next year gives him the #4 and the other three are milling about in 5-7. At that point it won't really matter who is there. Molyneaux reaching the WTF Final ensured he'll be a significant part of next season, and makes him harder for these guys to catch. Meanwhile Meikeljohn doing jack diddly squat means the pack caught up to him some, and he missed a chance to close that big gap on Hart.

Amrik Kasaravalli lost to a blast from the past, Uglesa Svajnovic, in the QFs of one of the year-end Challengers. Two tiebreak sets, close match. Then he finished it up with the title at CH+ Helsinki. Needed a final-set breaker against an unseeded opponent in the final, but got it done. All of that ends up with him being one good tournament away from graduating. 31-33 are all about 50 points ahead, with Amrik 34th.

Changed my mind and sent Chittoor/Guha out for another FT3, due to the fact that he could still gain almost 100 spots by winning. Nasir Chittoor took the dual titles, but is still having poorish practice results so I've got him out there again this week - without Guha - in a singles-only FT2. I'll keep playing him in only singles until his ranking catches up with his skills. It's a weird dance at this point of futures, as due to AI scheduling there are a lot of players down here who are rather wildly over-ranked and more who are underranked, so you can't really tell by that how good they are. Satyagit Guha's last two singles outings were underwhelming - lost in the first round of the futures, and QFs of an amateur. So he's creeping along but that's about it. And the amateur doubles points are starting to come off the rankings, complicating the duo's efforts to rise up to join the national team.

Coming Up ...

Won't be a whole lot else to say until the Anil Cup and the year-end rankings come around.

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Old 04-17-2019, 08:02 AM   #969
thehitcat
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Hey Brian, sign your guys up for the Anilcup Our lonely eyes turn to you.

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Old 04-18-2019, 01:34 AM   #970
Brian Swartz
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I'll sign up when I'm darned good and ready. And not a second before.
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Old 04-18-2019, 04:13 AM   #971
Brian Swartz
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The Quest for 8.9 Continues
Age 19 Comparison

Forgot about this. Our hero - well mine really, ya'll have a vested interest in him failing in a number of cases - recently turned 19 years of age.

** Prakash Mooljee - 80/53/1
** Ritwik Dudwadkar - 79/55/0
** Sushant Chiba - 78/56/2
** Amrik Kasaravalli - 73/57/0
** Satyagit Guha - 59/47/79
** Nasir Chittoor - 77/60/0

Satyagit Guha probably takes 2-3 years more to max out his doubles, and will continue to fall behind further in the meantime. Also, by this point in Kasaravalli's career it was really starting to become clear that he wasn't going to be able to keep up the normal pace. The top three are closer, with Dudwadkar slightly ahead of Mooljee/Chiba.

Nasir Chittoor is where he was at 18 - a nose in front but not by that much. I figure him to be 1.5k to 2k points of experience better than Dudwadkar, an amount that is very slowly increasing. It's not a huge difference, and the next couple years or so will be telling in whether he can extend that at all. My best guess is that it slowly grows and he stays about one skill train ahead, but it depends on a lot of things not all of which are in my control. I'll need to do a little better to reach 8.9.

I'm also looking forward to future battles with Tommy Fitzpatrick in particular. That's nothing against anyone else's players but Fitzpatrick is superior to Chittoor but also 7 months older. If neither of us massively screws up, there could be the best high-level #1 vs. #2 battle between those two that I've seen in this game when they reach their peak 7-8 years from now. A lot of time and there may well be other rivals I don't know about … but both should reach the 8.85 range or higher. Being so close in age, they wouldn't just be passing each other by like Perez and Hart will be doing soon, one ascending and the other descending. Unlike Iglar-Mehul or Kaspar-Chiba, it would likely be close enough not to be completely one-sided. So I'm definitely really looking forward to that rivalry materializing. Won't be much of a thing until we get to at least the upper Challenger echelons, so it's more of a long-distance thing ATM.

Also, I'm going to be using the list of players in our growing club - a good use of the thing even if it ends up being good for nothing else - as a supplement in the 'make sure you mention these players' when I do the regular ranking lists. Already some new names in their to look at, so for those among the Anilophiles, I'll make sure all of your players that aren't clearly over the hill end up featuring.

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Old 04-18-2019, 11:29 AM   #972
Chas in Cinti
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Still following and enjoying... interested to see the next wave...
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Old 04-19-2019, 05:50 PM   #973
Brian Swartz
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2066 National Rankings

1. Ireland - 2718
2. Argentina - 2244
3. France - 2134
4. Sri Lanka - 2128
5. Italy - 2089
6. Spain - 2033
7. United States - 2024
8. Spain - 1974
9. Sweden - 1969
10. Thailand - 1956

Ireland is the world champion four years running, tying Sri Lanka's record. Not that I'm bitter or anything, but somebody better beat them next year (unlikely). Sri Lanka is on the verge of becoming Just Another Nation.

Playoff Results

** Mexico beat Croatia 3-2 to keep both nations right where they were.
** L2 runner-up Poland lucked into a match with Great Britain another L2 country, and won 4-1. With a pair of singles players at around 40th, they have a chance of staying up this time.
** 8th-ranked Czech Republic stays up, relegating Serbia 3-2.
** Thailand is relegated 5-0 by Morocco, as the two of them switch places and Hamal Sbai gets to play in the top tier again next year. Both are in the too good for L2, not good enough for L1 category.

Group 3 next year along with Sweden(9th), Poland(19th), and India(22nd). Sweden's probably an automatic loss and we have them first. Poland should be an easy win, so it figures to come down to India. To beat them, we need to sweep the matches, including doubles which we suck at, that Meikeljohn isn't involved in. I think we probably finish third ahead of Poland but behind the other two, and once again fail to get out of the group.
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Old 04-20-2019, 06:33 AM   #974
Brian Swartz
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Inaugural Anil Cup

Shocking absolutely no-one, John Hart is the champion of our club in addition to the world at large after a 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(6) win over Nicolas Perez. Sushant Chiba actually gave him the closest match in the semis, but still lost in three. 2-seeds Sbai/Brunn won the doubles over #1s Pargeter/Aas. And so another year is completed.
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Old 04-20-2019, 07:40 AM   #975
Brian Swartz
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2066 Player Rankings

Technically there are a couple days left in '65 as I write this. However, the weekend isn't a real good point for me time-wise, and the rankings won't change at all so here we go.

1. John Hart(28, IRE) - 14,800

Hart didn't do quite as well as I thought, having 'merely' a typical dominant #1 season with six losses again, 2 Slams, the WTF, and 5 more Masters. Depending on how the next couple of years go, he seems destined to be either the best of the tier-3 or the worst of the tier-2 all-time greats in terms of career accomplishments. Either way, probably 7th overall in the history of the sport or a once-a-decade at worst kind of player. Maybe he took advantadge of a weak era, but timing matters as much as anything so we're not holding that against him.

2. Brian Meikeljohn(27, IND) - 8,870

The oft-mismanaged lighting bolt had only a single WTF crown and no Slams in the spring, having lost in the first week of three consecutive Slams. Then he made the RG semis, and claimed the trophy at Wimbledon and the USO. These successes vaulted Meikeljohn into the top challenge spot, and ensured that he wouldn't be remembered as a total flake. It's anybody's guess how well he follows those up in the new year though. This season's flop at the tour finals wasn't encouraging.

3. Barry Molyneaux(27, USA) - 7,100

Head of the weakest crop of American players possibly ever, Molyneaux was a solid, dependable #3 almost all year.

4. Ali Solberg(26, SWE) - 5,860

A bit younger than the other top players, Solberg has earned a reputation as Mr. Consistency. This is a career high ranking for him, but I don't think he'll hold it long.

5. Nicolas Perez(23, ARG) - 5,620

It's no longer a secret that Perez is to be the next #1 after Hart. This year he figures to continue that upward push, and will be favored against the other contenders most of the time instead of just being one of them. Nicolas has probably three more years of improving ahead of him. Athleticism is only average at best, but he's already got a quality serve and a baseline game the equal of some of the best to ever play. Rising sharply from 19th a year ago, there's no reason to think he won't keep moving up. I'm picking him for #3 next season.

6. Isa Solheim(26, DEN) - 5,540

A brief stint at #4, but slipping to a very competitive 6th isn't bad at all when you began the year at 10th. The pride of Denmark figures to stay about here, maybe a spot higher, maybe one lower.

