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Old 12-27-2022, 11:09 AM   #1351
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Paris Masters

Two key early exits to note here, and both of them very close. Eddy Copperfield has recently returned, like a bad weed that refuses to go away, to the Top 10. And here he was taking down (8) Oleg Urazov in a third-set tiebreaker. An all-Cyprus third round showed that Alketas Albanos still can get a word in on the indoor courts; his match with (4) Themis Xanthos also went three sets before the lower-ranked player prevailed.

Ene Caballero had less fortune this time in the quarterfinals; he ran into Faille right away and won a total of three games. Ouch. Jochen Weigle actually played well for once, pushing Cananis but still losing 7-5, 7-5. Copperfield exited competitively to Polychroniadis, but Albanos wasn't done. The 16-seed advanced to the semis with a 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 comeback victory over Toni Bardales.

There was some exciting tennis over the last two rounds; every match was close. Renke Cananis nearly took a set from Faille in a 7-6(7), 6-4 semifinal defeat, while Leon Polychroniadis was pushed to three before ending Albanos' impressive run. The final went to Ben Faille as you might expect, but it's probably down just to the home crowd. 6-4, 7-6(2) was the scoreline there.

The field for the Tour Finals is set with the expected players, there were no changes on that front.

Elsewhere ...

A rare case of being overly fatigued coming in helped limit Aparna Chandrasekharan to a quarterfinal exit in his latest futures excursion in China. He'll have at least one more outing yet this year.

Sushant Srivastava will be heading out a year-end end burst of Challenger events the next few weeks, and then he'll actually get a brief off-season break.
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Old 12-30-2022, 01:35 AM   #1352
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
World Tour Finals
Graz, Austria

The top three made it through the round-robin stage ... as well as Jochen Weigle. Hmm. Wasn't expecting that. It allowed him to break a tie in the rankings for 7th with Urazov. And if you're wondering about Ene Caballero, well ... he didn't win a single set. Yikes. Indoor courts aren't exactly his thing.

Weigle's reward was a 6-2, 6-4 baptism by Ben Faille in the semifinals, while the winner of the other group, Leon Polychroniadis, was edged by his long-time rival Cananis 7-5, 7-6(6). Faille had beaten Renke Cananis in pool play, but the championship match went to the German, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(1). Faille was the better player overall but unfortunately wasted most of his ammo in that second set. Cananis moves into a tie for 4th all-time with 5 World Tour Finals trophies, while Faille can only contemplate why he's losing somewhat more often than he really should.

Elsewhere

Three challenger tournaments for Sushant Srivastava. Three times he won the first doubles qualifying match. Three times he lost the second one. That's consistency. In singles, he faced high-ranking seeds in the first round twice, but actually managed to win a match in the third event; Cancun, Mexico. The expected message was delivered; Srivastava needs to get better before he will see any notable results at the Challenger level.

Aparna Chandrasekharan lost in the quarterfinals, where he was supposed to lose, in his latest venture; Girish Raychaudhari won another JG4 as he couldn't find a suitable JG3 to enter.

In a few weeks we'll find out if we're let back in the WTC next year - unlikely - or if we need to keep grinding away to try and earn our place.
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Old 12-31-2022, 04:04 PM   #1353
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
World Team Cup Finals

Greece wins it's fourth straight world championship, once again by a 3-2 score. This time Germany's string of appearances was broken though; it was France who was the challenger. Ben Faille won his two rubbers, including against Leon Polychroniadis, but French no. 2 Pet Sampras (21st) lost twice and the Greeks also won in doubles. Sampras is in decline, but France does have a couple of Top-50 players in their early 20s. Faille may get some more help soon, and of course Greece is going to fade ... it just hasn't happened yet.

In Croatia, Aparna Chandrasekharan made the semis in singles and the finals in doubles, definitely a strong overall showing. That's the last competitive tournament of the year for my players.
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Old 01-01-2023, 08:10 PM   #1354
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
World Team Cup Playoffs

- Denmark (19th) vs. Czech Republic (11th)

A year after surviving a relegation playoff to drop to Level 3, Denmark is trying to promote to Level 1. That would be quite a swing. 20th-ranked Morten Eljersgaard leads the way, but doesn't get enough help against a more balanced Czech team that is facing it's first playoff in some time. The Czech Republic stays up, 3-2.

- Guatemala (21st) vs. Argentina (13th)

This is a rematch of last year; Guatemala is trying to promote to Level 1 for the third year in a row, while Argentina attempts to stay up. The result is still the same; form holds with Argentina winning 3-2. Another case where a single star - Bartolome Riffo, 22nd - can't carry things by themselves against a better overall team.

- Ireland (5th) vs. Canada (10th)

Two Top 10 nations in a playoff is super-rare. This is yet another rematch; Canada beat Ireland 4-1 last year. The challengers are better this season, finishing as Level 2 champions, but they still fall short 3-2 and the Canadians survive again. The worst singles ranking in this matchup is 34th. Ireland absolutely deserves to be in Level 1, and Canada's good enough they probably shouldn't be in the playoff either. This is just a raw deal all the way around.

- Sweden (33rd) vs. Great Britain (15th)

Great Britain tries to promote for the second time in three years and the third in six; Sweden faces their first playoff challenge after a 3-year run at the top tier. Both nations have one quality player and one that isn't; Sweden is led by Patrik Rask (19th), Great Britain by Chris King (28th). Rask wins that battle, and Sweden loses the #2 singles but takes the doubles easily. They hold on, 3-2.

All four decided by a single rubber, and I can't remember the last time there were no changes at all after the playoffs. Everyone stays where they are.
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Old 01-01-2023, 08:29 PM   #1355
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Country Rankings

1. Greece - 2712
2. Germany - 2340
3. United States - 2277
4. France - 2211
5. Ireland - 2153
6. Cyprus - 2133
7. Italy - 2093
8. Spain - 2052
9. Austria - 1967
10. Canada - 1927

57. Sri Lanka - 1026

It's still Greece and everyone else at the top; the gap is still growing as long as nobody can knock them off. As for us, we will follow up our year off from the World Team Cup by ...

... getting another one, as expected. There was one new country admitted this year, Zimbabwe, which may interest a certain reader. They deserve it, with Meligqili Banana a rising youngster, 20 years old and ranked 78th. Even with only one other player in the Top 1000, that was enough to get them in. Other last-place finishers we could have potentially replaced:

- Ukraine, who lost three times by 3-2 and has two singles players in the 300-400 range. I'd have kept them in over us also.

- Japan, who impressively found a way to lose every.single.rubber at Level 4. They hang around probably based on the fact that they still have Tsuramatsu Ashara, ranked 209th. Srivastava basically cancels him out though, and he's the only player they have in the Top 800 so we'd still have an argument. They were just relegated from Level 3 a year ago, so maybe they are giving them some time.

Or they only wanted to make one change, and Zimbabwe is it.

Or they just don't like our stupid face.

Or they want us to wait longer than a year before reconsidering our case.

Or they decided to consult the bones, and odds were never in our favor.

Whatever the case, it's admittedly a close call this year and I can't in all honesty claim I would have chosen differently. I probably would have reviewed our application and said something like 'if they keep making progress, next year'.

If we don't get in next year though in a similar situation, I will spit tacks. Which will accomplish precisely jack squat. For now, we just need to be as ready as we can be whenever the time comes. And coming up soon, of course, are the usual start-of-year wall-of-text updates.
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Old 01-03-2023, 12:04 AM   #1356
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Year 102 Top Ten Rankings

1. Ben Faille (23, FRA, 96%, 9.44, +0.12) - 16,170

Stupidly good and still improving, Faille had one the best disappointing seasons in tennis history. He was 'only' 90-5, winning all four Slams and five Masters. When you're as good as Ben is, the question is still 'why did you lose four Masters and the Tour Finals' at some level, and he had a couple really unlucky defeats in there. He's only playing against himself and history really though, and will continue to be the prohibitive favorite in any tournament he enters.

2. Leon Polychroniadis (28, GRC, 88%, 9.07, -0.02) - 11,940

Polychroniadis refuses to accept that he's supposed to be sliding backwards; he nearly maintained his abilities and actually added several hundred points to his ranking total. A 6-3 mark against longtime rival Cananis helped.

3. Renke Cananis (28, DEU, 86%, 9.01, -0.14) - 9,250

Seriously over the hill though he may be, Cananis is still better than almost everyone else, and only recently was surpassed by Faille for having the best serve in the world.

4. Themis Xanthos (29, CYP, 86%, 8.76, -0.08) - 6,370

The age% numbers of 2-4 are unreal; shows how dominant these guys have been that they still haven't been knocked down, though Caballero is coming for Xanthos soon it appears.

5. Ene Caballero (21, ESP, 99%, 8.85, +0.20) - 5,510

#1 in Spain has been achieved; now how high can he push in the global game? I wouldn't bet anything worse than second, but this year the goal is just to kick Xanthos out and reach the top four. Caballero probably should have improved a little more this year, and appears to be a little serve-heavy. These are nitpicks, but when you're at the top the small stuff matters.

6. Toni Bardales (27, ESP, 87%, 8.60, -0.08) - 4,830

Me last year; 'Time has probably run out - perhaps he'll have one last hurrah this year but I doubt it'.

- I rate this statement Faction, a mixed bag. He was #6 last year and is #6 this year, but he did slide some in terms of results. A subpar clay season was largely rectified by that hard-to-believe upset of Faille and finalist finish at the Cincinnati Masters.

7. Jochen Weigle (27, SUI, 90%, 8.89, -0.03) - 4,680

Mr. Disappointment. I talked last year about how he'd basically finally turned the corner. Hard nope. It should have been his best year. The numbers say he's now at or just past his best tennis. I'm done expecting Weigle to fulfill his potential.

8. Oleg Urazov (24, CAN, 95%, 9.00, +0.09) - 4,410

Last year I said 'Urazov really broke through this year'. That was true. He's also second only to Weigle in the disappointment category. He does still have time, at least a couple more years - but doggone it Oleg, get busy. On paper you're basically co-#3 along with Cananis, better than Caballero, almost as good as Polychroniadis.

You're a 9.0 player. Canada doesn't get those every day. Play like it.

9. Solitris Papadias (28, GRC, 86%, 8.61, -0.07) - 3,580

An elder statesman holding on to what he can, but increasingly slipping.

10. Eddy Copperfield (29, AUS, 84%, 8.45, ??) - 3,070

Why are you even here, Eddy? Didn't even bother rating him last year, because he was finally over the hill enough that he'd never be seriously heard from again.

Good call.

Analysis

On the whole another small inching up of the average rating in the Top 10, 8.87 from 8.86 a year ago. At the same time, 7 of the players are actually getting worse. Caballero joining helps push a bit in the other direction. In the 'what on earth happened' category, last year's #10 Ale Ballok fell off a cliff and is now 17th.

The competition to get onto the first page is increasing, and I expect it to swallow up Copperfield and Papadias.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 01-03-2023 at 12:04 AM.
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Old 01-03-2023, 12:52 AM   #1357
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Year 102 Rankings, 11+ Notables

11. Goya Banqueria (23, ESP, 96%, 8.54, +0.14)

Another year, another five spots in the rankings - though that figures to slow now. Banqueria's manager continues to show he wants a servebot, with most of the worst connotations of that term. It seems clear that Goya will never have a world-class game from the back of the court, which also means I don't expect him to move up a whole lot more.

