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Old 08-16-2019, 04:00 PM   #1151
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Q2 Rankings Update

1. Nicolas Perez (25, ARG) - 14,270

Despite 'only' winning one of the three big events in the early going, Nicolas has expanded his lead and is now over a year consecutive at #1 ... with more to come. There is reason to wonder though whether he might possibly lose ground compared to last year's near-clean-sweep on clay.

2. Harald Wentz (24, AUT) - 10,040

Wentz has always been up and down on clay, but now he's become more so on hardcourts as well. Still more consistently excellent than any of the other challengers, and there's no reason to think he won't stay as a fairly distant #2.

3. Chisulo Mpakati (24, ZIM) - 6,115

Narrowly hanging onto the #3 spot. It's easy to see things potentially getting both better or worse for him.

4. Tobias Velilla (23, ARG) - 5,920

Velilla hasn't done anything since the Australian to validate being #4 in the world ... but having said that he is still quite young. Seems to be very up and down, but could find that consistency in time.

5. Ollie Haas (26, NLD) - 5,460

Still can't count him out in terms of possibly taking a Top 4 spot, but unlike the players currently holding those positions Haas has peaked or is at least very close to it.

6. John Hart (30, IRE) - 5,295

Continuing to fade away, but also up to 33rd in doubles.

7. Calisto Aviles (24, ESP) - 4,820

A strong run in Miami is the lastest in a growing body of evidence that he's broadening himself beyond clay. The big question right now is whether he can unseat Perez again as the top player on the dirt? It's a very real possibility.

8. Il-Sung Jung (25, KOR) - 4,230

Down to 11th after a full year of mostly mediocre showings, Jung grabbed the Miami title to regain singles relevancy and remind everyone that he's still a threat when he wants to be. With #8 having about 70% of the points of #3, continued mobility up and down the Top 10 is expected.

9. Lucas Perez (25, ARG) - 3,770

I'd given up on Lucas P making his move, so of course he did so when, after an unimpressive AO, he reached the SF in IW and QF in Miami. Now, as has been observed, the question becomes whether he can carry forward this streak of strong play onto his favored clay?

10. Tim de Jong (27, NLD) - 3,710

A renaissance is always possible, but de Jong is playing evermore like the weak link, the guy who doesn't belong.

11. Srba Dogic (26, CRO)

Up to 9th for a while, then back down with the surges of L. Perez and Jung ... and probably he'll bounce back up past Hart and possibly de Jong as well eventually. He's below the standard of the other high-achievers though for sure.

13. Clavet Moniotte (26, FRA)

Up a few spots to a career high despite some upsets - although with his low facility on hardcourts, were they really? I forget how much of a fan of indoor play he is, and also strong on clay.

17. Sushant Chiba (31, SRI)

Surging back to the top spot in the nation's rankings despite his age. It's almost like he's mad that I'm shifting him doubles and proving he can still play the singles game. Recently a flattering offer for him to partner with Karl Kaspar in doubles came in, and I normally would have jumped at it if I didn't have other plans.

18. Amrik Kasaravalli (25, SRI)

There's mostly elder statesman between him and that elusive Top-16 berth. Molyneaux, Rhodes, the sliding Solberg, Mathou, and of course Chiba. It's going to happen, but as he approaches his peak Amrik needs to get there ASAP ... and he has a Rome QF to defend so it's an open question whether he can manage during what still should be the best part of his season.

20. Algot Hakanson (26, SWE)

Kind of in the same boat, trying to find a way to push up just a few more spots.

21. Ross Vicars (21, USA)

QF Showing at Miami was helpful for him. Without the partisan crowd and his favored hardcourt surface, I expect less fireworks out of him on the dirt.

22. Fabio Cagide (22, ESP)

On the other hand, there should be more from this prodigy. Let's see if last year's run to the RG quarters was an aberration or not.

23. . Odimos Csollang (21, ROU)

Oh yeah, Csollang is most definitely here to stay after that Miami SF ... and he played like he had a chance to win the darned thing. Not much of a clay guy though so he'll likely struggle more these next months. But in the summer and fall we'll assuredly hear more from him.

25. Acke Kjaerstad (25, SWE)

Slipped a couple spots so far from last year - the next wave of youngsters has passed him by. That whole equal-distribution of surfaces thing is making it hard for him to achieve any kind of breakthrough. He's the guy others win competitive matches against to achieve theirs more often.

32. Joao Narciso (24, BRA)

There's another raft of old fogies in the upper-20s, a batch of players Narciso is leading the charge in trying to push past. Still a number of challenger results to drop off, and a nice run in IW (4th rd) was counterbalanced by tripping up at the first hurdle in Miami.

There are [b]five/b] 30-somethings in the Top 32, the most I ever recall seeing. That's a testament to the staying power of Hart's Harem. Another half-dozen in the 28-29 range, for a total of a third of the section being filled with players that before long won't be there. Only one really (Campos) has even dropped out in recent times. The transition hasn't happened yet, but it's coming and should start basically like now.

34. Helmut Edlund (23, SWE)

Still hanging out at the top of the Challenger ranks, awaiting his moment to move up.

36. Willy Weigl (23, AUT)

Yep, him too.

49. Tommy Fitzpatrick (21, IRE)

A couple recent Challenger titles have moved TFitz into the Top 50! Congrats!! I'll be surprised if he's still playing at this level by the end of the year.

51. Mark Smith (21, GBR)

A couple of near-misses with runner-up showing in CH2 Singapore and CH2 Pingguo lately have Smith sort of having hit a speed bump. Once the grass season arrives we'll see how much he's learned since last year - that's when he'll either make a big push, or not.

73. Nasir Chittoor (21, SRI)

The reduced doubles schedule means Chittoor is actually ranked higher in singles than the pairs accounting. He's up modestly (10 spots) so far even with the string of successes halted in Barranquilla. It's all about continuing to improve still, since Nasir is not yet quite ready to consistently beat the best of the Challenger foes. That time is fast approaching though, and things could be different as soon as this summer.

79(D). Satyagit Guha (21, SRI)

Doubles ranking is actually down a bit, but up to 289th in singles. It would be most useful for him to break out of futures there, and that's the primary goal right now. Also closing in on maxing out his doubles technique.

109. Ritwik Intodia (21, SRI)

After a QF showing in CH2 Meknes (won in doubles), Intodia took over a month off until this week so he hasn't played a bunch lately, but still up from 125th at the start of the year and gradually forging upwards.

158. Helmut Hoetker (20, SUI)

Still looking for a challenger title but he's had a SF and F showings recently so he's getting close. Gradual progress.

166. Rakesh Kayeeda (21, SRI)

Back up into the Challenger ranks where he 'belongs', and the long climb resumes.

170. Lubos Rucklov (19, CZE)

Already a pair of CH3 SF showings have this teen clearly established at the challenger level.

179. Chiang-hui Cheng (19, TPE)

Also done with futures - recently a SF result at CH3 Bath.

403. Mike Corey (18, USA)


Wins some low-level futures events, others he's merely gotten close in, but it seems likely Corey will take aim at the higher tiers soon.

1659. Paolo Petrocelli (22, AUS)

A new addition who severely needs to be playing both aspects in amateurs to get his form up (2.1 as of this writing). A starter player who, if properly handled, will get his manager the points to invest elsewhere for players with a better future.

191(J). Joseph Charriol (16, MAL)

Victorious in JG4 Asuncion, but multiple attempts to succeed at higher tiers have not yet brought results.

211(J). Aleksije Konstantinovic (17, CRO)

Really, really not nice to make me spell out that name each time *sadface*. Mixed results at the JG3 level in recent months.

419(J). Raul Almaraz (16, PRT)

Aiming a bit high I'd say - Almaraz has some early exits recently. Recommend sticking to the JG4 or even better JG5 level until consistent success is found.

478(J). Hector Asurmendi (15, ARG)

Meteoric young player who just needs more matches - again both aspects of JG5 events are recommended. Projects with slightly above-average athleticism and endurance, not a great talent but definitely a player who could potentially do a few things.

567(J). Raul Estanada (15, CHI)

Another recent hire who had an ill-advised dip into Amateurs. Again JG5 is the way to go. Excellent talent, decent athleticism, but topping out at 2.2 endurance will make things really tough.

781(J). Eduardo Yroz (15, CHI)

Being scheduled quite intelligently so far this year. After one event with early exits, seems to be doing better in the last couple and establishing himself.

912(J). Sebastien Bisteri (15, ESP)

Low form (6.7) brought about by entering the wrong events. You know the drill by now -- JG5s, singles and doubles.

1085(J). Ambroz Kozubek (15, CZE)

Seems to have the right idea, but stay away from the Amatuers ... and hilariously tried to qualify at the senior AO with predictable results. Crawl before trying that olympic sprint.

1230(J). Kjell Falkeving (15, SWE)

Needs more tournaments to get that form up.

1233(J). Anant Koppula (15, SWE)

Repeating myself once more, stay away from anything that isn't a JG5 until the form is where it needs to be.

Probably also worth nothing that my manager ranking has been on the rise for a while now again. Was in the upper teens and about 13k points - I'm now up to 9th and 20k+. Still a long way to go, but we're on the mend.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 08-16-2019 at 05:32 PM.
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Old 08-17-2019, 09:53 AM   #1152
ntndeacon
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I picked up a trainer candidate while dumping the journeyman. Hopefully in a few days, I'll have enough points to get another long named player.
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Old 08-18-2019, 02:58 PM   #1153
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
April

Facing off against the United States to see who would win our WTC group, we had another up-and-down struggle just like against Italy. Against a team featuring world no. 15 doubles Stuart Pargeter we figured to lose a one-sided doubles encounter, and that indeed happened after pushing them to a tiebreak the first set. Amrik Kasaravalli started things out by beating Molyneaux, while Vicars snatched one back for the Americans against Sushant Chiba, both in straight sets as well. That put us one loss from defeat as play began on Thursday. Chiba battled past fellow veteran Barry Molyneaux in a tough four-setter, leaving the finale between Kasaravalli and Ross Vicars to decide it. 356 points later, that match had a similar result; the good guys take it 7-5, 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-3. Amrik is the hero this time, claiming two wins and we sure needed them both.

With a second straight 3-2 victory, we win this year's group of death and head into the quarterfinals unbeaten (so far). Sweden is up first and on an indoor court they are probably favored. Two indoor and no hardcourt assignments for the set of QF ties is just weird. Is what it is though … hard to see a winning path for that matchup from here.

The strong wee also moved Kasaravalli just above Chiba in the rankings, and he looked good to stay there and finally claim his spot in the Top 16 - for now. Looking to secure that location, he entered the Houston 250 in a week that I almost never play pro events in. As the top seed, Amrik advanced smoothly until a tough 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 win over 2-seed Algot Hakanson in the final. It still won't be easy to improve on last year's clay showing with how the top players are doing, but he's put himself in the best position to do so as he should be seeded for all of the clay Masters now.

Coming Up …

We get the clay season going with the first hurdle in Monte Carlo. My younger players will also head back out for another challenger event, so everybody's in action.

ETA: Also, fun fact; the Anilophiles own the Top-32 transition spots right now.

31 - Hughes
32 - Narciso
33 - Edlund
34 - Weigl

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 08-18-2019 at 03:10 PM.
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Old 08-19-2019, 07:16 AM   #1154
Christy
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Random point. Perez has now won 19 sets in a row vs Mpataki. Talk about having someone's number.
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Old 08-19-2019, 05:59 PM   #1155
Brian Swartz
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Show-off :P.

