Front Office Football Central  

Go Back   Front Office Football Central > Main Forums > Dynasty Reports
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Mark Forums Read Statistics

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 02-08-2016, 02:24 PM   #251
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
Top Ten Rankings Update

1. Antonin Iglar(CZE, 26) -- 13,460

Not as dominant as recent years so far, but still the clear best player in the world overall. Iglar will be looking to return to form in the summer and fall hardcourt swing, where he is still prohibitively favored everywhere.

2. Anil Mehul(SRI, 27) -- 11,520

Repeating at Wimbledon has Mehul as close to the top spot as he's ever been, though it still seems definitely out of reach.

3. Bjorn Benda(DEU, 29) -- 10,400

Over the last month, Benda showed he's still very much a factor at the top.

4. Cestmir Marcek(CZE, 29) -- 7,400

Marcek is unquestionably the surprise player of the year so far. He's opened up a big gap on the players below him, a few of whom are decidedly more talented. Right now he's making the absolute most of his abilities, reaching a career apex when he should be slowly fading away. Very impressive play so far.

5. Pierce Gaskell(USA, 27) -- 5,400

The top American continues to be pretty good, just not quite as good as he should be.

6. Girish Girsh(SRI, 24) -- 5,105

Having reached the quarterfinals or better in all three Slams this year, Girsh continues a gradual rise.

7. Perry Mockler(USA, 27) -- 4,490

Good enough to hang around, not good enough to go anywhere.

8. David Alvarez(ESP, 30) -- 4,235

9. Perry Hogue(USA, 29) -- 3,365

The end is basically now for both Hogue and Alvarez, barely a shadow of the players they were a year or two ago.

10. Roger Federer(SUI, 26) -- 3,185

Somebody's got to have the last spot, and Federer takes it back with Thiago Herrera having a subpar clay season compared to his breakout a year ago. Condon, Marcelo Herrera, Kinczllers, Smitala are all potentially good enough to take this spot and not that far behind. None of them look like big risers however, it's a big mass of 'meh' contenders.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-08-2016, 02:37 PM   #252
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
Sri Lanka Rankings Update


Anil Mehul -- 2nd singles(unchanged), 259th to 373rd doubles. It's been an up-and-down year for Mehul but mostly a good one, with a 40-5 record his best at this point overall. Surprisingly clay Masters wins and a repeat at Wimbledon more than overcome the early RG departure and struggles in the hardcourt Masters.

In the longer-term though, his career has reached a critical point. Both Mehul and 'legend in his own time' Iglar have now past their peak. Not by much, but a few weeks before Wimbledon it become clear that the aging process is now accelerating to the point where he can no longer stay ahead of it. This would be a much bigger concern if there were any bigtime up-and-coming young players, but the weakness of Generation Flash will likely allow him to maintain his status for a while, at least for the most part.


Girish Girsh -- 7th to 6th singles, 260th to 374th doubles. A slow and steady rise continues, and the bad news for Mehul and Iglar means Girsh is by far the best player in the world who is still improving. As time goes on, the competitive balance should tip more and more in his favor. He's been consistent this year but hasn't had many breakthroughs, partly because he's been in Iglar's quarter a lot. The law of averages, both through draws and the advance of time, should turn his way soon.


Prakash Mooljee -- 1071st to 698th singles, 2098th to 1752nd doubles. As I write this Mooljee has just finished up another Tier-3 futures title not included in these rankings, eking out another tight final to make him 28-0 on the year in singles. I expect him to hit more resistance soon, as he'll move up to about 560th and will be taking on bigger futures events now. So far though, it's been a picture-perfect year for him as he continues to move up the rankings ladder. His goal at this point is to be ready to make the jump to challenger-level play by year's end.


Manager Ranking -- 4th to 3rd, 26.1k to 28.6k points. The last few months were very kind with Mehul having some unexpected titles, and Girsh performing consistently. Hayato in 2nd place is still over 2k ahead -- he's the guy who manages Hammerstein. oprice rolls on, not setting any new records this year but presently at 62k. Once I reach second place, I'll probably be staying there for a good long while.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-08-2016, 03:00 PM   #253
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
2043 Race to the World Tour Finals
Initial Post-Wimbledon Standings

In

Bjorn Benda -- 7,490
Antonin Iglar -- 6,710
Anil Mehul -- 6,560

This ... is not the usual order of things, to put it mildly. I don't think the year-end #1 is as much up for grabs as this indicates, but that's only true if Iglar dominates the hardcourts coming up as expected. If Benda can replicate the form showed so far through the fall, things could well get very interesting. Mehul still has a lot of work left, Wimbledon title notwithstanding, to keep his #2 spot.


Probable

Cestmir Marcek -- 5,150
Girish Girsh -- 3,640
Pierce Gaskell -- 3,060


Contenders

Perry Mockler -- 2,520
David Alvarez -- 2,475
----------------------------
Thiago Herrera -- 2,350


Long Shots

Roger Federer -- 2,190
John Condon -- 2,080
Perry Hogue -- 2,075
Marcelo Herrera -- 2,070
Mugur Kinczllers -- 1,920


Outlook

Anil Mehul's place is secure of course, and Girsh's is near-certain also. There are a horde of possibilities at the bottom of the pile. Where the last couple spots go is anybody's guess right now -- it could be quite a chaotic, dramatic finish if things stay this tight.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-11-2016, 12:34 AM   #254
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
July/August

The post-Wimbly break didn't have much activity as usual. Girish Girsh did head off to the Washington 500(Hard) the week before the late summer Masters started up as he was low on matches and needed to sharpen up his game. He was the 2-seed, with no. 5 Gaskell the top seed. A collision in the final seemed basically inevitable, and if Girsh won he would move past the American into 5th in the rankings.

After a bye and three virtual walk-overs, he met another US player, Radek Smitala, in the semifinals. Smitala, more athletic and a brilliant hardcourt player, pulled the upset 7-6(8), 6-4 by relentlessly and ruthlessly attacking Girsh's second serve. It was not a horrendous loss, but still a rather large disappointment. Smitala went on to upset Gaskell in the final as well though, allowing Girsh to move up to 5th anyway.

The Canada/Cincinatti Masters are up next.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2016, 09:36 PM   #255
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
Canada Masters

In the third round, Girish Girsh had his first test, and almost didn't escape it. Mugur Kinczllers, who had beaten him at Madrid, almost stopped him short of the quarterfinals for the second time this year before Girsh completed a 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-1 comeback, taking the decisive third set in grand style. It is their first hardcourt meeting as professionals, and the Italian still holds a 5-3 overall edge due to winning all four juniors encounters.

Sadly, Benda stopped him for the third straight time after that, 7-5 in the third despite Girsh trying to hold out for winning chances. Another in a long line of quarterfinal exits. Anil Mehul got past Gaskell in straight sets for his quarterfinal after surviving a close tiebreak in the opening stanza. Benda was dismissed fairly routinely, getting only one break chance while Mehul converted both of his. That meant a final against Antonin Iglar. We've seen this movie before. Iglar was out to re-establish himself as the dominant player on hardcourts that we've seen him to be time and time again. Mehul won the first set, faded in the second, fell behind early in the third ... but rallied to even it at 2-all. From there things changed a bit, both players having opportunities, but this time it was the Czech who faded late, and Mehul snatched the title 6-3, 3-6, 7-5! It's his first hardcourt win against Iglar since Indian Wells way back in '40, three and a half years ago, breaking a 10-match losing streak.

It was a close one, and mostly Mehul just took his opportunities a little better and finished well after looking like he was beaten early in the final set. Still, it is not like Iglar to lose on hardcourts, and he looked strong coming into the final. Could his grip on the tour be weakening?


Cincinatti Masters

The next week, a near-repeat of Canada ensued. Girsh once again found trouble in the third round, getting through 6-4, 7-6(4) against Milan Farkas. He then won just four games against Iglar in the quarterfinals; certainly didn't seem to him that the world no. 1 has lost a step. That's 11 times they've played, and Girsh has yet to win.

Mehul had an even easier time, flattening a somewhat resurgent David Alvarez and then Cestmir Marcek to reach another final. This time, Iglar was able to get a little more consistent pressure on his serve, but both players misfired often on break chances, combining to convert just 3 of 25 opportunities. Mehul's opportunities were just as numerous but he was able to concentrate them more effectively, and he won another evenly-played match, 6-4, 7-6(5)!!

That takes the Masters Shield count for the year to four, tripling his career count to six of them with Iglar, Benda, and Marcek each having one each(two more to go). That's a rather astonishing turn of events, as is this: he now trails the long-unreachable Iglar by just 680 points in the rankings. If he makes the USO final in three weeks' time, and Iglar fails to win it, or if Mehul manages to repeat his successes here and take the title, he will ascend to the throne of #1 player in the world. It is now, unexpectedly, within his grasp.

Normally I don't do this until after the USO, but under the circumstances I thought I'd update the top of the Race rankings:

Anil Mehul -- 8,560
Bjorn Benda -- 7,940
Antonin Iglar -- 7,910

Nobody else is relevant. There's a long way to go, but Mehul has seized the pole position and has a very legitimate chance now to end the year as number one. I didn't think he would ever get this close to it. Iglar, who could just have easily have won these past two weeks as lost them, now has to answer to a real challenger, something he hasn't really had. He's still the best player, but he's not finished well too often this year and if he doesn't answer the bell now, it will be too late.


Elsewhere ...

Prakash Mooljee's unbeaten singles year continues as he topped all opposition in his first tier-2 futures to move into the Top 500. In a clay event in Switzerland, it was hometown opposition in the form of 5-seed Hein Fehrenbacher that provided the stiffest opposition, this time anticlimactically in the quarterfinals. Mooljee survived as he has all year, 7-5, 2-6, 7-6(2), recovering from a poor middle set. He'll now be playing tier-1 futures until he reaches the Top 200, at which point he'll jump to challengers. Possibly even sooner than expected, at the rate he's going.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-16-2016, 06:05 AM   #256
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
2043 US Open

Girish Girsh is back down to 6th, as Pierce Gaskell leapfrogged him by making the Cincy semifinals. Practically speaking this is irrelevant, but it would be nice to put the American in the rearview mirror decisively.

Girsh had his first potential slipup in the third round. He had a chance to go deep here, but there were some landmines beginning with Olav Birkeland, who beat him in three out of four meetings last year, contributing to Girsh's slow start in '52. This was their first encounter this year, and while it was close at first he pulled through in straight sets, 7-6(5), 7-6(2), 6-2. Bullet dodged. Then came Radek Smitala, who had taken him down just a few weeks ago in the Washington semis. It's the third contest between this pair, all this year, with Girsh's win coming in a tough four-setter back in the Australian Open quarters. He cruised through in straight sets for some revenge of a sort. Meanwhile, upsets allowed Anil Mehul to finish out the first week without so much as playing a Top-20 opponent. Only one of his matches was even remotely competitive.

And so both players reached the real stage without the loss of a set. Girsh had a big opportunity going up against Cestmir Marcek. The next big goal for him was to reach 4th, and Marcek is the man holding that spot, nearly 2k ahead in the points. He's been remarkable, and remarkably consistent despite having somewhat inferior skills. It didn't start out well for Girsh, dropping the first and third sets, but once he found his footing he was clearly the better player. After a topsy-turvy match that went the distance, he found himself standing at the end 3-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. Meanwhile, Mehul got by Gaskell routinely in straight sets, aided by the top-ranked US player having overplayed fairly criminally coming in.

In the semifinals, Girsh had his dozenth meeting with Antonin Iglar. He started off well, stealing the first set and having a number of chances in the second, but the world no. 1 pulled it out and asserted himself from there out for a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 final. Still, it was the first set the Czech had dropped here, and more fight than Girsh has showed in most of their matches. He's getting there, but there's still work to do. On the other side, Mehul went up against Bjorn Benda. Who else? The German's strong form of recent months continued, but it wasn't enough; Mehul remained perfect, 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-4. It really wasn't that close, other than the fact that Benda did just enough with his serve to hold consistently.

And so the highly anticipated final arrived. The 28th meeting between Iglar and Mehul, the legend holding a rather one-sided 19-8 edge but three of the last four had not gone his way. The winner would be ranked #1 in the world. For the first time in the nearly three years since he took the top spot, Iglar had to defend it.

Mehul was down a break early in the first and lost it, but got on top right away in the second to strike back. Message sent: this would be no easy road for the champ. At 4-2, he saved one BP at 15-40 but not the second, and Iglar got things back on serve. Then a disastrous game at 5-all handed the second set and most likely the match back to the four-time defending champion.

Mehul repeated his fast start, breaking quickly to start the third. He could still start a comeback if he stayed strong on his own service games. He cruised his way through this time, but certainly the legend would respond in the fourth set. And that's just what happened, Iglar held after two deuces in the opening game, then at 15-40 on his turn Mehul saved one break chance but double-faulted on the second. The count ran to 5-0, Iglar just a game away from the title, before he responded. One break down is one thing, two is too much and the second set reversal was the haunting key in a 6-4, 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 win for the Czech. Five straight US Open titles for him, and he narrowly retains the #1 spot at least for now.