12. Johann Przalowik (24, DEU, 96%, 8.81, +0.24)

A ranking bug didn't help, but Przalowik still has no excuse to be down here from 9th a year ago. He's better than this, and really worked on his game, but ... just another underachiever. Time to bounce back, Johann. Do it now.

13. Dominic Stricker (25, SUI, 94%, 8.58, +0.04)

Last year I said Striker was kind of boring. I stand by that assessment after he inched up one spot in the rankings and didn't make any real noise. Too serve-focused, but even at that should be improving a little more than these barely-noticeable incremenetal bumps.

15. David de Laurentiis (23, DEU, 96%, 8.63, +0.09)

Last year I said this: "it's a crime against player management that de Laurentis is this low ... good power, he lacks only improved baseline play and is a borderline Top-10 caliber player right now."

Looks like I was mostly correct, as de Laurentiis cut his ranking in half and now is in striking distance of that Top 10 spot. Another guy who feels like he should have improved a bit more though. Definitely one to watch this year.

18. Patrik Rask (25, SWE, 92%, 8.33, +0.02)

Another one where I hit the nail on the head, if I do say so myself:

'Rask is actually better than a fair number of the players ahead of him. ... he could make the low teens yet'.

Patrik was 29th last year, so definitely another fast-riser. Doesn't have a lot of time left to make his mark, and decided to just go all-in on the serve; his skill is actually worse than it was a year ago when he looked pretty balanced. So a bunch of that optimism just got thrown out the window.

19. Joss Fraikes (22, USA, 98%, 8.51, --)

Fraikes is our first new player to introduce in this year's rundown. An American who knows how to play off the crowd is always dangerous. Good athlete, good mental game, somewhat serve-heavy as is in style, and a slow-developer so he has a few years yet.

I'm pegging Josh for the low teens this year and definitely a solid Top-10 player in time, probably Top 5. Not a truly great player, but he figures to make some noise.

26. Hector Mendias (23, ESP, 99%, 8.28, +0.04)

I said a year ago that 'he'll need to get his technique up to standard before he can progress much further.' Mendias was ranked five spots higher then, at 21st. He barely did better than tread water, so it appears that this is one Spanish talent that's going nowhere.

27. Chris King (21, GBR, 99%, 8.18, --)

You're not going to believe this, but King has a quality serve and under-developed skill. It's like there's a factory somewhere that these guys get churned out at. Mental game is weak, athleticism adequate but not more - really a dedicated player so he could well get better, but right now King is borderline out of his depth. I don't expect much progress this season, but if he uses the year to improve, then there could be better days ahead.

29. George Voronets (24, RUS, 92%, 8.20, -0.01)

'I think about 15th is where he peaks, in a couple years'. Voronets keeps disappointing me. He was 22nd last year, career high is 19th, but just going in the wrong direction and even with merely above-average endurance, he should be able to improve some. This is the last I'll be writing about him without a good reason to convince me otherwhise.

32. Mark Want (21, USA, 100%, 8.05, --)

Want, as in wanting development. Mark's technique is sorely lacking, he has good athleticism, mentality, endurance ... question is how much can he improve his skills. A fast-riser so he doesn't have a huge amount of time, and feels to me like he's behind the curve some. We'll see.

49. Jan Schleicher (19, AUT, 99%, 7.58, --)

Schleicher is the top-ranked teenager, about to turn 20. He's got a quality manager, being trained by none other than the greatest of them all, Chris Adams. Don't get too excited though. He's doing pretty well development-wise, but mental game is poor and athleticism merely solid. Excellent endurance will definitely help; he'll likely make the most of what he has but this isn't a future world-beater.
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Old 01-03-2023, 01:07 AM   #1358
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Year 102 Rankings, My Stable

193. Sushant Srivastava (25, SRI, 93%, 7.15, +0.32)

Last year I estimated two years until Srivastava peaks, but it'll be longer than that; he didn't even slow down this season in development. In terms of getting his teeth into the Challenger ranks, he'll start by trying to qualify for the AO, then another CH3 in the second week of that Slam. He needs some decent results there, or it'll be a dip back down into futures.

I'm revising my estimate for his peak somewhat higher; I think Sushant could well be able to crack the Top 100 as a mid-level Challengers player.

487. Manoj Datar (34, SRI, 70%, 6.42, -0.05)

This is a nice suprise in the ranking, +120 from last year. Mostly I think that's due to balancing himself out more, improving the serve as part of working towards being a trainer. On that front, he's behind schedule. 4.25 now, +0.13 from a year ago. It looks like another three years or close to it before he is ready. Unfortunate, but there's nothing to be done about it other than get him there as soon as possible. I just over-estimated how quickly he would progress.

700. Aparna Chandrasekharan (21, SRI, 99%, 6.58, +0.63)

Chandrasekharan's progress this year is key to our chances of returning to the WTC. I expect him to be near the top of the futures heap, say 300th roughly, and on his way out of that tier by the time the calendar swings around again. That would also of course make him the clear #2 singles for Sri Lanka in case a return invite is extended.

71 (J). Girish Raychaudhari (16, SRI, 79%, 4.60, +1.15)

JG3 events will be the meat-and-pototoes for Girish this year, practicing in both singles and doubles will become the norm, and he figures to capable of handling Amateur-level competition by the end of it. Two more years left until he can go professional.

Manager Ranking

Similar progression, +13 spots to 69th, and about 1.3k points to 2.97k.
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Old 01-10-2023, 03:56 PM   #1359
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Australian Open

Sushant Srivatava's run ended immediately, with a 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 loss in the first round of qualifying. One of those matches he could have won, probably should have won, but was unlucky. The following week he lost in the second round of qualifying at CH3 Honolulu, both singles and doubles. So the struggle continues.

As for the main draw in Australia, #4 Themis Xanthos decided not to show up. That created an opening for Caballero. A number of low seeds played as if they weren't really ready for the year to begin; five seeded players failed to make the third round. The best to fall that early was (11) Goya Banqueria, eliminated in a second round five-set match against fellow Spaniard Matias Aldecoa. At least for now, Banqueria's push to join the Top 10 is definitely on hold. The rest of the field mostly sorted itself out in the next couple of rounds, but there were some interesting happenings. Johann Przalowik and Renke Cananis played in a fourth-round matchup of the top two Germans, and Cananis rallied from a set down twice to claim a 5-7, 6-4, 6-7(3), 7-6(4), 6-3 victory. One of the best matches of the first week. (14) Raul Ramirez eliminated Andre Mexicano in all-Mexican third-round clash, then took down (8) Solitris Papadias in four sets to crash the quarterfinal party. Polychroniadis has a bit of a road bump in four-set win over (12) Dominic Stricker, but the top seven players who showed up joined Ramirez in the second week.

Only one quarterfinal match went beyond the minimum three sets; that was Caballero eliminating Toni Bardales in four, another confirmation that the younger player has become Spain's best. Faille eliminated Oleg Urazov, Cananis defeated Ramirez, and while it was a quality effort by Jochen Weigle against Polychroniadis, he still couldn't take a set in a 6-3, 7-6(5), 7-6(3) result. The semifinals were decidedly more competitive, both of them going the distance. Cananis led Ben Faille two sets to one ... and then took only three games in the last two sets combined. Talk about running out of gas. Ene Cabellero pushed Leon Polychroniadis before ultimately falling short 6-1, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(10), 6-3. This was a good enough run to move him into the Top 4 and show that he deserves to be there, but the Greek still moved on to the final. Which was not that exciting; 6-2, 6-4, 6-4, Faille snags his 8th Slam trophy. Technically that puts him in a tie among many other players including Anil Mehul and Karl Kaspar for 10th, but he won't actually appear on the list until he wins another one. Given that he hasn't lost a Slam in two years, I think it's pretty likely that happens.

Elsewhere ...

A solid start to the year for Aparna Chandrasekharan and Girish Raychaudhari. Chandrasekharan made the quarters in singles and doubles at a FT3 event in Mexico; Raychaudhari won JG3 New Delhi in singles, quarterfinals in doubles.

By the time I got around to posting this we're already around the end of February; in a few game weeks we'll be back in action at Indian Wells and catch up on all the progress - or lack thereof - made since Australia.
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Old 01-15-2023, 07:59 PM   #1360
britrock88
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Location: Madison, WI
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Swartz View Post
It's still Greece and everyone else at the top; the gap is still growing as long as nobody can knock them off. As for us, we will follow up our year off from the World Team Cup by ...

... getting another one, as expected. There was one new country admitted this year, Zimbabwe, which may interest a certain reader. They deserve it, with Meligqili Banana a rising youngster, 20 years old and ranked 78th. Even with only one other player in the Top 1000, that was enough to get them in. Other last-place finishers we could have potentially replaced:

- Ukraine, who lost three times by 3-2 and has two singles players in the 300-400 range. I'd have kept them in over us also.

- Japan, who impressively found a way to lose every.single.rubber at Level 4. They hang around probably based on the fact that they still have Tsuramatsu Ashara, ranked 209th. Srivastava basically cancels him out though, and he's the only player they have in the Top 800 so we'd still have an argument. They were just relegated from Level 3 a year ago, so maybe they are giving them some time.

Or they only wanted to make one change, and Zimbabwe is it.

Or they just don't like our stupid face.

Or they want us to wait longer than a year before reconsidering our case.

Or they decided to consult the bones, and odds were never in our favor.

Whatever the case, it's admittedly a close call this year and I can't in all honesty claim I would have chosen differently. I probably would have reviewed our application and said something like 'if they keep making progress, next year'.

If we don't get in next year though in a similar situation, I will spit tacks. Which will accomplish precisely jack squat. For now, we just need to be as ready as we can be whenever the time comes. And coming up soon, of course, are the usual start-of-year wall-of-text updates.

Sorry if this seems like Banana cut your place in line! Though I have to say your earlier predicted criterion of having a top-100 player seems just about dead on...
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Old 01-15-2023, 09:46 PM   #1361
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Nah, like I said Zimbabwe deserved it more. It's only a matter of time until we get back in. It would just be nice sooner rather than later
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Old 01-15-2023, 09:58 PM   #1362
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Indian Wells Masters

This tournament really heated up with some good fourth-round matches. Themis Xanthos was eliminated in a third-set tiebreak by Davide de Laurentiis, but the one that really was a surprise was world no. 3 Renke Cananis getting narrowly edged out by fellow German Johann Przalowik, 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-6(5). It was the earliest loss at a Masters event in more than six years for Cananis, and meant that two double-digit seeds made the quarterfinals.

Both of them not only showed up, but played competitively ... and still lost. A pair of tiebreaks allowed Jochen Weigle to get past Przalowik, while de Laurentiis was a three-set victim of Ene Caballero. The Spaniard would go on to be the only player to take more than two games in a set from Ben Faille, who crushed the field this week. A 6-4, 7-6(3) defeat in their semifinal was a herculean feat by comparison. A close match in the other semi as well, but Weigle lost to Leon Polychroniadis, who ate a breadstick and a bagel from Faille in the final. Ouch. No matter who you're playing, as the #2 in the world you expect a little more than that.

Elsewhere ...

