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Old 11-10-2016, 02:45 AM   #551
Brian Swartz
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October

Anil Mehul was the busy man this time around. He was up first in the Kremlin Cup(250), bashing his way through to an easy win, with Caminha his finals opposition. The next week, all three of the top players were at it. Mooljee and Mehul played in the Swiss Indoors, with Girsh at Vienna. Both are 500-level events. Mehul suffered a disheartening quarterfinal loss to Federer, 2-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(3), one which he should have won but unfortunately left all of his best tennis behind in the first set. Mooljee won the Swiss title, with his toughest encounter a 7-5, 7-6(2) win over Tiosav Srbulovic in the semis. Girsh found success as well, though it wasn't easy. He was pushed to three sets by Zakirov in the semifinals, then needed a pair of tiebreaks to beat Bourdet in the title match. Still, definitely a good warm-up for both players.
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Old 11-10-2016, 03:02 AM   #552
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Paris Masters

In terms of the tour finals, Kinczllers came in with the last spot nearly wrapped up. Bourdet would need to reach the final no matter what to change that situation.

Shyam Senepathy made it through qualifying again, but lost to another qualifier meekly in the first round, a rather recurrent theme with him. There were a few second-round upsets right off the bat; Cirakovic over Zakirov was a pretty significant surprise, neither being a particularly strong indoor player though; Gaskell lost to Moicevic, and most importantly for the tour finals, the door was left open when Kinczllers lost to wild-card Johnathan Ardant, 3-6, 7-6(8), 6-4. This naturally thrilled the crowds here, and all that was left was to see what Bourdet would do.

The third round was a little more straightforward, with no big upsets although there were some close matches. Shreya Ujjaval was the only higher seed to lose, but a 6-4, 6-4 decision to Davide Poilblan is quite understandable on this surface and in front of his home-nation fans. Mooljee had a tight straight-sets win over Sava Cirakovic, Niklas had a three-set nailbiter against Luc Janin, and Bourdet was pushed to three by Srbulovic.

The French push ended too soon for them in the quarterfinals however, and in fairly routine fashion. Girish Girsh defeated Poilblan, Bourdet went out to Tomas Niklas, and that was that -- Kinczllers would be the final entrant in the tour finals. A competitive win for Mooljee over Anil Mehul was also no surprise ... but Iglar was stunned by Zourab Andronikov, 6-4, 6-4, to throw a bit of a wrench into things.

Prakash Mooljee was next up for the upstart Georgian, and it was a fantastic match culminating in an epic tiebreak. At the end, Andronikov prevailed 6-7(2), 6-3, 7-6(12) in one of those matches where both players had tons of opportunities. Combined break points were just 3 of 23 combined, and it could have gone either way. Girsh easily dispatched Niklas in the second match. The final was another close one, but he simply became the latest of the world's top indoor players to fail in a 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 win for Andronikov. A stunning victory for his first Masters, as he'd never made it past the semifinals of this level of tournament -- and never past the second round here in Paris! He's been eliminated for the WTF for some time now, but moves up to a career-high 10th in the world rankings with the victory. Quite the way to end the season for the 26-year-old.


Coming Up ...

A couple of weeks off, Dudwadkar will be playing next week but the others will rest up and get some hitting in ahead of the tour finals which are in Canada this season. Mehul still has an outside chance of moving up from his 6th position but the biggest question is who will finish second: it looks like Girsh has it now with Iglar's early exit in Paris but it's not fully decided yet.
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Old 11-14-2016, 07:00 PM   #553
Brian Swartz
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November

Ritwik Dudwadkar played a tier-1 in Merida, and it was a good doubles week for him as he won the title there. In singles, he almost pulled off a fantastic upset against second-ranked Matthew Panter(USA) in the quarterfinals. 2-6, 7-6(2), 7-5 was the final. That would have been a huge win, and Panter went on to be the champion this week.

Tour Finals Preview

A mix of experienced and not-so-much players. Antonin Iglar is contesting the Finals for the 10th time, while it's the 9th for Anil Mehul. It's pretty rarified air to get that high. It's the sixth go-round for Girish Girsh, and the fourth for both Mugur Kinczllers and Gustavo Caratti. Prakash Mooljee is playing for the second time, and the field also has first-timers Tomas Niklas and Shreya Ujjaval. Definitely one of the more diverse fields there has been in a while.
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Old 11-14-2016, 07:09 PM   #554
Brian Swartz
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World Tour Finals

The only competitive match on the first day was Tomas Niklas over Caratti; other than that the favorites all did pretty well. There were a couple of close ones on Tuesday though; Prakash Mooljee edged by Mehul 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(3), and Girish Girsh over Iglar in a weird one, 3-6, 6-0, 7-6(8). Everything was pretty decisive on Wednesday, with Mooljee & Mehul advancing from the first group, Girsh & Iglar from the second. No real surprises there, or with the fact that Kinczllers didn't take a single set. He's was the definitely the last man in ... just 10 points ahead of Bourdet ... and was not in good match shape either.

It was a real battle from there on in. In the first semifinal, Mooljee controlled the action well against Antonin Iglar, but was still pushed to three sets. A similar result in the second one saw Girsh defeat Anil Mehul, 7-6(3), 6-3. That left the final as a matchup of two Sri Lanka players, #1 and #2 in the world. Couldn't ask for much more. Given the surface, Girsh was favored to snap a two-match losing streak between the two of them. And he should have, out-acing Mooljee 15-10 overall, taking the first set, and putting more consistent pressure on his serve. The overall points were tight, and Prakash Mooljee was more consistent in the key moments for a 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(5) comeback win to claim his first WTF title. A rough defeat for Girsh to take; if he can't win here, there's really no hope for him to be more than a distant second.
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Old 11-14-2016, 07:24 PM   #555
Brian Swartz
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World Team Cup Finals
Sri Lanka(1st) vs. Argentina(3rd), Clay

Monday: P. Mooljee d. T. Benitez, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3
Tuesday: G. Caratti d. G. Girsh, 7-6(6), 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2
Wednesday: V. Yumashev/M. Benitez d. S. Ujjaval/H. Ganeshwaran, 6-2, 6-0, 6-1
Thursday: P. Moojee d. G. Caratti, 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 6-4, 6-3
Friday: G. Girsh d. T. Benitez, 7-6(4), 7-5, 6-2

Sri Lanka defeats Argentina, 3-2!!