Monte Carlo

Nicolas Perez has now won the last three clay Masters - and RG last year - six of the last eight big events on the surface overall. He defeated Calisto Aviles, last year's trophy-holder, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 to claim his 10th Masters Shield. It was the only match this week that Perez lost a set in. Aviles on the other hand survived 3-set encounters with Wentz in the semis, L. Perez in the quarters, and Amrik Kasaravalli in a close final tiebreaker before that. It would have been a great opportunity for Amrik, but I didn't expect him to get that close to slaying the dragon. He's got a chance to do some damage on the clay, and hopefully will continue to put himself in positions to try to do that.

Chisulo Mpakati was the other semifinalist, which seems to be his appointed time to lose. Dropping out in the quarters were Tim de Jong who had narrowly escaped Hart, Mike Rhodes who might be 30 but beat Haas to show he still can play on his favorite surface, and Jung who got absolutely sandblasted by Harald Wentz. Other Anilophiles in the draw were:

** Seamus Hughes, second-round loser to N. Perez.
** Clavet Moniotte, who was the demonstration model for the abilities of young gun Fabio Cagide. The Spaniard would go to lose to Perez in round three.
** Algot Hakanson nearly knocked off Mathou in the second round, but succumbed in a final-set TB.
** Joao Narciso had an unfortunate draw, getting flattened in the opener by Rhodes.
** Sushant Chiba was beaten by Molyneaux at the initial hurdle in a contest of 30-somethings. He did qualify in doubles however as he slowly begins to turn his focus in that direction.

Elsewhere

Anilophiles swept the challenger events this week. Noting that Tommy Fitzpatrick elected to play at CH2 Santos, the tougher field of the two, I stayed clear of it. Fitz was pushed to three sets in the last two rounds, but came out on top over #1 seed Manual Iruso to claim the title. CH2 Naples was my destination, where aging Giona Angloma(ITA, #50), formerly ranked as high as 34th, was the top opposition. Angloma smashed Satyagit Guha in the quarterfinals, but it was still a good week for him to get that far - and be part of a strong doubles run that pulled down the hardware. Angloma went into the final having lost only one game in his previous two matches combined; both SF matches were double-bagels with Nasir Chittoor approaching on the challenger side of the draw after a more competitive quarterfinal. Nasir took a 6-3, 6-3 final that didn't really live up to the billing, getting himself back on track. I'll have more on this soon, but it's probably the last non-practice tournament for the doubles pairing here. Twas a good one to get plenty of matches in for both players here though.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 08-21-2019 at 12:15 AM.
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Old 08-21-2019, 03:16 AM   #1156
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Nothing worth reporting generally happens in the two-week break between Monte Carlo and Madrid - no disrespect intended to the many low-level players and their managers diligently working on bringing them up as best they can. But for me and my most valued charge, a most critical moment has come so I thought this an appropriate time to share my thought process on it.

The Great Transition: Challenger Hero Analysis

It has become time to look at what I consider to be one of, if not the most important and difficult decisions that a manager can make on a rising player of world-class quality. Challenger Hero is my term for the point at which a player forgoes doubles competition (except in practice events of course) in terms of concentrating soley on singles ones. This is the single most significant transitory moment in their career. From the time endurance rose high enough to support it, a period of several years now, the best option has been to play both singles and doubles constantly to maximize XP gain. Even boosting their rankings with the official tournaments has been done with the goal of giving them better, more effective practice events; these have been the focus and most of the time form has been kept minimal, with ranked tournaments only usually considered when needed to keep it at 15 or above and then returning to practice.

By making the transition to Challenger Hero mode, or the singles-only approach, a player is announcing that they soon will be ready for the elite group of the Top 32 players in the world. Continuing their development is still the goal, but they've reached a point at which it actually delays their development in the long-term to continue in both disciplines, because they will soon be good enough to play significant matches in the biggest events and gain from the increased XP they offer.

Taking a closer look at what the numbers mean for this, at any given period of, say, six months, only a handful at most of players will be able to graduate from Challenger to what I call Elite (sounds cooler than Top 32). A handful of the 168 at the Challenger level, so we're talking the top 2-3% or less of that group. What makes this decision very difficult to optimize the timing on is that you actually need to go for it slightly before you are ready. Playing deep in doubles every week as Chittoor & Guha have been doing allows for only one event every month and a half, roughly, or perhaps eight successful ones per year. That's just not enough points to move up - you need about twice that tournament frequency and going singles-only is a requirement to do that without form going sky-high at which point performance will plummet, defeating the purpose.

Make the push too early and you'll struggle along without being able to complete the move, having left being potential gained experience if you had waited. Too late, and you're behind the curve in terms of getting up into the Elite ranks where you can play in the bigger events. Moving then from the general to the specific, Nasir Chittoor is presently rated 8.00, but his next two trains which will be done before Wimbledon, will put him at 8.15. So let's say we split the difference and call him 8.07.

** Note: all of these rankings and ratings were taken during week 17, so they're slightly dated. That's when I did the analysis here.

Above the Line

24. Guillermo Valturri (86%, 7.94)

25. Valery Stachovsky (84%, 8.05)

27. Constantino Gonzoles (88%, 8.48)

28. Isa Solheim - no longer playing singles

29. Fabrizio Abinati (84%, 8.01)

30. Gregory Gulley (89%, 8.19) - plays doubles with Jung

31. Seamus Hughes (83%, 8.18) - focusing on doubles w/Hart.

32. Joao Narciso (96%, 8.09)

Narciso is basically the gatekeeper here and has been for about a year now. Chittoor has, for all intents and purposes, nearly caught him. Gonzoles should stay up for sure, he's much better than the rest. Gulley is questionable but I'd expect to pass the others (in terms of simply being a better player who'd expect to beat them more often than not) before year's end. So viewed from that perspective, we have roughly a half-dozen openings (with Solberg and Chiba, later Hart, eventually joining that group but who knows when - this is more short-term). As has been discussed, this is quite a good situation in terms of the possibilities - often there are fewer than this. Now, who are the key competitors for those positions, and how does Nasir compare to them?

Below the Line

33. Helmut Edlund (96%, 8.03)

34. Willy Weigl (97%, 8.00)

37. Peter de Boer (98%, 8.26)

38. Pieter de Boer (98%, 8.08)

40. Pedro Perez (93%, 8.23)

45. Jaak Christ (97%, 8.09)

48. Tommy Fitzpatrick (99%, 8.05)

51. Mark Smith (100%, 8.02)

There's some others such as Gronhag around here in the 8.0 range, but most are slightly below it.

Analysis

I think we can pencil in the the first de Boer, Perez, and Fitzpatrick (who is due for another upward shift) for three spots. After that it's a free-for-all. By the fall, Nasir should have a slight and increasing advantadge on everyone else and be around 8.2. In order to be in a position to make a serious charge at the end of the year/early next year, he needs to be accumulating points NOW.

All other things being equal I'd prefer to wait a few months longer and then start making the push, so that I'd have bit more of a clear advantage by the time I get his ranking high enough. However, all other things are not equal. In the summer, when the biggest chunk of Challenger events are available and therefore the potential competition is the most spread out, we've got to be ready to take advantage of it - and waiting another year would be WAY too long. So I'll settle for being just a hair unready over the alternative. I judge the cost of waiting to be a fair bit higher than the cost of going all-in at the present time. .

Therefore I am taking the plunge; Chittoor is entering Challenger Hero Mode and will be exclusively or nearly-so be playing singles events, timed to maximize his form and performance for optimal ranking points gain. That means that once form drops below 20, it's time to find a new event to play so that he'll be in the peak performance range and have the best chance of success. This will continue until breaks into the Top 32, hitting the next tier with all of the adjustments that attend to Elite status. Time to break through that wall ... or fail trying. Right now he's at a career-best 67th, with 750 points; he'll need to nearly double that total which means several more tournaments need to be won. The chase is now on in earnest.

The professional tour should consider themselves warned: The Anilophiles Are Coming!! Chittoor has … company. He is not the greatest of this group, and he will be far from alone.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 08-21-2019 at 03:18 AM.
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Old 08-21-2019, 09:00 AM   #1157
ntndeacon
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I finally got enough points to make a trainer out of Brasher. Since I didn't love any of the 14 yr old I got a little older guy...
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Old 08-23-2019, 12:46 AM   #1158
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Congrats on getting a trainer - that's an important step.
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Old 08-23-2019, 01:03 AM   #1159
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Madrid

The Spaniards served notice this week that they are once again to be feared, at least when playing on the dirt and on their home turf. Calisto Aviles didn't just make the title match this time, he won it over Harald Wentz, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. And where was Nicolas Perez you may ask? He was a spectator due to a stunning third-round upset by the other Spaniard, Fabio Cagide. Cagide would go on to be flattened in the quarterfinals by Haas, who is not known for his clay play, so it would appear that it just wasn't Nicolas' week. Of course, he can afford one of these every once in a while.

Ollie Haas would go on to lose to Aviles in the semis, a great run for him. On the other side it was Il-Sung Jung who formed the opposition for Wentz. Straight-sets in both of those. Prior to the final, the Austrian world no. 2 faced his toughest opposition from a certain Sri Lankan, sending Amrik Kasaravalli home crying 6-3 , 6-7(3), 7-5 in the third round. While Wentz was definitely the better player in the encounter, I mean the crying part literally. Amrik served for the match at 5-3 in the final set, having played well enough in the key moments to be in great position to steal the match. He saved multiple BPs in each of his last service games but ultimately had the upset on his racket and couldn't get it done. Kasaravalli has lost to the eventual runner-up in the first two Clay masters now, but has very little to show for it. His hopes are now pinned on Rome, where he had a breakthrough last year (note that I was thinking this before I saw the results there, for those keeping up on it).

Mpakati, Hart, and Moniotte (badly in that case but he got there) were the other quarterfinal round losers. The first two pushed the eventual finalists to three sets each, so they have nothing to be ashamed of. Moniotte defeated 4-seed Tobias Velilla earlier so nice job by him. Other Anilophiles entered were Willy Weigl (l. Perez 2nd round), Helmut Edlund (l. Mpakati 2nd round), Seamus Hughes (l. Aviles 2nd round), and Algot Hakanson (l. L. Perez 1st round in three sets). Oh, and Sushant Chiba, first-round victim of Cagide who had some nice wins this week, took the first set but couldn't stay with the younger man.

Elsewhere

Really tough scheduling decision as Nasir Chittoor was up for another tournament. A couple of CH1 events were available, and arguably winnable - but it seemed just a likely to be a runner-up or semifinalist result. So I went for the safe, nearly-certain win in CH3 Zagreb. Not as many points and probably lower XP as well, but it was a total walk as Chittoor cruised to the title and the 75 points for the winner. Satyagit Guha's strategy is to stay as close in form to Nasir as possible, even though that's not quite optimal for his development, so he can help by being doubles partner for practice weeks. He was off to an F2 event in Ecuador, as the only F1 was in the USA with some quality Americans participating. That also went off without a hitch as only the final set in the championship match was even close. So both players did everything they could this week.

