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Old 09-18-2016, 04:10 AM   #501
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Paris Masters, Second Round

In reverse order of standings, here's how the remaining eight hopefuls fared in their first matches of the week.

** Elias Trulsen exited 6-1, 7-6(4) to US player Johnny Browne. His journey towards irrelevancy is perhaps nearly complete. The biggest problem has been an inability to decide whether to focus on singles or doubles, leading to unsatisfactory results in both. Another one down.
** Thiago Herrera was also knocked out, in an epic struggle against his lower-ranking countryman Andre. 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-6(5) was the count. Having bowed out of the Top 10 after a stay of a few years in recent weeks, it looks like the end for the 30-year-old who made two appearances at the tour finals.
** Shreya Ujjaval is the only one of the long shots to stick around and win a match to put pressure on the leading candidates. Barely. Zakirov, a familiar foe, took the first set before Ujjaval rallied, 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4. Shreya still has the dimmest hope remaining.
** Pierce Gaskell had a rough go of it before eventually getting past Xavier Caminha, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2. His string of five straight seasons at the finals is still intact, but also still on life support.
** Davide Poilblan easily dispatched qualifier Andres Guardado of Mexico, losing just three games. Guardado has had his moments, but Poilblan had too many advantages here.
** Agustin Herrera had a rematch with Luc Janin, and this time stopped the upstart 6-4, 6-3.
** Bjorn Benda had the easiest time of the group, demolishing qualifier Radek Smitala 6-0, 6-2. Benda's going for his 10th straight appearance, and with the final 16 now set, he's just in at the moment at 33 years old. That's pretty amazing when you think about it, but if he loses his next match and any of the three directly behind him win, he's still out.
** Prakash Mooljee has a bit of a cushion and didn't give anyone an opening, surviving nine aces from Tomas Niklas and converting all four break chances in a 6-3, 7-6(4) win. It was pretty close, but Niklas has been in top form lately so I was expecting that might happen.

From eight to six today as Trulsen and T. Herrera are gone. Mooljee is looking pretty secure but not home yet; if he loses his next match, two of the others would have to make the semifinals to knock him out. Possible, but definitely unlikely. The focus is even more on the Benda/Herrera/Poilblan/Gaskell quartet, as the last to lose is the odds-on favorite to get the last spot among that group. The third round tomorrow is usually where most of the contenders drop.
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Old 09-18-2016, 12:31 PM   #502
Brian Swartz
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Paris Masters, Third Round

** Shreya Ujjaval was matched up with Bourdet. I didn't expect him to win, but I was surprised that he got blown out, winning only two games. With that, the last of the long-shots is unceremoniously finished.
** Pierce Gaskell stayed alive with a 6-3, 7-6(3) win over Andre Herrera that wasn't that close.
** Davide Poilblan and Prakash Mooljee contested what was, on paper at least, the match of the round of 16. If Mooljee won it would eliminate Poilblan ... otherwhise Prakash would be at some risk of not making it. It was a roller-coaster of a match with both players going through hot and cold streaks. The first few games, Mooljee looked better but couldn't break through. He lost the last four games of the first set ... and the first four of the second before almost losing that lead at the end. In the decisive third, Poilblan had almost all the pressure going his way, but Mooljee pulled out hold after hold until finally cracking at the end. Poilblan gets a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 win in a match with great effort from both players. This leaves Mooljee still in at the moment, but unable to do anything but wait and see what happens.
** Agustin Herrera made an upset bid against Gustavo Caratti, but fell short 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. This probably was his best shot at making the tour finals -- he's not getting any better at this point but could possibly make another run at it next year.
** Bjorn Benda was crushed by Iglar, 6-2, 6-0. In this case it's just a matter of the luck of the draw. I had Benda out of it months ago before he got himself back in contention, but ultimately the veteran falls short here.

Tomorrow

Going into the quarterfinals there are now three left chasing the two remaining spots. Mooljee is in unless both Poilblan and Gaskell win -- in that case they'll make it and he is out. If both lose, Gaskell is the odd man out, as my calculations have him just 5 points behind Poilblan, 3525 to 3220. Can't get much closer than that. So one way or another, this will be decided in the next round.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 09-18-2016 at 12:31 PM.
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Old 09-18-2016, 12:36 PM   #503
Brian Swartz
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Paris Masters, Quarterfinals

The draw basically decided what would happen at this stage. Gaskell was up against Antonin Iglar, still objectively the #2 player in the world on an indoor court. He's looked strong all week and dismissed Gaskell 6-0, 6-4. That was pretty much that; unless I've made a mistake somewhere or there's a snafu in the rankings, Prakash Mooljee and Davide Poilblan will take the final two spots in the tour finals. A heck of a finish this year to the Race!

Elsewhere at this point, Girish Girsh continued his winning ways with a routine win over Bourdet, crowd favorite or no. Mehul had a tough first set against Mugur Kinczllers but then bageled him in the second to advance, and Poilblan knocked out Caratti 6-3, 6-4 to reach his second straight semifinal here. That puts an exclamation mark on his qualification, and should allow him to stay in 7th with Mooljee taking the final, 8th spot.
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Old 09-18-2016, 07:43 PM   #504
Brian Swartz
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Paris Masters: Conclusion

Girish Girsh got a bit of payback after the loss last week to Mehul, getting past him in a routine straight-sets match. Antonin Iglar had a tough time with Poilblan in the second semifinal, but won six of the final seven games to prevail 7-6(6), 6-3. The seventh match between Girsh and Iglar this season decided it, and for the sixth time the Czech came out on the losing end. Pretty standard fairly close match, 6-4, 6-4. That's 12 Masters Shields for Girsh now, tying him for 9th all-time. Six of them have come this season.


Elsewhere ...

Ritwik Dudwadkar was unable to find a top juniors tournament without a loaded field the last few weeks, and going for an amateur would be a waste since he's still got another year in the junior ranks. So he headed to New Zealand for a tier-3 on grass. Pretty easy victory in both singles and doubles to get him a full complement of matches, and the doubles title at least boosts his ranking just a tad. He figures to get one more higher-level event in this year, though it's unsure where that'll be. A couple options are upcoming.


Coming Up ...

The World Tour Finals are in Russia, and the field is confirmed as expected. Everyone gets the next two weeks off before then. Girsh will be looking for his first title there, with the fresher Iglar seeking a 5th. It's a strong field in terms of players with proficiency indoors, which will make things pretty tough for Mooljee. He could figure anywhere from 3rd to 6th depending on how you slice it, so even getting past the round-robin stage to the semifinals would be a good result and it won't be a disaster if he doesn't.
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Old 09-21-2016, 09:06 PM   #505
Brian Swartz
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World Tour Finals

The draw was not particularly kind, although this is the toughest field of skilled indoor players there's ever been so it wasn't going to be easy either way. All three Sri Lanka players were in the first group with Kinczllers. Iglar, Caratti, and the two French entrants were in the second group.

Prakash Mooljee managed only a 6-3, 7-6(4) win over Mugur Kinczllers, who did not win a set in his third round-robin exit in as many appearances. Mehul surprisingly beat Girsh in their match, as that pair moved on from the first group. In the second, Iglar won all three of his matches, losing only one set to Davide Poilblan. Poilblan's 7-6(0), 6-7(1), 7-5 win over Bourdet gave him the semi spot over his countryman with a pair of quite anticlimactic tiebreaks. Caratti, a semifinalist last year, found it more difficult this time around and was winless.

Anil Mehul took on Poilblan in the first semifinal, and the debuting Frenchman continued his strong play by pulling off a steady 6-4, 6-4 upset. Girish Girsh[ and Antonin Iglar then staged a match which had two excellent sets sandwiching a snoozer ... Girsh won both of the close ones, including a 7-5 tiebreak in the decider. He then obliterated Poilblan in the most one-sided final I can remember, 6-0, 6-2, losing just nine points on serve. It's the first tour finals victory for Girsh, capping a dominant season. Poilblan will move up to 6th, and finally makes good on his potential to outplay his thus-far more successful compatriot Bourdet.

Coming Up ...

After a week off, Italy awaits in the World Team Cup Final.
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Old 09-23-2016, 06:47 PM   #506
Brian Swartz
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2047 World Team Cup Finals
Sri Lanka vs. Italy, Hardcourt

Monday: A. Mehul d. M. Kinczllers, 6-3, 3-6, 6-7(1), 7-6(5), 10-8
Tuesday: G. Girsh d. T. Alberti, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-4
Wednesday: S. Boccasino/A. El Brazi d. S. Ujjaval/P. Mooljee, 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-1, 3-6, 6-3
Thursday: G. Girsh d. M. Kinczllers, 6-0, 7-6(5), 6-4
Friday: A. Mehul d. T. Alberti, 6-4, 6-3, 7-5

Sri Lanka defeats Italy, 4-1!!

We won as expected, but there was no shortage of drama this week and it could have been much closer. The first rubber was a classic case of Mehul flat-out refusing to lose against Mugur Kinczllers. Just a great match and plenty of chances for both players at the end of the final set. He more outlasted the top Italian and world no. 5 than beat him, which is pretty impressive for a guy not far from his 32nd birthday. The doubles went the distance as well, but we ultimately got it done for our third straight world championship.

Italy remains in 7th, while Sri Lanka has opened a solid lead as the clear #1.


Coming Up ...

Next week we'll see who's going up and coming down in the WTC Playoffs, followed by the beginning of the year-end reports/thread spam. 2048 is just around the corner.
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Old 09-24-2016, 06:45 PM   #507
Brian Swartz
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2047 World Team Cup Level 1 Playoffs

** Austria(20th) vs. South Africa(8th) -- You can't tell from the world rankings, but Austria's the Level 1 nation here, South Africa bounced down to the second tier last year. They'll stay there thanks to Julian Hammerstein. He's still good enough to make a significant difference at this level, getting a pair of singles wins and taking part in the doubles in a 3-2 victory. Nkomo is 33rd and rising for the South Africans, but Beamer is almost out of the Top 100. It's an open question whether they can get up in the next couple years with only one good player.

** Denmark(11th) vs. Croatia(18th) -- Denmark lost 3-2 in the Level 2 finals for the second straight year ... and got blanked in the playoffs 5-0 both years now as well. This finishes off a disappointing year for Croatia, but they're on the rise behind Sava Cirakovic(20th) and Blagota Cojanovic(49th).

** France(6th) vs. Serbia(17th) -- Talk about a disappointment. Last year's WTC finalists, the French see their top singles players reach new heights in finishing 6th and 7th individually, but they have to deal with Serbia in the playoffs. They didn't lose a set on their favored indoor surface. Serbia's been stuck at level 2 for three years, and has done better each year, winning the level this year but this was an unfortunate matchup for them. Petko Ljaljevic is still 23 and ranked 31st leading their charge, but like South Africa's situation it remains to be seen whether he'll get any real help.

** Japan(19th) vs. China(34th) -- Japan's in a what-could-have-been situation. Former rising star Akihiro Sugiyama's manager has gone AWOL. As a result, a year after bouncing up with a somewhat optimistic future, they get sent down 4-1. For China's part, they've got a couple of Top 100 players but no big talents, and for them to get to the top tier still ranked outside the Top 30 as a nation is a big deal. They were seemingly stuck in level 2 for eight straight years, but break through in their second year in a row in the playoff. It's the first time China's ever made it to Level 1, so worth celebrating for them even if they have pretty strong odds to get sent right back down next year.

Elsewhere ...

Ritwik Dudwadkar was in Antalya, Turkey for another tier-2, his final event of the year. Easily taking the title in both singles and doubles, he finishes off a very successful season and moves up a bit heading into the new year.
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Old 09-24-2016, 07:19 PM   #508
Brian Swartz
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2047 Final World Rankings

1. Sri Lanka -- 2671
2. United States -- 2440
3. Argentina -- 2261
4. Spain -- 2094
5. Czech Republic -- 2024
6. France -- 1937
7. Italy -- 1899
8. South Africa -- 1881
9. Great Britain -- 1864
10. Russia -- 1861

Germany continues to crash(now down to 13th), as do the Czechs to a lesser extent. Italy meanwhile were the big winners this year, Argentina and Spain are both getting stronger, and France lurks as well. At the top, we're now in a very strong position with a solid although not yet overwhelming lead. Three straight world championships is very nice, but it's been done before a number of times. We need to extend that streak in order to do something special and historic.

2048 World Team Cup Preview

Sri Lanka is in, on paper, the toughest group next year. Group 1 has the Czech Republic and France likely to advance, Group 2 has Argentina with Russia(10th) probably going to have a hard time with Croatia(18th) for the second spot. The fourth group has the USA, but who knows on the second spot where Sweden, Germany, and Austria are a trio of uninspiring challenger. In our Group 3, Spain(4th) and Italy(7th) are thinking they ought to have switched playes with one of those nations. One of them isn't going to make it out of group play. Newcomers China(34th) are really sacrificial lambs here -- they would have been in almost any group, but esp. here. I'm past the point of being worried about getting out of group play, but the Spaniard and Italians will assure us of quality competition early on.