As the rankings will show, the year-end #1 is still very much up for grabs however, something that hasn't been true at this point in the season for nearly a decade; either Alastra or Iglar has had a stranglehold on it for some time.

The uphill climb against Germany, a repeat of last year's final, is up next in the quarterfinals as the WTC resumes.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-16-2016, 06:15 AM   #257
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
Top Ten Rankings Update

1. Antonin Iglar(CZE, 26) -- 12,660

An 11th Slam title ties Iglar with Oliver Haresign for 4th, though his overall body of work is still a fair bit below the only American high on the all-time list. More immediately, his spot at #1 has never been under such threat, and he'll need a big finish to stay there.

2. Anil Mehul(SRI, 27) -- 12,460

So close ... but for now, he's still the hunter. I still can't believe he's almost taken the top spot. Earlier this year, I thought he was about to begin sliding. Not yet, clearly.

3. Bjorn Benda(DEU, 29) -- 9,670

A fine year overall, but it looks like he's going to finish third again.

4. Cestmir Marcek(CZE, 29) -- 7,310

He's been a bit more inconsistent the last few weeks, but Marcek nearly pulled off another semifinal at the USO before Girsh rallied. He certainly doesn't seem to be showing any major signs of coming back to earth.

5. Girish Girsh(SRI, 24) -- 5,910

A second Slam semifinal has him aiming ever-higher.

6. Pierce Gaskell(USA, 27) -- 5,430

Mismanagement strikes again. Already the cracks are showing, and Gaskell has probably already done his best work.

7. David Alvarez(ESP, 30) -- 4,285

A solid hardcourt run was probably enough to get him into the Tour Finals one last time.

8. Perry Mockler(USA, 27) -- 3,810

9. Thiago Herrera(PER, 26) -- 3,460

10. John Condon(PHI, 27) -- 3,255

Condon has gone all-in on his serve, now the best in the world, and it's paid off often enough to allow him to reach new heights. This is about as good as it's going to get for him, but it's been a pretty impressive year.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-16-2016, 06:25 AM   #258
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
Sri Lanka Rankings Update


Anil Mehul -- 2nd singles(unchanged), 373rd to unranked doubles. Mehul's efforts are focused like a laser on the opportunity in front of him; getting to #1 would be the crowning achievement on a fine career.


Girish Girsh -- 6th to 5th singles, 374th to 385th doubles. Girsh is just three wins away from equaling last year's total, with plenty of action left. He's also the only player in the top dozen(Kinczllers at 13th) who is still getting demonstrably better. The gap to Marcek is still significant, and closing it at much as possible by the end of the year is job #1. Next year, he'll set his sights on the Big Three ...


Prakash Mooljee -- 698th to 461st singles, 1758th to 2174th doubles. The doubles results have stopped coming, he hasn't made it through qualifying lately, but that hardly matters. In singles, he still hasn't lost in 36 matches this year. It's just a case of getting enough points now, and he'll need to win a few more futures before making the challengers jump. It feels a smoother transition for him than Mehul and Girsh before him, partly because he's a little more athletic/developed, and partly because I learn a little bit each time I go through this. I'm still surprised at how smoothly it's gone though, he's been pushed a few times but so far, unbeaten in '43.


Manager Ranking -- 3rd(unchanged), 28.6k to 31.0k points. I'm pretty close behind #2 Hayato, and still expect to catch him by year's end.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-16-2016, 06:44 AM   #259
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-USO Update


In

Antonin Iglar -- 9,910
Anil Mehul -- 9,760
Bjorn Benda -- 8,660
Cestmir Marcek -- 6,560

The race for year-end #1 could hardly be closer. When you add in the fact that two of three big remaining events(Tour Finals and Paris, the third is Shanghai) are to be played indoors, I figure it close to a 50-50 'coin-flip' proposition. Neither Iglar or Mehul can afford any slipups at this stage. Meanwhile, Marcek's overall body of work makes it impossible for him to drop out of the field at this point.


Probable

Girish Girsh -- 4,900
Pierce Gaskell -- 4,260
Perry Mockler -- 3,420


Girsh and Gaskell will qualify almost certainly; it's pretty much a matter of time. But after that, things are still very uncertain ...


Contenders


David Alvarez -- 3,240
--------------------------------
Thiago Herrera -- 3,160


Long Shots

Mugur Kinczllers -- 2,800
John Condon -- 2,760
Roger Federer -- 2,675
Radek Smitala -- 2,600
Perry Hogue -- 2,525
Marcelo Herrera -- 2,430


Outlook

It certainly appears that it will come down to two of Mockler, Alvarez, and Herrera getting in while the third is out, but all of the half-dozen long shots listed are still in it and particularly Kinczllers, Condon, and Smitala have been on the rise, playing their best tennis lately. It's rather remarkable to have a full 15 players still with a chance this late in the game, with less than two months until the field is finalized. Every week will shift things from here on out.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-16-2016, 11:06 PM   #260
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
World Team Cup Quarterfinals
Germany(3rd) vs. Sri Lanka(10th), Clay

Monday: A. Mehul d. H. Oncken, 6-2, 6-0, 6-3
Tuesday: B. Benda d. G. Girsh, 6-2, 7-6(6), 6-3
Wednesday: H. Arendt/R. Waigel d. S. Ujjaval/R. Kuttikkad, 6-0, 6-1, 6-1
Thursday: B. Benda d. A. Mehul, 6-0, 6-2, 6-3
Friday: G. Girsh d. H. Oncken, 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-3

Germany defeats Sri Lanka, 3-2.

Well bummer. That was expected, but still disappointing. Sri Lanka is done for the year, second straight season we lose 3-2 to Germany on their best surface. Both nations keep their rankings(3rd and 10th respectively). A couple of noteworthy things were the new doubles team, a fairly short-lived thing but it's a result of both of our top players having reached the elite echelon where they are focusing on their singles games almost exclusively. They wouldn't have won anyway, but it would have been closer. Mehul's effort against Benda, the one possible upset that could have won it, was ... despicable. He just got annihilated. 49-23% in return points, lost 9 of 10 break points(all of his, six of seven that Benda had), just yikes. Ugly and then some. Can't remember the time he looked that bad, and it's a pretty terrible time for it to happen.

Both players will now prep for Shanghai in a little over three weeks. Mehul especially needs a big finish, now that he'll be losing out on some of his WTC points from last year.

Prakash Mooljee had another tier-2 Futures this week, this time on hardcourt in China. There were no available tier-1 events so that will have to wait a bit. He met an old 'friend', journeyman Lazlo Fazekas, in the semifinals. Again it went the distance. Fazekas' no-serve, all rally approach is both his greatest strength and weakness. He had multiple match points, including a triple in a second-set tiebreak, but couldn't close the door. His 16 double faults, and an identical number of aces from Mooljee, swung things in the younger player's favor and Prakash escaped again, 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-2 .. and then surrendered just a single game in an anticlimactic final. He still hasn't lost in 2043.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 02-16-2016 at 11:06 PM.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-19-2016, 10:35 PM   #261
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
September

Shanghai is now underway. In the interim, there were a few relevant things that are worth mentioning. First up of course was the WTC Semifinals.

Germany played the US. On clay. For the fifth tie in a row. What in the heck, seriously?!? This time it wasn't enough though. Keyed by a doubles win by Dring/Challenger, the Americans came through 3-2, with Benda winning twice but it wasn't enough for the defending champions. Guess they didn't pay off enough linesmen or something. I'm kidding ... mostly. The odds of getting any one surface five times in a row are 1 in 4 to the 5th power, or 1 in 1024, otherwhise known as less than a tenth of a percent. At a certain point, it becomes more logical to believe in the conspiracy. On the other side, the Czech Republic smashed Austria 4-1, surprising basically nobody. So it's the top two nations in the rankings going at it for the title at the end of the year. While we sit at home and watch. Grrr.

But anyway, that was followed by Girish Girsh playing the China Open(500) where he was the #2 seed. Marcek was on the top line, but was upset by Mockler in the semifinals. Perhaps he is falling off a bit? In any case, Girsh looked like he was about to have one of those days in the quarters against Agustin Herrera, dropping the first set at the end before rallying to crush his foe, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1. He woke up in time, but still not a good performance. He thumped Farkas, then beat Mockler in a close straight-sets final to claim his third 500 title. A good week, as he continues to work on narrowing the gap to Marcek.


Shanghai Preview

Mehul has dropped to 400 points behind Iglar, twice what it was a few weeks ago after the USO, due to events in the World Team Cup. He was a finalist last year so the only way he makes up any ground is by winning, or a nearly- unthinkable early loss by the legend. Girsh lost in the third round; this is his best chance to gain more territory probably for the rest of the year. Prakash Mooljee will be in action again, a tier-2 event as once again there were no tier-1s. Due to the timing of tournaments, it looks like it may take him a bit longer than expected to graduate from the futures level, but so long as he keeps winning there is no risk, it's just a matter of time. Patience, my young prodigy.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2016, 05:00 PM   #262
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
Shanghai Masters

Both players waltzed into the quarterfinals having given up no more than two games in any set. Once there, things got much more difficult. Girish Girsh had another chance to gain ground on Marcek, and like a month ago at the US Open, he came from behind to do so, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. Anil Mehul had a fairly strange match with Radek Smitala, and was on the losing end of a stunning 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 upset. It was an even match with Mehul not nearly as impressive as he had been in most contests recently, and the servers dominated except for break chances, of which only one failed. Smitala was 3-for-3, Mehul had three chances as well and missed on one of them, which was ultimately the difference in the match.

Girsh had his 13th encounter with Iglar in the semifinals, pushing the no. 1 to three sets before losing. He's taken a set in their last two meetings now, and was the only player to so -- the Czech beat Gaskell in straight sets in the final -- so the gap appears to be closing but it's still a completely one-sided affair so far.

Mehul's early loss puts a big damper on his hopes to gain the #1 spot. It may in fact turn out to be a fatal one. He almost never loses to players out of the Top 10, and he clearly picked a bad day against a guy who has been great on hardcourts esp. this year to not bring his best play.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2016, 05:06 PM   #263
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
October

The two-week gap between Shanghai and Paris always has a bit of action. Girsh took both weeks off, while Anil Mehul headed to the Swiss Indoors(500). He blasted his way through all opposition easily until the final, when 3rd-seed Roger Federer became the second player to stun him in three weeks. Mehul was by far the better player on the day(110-99 total points) but still lost 3-6, 7-6(7), 7-5. Another chance to pick up points in the rankings was denied here. He's not playing bad by any stretch, but not playing like a #1 player either.

Previously, Prakash Mooljee had been out for another Tier-2 futures and this time his winning streak finally came to an end at 42 matches on the year(and more at the end of last year). Japan's Shogo Ko, just barely ranked low enough to play in futures and formerly ranked 30th in the world before age(32 years old) caught up with him, was really playing down here and thumped Mooljee in the final, 6-2, 6-0. Ko is more properly a decent challenger-level player, and Mooljee is better than he showed in this match but at the same time it's a bit of a reality check after the unvarnished string of successes. It definitely seems sensible to keep playing a few more futures events until he can't anymore, and continue improving ahead of making the jump to the next level.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2016, 05:40 PM   #264
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
Race to the World Tour Finals Standings
Pre-Paris Update

Once again we are down to Paris to finalize the field, and there is still some drama left at the top despite Mehul's recent stumbles ...

In

Antonin Iglar -- 10,960
Anil Mehul -- 10,090
Bjorn Benda -- 8,840
Cestmir Marcek -- 6,920
Girish Girsh -- 5,610
Pierce Gaskell -- 5,000

The year-end #1 is completely in Iglar's control now ... well, sort of. If Mehul wins Paris and sweeps the World Tour Finals, he would temporarily take at least a 30-point lead and become #1 ... until the World Team Cup Finals a couple weeks later at which point he would lose it. So for Mehul to finish out the year on top, he will need some help. Winning both events will require his best, but it is possible. Iglar is a bit fresher and still probably the best indoor player in the world, but Mehul was a bit run-down at the end of the last year and still won the WTF so he can do it. The odds are just really against him right now, the losses in Shanghai and the Swiss Indoors really hurt, and it is possible they along with the USO Final could come back to haunt him if he never gets over the hump and Iglar goes on another dominant streak next year, which is very possible. Time will tell, but taking the Paris/WTF double would keep him very much in the hunt at a minimum, just behind the Czech legend.

Further down the list, Girsh really should be at worst the #3 player in the world indoors and big results at Paris and the WTF are key for him in closing the gap on Cestmir Marcek, setting himself up for a big season next year. The Czech no. 2 will fall eventually but sooner is better than later. Gaskell's run to the Shanghai final has him hanging around too close for comfort as well ...

Of the half-dozen who are confirmed at this point, five were there last year. Girsh is the lone new face so far. Benda is making his 6th straight appearance, Iglar his 5th, and it's the fourth in a row for Mehul. It's the third for Marcek who has never made it past the round-robin stage, while Gaskell is back for his second attempt as a surprise semifinalist last year.