Up Next

The third clay masters in Rome, the final tuneup for RG.
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Old 08-23-2019, 07:45 PM   #1160
Brian Swartz
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Rome

Playing in one of the world's most historic cities, Nicolas Perez bounced back from the early loss last week to re-establish himself. This time the final victim was Chisulo Mpakati, who broke the impressive streak of sets lost in a row against the world no.1 but still couldn't get over the hump completely. The end was sad in a 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-0 that got worse and worse as it went on for the pride of Zimbabwe, and indeed the entire continent of Africa. The semifinalists were not exactly expected. After skipping Madrid entirely, Mike Rhodes showed that he can still play. de Jong, Haas, even Wentz in a third-set QF tiebreak found that out the hard way. But he definitely hit a wall in Mpakati, taking only four games. On the other side, Amrik Kasaravalli just likes playing here apparently. He had a credible but one-sided 6-3, 6-4 defeat against Perez. Before that, he avenged the close MC loss to Calisto Aviles with another close one in which the Spanaird was more consistent but Amrik was fresher and managed one more break conversion than his opponent. Prior to that, it was Algot Hakanson who did me the favor of knocking out Velilla early in an extremely close match; Kasaravalli has now won three straight against Hakanson, all of them on clay and all of them tough matches. So after making a breakthrough last year and reaching the quarters here, he goes one step further this season in his first Masters semi *clapclap*

Jung and Lucas Perez, who gave Mpakati a real run for his money, were the other QF losers. Willy Weigl lost a close 2nd-rounder to Dogic, Helmut Edlund was smacked silly by Jung at the same stage, Seamus Hughes ran out of gas against Mathou and John Hart departed early in a close one against Kjaerstad. Clavet Moniotte was sad after he lost in three to aging veteran Abinati as well. But no Anilophiles lost in the first round, so that's something to celebrate.

Coming Up

After a week off, the clay season wraps up in Roland Garros.
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Old 08-26-2019, 07:59 PM   #1161
Brian Swartz
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2068 Roland Garros

I'll start off with a bit of doubles this time, as Guha/Chiba officially made their debut. They progressed smoothly through qualifying and won their first match in the main draw as well, before getting pummeled by (11) Fantoni/Aubry 6-3, 6-1. A quality start, but we still have quite a bit of work to do there. That pairing ended up in the semifinals, so perhaps they are better than their seeding would indicate. Seamus/Hughes lost a close match to the eventual runners-up in the quarterfinals, while Karl Kaspar is apparently doing just fine without Chiba as he paired with Krasjoe Godinic to take the title - there were a few close calls though. The doubles scene appears to be highly competitive, and we'll aim to make it even more so before Chiba's time is done.

On the singles scene, Anilophiles progressed through the first round without incident, even a couple of unseeded entrants - and more than ever before earned themselves seeded protection. Shakti Vemireddy is still out there causing mischief, taking a set from Velilla before submitting. Veteran Jorge Campos was the only seed to lose. In the second round we saw how vulnerable Odimos Csollang is on clay, with the 20-seed bowing meekly to Jaak Christ of the USA. (30) Willy Weigl survived his first-test in a four-setter against a journeyman from Italy, while 7th-ranked John Hart unceremoniously departed in straight sets to Pieter de Boer, aka de Boer the Lesser. Tommy Fitzpatrick went out in three to Haas, and Seamus Hughes came up short in a match against Dogic that went the distance. Those were the only unseeded members of our club in the main draw. (11) Clavet Moniotte played an epic against rising Argentine (yes, another one) Pedro Perez, same guy I recently tapped to join the elite ranks soon, and came up short in five sets. That's a disappointing result for Moniotte, who made the quarterfinals here last year.

Heating up a bit per usual in the third, we saw Weigl push Rhodes to five sets although he was served breadsticks in the final two frames, an unfortunate close to a promising start there. Kasaravalli was pushed to four by Argentine Hugo Licona but he got through, and Chiba knocked out (10) Srba Dogic with surprising ease, a straight-set conquest. (32) Joao Narciso and (28) Helmut Edlund both bowed out to higher-ranked opposition in three sets apiece, Jung and L. Perez respectively. There were only two matches in the round, out of 16, that the higher-ranked player did not win. In the fourth, de Boer the Lesser finally hit a wall, with Kasaravalli surrendering eight total games to take advantadge of the hole his opponent had created in the draw. Sushant Chiba's surprising push came to a swift end against an apparently-resurgent Haas, but making the final 16 at age 32 is still not bad. (21) Algot Hakanson also did well here but found himself outclassed by Aviles. And there were a couple of upsets on the bottom half of the draw; Il-Sung Jung is unpredictable but lost meekly to L. Perez, while last year's finalist (2) Harald Wentz was defeated in four sets by de Jong of all people. What has gotten into him?

Amrik Kasaravalli, in his second straight and second-ever Slam quarterfinal, faced off against the best player in the world and acquitted himself respectably. He played just well enough to have a chance at stealing the match, taking a third-set tiebreak and holding a break point opportunity at 4-all in the fourth that would have given him a chance to serve his way into a 5th set where anything could happen. Perez held though, and quickly broke himself to take the match. Ollie Haas showed signs of continuing to push onwards, taking a couple of close sets against Mpakati before the world no. 3 found another gear to rally for the comeback victory. Lucas Perez was the latest to find out that de Jong is playing his best tennis right now, dropping both tiebreak opportunities in a four-set defeat. Tobias Velilla was the latest routine victim of Aviles in the final matchup.

The semifinals had two matchups with a clear favorite, and there were no surprises. Perez dismissed Chisulo Mpakati though the latter played served well enough to be competitive, and Tim de Jong snagged an opening-set tiebreak only to win just two games in the next two sets combined. He fell in four eventually. There was little question that the championship match pitted the two most deserving clay players of not just the this year, but the past few combined. Calisto Aviles made it his second final here in three years; all three have featured Nicolas Perez. The Spaniard served brilliantly, with 13 aces against no double faults, while Perez was not so efficient. Nonetheless, he is #1 for a reason and had the better of it by a significant margin the rallies. A second straight RG title for Nicolas, 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3.

Perez's lead in the rankings grows ever-larger over Wentz. Meanwhile Aviles moves up to #3, leaving Velilla and Mpakati to fight over the narrowest of margins for that crucial #4 spot, and de Jong is suddenly relevant again. Young Fabio Cagide was unable to replicate his showing from a year ago, so any outbreak on his part probably waits a while longer. This was a tournament for those who have been there, not the younger generation.

Elsewhere

There was much going on in the Challenger circuit as well. Nasir Chittoor entered CH2 Nantes, where the toughest opposition came from 4-seed Ritwik Intodia, a fellow Sri Lankan, in a 6-4, 6-4 semifinal. The title match was against a familiar face, American Tim Gudsell. Three earlier meetings had gone Gudsell's way, but Chittoor showed clearly he'd surpassed him and allowed just three games. Satyagit Guha, along with playing doubles, had IMO a half-decent chance to qualify at RG. He lost in the second round though, so that hope was not to be fulfilled. The next week he headed off to his first and possibly only FT1 event. A couple of matches were somewhat competitive, but he was never seriously threatened and claimed the trophy to boost himself to just barely inside the Top 200 for now. He may or may not need another futures tournament over the summer but he's close to escaping that level of play either way.

Meanwhile Chittoor had another challenger to pick. Normally I wouldn't play back-to-back events but during the next three weeks in the run-up to Wimbledon pickings will be slim. There was a lot more going on here. The main event was CH+ Prostejov, which had four Top-40 players. That field included Anilophiles Weigl, Narciso, and Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick topped Weigl in the semis, but neither he or Narciso could stop Russian Andrey Rublev in competitive matches. To my mind those who were modest upsets, but Rublev got the job done. Nasir had no intention of jumping into that fray, and Mark Smith was the prohibitive favorite, and eventually champion, at CH1 Nottingham. That left two CH2 clay events to choose from, in Furth and Rijeka. Furth had the more crowded field, but the strongest opposition figured to come from de Boer the Lesser in Rijeka. That's where I initially decided to play, but at the last minute changed my mind to Furth. I think it was the right choice; de Boer won Rijeka, while Chittoor met some resistance in the final couple of matches before taking the Furth trophy. The final against top-seeded Manuel Iruso had the hilarious scoreline of 6-7(11), 6-0, 6-1.

Overall, it was an excellent two weeks for my players. Kasaravalli wraps up a successful clay campaign, Chiba gets his doubles debut, and the youngsters both get tournament victories they needed to boost their respective rankings. I'm far less certain what will happen over the grass season that my charges are particularly ill-suited for, but after Wimbledon the picture of how the summer will play out should have gained significant clarity.
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Old 08-27-2019, 06:07 AM   #1162
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Fun Fact: Eight players, #33-40 in the rankings, presently have more than 1200 points and less than 1300. Somebody figure that mess out.
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Old 08-28-2019, 04:24 AM   #1163
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Another Fun Fact: There are two players in the Top 10 older than 26; de Jong is 27 and Hart 30. Meanwhile there are no players 11-19 younger than 26, and three 30-somethings. The tour has plenty of players in their prime at the top, but the second tier there definitely has some recycling to do.
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Old 08-28-2019, 04:30 AM   #1164
Christy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Swartz View Post
Another Fun Fact: There are two players in the Top 10 older than 26; de Jong is 27 and Hart 30. Meanwhile there are no players 11-19 younger than 26, and three 30-somethings. The tour has plenty of players in their prime at the top, but the second tier there definitely has some recycling to do.

Interesting.

With De Jong and Hart being the defending finalists from Wimbledon and Dogic and Kasaveralli in range of the top 10 we could have all of them 26 or younger in the top 10 soon
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Old 08-29-2019, 03:20 AM   #1165
Brian Swartz
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That would be even stranger!

June

Not a whole lot happened.

Three of my players just took the whole period between the channel slams off to practice. Amrik Kasaravalli played in Queen's Club (500), mostly because I felt I needed to have him play in 500s at this point and he could use some improvement I that category. I wasn't expecting much, but he had himself an interesting time. Local favorite and former Anilophile Mike Ferry was his first opponent, and he made it tough before a long tiebreak ended the match in straight sets. Pretty routine advancement against Dobos and Stachovsky led Amrik to a SF matchup against Pedro Perez, who I'd recently tipped to escape the challenger ranks soon. By getting this far, Perez had nearly done so. He was right on the edge of being seeded at Wimbledon, or not. Meanwhile going further would be a significant boost to Kasaravalli pushing towards the Top 10. So there was a lot to play for here. I expected to win, but Perez was little better all the way around, and took a 6-3, 7-6(2) victory. So he's decisively graduated, even with a loss to Mpakati in the final. Meanwhile, Mark Smith fell a round short of last year's SF result here, thanks to Kjaerstad taking a dual-tiebreak tilt.

Events elsewhere progressed largely as they have, and a further settling-out is about to occur. It would seem that Wimbledon will crown a new champion as John Hart won there the last two years, as well as four out of the past six. Strange things often happen on the grass, and there's usually at least a major surprise or two. Who will it be this year?

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Old 08-31-2019, 01:04 AM   #1166
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Good grief Argentina, let the other countries have a piece of the pie as well.
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Old 08-31-2019, 03:28 PM   #1167
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2068 Wimbledon

On the doubles side, Godinic/Kaspar surely seem on the rise, winning their second straight Slam event. Hughes/Hart reached the final though, their first as a pairing and they definitely appear to be on their way up. Guha/Chiba got a nice win over 9-seeds Castegali/Pargeter in the first round, eventually losing in the third to the top-seeded Mexican duo. They appear to be improving as well. Guha lost his first singles match, so he didn't do as well on that side.