Sushant Srivastava suffered a pair of second-round Challenger defeats; CH2 Bergamo and CH3 Florinapolis were the locations. He is now officially set to bounce back down to futures for a tournament at this point. Some definite struggles in the transition for him.

Aparna Chandrasekharan made it the semis in Uzbekistan, and then had his breakthrough in Brazil, taking his first futures title - an FT3 of course. It was not a cruise by any stretch, he endured close three-set victories in the first round against a local and again in the semifinals. I'm not sure how big of a step this is yet, but if nothing else it officially vaulted him to #2 behind only Srivastava in the Sri Lanka national rankings. Now we'll see if Chandrasekaharan can consolidate and put together a string of tournament trophies.

Girish Raychaudhari won in both singles and doubles at JG3 events in Kapan, Armenia and again at Szeged, Hungary. He's on a serious roll at the moment and there are no concerns with his play.
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Old 01-17-2023, 12:25 PM   #1363
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Miami Masters

This wasn't just a repeat IW; the status quo got upended in Miami, and the biggest question is whether that will be a consistent thing going forward. In the fourth round, Joss Fraikes used a favorable crowd to take the only set Faille would lose for the tournament, though he would win only four games combined in the final two sets as the dominant Frenchman easily rallied. Ene Caballero took an early seat with a fairly surprising straight-sets loss to Przalowik, Leon Polychroniadis took his turn at exiting quickly as well, 7-6(2), 7-6(7) against de Laurentiis. First loss before the quarterfinals for him in over 3 years.

In the quarterfinals, Toni Bardales was competitive at least in his loss to Faille, and there was another classic between Jochen Weigle and Johann Przalowik. They have now played five sets in the last two tournaments. Every set went to a tiebreak. It's hard to get closer than that. Przalowik wins this one in three sets. Themis Xanthos was eliminated in three as well, by Davide de Laurentiis, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, and Renke Cananis went out to Urazov in a meek third set. Three out of the four matches were upsets. That's not the way this normally goes. Ben Faille ended Przalowik's run including a first-set bagel, and de Laurentiis went out in a close one to Oleg Urazov, 6-4, 7-6(4). It's the second Masters final for the Canadian, but he'd like to forget the final; 6-2, 6-0 defeats are not the stuff that dreams are made of.

There's definitely a growing trend of not so much a changing of the guard, but perhaps a changing of the challengers - a major shift in the power structure below Faille's reign of terror.
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Old 01-17-2023, 12:45 PM   #1364
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Q2 Rankings Update

1. Ben Faille (23, FRA) - 17,630

Faille has played 28 matches so far this year and won all of them. Most have not been close and it's anybody's guess how long it will be until he loses again. It's difficult to overstate his dominance at this point.

2. Leon Polychroniadis (28, GRC) - 11,600

Miami was Leon's first real slip-up; I expect he'll stay at this spot for a while.

3. Renke Cananis (29, DEU) - 8,350

Cananis is more and more vulnerable, and quite possibly no longer even the best player from Germany. It would appear that his decline is accelerating.

4. Ene Caballero (22, ESP) - 6,140

Miami was disappointing, but overall a strong start to the year for Caballero. He's firmly established himself in the top four, and now has his sights set higher. I expect a strong showing from him in the clay season - multiple finals wouldn't be a surprise.

5. Jochen Weigle (27, SUI) - 4,860

Exactly 300 points seperate #5 through #8 right now; they are pretty much interchangeable.

6. Themis Xanthos (29, CYP) - 4,830

Xanthos is an exception, as he's clearly on his way down.

7. Toni Bardales (28, ESP) - 4,760

8. Oleg Urazov (25, CAN) - 4,560

Even though Miami was good, Urazov is still underachieving overall.

9. Johann Przalowik (24, DEU) - 3,270

Some very good wins, esp. recently, have Przalowik back in the Top 10. I'd say he probably stays this time.

10. Solitris Papadias (29, GRC) - 3,200

By the time the clay season is over, I expect Papadias to be replaced here. Davide de Laurentiis is 12th and just 100 points back; #13 Goya Banqueria is another candidate. He hasn't done much so far this year, but clay favors him.


185. Sushant Srivastava (26, SRI)

After cruising through another FT1 tournament, Srivastava will take another stab at sticking in the Challenger circuit. It wouldn't surprise me to see this yo-yo continue for a while.

548. Aparna Chandrasekharan (21, SRI)

Chandrasekharan is about to pop into the Top 500; at the time of writing he just finished winning his second FT3 in a row. By mid-year I expect to be at least experimenting with bumping him up to higher tiers of futures. The faster he rises, the better our chances at getting back in the WTC next year are.

650. Manoj Datar (34, SRI)

I think Datar has reached the point where he's definitely a better doubles players than singles - ranked 537th there.

56(J). Girish Raychaudhari (17, SRI)

Full steam ahead for Raychaudhari, who is undefeated in singles this season and has just a single loss in doubles.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 01-17-2023 at 12:46 PM.
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Old 01-20-2023, 12:05 AM   #1365
Brian Swartz
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Monte Carlo Masters

A few notable results before we get to the quarters; a third-round matchup of not-that-good-anymores ended with Themis Xanthos losing to Solitris Papadias 6-4, 7-5. That meant Papadias made his first Masters QF in over half a year. In an all-Spanish matchup Goya Banqueria continued his trend of doing not much after a close straight-sets loss to Caballero. Can't blame him there, just a tough draw. And (5) Jochen Weigle went out early against Przalowik, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. Both are solid but unspectacular on clay, so it's not the surface. It's just Weigle being Weigle.

A couple of minor surprises then but all Top 10 players in the final eight. Papadias took a whole three games from Faille. Toni Bardales won a set, then faded to the point of eating a third-set bagel against Cananis. Oleg Urazov showed up and competed and lost against Polychroniadis; at this point, that is no longer good enough. He needs to start winning some of these. And Johann Przalowik had a good second set but didn't start or finish well enough to upset Ene Caballero.

The Spaniard didn't fare as well as I might have thought against Leon Polychroniadis, losing in routine fashion. The other semi was a surprise a well, with Ben Faille just surviving against Renke Cananis, 7-5, 3-6, 6-4. They've only played twice this year, but it seems to be a tough matchup for the world no. 1; each match has gone the distance. The final was reasonable but routine, 6-3 6-4 for Faille who has now won nine straight against the man closest to him in the rankings. He's still perfect on the year.

Elsewhere ...

Girish Raychaudhari met a bit of resistance in the final, but added another JG3 title in both singles and doubles. Two more of those to go for a full set, and then we'll think about higher aspirations.
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Old 01-22-2023, 07:27 PM   #1366
Brian Swartz
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Madrid Masters

More early losses for some of the lower seeds this time, but all of the key players reached at least the third round. The only big upset, and given where this was played I'm not sure it even is one, was #3 Renke Cananis losing to Goya Banqueria in the third round. Banqueria went on to smash Jochen Weigle before he was sat down by Leon Polychroniadis in the semifinals. The other Spaniards were on the top of the draw, where Ben Faille disposed of them. Bardales in the quarterfinal, Caballero in the semifinal, and the championship match was a one-sided coronation, 6-3, 6-2.

Elsewhere ...

Sushant Srivastava added CH3 Ostrava to his lengthy list of second-round exits, though a semifinal run in doubles was nice. Aparna Chandrasekharan added a third straight futures title, though once again it wasn't easy. I think I'll keep him at the FT3 level for one more event.
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Old 01-23-2023, 02:33 PM   #1367
Brian Swartz
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Rome Masters

The established order held more frequently this week than it has recently. Minimal early-round upsets, and the only player in the top eight to lose before the quarterfinals was Themis Xanthos, victim of Santino Consiglio in the third round by a 6-2 7-6(5) score. Consiglio of course benefited from the support of a home crowd.

A strange match to start out the quarters; Oleg Urazov won the first set 6-4 against Faille, lost the second narrowly 7-5 ... and then was bageled in the third. Just fell off a cliff apparently. There were no upsets in the round, although Cananis (against Toni Bardales) and Polychroniadis (against Jochen Weigle) had to work for their victories. In the semis, Faille rallied from a set down for the second match in a row against Renke Cananis, who keeps coming close and coming up short; 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 here. That's about as close as the world no. 1 has come to losing a match this year. The other one was a shellacking; once again Ene Caballero was unable to mount a challenge against Leon Polychroniadis, winning only four games. The final was much closer than recent ones have been as Ben Faille definitely appeared to be vulnerable this week. Down a break early in both sets, he rallied to win anyway 6-4, 7-6(5). This was almost certainly the best chance for the field to beat him on clay this year. With the crowd behind him at Roland Garros in a couple weeks, I doubt he will be as accomodating.
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Old 01-26-2023, 11:55 PM   #1368
Brian Swartz
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Year 102 Roland Garros

There were a few low seeds losing in the second round, but nothing that didn't really make sense. Then came this third-round result:

(25) Hector Mendias d. (2) Leon Polychroniadis, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(5), 7-5.

Polychroniadis just finished being the runner-up in all three clay Masters events coming in. He was a finalist here last year as well, and hadn't lost this early at a Slam in six and a half years. It's the kind of thing that makes you go hmmmm ....

(15) Dominic Stricker, (11) Eddy Copperfield, and (10) Davide de Laurentiis also were sent out. Given the year that de Laurentiis has had, he was the biggest surprise of that trio and made it two real shockers in the round of 32. Patrick Rask of Sweden knocked him out in an 8-6 5th set.

Ok then. On to the fourth round. (7) Themis Xanthos waves bye-bye here, going to five with Joss Fraikes of the US only to eat a bagel once he got there. Mendias was pushed out here, straight-sets by Goya Banqueria.

Banqueria is seeded 12th, Fraikes 16th. The six others in the quarterfinals were supposed to be there. Starting to normalize a bit, but still feels weird without Polychroniadis. Fraikes was the first to be at all competitive with Faille, though he still was beaten in straight sets. All-Spanish matchup between Toni Bardales and Ene Caballero ended decisively in the younger player's favor once again, Oleg Urazov took advantage of the situation to send Banqueria packing in straight sets, and a fine match between Jochen Weigle and Renke Cananis was the talk of the round. 4-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(1), 7-6(5) was the final. For once, we can't blame Weigle for being a pushover. He just couldn't contend the mental prowess of Cananis in the tiebreaks.

Caballero impressively took a set from Ben Faille in the first semifinal, but he also had a bagel and a breadstick to feast on, so ... perhaps it should have ended in three. Cananis kept going in straight sets over Urazov, though arguably he wasn't the better player outsisde of the key moments. He just dominated when he needed to, and that earned him this:

6-2, 6-2, 6-3. 7 break chances for Renke in the final. 7 failures. Don't see that from him much, while Faille was 6 of 11. There's a considerable gap between the players on clay, in France - and this match was even less competitive than it should have been.
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Old 01-27-2023, 12:14 AM   #1369
Brian Swartz
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Q3 Rankings Update

1. Ben Faille (24, FRA) - 18,030

51-0 on the year. This we don't see much of.

2. Leon Polychroniadis (28, GRC) - 9,990

There's just a hint of insecurity now at #2 with the early loss in RG. It's still Leon's spot to lose though.