Probable

Perry Mockler -- 3,720

Mockler did not win a match in his first trip last year, but looks like a pretty safe bet to at least get back for another try.


Contenders

Thiago Herrera -- 3,300
----------------------------
David Alvarez -- 3,195
Radek Smitala -- 3,050

Here's where it gets interesting. Alvarez looked a safe bet to make his 4th appearance(three straight round-robin exits) a couple of months ago. It appears however that his manager, who also handles Perry Hogue, has decided to exit stage left instead of reloading with younger players. Both Hogue and Alvarez skipped both Shanghai and Paris, meaning that Alvarez won't even be trying to pick up the points he needs to get back into the field. Herrera is the beneficiary, seemingly positioned very well to make his first appearance. But he doesn't have it sewn up yet ... Smitala's late charge has him positioned well enough to keep some pressure on, though he'll have to at least make the semifinals on a surface he isn't particularly proficient at, which would seem unlikely.

Long Shots

Roger Federer -- 2,935
John Condon -- 2,850
Marcelo Herrera -- 2,780
Mugur Kinczllers -- 2,750

To have any chance at all, these guys need to make the final. They haven't been eliminated yet, but the odds of them getting through the top indoor players in the world are remote. You can see here how competitive it's been below the top half-dozen players(everyone after Gaskell) this year. One week left and there are still eight players active, vying in some fashion for the final two qualifying positions. Particularly here in the 'not-quite-there' listing, they are bunched together so closely as to be indistinguishable. Regardless of what happens in Paris, it will be fascinating to see which of these players steps forward, and which falls back, as next year arrives.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 02-22-2016 at 05:40 PM.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2016, 12:16 AM   #265
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
Paris Masters: Opening Rounds

The first casualty of the week was obvious and has already been mentioned: by virtue of not showing up, David Alvarez was culled from the list of potentials. The others candidates, and a few who aren't, waited during their first-round bye. The second round here is always ripe territory for upsets, and a couple more long-shots went down during their initial matches this year. First, qualifier Xavier Camina(POR) defeated John Condon 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-3, then another qualifier, Sweden's Manfred Borrman, knocked Mugur Kinczllers out of contention by a 7-5, 7-6(1) final. The drawmakers were kind to Perry Mockler, who became the 7th player to qualify, partly because of his second-round win but more because most of the other players still alive were clustered on the opposite side of the draw.

Third Round Preview

All of this leaves four players, half of what there were just two days ago, still chasing one spot. Thiago Herrera holds it for now, and will keep it barring a deep run by one of the others: Smitala, Federer, and Marcelo Herrera. Here's how the matchups look for the round of 16.

** Girish Girsh vs. Marcelo Herrera -- An opportunity for Girsh to thin the ranks further. He was a bit shaky in the second set of his first match here, but is fresher than Herrera and should be able to prevail easily.

** Perry Mockler vs. Radek Smitala -- This is probably basically a coin-flip. Smitala will have to reach the final, and this is the last match that he has a decent chance at winning. It's a big mountain to climb even if his athleticism allows him to overcome his slightly more skilled counterpart in this All-American clash.

** Cestmir Marcek vs. Roger Federer -- Marcek was a 2nd-round upset victim last year, so he's already exceeded that performance. Federer has looked very good the last couple of weeks and has a fine serve; it would not be shocking at all to see him continue his run here.

** Thiago Herrera vs. Xavier Caminha -- Herrera is holding all the cards, and has the easiest matchup. I expect him to win here and put even more pressure on the trio chasing him.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 02-23-2016 at 12:17 AM.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2016, 04:08 AM   #266
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
Paris Masters: Third Round

Girsh started things out with a masterful performance, crushing Marcelo Herrera with a two-breadstick thumping. He won 55% of his return points, allowing only seven on his own serve, and another hopeful crashed out. It was a pattern that would repeat throughout the day. Smitala lost routinely to Mockler, ending his run. Roger Federer did better against Marcek, but his serve was much less effective than usual allowing him to get surprisingly out-aced 16-7, and he converted only 1 of 7 break points. As a result, he dropped a close match 7-6(6), 6-3. With that, Thiago Herrera didn't need to do anything to confirm his place as the final qualifier, but he brushed aside Caminha anyway as all eight of the top seeds reached the quarterfinals.

The Race is over, but I did notice one thing. I forgot that the points from last year's Tour Finals don't drop off for another week after Paris. Practically speaking, this means that Mehul will become #1 for that week and that week only if he wins the title. Cheap? Possibly. But I'd still take it. Just barely getting there would be better than not making it at all! With all of the best players still alive for the moment, the possibility is still there but much work remains.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2016, 08:55 PM   #267
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
Paris Masters: Conclusion

The biggest matchup of the quarterfinals was Girish Girsh going up against Benda, looking to snap a four-game losing streak against the German and a reprise of his first win, which came in a tight 3-setter in the same round of the same event last year. This one went all his way, an easy 6-2, 6-4 victory in which he not only clearly controlled the match, but saved all seven break points he faced. Anil Mehul had a strange one, jumping out quick against Mockler and bageling him in a 30-minute first set, only to have to endure a tiebreak in the second to advance. And Antonin Iglar almost bowed out early, barely surviving a very surprising challenge from Gaskell, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(7).

It looked like that might have been the one vulnerable match for the week from the no. 1; he was much sharper in the next round, dispatching Girsh for the 14th straight time, 6-1, 7-5. Meanwhile, Mehul had break point problems against Cestmir Marcek. Despite a convincing performance overall, he endured 23 aces from the 4th-ranked Czech and snuck through by the narrowest of margins, 7-6(4), 6-7(8), 7-6(3). Way too close for comfort, with only 2 of 11 break chances converted. He won, but that could easily have been disastrous.

And yep, it was another Iglar vs. Mehul final. 29th meeting. Despite fatigue, it was probably Mehul's most convincing win, his 9th in their series, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1! Quite one-sided overall, he had only break chance against him which Iglar took to get the second set, but otherwhise controlled quite easily by Mehul. It's his 7th Masters Shield overall and 5th this year, leading to ...





I don't normally do screenshots in this thread, but there it is! Anil Mehul can now happily retire if he didn't win another match. #1 in the world, over a player that is far from done but would be considered at worst 5th-best all-time in the history of the sport. I didn't think he had much chance of ever getting this far(and I'd be quite annoyed if I were managing Iglar, still a much better player just having a subpar year). It'll go away in a week, but if he takes another perfect run through the Tour Finals I think he'll keep it into the new year no matter what happens in the WTC.

It's a heck of a thing. The World Tour Finals start in two weeks. Mehul's goal is to repeat as champion; Girsh would be happy with getting out of the round-robin stage and making the semifinals -- anything beyond that would be gravy in his debut.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2016, 09:32 PM   #268
law90026
College Benchwarmer
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Congrats!
law90026 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2016, 05:16 AM   #269
digamma
Torchbearer
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: On Lake Harriet
That's pretty cool.
digamma is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2016, 10:56 AM   #270
ntndeacon
Pro Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Alabama
Nice!
__________________
Up the Posh!
ntndeacon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2016, 03:43 PM   #271
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
Thanks all!

World Tour Finals Preview

As anticipated, Mehul dropped down to second again ahead of the Tour Finals. He needs to repeat last year's title to take the top spot back, and that will probably be a little more difficult this time around, since Iglar is not the only potential roadblock. Girish Girsh is nearly at his level and could provide an upset; the rest of the field should not be a major threat on an indoor court.

Draw

It didn't really matter all that much where Girsh was slotted in the grand scheme of things; Mehul would almost certainly have to play him anyway. If he was in the same pool it would be during the round-robin phase; if it was in Iglar's pool then he would be the most likely semifinal opponent. As it turned out, Mehul's side had Marcek, Gaskell, and Mockler; Iglar would face Benda, Girsh, and Herrera. Probable semifinalists are Mehul and Marcek/Gaskell, Iglar and Girsh/Benda. Based on the Paris results, I like Girsh's chances. And if everything goes according to the script, another Mehul-Iglar final will determine the year-end #1 for 2043.

Quite the dramatic way to end the season, if it works out that way.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2016, 02:17 AM   #272
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
The week before the WTF, Prakash Mooljee was in Zimbabwe for his first tier-1 futures. He continues to falter in doubles, possibly due to weak partners, but blasted his way through without serious challenge to take the singles crown in his first attempt at this level of event. He's now well inside the Top 300 and will probably have one more futures tournament to round out the year.


2043 World Tour Finals

Round-Robin Stage

The first couple of days went more or less as expected. Girish Girsh had a long first-set tiebreak and overall a tougher time than expected with Herrera but won in two, then lost to Iglar, setting up the critical match with Benda on day three. Anil Mehul got through Mockler and Marcek in fairly routine fashion, but so did Gaskell and the winner there would take the second pool.

Girsh got off to a great start, taking the first set easily ... and then basically stopped playing in the second while Benda rallied. The third was much more highly contested, but the pressure from the German was more consistent and eventually Girsh faded, losing 1-6, 6-1, 6-4. A pretty darn severe disappointment here, a matchup he should win almost every time on an indoor court and especially after dominating the first set -- this was not at all the time to get cocky which seemed to be the case. It was quite the cruddy way to end his season. As for Mehul, he broke Gaskell immediately but the Americans' only break chance came in the very next game, evening the match. Mehul would have more opportunities but couldn't convert any, winning anyway in two tiebreak sets but he had to work for it a lot more than he should have.


Semifinals

So it was the same four-some as last year, the top three in Iglar, Mehul, and Benda followed by Gaskell as party-crasher. I don't know what it is about this event -- he has yet to reach the semis at any Slam, and isn't a big indoor player by any stretch, but he's done well here. In any case, Iglar brushed him aside as expected. Mehul had a poor stretch in the second set, leading to a scoreline that somewhat belied the fact that he was well in control almost all day against Benda, winning 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.


Finals

It would have seemed wrong if it didn't come down to this. Antonin Iglar vs. Anil Mehul. Their 30th meeting. The winner would be the top-ranked player of 2043, regardless of what happened in the WTC Finals. And this time the match was worthy of such an occasion. It played to form as both players were fairly sharp. Iglar had by far the better serve(18-6 in aces), Mehul getting the best of things by a small margin when he could keep the ball in play. Both converted pretty well when they had the chance, about half of the break chances each.

The Czech legend took a long opening set, then the second went to a tiebreak and Mehul prevailed. In the decider, he seized on the momentum and pushed his way to a hard-fought 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-4 decision, a match that could have gone either way though he was a hair better. The second-set tiebreak is really what it came down to. That and Mehul was really able to punish Iglar's second serve much more than usual, allowing him just 3 points in 17 tries! It looked like the longtime champion was just a bit off at times, just enough to create an opening.

And so one whale of a year for Anil Mehul ends with him on top of the heap. Rather fitting that it came down to the very end, a decisive third set in the final match of the year. It's been a long time, probably a decade or more, since the World Tour Finals hosted such drama. It's a narrow gap at the top, just 280 points(just over 2% of his total), but he'll stay there longer than a week this time. I'll get into the details more at the end of the year, but I would expect the stay to be a few months, and it could possibly be longer. It depends how Antonin Iglar reacts to being deposed.

Only four players have won the World Tour Finals more times than the two trophies now held by each of this years finalists. Will one of them join that elite group next year, or will someone else step up and take it from them? Meanwhile, the final tournament also showcased the biggest difference between Mehul and Girsh; the former has if anything been a slight overachiever in his career, while the younger player seems to falter against quality competition more often than not. The final chapters are far from being written, but he certainly doesn't seem to possess the same killer instinct, and is quickly running out of time to demonstrate it.

The World Team Cup Finals with the USA and Czech Republic competing for the championship will be up next in a couple of weeks, and the end-of-year spam comes a couple weeks after that.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2016, 05:14 AM   #273
digamma
Torchbearer
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: On Lake Harriet
Long live Mehul!
digamma is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-29-2016, 03:46 PM   #274
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
2043 WTC Wrap-Up

The finals between the United States and the Czech Republic were played on grass this year went right down to the wire. Iglar won his two matches as you'd expect, but the US won the doubles which set up a final decisive rubber between Cestmir Marcek and Perry Mockler. Mockler had the better of it during the rallies, but not by enough. He came from two sets down to force a fifth, but ultimately Marcek's 33 aces(to just 11 for the American), were enough to see him through in as dramatic a final rubber as you could ask for, 7-6(1), 6-4, 4-6, 4-6, 8-6. Mockler actually won three more total points(171-168) in the four-hour marathon that could have gone either way.

So the Czech Republic wins it 3-2, claiming their second world championship in three years! The United States last won four years ago, a pretty long drought for one of the world's most dominant tennis nations.


Playoffs

On the other end of the spectrum there was the specter of one of the world's greats(Spain, ranked 5th) having to fight off a relegation playoff challenge from New Zealand(24th). The Spaniards are definitely not what they once were; the nation of Gorritepe and so many other great players will soon not even have a top-10 player. New Zealand is still far beneath them though, and lost it's second promotion attempt in three years, 4-1.

Elsewhere the other playoff contestants were all borderline types of nations.