7. Seamus Hughes(28, IRE) - 5,510

690 points better than a year ago, and a bounce-back year overall to roughly equal his best from '73; he was 62-19. Still, Hughes stays ... barely ... at the same spot in the pecking order. Due to age, I have to figure he remains here. Getting past the younger Solberg/Solheim is far from impossible, but probably unlikely. He's still a fine player though who can be a threat to anyone on his best day.

8. Sushant Chiba(29, SRI) - 4,250

Winner of the Golden Turd Award for the greatest single-season collapse by a top player. I have no reason to replace him so he'll just keep soldiering on, but Chiba looks ripe to slip out of the Top 8 early and just make a general nuisance of himself now. He'll pull off some upsets I'm sure, but definitely more spoiler than favorite. Four career Slams ties him for third with Girsh among Sri Lanka players, but 7 Masters titles is the lowest among my five. Add it up and he ranks 4th on the Legends listing, above Dudwadkar but behind the rest. Most notably, he's the first one never to reach #1.

9. Mike Rhodes(27, PHI) - 3,680

The Walking Serve slid up a couple spots from 11th mostly by not being mismanaged as much. Emphasis on the 'as much'. He's still a one-trick pony who is hard pressed to succeed off of his favored clay.

10. Srba Dogic(24, CRO) - 3,630

Right now, Dogic is the closest thing Perez has to a generational rival. And he's not close at all, but a steady rise continued with him up from 16th a year ago. Should at least be able to be the last member of the Tour Finals group, replacing Chiba.

11. Harald Balzer(26, SWE)

Balzer was 6th last year, his career best. A meteoric player now over the hill, I mention him here only because the decline of a former solid Top-10 player is worthy of note. Wave to him as he fades away.

13. Tim de Jong(24, NLD)

de Jong is best positioned if you are looking for a new face to crack the first page. QF at RG, two Masters semis for him. Per usual for improving youngish players, he needs more consistent results.

14. Samuel Aas(25, SWE)

Two first-round defeats in Slams, and first-week exits at all of them. Also won Rome and made the Paris final. If you can explain that, you're a better man than I.

15. Ollie Haas(23, NLD)

Haas is the surprise player of the year. A season ago he was trying to break out of Challengers. He succeeded, to put it mildly, and now is another maturing force to be reckoned with.

17. Gullermo Valturri(25, MEX)

Last year, as he was 32nd, I said 'we'll see if he sticks'. I, uh, missed the boat here a little. Valturri is a late-developer, but probably has at least a couple of years to give in the teens.

18. Emilien Mathou(24, FRA)

Yet another guy who was Challenger last year and virtually halved his ranking.

19. Chisulo Mpakati(22, ZIM)

44th a year ago. This swath of new Top-20 faces will be interesting to watch. Even moreso when they are as young as Mpakati.

20. Constantino Gonzoles(25, ARG)

Treading water.

21. Clavet Moniotte(24, FRA)

Ditto.

22. Jose Luis Robredo(25, USA)

Looked like he might be something most of the year ... but hasn't played since the US Open. Likely to be another abandoned player.

25. Acke Kjaerstad(22, SWE)

Kjaerstad wasn't even a particuarly good Challenger player - ranked 60th - at this time last year. That level of increase makes him one to watch. Fairly credible 250/500 results, but nothing to note in the big events. Yet.

26. Il-Sung Jung(23, KOR)

A more modest rise from 36th. QF showings in Miami/Canada were pretty much all of that, so ... we'll see.

27. Santino Belmon(24, ITA)

35th last year, so another gradually improving newbie.

30. Algot Hakanson(24, SWE)

A foil to Kasaravalli in the Challengers, so he wasn't sad to see this Swede 'promote'.

31. William Todhunter(24, AU)

NOT 'AUS' as I often mistake it. Todhunter is from Australia, not Austria. Up from 58th, so he's newcomer number umpteen.

A couple of others, including the previously mentioned Matteus Ameen, fell just back out after the WTC Playoffs. Five of the next six spots in the rankings are players 25 and younger. There's a truly STUPID amount of good improving players right now - but as has been noted, we're still short on high-end prodigies.

37. Amrik Kasaravalli(23, SRI)

Spent most of the year in the 60s before a late surge. An early event or two will be absolutely vital in his push to be seeded at the Australian Open. If not though, it will almost certainly happen by spring for IW/Miami. Amrik is coming up. Finally.

70. Joao Narciso(21, BRA)

That hoped-for late-season surge didn't happen. Narciso, a clay-heavy player, is still somewhat up from last year's 89th placing, and is young enough to still be at his physical peak. Just needs more time.

203. Marcel Bonner(24, DEU)

Bonner is under-ranked due to entering tournaments above his class - masters and 250s for a good amount of them. He's also a guy who doesn't seem to value the serve, or know whether he wants to be singles or doubles. As such, it's difficult to predict much aside from the unpredictable.

283. Tommy Fitzpatrick(19, IRE)

Three futures titles now, two at the middle tier. All of our batch of late-teens budding stars are pushing upwards towards the Challenger ranks, but Fitzpatrick is definitely ahead of the rest.

384. Nasir Chittoor(19, SRI)

Last time out, Chittoor faced two of the elite-skill, no-serve types so prevalent in futures. He beat one of them, but lost to the other in his first FT2 final. It still boosted him enough to where his practice results are better - even the wins are usually very competitive so I can relax his schedule again. There's a constant tension there. He's in the 'good futures player' class, but still very much a futures player.

437. Ritwik Intodia(19, SRI)

A pair of FT3 titles but, like Chittoor, is still searching for his first FT2 crown.

553. Rakesh Kayeeda(19, SRI)

Got his first futures tournament win a few weeks ago.

817. Mark Smith(18, GBR)

Finished #2 in juniors and managed to already get his first futures win. That gives him a head start - this should be an interesting year for Smith.

1128. Mike Ferry(18, GBR)

Not as successful as Smith, Ferry was 9th in the junior ranks. Still managed a FT2 final though a few months back.

1182. Satyagit Guha(19, SRI)

Oh there you are. Latest amateur foray ended the semis, so Guha is taking his sweet time clearing that hurdle.

1981. George Petrov(22, MAL)

A recent acquisition who really, really needs tournament matches. Career high is just above 1500th.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 04-20-2019 at 07:41 AM.
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Old 04-20-2019, 09:31 AM   #976
Brian Swartz
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2067 Preview

As ever, the same list but more of an evaluation/projection; a look forward, whereas the ranking list is more of a look back at the year that was.

1. John Hart - 89% 8.73, -0.11

Father Time has come for the Irish. Hart's margins aren't what they were, but he's still the clear champion. .

2. Brian Meikeljohn - 88%, 8.86, -0.03

I never look at Meikeljohn without sniffling over what could have been had he been managed better, not wasted points in doubles, etc. He's still objectively the best player on the planet. Has been for 2-3 years. And will almost certainly never be at the top in spite of it.

3. Barry Molyneaux - 88%, 8.53, -0.08

Continues to mask inadequate baseline play by being good to outstanding everywhere else.

4. Ali Solberg - 92%, 8.61, +0.01

Still another year of improvement, but it appears Solberg's progression has stalled. It shouldn't have. Even so, he ought to be more competitive with the players ahead of him simply by virtue of them coming back to the pack.

5. Nicolas Perez - 97%, 8.52, +0.11

A more sober analysis based on this rating might indicate that Perez won't advance much this year. We'll see - proper management is an important factor and I think purely based on better draws he should continue to advance. He would appear to be a couple years away yet from being the man though.

6. Isa Solheim - 92%, 8.50, +0.03

Like Solberg, though not quite as good, Solheim continues to slowly improve and has another season in which to peak.

7. Seamus Hughes - 88%, 8.46, -0.11

Confirming that Hughes' best tennis is behind him, but he will be no pushover.

8. Sushant Chiba - 84%, 8.48, -0.13

Should have been able to stay in the Top 4, really. *sigh*.

9. Mike Rhodes - 89%, 8.25, -0.04

Amusingly, Rhodes now has higher skill than serve for the first time ever. I'm pretty sure that's not a choice - his serve is maxed out.

10. Srba Dogic - 94%, 8.38, +0.12

Baseline game is still underwater, but everything else is there. The meteoric Dogic doesn't have a lot of time to sort that, but hey strike while the iron is hot and all that. Next couple of years are when he'll do whatever it is he's going to do.