Phew. That was the toughest tie we've had in years, as I expected. By winning our fourth straight WTC championship, we've tied the record set by Ireland decades ago. Nobody has ever won five.

As I expected, it came down to the Mooljee-Caratti matchup. The usually-dominant force of nature on clay was a little unprepared coming in, and his skills have noticeably eroded this year. Girsh almost beat him but Caratti was able to outlast him; Mooljee definitely had his moments of doubt, but finished well to hand us another title.

Coming Up ...

The WTC Playoffs as some move up, some move down, and we reach the end of another action-packed season.
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Old 11-15-2016, 03:03 PM   #556
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World Team Cup Playoffs(Level 1)

** Chile(22nd) vs. South Africa(7th) -- This is an interesting matchup, a repeat of a Level 2 SF which South Africa won 3-2 a couple months ago. Chile just promoted up to Level 2 this past year, so they're going for back-to-back promotions. South Africa was demoted two years ago in a close playoff, then lost an attempt to get back up last year, also a close one. History repeated itself here, with South Africa winning again 3-2. Mqabukonyongolo Nkomo(32nd), who makes my keyboard groan every time I have to type out his name, is the key difference here. He's recently surpassed Alex Beamer as the highest-ranking player ever from his nation, and his five-set win over Ronald Coca on day four was the biggest factor.

** China(37th) vs. Austria(30th) -- You may remember that last year China made the top level for the first time in their history, quite an achievement. They then lost 14 of 15 rubbers in our tough group, also not a surprise, so they are back here to defend their position. Austria, meanwhile, has not done well in the post-Hammerstein era. They narrowly stayed up at the top level against South Africa last year, but they're back again on the hot seat. China isn't great, but without Hammerstein, Austria could not produce a singles player in the Top 400. That's not going to cut it here, and they got crushed 5-0.

** Denmark(8th) vs. Serbia(16th) -- Denmark has been a ping-pong ball in recent years. They narrowly lost to Austria three years ago to drop down to Level 2, and have been back in the playoffs every year since trying to get back up. So far, it's been without success. Serbia is another Level 2 team that's been gradually improving. They didn't make it out of their group three years ago, lost in the quarterfinals two years ago, lost in a playoff where they were blanked by France last year ... is this the time for them to break through? The answer to that question was another one of the young-ish group moving up, Petko Ljaljevic(36th). He was by far the best player, getting two wins to pace Serbia to a 3-2 victory. A third straight promotion playoffs loss for Denmark, and they'll have to keep trying.

** Mexico(23rd) vs. Russia(12th) -- Mexico's been just barely hanging on in the top tier for a while now; this is their fourth playoff in the past five years. They've won all the others, despite never coming close to making it out of their group. It's pretty much Andres Guardado(38th) and nothing else for them. Russia has a strong history; this was their 13th straight year in Level 1, which puts them in pretty good company. It's been seven years since they've made it out of group play though, and there have been a couple of playoff appearances in there. On paper, Russia is probably the best nation of the eight in these playoffs; they are the only one to have two Top 100 players, which is usually about the cutoff for being good enough to be in the top tier. None of them are as good as Guardado though, and this was on clay rather than their preferred hardcourt. Add to that a quality Mexican doubles team, and they pulled the 3-2 'upset' here. For the first time in almost a decade and a half, Russia will not be part of the Level 1 field next season.

So it was an active week with South Africa and Serbia moving up, Austria and Russia moving down. Coming up, we'll get started with the end-of-year rankings and other similar things.
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Old 11-15-2016, 03:12 PM   #557
Brian Swartz
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World Team Cup Final Rankings

1. Sri Lanka -- 2628
2. United States -- 2349
3. Argentina -- 2290
4. Germany -- 2079
5. France -- 2071
6. Spain -- 1951
7. South Africa -- 1927
8. Denmark -- 1926
9. Sweden -- 1882
10. Italy -- 1869

We actually lost a bit from last year, but there's really nowhere to go but down at this point -- sustaining a strong lead at #1 is the best we can do. The US lost more but remains in second ahead of Argentina who moved up to a strong third. Germany and France are close together for the fourth spot, and after them it bunches up quite a bit.

2059 World Team Cup Preview

** Group 1 has Argentina(3rd), France(5th), Sweden(9th), and Mexico(23rd). I'd expect Mexico to struggle here once again, and the top two should have clear sailing.

** Group 2 has Sri Lanka(1st), Germany(4th), Spain(6th), and China(37th). More bad luck for the Chinese. Could be interesting between Germany and Spain for the second team to get out of this group. Overall, this is definitely the 'group of death' once again. Usually we're in Group 3, but in 2 this season for whatever reason.

** Group 3 features the United States(2nd), South Africa(7th), Italy(10th), and Peru(18th). Anybody could get that second spot really. Italy's top dogs of Kinczllers and Alberti are fading fast, as are the Herreras for Peru though they probably have enough left to prevail here.

** Group 4 is really weak by rankings: Czech Republic(11th), Croatia(14th), Serbia(16th), and Switzerland(21st). In reality though, it should be a lot tougher than that. With the emergence of Tomas Niklas, the Czechs can make a run again with the #3 and #4 players in the world. Croatia and Serbia are both improving but esp. the Croats with Cojanovic and Cirakovic both in the Top 20, leading them to the quarterfinals last year. They should be able to get back there.
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Old 11-15-2016, 05:31 PM   #558
Brian Swartz
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Top Ten Rankings

1. Prakash Mooljee(SRI, 24) -- 14,215

Mooljee did more than claim the top spot this season; he seized the sport by the throat. With a lead of well over 5k points and a game that is still improving, he looks set for a multi-year reign.

2. Girish Girsh(SRI, 29) -- 8,630

Girsh had another fine year, but he's been reduced to fighting for second place. Having 100 weeks at #1, 9th all-time, will probably be the best thing about his career when it's over.

3. Antonin Iglar(CZE, 32) -- 7,620

Iglar might not even be the best player in his own country anymore. He made three big finals, but didn't win anything larger than a 500. That probably won't change at this point, but most of the young guns still will find him more than their equal.

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

After a fine season capped by a Wimbledon title, expect Niklas to carry the banner for the Czechs now, and likely establish himself as Mooljee's top competition.

5. Gustavo Caratti(ARG, 29) -- 6,570

Caratti's days of running roughshod over the tour on clay appear over, and with them his status as a contender. One wonders if this is the year the 4-time defending Roland Garros champion gives way to someone else there ...