Final 2047 Top Ten Rankings

1. Girish Girsh(SRI, 28) -- 16,060

A sparkling 91-6 record on the year, first World Tour Finals championship, 3 Slams and 6 Masters highlight a dominant season for Girsh. Weak era to be sure but you still need to take advantage, and the gap between him and the competition was monstrous in 2047. There's only a half-dozen or so seasons you can put in the same category, and only the truly dominant champions like Iglar and Gorritepe have approached this kind of points total.

2. Antonin Iglar(CZE, 31) -- 9,740

I thought Iglar would give Girsh a good challenge at least this year, but it became apparently only a few months in that it wasn't going to happen. He's pretty much locked into the fourth position overall among the all-time greats, which is a heck of a place to be -- but he's now lost his last eight Slam finals and any way you slice it, that's gotta sting.

3. Gustavo Caratti(ARG, 28) -- 8,160

Caratti figures to probably move up to second at least briefly. He's the master of the dirt but not good enough to consistently threaten Girsh on the hard courts, despite the occasional close match.

4. Anil Mehul(SRI, 31) -- 7,220

Mehul still has his moments like the epic win over Kinczllers in the WTC Finals, but they are fewer and further between as the years pass.

5. Mugur Kinczllers(ITA, 28) -- 5,480

Kinczllers stepped up into the 'best of the rest' position this year.

6. Theodore Bourdet(FRA, 26) -- 4,540

7. Davide Poilblan(FRA, 27) -- 4,505

The best year so far for the French duo, especially Poilblan. They're still younger than most of the top players, so it wouldn't surprise me at all to see them move up a spot or two.

8. Prakash Mooljee(SRI, 23) -- 3,850

Breaking into the Top 10 at age 23 is a fairly unusual thing, and Mooljee found his way after a fairly poor and frustrating start to the season. Much bigger things are expected of him now.

9. Pierce Gaskell(USA, 31) -- 3,520

Gaskell consistently underachieved during his prime, then hung around longer than he had any right to afterwards. Even that is gone for him now though. His 1-18 record in Slam quarterfinals, including losing at that stage in nine straight such events at one juncture, is unfortunately going to be his biggest legacy. Some respect is due though for the way he hung on at the #5 ranking a few years longer than he should have been able to. Overplayed, but consistent.

10. Bjorn Benda(DEU, 33) -- 3,480

Being in the Top 10 at age 33 says everything that needs to be said. Benda was never a dominant champion, but he was definitely a worth one and a player to be remembered with respect.

Agustin Herrera is right on Benda's heels here, then it's a ways back to the rest of the field. They are coming up though, make no mistake about it.
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Old 09-24-2016, 07:46 PM   #509
Brian Swartz
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2048 Sri Lanka Rankings Update

Girish Girsh -- 1st singles. To put his 91 wins in perspective, consider that Mehul's career-best was 76. That's a rather astounding difference. He began the year tied with Iglar but that's a distant memory now after leaving the Czech legend in the dust, apparently for good. For now, it's simply his time to keep winning and maintain his perch for as long as he can. Well past his best tennis now, the writing is already on the wall.

Anil Mehul -- 4th singles(unchanged), 1041st doubles. As Mehul's decline proceeds, he will probably drop at least a couple more spots this year. He's not done yet though -- he actually won the same number of matches(73) as the previous year, with two fewer defeats, basically holding the line with the only difference being he was a bit more consistent but no longer a real threat at the big events.

Having considered how long to keep him as a singles player, I've decided to use two criteria: as long as he is still in the Tour Finals field, the top 8, and/or one of Sri Lanka's two best singles players for the World Team Cup, he'll keep focusing on doing as well as he can there. When he drops out of both of those positions, I'll switch to doing some doubles training and focusing on his development as a trainer. I've also decided to retire him at age 40 -- Girsh will actually retire first, as Mehul will be a better trainer due to better endurance and longevity -- so he has yet another 9 years. I think I can make him at leaste a 5.3 trainer eventually, but we'll see how it goes.

As for next year, I think Mooljee will surpass him but he should be able to stay in the top 8 for one more season, maybe even two more. As it is, he grades out as a 4.36 trainer right now, only about 0.1 behind where Anil Manohar was when I retired him ... and I haven't even started moving Mehul in that direction yet. By the time Manohar retired he was down to about a 1.0 endurance; Mehul will still be around 1.6 at that point by my calculations, so I should be able to play him more. I've never gotten an elite trainer before so this will be new territory for me, but I think he'll do very well.

Prakash Mooljee -- 19th to 8th singles, 197th to 545th doubles. Mooljee will probably drop off the national doubles team soon, but he's also pushing to join it in singles. He's exceeded both Mehul's(31st) and Girsh's(13th) ranking at the same age, and looks poised to seize his moment now. Anything lower than 4th next year will be a major disappointment, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him higher than that. Even though he lost a lot of matches he should have won, Mooljee's late-season charge to make the tour finals finished him at 58-21 ... again a little better than Mehul and Girsh managed at the same age.

Shreya Ujjaval -- 29th to 12th singles, 57th to 106th doubles. Ujjaval is still Sri Lanka's top doubles player, but has rightfully limited his appearances there as his singles career has taken off. I expect him to be an unprecedented fourth representative at the WTF next year. He's never going to be a challenger for #1, but at 25 Ujjaval can still get better for another year and is being managed reasonably, if not optimally. He's become world-class now technically and is a decent athlete, particularly dangerous on grass and clay.

Shyam Senepathy -- 85th to 69th singles. Senepathy sort of hit the wall at about 70th. His serve has become respectable but he's still slow and doesn't have nearly the baseline skills to be a top player. Unless he works on that more, I think he'll top out at about 50th. Good, but never elite.

Ritwik Dudwadkar -- 100th to 8th juniors. The final year in juniors is always interesting, and challenging to schedule. Balancing training with the need to stay ranked high enough to get as many beneficial matches in the big events as possible is an interesting conundrum. Can't argue with a 48-1 mark in singles this past year, and the number of players younger and ranked ahead of him is down to four. He's set up well for his final year of prep for the professional ranks.

Manager Ranking -- 2nd to 1st, 43.1k to 47.2k points. Still progressing well, and oprice still looks like he's going to hang it up whenever he's done with Iglar. I'm basically only competing with history now in this measure -- 3rd place is over 15k behind me.
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Old 09-25-2016, 02:03 PM   #510
digamma
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Location: On Lake Harriet
Impressive stuff, Brian.
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Old 09-25-2016, 07:20 PM   #511
Brian Swartz
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2048 Season Preview

Looking at my updated 'overall ratings' is my favorite part of the year I think. At this point I can see how well the young players progressed, and take a look at how the new year might unfold. Of course there are always some surprises as well.

1. Girish Girsh(87%, 8.62, -0.13)

Showing once again that his spot in the rankings, while dominant and impressive, is something of a mirage.

2. Antonin Iglar(80%, 8.52, -0.18)

Yikes. An even steeper drop. I'm reminded that last year I said he was 'my odds-on favorite for the top player this coming year' based on how well he finished '46. Yeah, about that ...

3. Gustavo Caratti(88%, 8.39, -0.02)

Everything confirms that Caratti, whose mental game and to a lesser extent technical abilities are just too weak to really push for #1 seriously, is just past his best play as well. The clay dominance continues to be his ticket, and he'll keep trying to push for Iglar's #2 spot based on that as the Czech legend fades.

4. Anil Mehul(80%, 8.49, --)

Rather astonishing that he managed to break even this year(though it's not really true, almost certainly it's rather a decline so small that it hasn't showed up yet). Still, a sixth straight season of more than 80% wins and over 70 total. Very nice. He's still much better than most of the Top 10 players, and should be able to be 5th at worst this season, possibly as high as 3rd.

5. Mugur Kinczllers(85%, 8.15, -0.06)

Baseline technique has faltered as Kinczllers has put more effort into working on doubles, but he's still a solid #5.

6. Theodore Bourdet(90%, 8.15, -0.03)

Bourdet's serve might be the best in the world right now, but it has come at the expense of a weak baseline game. He could pass Kinzcllers potentially, but even that seems a bit unlikely.

7. Davide Poilblan(88%, 8.18, -0.13)

His results last year notwithstanding, Poilblan is past his best and doesn't have the power or quite the technique to go much further. These three are very closely matched right now though, and it'll be interesting to see how that develops.

8. Prakash Mooljee(97%, 8.58, +0.11)

Mooljee's improvement has slowed markedly as he starts to descend from his physical peak, but he's still getting better while those around him decline. Only Girsh is better in terms of baseline technique right now - Prakash's serve still needs some work but is getting to be respectable at the elite levels. Overall, he's now second-best just a hair behind Girsh, and their practice encounters in recent weeks have borne that out. He'll surpass the world no. 1, at least on paper, very soon. It's not about draws any more for Mooljee, it's about winning - there's nobody he should be taking a back seat to. He should push up to at least 4th this year, and could get to 2nd. It all depends on how consistent he is at beating weaker players and taking at least his share of chances against his few remaining peers.

9. Pierce Gaskell(79%, 8.28, -0.06)

Gaskell's overplaying caught up with him in what was more or less a bit of an underachieving year. His results should continue to decline, as he's apparently made the turn towards doubles.

10. Bjorn Benda(75%, 8.03, -0.18)

Benda's another guy shifting to doubles and giving way to the younger players, amid a management change this year.

11. Agustin Herrera(89%, 8.20, +0.02)

Herrera has dropped out of the Top 10 briefly but is still up a couple spots from last year's 13th-place finish. I expect he'll pop back on the first page ahead of at least Benda for a while. He's good enough to hang there for another year.

12. Shreya Ujjaval(94%, 8.37, +0.06)

Ujjaval cut his previous ranking of 29th more than in half, and should continue to progress. He's starting to approach his peak now, but I'd already rate him 6th overall a bit behind Caratti and he'll be the Argentine's equal soon. He should be able to pretty consistently handle Kinczllers, Herrera, and the French players now. Whether he can catch them is another matter. His goal for this year will be what Mooljee's was last year, make the Tour Finals at a minimum. 7th is probably a reasonable year-end target for him.

15. Zourab Andronikov(93%, 8.28, ??)

After hanging out around 30th for a few years, the Georgian standard-bearer made a big push last season and I doubt he's done yet. Strong with a big serve and a good mental game, Andronikov is another threat to break into the Top 10.

18. Tiosav Srbulovic(98%, 8.16, ??)

Barely 22, Srbulovic is the top player right now in the 'younger than Mooljee' category. Though he is not at the elite level yet technically, few can match him athletically, particularly in terms of footspeed. Tiosav is also a hardcourt specialist which makes him very tough about half of the year. I think he'll push up into the low teens or better, on the doorstep of the Top 10 but not quite there.

19. Sava Cirakovic(95%, 8.00, ??)

Mooljee's top same-age rival, Cirakovic has the usual elite-serve, poor-rally disease. Strong but fairly slow, he's moving up a bit at a time doesn't look ready to progress much more at this point. Eventual Top 10, but can't say a lot more than that and it will probably be a couple years.

25. Luc Janin(100%, 8.26, +0.34)

Just shy of his 21st birthday, Janin continues his meteoric rise. His technical skills are already as good of those of Srbulovic, and he's every bit the athlete along with being considerable more committed to being the best he can be(3.8 endurance). His improvement this past year was just ridiculous, and it's not out of the question that he could crash the Top 10 party by the time he turns 22. Everything points to him being scary good -- he's going to have a relatively short career, but he's sure making the most of it so far. Not even Iglar was this good this fast.

69. Shyam Senepathy(97%, 6.89, -0.16)

Nobody should be declining at this age, which tells you all you need to know about Senepathy's inept management. Slow and still has the rally ability of a futures player -- the serve will only take you so far. Still moved up +16 from 85th, but is stalled here.

8(J). Ritwik Dudwadkar(83%, 5.07, +1.03)

Almost as much of a bump as he got last year; Dudwadkar is now more physically developed than the older players like Mehul. Weird, given that he's only 17 but he's on the opposite end of that aging curve. He's nearly as fast as Mooljee, footspeed being his greatest strength. Not a fun guy for opposing players to serve against.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 09-25-2016 at 07:20 PM.
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Old 09-27-2016, 01:50 AM   #512
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
This last bit is a week late, but nothing changes much in the first week of the year anyway.

Generational Overview

I wanted to take a quick look at the elite group(Top 32) and how it breaks down by the age segments because there's some interesting stuff going on. Where to put a player can be a little fuzzy in a few cases, but in general there tends to be a new 'wave' every 2 or once in a while 3 years.

** The Really Old Guys(2) -- Bjorn Benda(10th) and Cestmir Marcek(25th) are the only members of this group; both are 33.

** The Old Guard(6) -- This is headlined by Antonin Iglar(2nd) and Anil Mehul(4th), both at age 31. Others at 30+ are Gaskell(9th), Thiago Herrera(13th), Federer(20th), and Condon(22nd). A half-dozen, meaning that 8 of the Top 32, exactly a quarter, is 30 or above.

** Generation Flash(7) -- Girish Girsh(1st) headlines what is now the ruling class. Caratti is 3rd, followed by Kinczllers(5th), Poilblan(7th), Trulsen(14th), Alberti(18th), and Xavier Caminha(26th).