Top 10 Average

I thought it might be useful to compare the overall strength of the Top 10 year to year as an era comparison. Could do it for the whole Top 32 but that would be too much effort for me :P.

'65 - 8.573
'66 - 8.532(-0.041)

This is just an average of the ratings for the players, it doesn't take into account mismanagement, etc. Think of it as a 'raw playing strength' comparison. I would expect last year's number to be really quite high historically. With a number of stars declining, we're definitely heading towards a transition eventually to the Age of Perez. The notable thing of recent years to me is that the middle - Solheim/Hughes/Solberg - is somewhat stronger than usual, and then you throw in the generally underachieving Meikeljohn.

13. Tim de Jong - 94%, 8.33, +0.10

de Jong already has the technique of a Top-10 player, but he's a guy who relies more than most on it so he needs a little more to get himself there. I'm confident it will happen though at some point.

14. Samuel Aas- 91%, 8.25, +0.01

Same style of player as de Jong, but has the mentality of a crushed flower and also not the potential that comes with youth.

15. Ollie Haas - 95%, 8.41, ??

Looking at Haas, I wonder why he didn't break through maybe a year earlier. Highly talented, standard technique for a top player, and above-average athleticism. He is a bit on the fast-aging side of things, but you can make a good argument that he might beat de Jong to the first page. The two of them should make the Netherlands (currently 11th) a considerable WTC force.

17. Gullermo Valturri - 92%, 7.96, +0.02

There are Challenger players better than Valturri. I manage one of them myself. It's a bit mystifying to see him up this high.

18. Emilien Mathou - 93%, 8.49, ??

I keep asking why these guys didn't move up sooner - and they hyper-competitive nature of challengers right now is I think a big part of the answer. Mathou is another one with solidly Top-10 ability, nothing borderline about it. Invested some in doubles, and his baseline play is short of the standard, but good mental game and a solid athlete.

19. Chisulo Mpakati - 98%, 8.34, ??

A meteoric talent, Mpakati will go as far as his excellent athleticism takes him. You don't often see someone with 4-star speed and power, but Chisulo has both. That means Zimbabwe has a real star on their hands, at least for the next three years.

20. Constantino Gonzoles- 93%, 8.51, +0.02

Far too good to have not risen further last year, even in this environment. And he's not going to get much better, lacking the dedication of a true professional athlete. Just needs to take better advantage of what he has - namely very good athleticism and elite mentality.

21. Clavet Moniotte - 95%, 8.27, ??

Latest in the line of 'I could have been special, but wasted time on doubles' exhibits. Naturally skill took the hit. Solid athlete/mentality with a Top-5 quality serve already. Behind enough others that he's in the 'should get there eventually' rather than 'future is now' category.

22. Jose Luis Robredo - 93%, 8.20, ??

If his manager ever returns to anything, Robredo waits as a player with the usual quality serve, subpar skill combo. Solid athlete and elite mental game so the pieces are there to try to do something. Isn't much time though, and when you don't practice you throw so much away.

25. Acke Kjaerstad - 98%, 8.31, ??

Strong future if he's well-handled. Baseline play needs work, but the serve is there, along with excellent power and elite mental play. Lots of strong mental guys in this generation. Kjaerstad even has a quite extended shelf life. Should be one of the best of this loaded generation. I'm not sure he isn't second-best after Perez.

26. Il-Sung Jung - 97%, 8.60

What the actual ... ok, Jung makes me want to cry. Considerable wasted doubles goes into the mix here, and yet he's good or better across the board. Endurance is good but not great, so he's clearly been expertly handled for the most part. So ... why is he ranked this low?? Basically, because he's still playing a lot of doubles. 55 singles, 48 doubles matches last year.

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!! You have the 4th-best singles player in the world, roughly. ACT LIKE IT!!!

Grrr.

27. Santino Belmon - 95%, 8.41, ??

Yet another very strong young player, lost in the weeds of so many others. Excellent mentality (again, seems like everybody is 4+ there),solid athlete, technique not there yet but close, endurance is on the low side which is the only significant flaw.

30. Algot Hakanson - 94%, 8.14, ??

Doubles again for this clay specialist who is further behind in rally play than the others.

31. William Todhunter - 94%, 8.17, ??

Relative laziness is the only real flaw, but he's not particularly special otherwhise. And right now, that's more than enough to be fatal.

37. Amrik Kasaravalli - 97%, 8.18, +0.11

Main difference between Kasaravalli and those who have already made the jump is that his serve isn't as good yet. With the quality ahead of him and the fact that he's the weakest I've had by a significant margin, I think his ceiling is to someday qualify for the WTF at the bottom of the Top 10 if all the others hang around. It's going to be an interesting and much different ride for Amrik.

70. Joao Narciso - 99%, 7.65, +0.35

Had a good surge this year, but needs another just like to even get close to escaping Challengers. I'm going to say it takes two years to make that happen. Pretty good athlete, but lots to do yet on the technique side.

203. Marcel Bonner - 95%, 7.83

As mentioned, a lot better than you'd think by looking at the ranking. Quality from the back, elite mentality (AGAIN!), and very good speed. I'd recommend a steady diet of challengers and serve training to bring that up; right now that weapon is at low-level futures level and attention should be paid. But Bonner can definitely be a guy who is a Top-32 pro despite the doubles diversion somewhere in his history.

283. Tommy Fitzpatrick - 99%, 7.02, +1.04

Growth slows down now for these guys. Fitzpatrick has reached his physical peak, and is just about ready to make the jump to Challengers. Few if any futures players will be a serious threat to him now.

384. Nasir Chittoor - 95%, 6.63, +0.99

As you might expect, Chittoor is on a similar path but not yet maxed-out physically. Wait a few months for that. He still needs more time in futures, but he and others will make the challenger jump at some point this year.

437. Ritwik Intodia - 95%, 6.68, +0.90

Right now, Intodia and Chittoor are very close in both ranking and playing ability. Endurance should make the difference for Nasir over time, but Intodia is no slouch.

553. Rakesh Kayeeda - 95%, 6.42, +0.88

Similar quality improvement from the slower Kayeeda.

817. Mark Smith - 97%, 6.76, ??

Middle of the pack aging for Smith, who has elite power and endurance, incredible talent(5.0), and even plays well in front of his home fans. A little slow, but he's definitely positioned as a major threat. Good example of the kind of player for whom amateurs would simply be a waste of time.

1128. Mike Ferry - 99%, 6.43, ??

Merely 'solid' as an athlete, Ferry is more the meteoric type.

1182. Satyagit Guha - 96%, 5.76, +0.84

As on-court results would indicate, almost actually ready for futures now. But not quite.

1981. George Petrov - 98%, 5.73, ??

Both Petrov and the unranked Timmy Lockhart are in basically the same boat of needing amateur matches to boost their form,and yesterday. Beyond that, Petrov seems a pretty average player who should aim to eventually be successful in futures and earn points there so that he can be replaced with someone better.

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Old 04-20-2019, 09:41 AM   #977
Brian Swartz
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So we have two Top-100 teenagers. That's definitely a record. Claudio Altichierro(87th) has been mentioned before. And also, Odimos Csollang(96th), who is insanely young at less than 19 and a half. Sure seems that more people are developing strong players these days.

On that subject, I've never seen as many 8.3 and up developing players as we have right now. Usually those slots are more guys in the Hakanson/Todhunter range. Sort of throws the usual calculus out the window. In a couple of years, we could easily have an entire Top 10 full of 8.5 - 8.65 or so players filling out after Perez, which is why I'm so pessimistic on Kasaravalli. In terms of depth of strong players, not necessarily elite ones but a step or two below that, this has a good chance to be the most competitive era the tour has ever seen by a healthy margin. It is not a good time to be breaking through. I'm curious to see whether this trend continues.

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Old 04-23-2019, 02:24 AM   #978
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
January

We're still the week before the Australian Open, but the important pieces appear to be set for it. Nicolas Perez won the Qatar Open (250), beating Dogic along the way, which moves him just into that key #4 spot where he'll be able to avoid the perils of Hart/Meikeljohn until the semis. Solberg is playing this week but that shouldn't matter, since he already has a fill of 250-level titles. If he holds that spot, he should improve points significantly this year simply by getting better draws.