3. Renke Cananis (29, DEU) - 8,560

Multiple times in recent months, including of course the run to the RG final, Cananis has shown he's still third at worst. The guy just doesn't crack ... err, usually.

4. Ene Caballero (22, ESP) - 6,770

Caballero didn't do quite as well on clay as I expected - he did have some poor luck in the draws as part of that. Still managed to strengthen his grip on the 4th spot, but I don't think he'll go higher this year.

5. Oleg Urazov (25, CAN) - 5,150

I'm still disappointed. Yes he's at a career-high and showing some signs here and there, but that's as much to do with others slipping as it is with Oleg doing well.

6. Jochen Weigle (27, SUI) - 5,020

Still treading water as a regular in the final eight at big events.

7. Toni Bardales (28, ESP) - 4,800

Toni as well.

8. Themis Xanthos (29, CYP) - 4,550

Xanthos continues to slip, but nobody seems overly eager to take his spot just yet.

9. Johann Przalowik (24, DEU) - 3,230

Really just met minimum expectations on clay. I thought we'd see more than that.

10. Davide de Laurentiis (23, DEU) - 3,100

Papadias is gone, and we now have three Germans in the Top 10. Goya Banqueria is next up in 11th, waiting patiently. Too patiently, for the most part.


187. Sushant Srivastava (26, SRI)

The yo-yo continues between futures and challenger events. A few weeks ago, Srivastava took advantage of a good draw to reach his first challenger quarterfinal in CH3 Lyon. He needs consistent semifinals to stick though, and his streak of FT1 victories from last year is about to fall of his points total, so he'll have to replace them.

321. Aparna Chandrasekharan (21, SRI)

Chandrasekharan is doing better than expected. Based on his practice results, I squeezed him into his first FT2 event last week in New Zealand. He proceeded to smash all opposition, including a couple matches I thought would be tighter, and win both singles and doubles. Aparna figures to be in the low 200s if not out of futures by the end of the year, which should help our ambitions at getting back into the World Team Cup.

801. Manoj Datar (34, SRI)

Training is progressing a bit better than anticipated so far this year. On the court, Datar is hanging on as a futures player mostly due to his doubles ability at this point.

52(J). Girish Raychaudhari (17, SRI)

Still plowing through what is set in front of him, Raychaudhari needs just one more JG3 title. Presumably he'll get that in a few weeks.
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Old 01-31-2023, 01:24 PM   #1370
Brian Swartz
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Year 102 Wimbledon

There were a decided lack of surprises this year. The fourth round held all but one of the Top 16 seeds, the lone exception being (12) Solitris Papadias losing to Dane Morten Eljersgaard in four tiebreaks. Eljersgaard, ranked 23rd, is definitely in the 'dangerous veteran' category. He's never been ranked higher than 20th, but he's been in the 20s for some years now. Every single fourth-round match went to the expected winner. There was an epic 5-setter between the two players from Cyprus, going ultimately to Themis Xanthos 8-6 in the final set. Davide de Laurentiis was ousted by Oleg Urazov in a four-set match that could easily have gone the distance; Urazov won two close tiebreaks.

In the quarterfinals? Well, the favorites all one again. There was still some drama, most notably with Urazov again who twice led Ben Faille by a set before losing 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 6-2. That fourth-set tiebreak would have meant for a huge upset if it went the other way. The semifinals featured Faille against Ene Caballero and Leon Polychroniadis versus Renke Cananis for the 62nd time. Both went in straight sets, with Faille and Cananis prevailing. The final looked like a blowout until a competitive match broke out. Up by two sets, Faille found himself forced into a tough 5th that could have gone either way, but he ultimately kept perfect on the year with a 6-2, 6-2. 4-6, 6-7(5), 7-5 win.

Ben Faille now has 10 Slam titles - all consecutive by the way. He is the ninth player ever to win that many, and just two more would move him up to 7th on the list. That would seem to be a foregone conclusion.

Elsewhere ...

Playing back-to-back challengers at CH2 Marburg and CH3 Winnetka, Sushant Srivastava reached the quarterfinals in both while enduring early doubles defeats. Not bad, but not good enough to keep him from dropping down into the futures ranks again. He'll be blasting his way through FT1 events for a while until he gets back up, and training to try to stick a little better at his next opportunity in the challenger tier.

As expected, Girish Raychaudhari completed his set of JG3 titles at his latest venture in Plzen, Czech Republic. He may play one more before the year's out, but he'll be aiming for JG2 events of opportunity if viable. Raychaudhari is not quite ready for Amateur tournaments just yet, but likely will be by the end of the year.
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Old 01-31-2023, 06:53 PM   #1371
Brian Swartz
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Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-Wimbeldon Edition

In

Ben Faille - 11,850
Leon Polychroniadis - 5,680
Renke Cananis - 5,600
Ene Caballero - 5,330

Probable

Oleg Urazov - 3,930

Contenders

Jochen Weigle - 2,880
Toni Bardales - 2,755
Themis Xanthos - 2,750
--------------------------
Johann Przalowik - 2,480
Goya Banqueria - 2,440
Davide de Laurentiis - 2,270

Long Shots

Joss Fraikes - 2,085

Assessment

A whole lot of things could happen right now. Of course Ben Faille is untouchable at the top, but there's a compelling 3-way race for #2 behind him. Then Oleg Urazov is in no-man's land, better than the rest but not good enough to break into the Top 4 yet. Then there's three players trying to hold on to their spot, and so far they've still got the upper hand on the younger players coming up. Even Fraikes has a possibility of doing something, but definitely any three of the six in the Contenders category could make it in, and any three could make it out.

If I had to guess, I say Davide de Laurentiis in, Themis Xanthos out, the rest stays roughly as it is. That's only a guess though. Whether a real switch-up in the Top 8 happens this year or next is still an open question.
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Old 02-04-2023, 07:14 PM   #1372
Brian Swartz
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Canada Masters

The big news of the week is that 8th-ranked Themis Xanthos has gone doubles, ending the competitive phase of his singles career. He won 7 Masters, the '96 Australian Open, 7 500-level and 14 250-level events for a total of 23 professional titles. Along with fellow Cypriot Alketas Albanos, he'll seek glory on the team circuit from here on out.

This week, that meant the final spot in the quarterfinals was open to Johann Przalowik, a semifinalist here last year. There were no early upsets to the Top 8, and all of the quarterfinal matches were resolved in competitive straight sets. Particularly noteworthy was Oleg Urazov knocking off Cananis 7-5, 6-4 in the only win by a lower seed in the round. Urazov then went on to come within a hair of ruining the perfect season of Ben Faille. Their semifinal match had a scoreline of 6-7(3), 7-6(5), 7-5. Perhaps Urazov is finally coming into his own. In any case, Ene Caballero took a set from Leon Polychroniadis in the other semi but was then blitzed in the last two. Faille beat Polychroniadis 6-1, 6-4 in the final to maintain his unblemished mark.

Elsewhere ...

Sushant Srivastava won his first return to the futures level as expected. He's got a couple more to replace before he can take another crack at Challengers, hopefully before the end of the year although that'll be tight. Aparna Chandrasekharan suffered his first setback in some time, losing in the final at an FT2 in Australia. He'll stay at this tier for a bit, and continue working. Girish Raychaudhari is sort of in no-man's land. It's tough sometimes to find a decent JG2 to enter, JG3s are too low, and he's not yet ready for Amateur tournaments. It's a common lot for a player at his stage of development. He played another JG3 in Sokhumi, Georgia, winning easily. Just taking the matches to boost form and allow a few more weeks for training.
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Old 02-06-2023, 12:58 PM   #1373
Brian Swartz
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Cincinnati Masters

Hey look, I think I spelled it correctly this time ...

Anyway, this week was another one where the younger generation stepped up. Third-round upsets:

- (14) Daniel Long d. (6) Jochen Weigle 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Long, from Ireland, isn't exactly young at 26 years old, but he's still improving. This was a pretty big surprise as he's not really in Weigle's category in terms of ability.

- (10) Johann Przalowik d. (2) Leon Polychroniadis, 7-6(6), 6-2. Anytime #2 goes out this early it's definitely worth noting.

- (11) Joss Fraikes d. (7) Toni Bardales, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. This one we can pretty much put down to the home-crowd advantage.

Three double-digit seeds crashing into the quarterfinals. And the surprises didn't stop there. Faille actually lost the first set to Long, then took the last two 6-2, 6-1 as he was apparently not amused at this affront. Fraikes lost in a close two-setter to Cananis, Davide de Laurentiis was beaten by Caballero routinely, and in the most interesting match Przalowik kept going by knocking out Oleg Urazov 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. So much for Urazov backing up his performance last week.

Ene Caballero ate a bagel in his first set against the unstoppable french force of Faille, before doing better in the second but still losing. The other semifinal went right down to the wire, which usually means Renke Cananis wins ... but not this time. Przalowik moves on again, 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(3). Impressive run for him, which hits a dead end in the final with Ben Faille cruising 6-2, 6-2.

The most important upshot of this is that Przalowik moves back up to 9th, giving him that leg up on the other rising players again and the vital 8th seed at the US Open. Naturally, it wouldn't be a surprise if Fraikes makes another run there as well.
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Old 02-06-2023, 06:16 PM   #1374
Chas in Cinti
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Swartz View Post
Cincinnati Masters

Hey look, I think I spelled it correctly this time ...


Ha! I feel like an a$$ for saying anything... Really enjoying this now that it's back...
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Old 02-08-2023, 01:22 PM   #1375
Brian Swartz
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Nah, I probably would have happily kept spelling it wrong for years. Glad you still like the tale here.

Year 102 US Open

Our first notable result comes in the third round with (10) Goya Banqueria bowing out to (19) Matthew Hughes of Ireland, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4. Hughes is the same age - 26 - as Daniel Long who we mentioned recently, and is similarly approaching his prime. As for Banqueria, this will pretty much confirm that he's stalling this year just outside the Top 10. (12) Raul Ramirez lost as well, but he's 28 and on the decline so we take more passing notice of that.

Another Spaniard lost in five sets in the next round; this time it was 4th-ranked Ene Caballero against Joss Fraikes. Makes sense the American would try to make a statement at his home Slam, and here he succeeded. Hughes lost to Polychroniadis in straight-sets, and the rest of the matches pretty much went as expected. A good one though between Urazov and de Laurentiis, with the Canadian winning in three although the first two sets were very close.

Jochen Weigle had the misfortune of meeting Faille in the quarterfinals, and suffered the usual result. Oleg Urazov had his chance against Cananis, but couldn't get through in a 4-6, 7-6(4), 7-5, 6-3 result. Urazov needs to consistently win these to take the next step, but it didn't happen for him this time. Johann Przalowik lost by a similar count to Polychroniadis, and Fraikes had another five-setter, rallying from down 2-1 against Toni Bardales to advance once again.

The semifinals had the first real challenge of the tournament for Ben Faille; straight-sets over Renke Cananis but he had to work for it. Fraikes finally ended his run of upsets against Leon Polychroniadis, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. That set up a final that was once again #1 vs. #2. It ended in the minimum sets as Faille did not lose one this tournament, but again he was pushed some. 6-3, 7-6(2), 7-6(3) was the result.