6. Anil Mehul(SRI, 32) -- 5,790

The long fall has finally arrived. The big question about next year Mehul is how many more players will surpass him.

7. Shreya Ujjaval(SRI, 26) -- 5,095

Four of the top seven players from the same country. I've never seen that before and probably will never see it again. Ujjaval is one of those guys who will probably peak around 4th or 5th -- this could well be his best year coming up now that he's established himself.

8. Mugur Kinczllers(ITA, 29) -- 3,540

Kinczllers has had a quality career, very similar to Gaskell only a few years younger as middling Top-10 player for a few seasons. He's gone all-in on working on his doubles game now though, so it does appear to be over.

9. Theodore Bourdet(FRA, 27) -- 3,450

The best of the French is clearly fading now.

10. Zourab Andronikov(GEO, 26) -- 3,365

Andronikov's stunning win in Paris to end his season earned him a spot here. He's not likely to go much further, but it's definitely a nice feather in the cap of a nation that never had a Top 20 player before he came along.

Four more improving players are within a few hundred points of breaking in; Zakirov, Santos, Janin, and Srbulovic. The older players will find themselves under increasing pressure the next couple of years as this shift continues.
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Old 11-15-2016, 05:48 PM   #559
Brian Swartz
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Generational Overview

Last year's oldest players are gone, the remnants of Bjorn Benda's run.

** The Old Guard(3) -- This group is half-gone as well. Antonin Iglar(3rd), Anil Mehul(6th), and Pierce Gaskell(17th) are all 32 and the only 30-somethings in the Top 32. Oh, how times have changed there.

** Generation Flash(8) -- Feeling their age a little bit now, these guys still have something to say before they are done. Girish Girsh(2nd), Gustavo Caratti(5th), Mugur Kinczllers(8th), Agustin Herrera(13th), Davide Poilblan(18th), Garreth McCuskey(19th), Xavier Caminha(27th), and Elias Trulsen(28th). None of them are near their peak ranking though. A few of them will fade away completely next season.

** Prime Mediocrity(7) -- This group never really had anybody that was that good, and they are pretty much at their best tennis right now, some just past and a fair number not quite there, but unlikely to get all that much better. I don't think there will ever be a Top 4 player from this group, amazingly enough. Shreya Ujjaval(7th), Theodore Bourdet(9th), Zourab Andronikov(10th), Khasan Zakirov(11th), Rui Padilla(23rd), Mqabukonyongolo Nkomo(30th), Tabia Al Zarifi(31st). Al Zarifi is worth mentioning as a rare Israeli player; he may threaten the national record of 20th, set by Dudi Salah over 30 years ago.

** Mooljee & Co.(10) -- Prakash Mooljee's dominant position merely headlines the new wave. He's #1 of course, followed by Tomas Niklas(4th), Juan de los Santos(12th), Tiosav Srbulovic(15th), Blagota Cojanovic(16th), Sava Cirakovic(20th), Johnny Browne(21st), Phillippe Besson(25th), Tristan Benitez(26th), and Petko Ljaljevic(32nd). That's a lot of players who are just going to get better for a couple more years. They definitely won't be tarred with the brush of mediocrity like those ahead of them.

** Janin's Wave(3) -- As has been mentioned, Canadian Luc Janin(14th) is spearheading a group of players who probably won't have the numbers of Mooljee's group, but some of them could reach even greater heights. Jake Jolland(24th) has already made his presence felt at times, and Italy's next great hope is Gabriele Guareschi(29th) is a year younger than Janin. More are coming, including another Italian ... their tradition definitely won't pass with Kinczllers.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 11-15-2016 at 05:49 PM.
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Old 11-16-2016, 05:12 PM   #560
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Sri Lanka Rankings Update

Prakash Mooljee -- 8th to 1st singles. An 84-6 overall mark is nearly as good as Girsh put up a year ago, and he's just getting started. 2 Slams, 5 Masters and the WTF. Mooljee has a chance to make a real name for himself in the history books if he can continue to perform at a high level and avoid prolonged slumps. Others like Janin are going to be come for him eventually, but for the next year of two he should basically be without peer.

Girish Girsh -- 1st to 2nd singles. Girsh fell a little further than he should have this season; his 73-13 record was his worst in the last four years. He should still be at least a Top 4 player, but is definitely in the ex-champ category now.

Anil Mehul -- 4th to 6th singles, 1041st to 2359th doubles. Mehul's goal this season will be to make the World Tour Finals for a 10th straight year. At the same age, Benda just narrowly missed. I expect him to slip below Ujjaval to 7th, but he's got to fall quite a bit for anyone else to catch him. Anil broke a seven-year streak of winning at least 80% of his matches. He's also reached the hard limit on serving ability, so until he switches over to doubles and trainer training, he will only be able to try and slow down the decline from the back of the court. He's already a little below world-class standard at 3.9 on his serve, and that'll continue to fall now. His 15th win this year will be the 1000th of his career, and he'll also probably break the $50 million mark in total winnings.

Shreya Ujjaval -- 12th to 7th singles, 106th to 107th doubles. Ujjaval had a tough start to the year but was very strong in the second half, making his first Tour Finals appearance. He should be a major threat at Wimbledon again, where he was a finalist this year, and will be looking to move up a couple more spots.

Shyam Senepathy -- 69th to 67th singles. Up and down, but more or less treading water. Senepathy still has a couple of years to improve, so probably he'll make the Top 50 at some point. Didn't win any events while playing mostly challengers over the last three months, mostly because he hasn't figured out yet that playing a tournament virtually every week isn't the way to go.

Ritwik Dudwadkar -- 8th to 19th juniors, unranked now as he turns pro. I was expecting something more in the 12-15 range. I also discovered that I'd gone too far in terms of getting his serving up first; I think it's a good idea up to a point to avoid double-faults, but I went too far with it. He's almost balanced out now. I'm going to be looking closely at his practice weeks to see if playing amateurs is what I want to do, or if I should skip some of that and go straight to futures. Either way, it's always exciting to have a player turn professional, and begin the long climb to the top. So far all of my players have become #1 in the world at some point, and I have no reason to expect Dudwadkar will be any different when it comes to that.