(24) Guillermo Valturri (MEX) was the only seeded casualty of the first round in singles, and all of the Anilophiles in the main draw moved through pretty uneventfully. A couple more low seeds were knocked out at the next hurdle. Joao Narciso had himself a near miss, losing 9-7 in the 5th set to Dogic, a real coin-flip of an epic struggle in that one. Seamus Hughes bowed in straight sets to Gulley, and (23) Ross Vicars (USA) was the highest seed to yet lose, against another American Jaak Christ. And then there was the interesting showdown between Tommy Fitzpatrick and Mark Smith. Smith had just sneaked in as the last seed after a strong grass campaign that included the Eastbourne 250 title the previous week. Impressive job there, and this is his turf - he booted Fitz 6-4, 7-6(4), 7-6(5).

Per usual, carnage accelerated in the third round. (26) Helmut Edlund was kicked out easily by N. Perez, (17) Sushant Chiba got to one tiebreak but left in straights against Aviles, and (29) Willy Weigl went out similarly against L. Perez. Others struggled harder before losing. (20) Algot Hakanson had no. 2 Wentz down two sets to one before falling, Smith suprisingly - at least to me - went out to (13) Clavet Moniotte in a relatively easy four, and (12) Amrik Kasaravalli lost to Gonzoles in a match I had him as a slight favorite in. Gonzoles is one of the few players who is superior to him mentally, but I thought his superior baseline skills would carry him through. 2-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 was the scoreline, an unfortunate result that could have gone either way.

I figured it was no big deal as third-ranked Chisulo Mpakati was going to mow down the winner anyway ... and then Gonzoles prevailed in another five-setter there by a very similar count. The 11-9 4th set tiebreak would have changed the result if it went against him, but he pulled it out and Mpakati had to leave this tournament frustrated. The four-tiebreak win by Haas over Kjaerstad was also full of quite a bit of drama. (4) Calisto Aviles lost in four sets to L. Perez, further thinning out the top players. (9) John Hart officially ended his title defense in meek form, a 6-3, 6-1, 6-0 defeat against Velilla. Moniotte had an up-and-down match against Jung, but came up on the short end of a 6-2 final stanza.

There were a handful of usual suspects in the quarterfinals, but all three lower-seeded players who made it were from Argentina. Four in all from there. Ollie Haas pushed N. Perez to a couple of tiebreaks but couldn't win any of them; three close sets against Tim de Jong all went the way of L. Perez; and Constantino Gonzoles lost in his third straight 5-setter, but not by much ... it took an 11-9 third-set TB and a 9-7 finale to get him out. Velilla was fortunate to survive that one. It was also fairly suprising to see no. 2 Harald Wentz defeated as easily as he was by Jung.

Three players from the same country in the semis, and both matches were rather spectacular. Lucas Perez tried to play spoiler again, pushing the world's best to a 5th set by saving 16 of 20 BPs. Nicolas eventually came through 7-5, but it was quite a scare. In the second one, Il-Sung Jung lost a match he probably should have won, also in five sets. Tobias Velilla served brilliantly to rally for the comeback win there. Attempting to duplicate his AO upset of Nicolas Perez, he came up woefully short in a 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 final. The semi was really the only time Nicolas was seriously challenged, and he can now say he did something that Hart did not; won each of the four Slams at least once. This gives him seven in all, and he's showing no signs at all of slowing down yet.

Elsewhere ...

Nasir Chittoor was back on the court committing highway robbery at his first CH+ event in Braunschweig. A relic of the days when Wimbledon was played a week earlier, the field was considerably weakened and he figured to take it easily. Manuel Iruso was more trouble than usual though, and he wasn't far from losing the final before coming through 5-7, 7-6(1), 6-1. Overall stats were very one-sided in favor of Chittoor, but he dropped four of six chances against his serve. Definitely a bullet dodged there.

The second week, CH2 Oberstaufen beckoned. There was a CH1 event, but with Fitzpatrick entered there I stayed away from it. Chittoor easily smashed the laughable resistance for another title. Guha entered CH2 San Benedetto, where there were three other Anilophiles. His first real test was the second round against Lubos Rucklov, narrowly escaping in a third-set tiebreaker. After getting through another close one in the semis, Helmut Hoetker denied him in the final 6-7(6), 6-0, 6-4. Still a fine run, I doubt he'll see challenger finals again anytime soon, and it should decisively move him out of the futures ranks for good.

Coming Up ...

After work today (hopefully) I'll delve into the updated rankings, including a revised look at the Challenger Hero situation and our traditional first appraisal of the Race for this year.
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Old 08-31-2019, 03:37 PM   #1168
Christy
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I would say Wentz can barely walk over a grass field. Never mind play on one. Happy to have achieved the career slam and become Argentina's top legend.

Let us see how many big titles he can get. Just a few more to break the top lists. Wonder what the tie break is for those?

Also Canada and Miami are big targets as the only competitions with 750+ ranking points he has yet to win.
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Old 09-01-2019, 01:20 AM   #1169
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Shots fired by the guy with exactly 1 of his 66 career titles on grass - which is infinitely more than he had like a week ago But yeah, Wentz's record on the turf definitely leaves something to be desired.
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Old 09-01-2019, 02:39 AM   #1170
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Q3 Rankings Update

1. Nicolas Perez (25, ARG) - 15,280

Perez rules the tour these days with an iron fist. He's not invincible, but nobody much relishes their odds against him regardless of surface.

2. Harald Wentz (25, AUT) - 9,890

Definitely a down year for him, but Wentz still has a solid cushion as the top 'challenger'.

3. Tobias Velilla (24, ARG) - 7,085

Up and down, but he's got one Slam title and a final in the first three big ones this year. By majoring on the majors he's joined the highest echelon here.

4. Chisulo Mpakati (24, ZIM) - 6,105

Not quite as consistent this year as in the past.

5. Calisto Aviles (24, ESP) - 6,020

There's sort of a 'secondary four' here behind Perez, and right now Aviles just got to be the guy on the outside looking in as a result of Velilla's Wimbledon run. He's close, but I don't know that he can push Mpakati out of that 4th spot during the summer hardcourts.

6. Il-Sung Jung (26, KOR) - 5,130

Ever the up-and-down, who knows what will happen performer.

7. Ollie Haas (26, NLD) - 4,640

Slowly but surely drifting downwards as age begins to have more of an impact.

8. Lucas Perez (25, ARG) - 3,940

The Other Perez is starting to have more of a regular impact, and now that he's managed to slide up a tier here that should continue to be a trend.

9. Tim de Jong (27, NLD) - 3,450

Having a bit of a renaissance these past months, and it's keeping him solidly on the first page.

10. Srba Dogic (26, CRO) - 3,395

Hanging around, and with Hart sliding out of the Top 10 it made space for Dogic. He won't be here long.

11. Clavet Moniotte (27, FRA)

A new high for one of the contenders to take the next available Top 10 spot - if it were held today, he'd be the #2 seed in the Anil Cup.

12. Amrik Kasaravalli (26, SRI)

Kasaravalli is of course also looking for that chance. He should be able to pick up points in the big events the rest of the year, and at the least get closer. His future is looking a bit better these days - I'll delve more into this at the end of the year but despite similar or more advanced age, he has a chance to outlast many of the top players by a bit. There's a lot of them with a short career spans ... but on the other hand the next generation isn't going to wait around long.

15. Odimos Csollang (21, ROU)

The first member of the group of young guns to reach the Top 16, Csollang had a good run to the Wimbledon fourth round and would appear primed for a big summer. Few players will fancy their chances against him on the hardcourts.

16. John Hart (30, IRE)

Let's take a moment to say one last good-bye. Hart will gradually drop further, likely losing hundreds more points by the USO. He has the exact same doubles ranking though as singles, and surely will soon be part of a different Top 10. I probably need to do a briefer doubles ranking rundown starting soon with as many players as we have going into that discipline.

17. Sushant Chiba (32, SRI)

Just refuses to get the memo. I actually want him to lose more in singles at this point (to get Chittoor up in the #2 national spot) but I'm not gonig to actively sabotage him or anything. Doubles up to 149th, probably just going to keep playing them together in Slams and Masters when convenient. Sort of a new dynamic to work out there.

20. Algot Hakanson (26, SWE)

Waiting for the elder statesmen to get out the way here basically. Won 72% of his matches last year ... and 72% so far this year. So he's consistently in the right ballpark he needs to be to move up.

21. Fabio Cagide (22, ESP)

Expected a little bigger splash from Spain's #2 in the clay campaign. Perhaps that was unrealistic though - he did win the Barcelona 500 and reached the Madrid QFs. He's got quite respectable hardcourt ability, so he's not one-trick pony and could achieve more of a breakthrough at any point on the calendar really.

22. Acke Kjaerstad (25, SWE)

Treading water, and I'm unsure whether he ever makes the next tier. Might get passed up as much by the risers as he does by the fallers.

23. Ross Vicars (21, USA)

QF in Miami and has replaced all but one challenger result in his points allotment. Definitely eyeing Cincy and the USO as his possibilities if he's going to break out this year.

27. Helmut Edlund (23, SWE)

Not supposed to be up here yet, dude. Well done! A raft of challenger results to replace, so now Edlund faces the challenge of consolidation.

29. Pedro Perez (25, ARG)

This one I called. A third Perez from Argentina. I need help with nicknames. The final in Queen's Club, and winning the Munich 250 a couple months before that, really boosted him up from the crowd.

30. Willy Weigl (23, AUT)

Doubles partner of Edlund, and fellow recent challenger graduate, Weigl faces the same challenge and is IMO not quite as good.

32. Mark Smith (21, GBR)

Our new gatekeeper who was prepared for a tireless run through the grass season that still continues this week, then executed it to rise perhaps a bit prematurely. His struggle to stay up with the elite will be interesting to watch, but impressively done to get here in the first place.

35. Tommy Fitzpatrick (22, IRE)

I really feel compassion for Fitz right now. He's lost in three consecutive challengers that I expected him to win, to players I think he should have beaten. Any more than one of those defeats is decidedly unlucky. Hoping he isn't running into a more serious long-term slump, but either way I'd expect him to be seeded and out of challengers by the USO. He's only 55 points shy of the needed amount as it is.

36. Joao Narciso (24, BRA)

The perpetual yo-yo continues. Kasaravalli knows your pain Narciso, and I do think you'll eventually break out of it to greener pastures. Keep on keepin' on.

41. Nasir Chittoor (21, SRI)

Why howdy there! Recent practice weeks have been super-frustrating as I keep getting drawn as the top player or two in Nasir's group. He's made a good charge here, but now things get interesting. There isn't quite enough time left to get him seeded for the USO, and then a bunch of points will drop off at the end of the year. I don't know what I'm going to do with that yet, but he'll keep pushing upwards for at least the next month or two. Balancing keeping the ranking up with xp gains is going to be dicey ... I'm going to need to be very careful and plan things out further in advance than I typically do. But it's been a very highly successful push these last months, so I'm pleased with the rise so far.

91. Ritwik Intodia (21, SRI)

101. Rakesh Kayeeda (21, SRI)

Soon as the rest of us get out the way I expect a more rapid surge from this pair.

115. Helmut Hoetker (20, SUI)

Up more than 40 spots since last time, in large part to this dork beating Guha in the previously-mentioned match.

166. Lubos Rucklov (20, CZE)

Rucklov appears to have stalled a bit, but that often happens at this stage and isn't anything to really worry about.