Joss Fraikes is the feel-good story of the event, reaching his first Slam semifinal. It's a long-shot, but he has aims of winning here someday. For now, this should vault him into the Top 10, joining the other rising stars competing to kick Xanthos out.
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Old 02-08-2023, 03:42 PM   #1376
Brian Swartz
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Q4 Rankings Update

1. Ben Faille (24, FRA) - 18,850

75-0. Faille hasn't been great at the Tour Finals, but that's really the only place I see that he might be vulnerable.

2. Leon Polychroniadis (29, GRC) - 9,270

It's gotten closer, but Polychroniadis is still hanging on here.

3. Renke Cananis (29, DEU) - 8,880

Cananis is still holding tough as well.

4. Ene Caballero (22, ESP) - 7,310

Next year Caballero could move up to #2 fairly effortlessly, but it appears 4 is where he'll stay this season.

5. Oleg Urazov (25, CAN) - 5,980

Albeit inconsitently, Urazov is showing signs of following the younger Spaniard up the ranking ladder.

6. Jochen Weigle (27, SUI) - 5,250

*yawn*

7. Toni Bardales (28, ESP) - 4,110

Perhaps starting to slide a little more now, Bardales is still plenty good enough to hold his ground for the moment.

8. Themis Xanthos (29, CYP) - 3,610

The USO took a big chunk of his points, and final farewells are being prepared.

9. Johann Przalowik (24, DEU) - 3,590

Ready to pounce.

10. Joss Fraikes (23, USA) - 3,385

As expected, the SF run at the US Open puts Fraikes up here for the first time.

Davide de Laurentiis is 11th, Goya Banqueria 12th, and they remain legitimate threats in the right circumstances.


248. Sushant Srivastava (26, SRI)

This ranking is deceptively low; a FT1 title from last year just dropped off, and he's expected to replace it this week. Srivastava will need two more after that to vault himself back up into the Challenger ranks; that might be just in time for taking another shot at the year-end sprint at that level.

267. Aparna Chandrasekharan (21, SRI)

For his part, Chandrasekharan still hopes to broach the FT1 tier by the end of the year. He has a 34-3 singles mark this year, demonstrating his quick progress upwards.

708. Manoj Datar (34, SRI)

Up almost 100 spots from a few months ago; Datar continues to bounce around but generally struggle at the lower futures levels.

48(J). Girish Raychaudhari (17, SRI)

Raychaudhari is prepping for his first JG2 event; we'll see how that goes but I'm not expecting victory. He may, or may not yet see an Amateur tournament towards the end of the year.
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Old 02-08-2023, 03:57 PM   #1377
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-USO Edition

In

Ben Faille - 15,850
Leon Polychroniadis - 7,870
Renke Cananis - 6,860
Ene Caballero - 6,640
Oleg Urazov - 5,240

Probable

none

Contenders

Johann Przalowik - 3,620
Jochen Weigle - 3,600
Toni Bardales - 3,590
----------------------
Joss Fraikes - 3,440

Long Shots

Goya Banqueria - 2,755
Themis Xanthos - 2,750
Davide de Laurentiis - 2,720

Assessment

It looks like Leon Polychroniadis has the definite inside track to remain #2, while Cananis & Caballero battle it out for the relatively unimportant #3 spot. Oleg Urazov's aggregate results are enough to get him back to the Finals as well now.

Jochen Weigle won a pair of 500s and a 250 late last year; his spot in the overall rankings will not be as secure if he can't repeat those successes. Themis Xanthos is still listed as a 'mathematical courtesy', but he won't return. Joss Fraikes's number is what I think it should be; his WTC points aren't being included by the game in his countable tournaments for some reason, and unless that changes he'll drop lower.

Given all of that, it's looking like Johann Przalowik is the newcomer, joining Weigle and Bardales in some order for the final three. Banqueria and de Laurentiis aren't quite out of it, but they're definitely being handed their hats.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 02-10-2023 at 01:54 AM.
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Old 02-09-2023, 04:48 PM   #1378
TheseBoots
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Gonna pour a glass of wine when Faille loses a match =)
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Old 02-11-2023, 10:02 PM   #1379
Brian Swartz
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I think you might be waiting a while for that drink ...
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Old 02-14-2023, 01:28 AM   #1380
Brian Swartz
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Shanghai Masters

The story of the week coming in, and a second story this week, is one Rory Buckman (22, USA). Buckman won the China Open (500), and then proceeded to knock off (7) Toni Bardales and (14) Raul Ramirez to reach the quarterfinals as an unseeded entry. We don't see that kind of thing much, and we'll have more details on Buckman in the year-end roundup. Seems he'll be a player to watch.

There were more less-dramatic surprises; Jochen Weigle lost a tight one in the third round to Joss Fraikes, 4-6, 7-6(3), 7-5. That shows Fraikes is a threat now beyond just home events. In another one that could have gone either way, Davide de Laurentiis outlasted Johann Przalowik, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5). That will definitely keep the Race interesting, and it also meant three unscheduled participants in the final eight.

The favorites then yawned and dismissed the pretenders. That's a bit harsh, but there were no more upsets to be had. Oleg Urazov knocked on the door but didn't open it, losing two tiebreaks to Faille. Fraikes lost to Caballero, Buckman to Polychroniadis, and de Laurentiis very nearly knocked off Cananis but fell 7-5, 5-7, 7-6(2). That would have been a huge win, but for now at least the pecking order among the Germans remains intact.

Another tight one for Ben Faille in the semifinals, but Ene Caballero is out in straight sets 7-6(4), 6-4. A nearly identical score in the second semi, with Leon Polychroniadis losing to Renke Cananis. As has happened so many times, the final turned into a laugher; Faille wins 6-1, 6-3. He was pushed a couple times but utimately does not drop a set here.

Elsewhere ...

Sushant Srivastava won one FT1 in China, but his latest outing in Italy ended in a shock QF loss. Fatigue was the culprit; he'd gone through lots of practice matches the week before, and endurance has dropped just enough for that to be an occasional obstacle. This will definitely delay Srivastava's return to the Challenger scene.

Aparna Chandrasekharan notched another FT2 title in Mexico, and is aiming for his next one this coming week. Amusingly he is actually ranked above Srivastava at the moment, though he isn't quite good enough yet for that to stick.

Girish Raychaudhari found a good opportunity on an indoor court in Minsk, and claimed his first JG2 title - both singles and doubles.
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Old 02-14-2023, 02:33 AM   #1381
Brian Swartz
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Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-Shanghai Edition

In

Ben Faille - 16,850
Leon Polychroniadis - 8,400
Renke Cananis - 7,560
Ene Caballero - 7,150
Oleg Urazov - 5,540

Probable

none

Contenders

Jochen Weigle - 4,040
Johann Przalowik - 3,810
Toni Bardales - 3,750
-----------------------
Joss Fraikes - 3,550

Long Shots

Davide de Laurentiis - 3,000
Themis Xanthos - 2,910
Goya Banqueria - 2,845

Analysis

Ene Caballero is now clearly a victim of the ranking bug, which pretty much locks him into the #4 spot until it abates at least.

The rest of the picture remains remarkably similar to what it was a month and a half ago. Johann Przalowik still appears to be on pace to make his first Tour Finals, with Joss Fraikes likely to be the odd man out. But it's definitely still close enough that a final push could change the results.
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Old 02-17-2023, 10:06 AM   #1382
Brian Swartz
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Paris Masters

Only one surprise into the quarterfinals, and not a particularly big one; Goya Banqueria replacing Johann Przalowik, courtesy of a 6-4, 6-4 result in their third-round match. He would have a competitive showing against Polychroniadis but lose in straight sets. Toni Bardales managed only a single game in a complete beatdown by Faille, Jochen Weigle took a set from Cananis but lost a second-set tiebreak and then collapsed in the third. There was one moderate surprise when Ene Caballero lost to Oleg Urazov, 6-2, 7-6(4).

Urazov would give Ben Faille what would be his only competitive match of the tournament, but it still ended in two sets. Leon Polychroniadis rallied to defeat Renke Cananis 3-6, 7-5, 6-4, breaking a four-match streak by the German in their head to head which refuses to be anything but close. Cananis still leads 33-31. Polychroniadis melted to a 6-3, 6-1 defeat in the final, concluding Faille's perfect sweep of all the Masters tournaments for the year. That is not something that happens often, and his perfect record is still intact with only the World Tour Finals remaining as an obstacle. Despite his efforts, France is out of the World Team Cup in the semifinals so there will be no more matches for him there this year.

The field at the Finals will be as expected; nothing here changed that. Themis Xanthos is out, Johann Przalowik is in, the other competitors are the same ones as last year.

Elsewhere ...

Aparna Chandrasekharan had another FT2 triumph in Zimbabwe, and I think it's time to finish off his season with a jump to the FT1 level. If he wins, it could be his last futures event. Girish Raychaudhari, lacking a good juniors tournament to enter, went to the American capital for his first Amateur event. Really the only goal here was to get in a good number of matches. Third round in singles, quarterfinals in doubles is a reasonable result, particularly considering he lost to the top seed in singles, a player a year older who easily won the event without losing more than two games in any set.

The players are down to pretty much having one or two more tournaments each before we learn our fate for next year's WTC in a little over a month.
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Old 02-19-2023, 07:11 PM   #1383
Brian Swartz
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World Tour Finals
Aachen, Germany

Power to the Germans? In Group 1, Johann Przalowik lost all three matches and won only one set. So ... not so much there. The surprise was Jochen Weigle taking the second spot instead of Ene Caballero. Surprisingly nobody was Ben Faille winning the group. Group 2 saw Renke Cananis go undefeated while Oleg Urazov 'won the tie' with Polychroniadis and Bardales, all three of them winning just a single match. Urazov pushed both of his losses the distance though, which got him the spot.

He almost made history with it as well, pushing Faille as hard as he's been pushed this year in the semifinal. 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(3) was the scoreline, although it shouldn't have been as close as that indicates. The Canadian did just well enough to give himself a chance to spoil the perfect season, but couldn't get the victory. The second semifinal was also well worth watching, with Weigle surprising Cananis 6-7(6), 7-6(5), 6-2. In 28 meetings, he's won twice ... both at the Tour Finals semis. That's just bizarre. The Swiss stepped up as the last man standing to challenge Ben Faille - and promptly got thumped 6-2, 6-3.

94-0. Faille could have done more; he played only one 250 and no 500-level events. Having said that:

- 4 Slams
- 9 Masters
- 6 rounds of the WTC
- Tour Finals
- zero defeats

After a pair of years where he was merely a strong #1 with 5-6 losses, he joins the very rarefied air here that only the most dominant players even approach. At worst, I expect him to be remembered as the fourth-best player ever.

Elsewhere ...

Sushant Srivastava knocked out another FT1 win in Belarus, getting himself back on the right track. Annoyingly, his last event of the year will have to be an FT2; there won't be any available at the highest tier. Aparna Chandrasekharan got through a couple of competitive matches to take his first and possibly only FT1 in Besancon, France. Lots of upsets, dangerous floaters to be found, but he took home the trophy and with it graduated from futures play for the time being. It feels kind of strange having both players at the same general level now, but that's where we are.

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Old 02-21-2023, 04:03 PM   #1384
Brian Swartz
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World Team Cup Finals
Spain vs. Germany, Hardcourt

This is Spain's first Finals appearance 97, five years ago, in which they also faced Germany. Germany won that 4-1, effectively ending one of the longest national dynasties ever seen; Spain had won 7 of 9 world championships coming in, including a stretch of four in a row from 91-94, and were the defending champions. Germany would return to the Finals the next three years, but lose all three to Greece.