Manager Ranking -- 1st, 47.2k to 49.0k points. Broke 50k briefly a couple times, but it gets ever-harder to increase as I reach higher and higher.
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Old 11-16-2016, 06:55 PM   #561
Brian Swartz
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2049 Season Preview

1. Prakash Mooljee(95%, 8.73, +0.15)

Still getting significantly better every year, Mooljee is about as good as Girsh and Iglar were two years ago, when the former was in his prime. I think Prakash will exceed his peak, and he's got about two more years of modest improvement before he gets to his. It's hard to imagine anyone coming close to him in that timeframe. He's the best there is, and his biggest enemy is himself -- avoiding lapses and letdowns.

2. Girish Girsh(85%, 8.62, --)

This is a shocking number when you consider the fact that Girsh lost more than twice as many matches this year(13) as compared to the one before(6). He wasn't on nearly the same hot streak, and could bounce back somewhat this season. From a technical point of view, he's actually a little better on service and equal otherwhise to Mooljee, along with having somewhat stronger mentality. Athletically though he's barely above-average these days.

3. Antonin Iglar(77%, 8.42, -0.10)

Not as much as he declined last year, but Iglar has the same problem of a maxed-out serve that Mehul is dealing with, to go along with the fact that he's merely a good athlete now at 32. I think he's still a Top 4 player, but one wonders how much longer he wants to soldier on as his once-legendary game continues to erode.

4. Tomas Niklas(94%, 8.50, ??)

How surprising was Niklas' rise this year? Well, I didn't even calculate him as one of the key players twelve months ago. He's made me, and a lot of other players, look pretty foolish. An excellent athlete particularly in terms of court coverage, he's still got good-but-not great technique, but there are no big weaknesses. He checks every important box. A few months older than Mooljee, he'll never catch the world no. 1, but he could step up to #2 this year if Girsh doesn't rediscover his mojo.


5. Gustavo Caratti(86%, 8.30, -0.09)

Those who saw most of the clay-court season expect for RG, and the WTC Finals, could already guess that we'd see the first significant decline for the Argentine standard-bearer. There's nobody really waiting to take his spot as the king on that surface either; Mooljee will probably own it for a while.

6. Anil Mehul(78%, 8.31, -0.18)

I expect Mehul's shift to doubles to begin sometime around the end of this year; maybe a little earlier, maybe a little later.

7. Shreya Ujjaval(92%, 8.36, -0.01)

This is rather stunning given the leap he made at the end of the year. Ujjaval should still have been improving. Interesting that I wrote last year that '7th is probably a reasonable year-end target for him'. Rarely am I that on the nose . This year, probably it's 5th, as Caratti and Mehul slide by. More than that would surprise me.

8. Mugur Kinczllers(82%, 7.97, -0.18)

9. Theodore Bourdet(88%, 8.21, +0.06)

Unusual for a player of Bourdet's age to improve, but not unheard of. He's still got one of the world's best serves, but not enough of a baseline game to back it up.

10. Zourab Andronikov(90%, 8.29, +0.01)

Andronikov has long had a lot of power, but his service technique is on par with Bourdet's now; nobody can say theirs is better. That's a potent combination, as the field at Paris discovered. His deficiencies in terms of rally skill will keep him from rising to become a real contender though.

Interesting factoid: the average rating of the Top 10 to start this year is 8.37, even when you factor in the sinking ship that is Kinczllers. Last year it was 8.34. I'd expect it to tick upwards next year as well, as more of the 'dead weight' is removed. By that time, the youth movement, now well underway, should be nearly complete. It's time now to take a closer look at those pressing their way upwards ...

11. Khasan Zakirov(94%, 8.39, ??) -- The first time Mooljee played Uzbekistan's pride and joy, I was annoyed and disappointed at how competitive he was. Even a year ago, he was not noteworthy enough to include in this summary. He won't be ignored any longer. Zakirov is pretty weak from the back of the court, but he has a quality serve and is an excellent athlete. At this point, I expect to see him at the Tour Finals next year.

12. Juan de los Santos(96%, 8.24, ??) -- Another player I wasn't tracking a year ago, de los Santos is equal to Zakirov technically, but doesn't have as much power. He's the only clay specialist up and coming right now, but isn't extreme in that focus. He could still be a major factor on the dirt though, particularly if he keeps improving.

13. Agustin Herrera(87%, 8.11, -0.09) -- Which one of these things is not like the others .... Herrera is out of place here as a veteran, but is still just good enough to be a clay-court nuisance. The rest of the year, not so much. His power is increasingly not enough to overcome his lack of mobility.

14. Luc Janin(98%, 8.42, +0.16) -- Barely past his physical peak now, Janin is also a rare player who is striking approximately the right balance between serve and skill in his technical development. Both still have some ways to go, but he's clearly already better than much of the Top 10 and is another player I expect to see at the WTF next year. His athleticism is still elite even if beginning to fade, but aside from a few strange scheduling decisions every now and then, management is doing a fine job with him. He's still on course to potentially be the guy that eventually takes Mooljee's throne, and as such I'm keeping a sharp eye on this Canadian prodigy who is just about to turn 22.

15. Tiosav Srbulovic(96%, 8.24, +0.08) -- Srbulovic has improved more gradually than he should have, and ought to be better technically than he is by now. As a result, he's up only three spots from this time last season. He still should make the Top 10 eventually, but the bloom is starting to come off the rose, so to speak.

16. Blagota Cojanovic(95%, 8.26, ??) -- Cojanovic doesn't have the power of those ahead of him, but he makes up for that partially with a very strong mental game.

20. Sava Cirakovic(93%, 8.15, +0.15) -- Despite steady improvements, Cirakovic actually dropped a spot in the rankings this year, and is no further along in that regard than he was two years ago. He's only got average mobility, but an excellent serve should make up for that. He just never seems to be able to make a big run in any significant tournament, or put it all together consistently. I'm not sure at this point that he ever will, as a number of younger, better players have now surpassed him.

24. Jake Jolland(98%, 8.07, ??) -- Jolland is interesting because he's merely above-average as an athlete, whereas the young players in his generation have made their presence felt on the basis of being superior in that aspect. For Jake, it's been technique, particularly on the serve though he's reasonably well-trained from the back of the court for a 22-year-old as well.

29. Gabriele Guareschi(100%, 7.76, ??) -- Guareschi will probably be the next player to dominate on clay, though that's likely three years away or maybe even longer. Aside from his early achievements -- he's basically a year younger than Janin, and only four spots lower than Luc was a year ago -- what stands out about Guareschi is his remarkable talent for the sport. He picks up new tactics and concepts with remarkable ease, facilitating his rise.