For me, Sri Lanka promptly lost their first three against Sweden before rallying for a more respectable 3-2 loss in the first round of WTC group play. Naturally a loss is still a loss. Ali Solberg was responsible for most of the drama. He went five sets with both players, defeating Kasaravalli and then losing to Chiba in a true epic. 9-7 in the 5th and it took several match points to break through.

Then Sushant Chiba had a warmup event in Chennai. He played well, defeating No. 12 Stachovsky in the SF before getting flattened 6-3, 6-1 by Meikeljohn in the final. So that's a pretty good picture of where he is.

Amrik Kasaravalli has high form due to last year's push at the end of the year, the Anil Cup, and the WTC. He headed to CH1 Noumea, his one chance to probably be seeded at the AO if he won. Just ahead of him there was Bruno Niedzweicki. It looked to be a match of those two ... and yet both were dumped in the SF by similar players going in opposite directions. Veteran Argetine Ernest Melingeli, seeded 6th and ranked 60-somethingth, is still a good athlete and has an elite serve, but somewhat weak from the back. Breaks figured to be rare but instead there were several in the first set. Including Amrik being broken to love after getting back on serve at the end of it. From there it was a dogfight, but eventually he fell short 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. It was the proper result, an even matchup on paper with Melingeli the fresher player. On the other side came the champion, German Santino de Jesus, a meteoric riser who is up to 60th with the victory. He's an example of the trend that having an 8.0 or better player used to mean Top 32 or nearly there; now it means little more than comfortably in the Top 100. You might hear Santino's name again, or the sport might swallow him up. In any case, Kasaravalli only gets a small boost and figures to be second or third on the list of spoilers instead of being seeded. A lot will depend on his draw in Australia. He made the second round last year, and could easily be out in the first to a high seed or make a deeper run to the third round depending on how it shakes out. He's right on the edge, the tipping point, in the fight with several others. Getting securely out of Challengers quickly will require some luck and taking advantadge of his opportunities. As an example, William Todhunter, 32nd at the start of the year, is down to 40th. And might very well bounce back up, or keep falling. It's a really fluid, dynamic situation, and now Kasaravalli is smack dab in the middle of it.

Nasir Chittoor and Satyagit Guha have not played any formal events in the new year, electing to train. They'll be out again next week. I thought about qualifying in the AO for Chittoor, but decided he's not quite ready yet. Close - I'd probably do it if I was managing Fitzpatrick, but not there in my case. I also came to a decision. Both players have 4.2 endurance and rising, which means I pretty much need to have them playing doubles and singles every week or else they're wasting fatigue and losing potential XP. Yet the hit-and-miss nature of practice tournaments at the futures level cannot be avoided. So for now, I'm going to give them some HC practice events to hold the line there, no clay, and grass/indoors - the less-used surfaces - for the others. The impact of this will lessen over time but it is helping to get better results from practice, and I can go back into clay when the ranking rises and results become more stable. This is probably pretty much how the next few months will go for them in between the odd futures tournament, and with amateur points dropping off now ranking progression is going to slow a bit.

Coming Up

The first Slam of the year naturally, the Australian Open. All of those good, improving players means a lot of sleepers in the draw. Aside from Hart & Meikeljohn at the top, I really don't think anyone can be certain they'll even make the second week. I expect a lot of early-round chaos all year in the big events. And how far will Sushant Chiba fall? Pretty much needs to make the semis, a tall order, to maintain his place. Earlier, and he could drop as far as the low teens after being in the final last year.

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Old 04-24-2019, 11:04 PM   #979
thehitcat
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Oh Hai Nic!
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Old 04-25-2019, 04:48 AM   #980
Christy
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Well that was an event.

5 setter against Solberg followed by another with 400 points vs Hart. First 3 sets went to tie breaks and 8-6 in the final set. With Molyneaux dropping off early to an unseeded opponent it should see him into 3rd. With his edge on clay he could well have a big season there too and help him get a bit closer to the number 2 spot and (and further away from dropping down again).

A loss to Solberg over those 5 sets could have seen a very different outcome, he could have been clinging on to 4th or have lost it altogether so incredibly fine margins been played with here.

Elsewhere Chiba drops out with style. Out in the 3rd round while Dogic grabs 8th with a semi final appearance (which I think would have skipped him past Chiba even if Chiba had made the final again!).

Kasaravalli got a decent draw and took full advantage of a decent draw at least. I think only realised the strength of the top 32 when I saw his ranking breakdown. So many challenger wins and still was not in the top 32. He gave Meiklejohn a good match as well.

Aas continues to confuse backing up his Paris final with a first round loss to the previously mentioned Todhunter.

Hughes vs Haas was an interesting look into some battles that will start cropping up as he ages. Hughes has the edge anyway. I wonder if the dutch pair will keep up or could we see a top decided on relatively early?
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Old 04-25-2019, 05:08 AM   #981
Brian Swartz
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The final was as fine a match as there has ever been. Looking back over the Perez v. Hart series it just looks closer than it should be. On paper Hart is significantly better, but Nicolas seems to have his number a bit or something. Could be that his time will come a little sooner than I think - there'll be plenty of matches between them the next couple of years to determine that I would think. Hart's gotta be kicking himself for that third-set TB, in which he held a 6-3 lead with triple set point ... before losing the last five points in a row. Chances for both players when a match is that close, but that seemed the key moment as I happened to catch it live. You hit on most of the stuff I was going to mention, but also:

** Harald Wentz. Mentioned him a bit last year as a guy who should be ranked higher, esp. if managed better. Well, he was an unseeded QF and is 22. Should definitely make a jump. Dispatched two different mid-ranking seeds in straight sets. Four of the 16 players in R4 were not seeded. Last year same event had one. As expected, land mines all over the draw and I think it's going to take a couple years to sort it all out.

** Kasaravalli was 1-3 in Slam matches before making it to the 4R here. I had him as a modest underdog vs. Balzer, so that win was a surprise to me and was really the 'signature moment' he's been looking for. 9-7 in the 5th no less for lots of juicy XP. Probably shouldn't have won, but superior mentality saved the day. Now he'll be just above the line instead of just below it - and has to try to replace all those points from Challengers at the higher level. I expect a sloooooow ascent here, esp. over the rest of this season.

** Which didn't work out for Chiba. Patrick Sanchez isn't a terrible player, but the kind I'd still expect him to beat 80-90% of the time. And the worst part is how. Chiba has 4.4 mentality, Sanchez right on the average line at 2.5. So Sushant is broken 4 times in 5 chances. He was a bit more steady and consistent on the day but blew it at the key moments. His career was built on NOT doing that. And yeah he's going to be well outside the Top 10 now. Hasta la bye-bye to being relevant.

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Old 04-25-2019, 05:09 AM   #982
Christy
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Oh and Perez has now won exactly 1 250 level, 1 500 level, 1 masters and 1 grand slam. Weird record but it amuses me.

I think Hart winning everything has hurt him in the Perez head to head. He has generally been mildly tired in terms of form (25-27) by the time they meet while that has rarely been an issue for Perez yet.

Counter intuitively I think depending on mentality decreases the consistency of a player. It affects so few points that you can get unlucky very easily. They are also critical points. It can help cause an upset when you ate getting beaten but if it doesn't fire quite right in a game then a large chunk of your rating is simply not relevant to the match. Obviously more is always better but it is just doesn't always help in a consistent manner (due to only affecting 5-15 points a game).

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Old 04-25-2019, 09:26 AM   #983
thehitcat
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Epic match. Don't have much to add other than to point out again that sequence at 6-3 in the Third set tiebreak. Was surprised to force the Fifth set after that 5 point collapse.
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Old 04-26-2019, 01:47 AM   #984
Brian Swartz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christy
counter intuitively I think depending on mentality decreases the consistency of a player.

I definitely agree with this, and you put it well. Problem with Chiba is he's been plenty consistent - as in, consistently underperforming for 90% of the past year!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christy
I think only realised the strength of the top 32 when I saw his ranking breakdown. So many challenger wins and still was not in the top 32.

That part of it isn't that unusual. Historically, the points required for #32 are usually 1300-1500 (1518 right now is Kasaravalli on that spot exactly). Last few years were 1425, 1375, 1300, and 1390 at the year-end. So it's a little high but not a huge difference. What I see as being different at the moment is that you'll sometimes get a few really good Challenger players, but then they move up, the points spread out to others and things equalize again. There's a lot more quality depth though now, to the point where there's about an extra 0.2 BS rating points needed to move up than usual, and no sign yet of it abating.