It didn't start well for the Spanish this year, with Renke Cananis beating Toni Bardales in straight sets and then Johann Przalowik downing Ene Caballero in four. M. Erdozain/I. Casaldaguilla brought them back from the brink of defeat, trailing by two sets against A. Reimann/E.Ziewe before rallying for a 5-7, 5-7, 6-0, 6-1, 7-5 victory. Bizarre scoreline there; how do you lose two sets and then one game total in the next two?

Caballero kept the hope alive, evening up the tie at 2-all with an up-and-down win over Cananis, 5-7, 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1. Interesting that he was able to pull that off but not beat Przalowik; another sign that the powers that be are shifting. Przalowik straight-setted Bardales in the last match though, he's clearly not on the level of the other singles players and it proved to be Spain's undoing.

Germany wins the world championship, 3-2 over Spain!
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Old 02-22-2023, 07:27 PM   #1385
Brian Swartz
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World Team Cup Playoffs

Austria (9th) vs. Russia (17th)

Austria aimed for back-to-back promotions here, while Russia was in their second relegation playoff in three years from Level 1. After getting blanked by Ireland in the Level 2 semis, Austria didn't exactly have the momentum coming in. Young phenom Jan Schleicher, ranked 28th and not yet to his 21st birthday, carries the Austrians but without enough help.

It was even worse than that for the Austrians here. Schleicher lost both of his singles matches in five sets, and Russia sweeps it 5-0.

Great Britain (12th) vs. Chile (23rd)

Great Britain are Level 2 champions; they've faced Ireland in the final at the second tier two years in a row. Last year they narrowly lost, this year the opposite. Chile meanwhile faces their second relegation challenge from Level 1 in three years, but actually made the quarterfinals the year between. 22-year-old Chris King is ranked 19th and clearly the standout, question being whether Great Britain can get another win from anywhere.

The answer to that was no. The British will have to try again after a 3-2 defeat. King lost only one set, but they won no sets in any of the other rubbers.

Ireland (6th) vs. Norway (27th)

Ireland has been knocking on the door of Level 1, good enough for at least a couple of years but unfortunately running into Canada in both promotion playoffs. This year it's Norway, who was good enough to consistently make the knockout rounds at Level 1 several years ago but has been in decline. Ireland has two Top-20 players in Daniel Long and Matthew Hughes; Norway no longer has any in the Top 80.

Norway easily took the doubles, and actually was surprisingly annoying in the concluding reverse singles matchups. Still, they were clearly overmatched here and Ireland gets their deserved promotion 4-1. The correct result, Norway is really Level 2 quality at this point.

Sweden (34th) vs. Guatemala (13th)

Another case of a rising nation against a falling one. Sweden is the one in decline; Guatemala has been in Level 2 for four years now. Each of the previous three has ended in a promotion playoff defeat. This meeting is on grass, and each nation has one pretty high-ranking player, and a second that is around 130th. The standard-bearers are Patrik Rask (22nd) and Bartolome Riffo (36th and falling). It might well have gone differently for Guatemala these past few years if the manager of |Juan Pablo Amoretti (94th) had seen fit to make their player available for the WTC, but they opted out.

Riffo won his first match, but that was the only point Guatemala would get as Sweden retains their spot 4-1. Both of the theoretically competitive singles matchups were pretty one-sided in Sweden's favor.

Synopsis

Ireland up, Norway down, but the rest remain as they are so the status quo mostly wins here. Guatemala perhaps, and esp. Great Britain and Russia will probably be back for another try at reaching the top tier next year.
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Old 02-22-2023, 07:45 PM   #1386
Brian Swartz
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Country Rankings

1. France - 2,495
2. Greece - 2,405
3. Germany - 2,331
4. United States - 2,312
5. Cyprus - 2,238
6. Ireland - 2,227
7. Spain - 2,207
8. Italy - 2,145
9. Austria - 2,050
10. Argentina - 1,954

54. Sri Lanka - 1,026

Decision Week

A huge announcement for our national aspirations had come. After two years of inactivity, would we be allowed back in the World Team Cup for Year 103? Our sales pitch for it is that we now have two players at around the 200 ranking level rather than just one, and also a Top-40 junior. This year I think we have a compelling case; if there are good openings available and there's not another Zimbabwe-type that's been waiting longer with a better resume. If we don't get it this year though, it could be a while; we might not improve all that much beyond what we're capable of now for 2-3 years.

The Verdict

Last-place finishers from the Level 4 Groups in the Year 102 were as follows:

- Chinese Taipei (55th), staying in. With Tung Gu ranked 52nd, one certainly understands why.
- Egypt (78th), dropped. Hasan Bohbot, 287th, is probably past his best tennis, and there is nobody else of note. One slot open!
- Morocco (71st), staying in. They are similar to us, but inferior. Agama Erbati and Radi Tahri are ranked 235th and 308th respectively.
- Japan (68th), staying in. #43 Tsuramtsu Asahara is a compelling argument.

It comes down to whether we have been selected to replace Egypt. I can see where the committee, whoever and whatever they are, might want to keep the status quo if it was just down to whether we'd replace Morocco. They might think we're not enough better to justify the switch.

In the end it's a moot point, because we are given official notice of our entry into Level 4, Group 3!! It is time for Sri Lanka tennis to rise from the ashes, against the following competition:

- Slovak Republic, 40th, on Hardcourt
- Morocco, 71st, on Clay
- Iran, 52nd, on Hardcourt

I would say we're favored slightly in the last two, while the Slovak Republic is a little better, but all three of these figure to be competitive. I can see us placing anywhere really. If everyone plays their best players, no singles player is better than 179th, and none are worse than 305th. These are all high-Futures to low-Challengers quality players.

Of course our top goal is just do not finish last. Whatever happens do not finish last, because that means we might get booted again. It would be nice of course to make the knockout rounds and have a chance to fight for promoting up to Level 3, but that may be a little ambitious just yet.

But mainly, We're Back In!!!. We'll be fighting and clawing for everything we can get, and hoping it's enough to at least stay in the WTC.
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Old 02-23-2023, 09:26 AM   #1387
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Old 02-23-2023, 01:57 PM   #1388
Chas in Cinti
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Great news!
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Old 02-24-2023, 02:12 AM   #1389
Brian Swartz
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Year 103 Top Ten Rankings

1. Ben Faille (24, FRA, 94%, 9.44, --) - 19,250

Seems like it's time to start tracking Faille's place in history. That's a much more compelling opponent for him than any active player.

Slams - 11, T-7th all time
Tour Finals - 2, unranked
Masters - 19, T-10th
Weeks at #1 - 121, unranked
Prize Money - 37.8 million, unranked

To get on the list for the remaining categories, Ben needs one more Tour Finals (almost certain), another year at #1 (almost certain), and a little over double his current winnings (wait and see). For the more recognizable Slams and Masters titles, he's starting to make his way up the list.

2. Leon Polychroniadis (29, GRC, 85%, 8.88, -0.19) - 8,900

Age is finally having a decisive impact, even though Polychroniadis remains at #2. I think this is likely to be the year a new player takes that spot.

3. Renke Cananis (29, DEU, 84%, 9.04, +0.03) - 8,570

Cananis had the kind of year that his Greek rival had the year before; he managed to stall his decline temporarily, and as a result only saw a small drop in his status.

4. Ene Caballero (22, ESP, 97%, 9.03, +0.18) - 7,220

Last year I said Caballero should rise to 4th, and indeed he has done that. This is the season where he figures to take aim at passing the elder statesmen and becoming second-best. Distant second to be sure, and in the long run I don't think I favor Ene to ever supplant Faille. The age gap just isn't big enough, so probably it'll be a player who comes after him down the road.

5. Oleg Urazov (25, CAN, 93%, 9.13, +0.14) - 6,270

I've been disappointed with Urazov for a while now, and I think he continues to underachieve, but he definitely showed some signs late in the year that he's making a final push to fulfill his potential. Quarterfinalist or better at every big event for the first time, Oleg made a few semifinals and the final at the Miami Masters. Still, on paper he's the world's second-best player. He shouldn't be satisfied.

6. Jochen Weigle (28, SUI, 88%, 8.76, -0.13) - 5,340

Since I finally gave up on him, Weigle improved his results marginally while his actual abilities slipped. I still think making the championship at the Tour Finals was just Jochen trolling us with a bit of 'see what I could have been'?

7. Toni Bardales (28, ESP, 85%, 8.63, +0.03) - 4,290

Another member of the over-the-hill-gang to refuse to accept the inevitable, Bardales nonetheless saw a modest decline in his results. A cliff awaits him soon.

8. Johann Przalowik (25, DEU, 94%, 8.96, +0.15) - 4,120

The rising junior German Przalowik probably did not rise as fast as he should have, but he's primed to take another step upwards if he can be consistent.

9. Joss Fraikes (23, USA, 96%, 8.71, +0.20) - 3,560

Fraikes is a surprise late-year addition to the first page. We just introduced him last season, but an American who knows how to work the crowd is always dangerous, and Joss took advantage of that. It's hard to see him pressing much further up until he improves, but he's in the conversation to replace Bardales at this year's Tour Finals. I predicted him to be low teens at this point, so he's ahead of schedule.

10. Goya Banqueria (24, ESP, 94%, 8.77, +0.23) - 3,115

Just when it looked like he wasn't in any hurry to take the next step, Banqueria switched up his training approach. It seems he figured out that he was too serve-heavy. A significant correction there corresponded with solid if unspectacular results, sneaking him into the Top 10. Better days could be ahead this season.

Analysis

Gone are Xanthos, Papadias, and Copperfield. The average Top 10 player is up to 8.94 from 8.87 last season. That's a very heady number, and there are six players 25 or younger. Still some that are fading, but not as many as are improving now. And de Laurentiis will probably still push the bottom of this group, though there really isn't anyone else ready to seriously threaten.

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Old 02-24-2023, 02:38 AM   #1390
Brian Swartz
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Year 103 Rankings, 11+ Notables

11. David de Laurentiis (24, DEU, 95%, 8.77, +0.14)

Another player who successfully mitigated his Serve Addiction. Really brings a tear to me eye, it does ... well, not really, but I'm pleased to see it. You can basically throw de Laurentiis in the same bowl with Fraikes and Banqueria; they figure to be rivalrying with each other for at least a couple of years.

19. Chris King (22, GBR, 97%, 8.36, +0.18)

'I don't expect much progress this season'. Said I, with King at 27th. That didn't age particularly well. Some of it is luck I think, but he did balance himself out some on the technical side so I'm sure that helped. King has work to do yet, but he still has time as well.

21. Rory Buckman (22, USA, 98%, 8.09, --)

Buckman is a new player to profile, and ... well, he shouldn't be ranked this highly. Above-average power, good speed, inadequate technique. Rory is a dedicated prospect, but as a fast-ager he doesn't have a long runway. He's going all-in on hardcourts like any good US prospect should, and perhaps he'll make some noise in the summers but I don't see him as a major talent.