** Croatia(19th) vs. Denmark(17th). Both were Level 1 nations so somebody was going down here. The main difference is that Denmark has Jens Petersen(31st), the lone top-70 player on either nation's roster. That was enough to eke out a 3-2 win and keep the Danes up for a 5th straight year. They have yet to get out of the group stage, and this was their second relegation battle survived by the narrowest of margins, but the stay at the top tier. Croatia is relegated for the first time in over a decade, a long-term mainstay up here but they are in serious decline and frankly don't belong anymore.

** Luxembourg(16th) vs. Russia(13th). This one should have been no contest. With Groneveldt out of the picture, Luxembourg has nothing while Russia has a pair of quality experienced players with veterans Pavel Bestemianov(27, 22nd) and Fedor Starovoitov(26, 28th). A long way are they from guys like Topolski and Goncharenko, but more than enough to have Russia at the top tier. It was just a 3-2 win for the Russians which raises some eyebrows, but they survive a second straight playoff while Luxembourg is on the other side of that coin, failing in their second straight.

** Sweden(12th) vs. Netherlands(20th). A total whitewash here, 5-0 skunking by Sweden. Olav Birkeland(18th) is enough to promote them by himself, and they belong in the top tier. Not to mention that Elias Trulsen(24, 32nd) is starting to make a name for himself as well. The Netherlands did well just to get to this stage, they really arent' Level 1 quality.

Outlook

Sweden moves up, Croatia moves down. This definitely strengthens the Level 1 grouping of nations.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-29-2016, 04:07 PM   #275
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
2043 Final Top Ten Rankings

The page has now turned to a new year, which actually doesn't arrive until next week but all that is going on right now are futures and junior events that have no impact.

1. Anil Mehul(27, SRI) -- 12,540

After going 2-7 against Iglar in '42, Mehul shocked everyone including himself by winning four of six meetings this past year. It was just enough. He's spent five weeks now as #1, with more to come hopefully. It's good to be the king ...

2. Antonin Iglar(27, CZE) -- 12,410

Talk about your narrow margins. Just over 1% of total points earned by Mehul separates the two players. Unfortunately for Iglar, he won a 250, then won the Australian Open, and Mehul didn't do well in the early hardcourt Masters last year. In other words, most of his chances to pick up points and regain the top spot will come in April or later. It would take a fairly major turn of events to make it happen before then, such as Mehul failing to make the AO final. Both players are just starting to decline, but they have a lot yet to achieve.

Iglar is now in a big group of players with 2 WTF titles as mentioned tied for 5th all-time; tied for 4th in Slams with Haresign at 11; 5th in Masters with 18 after not picking up as many as expected last year; and 6th in weeks at #1 with 157, and of course he's not adding to that number right now. At this moment his career, despite the best year ever posted, non-Gorritepe category, would rank him 5th all-time. He has a good chance of reaching at least 4th and surpassing Oliver Haresign, but it was definitely a disappointing year for him. He's capable of going on another several-month unbeaten stretch and reasserting his dominance. But does he have the will and confidence to do so? This is one of the biggest questions in the new year.

3. Bjorn Benda(29, DEU) -- 9,570

The gradual decline continues, and it was not a young challenger but rather the new surprise #1 who shocked the tennis world by snatching away his kingdom on clay, though Benda had the last laugh in regaining his Roland Garros crown. When he plays well, he's still the world's best on the dirt.

4. Cestmir Marcek(29, CZE) -- 7,530

The dramatic WTC final was the crowning achievement to a remarkable season. Marcek reached the apex of his career at a time when most are, and when he should have been, falling off. There's still no question his skills are eroding, but through sheer willpower and competitive spirit he refused to cooperate with Father Time. There were signs the last few months that he was receding again, but also more fantastic moments. The question for Marcek is, can he keep this up somehow, or will he fade into the sunset this year?

5. Girish Girsh(24, SRI) -- 6,030

Steady progress for Girsh, who was a quarterfinalist or semifinalist in every major event save the WTF and Rome Masters -- but did not make a single final. If he's ever going to reach the top, he has to start slaying the occasional giant. No question he's the standard-bearer for Generation Flash, but how good that standard will be is still very much an open question.

6. Pierce Gaskell(27, USA) -- 5,630

Perenially overplayed and somewhat undearchieveing, I think we've seen the best of America's current #1. He's still much better than anyone below him though, so I don't see him falling much in '44.

7. Perry Mockler(27, USA) -- 3.900

Still the best of the 'third tier'(Mehul/Iglar/Benda then Marcek/Girsh/Gaskell are the first two), Mockler nearly won the WTC for the Americans but was 0-9 in big quarterfinals this year. That about says it all for him, both in being good enough to get there, and not good enough to get any farther.

8. Thiago Herrera(26, PER) -- 3,480

9. Radek Smitala(26, USA) -- 3,140

Smitala is the rare player who has a manager that knows not to overplay him, and he's a hardcourt fiend who is still on the rise, reaching the Top 10 for the first time late in the year. He's one to watch, and could also be a force on clay next season.

10. David Alvarez(30, ESP) -- 3,055

Waving goodbye. Federer, M. Herrera, Condon, or Kinczllers will soon take his place. It doesn't really matter which, they cycle through and around each other but nobody has managed to separate themselves.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 02-29-2016 at 04:08 PM.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-29-2016, 04:25 PM   #276
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
2044 WTC Preview

Sri Lanka ends the year 10th in the world rankings, up three spots from last year. A quarterfinal exit stunted a more sizable rise, and we're hoping for better this year. After looking at the draw though, that will take some considerable luck.

Sri Lanka is in the this season's group of death, Group 3. We'll have to deal with #1 Czech Republic, defending world champions, and #3 Germany, who knocked us out last season. They better not have clay when we play them, is all I have to say. The fourth in this group is recently promoted Sweden, ranked 12th and no slouch.

Merely getting out of group play could well get dicey. The Czechs will probably beat us, Sweden should go down pretty easily -- it is likely to come down to us or Germany. Looking ahead, we get them in the second round ... on grass. Thank goodness. I like our chances there, but it's absolutely ridiculous that either us or them won't even make it out of the group stage. I like us to finish second behind the Czechs, which will mean facing a tough quarterfinal(but, if it works out that way, NOT Germany on clay which has been our fatal matchup the last two years).

In the other groups:

** The US(2nd) will walk through Mexico(8th) and Denmark(17th) but could be tested by rising Peru(11th).

** Serbia(25th) will get blasted by an interesting trio vying for two places: Argentina(4th), Spain(5th), and Austria(6th)

** The final group has no real powers, and showcases the fact that we need to get our ranking up a few more spots to avoid a repeat of this year's unpleasantness. France(7th), Italy(9th), Russia(13th), and Switzerland(15th). I have no idea who comes out of there. All of them have a chance to advance -- or end up having to go to the playoffs.


I'd love to switch places with anyone in that 4th group. It's a rather paradoxical scenario in which we have the #1 and #5 players in the world -- but the rankings favor us to lose in group play. We need a big year to stop that nonsense, and could easily be up to 4th or 5th at worst if we get it. The nations above us are packed together tightly -- we're just not quite there yet.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-29-2016, 05:08 PM   #277
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
One note I forgot to mention. Last week Prakash Mooljee blasted through a tier-2 futures event, pushed to a third set in the final by unseeded Hungarian Florian Berenyi before winning 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(2) in a rather strange match. He finishes the year with just the one blemish, and is starting to approach the Top 200 barrier.


Who's Got Next?

In terms of action on the court, Sri Lanka and Sweden meet up in the first round of the World Team Cup to start off the new year next week. But before that, it's time to look at the next generation for the first time. So far in this dynasty, we've covered the following groups:

** The Eric Gorritepe generation, a generation unto himself for the greatest to ever play. He was just fading away as I started.

** Headlined by Gabriel Alastra but with many other standouts such as Prieto, Elder, and so on, this was the most competitive group I've seen.

** Bjorn Benda was next along with players such as Hogue and Alvarez who came with him.

** Currently, it's Antonin Iglar and Mehul taking the press, with Pierce Gaskell worth noting as well from the same age group. Julian Hammerstein is a notable no-show that would have made this quite a strong trio at the top.

** What I've dubbed 'Generation Flash' -- high on style, low on substance -- is led by my own player, Girish Girsh. Kinczllers is coming along for the ride but with phenom flak-out Marcel Bahana long-gone from the scene, this is a rather astonishingly weak group of players on the whole. A group Girsh should dominate, and has the last couple of years with Bahana's exit. Maybe France's Davide Poilblan comes around to do something, but he seems mired at about 20th.

A sixth generation is now just beginning to make their presence felt. Girsh is now 24, so these players will be those who are about 21-22 right now. Mooljee isn't old enough to be counted as one of them ... his place will come in the 7th gen. However, I would be remiss if I did not point out the ridiculous achievements of Hector Deblock(ROU), the top junior in Mooljee's class, who is still a teenager and presently ranked 73rd in the world. It will bear watching whether his early success can continue. If so, he might well be scary good. But we'll wait and see on that.

Generation Next

I'll just call this next group of early-20s hopefuls this for lack of a better unifying term. There's always a group of a dozen or two in their early 20s or younger in the Top 100 -- the question is, are any of them any good to the point of potentially being champions? Here's how things look right now, a week before the new year begins.

** Andre Herrera(22, PER, 8.75). It's hard to keep track of all the Herrera's, and they all hail from Peru. Andre is presently the top-ranked player from this generation, and also one of the oldest. He's #25 in the world right now, strong but slow with respectable technical skills. I figure him as a run-of-the-mill Top 10 player down the line. A lot of the Herrera's grade out that way.

** Theodore Bourdet(22, FRA, 9.04). Bourdet is right behind in 26th, an incredibly gifted player who isn't dedicated enough and needs to pay more attention to his baseline play, but already a world-class serve and strong mental approach. He has somewhat limited upside due to the issue of not training enough, but is already good enough to be a threat to some top 10 players. He'll be in the mix.

** Afasny Bereznity(21, RUS, 9.02). Just shy of his 22nd birthday, Bereznity presently ranks 31st. I've mentioned him briefly a couple times before: he probably will take a spot on Russia's WTC roster sometime this year. Good-but-not-great across the board(endurance, athleticism, technical skill, mental toughness, etc.). A top-5 player if he's well-handled, he should have more longevity than most of these guys. Could be the standard-bearer.

** Zourab Adronikov(21, GRG, 8.9). Andronikov pushed himself onto my radar late last year, consistently beating up on run-of-the-mill journeymen in the early rounds of big tournaments. He's up to 39th, a sharp rise for him and starting to get more and more respect and hype. Adronikov is an elite prospect when it comes to mental game and athleticism, but is raw still from a skill standpoint and not dedicated enough. He's a prototype disappointment waiting to happen. He's not being well-handled enough by a low-ranking manager to convince me that will change, but the athleticism and time for a young-ish player are enough that he could be Top 10 some day.

Those are the headliners right now, and my money's on Bereznity to give the Russians someone to cheer for again and be the best of this group. The also-rans include Peter Sampras(22, USA, #42), hyper-strong Spaniard Simon Davila(21, #56) has a chance to be a fine clay specialist if he ever develops a serve, George Elliot(22, USA, 59th), is a fine athlete with just enough will to win that he could be relevant. This looks like a reasonably deep group, but at the top I think it's Bereznity with a bunch of players chasing his cape so to speak.

Another American, Phillip Carter, could have done something but he's 'gone doubles' at an early age.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 02-29-2016 at 06:16 PM.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-29-2016, 06:08 PM   #278
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
So in the middle of everything going on in the game and work IRL, etc., I completely forgot to sign any of my players up for practice events for the final week of the year. Sucks because I had a near-perfect year in terms of scheduling up to this point.

Ah well. Friendlies it is.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-02-2016, 02:43 AM   #279
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
2044 has arrived!

Sri Lanka Annual Rankings Update

Anil Mehul -- 2nd to 1st singles. Well, there's nowhere to go but down. Chances of winning another five Masters this year aren't great, but clearly the goal here is stay on top for as long as possible, or at least as close to it. Realistically, I'll still be surprised if Iglar doesn't rebound with a strong year. At 73-9, he won four fewer matches than the previous year -- but more importantly, also lost four fewer and of course there were a lot more titles as well as repeating and Wimbledon and the World Tour Finals.


Girish Girsh -- 11th to 5th singles. Gradual improvement and Girsh should bypass Marcek and even probably Benda this year. This will probably be the season that he catches Mehul in terms of overall skill, but it remains to be seen if he can beat him when it counts on the court. A variety of unlikely events have resulted in nearly a two-year drought between meetings; Mehul has won all three. It seems inevitable that the two will start playing and bumping into each other on a more regular basis. Girsh has done well in the smaller events the last couple of years, but needs to become a threat to go all the way in the big ones to advance further. 65 wins was 10 more than his previous best.