ETA: Interesting factoid: #10-14 in the rankings lost points. #29-37 gained points, except for one that stayed the same. The AO definitely reshuffled the deck significantly, a process I expect to continue. That one was Plushenko, who has the same amount of points he had before … and dropped from 31st to 36th.

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Old 04-30-2019, 02:33 AM   #985
Brian Swartz
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February/March

Sri Lanka smashed Poland as expected, 4-1, in the second round of WTC Group Play. Lost in doubles, straight-set wins in the others. The points were very welcome for Kasaravalli, who had two singles wins last year and already has three in his four rubbers this season with at least one more round to go. In fact, he would have dropped out of the Top 32 without getting both Ws. More on that later. He's also now out of the national doubles team.

Right now it's Sweden 2, Sri Lanka/Poland 1, and India 0 in the group standings after Sweden edged India 3-2. Basically we need Sweden to pound Poland, who we hold a slight tiebreaker edge on right now, worse than India beats us. That's what'll determine who the second team out is. I like our chances at the moment - I figure us to lose 3-2 to India but that should be good enough ... esp. if we can get a set or two off of Meikeljohn somewhere in there.

Sushant Chiba then had a couple more meh performances. Delray Beach 250 ended in the SFs (l. Mpakati), and Acapulco 500 in the QFs (l. #30 Lucas Perez(ARG), 6-3, 7-6(5)). The first one got him just barely back into the Top 10, he's basically been trading with Balzer for that final first-page spot. I've seen nothing to indicate he won't keep dropping futher. I have decided what to do with Chiba long-term though. Once he falls out of the Top 32, and possibly sooner depending on other events, he'll pair with Guha in doubles whenever it's useful (i.e., whenever it wouldn't be better for Guha to play with Chittoor). Not sure how that'll all work out but it'll be interesting to have a has-been and a young doubles aficianado together for a while. No idea what the ceiling will be on them. We'll just have to see how it goes.

Amrik Kasaravalli tried to find a 250 with decent seeding but none were available. So he was 7th at the Brasil Open this week, where he did what was expected of him but not more. QF loss to (2) Samuel Aas, 6-4, 7-6(5). Return stats were nearly identical; same # of points, 24-22 Aas in terms of points won. But the serve numbers: 8 aces 2 DF for the Swede, 4 aces 7 DF for Amrik, were quite telling. This is his best surface so it likely would have been worse elsewhere. If everything goes at expected in the upcoming Masters, he'll basically stay right where is - on the bubble. It would be nice to pull an upset in one of them and get some breathing room. Right now he has 23 points on Todhunters, with three others within 100.

Nasir Chittoor lost in the final of a second straight FT2 in the UAE, thanks to fellow Reaper Girish Shivakumar. Shivakumar is a few months older, not that much, but is a better athlete with similar technique. And it showed. I expected the same in his most recent outing, but he suprised me last week with a 6-3, 6-2 dismissal of Ireland's Trevor McEvoy. McEvoy, the top seed, is another of those high-skill, low-serve guys at 5.1/1.5. Never know what's going to happen with those, but it went quite well. So I figure Nasir, currently sitting at 298th, is ready to make the jump to to the top FT1 futures tier. He'll still need 3-4 more titles at this level to make it up, and is spending longer than expected here. Part of that is good news though, with the extra doubles matches he gets with Guha. They made it to the final of the same event, falling 11-9 in a super TB to the top seeds. Doesn't get any closer than that. The last couple of futures eventes had not been as kind.

As for Satyagit Guha, he finally said goodbye to the amateur ranks with a second singles title, this one in Morocco three weeks ago. He still sputters mostly in futures, losing in the first round to the 4-seed in the last tournament. For a bit the pairing was almost out of the Top 1000 in doubles, but they've bounced back up into the mid-700s with the stronger showing in Chile. Still need to basically double their points for either to crack the national team, so that's not going to happen unless we get out of group play. Which is another really big reason to hope that happens - if they were able to team up for WTC QF action, it would be great for both the country and for their development.

Coming Up …

The first hardcourt masters, the IW/Miami double. Chiba tries to not fall too much further, Kasaravalli gets what is probably going to be his only Masters action of the year, and the youngsters get more practice before going out for their next futures expedition. We'll take another look at the rankings picture after that, but in general things are not substantively different. Perez getting up to #3 and winning the AO remains the top headline of the year to date. Can he follow it up in the USA?

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Old 05-02-2019, 03:26 AM   #986
Brian Swartz
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Indian Wells

Shoving my expectations/predictions to the side, IW went almost totally according to form. #1 vs. #2 in the final. Three of the top four in the semis, top 8 all made the quarters, and 15 of the top 16 in the fourth round. In other words, it was the revenge of the status quo. John Hart is your champion, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 over Meikeljohn. He was pushed to three also by Perez in the semis, Harald Wentz - that name keeps popping up - in the third round, and didn't really have a routine outing in between. Third title here in a row for Hart, and he'll try to accomplish the same next week.

Interesting fact: Barry Molyneaux has three masters shields. Only one (Cincy last year) is at any of the home-court, best-surface events. He's only made it past the quarters of IW or Miami once -- that was here, several years ago. He lost to one of the big winners here, Srba Dogic, who continues to impress and gain ground on the pack in the Top 10. Chisulo Mpakati also took advantadge of the opportunity given him, defeating #9 Rhodes and then giving Hart a credible match. Ali Solberg couldn't come close to replicating his only masters final from last year, and slips to being just another one of the guys in the Top 10 pack.

My guys did exactly what was expected and no more. Sushant Chiba escaped (21) Acke Kjaerstad of Sweden 6-4, 7-6(9), then pushed Perez to a tiebreak before losing in straight sets for his fourth-round exit. Amrik Kasaravalli, seeded 30th, ran into Samuel Aas for the second straight week. Aas thumped him 6-2, 6-4. Can't complain about the matchup, it could easily have been someone higher-ranked; Kasaravalli is just hard-pressed to pull off an upset against the guys ahead of him right now. He'll get another shot in Miami.
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Old 05-02-2019, 08:00 AM   #987
Christy
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Just inside the top 32 can be a tough spot. A lot competitions need you to break seeding to get a decent chunk of points (slams excepted) and you can't fill out with some nice CH+s.

Perez has now gone a year where his only hard court losses have been to Hart and Meiklejohn. Chiba was the last one outside of those two to manage it (IW a year ago they met in the 4th round just like last year).
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Old 05-03-2019, 02:25 PM   #988
Brian Swartz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christy
Perez has now gone a year where his only hard court losses have been to Hart and Meiklejohn.

That's impressive! Or should I say, it was impressive. My condolences on being caught up in the return of chaos in Miami.
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Old 05-03-2019, 03:12 PM   #989
Christy
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Originally Posted by Brian Swartz View Post
That's impressive! Or should I say, it was impressive. My condolences on being caught up in the return of chaos in Miami.

Indeed. Miami was the opposite of the nice stable Indian Wells. Still at least Perez doesn't lose points having met Hart at this point last year.
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Old 05-05-2019, 03:45 AM   #990
Brian Swartz
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Miami

So it ended up having two things in common with Indian Wells.

** Featured all the best players on a hardcourt in the USA.
** John Hart won.

Elsewhere, while IW had the top 8 players in the quarters, only three of them did it again here. 3-5 didn't, and there were four players seeded 20th or higher. Ali Solberg made the final, exactly replacing the points he failed to defend two weeks ago and all of a sudden he's in the thick of things again.

Sushant Chiba had himself a tense run. Close straight-setter against US WC Cordova in R2, then a close comeback win in three over Hakanson in R3. Then came the surprise, as he knocked off 8th-ranked Srba Dogic, hardcourt specialist, in the fourth round by the stunningly easy count of 6-1, 7-5. I expected a loss there and it was his easiest win of the tournament! Only face one BP. Then (27)Lucas Perez(ARG) took him to a close third-set tiebreak, but Chiba pulled through so that he could get blasted by Hart in the semis. But it's his first SF at this level in over a year. That's the headline.