173. Chiang-hui Cheng (19, TPE)

There've been some close matches, but Cheng is struggling pretty severely to get any traction in the challenger ranks. Lost five of last six matches .

175. Satyagit Guha (21, SRI)

Continuing to mirror Chittoor's activities and generally work his way up. Glad to be out of futures with him for sure. Doubles are at a new high of 60th after the Wimbledon run, and once he gets up a little higher there things will start getting interesting.

207. Mike Corey (19, USA)

A few months ago, with a ranking almost 200 spots lower, I suggested Corey might try some higher-level futures events soon. That for sure happened with a number of wins. He's dipped into challengers a couple of times already, but without much success yet. Still, with the number of US futures events available, he won't be playing many more of them and definitely should be soon considered a regular on the challenger circuit.

1971. Philip Arendt (21, DEU)

This recent hire needs to buy himself a serve, but has excellent speed and talent with good endurance. Behind the curve development-wise as he was run the first several years by the inglorious AI, and has weaknesses in strength and mentality. Makes it hard to forecast him precisely, but he definitely has the tools to be a good, interesting player still. The serve shouldn't need to come up too much for Arendt to make a quick dash through futures.

110(J). Aleksije Konstantinovic (17, CRO)

Continued mixed results, but he's reaching fairly high. Juniors ranking has roughly halved over the last few months so he's doing something right. Konstantinovic still has another year at this level anyway, he'll be one of the older juniors next season so it'll be interesting to see how that goes for him.

165(J). Joseph Charriol (17, MAL)

Rising gradually with continued JG4 success.

305(J). Eduardo Yroz (15, CHI)

Definitely has gotten over the hump, well up from the high 700s with sustained success at the JG5 level.

308(J). Raul Almaraz (17, PRT)

Aiming too high for his own good it would seem. Up some from 419th, but I'd recommended sticking with the JG4s until regular titles come.

465(J). Kjell Falkeving (15, SWE)

Form was low before, but that problem has been rectified and as a result he's placed several hundred positions higher (was 1230th). Success in JG5s is becoming more consistent now.

1238(J). Sebastien Bisteri (15, ESP)

Has dropped from 912th and it's unfortunately self-inflicted ... low form and aiming too high resulting in constant early losses.

1261(J). Thanasis Theodopoulos (14, CYP)

Literally just hired this week. It's not often you see a player from Cyprus. Ranking list says there are ten active pros from the nation, none in the Top 500. Recommendation here is to play singles/doubles JG5s per usual until form gets up to appropriate levels, and then see what's what. Theodopoulos could be an interesting lower-level player to train but I'd keep an eye out for someone better. 3.2 talent, 3.3 peak endurance, strength is pretty good but subpar in other areas.

1283(J). Josh Frobisher (14, GBR)

Hired in when he was super-young (14y 7w??), Frobisher is playing the right events but needs to play more to get the form up. Nice player in a lot of ways but at 3.1 endurance is going to be a bit rough. Ask Kasaravalli. On the other hand, 4.5 talent, peaks at 3.9 strength and 3.3 speed - better athlete than I've ever had fo sho - lowish mentality but starting that young, I can see making a run with him for sure. I'd keep him at least until someone better comes along ... but gotta keep that form (12.1) at 15 or higher. He'll stop losing eventually if you do.

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Old 09-01-2019, 03:10 AM   #1171
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Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-Wimbledon Edition

In

Nicolas Perez - 9,000

Yeah, just hand Nicolas that YE #1 already. He's lost early in a couple of Masters, but head and shoulders above the pack overall.

Probable

Calisto Aviles - 5295
Tobias Velilla - 5280
Harald Wentz - 4940
Chisulo Mpakati - 4320
Il-Sung Jung - 3440

Wentz needs to recover the hardcourt magic, while Velilla needs to start showing up at the Masters. Who gets the #2 this year? Mpakati could stake a claim as well, but he needs to step it up a bit if he's serious about it. Aviles ... well, he definitely has a good shot at top four but to grab that second spot we need to see more performances like he showed in Miami. I don't know that he can do that on hardcourts. Regardless, still a great deal to determine in the 2-5 spots here, and having Jung in no-man's land is entirely fitting.

Contenders

Ollie Haas - 3060
Lucas Perez - 3010
------------------
Tim de Jong - 2850

Fun fact: of the four remaining Masters this year, Haas lost his first match in three of them last season. And made the final of the fourth, in Shanghai. So ... which of those players shows up will say a lot about whether last year's WTF runner-up even makes the field this time around. L. Perez currently fighting to hold off de Jong and make the field for the first time. I like his chances there.
Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-Wimbledon Edition

Long Shots

Amrik Kasaravalli - 2410
Clavet Moniotte - 2215
Srba Dogic - 2165
Mike Rhodes - 2165

Not a lot of names on this list; the top players are really sucking up most of the big points this year again. Kasaravalli probably does have the best overall chance at it but there's a lot of things for him to overcome and I don't really see that happening.

I think the current eight will stay, with L. Perez being the only new one and de Jong booted from last year.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 09-01-2019 at 03:12 AM.
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Old 09-01-2019, 03:42 AM   #1172
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Challenger Hero Update

It's been three months since my initial post on this. Some things went as I expected, and others did not.

Dropped Out: Solheim, Abinati, Gulley, Hughes, Narciso. This is literally the last five names on my list - out of seven. I wasn't expecting Narciso or, at least yet, Gulley.

Promoted: Edlund, Weigl, P. Perez, Smith, Campos. Jorge Campos wasn't even on my list, and other than Perez I didn't see the others moving up yet. So I was definitely more wrong here.

Where does this leave us?

Above the Line

25. Guillermo Valturri

26. Valery Stachovksy

These two have slipped a bit, but don't look like they are in any hurry to make way.

28. Ali Solberg

Solberg will drop down after Cincinatti.

31. Jorge Campos

Campos is pushing 30, won a couple challengers to get back up but will be hard-pressed to replicate the QF points from Canada.

Below the Line

35. Tommy Fitzpatrick

36. Joao Narciso

37. Peter de Boer

41. Nasir Chittoor

Analysis

Ok so we've got a bit of a problem here at first glance. Nasir is at best co-third out of this group of four, with only two obvious spots to take (Solberg and Campos). I think there's going to be a lot of bouncing around though as players move up, lose challenger points, slide back down as others win challenger events, etc. Another merry-go-round like we saw with Kasaravalli a couple years ago looks ready to start up, and I think it's going to be largely Anilophiles on it - Smith, Edlund, Weigl, Smith, Chittoor with probably Fitz, P. Perez, and possibly de Boer the Greater getting up and staying there.

The million-dollar question for me is how much of that game do I want to play versus just going for more practice sessions - with the understanding that a higher ranking gives more fruitful ones. And the answer is ... I really don't know. Nasir is still a couple of challenger wins away from really being on the bubble, but by about USO time he'll be there and I need to have a proper strategy formulated by then. Right now all I have are conflicting ideas. Some of the players who have pushed up 'prematurely' have thrown a wrench in things. I think I just get on the merry-go-round and try to be better at managing the hills and valleys than most of the others are until I can stick above the line ... but I'm not at all certain about this.
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Old 09-02-2019, 08:18 PM   #1173
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As of Week 32:

32. Mark Smith - 1316 pts.
33. Gregory Gulley - 1315
34. Tommy Fitzpatrick - 1315
35. Joao Narciso - 1295
36. Pieter de Boer - 1290

That's not close or anything
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Old 09-03-2019, 02:13 AM   #1174
Brian Swartz
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Summer Break

Another whole lot of nothing three-week period. Practice results at least have been improved, though they could still get better. The only player I had entered in a tournament was Amrik Kasaravalli at the Umag 250. I'd hoped to replace the Gstaad title from last year, and was seeded 2nd. Clavet Moniotte shared the same fate of losing to the master of the minors, third-seeded Mike Rhodes. The 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4 scoreline in the championship match was Kasaravalli's second loss to Rhodes in three meetings.

Coming Up

Summer hardcourt swing heats up at the Canada and Cincinatti Masters. Everybody will be back in action somewhere.
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Old 09-04-2019, 08:11 PM   #1175
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Canada

This was a tale of two tournaments basically. The last couple of rounds mostly made sense. Before that … well, things were weird. At the end, we had Tobias Velilla turning back the clock to Australian time apparently and edging Nicolas Perez in an All-Argentina final, 7-6(5), 6-4. Perez really struggled on return despite just five aces from Velilla, and did not get single break opportunity. Barely got the final as well, splitting a pair of tiebreaks with Calisto Aviles in the semis before pulling out the third set. So it definitely wasn't his best week, but he still almost got the title before coming up short. First Masters for Velilla, so congratulations are definitely due there. He dumped Harald Wentz with surprising ease in the SF; the defending champ clearly isn't what he was a year ago.

Then there were the quarterfinals, where Il-Sung Jung was an expected showing. Then there was Barry 'Why Am I Even Still Playing' Molyneaux and unseeded entrants John Hart and Fabio Cagide, because of course he'd show up here after a relatively tame clay season? Cagide eliminated Vicars and Haas on his way through somehow, Molyneaux had a comeback win over L. Perez in which he won second and third-set tiebreaks, and the bottom of the draw was just silly with Hart beating Clavet Moniotte, then Hugo Licona … who had upset (5) Chisulo Mpakati. Then there was Seamus Hughes coming back from the dead to knock out 10th-seeded Dogic … just a lot of weird results all over the place. Willy Weigl (l. Abinati), Algot Hakanson (l. de Jong), and Helmut Edlund (l. Moniotte) were all first-round exits for the Anilophiles.

As for my players, Guha/Chiba embarrassingly failed to make it through qualifying, while Hughes/Hart claimed the winner's trophy. The Irish smashed (2) Kaspar/Godinic, winners of the past two Slams, in convincing fashion in the semifinals; 6-1, 6-3. Ouch. Apparently they aren't so special on the hardcourts? Amrik Kasaravalli did what he could but was outclassed by Jung in the third round, while Sushant Chiba went out to de Jong in the second.

Elsewhere …

Continuing to follow the path of least resistance, Nasir Chittoor yawned his way through a defense of his title from last year in CH2 Trani. He lost seven games for the week, never more than one in any set. That's … pretty terrifyingly non-competitive.

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Old 09-06-2019, 12:50 AM   #1176
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Cincinatti

Guha/Chiba narrowly qualified this time, and then narrowly lost their first-round match, 12-10 in the super TB. Hart/Hughes went out in round two, with #1s Galvan/Aguilar surviving a pair to close super TBs to eventually win the title. The overall doubles scene remains an entertaining crapshoot.

Nicolas Perez was back at the peak of his powers this week, smashing all resistance without the loss of a set. More than that, he did not lose more than five games in any of his last three matches, concluding with a 6-1, 6-4 elimination of Il-Sung Jung, who apparently decided this was one of his handful of tournaments each year to actually show up in. The world no. 1's stranglehold on the sport continues to grow with his 12th Masters trophy. Barry Molyneaux was a stunner as a semifinalist despite the venue, with Lucas Perez putting in a strong showing as the other one.

The quarterfinals were quite amusing. Here's the scorelines for them to show the pattern:

** N. Perez d. Chisulo Mpakati, 6-1, 6-1. The enigmatic Mpakati has … well he hasn't been playing his best lately.
** B. Molyneaux d. Ross Vicars 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3.
** L. Perez d. Harald Wentz, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(6)
** I. Jung d. Tobias Velilla, 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-4

#2, #3, and #5 all lost at this stage. The last three matches including Vicars could clearly have gone either way … but uhm not the first one. Wentz's hold on the #2 spot is very tenuous heading to the USO.