** In Their Prime(5) -- Theodore Bourdet(6th) is enough younger to justify putting him in the next category, along with Agustin Herrera(11th), Andronikov(15th), McCuskey(17th), and Andre Herrera(27th). One of the reasons we're in a weak era right now is that there just isn't a whole lot here.

** Mooljee & Co.(11) -- Prakash Mooljee(8th)'s got next, and some are coming with him. Ujjaval(12th) is a little older but still fits best here. Also Cirakovic(17th), Srbulovic(19th), Niklas(21st), Zakirov(24th), Browne(27th), Benitez(29th), Jurco(30th), Ljaljevic(31st), Santos(32nd). A full third of the top group still has a year and most of them quite a bit more than that until they reach their peak.

A sea change is about to occur. I don't know how many of the young players will become legitimate challengers, but one's things for sure: the Top 10-20 will be a lot deeper with at least good to very good players in a couple years. Mooljee's group, impressive as it is, is only part of this. Luc Janin hangs out at 25th, too young to really fit in that generation. And there is a massive group pushing it's way up -- frankly I'm glad none of my players have to deal with it. Everyone from 29th through 46th, 18 competitors in a row, is in the 20-25 age bracket. Many are 22-23, having 3-4 years left of improvement ahead of them. Mooljee appears to be the head of a very large snake, and it'll be interesting to see how long he can stay at the top once he gets there with all of this talent coming up with him, and others like Janin behind him. Italian Gabriele Guareschi, 46th and just 20 years old, will likely be heard from in the future.

When this mass of players is at their peak, Ritwik Dudwadkar will be poised to smash his head into their collective wall. Not really looking forward to that ...
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Old 09-27-2016, 01:58 AM   #513
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World Team Cup, Group Three, First Round
Sri Lanka(1st) vs. Italy(7th), Hardcourt

We just did this, and now we'll do it again a few weeks after last year's Final.

Monday: G. Girsh d. T. Alberti, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3
Tuesday: A. Mehul d. M. Kinczllers, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(5)
Wednesday: S. Boccasino/A. El Brazi d. S. Ujjaval/P. Mooljee, 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4
Thursday: G. Girsh d. M. Kinczllers, 6-3, 7-6(5), 7-6(5)
Friday: A. Mehul d. T. Alberti, 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-2

Sri Lanka defeats Italy, 4-1!!

Same matchups, same results. Somewhat less drama in singles but Kinczllers still gave us a couple of tight matches, and once again the doubles team narrowly loses in going the distance. Interesting reality about being #1: despite winning, our lead on the next several nations was reduced. There's very little margin for error in staying on top, not that I don't think we're up to it.

Our next opponent after the Australian Open will be Spain, who beat China 4-1. The winner will take group 3. They've got a couple of solid players, both ranked in the 30s, but off of clay they've got no chance and this will be indoors. Smooth sailing for Sri Lanka here as expected.

Coming Up ...

Girsh will not play again until the AO, but the other three will be in action over the next couple of weeks after some considerable debating with myself over what the best approach is.
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Old 09-29-2016, 10:09 PM   #514
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January

As a teaser, the Australian Open is underway and some things happen that definitely did not follow the script. But, before that, there were other matters.

Prakash Mooljee headed to the Qatar Open 250, where he was seeded second after Kinczllers and, at least in my mind, a strong favorite to hoist the trophy. Among the interesting things happening here were Janin getting off to a lousy start to the year, and Khasan Zakirov putting his two cents in by upsetting Kinczllers in the semis. Mooljee was the beneficiary of upsets on his side of the draw, getting to the final without facing a seeded player or a remotely close match. Zakirov gave him both, but Prakash prevailed 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-4 with more difficulty than expected. It was dominated by the servers, and Mooljee was the better player but with only a few break chances each way it didn't matter that much. Still, overall a good start to the year.

Ritwik Dudwadkar, after some debate, headed to the tier-1 in Nottinghill. His goal was to stay in the Top 8 through the junior AO for a better draw. It was on course as the top seed until the semis against Maximo Augusto, who stunningly crushed him 6-4, 6-3. Dudwadkar converted all four of his break chances, otherwhise it wouldn't have been nearly that close. A miserable performance in a match he should have won, and that pretty much seals his fate as he dropped to 9th and would drop further. Some of the players ranked below him are better -- 12th to 15th would be more accurate based on his skills -- but he should have made the final here and a had a pretty good chance to win it. So much for last year's smooth sailing, at least for this event.

The next week, Anil Mehul was in Auckland as the 2nd seed behind Caratti. It turned out to be an up-and-down event for him. Andre Herrera gave him a surprisingly stiff match in the quarters, but Mehul bounced back and drilled Andronikov in the next round. Theodore Bourdet was the other finalist after he easily defeated the top Argentine, and Mehul rallied from a set down for what was ultimately a strong win despite the scoreline, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
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Old 10-02-2016, 11:25 AM   #515
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2048 Australian Open

Opening Rounds

There was some big news before the tournament even began. Antonin Iglar was fired by oprice, who decided he's had enough and left the game. Eventually he was picked up by an apparently decent manager but not one of the top guys ... yet. The new manager has a 5.2 trainer so Iglar should be in pretty good hands.

As for the tournament itself, the early rounds saw more upsets than usual. Marcek has certainly fallen far, dropping out right away against a qualifier from Argentina. 28th-seeded Tristan Benitez was eliminated by Joseph Skirrow who has basically made a career out of this kind of thing,. 9-7 in the 5th in that one. Gustavo Caratti had to go five sets against Sampras, nearly a disastrous start to the year for him. Federer and Serbia's Petko Ljaljevic(30th, his first Slam as a seeded player) all failed to get past the first round as well.

Shyam Senepathy got a win as he was fortunate enough to meet a qualifier in the first round, but he followed it up with a total of one game in getting crushed by Garreth McCuskey in the next round. Nothing new there for him, he's reached the second round four times and lost each occasion now. Zakirov had an early exit here, as did Thiago Herrera courtesy of French qualifier Gael Monfils. Once a promising young player, Monfils had descended to about 150th in the rankings but he sure showed up in this event. Cirakovic bowed out in a four tight sets to Phillipe Besson, a Swiss player on the rise. Ujjaval had bit of a close call before getting past Guardado. All in all, a quarter of the players still active were unseeded, which is about twice the normal amount.

Girish Girsh cruised through to the third round, but he got himself a serious scare from Andre Herrera. Despite badly outplaying the least-known of the Peruvian clan most of the match, Girsh lost a tiebreaker in the first set and again in the third, forcing a comeback win that went the distance. It would have been one of the biggest upsets I've ever seen if he failed to get past this stage after winning the title last year. Elsewhere, Tomas Niklas ended Bourdet's tournament early in a great match, 8-6 in the 5th set, and Agustin Herrera was the latest victim of Blagota Cojanovic, one of the top unseeded players here.

In the final matches of the first week, Girsh got back on track by allowing just a single game to Bjorn Benda, who had done well just to get this far with a couple of tough matches. Mooljee lost a set for the first time, but was a convincing winner still over Gaskell in four to reach his first Slam quarterfinal. Mehul continues to put together solid wins, while Shreya Ujjaval was stopped short with a somewhat disappointing loss to Kinczllers, 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-1. Just ran out of gas apparently, but he should be at this point a little better and was up a set twice in the match. Only 1 of 6 on break points for Ujjaval in that one. Cojanovic keeps moving on, adding Poilblan to his list of scalps ... after getting bageled in the first set, he won the next three!

Elsewhere

Ritwik Dudwadkar was also playing, in the junior AO. He had a solid QF run in doubles, but was fairly tired by the time he reached the third round in singles, losing there to Jakob Heinen, 6-7(7), 7-6(3), 6-2. That was one round short of his goal of making the quarters there as well.
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Old 10-02-2016, 11:39 AM   #516
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Second Week

Six of the top eight made the quarterfinals, along with 20th-seeded Niklas and not seeded at all Cojanovic as the party crashers. The first match was an unfortunate draw for Prakash Mooljee, who had to face Girsh again at this stage. Close, but not quite there was how things were looking for him in terms of being able to beat the #1 on this surface. What happened on this day though was stunning ... out of nowhere, Mooljee simply came out and dominated this match, 6-2, 7-5, 6-3. He didn't face a single break point, and points count was 96-71, a huge spread. Did not see this coming. It's only the second loss for Girsh in about the last eight months, and the only other one was a nail-biter final to Mehul last fall. It's been a very long time since he got beat like this.

Next up, Niklas kept moving with straight-sets elimination of Gustavo Caratti. This was another one of those matches in which the better player didn't really win; Caratti was just 2 of 13 on break points and lost two very close tiebreaks. But there's always a lot to be said for playing well when the match is on the line, and here Niklas was definitely the player who did that. Iglar(over Kinczllers) and Mehul(ending Cojanovic's dreams) both advanced in straight sets also.

So the semifinals set up with a matchup of two players who have never sniffed this rarified air before, and another pair who have been here more times than they could count. Mooljee started off fast against Tomas Niklas but the final set was a royal battle that he could easily have lost and let the Czech back into the match. He was just about to eke that one out, finishing a 6-2, 6-3, 7-6(5) win to get to the final. Antonin Iglar got off to a fast start against Mehul ... but it didn't last long. 2-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 was the final there in their 54th meeting, with Iglar unable to do much after that first one.

An all-Sri Lanka final between the upstart and wily veteran. Both were ready to go for this one, and Prakash Mooljee was a slight favorite the way I saw things. Coming into the tournament he was 0-6 against both Girsh and Mehul, but you'd never know it by the way he beat both of them down. Mehul, bidding to become the oldest man to ever with a Slam, was thrashed 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 and never really had a chance here. Mooljee takes his first Slam title and shoots up to 5th in the rankings with a stunning championship at the first major tournament this year. I don't know that I've ever seen anyone win in their first visit to the second week. There were other big winners here ... Mehul didn't make a single Slam final last year so this was a big result for him and he's right on Caratti's heels now for third, Niklas shoots up from 21st to 13th, Cojanovic from 39th to 30th. The youth movement definitely made more than a few statements to start of this year, though some of them didn't do much(Janin, Cirakovic).

Girish Girsh is still #1 by a mile, but how long he stays there will depend a lot on how well he reacts to this.
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Old 10-02-2016, 11:45 AM   #517
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World Team Cup, Group Three, Second Round
Sri Lanka(1st) vs. Spain(4th), Indoors

Monday: G. Girsh d. A. Lugassy, 6-2, 6-0, 6-1
Tuesday: A. Mehul d. J. de los Santos, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
Wednesday: E. Serrano/J. Fucile d. S. Ujjaval/H. Ganeshwaran, 6-0, 6-2, 6-1
Thursday: G. Girsh d. J. de los Santos, 6-1, 6-2, 6-3
Friday: A. Mehul d. A. Lugassy, 6-1, 6-0, 6-1

Sri Lanka defeats Spain, 4-1!!

On an indoor court, this was no contest. Ganeshwaran shows that our doubles team is going to be in a bad way without Mooljee -- we still lost most of the matches with him, but Ujjaval's new partner has never reached the Top 1000 in singles or top 500 in doubles. Until Mehul goes doubles, it's going to be pretty ugly. Still, we get the job done easily as there was absolutely zero drama in singles, and we've clinched the group. China will wrap things up, and they haven't won a set yet. That'll be a joke of an encounter in a couple months. The Italy-Spain winner will be worth watching though, as the loser is done for the year.

Coming Up ...

We're now in the first extended break of the season. Everyone has the next few weeks off, until Indian Wells or close to it.
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Old 10-03-2016, 10:36 AM   #518
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2048 Australian Open
There was some big news before the tournament even began. Antonin Iglar was fired by oprice, who decided he's had enough and left the game. Eventually he was picked up by an apparently decent manager but not one of the top guys ... yet. The new manager has a 5.2 trainer so Iglar should be in pretty good hands.

The champ thinks I'm decent?!

Iglar watch 2048: Short term: the old manager left him slightly underplayed, which I need to correct before Indian Wells. Long term: His dominant days are behind him, but I think he's good for a few more masters if his form is maintained. He'll eventually transition to doubles, but not for 2 years at least.

Incidentally, if anyone is looking for a future Junior #1, look at 15 year old Simen Christensen, who I had to cut to pick up Iglar. His pro prospects might only be average, but he should dominate in juniors with a new manager.
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Old 10-04-2016, 06:28 PM   #519
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I didn't think anyone on this forum was still active in rr1! You definitely did well to pick him up, and I agree that Iglar can still be a spoiler-type threat in the big hardcourt events. Maybe you can break him out of his slump, though I've got enough skin in the game at this point in time that I hope you don't :P
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Old 10-05-2016, 01:32 PM   #520
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Originally Posted by Brian Swartz View Post
I didn't think anyone on this forum was still active in rr1! You definitely did well to pick him up, and I agree that Iglar can still be a spoiler-type threat in the big hardcourt events. Maybe you can break him out of his slump, though I've got enough skin in the game at this point in time that I hope you don't :P

I'm thinking about jumping into RR1. I took a good month off, then jumped into RR8 (slow) and RR2 (very fast). I like the pace of RR8 the best, so after I finish my current players' runs in RR2, I could switch over.
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Old 10-05-2016, 04:57 PM   #521
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You'd be welcome if you did -- the more the merrier!
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Old 10-05-2016, 06:12 PM   #522
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February/March

I was taken by surprise that we are actually in the Junior WTC this year, as we haven't participated in a few years; usually we don't have enough high-ranking juniors to get in. As it ends up, we're in Group 4, which is the group of death. Germany has two Top-10 juniors and is defintely the best this year; the United States and Spain are close behind them. Germany and Spain are both in our group, so just advancing would be a good result.