42. Gillo Fangio(100%, 8.22, ??) -- Fangio is the yin to Guareschi's yang, so to speak, a hardcourt player, also from Italy, and just a week older. The two 21-year-olds could form a scary combination, including, not long from now, in the WTC. Of the two, Fangio looks set to be the scariest. He's just behind where Janin was last year. He's got a lot of power, but more notably is one of the mentally strongest players I've ever come across. Technique is of course still a work in progress, but I expect to see him in the Top 20 by year's end. In a few years, Fangio and Janin is likely to be a clash of the titans ... and mostly I'm just glad I don't have anyone directly in their path, age-wise. This is still 2+ years ahead of Dudwadkar. I'm not brown-nosing to Nevstar here either -- Fangio is a serious stud. I've got him as roughly 15th-best in world right this very minute.

There are three 20-year-olds right now between here and #55. I didn't rate them yet, though they'll probably earn that priviledge next year. Just mentioning it here to point out that there are more potentially strong players coming.

67. Shyam Senepathy(95%, 7.36, +0.47) -- A major boost, but that was after an inexplicable decline last year. Frankly I think his manager must have been saving up points to invest for whatever misguided reason. I kind of wonder when he did it, because it sure didn't help him gain any ground. Still a couple more years at least of progression to go. I'm still sticking with my prediction that elite challenger is his peak; Top 50, but not Top 32.

NR. Ritwik Dudwadkar(91%, 6.22, +1.15) -- I think 6.0 is basically 'ready for futures' territory, 7.0 for challengers. Roughly, based on what I remember from previous players and adjustments made to the calculation a while back. With players like Janin and Fangio a few years ahead, Dudwadkar definitely has his work cut out for him as he begins the task of pressing forward into the professional ranks. Actually improved more this year than last year, which is quite strange. Won't be long now until he reaches physical maturity, and things start to slow down for the first time.
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Old 11-19-2016, 04:17 PM   #562
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Swartz View Post
2049 Season Preview
42. Gillo Fangio(100%, 8.22, ??) -- Fangio is the yin to Guareschi's yang, so to speak, a hardcourt player, also from Italy, and just a week older. The two 21-year-olds could form a scary combination, including, not long from now, in the WTC. Of the two, Fangio looks set to be the scariest. He's just behind where Janin was last year. He's got a lot of power, but more notably is one of the mentally strongest players I've ever come across. Technique is of course still a work in progress, but I expect to see him in the Top 20 by year's end. In a few years, Fangio and Janin is likely to be a clash of the titans ... and mostly I'm just glad I don't have anyone directly in their path, age-wise. This is still 2+ years ahead of Dudwadkar. I'm not brown-nosing to Nevstar here either -- Fangio is a serious stud. I've got him as roughly 15th-best in world right this very minute.



I'm pretty happy with Fangio's development. Guareschi has higher Talent & Stamina, but Fangio's passed him in Skill & Service. However, 20 year Mateo Kaspar might have better prospects than either of them, and with a 96% aging factor, he's not quite in his athletic prime yet.

The absolute best advice I learned for development is to find a good doubles partner for junior players during their 18th year. The extra doubles matches in JGS & JGA events do wonders. The extra ranking points kept my players seeded in singles for big events, when he probably wasn't talented enough, and the extra matches raised his form enough to allow him to practice for more weeks, instead of entering minor tournaments in between the majors.

Great write up, as usual!
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Old 11-20-2016, 12:08 PM   #563
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Thanks! Interesting advice on the juniors thing, I may consider that for my next player.

I took a look at Mateo Kaspar out of curiosity. As of wk. 4 he's ranked 57th. A tad on the low side in terms of talent but fantastic endurance will definitely more than make up for that. Grades out at 7.92 right now. Definitely looks like another young player with massive potential. He has just recently maxed out athletically, and it'll be interesting to see how he's handled the next couple of years. I would definitely expect him to make the French forget about Bourdet & Poilblan rather quickly!


World Team Cup, Group 2, First Round
Sri Lanka(1st) vs. Germany(4th), Hardcourt

Monday: P. Mooljee d. J. Boller, 6-1, 6-0, 6-0
Tuesday: G. Girsh d. D. Moicevic, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3
Wednesday: H. Arendt/A. Olejarz d. S. Ujjaval/H. Ganeshwaran, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3
Thursday: P. Mooljee d. D. Moicevic, 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(5)
Friday: G. Girsh d. J. Boller, 6-2, 6-1, 6-1

Sri Lanka defeats Germany, 4-1!

Our typical win in singles, lose in doubles pattern gets the new year off to a proper start. Germany has a couple of fairly good improving but not-quite-there players as they adapt to life without Benda, and Boller has a bizarre set of surface abilities -- he's actually worst by far on hardcourt and posed no threat here, preferring clay. Whether they can get past Spain and advance, which interestingly will be on grass which isn't the favorite of either nation, remains to be seen.

We get the Spaniards next, indoors, and that should wrap up the group for us with China last as an afterthought.
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Old 11-20-2016, 12:11 PM   #564
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January

Dudwadkar is off for training the first few weeks of the year, but everybody else played in the first set of 250 events. Prakash Mooljee was the top seed at Brisbane, losing a set in the quarterfinals to Jurco and then having a tight final which he eventually won against Tomas Niklas, 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-3. The way the match went though, it really shouldn't have been quite that close. Either way, a good warm-up event to start off the year. In Chennai, Girish Girsh met up with Antonin Iglar in the final, and ultimately lost an epic match there. 6-4, 6-7(13), 7-6(6) was the scoreline, his third loss in the last four meetings with Iglar after having won six straight prior to that. It could have gone either way, but Iglar's serve(22-12 aces) was much more potent and just enough to make the difference. Anil Mehul entered at Qatar, losing a competitive semifinal to Tiosav Srbulovic. He was out there again to get more matches the next week at the Sydney event, but did no better; this time his semifinal conqueror was Andronikov. Interestingly, it was unseed Djurdje Moicevic who went on take the title.

Coming Up ...

The Australian Open gives us our first look at who is primed for a big year in 2049.

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Old 11-25-2016, 09:38 PM   #565
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I'm a little behind here, partly due to not feeling great and partly due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Some interesting things have happened though.