Third-round action saw Amrik Kasaravalli come up just short against Velilla … he's right there as a threat, but so far only a threat. #4 Calisto Aviles losing to Vicars was not a huge surprise given how well the young American feeds off the crowd, and Molyneaux eliminated 7th-seeded Haas in another long third-set TB. Odimos Csollang, who 'lost the tie' for the 16th seed still made it to this stage (l. N. Perez), Helmut Edlund went out to Mpakati and Clavet Moniotte to L. Perez.

Edlund had an impressive three-set win over Mike Rhodes the round before, where Sushant Chiba was beaten by Csollang in two tiebreaks. John Hart had the misfortune of running into N. Perez, [b]Algot Hakanson[b/] was stopped by Jung, and Willy Weigl made Kasaravalli think about it in the second set but was ultimately defeated. Seamus Hughes was the only first-round loser … to Hart, 7-6(11), 6-7(4), 7-6(5). That would have been a heck of a match to watch on the outer courts.

Elsewhere …

Leaving CH1 San Marino to Joao Narciso … who lost a close one to Angloma in the final as it turned out … Nasir Chittoor headed off to CH2 Samarkand. He had a bit of drama in the final there as well. Three times in as many months he's matched up with Manuel Iruso, all of them in challenger finals. There's a significant gap in ability between the two, yet all three matches have gone the distance, all of them won by Chittoor. I don't know why they've been that competitive though it's nice for xp; particularly strange is that while Nasir has lost a set each time, the final stanzas have been dominant; 6-1, 6-1, and 6-0. So where's that in the early going of these matches? It's just weird. Also, we should recognize Lubos Rucklov snagging his first challenger hardware in CH3 Brasilia.

Coming Up …

The final Slam event of the year in Flushing Meadows. Who can cram themselves into the seeded positions of the draw there, and which version of Nicolas Perez shows up? Can Molyneaux and Vicars reprise their strong showings from Cincinatti? Will Wentz even be able to hold onto the #2? Lots of storylines going on there. .

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Old 09-08-2019, 03:48 AM   #1177
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That's why they play the games (matches). Truth can be stranger than fiction sometimes.

Details to come probably tomorrow.
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Old 09-08-2019, 06:08 PM   #1178
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2068 US Open

The final Slam event of the year, as always giving us a clearer picture of the top players and beginning to provide closure on the season. But there were some surprises here to be sure.

Chiba/Guha easily reached the third round, and were just as easily dispatched by (6) Hughes/Hart, 6-2, 6-1. Beat the 12th-seeded team of Aas/Plushenko in the second round, so I figure our true performance level lies somewhere around 10th (ranked 20th or so) based on how their tournaments together have gone. Pretty good, but nowhere near contenders and I didn't expect them to be. Both players still can add quite a bit more to their games - this tandem will get at least a good bit better. The Irish went on to reach the semis, where they were beaten by the 7th-seeded Swiss tandem of Schleipfenbauer/Lippert. But it was Godinic/Kaspar winning their third straight Slam crown in the end. Ex-Prince Karl should be close to the #1 doubles spot when the new rankings come out. Guha once again tried to qualify in singles, this time making the final round before failing.

One of the more interesting things about the first round is who wasn't there. Mark Smith elected for a substandard practice week instead of being one of the last seeds - maybe he thought he'd drop below that line but it's not the decision I'd have made. Seamus Hughes cruised through his first match despite being well below it, and there was a rather evil matchup between Tommy Fitzpatrick and (27) Helmut Edlund. Fitz left no doubt who's the better with a straight-sets win, including a bagel in the opener. (31) Willy Weigl was also unlucky, facing off against the nearly as dangerous Ivan Hudobin of Russia and losing in four. Those might well have been the two most dangerous unseeded players. If not, they are both certainly in the conversation. Tough luck for Edlund and Wiegl there. It wasn't easy by any stretch for some but they were the only two seeds to lose immediately.

Hughes over Hudobin in a pretty close three was probably the most interesting second-round match. Also, Shakti Vemireddy keeps soldiering on, taking the first set from Hakanson before losing in four. In the third round it was time for my brave soliders to depart. Sushant Chiba was swatted aside by Mpakati, while Amrik Kasaravalli met up with Gonzoles, who he should have a slight edge on. Just like their match at the same stage of Wimbledon, it didn't pan out in a 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-4, 6-4 defeat. The summer has to be classified as slightly disappointing now for Amrik, who departs a round 'early'. Gonzoles has now beaten him in all four matches - he seems to underachieve most of the time, but not against my guy. *shrug*

Algot Hakanson managed to get a set off of Aviles before losing, same for Seamus Hughes against Velilla and Tommy Fitzpatrick against Dogic. Fitzpatrick won at least one match in every Slam this year, and this matches his furthest advancement at the AO. (11) Clavet Moniotte lost three tiebreaks to Acke Kjaerstad in yet another tough setback. And it was time for the Americans to start putting their two cents in as well. (24) John Hart was knocked out by Molyneaux in four, completing the elimination of the Irish contingent. Ross Vicars went four sets with Jung but couldn't pull off the upset, ditto for Malicote against Narciso who moves on.

The fourth round saw Constantino Gonzoles put in a very credible effort against the #1, taking a first-set tiebreak before losing a trio of 6-4 frames. (30) Joao Narciso's easily-best Slam effort to date finally ended as he took one set but ate a trio of breadsticks against Jung. Molyneaux, last of the US players, went out with a whimper against Wentz and the American contingent ends up doing not all that much here. Upset watch was served with (4) Calisto Aviles going down in straight sets no less to 16th-seeded Odimos Csollang. And we had a couple of epics as well, de Jong over Haas in a 5th-set breaker, and L. Perez getting by Kjaerstad in five. Nearly a huge win for the Swede who, after losing in the third round of eight consecutive Slams, has made it to the fourth of two in a row but still never reached the second week.

The quarterfinals had 7 of the top players by ranking plus Csollang, so mostly a predictable group with one Cinderella. Chisulo Mpakati fared better this time than last, but got his usual straight-sets dismissal by Perez. Tim de Jong was the latest victim of rising Romanian, again in three. Same for Il-Sung Jung against Wentz - you never know what's going to happen when those two play. And in an all-Argentina matchup, Tobias Velilla had one good set and three disappointments, losing in four due to a trio of tiebreaks going the way of L. Perez.

Two semifinal matchups, each had a Perez. Nicolas was made to work a bit for his win over Csollang in four - Odimos made the 4th round last year and at Wimbledon so this was a big, big step up for him. Lucas Perez made Wentz work some, a close third-set breaker but that one was over in straights. So it figured to be time once again for Nicolas Perez to re-establish his dominance on hardcourt Slams, having won four in a row of those before the loss at the Australian. Instead, Harald Wentz finally breaks through with a shockingly easy 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(4) win. After a relatively down year for the Austrian, I don't know where this came from, but he sure put it all together this week. His first Slam title and did it without losing a single set though he had some close ones, and all of a sudden his spot as the #2 looks a lot more secure.

Elsewhere ...

Nasir Chittoor had hoped for a bigger event, but the competition was tough enough that he settled for CH3 Astana. After winning there, he replaced his points from Bangkok last year. It was still better than any alternative this week.
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Old 09-09-2019, 03:13 AM   #1179
Brian Swartz
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Q4 Rankings Update

1. Nicolas Perez (25, ARG) - 15,300

Still the runaway top dog. He's lost six matches this year; at least 11 for everyone else.

2. Harald Wentz (25, AUT) - 9,230

A first Slam title secures Wentz as the top contender ... using that term very loosely.

3. Tobias Velilla (24, ARG) - 7,255

Up and down, but I still think he's overachieved this year overall.

4. Calisto Aviles (24, ESP) - 6,490

Continues to be solid on the off surfaces.

5. Chisulo Mpakati (25, ZIM) - 5,565

The reverse of Velilla this season I think. He steps backwards instead of forwards in the biggest matches despite being fairly good mentally, which is why he's the highest-ranked player with no big trophies to his name.

6. Il-Sung Jung (26, KOR) - 5,220

Sometimes he's excellent, more often he's just there.

7. Ollie Haas (26, NLD) - 5,080

Still solid.

8. Lucas Perez (26, ARG) - 4,750

Lucas continues a strong year, making up ground on the top players. There's every reason to expect him to start moving up before long.

9. Tim de Jong (27, NLD) - 3,595

The gap from 8-9 is bigger than the one from 5 to 8. de Jong's renaissance earns him 'best of the rest' honors.

10. Clavet Moniotte (27, FRA) - 3,205

This year could have been so much better for France's best player, but Moniotte still deserves accolades for cracking the Top 10 for the first time - at Dogic's expense.

11. Amrik Kasaravalli (26, SRI)

A new career high here as well. He could still push higher, or not.

12. Barry Molyneaux (30, USA)

Simply refusing to go away.

14. Odimos Csollang (22, ROU)

Didn't move up all that much with his stellar USO semifinal run, but separated himself from the rest of his generation by a good margin. He's now in better position to start picking off the older players.

15. Fabio Cagide (23, ESP)

Inching upwards more slowly, but definitely upwards regardless.

17. Ross Vicars (21, USA)

A little behind the others, but also a little younger. He has time.

18. Algot Hakanson (27, SWE)

Getting passed by players in both directions these days.

21. Sushant Chiba (32, SRI)

Now a Top-100 doubles player (91st) for the first time, and his days as a singles fixture are decidedly numbered.

23. Acke Kjaerstad (25, SWE)

Same problem as Hakanson, he's further back but also younger.

24. John Hart (30, IRE)

7th in doubles right now.

25. Pedro Perez (26, ARG)

Merely 4th in Argentina.

27. Helmut Edlund (27, SWE)

Sticking just fine so far, but the early USO defeat stings.

28. Peter de Boer (23, NLD)

The other guy I predicted to move up is here now. On the other hand, last year he won CH+ events the next couple weeks so ... *boing boing*. Also 60th in doubles.

29. Joao Narciso (29, BRA)

Making the USO fourth round was huge for him - now he's got to try and back up that success.

32. Tommy Fitzpatrick (22, IRE)

Joins the elite group for the first time. I don't think he'll have too much trouble staying. Third-youngest at this level right now, after Vicars and Csollang.

33. Mark Smith (21, GBR)

The rankings giveth, and then taketh away.

35. Willy Weigl (23, AUT)

*sadface*

37. Nasir Chittoor (21, SRI)

Still winning wherever the good players aren't, he's got a little more work to do. Fairly recently he joined the rolls of Sri Lanka Legends, presently 9th. He won't go any higher until he gets to the Top 10 more or less, but another aspect of the chase is on. Four have been ranked #1 in the world, and five have won majors, so it's a high bar.

90. Rakesh Kayeeda (21, SRI)

91. Ritwik Intodia (21, SRI)

These two are back to being thick as thieves while they await their 'turn'.

103. Helmut Hoetker (20, SUI)

Winner at CH2 San Benedetto, and more recently a finalist at another CH2 event, Hoetker is on his way up.

124. Lubos Rucklov (20, CZE)

Him too - ran into Chittoor in the Astana final but it was still a boost for him overall.