We got the odd country out first; Great Britain. A pair of straight-sets wins by Ritwik Dudwadkar contributed to a 4-1 victory in a must-win tie. Next up Germany flipped the script, beating us by the same count. Dudwadkar started it off well with an upset of 7th-ranked Moma Lotric in four, but we wouldn't win another set. #4 Heinen blasted Dudwadkar easily, 6-3, 6-0, 6-3, in their encounter later in the week. Definitely disappointed in that showing.

Surprisingly, Great Britain upset Spain in their matchup, 3-2. This leaves us tied with the Brits for the last spot. If we lose to Spain, we'll end up in a 3-way tie unless Germany somehow loses as well. If we win, we'll guarantee ourselves of a spot in the quarterfinals. It looks like there could be some high drama coming. It'll be a grass court which should favor us a bit, although Spain's #3 player isn't bad on it. By the rankings the Spaniard's would have the advantage, but I still can't figure out how they lost to GBR ... so who knows what happens there.

Elsewhere, both Girish Girsh and Prakash Mooljee played one of the 500s the last week before IW, with Mehul taking the whole period off. Girsh was in Acapulco, and he ran into some trouble. 7th-seeded Johnny Browne in the quarters and unseeded Hugo Jurco in the semifinals both pushed him to three sets, but he managed to escape both tests. In the final he dominated Zakirov to get his expected title. Definitely looks like he's off his game right now though, and only time will tell how damaging or long this slump will be.

Mooljee headed to Dubai, where he appeared to be on a collision course with Mugur Kinczllers. Xavier Caminha pushed him to a third-set tiebreak in the quarterfinals, though the match was not really that close, but Prakash got through it. 11 aces from Cojanovic and a frustrating return day ... 4 of 21 BPs ... made for a tougher semi than it should have been as well, but he got through in straights. Meanwhile Kinczllers narrowly escaped Srbulovic, so the expected final ensued. Moolje won in a third straight match that wasn't as close as the 7-5, 6-4 scoreline indicated. A good tournament win to give him his third 500 title, solidify his hold on the #5 ranking, and continue his winning streak(18 for 18 so far this year), but he missed a lot of opportunities this week and that could potentially come back to bite him against the best players. \


Coming Up ...

The Indian Wells and later Miami masters are about to get under way, finishing off the early hardcourt season. About a thousand points separates each of the players from 2nd through 5th, so there could be some movement there if any of them do particularly well or poorly. Girsh needs to up his game if he wants to avoid losing more of his lead at the top, though at close to 6k points still he's in no danger of all of being toppled anytime soon.
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Old 10-10-2016, 02:49 PM   #523
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Indian Wells Masters

Everybody gets into the act, relatively speaking, for the big masters events. Shyam Senepathy lost just two games against a qualifier in the first round, then lost against Petko Ljaljevic in the second, 7-6(6), 6-3. Unfortunately, it wasn't really that close. Davide Poilblan was the first to fall early; the world no. 8 was beaten by one of the hordes of American players, Jake Jolland, in three sets. Janin and Jurco came through despite close calls. Most of the third round was pretty straightforward also. Bjorn Benda lost to 22nd-seed Johnny Browne, another US player off to a good start this year, and Jolland kept on moving against one of the lower seeds. Girsh(over Andronikov) and Mehul(over Janin) had competitive matches but moved on in straight sets.

In the fourth, the American contingent had it's ups and downs. Browne kept moving with an impressive upset of Kinczllers, while McCuskey bowed out to Mehul, Srbulovic lost in a match that didn't live up to it's billing, 6-4, 6-2 against Mooljee, and Jolland was easily dismissed as well. Pierce Gaskell kept going though, eliminating Bourdet in three. Gustavo Caratti was pushed to a third-set breaker by Agustin Herrera, the second straight three-set match but he continues on. A solid run by Shreya Ujjaval ends also as he loses in straight sets to Iglar.

Five of the top eight made the quarterfinals, but this is where the real surprises came. Girish Girsh was stopped early again, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 by Browne. Girsh was only 2 of 14 on break points in a match where he had the advantage. Anil Mehul was also pushed out, in this case by Gaskell in a 7-5, 7-6(5) final, but he was just plain outplayed. He's 22-4 against the top American, having re-established dominance with four straight wins, but that ended here in a match where neither player could count on their serve. Prakash Mooljee kept moving with a hard-fought, but deserved 6-4, 7-6(3) win over Antonin Iglar in his first big tournament under new management. Two of the three best in the world on this surface, they just met a bit early here. Caratti's luck ran out, with Tomas Niklas edging past him in another third-set tiebreak.

So the semifinals come around, featuring none of the top four players and Mooljee the sudden prohibitive favorite as the only remaining player in the Top 10. This isn't exactly the changing of the guard I had in mind ... I thought it'd be a bit more gradual. Not this tournament, at any rate. The fans got a treat in the first semi with young vs. old, a matchup of players from their home country, and experience won the day with Gaskell prevailing over Browne, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5. In the second match, Mooljee defeated Niklas routinely, his third straight win after losing their first encounter. In the final, Gaskell did a good job of creating opportunities but wasn't able to convert them as successfully. Prakash Mooljee rode much more consistent pressure and control of the match to a 6-4, 7-6(4) win. It appears his US Open title is not a fluke, and his first Masters here leaves him still unbeaten on the year and just a hair behind Mehul for the #4 spot. Meanwhile, the aging Gaskell pops his head back onto the first page at #9.

Elsewhere ...

The last round of group play in the Junior WTC was up during the second week of IW. Ritwik Dudwadkar led the way with two wins in singles. We lost the other two, but got an unexpected comeback win in doubles from two sets down ... and it was just enough for a 3-2 win over Spain! Lousy feeling for them as a pair of narrow defeats send them out in the group stage, but instead of a 3-way tiebreaker, we end up moving on to the quarterfinals ourselves which means more good experience for Dudwadkar. He'll be off for a solid month and a half now during which he'll undoubtedly slide down the rankings, but come back better for the work. A hardcourt match against the United States will await whenever the Junior QFs resume -- the schedule is different from the senior level. Dudwadkar is the only guy we have who can hang with their singles players, both of whom are listed in the Top 20, so another upset will be needed if we hope to advance further.
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Old 10-10-2016, 03:04 PM   #524
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Miami Masters

Senepathy lost his first time out here, a tight one to US wild-card James Barter, 7-5 in a third-set tiebreak. A big part of that is him being overplayed coming in, it's gotten him a bit higher in the rankings but hurt him here. Blast-from-the-past Perry Mockler upset Elias Trulsen in the second round, Federer lost to Juan de los Santos, and Sava Cirakovic was lucky to survive.

Another early exit for Benda in the third round, this time to Khasan Zakirov who keeps plugging away, making gradual progress. A couple of my players had unpleasant encounters with American hopefuls at this stage. Anil Mehul narrowly escaped Browne in three sets, with Prakash Mooljee not so fortunate against 19th-seeded Garreth McCuskey. The final there was 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(4), a return to his struggles from the first half of last year in that Mooljee was clearly the better player, but just 3 of 11 on break chances. He lost the first and third sets at the end, just not able to finish in this one. A rather unceremonious initial defeat on the year, but it's still been a fantastic start to the season.

In the round of 16, Zakirov kept moving by knocking out Bourdet, and Shreya Ujjaval had his first notable upset of the year, eliminating Mugur Kinczllers. Kinczllers is looking more and more vulnerable the last year or two, and was deservedly beaten here 7-6(4), 7-5. Juan de los Santos made a return to his giant-killing ways, upending Poilblan, and Anil Mehul fell victim to the home crowd as well against Srbulovic, 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-3. Gaskell even made another run at it, taking a set before Antonin Iglar shut him down.

The top three all advanced to the quarterfinals, but everyone else here is 12th or worse. Once again, a lot of 'upsets', at least according to the rankings which will be long adjusting to the new reality. Girish Girsh was nearly victimized again, escaping Zakirov 6-7(3), 6-2, 7-6(2). Ujjaval kept moving, knocking out Caratti by a nearly-identical close straight-sets score to his match in the last round. Iglar lost just four games in eliminating the unseeded de los Santos, and in a matchup of the remaining US players it was Tiosav Srbulovic who moved on.

Each semifinal had a top player and another looking for the upset. Youth was not to be served on this day. The first match was an all-Sri Lanka affair with Girsh rallying against Shreya Ujjaval, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-3. In the second, Iglar was ruthless, permitting Srbulovic just three games. The Czech legend comes into the final with a full head of steam, but Girsh stopped him short for his seventh straight victory in their head-to-head, 6-4, 7-6(5). After needing to go the distance the previous two rounds, this is a relieving title for him, a 13th Masters Shield. He more survived it than won it, but it all counts the same and for now he's stopped the bleeding.
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Old 10-10-2016, 03:16 PM   #525
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Top Ten Rankings Update

1. Girish Girsh(SRI, 28) -- 14,500

A couple of quarterfinal exits are not what he was looking for after last year's dominant performance, but I still can't imagine him losing the top ranking before the fall. His lead is still massive, over six thousand points.

2. Antonin Iglar(CZE, 31) -- 8,440

Yet another runner-up finish in Miami, but Iglar's still hanging on to #2. Last year's clay season was abysmal for him. If he can avoid a repeat of that, he could create a little more daylight between himself and the players nipping at his heels for the top challenger spot.

3. Gustavo Caratti(ARG, 28) -- 7,920

Last year Caratti lost twice during the clay season, which is unusual. If he can run the table, he might yet be able to snag the #2.

4. Anil Mehul(SRI, 32) -- 6,980

5. Prakash Mooljee(SRI, 23) -- 6,955

A reversal here is clearly imminent, with Mehul about to drop out of the top four and Sri Lanka's singles representation in the World Team Cup. Mooljee should be the best clay player other than Caratti, and has an opportunity to keep gaining if he can consistently deliver the kind of performances he has earlier this year. Last year's SF run in Madrid was an example of his ability on the dirt.

6. Mugur Kinczllers(ITA, 29) -- 5,410

Kinczllers is primarily focused on doubles now, and his results are starting to show it more regularly.

7. Davide Poilblan(FRA, 28) -- 4,310

8. Theodore Bourdet(FRA, 26) -- 4,110

Not a good start to the year so far for the French duo.

9. Pierce Gaskell(USA, 31) -- 3,730

Just when it looked like Gaskell was giving way to the younger players, he pulls off just his second-ever Masters final showing in Indian Wells.

10. Bjorn Benda(DEU, 33) -- 3,650

The clay season will show how much he has left in the tank, and whether he can hang around in a relevant position for another year.


Four players 31 or older now on the first page. Their time may not have come yet, but it is coming soon.
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Old 10-10-2016, 03:27 PM   #526
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Sri Lanka Rankings Update

Girish Girsh -- 1st singles. You've got to be awfully good to be disappointed in a 24-2 start. Still, there's no question Girsh is in a slump, he could easily have lost in Miami as well. Last year was his best on the clay, highlighted by a title in Rome -- I don't see him repeating those exploits this year.

Anil Mehul -- 4th singles, 1041st to 1045th doubles. A first Slam final in over a year was followed by Mehul's worst combined results at IW/Miami in seven seasons. Mooljee will get him soon but even then I expect him to have enough to stay ahead of the rest for a while longer.

Prakash Mooljee -- 8th to 5th singles, 545th to 2418th doubles. A spectacular start to the year with 24 straight wins. The loss to McCuskey still stings as he could have jumped into 4th right away, but as mentioned continued progress during the clay season is expected. Mooljee's goal right now is to get there before RG, and reach #2 by the end of Wimbledon.

Shyam Senepathy -- 69th to 61st singles. He's started creeping closer to the Top 50 again, with a tier-1 challenger title and another final showing. The need for more time off is taking it's toll now though.

Ritwik Dudwadkar -- 8th to 14th juniors. Part of this decline was expected, but he also had a couple of unfortunate losses to Heinen. In order to stay in reasonable position for the big events, Dudwadkar needs a good result next time out. I'm not sure if that will be before the tier-A(juniors version of Masters) Italian Open in a little over a month or not.

Manager Ranking -- 1st, 47.2k to 48.2k points.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 10-10-2016 at 03:27 PM.
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Old 10-11-2016, 09:38 PM   #527
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World Team Cup, Group 3, Third Round
Sri Lanka(1st) vs. China(34th), Hardcourt

The mismatch by which all mismatches should be judged.