Prakash Mooljee -- 1828th to 232nd singles, 2873rd to 2120th doubles. Doubles didn't go so hot, but Mooljee dominated in amateur and futures play on his own, with an astounding 52 wins and only one defeat. Sometime early this year we'll see how he handles the jump to challengers, but first up he'll get his Slam debut at the Australian Open in a few weeks. A great first year in the professional ranks, but he'll be stepping up to stiffer competition soon.


Anil Manohar -- 2324th to 2193rd singles, 574th to 499th doubles. Pretty good year, but the big news for Manohar is that this will be his last season on tour. He's up another .05 to 4.43 in the trainer evaluation, but will spend much of this year saving up the necessary experience to make the jump. He'll almost certainly stay in the 4.4-4.5 range, but progress is quite slow for him now and there's little reason for him to keep playing longer. Plus, it's just time for a new phenom with Mooljee established now as a tour player.


Manager Ranking -- 4th to 3rd, 25.6k points to 30.6k. Unexpectedly, hayato did just enough to stay ahead of me by about a thousand points at the moment. He's got a solid Top-10 player in Gaskell, and while Hammerstein would be better in singles he is now the world's #1 in doubles. Still, I should catch him soon.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-02-2016, 04:12 AM   #280
Alf
Pro Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Rennes, France
Well done !
__________________
FOFL - GML - IHOF - FranceStats
Alf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-02-2016, 05:40 AM   #281
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
Thanks! It was a lot more interesting year than I expected it to be.

2044 Preview

1. Anil Mehul(89%, 9.85, - .02). A barely-perceptible decline continues ... but it sure didn't seem like it this year as he really rose to the occasion.

2. Antonin Iglar(89%, 10.2, -0.05). Still clearly the best on paper, especially after another good off-season of training. But can he get back to the level of dominance he once enjoyed, or is his confidence permanently shaken?

3. Bjorn Benda(84%, 9.67, -0.14) Even at almost 30, he's far from a pushover.

4. Cestmir Marcek(84%, 9.43, -0.09) No way he can beat the odds for another year ... right? I'd expect him to drop to sixth or so this year, but who knows.

5. Girish Girsh(95%, 9.8, +0.05) Continuing his gradual rise, but it's tough to improve much now.

6. Pierce Gaskell(88%, 9.79, +0.06) The top American will still be a factor.

The tiers are interesting right now. For all the 'weak era' talk, Gaskell, Girsh, and Mehul are really a very credible trio of challengers after Iglar. A weak era is still coming, but this is actually better(thanks mostly to my duo, frankly) than things looked a couple years ago with Benda, Iglar, and basically nothing. And the German is still quite relevant. But the depth after them, particularly if Marcek falls off -- it's quite lacking.

7. Perry Mockler(88%, 9.26, -0.07)

8. Thiago Herrera(90%, 9.28, +0.01)

9. Radek Smitala(89%, 9.29, ??) -- Smitala was 2043's 'veteran I didn't see coming'. Good for him. He really fits right in with the packed tier of Mockler, Herrera, and actually many others, but it's his hardcourt expertise that sets him apart from them in many events.

11. Roger Federer(90%, 8.94, +0.12) -- The lack of speed and mental game was exposed a fair bit this year, but he still has a chance to get back into the Top 10 at some point.

12. Marcelo Herrera(91%, 8.91, ??) -- Great strength, but equally poor tactics and consistency from the baseline. As a result, he's not as good as Thiago and is a long-shot to break into the first page.

13. John Condon(88%, 8.84, ??) -- The best serve in the game has made Condon a very hit-or-miss player, as he sorely lacking in rally ability, even more so than M. Herrera. He briefly jumped up to 9th, then crashed out again.

14. Mugur Kinczllers(94%, 9.17, ??) -- He's spent way too much time on his doubles game, but Kinczllers remains second-best in Girsh's age bracket, is decent in atheleticism/mentality with better technical skills than most of those close to him. Really should be Top 10 this year.

15. Gustavo Caratti(96%, 9.24, ??) -- Only average mentally, but he won't be under the radar for long. A few months younger than Girsh, Caratti looks poised to overcome Kinczllers for the #2 spot. If both of them reach the Top 10(they should), Generation Flash may finally lose some of it's stigma. Caratti is an outstanding athlete, but neither has what it takes to be a true challenger.

The next generation, which I looked at a few days ago, will see players like Bereznity, Bourdet, and Adronikov push their way into the Top 20 this year. 20th-ranked Frenchman Davide Poilblan(96%, 9.17) looks ready to push higher as well. We should see the group of players from roughly 8th to 20th get significantly better over the next year or so -- competition will be intense and they will make up to a degree in numbers what they lack in individual greatness and standout stars. I expect the divide between the Top 5 and the next 15 or so players after them will remain large. All of this figures to make it tough for those following after them to move up when it is their time. It's worth noting that Sri Lanka actually has a third player, created by another manager, who could have something to say here as well as he made it into the Top 100, (presently 108th), Shreya Ujjaval(100%, 8.64). Mismanaged though he's been to a degree and in severe need of an improved serve(it's no better than Mooljee's who is two years younger), Ujjaval is already almost good enough to be relevant. All of this could make things a little difficult in a year or two for Sri Lanka's next real star:

232. Prakash Mooljee(99%, 8.22, +0.95). Mooljee has just reached physical maturity, which will slow his progress; the next couple of years will be the most important for him in terms of scheduling and training. Still, after a year of seasoning at the challenger level he'll begin to be ready to challenge the kinds of players listed above, and right now it looks like it could be a formidable wall, a definite school of hard knocks for him.

2193. Anil Manohar(57%, 5.92, -0.22). The 41-year-old veteran is readying to sail off into the sunset. It's time.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 03-02-2016 at 05:42 AM.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-02-2016, 10:03 PM   #282
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
World Team Cup, Group Three, Round One
Sri Lanka(10th) vs. Sweden(12th), Hard

Monday: A. Mehul d. E. Trulsen, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6(4)
Tuesday: G. Girsh d. O. Birkeland, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2
Wednesday: A. Pirlo/J. Oberg d. S. Ujjaval/R. Kuttikad, 6-0, 6-3, 6-1
Thursday: A. Mehul d. O. Birkeland, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2
Friday: G. Girsh d. E. Trulsen, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5

Sri Lanka defeats Sweden, 4-1!!

Surprisingly Trulsen proved the tougher singles foe; closing on his 29th birthday, it appears the days of Olav Birkeland being a major threat are behind him but the younger Swede could well be an interesting player to watch the next few years. Girsh was fortunate to rally after dropping the first two sets in the final rubber, but matters had already been decided.

As expected, Germany lost to the Czech Republic so our second-round matchup after the Australian Open with the nemesis of the last couple years will in fact determine who moves on. For the time being, we move up a couple spots to 8th, and there's a bit of a gap between us and France/Austria/Spain in the 5-7 spots so that's as far as we'll go until we get some more wins it appears. The nations behind us are bunched up pretty close, ready to pounce if we slip. Which we aren't planning on doing.

Coming Up ...

Both Mehul and Girsh will see some 250 action to get ready for the Australian Open, and some good competition in those events as well as the rest of the tour is gearing up for the year's first Slam also.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-05-2016, 02:51 AM   #283
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
January

Both of our top two heroes needed more matches than usual to perform at their best for the initial Slam of the year, and so there was more on-court action in the interim. Girish Girsh headed out right away to the Qatar Open(2-seed). He easily ripped Federer and Condon en route to the final, where it was a more in-rhythm Cestmir Marcek that opposed him with a 200-point swing on the line(150 to the runner-up). The 8th meeting between the pair, and it's worth noting that despite the fact that Marcek leads in the rankings by better than a thousand points, his win-loss last year doesn't show it. The Czech no. 2 was 64-19, Girsh slightly better at 65-17 including a perfect 3-0 in their encounters after losing the first four. Better seeding and easier matchups by being part of the Top 4 for Marcek are the big difference. Despite the disadvantage in match conditioning, Girsh pulled through 7-5, 7-6(1) in a match that had neither player really taking their chances well.

The next week, he was back at it in Sydney. Same drill really. Pierce Gaskell dropped 6-1, 6-4, and Marcek much more routinely in another final now that Girsh was back on top of his game. A very impressive start to the year has him with a perfect 11-0 record and demonstrating that he is, at worst, 4th best in the world on the hardcourts. The Gaskell match, with the top American basically a near-even match in terms of overall skill and ability, was the most impressive in that regard.

Anil Mehul was in Auckland, where he smashed all comers comprehensively including Mockler in the final. It was his second title there in three years(he didn't play last year). Both times, the rankings were released without giving him credit for the title though!


Coming Up ...

Aside from the ranking snafu, a perfect start to the year. Three players go into the Australian Open unbeaten on the year(Iglar is the third). The form showed by both Sri Lankans was very impressive. A couple of other notes; my plan of having Prakash Mooljee participate for his first Slam has been changed. He could do so, and might be successful, but no good reason not to feast on another Tier-1 futures in Canada where his number of matches is much more guaranteed. Also, I'll be following the fortunes of another countryman not managed by me, as the exploits of Shreya Ujjaval this year will be relevant in terms of the World Team Cup in the long-term, and he's a third wheel in terms of Top 100 Sri Lanka players.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 03-05-2016 at 02:53 AM.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-07-2016, 01:52 AM   #284
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
Before I get to the AO, as mentioned Prakash Mooljee had a tier-1 futures that same week. He managed to get to the semis in doubles, and unsurprisingly bashed through the singles basically unchallenged to move to just outside the top 200. He'll have one at most futures tournaments left, and will get to take over a month off now due to the doubles success. Depending on what's available in what will be early March, he also may take on his first challenger event at that point.

At the start of the year I forgot to take a look at the most probable rivals in his age brackets, which I intended to do. So I'll just throw that in here now. At just over 19 and a half, Mooljee can reasonably compared to others in the under-20 bracket. I'll list any of them currently in the Top 300. It's a quick-and-dirty way to do things, but will give a general sense of the top candidates which is really all that can intelligently be done at this early stage of things.

Hot-Shot Teen Prospects

62. Hector DeBlock(BEL). The dominant junior in Mooljee's class has shown why, and isn't slowing down so far. He's quite talented and has a better serve than almost anyone else his age but has hit the challenger wall hard at this point, able to win tier-2 and below events but not doing anything further up except for a bit on clay. DeBlock is a pretty good athlete and quite good mentally, but his stock relative to the rest of the group I think will fall as he's a quick-riser with the attendant limitation on longevity. The real shocker here is that he's gotten this far this fast, it's rare to see a teenager in the Top 100. For that reason alone he bears close watching.

142. Sava Cirakovic(CRO). Even more meteoric in terms of his career path, Cirakovic has not seen as much early success as DeBlock but he's still doing quite well. Stronger but less mentally tough, his dedication is very good and could see him ending up as the better player in the long run. Too early to tell yet.

182. Tristan Benitez(ARG). Weak but very quick, Benitez is a clay-court specialist and lacking in terms of the will to work on his game. Not a long-term threat in my opinion, but his baseline skill is as well developed as Mooljee's, and he's a few months younger.

183. Blagota Cojanovic(CRO). Fast, pretty dedicated, and strong mentally, Cojanovic is the first on this list that doesn't figure to flame out easily. I like Mooljee's game a fair bit better right now and he's even more committed so that advantage should increase, but Cojanovic should be a very relevant player in this age group if he's handled reasonably.

194. Jonathan Ardant(FRA). A poor man's Cojanovic basically, and managed by the same person. Most notably he's considerably slower and has lower endurance as well.

211. Prakash Mooljee(SRI). A pretty good place to be in, sixth on the rundown, and I definitely expect it to improve. I don't see a transcendent talent like Iglar or Bahana anywhere here; the third top Sri Lankan to come through my tutelage -- and I've learned much from the experience of the first two -- has a combination of endurance, athleticism, and technique that should eventually propel him past the others. Cojanovic is the one with the best chance, and DeBlock's early emergence will keep on top for a while, but I don't think either of them can stop Prakash once his skills are complete.

224. Gael Monfils(FRA). Strong and the most 'clutch' player I've literally ever seen(as in, 5.0 mentality!!), Monfils is also only average in footspeed and not a lot better in terms of working on the practice courts. Technically solid but not more ... he'll be around for a while but just doesn't quite have the total package.

And that's it. This group of seven is likely to bump into each other every now and then over the next couple of years in challengers, but that's just a prelude of course. It'll be interesting to watch how many of them actually make it through that trial.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 03-07-2016 at 01:53 AM.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-07-2016, 10:45 AM   #285
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
2044 Australian Open

Preview

This isn't so much a preview of the Australian Open as it is one of how much of at least the first half of the year will play out at the big events. There's really two separate storylines going on. The first one gets the most press and hype, and is really pretty simple: Antonin Iglar trying to return to dominance, Anil Mehul fighting to hold on to the #1 ranking. They'll play only in the finals of big events, which means there's always going to be quite a bit on the line. With only a very small gap between them, any earlier loss will be very damaging as well. That's not something that is expected to happen much of course. And here, there's even more history than usual. Iglar is the four-time defending champion; Mehul has been his foe in the last match for the last three years.