170. Rene Deschesnay (25, MAL)

Hired off the free-agent market a few weeks ago. Pretty good athlete, some doubles investment, needs work on the serve and endurance is definitely on the weak side. A puzzling hire to my mind given his age.

173. Mike Corey (19, USA)

SF recently at CH3 events in Bangkok and Lexington to start off his challenger career.

175. Chiang-hui Cheng (19, TPE)

SF at Astana (l. Chittoor), QF at Brasilia his last two events. Has also had some earlier defeats. Basically cutting his teeth at the new level.

177. Satyagit Guha (22, SRI)

Just recently maxed out his doubles technique, where he is currently 53rd. Might get a shot at another challenger or two this year, but will be focusing on the pairs stuff with Chiba at the remaining Masters.

1270. Philip Arendt (21, DEU)

Lots of training the last few months, and modest success in the one futures event he did enter.

91(J). Aleksije Konstantinovic (17, CRO)

A strange cocktail of events recently, trying his hand at a futures and and then the junior USO.

120(J). Joseph Charriol (17, MAL)

Winner of his last three junior events, most recently JG3 Nagoya. It'll be interesting to see how well Charriol does next season in his final junior year.

246(J). Eduardo Yroz (15, CHI)

Up to the JG4 level now and slowing down some, but won his last time out so maybe getting over that hump.

332(J). Kjell Falkeving (15, SWE)

Playing more often than I would, but Falkeving is continuing to find success in JG5s. Still losing sometimes though.

842(J). Josh Frobisher (14, GBR)

Form was criminally low before but management has wisely corrected that issue. Frobisher appears to be following the well-worn paths of success now, and has passed a third of juniors opposition in the past two months largely because of it. Still some work to do at the JG5 level; got his first win in Osaka, then lost first round in Oslo. Consistency is the next obstacle for him.

1168(J). Thanasis Theodopoulos (15, CYP)

Needs to play more tournaments if he's going to succeed. Still getting practice every week, but not getting much from it due to lack of real match fitness.

1454(J). Anikitos Khadjikyriakos (14, CYP)

That's ... that's a name. Yes indeed it is. I believe we have a fan of the nation of Cyprus. Ani is a recent hire, very fast (4.4 peak), pretty good strength, but peaks at about 2 endurance. If one is going for players from that tiny island though, he might still be a good start. Appears to be training properly early.

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Old 09-09-2019, 03:56 AM   #1180
Brian Swartz
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Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-USO Edition

In

Nicolas Perez - 11,800
Harald Wentz - 7,730
Tobias Velilla - 7,030
Calisto Aviles - 6,380

We've got some new arrivals here. Wentz because he won the USO, Velilla because he won Canada, Aviles won in the German Open (500) and has continued to be solid even though he lost a bit early in Flushing Meadows. Wentz does have the upper hand on the #2 as expected but it is far from settled.

Probable

Chisulo Mpakati - 4870
Il-Sung Jung - 4580
Lucas Perez - 4180
Ollie Haas - 3610

Lucas Perez could still move up to 6th or even 5th by the end of the year if he keeps coming strong. Meanwhile Haas is the only one who looks vulnerable at all ... but there's nobody threatening him for the last spot.

Contenders

*empty*

Long Shots

Tim de Jong - 3175
Barry Molyneaux - 2805
Amrik Kasaravalli - 2785

de Jong is close enough to make a run at it, but despite his relatively good play the last few months I don't see it happening. The other two are just waiting to fall off this list. This is a year with very little drama - we know who the best eight players are.
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Old 09-09-2019, 03:57 AM   #1181
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Challenger Carousel

Changing the naming of this a bit, and as we are going to have a revolving group of club players involved I may well continue this after my guys are through it. Here's everybody within 100 points of the line either direction - these players are one good (or bad) tournament away from having their fortunes shift considerably.

29. Joao Narciso - 1455
30. Gregory Gulley - 1395
31. Guillermo Valturri - 1360
32. Tommy Fitzpatrick - 1355
33. Mark Smith - 1316
34. Pieter de Boer - 1290
35. Willy Weigl - 1255

Nasir Chittoor figures to join the throng next week. Narciso's USO push may have gotten him in for good, or it may just be a blip. Gulley just popped back up while Smith and Weigl slipped down, riding that carousel. Valturri has been in a steady decline and probably will drop out completely soon.

As for my strategy, the time has about come to make a choice. Chittoor will lose 240 points in the final rush of challenger events but has nothing to defend for the next couple of months. Rather than wait till then to try and replace them, he's going to keep being aggressive and pushing for what he can get, playing pretty much every other week with form staying in the upper 20s - which means he will be ranked too high to play the very end of the challenger schedule most likely. The most probable result so far as I can figure it is he'll be very, very close to the bubble one way or the other going into next year. The goal is to be seeded at the Australian Open, then figure out what to do after that. I think there's a fairly good chance of making it but the situation will be in flux on a weekly basis most of the way there. Going to be a stressful time for him.

Of this current group, I think Fitzpatrick stays up but for the others aside from Valturri you can pretty much roll the dice on them.

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Old 09-09-2019, 10:42 AM   #1182
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You'll make it with yawning ease. Fun fact about the whole Legends ranking; it seems to care basically only about Slams. I was amused, don't remember if I posted about it at the time, when last year Chiba exceeded Ritwik Dudwadkar for 4th on the Sri Lanka list. Of the five criterion listed, excluding age, Dudwadkar is ahead in top doubles ranking (108th to 215th), top singles ranking (1st to 2nd), Masters won (10 to 7), and WTFs won (1 to 0). But Chiba has 4 Slams to his 3, so who cares about all the rest of that. I have a hard time swallowing it, but whatevs.

Indeed. Still rather annoyed that the one thing keeping Pargeter from cracking the American legends listing (his doubles career with Mateo Kaspar certainly warrants it, IMO) is his tough five-set loss in his only Slam final, at Roland Garros, to... Mateo Kaspar.
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Old 09-09-2019, 02:55 PM   #1183
Izulde
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I feel like N. Perez would generate some interesting discussion in the All-Time Greats list. Sure he's no House Kaspar member level of dominant, but isn't the era he's playing in arguably the deepest and strongest overall?
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Old 09-09-2019, 06:57 PM   #1184
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Yes and no. It's definitely as deep as any in terms of second-tier players, but not among the best in terms of top challengers. I don't think there's anyone of his generation - though Jung could have been the guy but chose not to - that compares to most past eras. Gorritepe had Graff/Runer, Iglar had Mehul, the Kaspars had Dudwadkar there have also been times with no particularly worthy foil like when Mooljee was on top.

Perez is a worthy #1 to be sure and will have a reign worth remembering, probably similarly to Hart, but I wouldn't go further than that. Technically he's about as good as anyone's ever been, but he doesn't have the athleticism to match up with the best players in history.
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Old 09-10-2019, 02:23 PM   #1185
Christy
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I would agree with that. Probably a bigger threat to Perez in the R16 than Mateo ever faced but Dudwarker would have had a strong run at number one in most other eras while I feel like Wentz would only make it there in a few.
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Old 09-12-2019, 02:47 PM   #1186
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Autumn Break

World Team Cup Quarterfinals
Sri Lanka vs. Sweden, Indoors

As expected, this … did not go well for us. At all. Frustratingly, we pushed them to three five-set matches …. and lost all three. Chiba was involved in two of them, a particularly rough week for him. Sweden advances on a 5-0 skunking, and they would go on to beat Ireland on grass in the semis to reach the final against powerful Argentina. The Guha/Chiba doubles combo made its national debut, but they fared no better than the rest here. On any other surface we're probably slightly favored, but the whims of the RNG just weren't with us here.

Chiba would take the rest of the period off, while Amrik Kasaravalli had a rather instructive couple of events. I was thoroughly disgusted when he lost to 79th-ranked Charlie Newnham(USA) in a dual-tiebreak match, QFs of the Shenzhen 250. Back out there again the next weak as a result, Amrik got by Kjaerstad to reach the finals of the Japan Open (500). He was a finalist in China last year as well, and if he could win it this time he's broach the Top 10. Fabio Cagide got the better of him though, 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-4. One tiebreak away. And thus is the problem Kasaravalli faces … even as he tries to push upwards against his established superiors, another generation is coming up to surpass him.

Nasir Chittoor kept on keeping on, blasting through CH2 events in Todi and Aguascalientes. That briefly poked him up to 31st, though he fell back again due to events elsewhere. This actually is a blessing in disguise, as it allows him to extend the number of challengers he'll play this year (since you can only schedule out so far in advance and the ranking limitation on entering challengers) and makes it considerably more likely IMO that he'll achieve his goal of finishing the season above the break. I'll take another look at the challenger picture after our next big tournament in Shanghai probably. Satyagit Guha got in CH3 Madrid, convincingly making his way to the semis where he was beaten by Aleksandr Boltanski, a familiar name and the top seed. Two close sets and then a breadstick in the third. Guha isn't really good enough to start winning even low-level challenger events yet, so it was a quality result for him.

Coming Up …

Last big hardcourt event at the Shanghai Masters.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 09-12-2019 at 02:58 PM.
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Old 09-13-2019, 10:46 PM   #1187
Brian Swartz
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Shanghai

Hughes/Hart claimed the doubles title, including an impressive win over recently-ascended #1s Kaspar/Godinic in the final. We didn't participate as much as I'd like, with Guha/Chiba not teaming up because I forgot to set them as partners again. They competed individually, but there wasn't much to merit reporting about their efforts.

The biggest story about Shanghai is who wasn't there at the end of it. I'm
referring to Perez, who departed shocking early. In his absence, the next four players in the rankings all made the semifinals to fill the gap, and it was Harald Wentz defeating Calisto Aviles 6-4, 6-4 to claim his fifth Masters Shield. Neither player had a super-easy path with a tight win over Tobias Velilla for Wentz, while Aviles needed three to get by Chisulo Mpakati. The quarterfinals were possibly even more competitive, with all but one match going three sets. American Jaak Christ, unseeded conqueror of Nicolas Perez in the second round, was only ousted by Mpakati after the loss of a set and two long breakers. Ollie Haas, Lucas Perez, and Srba Dogic all also made their presence felt before falling.

Dogic had an upset of Jung in order to get there. Anilophiles Clavet Moniotte (close 3-set defeat to L. Perez) and Ross Vicars (l. Velilla) both made it to the third round. Along with our #1, Seamus Hughes (three sets to Wentz), Helmut Edlund (Velilla), and Amrik Kasaravalli (three sets to Vicars) went out in the second. For Kasaravalli, it was a sign of the times. The youngsters are already surpassing him - it's his second defeat in as many weeks to the next generation. Whatever progress he makes relative to those ahead of him seems destined to be eaten up by these young guns, making it unlikely further progress of significance will be made.

John Hart was Christ's first victim in the opening round, while Sushant Chiba was roundly defeated by Hughes and Algot Hakanson went out to Vicars.

Perez had plenty of cushion of course, but perhaps second-ranked Wentz is rousing himself from a slumber and ready to be a major threat on hardcourts again. Time will tell if he can sustain this.