2049 Australian Open

Shyam Senepathy got himself soundly beat in the first round by 23rd-seed Jake Jolland. He's now 5-12 lifetime in Slams, and it's really a case where he needs a decent draw to advance; beating a seeded player is just not going to happen for him. The last seed, Thiago Herrera, lost in five to Guatemalan Tomas Arango, quite an interesting match with the first four sets decided by tiebreaks before Arango ran away with it. There were some other close ones, but in quite a surprise Mugur Kinczllers, seeded ninth, lost to Philip Carter(USA) in straight sets. Carter is a solid player and a dangerous floater, but that's quite a ways to fall for Kinczllers.

Davide Poilblan was pushed to four in his first match, then had to rally from a set down to win a tough five-setter in the second round. He moves on, but definitely isn't looking very sharp. There were only two additional seed casualties in the second round, both involving the young Italian players mentioned at the start of the year. 30th coming in, Gabriele Guareschi fell apart after dominating the second and third sets to lose to Jonathan Ardant of France who seems to make an annual appearance somewhere. Meanwhile, Gillo Fangio easily beat McCuskey in four to reach the third round for the first time.

The round of 32 went according to form for the most part, but there were still some entertaining matches. Juan de los Santos lost a pair of tiebreaks, then rallied to defeat Jolland 6-4 in each of the final three sets and avoid a mild upset. Fangio found life tougher against Iglar, who beat him in three though it was competitive. Andronikov was stopped short against Johnny Browne, leaving frustrated after a 7-6(5), 7-6(3), 7-6(6) scoreline. The American was the better player, but it certainly could well have gone on longer. Both of the top French players departed in straight sets, further evidence that their time of relevance appears to be definitively over. Carter kept moving with a mild upset over Nkomo of South Africa, a four-set match and an opportunity missed for the latter. The biggest surprise was Elias Trulsen knocking off 10th-ranked Zakirov, 7-6(3), 7-6(2), 6-7(7), 6-3. Apparently the 29-year-old Swede isn't ready to fade away just yet, though he came in ranked just 31st.

On to the fourth round, where Mooljee kept right on cruising, allowing just five games to de los Santos. Gustavo Caratti departed a bit early against Srbulovic, and Browne kept on moving with a win over Agustin Herrera. Unquestionably the match of this round featured Shreya Ujjaval and Luc Janin. The time will come, and probably quite soon, where it's a round or two further when these two meet. It's just their second encounter, and the last one was more than two years ago. Ujjaval got off to a fast start, going up two sets, but the Canadian rallied to force a 5th. Eventually the rally came up short, 7-5 in the final stanza. Janin ultimately won more points(159-157) but while both players had five breaks, he needed more than twice as many opportunities(17 to 8) to achieve them. Definitely a bitter pill to swallow as Luc almost pulled off a bigtime comeback ... and probably should have. It's still his best AO result as he's gone one round further each year, but this is one he'll definitely look back on with some regret.

Six of the top eight made it through to the quarterfinals, along with a pair of US players looking to make a breakthrough. Prakash Mooljee met his first opposition against one of them, Srbulovic, but pushed on after four sets. Iglar finished off Browne in three, and that was the end of that. Girish Girsh and Anil Mehul had their 26th career meeting and 5th in Slams, a match which demonstrated Mehul's determination. Twice he rallied from a set down, but ultimately he couldn't get over the top in a 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win for Girsh in and up-and-down affair. Ujjaval upset Tomas Niklas in straights to complete the last four.

Three Sri Lanka players in the semifinals. A strong showing to be sure. First up, Mooljee needed to continue his dominance of Antonin Iglar -- 8 straight wins coming in against just one loss in their first meeting. The Czech legend had other ideas. While Mooljee had the most consistent pressure when on return, Iglar was better when it mattered most and produced a stunning 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-4 upset to reach the final! In the second match, Girsh looked to extend his perfect record agains Ujjaval, and dominated the first set only to lose in four. Quite a pair of shocking results, with both Mooljee and Girsh losing matches they were strong favorites in. One must give credit to the opponents as well; the bottom line is that Iglar was suddenly favored to be champion here. He had a hiccup in the third set, but otherwhise it was reasonably smooth sailing to a four-set win over Shreya Ujjaval, who moves up to 5th with his second Slam final in the last three events(Wimbledon last year). I never thought he'd be quite that good. Meanwhile, Iglar has smashed the record for oldest Slam titlist at 32 years 9 weeks; Gorritepe did it at exactly 31 years of age, more than a year younger. It also breaks his string of nine straight Slam finals lost, and puts him at a total of 14 trophies, as well as moving him, albeit briefly, back up to #2. Very impressive.
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Old 11-25-2016, 09:45 PM   #566
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World Team Cup, Group 2, Second Round
Sri Lanka vs. Spain, Indoors

Monday: P. Mooljee d. R. Padilla, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3
Tuesday: G. Girsh d. J. de los Santos, 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(2)
Wednesday: E. Serrano/J. Fucile d. S. Ujjaval/H. Ganeshwaran, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(6)
Thursday: P. Mooljee d. J. de los Santos, 6-3, 6-1, 6-2
Friday: G. Girsh d. R. Padilla, 6-4, 6-1, 6-3

Sri Lanka defeats Spain, 4-1!!

Another routine win, and all that's left is to yawn our way past China in terms of group play. We've clinched the top spot, and Spain-Germany in the final round will determine who the second team is. Interestingly, we actually haven't done as well as any of the top teams from the other groups; Argentina, the Czech Republic, and the United States have all lost one rubber or, in the case of the Argentines, none! We'll deal with them at the end of the year though.


Elsewhere ...

Ritwik Dudwadkar played his first senior tournament, an amateur. Based on practice results I was leaning towards making it only one of them, but then he went and lost in the semifinals of singles. Perhaps he needs more time, though he won the doubles despite a number of close matches. Dudwadkar has now entered the rankings but is outside of the Top 2000. The first step of many for him up the ladder.


Coming Up ...

A few weeks off for everybody until just before Indian Wells in a month's time.
World Team Cup, Group 2, Second Round
Sri Lanka vs. Spain, Indoors

Monday: P. Mooljee d. R. Padilla, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3
Tuesday: G. Girsh d. J. de los Santos, 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(2)
Wednesday: E. Serrano/J. Fucile d. S. Ujjaval/H. Ganeshwaran, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(6)
Thursday: P. Mooljee d. J. de los Santos, 6-3, 6-1, 6-2
Friday: G. Girsh d. R. Padilla, 6-4, 6-1, 6-3

Sri Lanka defeats Spain, 4-1!!