Amrik Kasaravalli had an easy win over a qualifier, then lost in the third round to 7th-ranked Isa Solheim, 6-3, 7-6(3). That sounds closer than it was, the players combined to go 1-12 on break chances but Amrik was pretty badly beaten. Form holds again, and he can be neither upset nor thrilled, but merely needs to work into a position where he's more competitive in these types of matchups.
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Old 05-05-2019, 05:25 AM   #991
Brian Swartz
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Q2 Player Rankings


1. John Hart(28, IRE) - 14,250

Hart lost in the Australian Open final, but other than that it's been pretty darned impeccable. He still dominates the sport, and is up to 8th all-time in longevity at the top spot.

2. Brian Meikeljohn(28, IND) - 9,110

Added a bit to his total overall, but not as much as you'd like. Could have won a close IW final with Hart, then beaten by Solberg in the Miami QFs. That inconsistency is the difference. It makes him just a gifted player, not a champion like the Irishman well ahead of him.

3. Nicolas Perez(23, ARG) - 8,110

It's rather striking that Perez is five years younger than the two men he's chasing. He has fewer clay points to defend than Meikeljohn, who won Monte Carlo last year. If the Indian doesn't repeat that success, Nicolas could easily see himself taking over the #2 spot by summertime.

4. Barry Molyneaux(28, USA) - 6,580

Looks like he's starting to slide, and has less than a thousand points on Solberg & Hughes. Of course, neither of them are spring chickens either, so this is a battle that will probably play out for a while.

5. Ali Solberg(26, SWE) - 5,770

6. Seamus Hughes(28, IRE) - 5,585

Briefly up to 5th again was Hughes, but then a surprising R3 loss to Jung in Miami upset that upward drive.

7. Isa Solheim(26, DEN) - 4,420

Last year the top Dane made the SFs in each of the first three big events. This year he hasn't done it once. The clay portion of the calendar was a huge disappointment for Solheim last year, so that's his chance to either get back into things, or stay well of the pace.

8. Srba Dogic(24, CRO) - 4,210

Quality start to the year for Dogic, who is staking a claim to a spot at the WTF ... and perhaps more.

9. Mike Rhodes(28, PHI) - 3,685

Just hanging round and playing every clay tournament he can find.

10. Sushant Chiba(29, SRI) - 3,380

Soon to become the only 30-something in the Top 32, so it's something that he had a fine run at Miami to stick his nose back in the Top 10, however momentarily.

12. Tim de Jong(25, NLD)

Slow rise continues. He's playing like a guy who doesn't know for sure if he's ready to join the first page.

13. Samuel Aas(26, SWE)

Continues to be an enigma. Miami/IW were solid, but how do you make two Masters finals and lose in the first round for 3 of 4 Slams?

15. Ollie Haas(24, NLD)

If he's going to make a move this year, you're about to see it. Quality clay player and also focuses more than most on grass, where he made the Wimbledon QF last year.

16. Emilien Mathou(25, FRA)

Made the round of 16 in two of the three big ones, earning himself the right to expect such performances. Will that spur him on to greater breakthroughs?

17. Constantino Gonzoles(25, ARG)

Only has a couple years or so left to do whatever it is he's going to do, and the dirt is crucial to him. QFs in Rome and Monte Carlo last year - can he step it up a notch and/or find more consistency?

18. Chisulo Mpakati(22, ZIM)

Taking advantadge of chances at Miami/IW helped him, but he's still not quite up to the next tier. Appears to be backing off the diet of 250s some ... but possibly not quite enough. Should be able to add some points on clay, esp. if he can break into the seeding. He's close.

20. Clavet Moniotte(24, FRA)

21. Il-Sung Jung(23, KOR)

SF run in Miami got people's attention and backed up what I said about him at the start of the year. Now it's time to see if he can start producing consistently with other players watching out for him.

22. Harald Wentz(22, AUS)

Less than two months older than Mpakati for youngest Top 32 player, and candidate for breakout player of the year. Quarterfinalist in Dubai(500), AO, and Miami already. A hardcourt specialist, but can hold his own on the clay. Might be late summer though before he really makes a splash.

23. Lucas Perez(23, ARG)

Won the Argentina Open(250), SF in Acapulco(500), QF at Miami. That's vaulted him up, similar to Wentz, from 37th at the start of the year. And he's an almost single-minded clay-court specialist, so we're about to see the best part of his game.

25. Acke Kjaerstad(23, SWE)

A lot of just-missing early this year, but then a first-round loss at Miami to Abinati hurt. Overall he hasn't moved.

26. Guillermo Valturri(26, MEX)

27. Santino Belmon(24, ITA)

28. Algot Hakanson(24, SWE)

31. Amrik Kasaravalli(23, SRI)

Just another 23-year-old struggling to make it, and he's still right on the bubble. A clay specialist as my guys are at this point in their careers, he'll be looking carefully at scheduling options and continuing to try to find ways to replace challenger wins with equal or better points.

32. William Todhunter(25, AUS)

Right now the cutoff here is at 1545 points. That's about as high as I've ever seen it, and the competition remains intense.

65. Joao Narcisco(22, BRA)

Recently made the SF at CH2 Barletta and QF at CH2 Rabat. Narcisco is up a few spots to a new career high, but is apparently not ready to break out just yet. It'll come.

138. Marcel Bonner(24, DEU)

A sharp rise from 203rd to start the year, Bonner has decisively entered the Challenger ranks. Continues to mix-and-match singles and doubles at times, while recently making a SF and QF at CH2 events.

213. Tommy Fitzpatrick(19, IRE)

Now at full physical maturity, Fitzpatrick recently decided it was time to enter Challenger play. He made the final at CH3 Florianopolis, but went out in the early rounds at a few others of various tiers.

307. Nasir Chittoor(19, SRI)

Hasn't played since last we reported, though he's in Hungary for his first FT1 this week with Guha. Practice results have been solid but not spectacular - I sense it's the time to push through the upper levels of futures play. 808th in doubles.

364. Rakesh Kayeeda(19, SRI)

Won a FT2 in Romania a month ago, then a QF loss in a FT3 last week. Continued progress upwards.

398. Mark Smith(19, GBR)

Celebrating his 19th birthday this week, Smith has recent SF and champion results in the FT3 tier, and was a finalist at FT2 Ecuador two weeks ago. He's wasting no time, having already cut his start-of-year ranking in less than half.

399. Ritwik Intodia(19, SRI)

A 5th player packed into the 200-400 range for our club. The tour doesn't know what's going to hit it in a few seasons.

413. Mike Ferry(18, GBR)

Almost a sixth. Won Denmark FT3, then made the SF at CH3 Bath. So he's reaching high despite his youth.

797(D). Satyagit Guha(19, SRI)

Escaping amateurs and getting into the Top 1000 was the big news for Guha this year. Has yet to make it past the second round - and that only once - in a singles future event. In doubles though he has two futures titles and a runner-up finish, all with Chittoor of course. 953rd in singles, and the pairing is only slowly rising in doubles right now. The critical mass just isn't quite there yet.

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Old 05-07-2019, 01:56 PM   #992
Christy
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A loss to Lucas Perez in the 3rd round was unexpected. Not least not generating a break point on clay after the first set. This was after a close rematch against Wentz. Both are 23 and are saying that when it is time for Nicolas he won't have it all his own way once Hart and Meiklejohn fade away.

Hopefully he can rebound in a few weeks but the no. 2 spot is likely put of reach again until Wimbledon with Meiklejohn retaining in Monte Carlo.
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Old 05-07-2019, 10:05 PM   #993
Brian Swartz
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Clay is definitely weird right now, with a lot of young players being good on it and then higher-ranking players not so much. That's still a tough defeat though

World Team Cup, Group Play Round 3

Surprisingly Sri Lanka takes down India 3-2, removing any doubt; we escape group play and make it to the quarterfinals for the first time in three years! Used to be an annual assumption, as it had been 23 consecutive seasons, since our second-ever year at level 1 way back in '42, that we made it that far. We have a very winnable match against Mexico in a kind draw, so could make it even further, and are back up a spot to #3 overall.

All that is good news, and yet I'm not sure I don't wish we lost. A strange thing to say, but it was just a weird tie. Brian Meikeljohn beat us in both of his matches as expected, though Chiba gave him more fight than expected and should have won. Took two of the first three sets, losing the other in a close tiebreak, before the world no. 2 rallied for a 5-set victory. He's India's only Top-100 player, so wins by both players against their other singles gave Kasaravalli a very useful 50-point boost. But the real surprise was in doubles, where it was weakness against weakness. Maitreya/Pallavan for us, Neeraj/Sheather for them. If you've ever heard of any of those players before I'm calling you a liar. Both pairings won exactly 161 points in a 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win for our guys. A see-saw match in which we spread out our best play over three sets and they concentrated theirs into two, and that was literally the difference in not just the match but the whole tie. Meikeljohn can't rescue India by himself.