Elsewhere

Nasir Chittoor had two options for challengers this week. Practice would be garbage and entering the Masters wouldn't get him anywhere. CH2 Tiburon featured American Jeremy Malicote, and dealing with him on his home turf would be a very likely loss. The other was the indoor event at CH1 Rennes. While playing indoors is not what I'd prefer on any basis, it seemed the better of the two choices. There was quality competiton here as well. I was mostly concerned about Norwegian Markus Gronhag, who continues to float in the 50s but is better than that - just seems in no hurry to move up. He's beaten Chittoor in both their previous meetings and is responsible for one of his two defeats this year. Neither player is adept at indoor play, and their SF encounter could have gone either way. The match stats were a little hard to make sense of, but ultimately Nasir beat Markus for the first time, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3. Both players are excellent mentally, but on this day Chittoor got the better of the exchanges on BPs and that probably was as important as anything. In the final, it was the skilled indoor player but also exhausted Willy Weigl, top seed at this event. I thought the fatigue would probably, but not certainly, get Chittoor through and ultimately it did in an up-and-down three-set match. Equally prepared, Weigl would certainly have the upper hand on this court.

This was the first time in months that Chittoor has faced opponents of similar quality. He could easily have lost as early as the semis and left a lot of ranking points on the table. The remaining two events he has planned for this year are in weeks where there are 4-5 possibilities to choose from, so I don't see that situation coming up again.
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Old 09-13-2019, 11:01 PM   #1188
Brian Swartz
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Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-Shanghai Edition

Time to see if we've locked down those final spots, or if there is still more life left in the Race.

In - 4795 to Qualify

Nicolas Perez - 11,810
Harald Wentz - 9,000
Tobias Velilla - 7,620
Calisto Aviles - 6,980
Chisulo Mpakati - 5,345

A much smaller gap between #1 and #2 than there is in the overall rankings, because Perez owned the indoor swing last year. If he doesn't do that again, he may have some cause for concern but it's far too early for that now. It does look like Wentz will hold off Velilla & Aviles, at least for this year, with his recent charge. Mpakati officially joins the field as the sixth member.

Probable


Il-Sung Jung - 4775
Lucas Perez - 4360
Ollie Haas - 3850

Jung will slide in next week almost certainly, he's an inch from the finish line. Only Haas remains in the slightest bit of danger.

Contenders

none

Long Shots

Tim de Jong - 3265

So pretty much it looks like it did before, only more time has passed. de Jong is the only player left with any kind of chance, and it's a remote one.
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Old 09-13-2019, 11:06 PM   #1189
Brian Swartz
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Challenger Carousel

26. Peter de Boer - 1540
27. Nasir Chittoor - 1487
28. Gregory Gulley - 1485
29. Valery Stachovsky - 1460
30. Joao Narciso - 1445
31. Jaak Christ - 1445
32. Guillermo Valturri - 1440
33. Helmut Edlund - 1410
34. Mark Smith - 1363

Due to things like Christ's run at Shanghai, the cut-off has shifted upwards sharply. Fitzpatrick and Weigl are now below this list completely, while Edlund and Smith find themselves on the outside of the bubble. That also means Nasir needs to keep on winning. He could still find himself in trouble by the start of next year, and almost certainly will be if he falters (unlikely). Still of course it's far better to be on the inside than the outside. This situation will continue to be highly fluid through the final several weeks of challenger events.
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Old 09-14-2019, 01:06 PM   #1190
Christy
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Well that wasn't the plan. Perez did play better but not enough to force the issue and occasionally this will happen.

For the end of year Perez is fairly safe with for number 1 for me. 2500 points from wtf and Paris and Perez has a bigger gap and will pick up a few points. IW or a disasterous Australian could see it swap.
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Old 09-16-2019, 12:37 AM   #1191
Brian Swartz
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Definitely safe at #1 for this year, but …

Quote:
2500 points from wtf and Paris

Yeah about those. Let's just say that Paris has four double-digit seeds into the quarterfinals. The Race situation is … well, it's interesting. Tim de Jong won in Vienna (500), but it actually didn't really help him because Ollie Haas won the Swiss Indoors. So de Jong basically had to win Paris … and he had a razor-thin loss against Wentz in the third round. That means the Top 8 are who we thought they were. Full report on the final Masters of the year tomorrow after it concludes, but for now …

October

Two weeks only really between Shanghai and Paris, but they fall in the 10th month. Chittoor and Guha are practicing away and resting up. My older players were reminded that in Russia, the Kremlin Cup plays you. Comrade in good standing Valery Stachovsky beat Kasaravalli in the semis, and Sushant Chiba in the finals … after knocking out Fitzpatrick in the quarters just for fun. Chiba did really well to get that far and it was a 7-5, 7-5 count, quite competitive.

Amrik Kasaravalli had what I think is his third 500 final go against him in Vienna, a 7-5, 6-4 loss to de Jong. However that was still enough to get him up to a career-high ranking of #10!! It's been a couple years since I've had a player on the first page … it's kind of fun. Chiba got himself beat by the world no. 1 in the second round of the Swiss Indoors. For him though it's just about getting matches so his form carries over through the off-season.

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Old 09-17-2019, 06:45 AM   #1192
Brian Swartz
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Paris

This tournament came down to an epic first-round match for doubles duo Guha/Chiba, who after qualifying outlasted their first obstacle 7-6(5), 6-7(7), 12-10. It doesn't get much closer than that, and this being a masters it was worth 80 points. They were quickly dismissed in the next round, while Hughes/Hart made the semifinals here. #1s Godinic/Kaspar clearly demonstrated themselves to be the class of the field though, easily defeating all comers.

If three is a trend, then we now officially have a trend of world no. 2 Harald Wentz winning big events. The home masters was kind to Clavet Moniotte, who had never made it past the final eight at any major event before but came within a whisker of the title here. It was only after some high, tense drama that Wentz prevailed, 15-13 in a final-set tiebreak! Third-ranked Tobias Velilla was Moniotte's semifinal victim, while another surprise on the other side came in the form of 11th-seeded Odimos Csollang, his second masters semi of the year. Got crushed by Wentz 6-1, 6-3, but still a great showing and it moves the highest-ranked member of the younger generation back into the Top 10. Quite possibly for good this time.

Algot Hakanson, Jung, Mpakati, and Fabio Cagide are the quarterfinal losers this time. Hakanson was responsible for knocking out #1 Nicolas Perez in the third round - the first time in pushing three years that Perez has lost early in consecutive events. In '67 he made at least the QF of everything, but this year he's failed to make that stage in four different masters. Nicolas is still the best player in the world, but the aura of inevitability to his reign is definitely showing cracks sooner than I anticipated. Other third-round losers were qualifier Seamus Hughes and Amrik Kasaravalli, who lost out to Mpakati after battling his way past Stachovsky in a third-set TB the previous round. It's better than he did last year in Paris, but his stay on the first page ends abruptly after a single week. He did well others just did better.

John Hart (l. N. Perez), Lucas Perez (l. Rhodes??), Helmut Edlund (qualified, l. Wentz), Sushant Chiba (l. de Jong), Calisto Aviles (l. Hughes? in two tiebreaks), Ollie Haas (l. Vicars) it's a long list of notables going out in the second round. No real surprises in the first, but there were some heavy-hitters who left the field early, helping give opportunity to that quartet of double-digit-seeded quarterfinalists who seized the opportunity. After a generally rough year, Moniotte is the biggest news-maker here followed closely by Hakanson's upset.

Elsewhere

Seeing no reason to fight with Fitzpatrick when there's plenty of events, Nasir Chittoor won CH2 Sao Leopoldo for the second straight year. Third-seeded Rene Martinet of Switzerland made things more interesting than they had any right to be in a 7-5, 6-3 semifinal, but other than that it was a royal cruise. He's got one more event coming in a couple of weeks.
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Old 09-17-2019, 06:02 PM   #1193
Izulde
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Clearly I cursed Perez with the all-time discussion. Either that or by even saying his name I gave him the RR version of FM disease
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Old 09-19-2019, 08:37 AM   #1194
Christy
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This slump is going on longer than I would like.

He is still a little shy of the top page on a few fronts so he needs to start picking up titles again.

Australian Open is getting more and more important now.
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Old 09-20-2019, 05:11 AM   #1195
Brian Swartz
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Heh, I doubt it was you but hey we can call it the Curse of Izulde if it makes you feel better
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Old 09-20-2019, 05:18 AM   #1196
Brian Swartz
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World Tour Finals

Tampere, Finland is our host this year. Overall the group play section was very competitive - only Calisto Aviles failed to get a match win and even he took home one set. In his group, Group 2, three players had two wins so it went to tiebreaks and Chisulo Mpakati was a set short and the odd man out. Tough way to get knocked out. Jung and Haas were eliminated in the first group with one win each.

Three of the four semifinals were from Argentina, but it was rough luck for them that Harald Wentz continued his hot streak. Nicolas Perez got him to three tiebreaks in as many sets, but ultimately fell 7-6(4), 6-7(1), 7-6(2). Rather one-sided breakers for such a close match, but the stats say that Wentz was the deserving winner. In the other one, Lucas Perez was routinely dispatched by Tobias Velilla. He pushed Wentz to a third set in the final but was clearly outmatched, and the Austrian now has won four big titles in a row and his first Tour Finals. He still trails in the rankings against Perez, but the gap has shrunk from several thousand points to just 1300 in a few months. If he repeats these performances at the Australian Open and wins there, he'll claim the top spot - but a lot can happen between now and then.
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Old 09-20-2019, 05:23 AM   #1197
Christy
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Note that a win at the Australian may not be enough for Wentz.

The gap is 1300 and Wentz is defending a final spot and so can only gain 800. Perez is just defending a semi final spot so if he can repeat that he is safe.
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Old 09-20-2019, 05:35 AM   #1198
Brian Swartz
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The Quest for 8.9 Continues
Age 22 Review

** Girish Girsh - 99 skill, 71 serve, 0 doubles
** Prakash Mooljee - 98/72/1
** Ritwik Dudwadkar - 98/72/0
** Sushant Chiba - 97/72/2
** Satyagit Guha - 79/62/99
** Nasir Chittoor - 98/76/0

Since rolling over to age 22, Satyagit Guha has now maxed out his doubles and was already starting to very slowly make up ground in skill and serve. Much of it he won't be able to catch of course, but it'll be interesting to see how far he can close the gap. Nasir Chittoor had a good year which kind of surprises me - I figured with all the events he played against intentionally weak competition that would hurt him but it doesn't appear to have appreciably done so. He's opening up a bit of a gap on the established pace, perhaps five thousand points now which is a significant gain over the previous year.

On the other hand, the gravy train is just about over in one sense. Guha and Fitz among others have just made the turn to start slowly declining physically, and Chittoor will start that process in the coming months as well. Still, I'm more optimistic than before that he's on a path to hit the 8.9 mark.
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Old 09-20-2019, 10:59 AM   #1199
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Ah yes, I'd assumed Perez won last year - forgot my history and didn't check. Quality correction.
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Old 09-20-2019, 08:47 PM   #1200
Brian Swartz
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Challenger Carousel

26. Mark Smith - 1498
27. Tommy Fitzpatrick - 1490
28. Joao Narciso - 1470
29. John Hart - 1450
30. Jaak Christ - 1420
31. Helmut Edlund - 1415
32. Nasir Chittoor - 1412
33. Guillermo Valturri - 1405
34. Gregory Gulley - 1315

Gulley has crashed out, and there's almost no pressue coming from below at the moment. Even so, Chittoor's position is still precarious sitting directly on the bubble, and he'll have a final challenger to start off the new year and ensure a seeded spot at the AO. Weigl has fallen down but everyone else is looking good to stay up at least for the time being ... save Hart of course who is now occupied by other matters.
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