The second group is the players in the third-sixth bracket; Benda, Marcek, Girsh, and Gaskell. The interesting thing here is that Benda and Marcek have the better draws being part of the Top 4, but Girsh and Gaskell are, on paper, better players and should be replacing the veterans. In the big events, a lot will depend on whether Girsh and Gaskell get placed in the quarter matchups against Mehul and Iglar, or in preferable opportunities to knock the declining stars down a peg and gain some ground. And if it's the latter, they'll need to consistently come through and win those matchups if they intend to move up.


Early Rounds

Shreya Ujjaval made this his second Slam event, having lost last year in the US Open first round despite twice leading by a set, a five-set epic that got his feet wet but left him disappointed. That was against a Bolivian journeyman nobody has heard of; here he faced 19-seed Agustin Herrera ... and promptly won in straight sets. Then Spanish veteran Issac Malpica went down in four. Mockler ended his run in the third round with the loss of only a game to put him in his place, but Ujjaval rocketed up about 20 spots in the ranking to a new career-high of 77th. With his first pair of Slam match victories, this is a great moment for him, definitely the best of his young career. It's not guaranteed he'll ever be good enough to get past a third-round berth in a Slam event, but even if he does this is worth remembering.

The first few rounds were the usual borefest for Mehul and Girsh. A couple of seeds made the elder player work just a bit but not much -- he reached the quarterfinals without coming close to losing a set. Upsets allowed Girsh to avoid any seeded players at all, but in the fourth round American Johnny Loudermilk stole a set before meekly feasting on breadsticks the rest of the way in a 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 decision.

Second Week

So as usual, it was when things reached the final eight that things got interesting for the most part. The top two US players beat each other up in the previous round with Pierce Gaskell proving his superiority by ousting Radek Smitala in a match that went the distance. Gaskell took a set from Iglar, but the Czech legend soon rectified matters and prevailed there. Mehul had a tougher-than-expected road against Thiago Herrera, converting only 3 of 15 break chances and he was extended to four sets also. Benda took another four to stop the one surprise quarterfinalist, Mugur Kinczllers -- the Italian had never made it to the second week of a Slam so it was a new high mark for him. Girish Girsh meanwhile got Marcek, the matchup he wanted. Three tournaments this year, and they've played in all three -- with the same result. Triple 6-4 sets later, and it was 7-0 Girsh in sets. Three straight wins is a pretty good indicator of superiority, and it's six straight overall, but it's not nearly enough to overcome the disparity in the rankings. It'll help though, no question of that.

There was no undue drama in the semifinals. Mehul had a routine straight-set win over Benda, his seventh in their last eight meetings. Iglar beat Girsh for the 16th straight time. It was very tight for the first couple sets as Girsh did just enough on his serve to keep the champion at bay, but couldn't quite prevail in the breakers and the wheels eventually came off in the third.

And so it was on to the expected conclusion. Anil Mehul and Antonin Iglar, this time with Mehul the top seed, for the 31st time including the fourth straight AO final. By reaching this point, Mehul had already guaranteed he would stay #1 no matter the victor. He snared the first set, lost a couple close ones, but showed his determination by winning a fourth-set tiebreaker and forcing a decisive final frame. In the end it wasn't quite enough, with Iglar claiming his 5th straight crown here, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-4 in a fantastic final, the first time he's been extended this far in their four meetings here. He was just a little better in the key moments, it was nearly an even match -- but the Czech was once again the deserved victor. A 12th career Grand Slam title moves him into sole possession of fourth on the all-time list and maintains the status quo in the rankings.


Coming Up ...

The World Team Cup second round against Germany, who has eliminated us the last couple of years. Grass is a more favorable surface of course, but the layout is the same: somebody needs to beat Benda. Off of clay, it shouldn't be too much of a struggle for at least one to beat him, and if we can accomplish that we get to knock them out this year, and very early. It would sure be a nice bit of comeuppance.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-07-2016, 06:50 PM   #286
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
World Team Cup, Group Three, Second Round
Sri Lanka vs. Germany, Grass

Monday: A. Mehul d. H. Oncken, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3
Tuesday: B. Benda d. G. Girsh, 6-3, 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3
Wednesday: H. Arendt/E. Ercan d. S. Ujjaval/R. Kuttikad, 6-3, 6-3, 6-0
Thursday: A. Mehul d. B. Benda, 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-7(6), 7-5, 6-4
Friday: G. Girsh d. H. Oncken, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5

Sri Lanka defeats Germany, 3-2!!

With that, revenge is served ... barely. After Benda defeated Girsh for the sixth time in seven meetings -- I'm at a loss for why at this point -- he took a pair of tiebreaks from Mehul, reversing fortunes in their match and putting us just one set from defeat. Anil Mehul rallied to win a very long, pretty close match, and then Girsh closed the deal on the final day. Bjorn Benda earned even more respect this week though. He's nearly 30, but he nearly ruined us for the third straight year. Big sigh of relief really at this point, having them knock us out again would have been a real gut-shot.

So we're in the quarterfinals now, the only thing left is to figure out if we win the group. For that to happen, somebody needs to beat Iglar on hardcourt in the spring. The chances of that are ... well, they aren't good. Joining us in the knockout rounds will be the Czech Republic, United States, Peru, and Argentina. The other spots will go to the Spain/Austria winner and two of France/Italy/Russia in crazy group four, pending on who wins their deciding ties.

We're up a spot to a hair above Austria at 7th now, at least for the moment. Next up, the first of three long breaks with Mehul and Girsh both off for a month until Indian Wells. Mooljee will be on the practice courts for almost that long also. .

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 03-07-2016 at 06:51 PM.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-2016, 02:37 AM   #287
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
February

Nothing actually happened during February, but in the first week of March, Prakash Mooljee was up for his next event. After hemming and hawing and going back and forth, I decided against a challenger event in a busy challenger week and went with a final futures tier-1. Mooljee has been up and down against the unpredictable, motley set of players that make up the 100-200 position in the rankings, and an early loss in a challenger would have left me regretting not taking the sure route, the 'bird in the hand'. Predictably, he rampaged through the draw for another title which gives him just enough that he should be ineligible for any more, though we'll see once another set of amateur points drop off this ranking score. Unfortunately in doubles he had another bad-luck, tough super-tiebreak loss in qualifying. He's been as bad in pairs as he has in singles, and something's got to break soon because he's just too good a player. I think it's just drawing a lot of bad partners.

Shreya Ujjaval continues to frustratingly play way too much. Since the Australian Open, he's had a couple of early losses but did manage a quarterfinal in Acapulco(QF, Clay). That has him up to a new high of 66th. I don't expect too much more of a rise, probably into the Top 50 this year but I don't think further than that this season. We'll see how it goes for him.

Mehul and Girsh had the full stretch of four weeks off. It's interesting that other top players don't follow this strategy, not even the brilliant oprice who handles Iglar and Benda. Girsh failed to defend his title in Memphis and nearly dropped a spot in the rankings for it, falling further behind Marcek. The Czech is somewhat overplayed in my opinion as are the two former #1s, while Gaskell is horribly so. I find this to be a risk and not one worth taking. With Indian Wells and Miami back to back, any player making the final will have three matches a week for four weeks straight. Letting my 'power pair' rest -- I'd have given Girsh another week even if I could -- does make them somewhat vulnerable to early losses in Indian Wells, but at the same time it virtually guarantees they will be fresh enough to excel through the end of Miami and none of the others can say that. Experience has demonstrated to me this is the best way. We are majoring in the majors, and so on.

Coming Up ...

Obviously Indian Wells is up next, and this is the first time that Antonin Iglar, a perfect 19-0 on the year so far, has a real chance to seize back the top spot in the rankings. I think he probably will do so ... at least temporarily. Last year he was a pretty stunning upset victim in the final against Benda, and if he wins it this year he'll be back at #1. However, since Mehul lost early(quarterfinals) in Miami, he can get it back two weeks later by making the finals at both events. This could really go either way.

Girsh goes in with a gap of 1,740 points to catch Marcek, and is just 100 points ahead of the worn-out Gaskell but that's of little consequence given that there is no way the American will be able to produce much over the next month given how overplayed he is. The Czech no. 2 had an early exit in IW last year(4th round) but then made the final in Miami; Girsh had a quarterfinal and a semifinal. I would expect the status quo to be roughly maintained but maybe he can pick up a bit of ground. It appears it will be a longer chase than I previously hoped ...
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-14-2016, 03:44 AM   #288
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
Indian Wells

Shreya Ujjaval went out there and lost in the first round 6-2, 7-5 to rising American Phillip Carter. Good on his manager though who evidently got the memo and gave him some time off to practice afterwards: we won't be reporting on him in Miami.

Girish Girsh brushed off all competition in the first week including Kinczllers in the fourth round, then had Benda again in the quarters. After a pretty epic tiebreak in the first set, he failed against the German narrowly again, 7-6(10), 6-7(4), 6-4. A narrow defeat, but the better player did win and it's two already down against Benda this year.

Anil Mehul rolled his way until running into Radek Smitala, easily the toughest possible opponent, in the fourth round. Smitala's first win came last year in the Shanghai quarters; unfortunately he proved it wasn't a fluke with a narrow 7-6(5), 7-6(5) upset here as well. Mehul probably should have won, but it was basically a coin-flip battle and the fact that he wasn't quite up to maximum condition yet was definitely a factor. Unfortunately, this will keep him from being at his best for Miami. So much for the best-laid plans ...

Of more immediate and also lasting consequence is the fact that this basically handed the keys to the #1 ranking to Antonin Iglar. He bashed his way to a 19th Masters Shield without the loss of a set. That was not a surprise so much as who he faced. Smitala went on to smother Benda in straight sets, not allowing so much as a break point. If you told me Radek would be a Masters finalist a year or two ago I would have suggested a mental health professional.

The fallout from all this is that Mehul's time at the top ends at 17 weeks. That's probably going to be it, he could have regained the top spot in Miami if he'd made it further here, but now he would need to win the title to take #1 back and that seems unlikely with Iglar looking like he's re-established dominance. Still, it's 17 weeks more than I ever expected him to get, and he's still clearly the second-best player in the world right now. Time to regroup.

Meanwhile, Girsh slips below Gaskell to 6th place and another semifinal run by Marcek lengthens his lead on both of them. Radek Smitala's first final at any big event has him up to 8th. I don't think he'll rise much longer but it does beg the question as to whether he can back up this performance. One thing's for certain, Indian Wells shook things up a little with things not going exactly as planned. Not the best week for my guys but it's definitely a reminded that there's a reason why the pundits don't play the matches.

All four of my players are in action during the first week of Miami, with Prakash Mooljee getting his first challenger tournament underway, a tier-3 indoor event in Bath. He's been looking increasingly good against the type of competition he's likely to face there, and a number of factors point to the fact that it is finally time for him to make the jump. Here's hoping he's ready ...

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 03-14-2016 at 03:45 AM.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2016, 04:10 AM   #289
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
Miami Masters

The draw set up with the potential for some payback this week; Mehul was slated to meet Smitala in the quarterfinals, one round later than Indian Wells, while Girsh and Benda were seeded to meet once again. Unfortunately, another dark horse, this one even more unlikely, stepped forward. Czech no. 3 Milan Farkas upended Girish Girsh 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-4. Girsh played well enough to win but not well enough to be certain of it, completing a decidedly disappointing performance at the year's first pair of Masters events with his second loss in six meetings with Farkas. He had won his last four.

At the same juncture, Mehul advanced easily to the second week over Kinczllers, then allowed Smitala few chances and snuffed out all three break chances he faced in a straight-sets win to ease the pain of the Indian Wells defeat a bit. Rather shockingly, he would next need to deal with Farkas in the semifinals; the upstart staged a comeback win over Benda to reach the last four. Anil Mehul started the match well, a quick bagel demolition in the first set established dominance ... but it didn't last. Farkas converted all three break chances he saw in the last two sets, rallying for a tough and nearly incomprensible 0-6, 7-5, 6-4 win, his third straight upset. He would win only two games against Iglar in the final.

To put this in perspective, Milan Farkas had never reached the quarterfinals or better at any major event. Getting to the final here was improbable in the extreme, and the theme of last month here is definitely unpredictability. Mehul's only chance at getting back to #1 in the forseeable future waves good-bye in the process.

Elsewhere, Prakash Mooljee's first challenger event was quite the smashing success. Undeterred by placing just out of the seedings, he began by annihilating German 7th-seed Djurdje Moicevic with a near-perfect double-bagel in the first round. A series of increasingly competitive straight-sets wins followed until he ran into Vladimir Octrouhov(RUS, 180th) in the final. Octrouhov, objectively a slightly better player, is very similar in technical acumen, stronger but slower with a strong determination on the court. He took the first easily, but as he has so many times Mooljee rallied against the odds for a 2-6, 7-5, 6-0 win. Looks like he's made the move up for good.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2016, 04:24 AM   #290
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
Top Ten Rankings Update

1. Antonin Iglar(27, CZE) -- 12,810

It's been a topsy-turvy start to 2044, particularly the last month. Iglar, however, has proven himself immune, re-establishing himself with a perfect 31-0 record so far this year. He's now up to 20 Masters Shields, and looks a good bet to surpass Oliver Haresign in the #4 spot among all-time greats by the end of the year.