Monday: A. Mehul d. Y. Dun, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2
Tuesday: G. Girsh d. L. Chen, 6-0, 6-0, 6-1
Wednesday: S. Ujjaval/H. Ganeshwaran, 7-5, 6-2, 6-2
Thursday: G. Girsh d. Y. Dun, 6-1 , 6-0, 6-3
Friday: A. Mehul d. L. Chen, 6-0, 6-3, 6-1

Sri Lanka defeats China, 5-0!

That was rather expected, although I was a bit surprised by the doubles -- I thought that would at least be closer. Either way, we're into the quarterfinals undefeated, as things should be. Combined with juniors results, we've still lost ground so far to the six nations behind us, with Germany making a particularly strong move. That's always going to happen this time of year though, we'll be ok as long as we keep winning.

We get the lowest-ranked quarterfinalist next; Croatia on clay. Sava Cirakovic(20th) is a quality clay player so he'll be the toughest probably, with Cojanovic(25th) as well. They are definitely on the rise but I don't anticipate them being able to give us a major challenge. Probably a 4-1 score there with a doubles loss, 3-2 at worst. France and the US have a tough draw to face each other, with Argentina-Czech Republic and Sweden-Italy the other two pairings.


Also, we faced the United States in the Junior Quarterfinals the following week. I must say Ritwik Dudwadkar acquitted himself well. He had to go the distance to rally from 2-1 down against 18th-ranked Sanley Vender, then lost the first set but took the next three against worn-out #10 Vinnie Cone. Unfortunately he was the only success for us in a 3-2 loss that moved the United States to within just 86 points of us in the world rankings -- we led them by over 200 at the start of the year.


Coming Up ...

Mehul and Mooljee head to Monte Carlo, while Girsh will skip the event -- the only one of the top players who is doing so this year. It figures to be a strong field.

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Old 10-12-2016, 08:42 PM   #528
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Monte Carlo

As usual, there was some early carnage here. First-round victims were Andronikov, Srbulovic, and Cirakovic. Shyam Senepathy lost in the second round of qualifying, Ujjaval beat a qualifier easily in the first round. The other three had byes.

Anil Mehul found himself in trouble right away against Johnny Browne in the second round. Both players achieved five breaks of serve, but Mehul took 19 opportunities to do so and Browne needed only seven. That made it a tight one, going to 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 for the final but he did manage to advance. Bourdet and Gaskell were knocked out early, but the rest were able to move on. In the third round, Antonin Iglar's clay struggles last year revisited as he was eliminated in three sets by Zakirov. Mehul also exited, straight sets to Juan de los Santos. The Spaniard is only 22, but it seems like he's been around forever, and he's a bigtime clay specialist. Now that his technical skills are starting to come around, he figures to be a factor the next couple months. Shreya Ujjaval went up against Mooljee, and while he was expected to lose, winning only four games wasn't a great result for him.

Santos and Rui Padilla were definitely the most interesting quarterfinal matchup, a pair of unseeded Spaniards. Santos crushed him with a pair of breadsticks. Elsewhere, Mugur Kinczllers rallied to beat Zakirov, Caratti won in three sets against McCuskey, and Prakash Mooljee was opportunistic enough and good enough to win a fairly close one over Agustin Herrera, 6-4, 7-6(4). Only three of the top eight seeds even made it this far, but clay often does strange things. All three won though.

In the semis, Kinczllers took a set and then was knocked on his heels by de los Santos just like everyone else; 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 was the final. The second one was a shocker, with Gustavo Caratti upset despite being in prime form, Moolee with a deserved straight-sets win. I figured this to be as far as he would go, and a good effort to reach the stage of being knocked out by the king of clay. Perhaps not. The final against the upstart from Spain was the toughest match, but he prevailed again 6-4, 7-6(8), getting just a little more consistent pressure and outlasting his foe in the concluding tiebreak. A second Masters title this year in three events for Mooljee was definitely unexpected, and he leapfrogs both Mehul and also Caratti up to #3 now in the rankings.

Coming Up ...

Mehul's early loss will have him out there again at Barcelona next week, while everyone else waits a couple weeks longer for Madrid and Rome, and the Italian Open in juniors.
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Old 10-16-2016, 12:03 AM   #529
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May

A couple of tournaments in the off weeks for my players, and neither went very well. Anil Mehul was up first in the Barcelona 500, and he got tripped up decisively by Garreth McCuskey early in the quarterfinals, 6-2, 6-4. McCuskey is having a bit of a comeback year this season, but he's not a very strong clay player and this is definitely a match Mehul should have won. It was an all-Spanish final here to the delight of the crowds, with 15th-seeded Rui Padilla winning the title to vault himself into the mid-20s.

The next week, Ritwik Dudwadkar played a tier-1 juniors event in Santa Croce. Seeded second, his goal was to reach the final against no. 2 Petr Duris. Instead, he was stunned by Hark Aus(ITA) in the quarterfinals, 6-2, 6-3. It was a miserable performance; when Aus wasn't committing one of his 13 double faults, Dudwadkar could do nothing. He won just six points on the serves that were in play.

Coming Up ...

Madrid Masters followed by Rome the week after for the senior players, and the Italian Open next week for Dudwadkar.
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Old 10-16-2016, 05:13 AM   #530
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de los Santos definitely seems like a kid to watch. Amazing work you've done with Sri Lanka and taking the #1 manager spot BTW.
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Old 10-16-2016, 02:04 PM   #531
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Thanks ... it's been a fun ride.

Madrid Masters

Senepathy lost in qualifying again, no shocker there. Pierce Gaskell's brief surge in the hardcourt season definitely reversed itself, as he lost badly to a qualifier right away. Srbulovic was also out quickly, having the misfortune of playing Andronikov, one of the most dangerous floaters, in his first match. In the second round, Girsh was pushed to three by Condon but finished it off easily. Cirakovic knocked out Bourdet in an epic three-tiebreak encounter, and Mehul went three as well but got past home favorite Rui Padilla, fresh off his Barca title. Most of the rest went as expected, with a couple more close matches later on in the day. Zakirov escaped de los Santos 7-5 in the third in one of them.

There were few easy wins to come by in the third round. Girsh moved on again, but the first real shocker of the tournament came with Gustavo Caratti exiting very early in three against Agustin Herrera. Caratti was in control of this match for the most part, but after a long second-set tiebreaker went against him he couldn't finish it off, going just 2 of 9 on break points. A rough result for him after the last few years. Anil Mehul was an upset victim as well, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 against Andronikov. Same story really there; 1 of 11 on BPs while losing both on his own serve. Outplayed the top Georgian by far, but didn't come through when it mattered. There was a strange match with Kinczllers and Shreya Ujjaval. After trading bagel sets, Kinczllers outlasted him 7-5 in the third. Then Mooljee finished out his match strong after losing a set to Zakirov.

Top three players made it to the quarterfinals, but after that it was a smattering. The upsets didn't stop here either. Girish Girsh handed Tomas Niklas a beating in the first set, but couldn't keep it up and fell 1-6, 6-4, 6-3. The other matches pretty much went according to plan though. Two very different semis with no. 12 Niklas and no. 10 Agustin Herrera meeting in the first, Niklas taking it 6-4 in the third to reach his first Masters final. In the second, a critical matchup in Mooljee's bid to reach the #2 spot sooner rather than later as he met up with Antonin Iglar. Iglar's serve was quite ineffective on this day, and Mooljee won in straights.

The final was a joke, 6-0, 6-2 as Prakash Mooljee took his third Masters Shield in the last nine weeks. Worth noting here is that he's still a year and a half younger than Mehul was at his first Masters title, two years younger than Girsh managed. He's still #3 but closing the gap, while Caratti tumbles to 5th behind Mehul. Tomas Niklas moves up to 9th, and at 24 years old the heir apparent to Iglar's spot as the top Czech could well become Mooljee's best competition before long. Ujjaval, who has been horribly overplayed this year, slides into 10th.
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Old 10-17-2016, 02:38 PM   #532
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Rome Masters

Yet another qualifying loss for Senepathy this week. Shreya Ujjaval's manager had a stroke of good sense, taking the route of sitting this week out. It's the only way he'll have a chance to make a run at RG -- should have kept him out of some smaller events further back, but given the situation, it's a wise move. First-round upset victims here were Srbulovic(again) and Andronikov in a surprise loss to fading veteran John Condon. Only one in round two, with Phillipe Besson forcing his name into the news a bit with a three-set defeat of Bourdet. A pretty smooth start for the top players overall though.

There were only a couple of one-sided matches in the third round; Mooljee had the easiest road as he had an unusually easy time with Khasan Zakirov. Girsh rallied to stop Luc Janin, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 ... the Canadian prodigy hasn't had a big year but he's been solid recently; Luc did well this week and almost pulled the upset. Mehul was pushed to three as well by last week's finalist Niklas, but he also prevailed. Caratti went the distance with Condon before finishing things off. There were a couple of upsets; Besson kept going against Elias Trulsen, and McCuskey's strong year continued as he eliminated Kinczllers.

Five of the top eight made the quarters, with Besson the real wild-card. Nobody else was a shock to be here. That was more reserved for Caratti's performance, as he was obliterated with only two games against Girish Girsh. A nice win to be sure, but it was obvious if it hadn't been before that the Argentine's game has vanished. He should be a lot better than this, and appears to be mired in a horrific slump. Mooljee took care of McCuskey easily, as did Iglar over Besson, but Mehul was knocked out in the one competitive match of the round, 6-3 in the third by Agustin Herrera. Still a solid performance for Anil, and a competitive match here but Herrera was relentless and pushed his way through.

Girsh served well enough in the first semi, nine aces and no double faults, to get through Herrera though it took a tough second-set tiebreak. In the second match, it was Mooljee against Iglar again. The #2 ranking going into Roland Garros looked to be on the line here. After a bad first set the Czech rallied, and it looked like he'd take the second ... but he dropped the last three games of the match after going in front, with Mooljee taking the 6-1, 6-4 win. An all-Sri Lanka final proved another occasion for a straight-sets win by the younger player, who lost only five games. The way Caratti is playing, there's no question Prakash Mooljee is the best player on this surface as well at the moment. The last time anyone dominated both hardcourt and clay at the same time like this was over a decade ago when the incomparable Eric Gorritepe ruled the sport. Nobody's putting Mooljee in that stratosphere, but he moves up to the #2 spot with his fourth Masters on the year, and he's been the better player every time out there so far. Sure seems the smart money is on him going forward.
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Old 10-17-2016, 02:48 PM   #533
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Junior Roland Garros

The young players are a week ahead, so this was the main event while everyone else was off. Ritwik Dudwadkar was seeded 9th, as a number of players tend to not participate at this level. It was one of his best showings of the year, as it turned out. He won a couple of very tight doubles matches to reach the quarterfinals, and got to the third round in singles. There he met up with Ruben Piazzola(CHE), the world no. 6 in juniors and a clay specialist. Dudwadkar almost pulled the upset, falling 6-7(7), 7-5, 6-2 against a clearly superior player on the dirt.


Coming Up ...

The pros take their turn at RG next. The big question is whether Mooljee's surge will continue, or can Caratti find his game in time? If he doesn't, his precipitous fall will continue.
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Old 10-25-2016, 01:55 PM   #534
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Way behind here. Timeline is actually past Wimbledon at this point, two Slams and other stuff to cover, and I even missed a couple of training sessions that I should done(slacker). But first things first.

2048 French Open

Shyam Senepathy had an unkind draw against no. 8 Theodore Bourdet, who had the crowd behind him here to top everything off. Didn't do too badly in the last couple of sets, winning a total of eight games. It was even more predictable than usual the first couple of days, with no seed coming close to losing in the first round. In Round Two, McCuskey got dismissed early, a rarity for him this year, against German Joseph Boller. Straight sets, no less. The match of the day was definitely the battle of the Johns. 32-year-old John Condon, on the one surface where he still is semi-relevant, rallied from two sets down but couldn't beat local favorite Johnathan Ardant in a five-setter. One of the Spanish specialists, Adergazoz Lugassy, knocked out Caminha, but everyone else kept moving on.

Then in the third round things started to get more interesting. Sava Cirakovic ended Gaskell's trip, although he usually exits at about this stage. Tristan Benitez knocked out Trulsen, who is still hanging around for some reason. And then Anil Mehul met up with Juan de los Santos in an excellent match. The improving Spaniard was a rare case where losing at this stage would not be a disaster for Mehul. In the end, he didn't serve quite well enough, going out 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5. It was his earliest exit here in nine years. There were other examples of clay specialists beating higher-ranked players who aren't, in not-really-upsets; Thiago Herrera over Bourdet, Rui Padilla in a five-set comeback win over Srbulovic, and the last one was a bit of a surprise to me -- Andre Herrera over Poilblan. So much for the high-ranked Frenchmen, who are pretty ineffective on clay making it hard for them to succeed here.