23. Hector Mendias (24, ESP, 95%, 8.47, +0.19)

'this is one Spanish talent that's going nowhere'. That one was right on the money. Mendias actually put in - finally - some quality work on his rally technique, but it wasn't enough for him to make much of a move. I actually think he might move up to somewhere around 15th though now that he's done that, and Hector does have a couple of years yet.

29. Mark Want (22, USA, 98%, 8.15, +0.10)

Last review was that he's behind the curve, and he definitely hasn't changed my mind with a pretty minimal improvement.

31. Jan Schleicher (20, AUT, 99%, 8.05, +0.47)

Last year's teenager-in-focus made a big leap to become marginally adequate as a serious professional player. Definitely appears that Schleicher is headed for an eventual Top 10 status, but athleticism is merely above-average and mental game worse. There's definitely a ceiling here.

Analysis

This was a very short report compared to the usual, which is not on accident. Some players got old enough that they weren't worth including, a few were 'promoted' to the first page, but mostly there just isn't much coming up right now. If you were to ask me who takes over when Faille is done, my answer would be as follows;

Uhhh .... beats me.

We'll see if anything changes but right now it looks like a strong era fading followed by another strong era now followed by an absolute hole in the ground era by comparison.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 02-24-2023 at 02:39 AM.
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Old 02-24-2023, 02:51 AM   #1391
Brian Swartz
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Year 103 Rankings, My Stable

188. Aparna Chandrasekharan (22, SRI, 99%, 7.16, +0.58)

I said this 12 months ago:

- 'Chandrasekharan's progress this year is key to our chances of returning to the WTC. I expect him to be near the top of the futures heap, say 300th roughly'.

It was key, and he exceeded my expectations. On paper he is not yet the equal of Srivastava, but he will surpass him this year. Aparna is still at his physical peak though he should start receding from that - I expected it to have started already. For a guy that once had trouble breaking into the Amateur ranks though, he's doing very well.

204. Sushant Srivastava (26, SRI, 90%, 7.27, +0.12)

I wasn't as good with this call;

- "I'm revising my estimate for his peak somewhat higher; I think Sushant could well be able to crack the Top 100 as a mid-level Challengers player."

Yeah, probably not. Sushant hasn't peaked yet, but he's close to it. At 4.4 skill/3.1 service, he dropped from 4.4 to 4.3 skill multiple times this year before sticking. A reliable sign that it's becoming difficult for him to improve, and I think the apex will happen some time this year. Getting back in the WTC will help give him an experience boost though for sure.

The main question is whether he'll continue the futures-Challenger yo-yo, or stick at the higher tier a little bretter.

914. Manoj Datar (35, SRI, 67%, 6.18, -0.24)

On the vital trainer side, 4.37 which is +0.12. It looks like another year and a half before he's ready to go, which isn't as soon as we'd like still but it's not too much of a delay. On the court for now ... well, it's starting to get ugly and I imagine soon it'll be just the doubles side even keeping Manoj in futures.

11 (J). Girish Raychaudhari (17, SRI, 87%, 5.57, +0.97)

Time to see what Raychaudhari can do in his final junior year. He's Amateur-ready right now, and probably will have to dip back into that a bit before going Futures. As usual, the goal is to hang as long as possible in the elite junior events before making the jump. It's always a challenge against more physically developed opponents.

Manager Ranking

Steadily moving up. 54th (+15) with 5.19k points (+2.22k).

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 02-24-2023 at 03:02 AM.
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Old 02-24-2023, 08:12 PM   #1392
Brian Swartz
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World Team Cup, Round 1
L4 G3, Sri Lanka vs. Slovak Republic, Hard

- S. Shrivastava d. S. Pojedinec, 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-3, 7-5
- A. Chandrasekharan d. F. Damasek, 6-3, 6-3, 6-1
- S. Shrivastava/M. Datar d. L Zenisek/S. Pojedinec, 6-4, 6-1, 6-1
- S. Pojedinec d. A. Chandrasekharan, 7-6(2), 5-7, 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-2
- S. Srivastava d. F. Damasek, 6-2, 6-2, 6-0

Sri Lanka defeats Slovak Republic, 4-1!

This was supposed to be our toughest matchup of the group phase in theory, but only one of their players was up to the challenge. Pojedinec yes, Damasek not so much. Both Srivastava and Chandrasekharan naturally vaulted to career-high rankings in the 170s afterwards. Having Datar as part of the doubles team isn't optimal, and now he'll just end up staying their longer as he gets some wins. Still, only the one defeat in a long match is quite an excellent start.

We get Morocco next, who edged Iran 3-2.
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Old 03-03-2023, 12:26 AM   #1393
Brian Swartz
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I have returned from the land of a brief power outage and a longer internet outage. #firstworldproblems

Australian Open

This was Sri Lanka's most important Slam in many years, which is saying virtually nothing. Srivastava and Chandrasekharan combined in doubles, losing a close match in the first round of qualifying. The younger player made round two of singles qualifying, just as Srivastava did last year. This time though, Sushant actually made it through to the main draw! He had the 'pleasure' of drawing world no. 4 Caballero at that stage though, and won 20 points over 3 sets. It was every bit as ugly as that sounds. Somehow he managed to hold once in the first set, but every other game was lost. The achievement of course was in getting there.

As for the more expected players, four seeds left in the first round, headlined by (14) Eddy Copperfield and (16) Daniel Long. There were a few epic second-round matches between players who aren't household names, but still quite important results to them. Perhaps the best was Czech Jonas Stanya over American Collin Tupper, 6-7(3), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(8), 9-7. (28) Jan Schleicher's first moment of note came in a third round upset - or was it? - of 13th-seeded Ramirez. It went five sets, but the young gun dominated the final frame.

Toni Bardales went bye-bye in the fourth round, and it was the even older Solitris Papadias who eliminated him ... in straight sets. Close sets, but still; that's about as close to an official funeral for Bardales as you can get. Top players don't lose to nearly 30-year-olds who were has-beens two years ago in Slams. Polychroniadis was pushed to five sets by 10th-seed Goya Banqueria, but it'll just read as another missed opportunity for the Spaniard. Themis Xanthos was back in singles, probably for the purpose of just getting some matches in, but he exited as scheduled. #3 Renke Cananis was the big result, going out to Davide de Laurentiis in and up-and-down 5-setter. It's the 7th career meeting between the Germans, and the first one Cananis has lost.

Two double-digit seeds then in the quarters. Papadias was the latest sacrifice offered up to Faille, but de Laurentiis produced magic in another five-setter, taking the final one 8-6 over Johann Przalowik. Another all-German matchup there. A taut four-setter between Caballero and Oleg Urazov ended in disappointment for the Canadian once more. The semifinals were both worth the price of admission. Ene Caballero lost to the French freight train, but he took a set and pushed the first one to a 13-11 tiebreaker. Who knows what happens if that tiebreak falls the other way. In the second, de Laurentiis narrowly was pushed out by Leon Polychroniadis in a third straight match to go the limit; 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(6), 6-7(8), 8-6. Yowzerz. Polychroniadis could have been out in the first week, but instead he strikes a blow ... narrowly ... for the old guard. The final? Ben Faille takes it 6-1, 7-5, 7-6(5). Couldn't really expect much more; he lost only the one set against Caballero in the semi. That's probably his best competition at the moment.
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Old 03-03-2023, 12:34 AM   #1394
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
World Team Cup, Round 2
L4, G3, Morocco vs. Sri Lanka, Clay

- A. Chandrasekharan d. A. Erbati, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2, 3-6, 8-6
- S. Srivastava d. R. Tahri, 7-6(2), 6-2, 6-2
- M. Datar/A. Chandrasekharan d. Q. Hamri/H. al-Idrisi, 6-4, 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-3
- S. Srivastava d. A. Erbati, 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-4, 3-6, 6-2
- A. Chandrasekharan d. R. Tahri, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(4), 7-5

A 5-0 win!!

We didn't deserve such a one-sided result; really rough week for Erbati in losing two five-setters. I assume the reason Srivastava didn't play doubles was fatigue; it worked out for us either way.

With only one match lost in two rounds, we should advance to the knockout rounds even if we lose the third round against Iran, which seems unlikely. I thought we were a couple years away from promoting, and that may still be the case, but it appears we will have at leaat the opportunity to get a good number of rounds of lucrative experience if nothing else. If we can get to the playoff ... well, there's always something to be said for giving yourself a chance.
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Old 03-07-2023, 11:35 PM   #1395
Brian Swartz
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Indian Wells Masters

The upsets started early, with the decline of #7 Toni Bardales evident again as he lost his first match in the second round. #6 Jochen Weigle could not withstand both the partisan crowd and American Mark Want, who managed by far the best win of his career to date 7-6(4), 7-6(7). Joss Fraikes came close to knocking out Polychroniadis early, but once again the veteran Greek standard-bearer held on 4-6, 7-6(9), 6-4.

Two openings were made in the quarterfinals for double-digit seeds. (13) Daniel Long exited quickly against Faille, while (11) Goya Banqueria was knocked out by fellow Spaniard Ene Caballero. Leon Polychroniadis was beaten for the third time in the last four meetings by Urazov, this one in straight sets. It felt like a significant match. And the clashes between the Germans continued, with (3) Renke Cananis losing a tight one to Przalowik, 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-6(5).

That left 1, 4, 5, and 8 as the seeds for the semifinals. It really does seem that the age of Polychroniadis and Cananis at the top is truly ending. Johann Przalowik managed to take a set from Faille, but then was bageled immediately after by the annoyed living legend. Oleg Urazov lost to Ene Caballero again, 7-6(4), 6-3. The final was all Ben Faille, 6-4, 6-1; that's 124 consecutive wins for those of you scoring at home.

Elsewhere ...

I've been remiss in not mentioning more about Girish Raychaudhari's final year of juniors. I managed to get a late doubles partnership with Czech Havel Bartisek, who was ranked third at the time. At the Australian Open he made the quarterfinals in singles and semis in doubles; that performance was reversed at Copa Gerdau during the first week of IW. Being able to play with Bartisek in doubles could well be enough to keep him ranked high enough to usefully play in the big junior events through the end of the year.

One of the better Challenger weeks on the calendar came up a few weeks ago, and both Sushant Srivastava and Aparna Chandrasekharan took advantage to earn seeded places in the draw and make the final before losing. CH3 Florianopolis for Srivastava, and CH2 Casablanca for Chandrasekharan. Of course the ranking points from the WTC helped quite a bit in gaining the opportunities, but it's the best tournament result for either player so far.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 03-07-2023 at 11:35 PM.
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Old 03-09-2023, 01:29 PM   #1396
Brian Swartz
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Miami Masters

This time Toni Bardales lasted until the third round, where he was ousted by (20) Patrik Rask of Sweden. In the next round another early exit for (3) Renke Cananis, an understandable one courtesy of crowd favorite Fraikes. Polychroniadis withstood another close call to get past Davide de Laurentiis, 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-1.

For the second Masters in a row, Daniel Long was in the right place of the draw at the right time. Caballero booted him in the quarterfinals, 6-4, 6-2, ensuring his stay would be short. Oleg Urazov was similarly dismissed by Faille, Joss Fraikes went out to Przalowik, and the match of the round by far saw Jochen Weigle be the latest not-quite-good-enough effort against Polychroniadis, 6-7(6), 6-3, 7-5.