2. Anil Mehul(28, SRI) -- 12,450

The loss to Farkas last week may have been the worst upset of Mehul's career. Smitala beating him was a surprise but not a total shock. Put the two together and there are some quiet questions being asked about the man who was #1 just a month ago.

3. Bjorn Benda(29, DEU) -- 8,940

Benda couldn't repeat last year's hard-court successes, but the best medicine for him is the fact that the clay season is now upon the tour.

4. Cestmir Marcek(29, CZE) -- 7,500

Go figure. After quietly assembling another pair of semifinal runs, Marcek is closer to snagging the #3 spot than he is to falling further down. At a certain point there's nothing to do but applaud. Like his far more accomplished countryman, he hasn't lost any matches he should win. Right now that's more than enough.

5. Pierce Gaskell(27, USA) -- 5,540

Still playing too much, still good but not good enough. Quarterfinal exits in all three big events so far demonstrate that it's more of the same for the top American.

6. Girish Girsh(24, SRI) -- 5,460

It's getting harder and harder to avoid the underachiever label here.

7. Perry Mockler(28, USA) -- 4,220

8. Radek Smitala(26, USA) -- 3,680

Smitala is a hard-court specialist extraordinaire, but hasn't shown he can broaden his game to other surfaces yet.

9. Thiago Herrera(26, PER) -- 3,190

10. Marcelo Herrera(26, PER) -- 3,140

Many others wait in the wings, but for now the Herreras control the bottom of the list. Kinczllers made a brief appearance, but so far has been unable to sustain it.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2016, 04:39 AM   #291
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
Sri Lanka Rankings Update


Anil Mehul -- 1st to 2nd singles. Mehul will probably try to add some points and matches in Monte Carlo, but barring a most unlikely repeat of his Madrid/Rome double last year, the gap with Iglar will only grow again. Frankly, the most important thing here is simply to regain his consistency and edge, which seems to have cracked. Of course, there are far worse things than be the clear #2 in the world.

Girish Girsh -- 5th to 6th singles. After a 15-1 start, Girsh is just 6-4 in his last 10 matches. The competition has been a little better, but it has been a very long time since he beat a player better than himself; on the other side of things, he loses to inferior competition more than his share. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the one-sided(in the wrong direction) matchup with Bjorn Benda. Girsh seems to simply not have that something extra, call it killer instinct or whatever, that all of the top champions possess. He's very good, but will he ever be more than that? Right now, that seems doubtful.

Prakash Mooljee -- 232nd to 162nd singles, 2120th to 2011th doubles. Matched with other players, Mooljee has had pretty horrid results. He remains on an absolute tear in singles competition though, now 15-0 on the year to make him 67-1 going back to the start of '43. There have been plenty of opportunities to break that streak, but even against slightly better competition he's consistently come through. His first challenger title came more than half a year younger than either Mehul or Girsh got theirs, and despite starting off 'raw' or 'behind' he appears to be a hair ahead of their technical skills pace at the same age as well. And the one loss in this stretch, a demolition by Shogo Ko? Even that is looking better, as the Japanese journeyman has vaulted back up into the Top 100.

It's still early of course, but right now Mooljee is doing phenomenally well. At this rate, it may yet be a bit before he hits any kind of ceiling.


Anil Manohar -- rankings aren't really relevant for him, but it's worth noting that's he's almost saved up the necessary trainer payment. That will be finished off in a week or two, freeing him to spend the rest of the year adding a bit to his skills.


Manager Ranking -- 3rd(unchanged), 30.6k to 30.9k points. Over the first quarter I actually fell further behind second-place Hayato.


Coming Up ...

Though not certain, it looks right now like both Mehul and Girsh will be playing in Monte Carlo, with both a bit low on matches right now. First though, it's the final round of group play in the World Team Cup. The Czech Republic are probably favorites to repeat, and unless somebody can knock off Iglar it won't be us that beats them.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-16-2016, 09:38 PM   #292
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
World Team Cup, Group Three, Third Round
Czech Republic(2nd) vs. Sri Lanka(7th), Hardcourt

Monday: A. Iglar d. G. Girsh, 7-6(9), 6-2, 6-2
Tuesday: A. Mehul d. C. Marcek, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3
Wednesday: L. Nedved/J. Simunek d. S. Ujjaval/R. Kuttikad, 6-0, 6-0, 6-0
Thursday: A. Iglar d. A. Mehul, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2
Friday: C. Marcek d. G. Girsh, 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 7-5

Czech Republic defeats Sri Lanka, 4-1!!

Yeck. The less said about this the better. I can't remember the last time we failed to win at least two rubbers in a WTC tie. Only one competitive set against Iglar, a triple-bagel from our hideous doubles team, and Girsh's winning streak against Marcek is even gone. A dead heat of a match that one was, but still. The Czech's take the group decisively. Most of the others to advance weren't surprising, but Group 4 lived up to it's uncertain billing with France, Italy, and Russia all tying by winning two of three rounds. Russia had by far the worst match record at just 8-7 though, so the other two move on.

Sri Lanka stays at 7th in the world rankings at least. More importantly, the draw for the knockout rounds was quite kind to us. Here's how the matchups shake out:

** United States(1st) vs. Italy(13th), Clay
** Czech Republic(2nd) vs. Austria(9th), Clay

These are interesting in that obviously the Czechs and the US are huge favorites and really should be headed to the final against each other in a perfect world. However, both of their opponents are probably at their best advantage on the dirt. I doubt that'll be enough to cause an upset though. A blockbuster semfinal between the titans is still expected.

** Argentina(3rd) vs. Peru(8th), Indoors

There's more than a little bit of irony here with some of the world's best clay-courters going at it on a fast track. I like Peru here though, the Herreras are right now the best players in this matchup, and more adept indoors than Argentina's top threat, Gustavo Carratti.

** France(5th) vs. Sri Lanka(7th), Hardcourt

The French are young, talented, and improving. This should still be a gimme though, even with a few more months improvement. Right now I'd favor us for our second final in three years against one of the top pair from the other side of the bracket. Finding a way to reverse the slump we appear to be in right now in terms of Mehul and Girsh's playing level is a much bigger concern than any of the opposition before that point.


Coming Up ...

Monte Carlo gets the clay season underway.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-23-2016, 06:41 PM   #293
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
So now it's time once again to blast the thread with a barrage of posts. This particular delay had three causes:

** Last week my boss was on vacation, which meant extra joy and rapture for me.
** Results were pretty depressing from the clay season for my players. It's always more fun to report good news.
** I had a mouse die(computer, not animal).

So with no more ado, here we go!

Monte Carlo 'Masters'

A couple of interesting storylines going into this. First, since Mehul is playing and Iglar isn't, he actually had a chance to seize the #1 spot again for a few weeks. In order to do so, he'd need to reach the final which seemed likely. Also, Girsh, despite his struggles, has an opportunity to make headway on Marcek. The Czech no. 2 had two big results last year that elevated him above the rest; the first was here where he is the two-time defending champion, the second was being a finalist at RG where he actually led Benda 2-0 before collapsing. He'll never get that close to being a Slam champion again. It's a really sad, good story for him, but more to the point he may 'come back to the field' so to speak in the clay season if he can't repeat these results.

Both players had routine wins in their first matches. Mehul matched up with Shreya Ujjaval, who had done well to qualify and beat another qualifier in the first round. He took just four games off Sri Lanka's #1 though. The third round was more testy. Mehul had rising Frenchman Davide Poilblan who pushed him to three, though he was served a breadstick in the decider. Girsh ran into the most dangerous player he could have, Argentine Gustavo Caratti. Caratti, seeded 12th, is an extreme clay-court specialist and while Girsh fought for a while he eventually succumbed in straight sets. Not the result he was looking for.

Mehul got another easy win, and then came the semifinals which featured four pretty evenly matched players on this surface. The other three were 9th-ranked Thiago Herrera, Marcek, and Smitala. Mehul was stopped one match short of regaining the #1 ranking by Herrera, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, despite pounding out 18 aces. It was a pretty close match, but after the first set the Peruvian was clearly better. Herrera went on to claim his first Masters Shield by taking another three-setter, this one over Smitala.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-23-2016, 06:52 PM   #294
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
May

In the interim before the Madrid/Rome really gets the clay season going in earnest, there were a couple more happenings. Girish Girsh needed more matches so he headed off to Barcelona(500) the week after MC. As the top seed, he had a very tight quarterfinal against 5th-seed Roger Federer(SUI), a match he had every opportunity to win but still nearly lost. 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 was the comeback final, with Federer actually applying a bit more consistent pressure but converting just 2 of 15 break points. Unfortunately Girsh didn't take advantadge of it much, getting blasted aside far too easily by Condon in the semifinals. The Phillipine star -- the only notable player from that country, as we've noticed -- went on to take his second career 500-level title, narrowly edging Caratti.

The following week, Prakash Mooljee was at it again, a Tier-3 clay challenger in Savannah, Georgia. Seeded third, he ran into more resistance this time against a pair of Americans buoyed by the local partisan crowd. In the semifinals it was 2-seed Lloyd Blackwood providing the opposition. Blackwood's complete lack of a serve eventually cost him, as 13 double faults contributed to Mooljee surviving 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. Next up was top-seeded Tommy Day. Day, a veteran ranked just outside of the Top 100, had overplayed badly coming in and the fatigue was just enough for Mooljee to capture another title, 6-4, 7-6(6). He's still perfect in singles on the year, and is really the one guy that is saving the season for Sri Lanka at the moment.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-23-2016, 08:22 PM   #295
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
Madrid Masters

Things went from suck to blow here, and in a right big hurry. Girsh's first match was against a qualifier. It wasn't any qualifier; long-time followers will recognize the name of Austrian Julian Hammerstein, who rarely plays singles anymore, but is still a force when he chooses to. Girsh still should have won, but didn't, getting dumped out unceremoniously in straight sets.

In the next(third) round, Mehul had his turn at Caratti. He didn't fare all that much better than his compatriot. He did fight hard for a second set that he probably should have won, but still fell 6-2, 7-5. And so the quarterfinals came with both players already gone from the tournament. It more or less went according to form after that, Benda taking a close final over Iglar who survived a few upset attempts on the way there.


Rome Masters

Anil Mehul drew Caratti again in the third round, but this time it was a lot better off. Caratti had played too much at this point, and took just two games, a rather remarkable reversal from the match last week. Girsh had a pretty easy ride to the quarterfinals as well. Unfortunately the wheels came off there again. The flavor of the month this week was Mugur Kinczllers, who beat Girsh in three to reach the semifinals. Even more surprisingly, he had already upset Benda in the previous round.

As for Mehul, he ran into 10th-ranked Marcelo Herrera. They hadn't played since Roland Garros last year, when Herrera won a long, tight match, his first win in 10 encounters. This was more of the same, a three-set affair but Mehul lost again.

Iglar looked a little sharper this week, and beat Herrera for his 21st Masters. Overall he's probably the favorite to get his crown back at Roland Garros, but Benda is always a major threat, and lots of players have stepped forward recently. Smitala, both Herreras, Kinczllers, Caratti have all had their moments. It's quite a wide-open field of potential contenders all things considered.

In the interim, both players needed more matches so they played in a 250 event, meeting in the final for their first real match in two and a half years. Mehul has still never lost to Girsh after a 7-5, 6-1 win. More importantly, they are set up pretty well for RG. Mooljee's next challenger will be that week also.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-26-2016, 06:23 AM   #296
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
2044 Roland Garros

Opening Rounds

The second Slam of the year arrives with a comprehensively disappointing clay season for Sri Lanka's top players leading up to it. Shreya Ujjaval has done ok and has been moving up slowly through the rankings, but he was bounced in straight sets in the first round by 24-seed Andre Herrera(PER). The Herreras are all strong clay-court players, so this was not much a surprise, just not a great matchup.

The opening rounds set up pretty well for the top duo. Both walked through their first three matches, then met up with rising French players in the fourth round hoping to get some support from the crowd in the homeland's top tournament. Mehul brushed aside 17th-seed Davide Poilblan, and Girsh took down 21st-seed Theodore Boudret, both in lopsided straight-set wins. Both of the youngsters had pulled off one upset to get here, but that was it for them. A smooth ride to the quarterfinals was a nice change from the past few events.

Meanwhile, Prakash Mooljee's next outing was his first Tier-2 challenger in Nantes, not all that far away. Seeded third, a potential semifinal encounter with likely rival Hugo Jurco, the top seed, seemed to be on the cards. However, Mooljee was stunned by Finnish qualifier Lanni Sivonen in the first round instead, his first loss in several months! 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(4) was the final. Sivonen is the kind of player he's beaten many times, a fine baseline player without much of a serve, but he is a more adept player on this surface. Mooljee actually was slightly the better player, and it was the kind of match he's come through time and time again. Not this time.