Why is this potentially a bad thing? Well, Sweden stomped Poland 5-0, not losing so much as a set. So we would have advanced anyway, and now Maitreya/Pallavan got a huge 100-point boost to their doubles points. That means Guha/Chittoor can pretty much forget about joining the national team this year; they have a third of Pallavan's points total and a quarter of Maitreya's, and that single match got the higher-ranking duo as many points as we'd get from three FT1 titles. The youngsters are up to third and fourth nationally, but have a long way to go to break in. Much longer than it was before. For Pallavan, it was nearly a doubling of his points total - he had 110 before, and 210 after.

The one event for my young players during this stretch also took place during the WTC. A first FT1 title was achieved by Nasir Chittoor in Hungary, and we lost another super TB final in doubles with Satyagit Guha, who once again took an early singles exit. Chittoor is now up to the mid-200s in singles, and Anil Mehul - who recently turned the big 50!!, proving I've been playing this game way too long - is really busy now. Both growing players are approaching physical peak now and they need training most weeks as even practice tournaments don't quite cut it. And that's not even getting into what happens when things don't go well for Kasaravalli. Time for my supertrainer to really earn his keep - this is the last great thing he's going to do in tennis.

In the in-between week, Amrik Kasaravalli entered the Houston Open(250, Clay), and was stunned in the second round by former #10 Nintau Ariyanuntaka, one of those guys for whom I have to check the spelling like four times. It was a close match that went the distance but the proper result based on how it played out. I was surprised though. Ariyanuntaka does still possess an elite serve, but clay's a real weakness for him and I thought that would be more than enough to counterbalance that. It should have been, but I think Amrik just didn't show up for this one and mailed it in.

Monte Carlo

The quarterfinals held four of the top 8 seeds, a few lower ones, and then the previously-mentioned Argentine Lucas Perez. Not only did he beat Nicolas, but he backed it up against 12-seeded de Jong to make the semis where he lost to Hart. The tournament backed up the narrative of Hart, then Meikeljohn, then who the heck knows as the Indian did defend his title from last year in winning the final, and those two do still appear to be the class of the sport. He only had one easy match and was pushed to three on three occasions, including a tiebreak to decided it against Mike Rhodes, but each time the world no.2 pulled through. The Irish standard-bearer didn't have it much easier, and might have won the match of the tournament, a third-round 6-7(4), 7-5, 7-6(7) win over rising Korean Il-Sung Jung who continues to play well and refuse to be left out of the headlines. That could have easily gone either way.

For my guys, Sushant Chiba had a chance to make noise in the third round against Molyneaux, a finalist last year who made the semis (l. Meikeljohn) this time. 72-70 was the points count and that's pretty much how it played out; a couple points decided it in a 6-4, 7-6(6) defeat. Amrik Kasaravalli was in a real tough spot. Almost nobody skips Monte Carlo anymore. That didn't use to be the case. So the choice is basically between a crappy practice week or a masters tournament where he's not going to be seeded and probably bugs out early. With him, and probably going forward in these kinds of situations, I'm opting to play the masters which is not what I used to do. However, he is excellent on clay and at least this way there's a chance of making something happen. The other option ensures it'll be a bad week. All I needed was one win to make it worthwhile. Didn't get it though - lost in the first round of qualifying and then met up with Harald Wentz in singles. Last falls win over an over-played Wentz in the Orleans challenger was avenged here, 6-3, 6-4. Wentz's altheticism and world-class serve more than trumped Kasaravalli's somewhat better baseline play and superior clay proficiency.
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Old 05-10-2019, 02:02 AM   #994
Brian Swartz
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May

By 'May', I mean the two weeks between Monte Carlo and Madrid. So the first half of May. Or whatever. And by the way, stuff is happening in Madrid, to the tune of the three unseeded quarterfinalists as I speak. But this is about what happened before that.

Amrik Kasaravalli played the Bucharest 250, while Sushant Chiba took time off for practice. Seeded 6th, Kasaravalli got a nice win over 4-seed Jacek Andrejova, one of the falling veterans. That put him in the semifinals, where he lost in three to Moniotte, but that's still a nice 90-point result that's basically able to replace a challenger title. Nasir Chittoor also was off for practice, while Satyagit Guha continues to struggle in singles, but managed to get a decent partner and drag him to the FT3 Russia doubles title. So that made it a useful event for him.




Rankings the week before Madrid because I've been a bit busy and was too lazy to transcribe it all. Top and bottom one are just for reference to show the 'breaks', but what's interesting to me is 'bubble', 27-36 here. Cutoff for #32 here is 1595, which is the highest I've ever seen it. There's a limit to how far it can go, but we've basically got a glorified game of King of the Hill going on. The ones just outside the Top32 are basically going out and winning Challengers, then they move up and others are pushed down and they go do the same thing, moving back into position, and so on. As Christy mentioned, it's tough esp. with the competition further above to get enough points in 250s and so on to replace those Challenger titles. Normally that's not so much of an issue because if you're good enough to get up, you can usually scrape out some upsets - harder to come by right now.

Worst case for Kasaravalli here is actually that he drops out of the seeding for RG. Now that doesn't look like it'll happen at the moment, but if he loses in the first round at Madrid/Rome like he did in Monte Carlo, that's 10 points for each and he's got 125 points in Challengers going away those two weeks. Very possible he could end up losing 100 points and ending up in the mid-30s again. Could just skip the masters and get crap practice which would allow me to use some lower-level results, but that wouldn't help that much from a points perspective and I don't want to sabotage my own development. So he's hoping for opportunities and something to break his way - dropping out and playing Challengers again for a bit though is definitely not totally out of the question. He'd already be only 5 points above the cut if he hadn't won that QF in Bucharest!

And by the way, it's not just there. Usually 2000-2100 points is enough to get to #16, the next break spot. Right now it's almost 2400. A lot of points are shifting from both the Top 10 and the 33+ brackets into this scrum, and the result is some gloriously intense competition.

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Old 05-10-2019, 04:20 PM   #995
Brian Swartz
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Madrid

It might have been premature to put Nicolas Perez's move upward on hold. The Argentine phenom bashed his way past the main in front of him, Meikeljohn, in the semis and then edged Hart in another classic between them in the final, 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(5). Neither player did well at all on their break chances - in actuality it shouldn't have had to come down a tiebreaker as Perez firmly controlled the match. He's now in clear striking range of #2, though he's not quite there yet. Second Masters Shield of his career, with many more to come.

Harald Wentz continued his charge as the other semifinalist, easily dismissing Sushant Chiba in the third round, sandwiched around closer straight-set successes against Molyneaux in the second and Stachovsky in the quarters. Chisulo Mpakati and Il-Sung Jung both made the last eight as well. The Mpkati/Jung/Wentz trio now ranks 18th-20th, and it won't take much more of this for them to move up a tier.

Amrik Kasaravalli got a bit of a breakthrough to keep himself inside the Top32 bubble. A 6-3, 7-6(5) victory over the fatigued and overplayed Mike Rhodes in round two earned him a dismissal by Meikeljohn in the third, but also got him another solid 90-point effort to stay afloat.

So now we'll do it all over again in Rome, where Meikeljohn hopes to get some breathing room - last year he was out in R3 while Perez made the final. If Nicolas can repeat his title in Madrid though, he could very will still snag the #2 spot. As for me, my younger guys will be back in action on the futures circuit, while Chiba tries to continue his decent play and Kasaravalli struggles for whatever he can get.

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Old 05-10-2019, 04:39 PM   #996
Christy
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I watched that final and it was crazy. Twice Hart came back from 0-40 and Perez did it once. So often I would see break point followed by Ace from Hart and they really made it close. The double faults from Perez didn't help either. Still he benefited from the extra rest from his early exit in Monte Carlo.

Perez controlled the first set, Hart the second though Perez nearly stole a tie break chance. Perez broke at 5-5 in the 3rd and saved a break point while serving for it only to give Hart another go with a double fault!