Another routine win, and all that's left is to yawn our way past China in terms of group play. We've clinched the top spot, and Spain-Germany in the final round will determine who the second team is. Interestingly, we actually haven't done as well as any of the top teams from the other groups; Argentina, the Czech Republic, and the United States have all lost one rubber or, in the case of the Argentines, none! We'll deal with them at the end of the year though.


Elsewhere ...

Ritwik Dudwadkar played his first senior tournament, an amateur. Based on practice results I was leaning towards making it only one of them, but then he went and lost in the semifinals of singles. Perhaps he needs more time, though he won the doubles despite a number of close matches. Dudwadkar has now entered the rankings but is outside of the Top 2000. The first step of many for him up the ladder.


Coming Up ...

A few weeks off for everybody until just before Indian Wells in a month's time.
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Old 01-07-2017, 05:57 PM   #567
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Been about a month and a half since I updated this. I've been thinking about what I want to do here, and we've just reached the end of another year in the game. I think I'm going to do a synopsis each 'quarter', every few months of game time or about once every two weeks or a little less in real time. Seems to me that will strike a good balance between the old way of detailing every major tournament, and completely dropping off the map. I don't really want to do either of those.

So to start with ...

2049 World Team Cup

Our four-year reign of terror came to an end in the semifinals, where we were upset by the Czech Republic. With Girsh now 30 years old, we don't have two prime players anymore, and that made us a little vulnerable. We lost doubles, and Prakash Mooljee won both of his rubbers in straight sets. This surprised nobody. That meant that Girish Girsh just needed to take one of his. His first crack, against Antonin Iglar was your typical 'win more battles, but lose the war' kind of match. He had the upper hand more often than not, but was 2 of 8 in break points, and Iglar was 4 of 6, taking it in four sets.

That meant that it all came down to Girsh against Tomas Niklas, tied 2-2 going into the week-ending deciding rubber. This one was a war. Only the fourth set wasn't close, and it went the distance and then some. When all was said and done, Niklas had ended our reign with a 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 6-2, 9-7 classic. Over 400 points, 44 combined aces, and plenty of chances for both players. After a streak of almost five years covering 33 straight ties that we were successful in, we fail narrowly. Really should have gotten one of Girsh's matches, as close as they were, but he couldn't make it happen.

The Czech Republic went on to lose to Argentina, 3-2 on clay, in the final. Caratti actually only won one of his matches, but they got victories in doubles and from Tristan Benitez as well. Three of the week's encounters went the full five sets; it was a battle royale.

It's far from over for us though; we're still on top of the world rankings, but our lead has shrunk significantly.

2049 Final Nation Rankings

1. Sri Lanka -- 2584
2. Argentina -- 2461
3. United States -- 2411
4. Germany -- 2264
5. France -- 2116
6. Spain -- 1979
7. Russia -- 1936
8. Czech Republic -- 1920
9. Sweden -- 1874
10. The Netherlands -- 1836

In the long-term, we're looking pretty good to stay on top. Argentina bulled it's way to an exciting title, but with Gustavo Caratti 30 years old as well, his decline will leave them with only Benitez(19th) even vaguely approximating an elite player. They were also blessed with a lot of clay this year. The Czechs have Tomas Niklas of course, but Iglar is fading as well and Hugo Jurco(22nd) is good enough to keep them among the top nations, but isn't a top player yet. Also, they'd faded so far that they have a long ways to go to catch up. The USA has Johnny Browne -- more on his exploits in the rankings updates -- and Tiosav Srbulovic(12th). That might be the best pairing, but once Girsh is off the scene we'll still have Shreya Ujjaval to go with Mooljee. I still like our chances against anyone out there, all things being equal. We can be beaten as has been shown, but I'm not sold that it can be done consistently.

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Old 01-08-2017, 01:28 PM   #568
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2050 Rankings Update

1. Prakash Mooljee(SRI, 25) -- 12,970

The first half of the year didn't go particularly well for Mooljee. Early losses in Rome and Madrid, along with a QF exit at Roland Garros, had him pretty close to losing his top ranking. He found is game in time to prevent that from happening though; an Iglar-esque string of dominance from there on resulted in only one more loss, a surprisingly bad defeat to Jurco in his first Shanghai match. Wimbledon, the USO, Canada, Cincinatti, Paris, the World Tour Finals -- all titles he added to his resume. That left Prakash with an identical 84-6 record to last year, and a huge lead in the rankings once again.

2. Girish Girsh[(SRI, 30) -- 7,200

Girsh bounced around quite a bit as the 2-4 spots were, and still are, very competitive. For much of the year Iglar was here and Girsh 3rd or 4th, but he finished well. Added a pair of Masters to his trophy case, but semis only at the Australian and Roland Garros, embarassingly early exits after that. The failure in the WTC semis wasn't his brightest moment either. 64-17 was a big step down for him(73-13 a year ago). 30 is 30 though. It's time.

3. Tomas Niklas(CZE, 25) -- 7,020

Niklas couldn't repeat his Wimbledon success from a year ago, and was 69-22 on the season, a very similar mark. He had semifinals at Wimby, RG, and the Tour Finals, with six semis or finals in Masters competition. Pretty consistently close, but no big titles for Tomas. That kept him in close competition with the aging pair around him.

4. Antonin Iglar(CZE, 33) -- 6,930

33 and still a Top-4 player, #2 much of the year. That's just plain incredible. His win at the Australian Open was the only time he made it past a slam QF, suggesting a further decline. 2 Masters finals and three semis showed he can still be a threat though. At 71-23, he won more matches than anyone save Mooljee in singles and had the third-best winning pct. behind Girsh.

5. Gustavo Caratti(ARG, 30) -- 6,165

Caratti skipped three Masters, including Rome, or else he would have crashed the Top-4 party I think. Madrid and Roland Garros titles, along with the WTC, showed that he's not too old to be master of clay. Didn't make a final of any kind on any other surface, but with how close the rankings are right now, it was enough.

6. Shreya Ujjaval(SRI, 27) -- 6,125

A surprise winner in Rome and finalist in Australia, Ujjaval skipped Canada and did basically nothing substantial the second half of the year. There was an opportunity there for him, and still is with a trio of 30-somethings above, but clearly he wasn't quite ready to seize it.