Second Week

Back at RG, Girish Girsh was in Iglar's quarter, and didn't put up much of a fight in a meek three-set departure. That's 18 losses in as many career matchups, for those of you scoring at home. Making the quarterfinals isn't a bad result, and would be fine if he'd produced more consistent results leading up to it. Anil Mehul sent surprise quarterfinalist Agustin Herrera packing, matching his best result here with the win but he had yet to face any of the world's better clay players, so it's largely been a luck of the draw thing this year. He'll take it.

In the first semifinal, Bjorn Benda laid a beatdown on Iglar the likes of which I don't think I've seen him endure before. 6-1, 6-3, 6-0, with the five-time champion facing just one break point and nearly doubling the legend in terms of total points. A rather embarassing thing. The fans got their money's worth in the second match though, which featured Mehul going up against Cestmir Marcek. Anil had the better of things for the most part, but the feisty 30-year-old Czech would not give up easily. He won a tiebreak in the fourth set to force the match to go the distance, and then pushed the final frame beyond it's expected duration. Eventually though, Mehul did prevail, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2, 6-7(5), 9-7! He was just a little better in the key moments, and advanced to his first-ever final here at RG. That gives him a full set; he's been to at least one championship match now in every Slam tournament. Not a bad thing to put on the resume.

That meant of course going up against Benda, winner of five of the last six titles here. Two years ago, in Mehul's previous best, he led two sets to zero but let it slip away in the semifinals, his best chance to date at winning this tournament. History has a way of repeating, and sometimes reversing itself. After a tight first set went the way of the German, the second was more one-sided and it looked like it might be over quickly. Anil had other ideas, prevailing in a third-set tiebreak and then taking the fourth as well. A second straight five-set match, and by far Benda's sternest test of the championships, ended somewhat anticlimactically as he seized control early in the fifth to take his sixth trophy here, 7-5, 6-2, 6-7(5), 4-6, 6-2. He was at his best when it mattered most, winning 9 of 15 break chances. Anil did well to push it this far, but comes up one set short.


Elsewhere ...

Mooljee was back in action again at a tier-2 in Furth, Germany. Seeded 5th this time, he made it further(bad pun intended) that the previous week ... but not by much. In the second round, unseeded Argentina Benjamin Mendez knocked him out in a close straight-sets scoreline. It was basically the same situation as before; Mendez is an all-rally, no-serve veteran who is superior on clay and in better match shape. Two tier-2 events, two early losses, the kinds of matches he normally wins. Safe to say our young hero has finally hit the wall, at least for the moment. These kinds of results actually knock him backwards in terms of rankings, with a futures success from last year coming off his tally every few weeks. He was fortunate enough to snag a good doubles partner, and made a run to the final, so at least Mooljee will be able to take a couple weeks off for training. This was the last week of his teen years, which were overwhelmingly successful except for the recent unpleasantness.


Coming Up ...

Everybody's off until Wimbledon in three weeks, when Mehul will go for his third straight title. Certainly his performance here at RG provides hope that he's shaken off the doldrums of the last couple of months.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2016, 05:27 PM   #297
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
2044 Wimbledon

Opening Rounds

When the draw came out, it was clear that Girish Girsh had an interesting opportunity here. He was once again in the same quarter as Marcek, as he had been in the Australian Open to start the year but not since then. With the Czech no. 2 not having quite the clay season he had a year ago(thanks in no small part to Mehul outlasting him a few weeks ago at RG), Girsh had closed the gap despite his own struggles. If he could beat Marcek in the quarters, he would nearly eliminate it and give himself a chance at getting to #4 by the end of the year.

Mehul was not so happy with his draw, as Benda was on his side(it would be much preferred to have him playing on Iglar's side, as it was last year, so that he only needed to play one of them). But you can't win them all, and he did have things his way at the French, so it was only fair really. Time to see if he could win a third straight here. 10 men have won two in a row, but only three have done it three years consecutively ... Gabriel Alastra stands alone with four straight here. So it's a real chance at some significant history.

Shreya Ujjaval had himself an easy win over a qualifier -- ntndeacon's Nawal Sebban, a veteran who has never been past the first round of a Slam. He then met Anton Grimaldo, fresh off an upset of 31st-seed Vito Brandini, and Grimaldo knocked out Ujjaval in a tough four-set match. Still a solid result for the steadily improving Sri Lanka no. 3.

Girsh and Mehul both progressed easily through the early rounds, neither dropping a set in their first three matches though Mehul did have a bit of trouble with one of the younger Herreras in the third round. In the round of 16, Girsh met up with former nemesis Milan Farkas, who he played at this same stage last year and defeated. It's the Czech no. 3's best surface, but he struggled mightily to make any headway on Girsh's serve, and lost in four. Mehul played a foe of similar quality and took four as well to put away Mugur Kinczllers

While this was going on, Prakash Mooljee was in Germany for another clay tier-2 challenger. This time he was able to exorcise of the ghosts of his recent early exits, taking the title in a fine final match against 4-seed Matthias Faber, who enjoyed the support of the crowd being a local player. It was another example of Mooljee escaping a match in which he was slightly outplayed, and it went down to the end with a 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 final. It's the first 90-point challenger that Prakash has won, and a lot better than first and second-round exits, though he was out in qualifying in the doubles which is more of what we might expect.


Second Week

Wimbledon is often full of surprises, and there were three double-digits seeds that reached the quarterfinals this year. None of them would go any further though. Russia's Afanasy Bereznity, off to a disappointing start to the year, was dispatched easily by Iglar. Italy's Tobia Alberti had done Girsh a great favor by knocking out Marcek in the third round, and the math meant that if Girsh won their encounter and reached the semifinals, he would take over the #4 spot in the rankings! He controlled the match throughout and was helped considerably in an easy straight-sets win by the fact that Alberti did not convert a single one of his six chances to break. The final underdog was another young player, Sweden's Elias Trulsen. An excellent athlete with a good serve and a strong affinity for grass play, he was no push-over, but after dropping a first-set tiebreak Mehul recovered to push him aside in four sets.

The semifinals looked much different with four of the world's top five left; the chaff had been removed, so to speak. Girsh's 19th try at Antonin Iglar was a sad affair; he won just seven games and was thoroughly manhandled. The second matchup was Mehul against Bjorn Benda, their fourth meeting on grass and all of the previous ones had been hotly constested. This was no exception. After dropping the first set, and then an epic tiebreaker in the second, Anil had to stage a comeback from 2-0 down. He was clearly the better player over the last half of the match, but it still took a long fifth set for him to eventually down the 30-year-old German, 3-6, 6-7(10), 6-4, 6-4, 9-7. Benda saved 16 of the 20 break points he faced, and it was almost enough for him to get the upset. He simply refuses to grow old gracefully -- there's no quit yet in the former champion.

Having struggled to a degree in four straight matches leading up to it, and facing the best player in the world looking in dominant form without dropping a set so far in the tournament, Anil Mehul was in the unusual situation of being an underdog two-time defending champion in the final. He would clearly need to step up his game if he was going to win this. He trailed again, dropping the first set and then the third, but once again forced a long fifth set ... and once again won it, a pair of fairly astonishing comeback wins against the best players in the world accomplishing his third straight title here, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-5! Iglar did well to make it go that long considering that he only cracked the Mehul serve once, in the first set, but the third-set tiebreak made it go the distance. Overall, Anil was definitely the better player, rising to the moment here in a most satisfying third addition to his Slam trophy case.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2016, 05:40 PM   #298
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
Top Ten Rankings Update

1. Antonin Iglar(27, CZE) -- 14,170

Despite the Wimbledon defeat, Iglar has only three setbacks this year, none on hardcourt. It's looking like another banner year for him, and he's opened up a sizable lead. He's up to 5th now in total weeks at #1 with 174.

2. Anil Mehul(28, SRI) -- 12,210

A fairly brief wobble was more than enough to drop Mehul from the top spot; he's lost eight this year, compared to nine all of last year. He's still unquestionably the clear second-best though, and that's just fine if he finishes the season well.

3. Bjorn Benda(30, DEU) -- 8,650

None of the chasers are even approaching him yet. It looks like Benda will be a factor for another year or two, assuming he chooses to.

4. Girish Girsh(25, SRI) -- 5,820

Having taken the opportunity presented him, Girsh continues to flounder against the top three but has moved up to the important fourth spot for the first time. Whether he can stay there or not is still an open question ...

5. Cestmir Marcek(30, CZE) -- 5,700

Finally we've seen the first evidence that Marcek is returning to the reality that he's old. It's not certain whether it's just a blip or not, but his third-round exit at Wimbledon was the first time he's failed to reach the second week of a Slam in two years.

6. Pierce Gaskell(28, USA) -- 5,180

Still all quarterfinals and no preparation, Gaskell may be starting to slide a bit also.

7. Radek Smitala(26, USA) -- 4,250

Now clearly the US #2, it will be interesting to see how Smitala fares in the WTC along Gaskell this year.

8. Thiago Herrera(26, PER) -- 3,870

9. Perry Mockler(28, USA) -- 3,480

Mockler is fading with a horde of contenders ready to take his place. He'll be gone from this list soon.

10. Gustavo Caratti(24, ARG) -- 3,110

A bit more youth here as Caratti is gradually rising despite being criminally overplayed. I don't think there's a better athlete in tennis right now.


The gap between Caratti and 15th in the rankings(Farkas) is just over 400 points; there is a lot of competition for the last couple of spots in the Top 10 right now. So far though, none of the next generation has managed to join that group, which mostly has players at or near their primes.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 03-29-2016 at 05:45 PM.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2016, 05:59 PM   #299
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
Sri Lanka Rankings Update


Anil Mehul -- 2nd singles(unchanged). A couple of 250 titles, but Mehul has been unable to replicate last year's success except at Wimbledon. The clay season was particularly underwhelming, but he's still more than good enough to be Iglar's best competition.


Girish Girsh -- 6th to 4th singles. Girsh still has a couple hundred points less than he had at the start of the year, but moves up due to a significant crash on the part of Marcek. The battle for fourth, and the vital right to avoid the Big 3 until the semifinals that comes with it, is far from over though. He has only a 120-point cushion and will be skipping Washington, where he was a semifinalist last year. It is very possible, perhaps even probable, that Marcek could regain the spot after Canada, where he lost in the third round last season. Maybe even sooner, if he picks up some points in the interim. There is a lot of work left if Girsh is to secure the #4 ranking, which is his primary goal heading into the US Open and the end of the year. A lot of jostling and yo-yoing is likely to happen between now and then, and he really needs to avoid any more big upset losses.


Prakash Mooljee --- 162nd to 114th singles, 2011th to 755th doubles. One good run moved him up to a nearly-respectable doubles ranking but he's still losing in qualifying almost every time out. The recent title in Marburg got him back on the right track in singles though. Mooljee will continue playing Tier 2's at best for a little while though; there's no point in trying to move up to Tier-1's until he's well inside the Top 100, and he's probably still six months away from having a real chance to take on the top challenger players.


Manager Ranking -- 3rd(unchanged), 30.9k points to 32.6k. How's this for close: Hayato still holds the second spot after Wimbledon by twenty-seven points. He's got 32,589, to my 32,562. That's just over eight hundredths of a percent. I've been stuck just behind for something close to a calendar year now, but I'm finally almost there.


Coming Up ...

Everybody is off for the next month, until the Canada and Cincinatti Masters. Since we're still in the World Team Cup, Girsh and Mehul will play five tournament weeks out of six at that point, so they'll need the rest and hopefully will be ready to play at a high level coming out of the training weeks.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 03-29-2016 at 06:00 PM.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-29-2016, 06:21 PM   #300
Brian Swartz
Pro Rookie
 
Join Date: May 2006
Race to the World Tour Finals
Initial Post-Wimbledon Standings

In

Antonin Iglar -- 8,620
Bjorn Benda -- 6,370
Anil Mehul -- 6,280

Three Slam tournaments so far, three different champions. Iglar been the consistent factor in between though, and heading into his best time of the year on the US hardcourts there is virtually no chance anyone is going to catch him. Mehul may be in third here at the moment, but I don't see him staying there either. Benda's best events are all in the rear-view mirror now.


Probable

Girish Girsh -- 4,670
Cestmir Marcek -- 4,120

These two have their own private little battle going on. They are too good be involved in the qualification battle, and not good enough to contend with the best in the world.


Contenders

Thiago Herrera -- 2,865
Pierce Gaskell -- 2,800
Radek Smitala -- 2,670
------------------------------

This trio has an edge on the rest ... for the moment. For Smitala, it would be his first berth, replacing Mockler, but there's a long way to go, and lot of chasers. Gaskell, despite his solid position in the current rankings, has a lot of his points to defend at the end of the year. He's by no means safe here if he can't pull it off.


Long Shots

Gustavo Caratti -- 2,285
Marcelo Herrera -- 2,170
John Condon -- 2,155
Perry Mockler -- 2,110
Mugur Kinczllers -- 2,090
Milan Farkas -- 2,085
Roger Federer -- 1,765

Very little separates most of this chaotic horde of wanna-bes. It remains to be seen if any of them will make a serious run at qualifying, but they certainly can't be counted out yet.
Brian Swartz is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:06 AM.



Powered by vBulletin Version 3.6.0
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.