Nearly all their matches are incredible affairs.
I could see Wentz making top 10 this year.
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Old 05-11-2019, 08:08 PM   #997
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6 of the top 10 in their first match in Rome with just the top 3 and Rhodes going on. The top 3 made the semis where Perez sneaked an undeserved win this time over Meiklejohn. Then he faced,Perez. His cousin who started outside the top 32 this year and beat him in Monte Carlo. Second year in a row he has faced on unseeded player in the Rome finals. Lucas beat Hart in the semi finals, the first competition this year Hart has not made the finals.

Lucas Perez was very tired from his unexpected success recently and Nicolas Perez was able to grab his 3rdmasters shield! Lucas Perez now has a masters semi final and final on clay(and skipped Madrid due to tiredness and starting the year outside the top 30. Impressive haul.

With Meiklejohn making the semi final he is still 3rd but only by 50 points so it could change in the French. And if not Meiklejohn has a lot of points to defend in Wimbledon.

So going into the French, Hart is the defending champ, Perez has two clay masters this year, Meiklejohn as 1and there are plenty of players playing spoiler so it should be fun.

Molyneaux seems to be on a dip. All the mandatory competitions have been terrible for him (though Monte Carlo was effectively a mandatory this year and he did fine there). Still his ranking may start to drop soon.
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Old 05-12-2019, 03:16 AM   #998
Brian Swartz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christy
I could see Wentz making top 10 this year

And then he loses in the first round at Rome I'm sure he's loving that kiss of death you gave him, but you're still not at all wrong here. On Molyneaux, it seems to me the fact that nobody immediately below him is doing more than tripping over themselves is basically saving him. He's slipping, but so is pretty much anyone else with half his points :P. I thought the Perez-squared final was interesting in a rematch of the Monte Carlo encounter. Second straight year that Rome has had an unseeded finalist, only a different result this time.

As for me, Sushant Chiba had a second straight first-round exit at Rome. A close three-set defeat to Moniotte, I can't fault anything there - just got beat by a better player . Really just a tough matchup against the top unseeded player in the draw. Narrowly holds onto #10 ranking for now. Amrik Kasaravalli was close to the quarterfinals. Beat a qualifier, then a surprise win over Patrick Sanchez who I thought would get him. Third round was Fabrizio Abinati, who had just outlasted Hughes and I thought Amrik was a slight underdog against him. That ended up being right, as he gave him at least as good a match as the world no. 6 did in defeat, 6-2, 5-7, 7-5. Frustrating as he really outplayed the Argentine but was 3/14 on BP, while surrendering 5/10. Had 111 return points to 84, a huge disparity … and it would have been a landmark to get to a Masters quarter. Either way, he looks to be secure above the challenger break for now, with a 200-point gap on the cutoff. Just needs to not choke the first couple rounds at RG.

Nasir Chittoor got another FT1 trophy, though there were a couple matches I thought he might well lose. As it was only one went to a third set, and that was the final in which the decider was a dominant bagel served up by Nasir. Satyagit Guha teamed up for a surprise QF loss for the 3-seeds … again by Super TB, 10-7 … and got himself dismissed by a wildcard in a competitive first-round match. So it wasn't his best week overall.

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Old 05-14-2019, 03:52 AM   #999
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2066 Roland Garros

History. History has been made, ladies and gentlemen. In the very first edition of this tournament 76 years ago, a qualifier won the whole thing. That is not a particularly sensational thing as there were only a few months of rankings to base things on and the tour was new. In the exactly three quarters of a century since, nobody has taken home the trophy who was not in the top quarter of seeded players, 8th or better, coming in. Nobody, that is, until now.

Say hello to Spaniard Calisto Aviles, who defeated #3 Nicolas Perez in the final, 6-2, 7-6(6), 6-4. He also dispatched #8 Dogic, #2 Meikeljohn, and #4 Molyneaux along the way. Tough to say he isn't worthy. At the start of the year, he was barely inside the Top 50 at 47th in the world. Last year he was a mere curiosity, losing to Molyneaux in five sets in the third round while amassing a decidedly unimpressive 43-24 overall record ... and below water in doubles. Just a few weeks ago he won his first professional title of any caliber ... the Istanbul 250. To say he comes out of nowhere is an understatement. And now Aviles the Unannounced hoists the trophy in Paris, and will definitely test whether RR follows the rule that all Slam champions make the tour finals - because by all rights he should be there. He is a total clay specialist so he may have trouble duplicating this success - but his total points were nearly tripled in a week and Aviles figures to be on the edge of the Top 10 when the next rankings are published.

If you needed proof that this is the year of chaos, look no further than this. Other notables:


** Perez is still the overall top performer on clay this year, which definitely bodes well for his future. He'll seize the #2 spot now, and we'll see what he does with it.

** Meikeljohn lost in the QF to Aviles in four sets, a slip for him but nobody did better against the shocking spaniard. He's down to #3.

** Good bounceback semi for Molyneaux after a poor clay season going in, to put it midly. Solidifies his hold on #4.

** World no. 1 John Hart lost a set to Amrik Kasaravalli in the third round, a nice speed-bump performance by my guy which made me happy. But Hart was straight-setted by the guy he beat in last year's final, Mike Rhodes - the toughest possible matchup in the fourth round, and Rhodes eventually got back to the semis in another strong showing despite the fatigue. Hart has clearly been surpassed on clay, the beginning of the end for most top players, but he still has the skills to handle anyone on a hardcourt. The summer swing will be crucial for him. He hasn't been challenged like this in years.

** Sushant Chiba was also out in the 4th round, three close sets including two tiebreaks to Molyneaux. Can't complain there, even if he made the QF last year.

** Hughes, Mathou, and Samuel Aas - who seems to have figured out what to do at a Slam - were the other quarterfinalists. Nice 5-set win over Solberg in the 4th round for him, and his first-ever trip to the second week of a Slam.

** Nearly as shocking is the performance of Russian Andrey Rublev, who made it to the round of 16 despite coming in ranked 72nd. The youngsters just keep on coming.

** Miserable year for #7 Isa Solheim continues with a first-round loss, though it was a very close one.

** A lot of the promising names bit the dust in the third round. Wentz out to Mathou in four, Mpakati to Solberg in four, Jung to Stachovksy in four as well - that last one really a big surprise to me as the Russian is not a top-quality clay-courter by any stretch.

** We must mention Lucas Perez, who is establishing himself as the #2 behind Nicolas in a very strong Argentine contingent, and lost to the eventual champion in four in the fourth round. He has nothing to be ashamed of either.

** I also did a bit of an experiment which ended up validating how strong the competiton is right now. Nasir Chittoor, ranked 224th, entered qualifying. Years ago, around 200th is where the last main draw spot ended up. Here, there were guys in the 150s in qualifying. So the activity even down past the 100 mark in the rankings in terms of seeking out opportunities is so much better than it was when I started this dynasty. Chittoor won two matches but lost a third-set TB in the final qualifying round ... and then the guy who beat him won a main-draw match against another qualifier for a cool 70 ranking points. Would have been nice, but I still get 20 for my three matches which isn't bad at all for a futures player. Satyagit Guha was another part of the experiment. The game lets you do a singles practice event if you are in doubles in the WTC (one match only for that). I tested whether that would work for Slam qualifying ... and it doesn't. So my trainer Mehul got a lot of work in, as Chittoor/Guha were bounced in their first qualifying foray.

Pretty incredible all the stuff we're seeing the last couple of years in terms of history-making that never happened the first 35 years of this tale, which is almost half of the entire history of the tour in this game world at this point. Perez now sets his sights on closing the gap with Hart as we switch focus to Wimbledon, while the rest of the tour just tries to figure out which end is up.

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Old 05-14-2019, 06:16 AM   #1000
Christy
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Well that was a thing.

After about 3 rounds I thought we were in for a boring competition. Evidently not. Perez and Aas obviously did well and better than I expected (with Hart being Perez' like semi final opponent and Meiklejohn losing early).

2nd means delaying meeting Hart though Meiklejohn is still a very real possibility.

Wimbledon could be interesting. I reckon Hart is favourite again but how much that means is questionable.

Molyneaux puts his stamp on the season at last after a poor opening. Looking at the scores so far I think there is a big group from 4th to 10th close to each other with Rhodes and Aviles leading it and likely to start dropping off now.

Then you have Solheim who is capable of making up the ground again. Are there any more surprising 22 year olds coming through? Will any of this generation be consistent enough to challenge Perez or will they just play spoiler and take chunks off his legacy in turns?
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