In the round of 16, Girish Girsh got his first challenge. He dropped the first set against Cirakovic, rallying to win in a tough four. Shreya Ujjaval gave Santos a match, but ultimately lost in three competitive sets as the Spaniard notched a second Sri Lankan here. Luc Janin showed up with possibly the biggest win of his career over T. Herrera, 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3. Agustin Herrera kept Peru going though with a very tight four-set match including three tiebreaks against Kinczllers, and the other favorites just kept chugging along easily.

The quarterfinals were a smattering. Mehul was the only Top-5 player who didn't make it this far, but the other half of the remaining field was 12th or lower in the rankings. The headliner was Girsh against Gustavo Caratti. This was not the same match from a couple weeks ago; Caratti was in good form here and lost just eight games. After three straight semifinal losses here, you can pretty much bank on Girsh never winning this event now. The big news is that the Argentine seems to have his game back though, which means it will be tough to stop him on this surface. Following that, the two lowest-ranking players met with de los Santos prevailing over Janin in four sets. We'll see more of them running into each other in the future I wager, esp. here. Prakash Mooljee kept on cruising along, dominating Agustin Herrera 6-1, 6-1, 6-3. Wow. Iglar got past Zakirov in four sets, a good tournament for both of them.

Three of the top five plus Santos remained. He had the toughest job, up against Caratti in the first semifinal. He won the second set to even the match, but then Gustavo really turned it on and left his younger opponent in the dust for a four-set win, 6-3, 3-6, 6-0, 6-2. Mooljee obliterated Antonin Iglar, setting up a most interesting final. This year's dominant player against the king of clay several years running. It looked like a classic ... but it wasn't. Gustavo Caratti rolled, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3. Just Mooljee's second loss of the year, and it pretty much settles things; Caratti still owns clay, when he, you know, actually decides to show up. He's won here four years straight now.
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Old 10-25-2016, 02:05 PM   #535
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June

Mooljee took the next three weeks off, having plenty of matches in to be ready for Wimbledon. The other three were in action the middle week though. First, there was Ritwik Dudwadkar at the junior Wimbly. He won a couple matches in each draw, then lost in the doubles quarters and the third round of singles to no. 2 Petr Duris, 6-2, 6-2. Not a bad showing. He's sort of treading water with these results at best, but that's not uncommon for slow-developing juniors players, it's pretty much happened with all of them. Girish Girsh was at the Halle 500, hoping to boost his points total to stave off Mooljee a while longer. After a couple of easy wins, he was knocked out in the semifinals by Zourab Andronikov in a heck of a match, 7-6(5), 6-7)(4), 7-6(6). Doesn't get much better than that in a best-of-three. Andronikov went on to lose a close one to Iglar in the final. Anil Mehul tried his luck at the larger Queens 500. He would not have an easy road. Spaniard Simon Davila gave him a tough match that Mehul was fortunate to come through in straight sets, and that was just the third round. Mehul saved all six break points in the quarterfinals to edge Garreth McCuskey 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-5, then was 5-for-5 in chances against his serve to again narrowly escape in the semis, another three-setter over Bourdet this time. Tiosav Srbulovic was the championship match opponent, and this one actually went fairly routinely. Mehul nabs his 7th 500-level title, even though he could easily have lost three times.
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Old 10-25-2016, 02:41 PM   #536
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2048 Wimbledon

Going in, this was the first time that it was theoretically possible, though unlikely, for Prakash Mooljee to seize the #1 ranking. He'd had to win the tournament outright, and Girsh would have to lose by the fourth round. Unlikely to be sure, but possible. At the other end of the spectrum, Senepathy lost to Caminha in a trio of 6-3 sets in the first round. Another slightly unfortunate matchup, with the predictable result. Elias Trulsen was stunned by Mexico's Andres Guardado in an entertaining five-set upset. The Swede has already tumbled several spots since RG and will tumble further, seemingly on his way out finally. The only other seed to lose their first match was the last one, South Africa's Mqabukonyongolo Nkomo. If he stays in the Top 32 for long, my keyboard may go on strike. Nkomo lost to China's Yoo-ngan Dun, 8-6 in the fifth. At least the match was good enough to make it worth the effort to type out their names.

In the second round, Xavier Caminha had a rougher match. He went five sets before prevailing, and one of them ended in the standard distance. 7-6(5), 7-6(3), 6-7(6), 4-6, 8-6 was the count over Perry Mockler, a blast from the past who seems to still show up and do something interesting once or twice a year. One thing about grass is that it often makes the matches closer, and there would be more epic encounters to come in this event. In fact, there was a truly ridiculous one on the same day, which is to date the longest match in terms of games played that I've seen. Roger Federer outlasted Srbulovic 19-17 in their 5th set. Apparently they were going for Isner-Mahut II but got bored of it. Another rough loss for the American who has had a tough year, and the veteran Swede, in his first Slam since dropping out of the Top 32, making a little magic. Andronikov was pushed to five but survived, while Benitez lost in four to Djurdje Moicevic. And then Yoo-ngan Dun was at it again ... 14-12 in the 5th of his second-round match, his second time surviving an epic in a row. And there were five more rounds to go. A whale of a start for this year's tournament.

So, round three. Federer again goes the distance and then some, 11-9 in the 5th over Andre Herrera. 446 total points there. I'm really not sure how, at nearly 32, he can even still stand up. Anil Mehul got his first challenge, a close match but he won in three over Andronikov. Blagota Cojanovic came through with a rare signature win, only 6-4 in the 5th against McCuskey. Most of the players were starting to get closer matches but the favorites still came through routinely. Luc Janin backed up his RG showing with a tough four-set win over Gaskell, and Cirakovic rallied after losing the first set to knock out Poilblan in four also. Ujjaval, Caratti, and others got challenged but made it through.

In the fourth round, an exhausted Federer went out meekly to Mugur Kinczllers. That was the only truly one-sided match of the day though. Girish Girsh needed five to survive over de los Santos ... it should have ended sooner, but he's a plucky fighter and found a way to win a couple of close sets. Anil Mehul and Blagota Cojanovic were the only duo to go the distance, and this was one Mehul will not soon forget. The final was 4-6, 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(7), 9-7, with the Croat advancing after twice trailing by a set. Mehul really dominated this match on the whole, similar number of points won overall but he had 61 as a returner to only 41 for Cojanovic. He was just 2 of 14 on break chances though, and in the last two sets couldn't come up with the goods at the end to close it out, often just a point or two away from doing so. No way he should have lost this, but he did. Cojanovic reaches the quarters for the second time this year(AO also), while Mehul loses in the fourth round of the event he won four straight times, second year in a row he's been upset early. Ujjaval kept moving on with a good four-set victory over Cirakovic, but the other big surprise was Antonin Iglar ... who was dumped deservedly in a competitive straight-set surprise by Theodore Bourdet. The last time the Czech legend didn't reach the second week of a Slam was at RG in 2040, over eight years ago. Perhaps the writing's on the wall a bit here.

Even with all that, five of the top eight made it to the quarterfinals. Cojanovic was the only real outlier, everyone else was in the top dozen. At this point though, it simply became an all-out war. This was I think the most competitive set of quarterfinal matches I've ever seen. Three of them went the distance, and the fourth could have. First up, Girsh Girsh against Kinczllers. It was tight early, but Girsh had this match by the throat after an epic second-set tiebreak with multiple match points either way went to him, giving him a 2-0 lead. The Italian came storming back though, for a truly epic 3-6, 6-7(13), 6-4, 7-6(5), 10-8 final. Two-time defending champion, Girsh could only stare in disbelief as he was eliminated in the quarterfinals for the third time in as many Slams this season. He actually won the most points(185-182), and it was a pretty short match in terms of points for a long 5-setter. He won the ace count as well, 33-26, and neither player had a lot of success returning. In the second half of the match though, he didn't have any, and that proved to be the difference. Could have gone either way, but Kinczllers more consistent pressure made him a deserving victor.

Next up was a matchup of two of Mooljee's generational rivals, lesser-known ones of course. Tomas Niklas had just enough to prevent a second straight upset by Cojanovic, he trailed early but ended up rallying for a 5-set win. No tiebreaks in this one though. 23 aces for the Croat were not quite enough. Then came an all-Sri Lanka matchup, with Ujjaval going up against Prakash Mooljee. Mooljee looked to be back in focus, and had not really been challenged up to this point. He won a close first-set tiebreak, but couldn't hold back Ujjaval after that. 6-7(6), 6-1, 7-5, 7-6(7) in another tight one, and definitely a surprise. Ujjaval was able to prevent Moojee from getting many chances at his serve(only 4 break points, saving 3), and his expertise on the grass was just enough to pull off the upset. The last match was Bourdet against Gustavo Caratti. The Frenchman won both of the match's tiebreaks, and pulled out a five-set win in what was basically a pick-em match. Caratti probably should have won, but he went 2 of 12 on break points to open the door, and Bourdet returns to the semifinals for the second year in a row.

Phew. What a tournament, and the semifinals promised something interesting. The Top 5 players were all eliminated at this stage, and nobody left had ever won a Slam championship. Somebody was about to have the biggest moment of their career. Which, naturally, esp. since this post is running so long, made this a great spot for a cliffhanger :P ...
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Old 10-25-2016, 02:50 PM   #537
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Wimbledon(Conclusion

The competitiveness continued in the first semifinal, matching Mugur Kinczllers against Tomas Niklas. Kinczllers, runner-up to Girsh last year, is the sentimental favorite here. Definitely the 29-year-olds best shot at a major title. He's been #5 in the world for a couple years now, just not quite as good as the top challengers, but the door is open here. This match went back and forth, and either man could have won it. The final was 4-6, 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4, with Niklas outlasting the veteran for his second-straight five-set win. Kinczllers was a little more consistent, but Tomas was a little better in the most important moments of the match, esp. at the end. Shreya Ujjaval carried the banner now for Sri Lanka, against Theodore Bourdet in the second match. This one went against the grain of the tournament, as Ujjaval cruised through and only set was close, 6-3, 7-6(6), 6-2. He moves on to this first final, while Bourdet is now 0-3 at the semfinal stage.

So it comes down to two players who are just coming into, but not quite at their prime. Tomas Niklas(CZE) against Shreya Ujjaval. We've had a long-standing rivalry with the Czechs, but it's more familiar for it to be Iglar vs. Mehul. If you told me a year ago this would be the Wimbledon final this season I would have laughed. This is the first meeting between these two, and with both a little tired I figured Ujjaval's facility with the grass would probably get him the win against the somewhat more skilled Niklas. Both players served well, and Ujjaval would not generate a single break point all day. His opponent didn't get many, and only converted one, but the tiebreaks went his way in a 7-6(6), 6-3, 7-6(6). Tomas Niklas, at 24 and a half, claims the 2048 Wimbledon title! What a year he is having. Last year he finished at #22 in the world, gradually improving, blah blah blah ... and now he's a Grand Slam champion. Amazing.
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Old 10-25-2016, 03:03 PM   #538
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Top Ten Rankings Update

1. Girish Girsh(SRI, 29) -- 11,920

Girsh is now at 93 weeks spent at #1, which gets him on the list at 10th all-time. He'll have to marshall his best play to have a chance of staying there much longer though, as it seems likely he'll be deposed during the summer US hardcourt swing.

2. Prakash Mooljee(SRI, 24) -- 10,295

After the blazing start to the year, Mooljee's been merely human starting with the RG final. He still should improve greatly on last year's performance at summer and fall events though -- if he plays reasonably well, nothing can stop him taking the final step and seizing the top ranking.

3. Antonin Iglar(CZE, 31) -- 8,730

The slow slide continues, but he's still very much better than most of the wanna-bes.

4. Gustavo Caratti(ARG, 28) -- 6,290

5. Anil Mehul(SRI, 32) -- 6,240

It's an interesting dance here with Caratti and Mehul, who keep trading that #4 spot back and forth. Given the amount of points the Argentine left behind during the clay season, that may keep happening for a while.

6. Tomas Niklas(CZE, 24) -- 5,890

The once-unthinkable appears to be a possibility on the horizon now; Iglar might be deposed as the top Czech player in the world. Niklas' emergence this year makes them a serious threat in the WTC as well ...

7. Mugur Kinczllers(ITA, 29) -- 5,000

Wimbledon was truly his best, and probably last, chance. He didn't miss it by much. Kinczllers might well have won it if he hadn't been spending so much time on doubles so soon ...

8. Shreya Ujjaval(SRI, 25) -- 3,945

He screwed a lot of things up this year, but the run to the Wimbledon final basically made up for all of them. Four Sri Lanka players in the top eight. That's really something.

9. Theodore Bourdet(FRA, 27) -- 3,890

10. Davide Poilblan(FRA, 28) -- 3,470

With the rise of younger players, one wonders how long the French duo can hang on here. There's nobody poised to break through right now -- Gaskell and Agustin Herrera, veterans, are the only ones close -- but that could change at any time.
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Old 10-25-2016, 03:18 PM   #539
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Sri Lanka Rankings Update

Girish Girsh -- 1st singles(unchanged). Enjoy it while it lasts. At 40-7, he's ten wins shy of this point last year and has already lost one more match than all of last season combined. A couple of his worst defeats have come in the Slams, complicating matters. He's still one of the top contenders, make no mistake -- just not the best anymore, and the rankings will soon reflect that.