So three of the top four then into the semis. This time Leon Polychroniadis could not hold off the tide of lower-ranked players, with Johann Przalowik just getting by him 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-6(6). This one truly could have gone either way. Ene Caballero was eliminated by Ben Faille 6-4, 6-1, and he went on to face his toughest challenge of the tournament by beating Przalowik in the final, 6-4, 6-4. No sets lost this week for the #1, and much of what happened to other players was defined by what point they met him in the draw.
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Old 03-09-2023, 11:37 PM   #1397
Brian Swartz
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Q2 Rankings Update

1. Ben Faille (24, FRA) - 19,750

There's nothing new to say about our dominant #1, so I won't pretend otherwhise.

2. Leon Polychroniadis (29, GRC) - 8,500

Polychroniadis is fighting tooth and nail, with notable successes, to hang on to his station as long as possible.

3. Renke Cananis (30, DEU) - 8,030

Cananis looks to be sliding a bit faster, but he's #3 at 30 years of age. This is not a thing seen often.

4. Ene Caballero (23, ESP) - 7,730

Caballero should be up to #2 by the end of the clay season. Anything less will be disappointing.

5. Oleg Urazov (25, CAN) - 5,880

Urazov has shown he has what it takes to be as high as third, but he has a lot more distance to cover before he gets there.

6. Jochen Weigle (28, SUI) - 4,895

I think treading water is the term here. He's been close to some big wins, but what else is new.

7. Johann Przalowik (25, DEU) - 4,680

With all due respect to Cananis and de Laurentiis, Przalowik is the best tennis player in Germany. It's just a matter of time until the rankings figure this out.

8. Toni Bardales (29, ESP) - 4,265

Operation Free Fall has commenced. Come get him, boys.

9. Joss Fraikes (24, USA) - 3,735

Didn't do quite as much as hoped over the American Masters; he'll have to bank on a big summer to make his move this year.

10. Davide de Laurentiis (24, DEU) - 3,270

de Laurentiis and Goya Banqueria, currently 250 points back in 11th, are swapping places quite a bit. I figure the Spaniard will have the upper hand on clay and get back on the first page.


142. Aparna Chandrasekharan (22, SRI)

Latest outing was a semifinal at CH2 Barletta, despite being unseeded. Looks like he'll have no trouble grinding out a place in the Challengers, aided mightily by points from the WTC victories.

154. Sushant Srivastava (27, SRI)

Technically Srivastava is still the better player, but it's very close and the two are nearly indistinguishable when it comes to playing strength.

878. Manoj Datar (35, SRI)

Still getting the occasional run to a FT3 semi, at which point fatigue always does him in. 460th in doubles.

8 (J). Girish Raychaudhari (18, SRI)

Anything 3rd and below is possible this year; the top two are fast-developing players and well above his reach. He'll be in France for a JG1 'tune-up' next week, and then it's on to the two remaining big clay tournaments later in the spring. Fun fact: his endurance has now reached the point where it is equal to Chandrasekharan, and will soon exceed it (3.4). Girish will be gaining experience faster than any of our other players at that point.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 03-09-2023 at 11:40 PM.
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Old 03-11-2023, 01:39 PM   #1398
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World Team Cup, Round 3
L4, G3, Sri Lanka vs. Iran, Hard

- A. Chandrasekharan d. A. Amir, 6-2, 6-1, 6-0
- S. Srivastava d. H. Alam, 6-0, 7-6(7), 6-2
- S. Srivastava/M. Datar d. A. Amir/H. Alam, 6-0, 6-1, 6-2
- A. Chandrasekharan d. H. Alam, 6-2, 6-0, 6-1
- S. Srivastava d. A. Amir, 7-6(3), 7-5, 6-3

Sri Lanka defeats Iran, 5-0!!

I expected to win, but I didn't expect ... this. Didn't lose a set, and Srivastava was the only one who had any trouble. It was so one-sided that our experience gain from the matches was terrible. We finish Group 3 undefeated and will face Kazachstan in the quarterfinals. Win there, and we make the promotion playoff!

I think our odds are quite good. The only player they have who is a threat is Serikbek Boyev, who is 34 and will be 35 by the time this matchup arrives in the fall. He topped out at around 40th in both singles and doubles, so Boyev was once very good, but at his age he's close to an even match for our players. We'll be getting better over the next few months, and he will regress, and we only need one win in his three rubbers to beat them.

Until then, it's back to the normal grind of the tour as the pros head to the clay.
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Old 04-16-2023, 12:59 AM   #1399
Brian Swartz
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It's been a while and I'm short on time these days, but I do want to throw out some quick updates if I can since we're at the end of another year. It is currently in the final week of Year 103.

World Team Cup

Sri Lanka found the Level 4 Playoffs to be progressively more challenging as they went on. A 5-0 win over Kazachstan was followed by a narrow 3-2 victory against Malta, who has declining 32-year-old Oscar Woodger holding down the fort. He was once ranked 17th in the world, but that was several years ago. We won the other three rubbers, and moved on to get blasted on an indoor court, 5-0 by Ukraine. Ukraine is the Year 103 Level 4 WTC champion.

And then a strange thing happened in the playoffs. Not only were all four matchups between a Level 3 and a Level 4 nation, no doubling up, but I favored the Level 4 contestant in all four ties. Including ours. And it went almost that well. Malta stays down with a 3-2 loss to Belgium, but in other ones the Slovak Republic beat Luxembourg 4-1, Ukraine beat Venezuela 5-0, and we blanked Peru 5-0 as well. They took two sets, but we were never in danger of losing the match. With this exchange of nations, Level 3 just got quite a bit better.

After all was said and done, Sri Lanka ends the year ranked 41st. 36-43 and pretty bunched up together, and the loss to Ukraine didn't do us any favors - playoff ties are not counted for the rankings. But either way, Sri Lanka moves up to Level 3!. Our Group 1 opponents will be:

- Armenia (32nd)
- The Netherlands (33rd)
- Tunisia (63rd)

This is going to be an absolute brawl. I think Tunisia is better than their ranking although definitely the weakest. Between us, Armenia, and the Netherlands I can see any of us winning the group, and any of us failing to make the knockout rounds. Overall my prediction is that we basically tread water this year and stay in Level 3. It would take some particularly bad or particularly good luck for us to promote or demote.
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Old 04-17-2023, 12:43 AM   #1400
Brian Swartz
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Year 104 Top Ten Rankings

1. Ben Faille (25, FRA, 91%, 9.52, +0.08) - 19,650

Faille fell off a cliff this year; after a 98-0 record last season, he won just 97 matches this year :P. No defeats of course, it's been over a year and almost 200 matches since that happened.

9.0 overall is impressive. 9.5 is ridiculous. A world-class player reaches 5.0 skill and 4.0 serve. 5.1 and 4.1 will often get you #1; it's the best I've ever achieved with my players and not for long. This fella is a 5.4 and 4.4. And let's not forget he's fast-aging; it's only for that reason he's now reaching his peak. One quickly runs out superlatives.

The updated historical record:

Slams - 15, 6th all time
Tour Finals - 3, T-8th
Masters - 28, 7th
Weeks at #1 - 172, 10th
Prize Money - 50.6 million, unranked

It'll be 2+ years before he gets on the prize money list, but in every other category Faille is approaching rarefied air. Another year like this one would put him objectively on tennis's Mount Rushmore as one of the Top 4, trailing only Adams, Kaspar, and Gorritepe in over a century of champions. And not all of those figure to stay ahead of him by the time he hangs up his racket.

2. Ene Caballero (23, ESP, 95%, 9.11, +0.08) - 10,250

It wasn't until the fall that Caballero reached the #2 spot, where I expect him to have a long stay. He had four finals in Masters events, as well as at the USO and WTF. That's a number that will increase, narrowing the gap with the unreacheable French living legend. I think Ene will be the player to eventually break Ben's winning streak, but knocking him from the #1 perch will fall to someone else. The age gap is too small and the ability gap too great for him to have time to do it himself.

Still, it would be nice to see him claim a smattering of big event titles. He's good enough to deserve at least that. Maybe in a couple of years.

3. Johann Przalowik (26, DEU, 92%, 8.99, +0.03) - 7,450

Last year's assessment: "probably did not rise as fast as he should have, but he's primed to take another step upwards if he can be consistent."

Przalowik was 8th at the time, so he did all of that and then some - more due to some good fortune and the decline of other players, but still Johann seized to opportunity in front of him. I don't see him going any further for sure, but somebody's got to bear the mantle of semifinal loser, and it looks like it'll be him for the next couple of years.

4. Leon Polychroniadis (30, GRC, 83%, 8.72, -0.16) - 7,250

Something about turning 30 forces even the most obstinate to bow out. Polychroniadis and his long-time rival Cananis who follows him both have gone doubles at this point. Leon ends with 7 Slam titles, 15 Masters, and a 31-37 record against his German counterpart in one of the most memorable rivalries in the history of the sport. We wish him well in his doubles and training future; he was a truly dedicated champion who made the most of his abilities.

5. Renke Cananis (30, DEU, 81%, 8.85, -0.19) - 5,200

Nearly 31 now, Renke won 3 Slams, 13 Masters, and 5 Tour Finals. Only three players have surpassed him in that last category, ensuring he'll remain prominently in the record books for a long time to come.

6. Oleg Urazov (26, CAN, 91%, 9.16, +0.03) - 5,070

If there was any doubt that Urazov would wind up an utter disappointment, this year sealed his fate. At worst he's the third-best player in the world on paper, and yet he could only muster a pair of Masters semifinals as he approaches his peak. No matter what happens the next couple of years, what a waste.

7. Davide de Laurentiis (25, DEU, 93%, 8.74, -0.03) - 4,975

Career high for the #3 German ... soon to be #2. His attention to developing his game is underwhelming to say the least, but de Laurentiis nonetheless managed to break decisively into the Top 10.

8. Jochen Weigle (29, SUI, 85%, 8.69, -0.07) - 3,935

Another one fading away ...

9. Joss Fraikes (24, USA, 94%, 8.79, +0.08) - 3,730

More consistent but less spectacular this year, Fraikes just kind of stayed where he was. Appears to be waiting for others to pass him on the way down, and for this moment in time that's a winning strategy.

10. Goya Banqueria (25, ESP, 92%, 8.76, -0.01) - 3,505

Banqueria also stands pat in almost every way.

Analysis

Longstanding fixture Toni Bardales of Spain is gone, replaced by Davide de Laurentiis. Many other changes are expected soon ... but there aren't high-quality players knocking on the door this time. The tour is definitely entering a weaker era. It was bound to happen eventually. We've been spoiled with the depth of quality in recent years.

The average rating of the Top 10 edges down narrowly from 8.94 to 8.93. There aren't a lot of top players going south yet - Polychroniadis, Cananis, and Weigle - but others are about to begin their descent. The lack of high-quality young guns to replace them at the moment is understandable given Faille's dominance. I'd be tempted to take up a career in typewriter maintenance myself instead of trying to compete with him.

The next #1 in my opinion is probably about 20 years young right now. By the time they arrive, Sri Lanka will have it's next top player in the form of Girish Raychaudhari. If it's particularly bad between now and then, it's even possible - unlikely, but possible - that he could be the next standard-bearer. Just sayin'. Something to watch for.

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