Prakash Mooljee -- 5th to 2nd singles, 2418th to NR doubles. Mooljee's 46th match of the year was the RG final, and it was the first time all season that he was outplayed. It's happened twice in the past month. That's about as negatively as it can be looked at; he's still 49-3 and all but certain to be #1 by the end of the US Open. Well before his 25th birthday. The run Tomas Niklas is on certainly makes things interesting though; he's still the first and best of his generation, but Mooljee cannot rest on his laurels. It'll be interesting to see who shakes out as his top challengers in a year's time or so. For now, the assault on #1 continues. Per usual, he'll save himself along with the other top players for the Canada Masters next.

Anil Mehul -- 4th to 5th singles, 1045th to 1047th doubles. Mehul is still doing well enough to play doubles only very rarely. His main goal right now is trying to win the constant battle with Caratti for 4th, and being as consistent as he can. The Cojanovic loss at Wimbledon stings, but the run in Queens basically made up for it going in. At 37-9, he's still winning 80% of his matches which is an elite clip.

Shreya Ujjaval -- 12th to 8th singles, 216th doubles. Ujjaval has been overplaying badly all year, and staying too active in doubles for a player of his stature, which has been driving me nuts. Probably the best thing that happened to him was a first-round qualifying doubles loss at Wimbledon, allowing him to make that run which eliminated all the bad stuff earlier in the year basically. He stands at 35-10, and has won half of his 25 doubles matches. 70 matches total already. That's a lot.

Shyam Senepathy -- 61st to 67th singles. Still in a holding pattern really.

Ritwik Dudwadkar -- 14th to 19th juniors. It's been a moderately disappointing season, as he's missed a couple of breakthrough chances. At 24-8, 9-5 in the doubles, he's definitely run into more opposition going up against the top, more quickly-developing players. This is the point where I figure it makes sense to start toying with going into some amateur events, but Dudwadkar probably won't do that as he has an opportunity to try to gain a few juniors points and stay in the seeds for the big events. It's definitely worthwhile for him to try.

Manager Ranking -- 1st(unchanged), 48.2k to 48.5k points. For the first time in seven years, one of my players didn't win Wimbledon. That was the biggest factor in making things level off for me over the spring.
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Old 10-25-2016, 03:45 PM   #540
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Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-Wimbledon Edition

This is always one of my favorite times of the year, and it's particularly interesting this season; with the shakeup in the rankings, young players rising, there could be some interesting competition to see who makes the field. Three Slams, and three different champions, and #1 Girsh is not among them.

In

Prakash Mooljee -- 8355
Tomas Niklas -- 4975
Gustavo Caratti -- 4630*

Caratti's in by virtue of the RG title of course, ditto for Niklas and Wimbledon. I admit I did not expect Niklas, for all of his success this year, to be all the way up at second on the season. So far on the whole, it truly is Mooljee in one tier, and everyone else in a second ... three players within less than 400 points for the #2 spot at this stage. Fascinating.

Probable

Antonin Iglar -- 4610
Girish Girsh -- 4180
Anil Mehul -- 3540

I don't think the #1 player in the rankings has ever not been assured of a spot by this point in the season, but frankly Girsh isn't even close to being qualified yet. I have no doubt he'll get there, but there's still much work to do. More concerning is that he's currently fifth overall to this point. He'll move up from there I think, but he definitely needs a strong finish to the season. Meanwhile, Mehul's biggest concern really shouldn't be Caratti based on this: he's in real danger of not qualifying without a good second half.

Contenders

Mugur Kinczllers -- 3300
Shreya Ujjaval -- 3230
-----------------------------------------------------

Long Shots

Agustin Herrera -- 2790
Theodore Bourdet -- 2710
Juan de los Santos -- 2320
Khasan Zakirov -- 2240

Highlighting the poor year so far of the French players, Davide Poilblan isn't even in contention at this point. Ujjaval and Kinczllers have more points than the last couple of players usually have at this stage, meaning that most of the field hasn't been able to keep up with the more competitive top players. There's aren't nearly as many pretenders as usual. How strange is the year that Juan de los Santos is having? Well, he's the only guy I've ever seen on this list who still has challengers among his top results.

Going forward, this figures to be less compelling than I expected. It seems to be more the case that the top players have really separated themselves, lots of players basically out of it already with only 1500 points or so on the year. Bourdet is the only one with a real chance I think, if he can hang around and then make a late-season charge on the indoor courts.
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Old 10-28-2016, 04:41 PM   #541
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July

Another three-week break, and everyone got the first two off. The last week there were a couple of players active. Anil Mehul headed to the Washington 500 to get some matches in, but was knocked off by Jake Jolland in the quarterfinals, 6-3, 6-3. Not what I had in mind, though it was home crowd and all that. Mehul adds nothing to his point total here, remaining 5th.

Meanwhile, Ritwik Dudwadkar had only tier-2s or worse to choose from for a few weeks. Off to the Sarajevo JG2 he went, blasting through the field in both singles and doubles easily. Added a bit to his ranking though not much, up a spot from 19th back to 18th. That should get him through until the junior USO.

Coming Up ...

The year's biggest stretch with Canada-Cincinatti-USO-WTC QF. Mooljee aims to return to his early-season form, while Girsh wants to hold him off as long as possible. Also, will the surge of other young guns such as Niklas and Ujjaval continue? Soon we will find out.
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Old 10-30-2016, 07:01 AM   #542
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Canada Masters

Shyam Senepathy made it through qualifying this week, and then got a whole two games against Andronikov in the first round. The favorites did fine to start things off, but in the second round a whole bunch went tumbling. Agustin Herrera went out to Jolland, Browne pulled off another US upset against Theodore Bourdet, Hugo Jurco made it a clean sweep of the French players by eliminating Poilblan, and Kinczllers dropped his first match of the tournament against Cirakovic. Before the event even had a chance to heat up, there was already a fair bit of chaos.

Gustavo Caratti had a narrow escape himself, but it didn't get him far as he lost 7-5, 6-4 to Zourab Andronikov in his next match. Meanwhile, Jurco kept going with a stunning upset of Antonin Iglar in the third round as well. Shreya Ujjaval had his first test, but snuck past Cirakovic in a pair of tiebreaks.

Half of the top eight missed out on the quarterfinals overall, and three players remaining were ranked 14th or lower. To start things off, Girish Girsh found himself on the losing end of a great match against Tomas Niklas, 4-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(3). He was the better player by just a hair, but 3 of 15 on break points killed him, and the tiebreaks didn't go his way. Anil Mehul had no problems with Andronikov, ditto for Mooljee against Zakirov, and Ujjaval had a bad set but still beat Jurco fairly easily. If Girsh had managed to eke out his match, it would have been an all-Sri Lanka semifinal field -- that would have been a heck of a thing.

Mehul returned the favor against Niklas, winning a match he probably should have lost in a tight third-set tiebreak. The stunner though was in the second match, with Ujjaval blasting Prakash Mooljee, 6-1, 6-4! That one wasn't even close, and Mooljee should have won it ... starting to think something's really wrong with his game. Not that the semifinals are a bad result, but he's clearly a better player on hardcourt. Mehul easily took care of business in the final, 6-3, 6-3. With that, he made some history; by over a year, he's the oldest player to win a Masters at 32 and 20 weeks. Gorritepe's mark of 31 and 5 is easily eclipsed. I thought Anil Mehul was done stamping his name in the books but apparently that's not quite the case. It's his 9th Masters overall, and vaults him back into 4th with some margin now ahead of Caratti.

Cincinatti Masters

The US players figured to be a major factor here as well in the last tuneup before the USO. Senepathy qualified again ... and then lost to another qualifier, Muhammed Bedriddin of Germany. He won the first set, and then fell apart, 4-6, 6-0, 6-2. Sigh.

The early rounds were to significant degree a repeat of last week. Jake Jolland pulled another upset, with Davide Poilblan his victim, tumbling out early for the second straight week. Not a good year for him, though it was a tight match. Kinczllers and Agustin Herrera(against another American, McCuskey) narrowly survived. Hugo Jurco was at it again, getting past de los Santos in three, while Tomas Niklas dropped the first set to Browne but refused to be the latest victim and rallied for the win.

The third round had a lot of tough matches. First challenge for Girsh as he won a couple of tough breakers against Jolland to end his run. Shreya Ujjaval suffered a tough loss against Tiosav Srbulovic, 3-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(5), to the delight of the crowd here. Particularly stunning though was Luc Janin, who hadn't done much on his home court last week -- but won an epic struggle against Prakash Mooljee as the world no. 2 lost his second out of his last three matches and exits early, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(5). It's official, he's definitely in a slump now. Janin is of course a phenomenal young player, but he's not nearly at Mooljee's level yet if they both play to their abilities.

Six of the top eight reached the quarterfinals nonetheless, and some of them easily as the overall upsets were not as prevalent. Another tough one for Girsh, but he made it through against Mugur Kinczllers who also had a better run this week, 7-5 in the third. Tiosav Srbulovic got his second Sri Lankan pelt in as many rounds, and had to fight hard for this one as well, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 against Anil Mehul. Janin kept on rolling by knocking out Caratti, and once again Antonin Iglar left a bit early in a tight third-set loss against Niklas.

All of a sudden Girish Girsh was a pretty big favorite, and he easily took care of Srbulovic. The second match between Luc Janin and Tomas Niklas was an exciting one with both players still well on the younger side of their careers. The Canadian prodigy kept on going with a tough win,m 7-5 in the third. He'd only made the quarterfinals once in a Masters event before, and now he was in the final! Girsh dominated him 6-4, 6-1 to defend his title here from last season, but that doesn't diminish the achievement. It's Girsh's 14th Masters, just his second on the year but it keeps him at #1 for at least a few more weeks with Mooljee departing early. Srbulovic is up to 12th, Janin to 15th, and Niklas is just a hair behind Caratti for 5th as the youth surge continues.


Coming Up ...

The US Open is the last, best chance for those needing to make a splash, improve their chances of making the Tour Finals, etc. Girsh pretty much has to defend his title from last year to stay #1, and even if he does, Mooljee will still surpass him if he reaches the semifinals. Prakash's bigger problem is finding his game, which seems to have gradually been deserting him after the torrid start the last few months, and now is quite missing. The way these last couple of weeks have gone, a lot of players could go deep and make a significant move here.
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Old 11-01-2016, 06:19 PM   #543
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2048 US Open

A nice start for Shyam Senepathy, who got a rare Slam win -- the fifth of his career, though he's actually never lost in the first round of a hardcourt Slam. Interesting. Anyway, Srbulovic made sure he went no further. 31-year-old Marcello Herrera was the only seeded player, at 30th, to lose on the first day. Journeyman Evgeny Bezhin from the Ukraine got him 7-5 in the 5th. In the second round, the occasionally mentioned Andres Guardado of Mexico knocked out Padilla in a match that went the distance, Moicevic taught Gabriele Guareschi(25th, age 20) a thing or two in four sets, and most surprising of all, Cestmir Marcek -- ranked 175 coming in as a qualifier -- turned back the clock with an epic 5-set win over Andre Herrera. All of the Top 20 players kept on cruising through as you'd expect.

In the third, Girsh got his first bit of opposition, taking two out of three sets to tiebreaks against McCuskey. Shreya Ujjaval found himself down 2-1 against Caminha ... and then proceeded to serve up back-to-back bagels to finish it off. I'll never understand how Ujjaval can be up and down so much within a single match. Pierce Gaskell fell flat on his face with a 6-0, 6-2, 6-1 performance against Andronikov ... with the crowd behind him. Yeesh. Just two lower-seeds won, with Jake Jolland winning the match of the round over Thiago Herrera, 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3. He did it with his serve, 24-11 in the ace count.

So, going into the round of 16 the heavyweights were pretty much all still around and mostly looking good. Ujjaval sort of reversed his previous match, going up two sets and then needing to survive 6-4 in the 5th against Juan de los Santos. Girsh allowed just five games to Bourdet -- it's become painfully obvious that the French Revolution, tennis version, is over. Tomas Niklas had an impressive comeback against Tiosav Srbulovic, rallying from a 1-6, 3-6 deficit to take it in five, the last two by a 7-5 count. Would have been nice for him to show up earlier than an hour and a half into the match, but he got through it. Prakash Mooljee had a testy encounter as well, as he got some revenge on Janin, 6-4, 7-6(5), 7-6(2). Wasn't easy though. Jolland kept on racking up the upsets with a four-set win over Kinczllers, and then there was Anil Mehul. He fell behind two sets, came back, but ultimately couldn't overcome Khasan Zakirov. 6-3, 7-6(4), 5-7, 1-6, 6-4 was the final. Won the points count by a dozen, mostly due to the one dominant set in the fourth, but other than that it was a really close one. Three straight Slams now he's been out in the first week. That's a trend.

Elsewhere ...

The junior USO was going on at the same time. Ritwik Dudwadkar lost his first match in doubles, and had what I thought was a real opportunity in the third round of singles against familiar foe Jakob Heinen. I really think, by ratings, Dudwadkar should be a little better but he's lower in the rankings by quite a bit, and Heinen managed to take him again 6-2, 7-5. 1 of 9 on break points or it would have been closer. Sigh. Heinen would make the semifinals.

Second Week

So, back to the pro event. Six of the top eight in the quarters with Jolland the only real outlier. Girish Girsh played Ujjaval for the seventh time, and the first since he almost lost in Miami earlier this year. That's the only time he's dropped a set in six encounters. Make that seven, with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 shellacking here. Antonin Iglar was pushed by his countryman Niklas, but made sure the young fella knew it's not his time yet in a four-set win. Mooljee ended America's hopes by knocking out Jolland in straights, and Gustavo Caratti rallied from a set down twice in the closest match, eliminating the other long-shot, Zakirov. The pride of Uzbekistan is still getting better, and he's reached his first two Slam quarterfinals this year. Well done, Khasan.

Four of the top five in the semis, continuing the trend here of the experienced players saying, 'hold on just a minute there youngsters'. Girsh's 54th meeting with Iglar ended up being a classic. It started out with the Czech paving the way, but then fading. It all came down to that unique thing in US Open tennis; a fifth-set tiebreaker. Tied at 3-all, Girsh played a bad point and went down a minibreak. He couldn't get it back, and that was it. Iglar advances, winning 145 points to Girsh's 143. Literally a coin-flip kind of match. As for the second one, routine straight-sets win for Mooljee over Caratti, saving the only break point he faced.

Antonin Iglar was going for history, vying to be the oldest man to ever win a Slam in the final. Breaking that streak of losing eight of these in a row would be nice as well. On the other side, Mooljee had guaranteed himself the #1 ranking two matches ago. It was close for two sets, and Iglar took one from him for the first time all tournament. After that though, it was all Prakash; 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. It looks like he's starting to get his game back in shape. Second Slam title for him after the Australian earlier this year, and a fitting way to ascend to the top for the first time with his 60th win of the year.
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Old 11-01-2016, 06:43 PM   #544
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Top Ten Rankings Update

1. Prakash Mooljee(SRI, 24) -- 12,385

Mooljee's reached the top, and his grip should only strengthen over time.

2. Girish Girsh(SRI, 29) -- 9,820

Girsh was #1 for exactly 100 weeks, almost two full years. That's 9th all-time, one behind Fernando Gonzales in 8th. Not bad.

3. Antonin Iglar(CZE, 31) -- 7,800

You have to be really good to reach enough Slam finals to lose nine of them in a row. How's that for a back-handed compliment to one of the greatest ever?

4. Anil Mehul(SRI, 32) -- 6,870

Once in a while a little magic happens, but it's definitely getting less frequent.

5. Gustavo Caratti(ARG, 29) -- 6,390

6. Tomas Niklas(CZE, 24) -- 6,385

Niklas could still make the Top 4 by season's end ... he's not far at all away from it.

7. Shreya Ujjaval(SRI, 25) -- 4,500

7th in the world, and 4th in his own nation. That just seems weird.

8. Mugur Kinczllers(ITA, 29) -- 4,350

9. Theodore Bourdet(FRA, 27) -- 3,810

10. Davide Poilblan(FRA, 28) -- 3,460

Kinczllers and the French duet are clearly on their way out. Right now, Zakirov and Srbulovic have the best chance to break in, with Janin and Santos close behind.
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Old 11-01-2016, 06:56 PM   #545
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Sri Lanka Rankings Update

Prakash Mooljee -- 2nd to 1st singles. 60-5 on the year, and now it's legacy time for Mooljee. The goal at this point is to strengthen his lead, esp. since it's unlikely he'll be quite as dominant in the first half next year as he was this year. Along with that is just racking up whatever he can in terms of major titles. I expect him to have a stay measured in years, and outdo the achievements of Mehul and Girsh when all is said and done.

Girish Girsh -- 1st to 2nd singles. Girsh still has work to do if he wants to keep a decent margin on the rest of the field. His best time of the year is upcoming in the indoor season as well. Last year he won Shanghai, Paris, and the Tour Finals. The last two are still very doable for him.

Anil Mehul -- 5th to 4th singles, 1047th to 1234th doubles. Mehul's been doing too well to play doubles at all really, which is a good thing. He's still winning 80% of the time, which is pretty much the line at which a player is still elite and clearly a top 4-5 guy. It was nice for him to add another Masters, showing he can still bring it at the highest level once in a while.

Shreya Ujjaval -- 8th to 7th singles, 216th to 212th doubles. Ujjaval has backed off on some of the doubles but is still playing too often there. He's had a fine surge though after some rough going earlier in the year. This is his time to excel, as he's almost as his peak.

Shyam Senepathy -- 67th to 59th singles. Senepathy still doesn't know the meaning of the words 'week off', but he's been consistently in challenger finals or winning them outright the last couple of months. As a result, he's sitting at his career high ranking.

Ritwik Dudwadkar -- 19th to 23rd juniors. Dudwadkar strangely got a doubles invite just today from Guus Dircx, the dominant #1 in juniors. I don't know how often he'll be able to take advantage of it, but it's a fine opportunity. Otherwhise, he's not done as well as his predecessors in singles, and I'm a bit concerned here. Not much, as I think he'll still have a strong career, but he's definitely underachieved this season.

Manager Ranking -- 1st, 48.5k to 50.3k points. That's a nice plateau to break through.
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Old 11-01-2016, 07:16 PM   #546
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Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-USO Edition

In

Prakash Mooljee -- 11,055
Girish Girsh -- 6,220
Gustavo Caratti -- 6,120
Antonin Iglar -- 6,080
Tomas Niklas -- 6,055

Mooljee has already locked up the year-end #1. The real drama is what happens after him. The margin between second and fifth is paper-thin right now.

Probable

Anil Mehul -- 4990
Shreya Ujjaval -- 4125

Mehul is definitely capable of a strong indoor finish, and he'll need it to even stay in contact with the Top 5. His spot in the rankings looks to be a bit of a mirage right now, despite the success in Cincy. Ujjaval has done enough to make his spot look fairly safe at the moment.

Contenders

Mugur Kinczllers -- 3670
-------------------------------------

It seems the only real question is whether anyone can stop Kinczllers, a safe bet to make it easily the last few years, from sliding into the last spot.

Long Shots

Agustin Herrera -- 3115
Khasan Zakirov -- 3080
Theodore Bourdet -- 2930
Luc Janin -- 2760

I think Khasan Zakirov is definitely the player with the best shot, and probably the only guy with a realistic one. Less than 600 points behind at this point is definitely doable, as we saw with Mooljee last year. Shanghai in a month is his best chance; he's a solid indoor player, but nothing special there. It's impressive that Janin is even on this list, but he's just got too much ground to make up in all likelihood.


Coming Up ...

Back to the WTC with the quarterfinals against Croatia next week. With the top two players in the world, we have every expectation that we will keep winning.
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Old 11-03-2016, 03:43 PM   #547
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World Team Cup Quarterfinals
Sri Lanka(1st) vs. Croatia, Clay

Monday: P. Mooljee d. S. Cirakovic, 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-3
Tuesday: G. Girsh d. B. Cojanovic, 6-1, 6-1, 6-0
Wednesday: S. Kecic/R. Cordasic d. S. Ujjaval/H. Ganeshwaran, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2
Thursday: P. Mooljee d. B. Cojanovic, 6-1, 6-3, 6-1
Friday: G. Girsh d. S. Cirakovic, 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, 9-7

Sri Lanka defeats Croatia, 4-1!!

This was basically over on the first day, as Sava Cirakovic was by far the biggest threat. A good debut for Mooljee with a couple of straight-sets wins, and a nice comeback by Girsh in the epic finale, even with the matter already decide. All three of the other matchups were 3-2; France over the USA, Argentina over the Czech Republic, and Sweden over Italy. Can't remember the last time the US and Czechs were both out by this point.

Both semifinals will be on grass, which is quite unusual. We get the French, and it's a pretty favorable surface for them. Still, they aren't what they were a couple of years ago, and I don't expect any major problems. Should be another comfortable win.
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Old 11-04-2016, 06:36 PM   #548
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World Team Cup Semifinals
Sri Lanka vs. France, Grass

Monday: G. Girsh d. T. Bourdet, 6-7(1), 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4
Tuesday: P. Mooljee d. D. Poilblan, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-1
Wednesday: S. Ujjaval/H. Ganeshwaran d. G. Monfils/B. Doumer, 7-5, 6-2, 1-6, 4-6, 9-7
Thursday: P. Mooljee d. T. Bourdet, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3
Friday: G. Girsh d. D. Poilblan, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3

Sri Lanka defeats France, 5-0!!

I certainly didn't expect to get through this with no losses. Girsh was a drama queen once again, this time to start things off, and a surprising win in foiling a doubles comeback clinched it for us. Our final opponent will be Argentina, who didn't drop a set against Sweden. And this one could be trouble. It's a clay setup which will definitely favor them. The same situation that got us into trouble against Germany with Benda a few years back could well repeat itself. Gustavo Caratti will be heavily favored in his matches, and we'll be underdogs in doubles as well. We can handle Tristan Benitez easily enough I think but that would still get us only to two wins. Either doubles or Mooljee against Caratti needs to get us an upset for the win. With it being on clay, Argentina will be favored to end our run of nearly four years without a loss in the WTC. On any other surface, I think we'd win easily.

Coming Up ...

Mehul will be in action next week, and then everyone gets back at it for Shanghai the week after.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 11-07-2016 at 10:54 AM.
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Old 11-07-2016, 10:52 AM   #549
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During the week off, Anil Mehul was in action at the China Open(500). He lost to Blagota Cojanovic in the quarterfinals, his third exit at that stage of a 500-level event this year. In order to get enough matches in, he entered the doubles this week.

Shanghai Masters

Shyam Senepathy managed to qualify, and then was fed a pair of breadsticks in the first round of the main draw by McCuskey. Nothing really new there. All of the lower seeds advanced in a predictable first day. The next day, Janin dropped a set to Cirakovic before recovering for the win, but there were a couple of upsets at the bottom of the draw. Phillippe Besson knocked out Bourdet in the match of the round, 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-4; and Hugo Jurco shockingly dominated Srbulovic 6-2, 6-2 on the American's best surface. Gaskell also left early, an embarrassing loss to Finnish qualifier Kire Zopp, who would enter the Top 100 for the first time in his career as a result. Mehul won one qualifying match in doubles, but not the second one.

The third round had no more big surprises ... but several players came close. Mehul barely escaped Khasan Zakirov in a third-set tiebreak, Cojanovic pushed Shreya Ujjaval to a close third as well, and Niklas was given all he could handle by Luc Janin.

That left the quarterfinals with Jurco as the surprise entrant, along with the top seven players in the world. Prakash Mooljee had a solid straight-sets win over Caratti, Mehul surprised a bit by continuing on 6-3, 6-4 over Ujjaval, Girsh was pushed to a third but in full control most of his match against Tomas Niklas, and Antonin Iglar narrowly escaped his countryman Jurco, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-6(4). That would have been an enormous win, but just a hair short at the end.

Three out of four semifinalists were from Sri Lanka. A nice showing here in the final big hardcourt event. Mooljee crushed Anil Mehul, losing only four games in the first match, while Girsh lost his second straight to Iglar 6-3, 7-5. In the final, youth was served again with a fairly one-sided 6-4, 6-4 victory to Mooljee, snagging his 5th Masters of the season. With back-to-back titles here in the fall, I think we can put his brief slump in the summer behind him. He's back to playing like the best in the world, as indeed he is. Meanwhile, Mehul dropped to 6th, just behind Caratti and Niklas. It looks like those spots could fluctuate all the way to the end of the year ...
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Old 11-07-2016, 11:23 AM   #550
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-Shanghai Edition

In -- 4730 required to qualify

Prakash Mooljee -- 12,005
Antonin Iglar -- 7,040
Girish Girsh -- 6,580
Gustavo Caratti -- 6,520
Tomas Niklas -- 6,330
Anil Mehul -- 5,150
Shreya Ujjaval -- 4,805

If Iglar's winning ways against Girsh continue, he's likely to take the #2 spot back by year's end, though any one of four players could still easily grab that spot. Mehul has qualified and also Ujjaval for the first time now is just in, guaranteeing that half of the field will be Sri Lanka players. This may well never happen again. Mehul will need a big finish to avoid staying in 6th, and he's not at all assured of even being that high.


Probable

Mugur Kinczllers -- 3710

With the top seven being so far ahead of the rest of the field, Kinczllers is sort alone here as the probable last man in for one more go at it.


Contenders

none


Long Shots

Khasan Zakirov -- 3270
Agustin Herrera -- 3170
Theodore Bourdet -- 3140
Luc Janin -- 2950
Tiosav Srbulovic -- 2880
Juan de los Santos -- 2785

Zakirov or Bourdet making a big run in Paris is still possible, but no drama is really expected this year. While Niklas and Ujjaval made their move this year, most of the younger generation showed themselves to be in the 'not quite there' category. Next year, at least a couple more would be expected to take that next step.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 11-07-2016 at 11:24 AM.
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