7. Johnny Browne(USA, 24) -- 5,630

Browne is clearly the surprise player of the year for '49. He really arrived on the scene in the second half, making the Wimbledon final, semis at the USO, and quarters of the last four Masters events. Combining power with a quality serve, Johnny is clearly the new standard-bearer for the American players, and a legitimate threat now.

8. Khasan Zakirov(UZB, 26) -- 5,050

Another player joining the Top 10 for the first time, Zakirov emerged as a significant clay threat by making the final in Rome and Roland Garros. He didn't do all that much the rest of the year, but made the semis at Paris and quarters at Shanghai in a good finish, and got one match win in his WTF debut.

9. Blagota Cojanovic(CRO, 25) -- 3,695

Things drop off here after a very competitive first 8. Cojanovic didn't win anything larger than a 250, but was consistent enough to crack the first page.

10. Luc Janin(CAN, 22) -- 3,610

A fast start to the year had Janin in 8th after winning Monte Carlo. He didn't make the second week at any of the Slams though, and only twice in the Masters(including a Paris semi). Bit of a disappointing year for the phenom, but better days are probably still ahead.

11. Gillo Fangio(ITA, 22)

Final in Canada and semi at the USO were a couple of big late-season runs that propelled Fangio to the edge of the Top 10. Looks like he might be ready to start making his move.

12. Tiosav Srubovic(USA, 24)

Still hanging around, but Srbulovic didn't really make any progress this year.

13. Anil Mehul(SRI, 33)

Mehul sunk to a 50-21 mark this year, showing that his days of being among the singles elite have finally ended. He's switched over to focus on doubles and training now.

15. Juan de los Santos(ESP, 24)

Another guy who is just sort of hanging around in the teens right now.

18. Jake Jolland(USA, 23)

19. Tristan Benitez(ARG, 25)

Still getting better, but Benitez probably just had the highlight of his career in Argentia's world championship.

67. Shyam Senepathy(SRI, 25)

Continuing to tread water, and it's looking more and more like he's peaked.

510. Ritwik Dudwadkar(SRI, 19)

I tried to get him into futures right away instead of going amateur, but that didn't work out to well. Even after 'paying his dues', he's not been as successful as Mooljee was despite very similar technical progress. In five futures events, he won only twice and didn't make the final in the others. Girsh and Mooljee were both through the futures ranks by right about now; Dudwadkar is almost ready to move up to tier-2 events but he'll definitely need a few more tournaments at least before he's ready for challengers. Too early to panic, but there is some concern here. Ritwik could end up being an underachiever.

Manager Ranking

It would appear that I've finally reached my peak, dropping considerably from a high of 50.3k to 45.5k this year. Mostly that's because Mooljee is the only prime player I have right now. Mehul and Girsh aren't nearly the earners they were.

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Old 01-08-2017, 06:39 PM   #569
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2050 Season Preview

In which I take a look at the likely results in the new year, and update the overall ratings.

1. Prakash Mooljee(93%, 8.75, +0.02)

Mooljee has one more year of improvement to go, and should peak roughly late in this season. He should still continue his run at the top for a couple more years, though I expect the overall level of the competition to improve gradually.

2. Girish Girsh(82%, 8.49, -0.13)

This will be Girsh's last season; he'll be fired at year's end so I can bring in another young prospect and keep Mehul going on the trainer's path. I expect he'll drop, could be anywhere from 3rd to 8th depending on how things go. Definitely losing a couple steps each year.

3. Tomas Niklas(92%, 8.51, +0.01)

Niklas is still quite a good athlete, and has slowly increased his technical abilities. He looks poised to move into the role of distant #2 as Girsh and Iglar fade.

4. Antonin Iglar(75%, 8.33, -0.09)

The strong mental game is keeping Iglar relevant, but I think that probably ends this year. I thought he would fade more than he did in '49 though -- was definitely an overachieving season, and who knows how much he has left.

5. Gustavo Caratti(83%, 8.17, -0.13)

As usual, it all hinges on whether he can keep going on the dirt. Showing up for all the Masters would probably help also.

6. Shreya Ujjaval(89%, 8.39, +0.03)

The serve never got quite as good as it was needed to be, but Ujjaval is an above-average athlete with an elite baseline game. That'll keep him in the mix, and there's every reason to think he has a chance at crashing the Top 4 if he's smart about his schedule.

7. Johnny Browne(95%, 8.42, ??)

Once every year or so there's a guy I don't track who shows up in the Top 10 and makes me look foolish. This time it's Browne. His rally ability is completely inadequate, but he's got a good serve, excellent power, and off-the-charts mental ability in the clutch. Add to that the normal US advantadge in a partisan crowd at several tournaments, and he's not a guy to ignore. Merely by continuing to do what he's done so far he should be able to move up as the older players slide by, but definitely needs a lot of work from the baseline to be a contender. There's still some time for that to improve.

8. Khasan Zakirov(92%, 8.43, +0.04)

Zakirov is just about at his prime now. He's got one of the best serves in the world and is a very good athlete, but has the same problem as Browne to a lesser extent; baseline game isn't there. Both of them put too much work into doubles, hurting their progression some.

9. Blagota Cojanovic(93%, 8.28, +0.02)

Another guy coming into his best years. Quality serve, fast but not particularly strong. Good mental game, but once again the rally situations are fairly weak.

10. Luc Janin(97%, 8.57, +0.15)

One of our favorite prodigies, Janin unquestionably underachieved last year, esp. in the second half of the season. Hopefully he's ready to step forward in 2050, because he's better than anyone except for Mooljee. Time to start showing those kind of results on the court.

11. Gillo Fangio(99%, 8.50, +0.28)

Slashing his ranking from 42nd to almost Top 10 in a year is most impressive. His abilities showed a massive leap as well. They'll increase more slowly now that he's reached physical maturity, but I've still got him as 4th-best and soon to be third. This should be the year of Fangio and Janin casting aside the old guard. We'll see if that pans out.

12. Tiosav Srbulovic(94%, 8.35, +0.11)

Tiosav only moved up three spots last season. He's roughly where he should be though, and will eventually be a guy in the middle of the Top 10 or a bit lower. Not quite good enough yet to force his way upwards.

13. Anil Mehul(76%, 8.13, -0.18)

Now that Mehul's switched to focusing on doubles, his singles fortunes will continue to plummett. He's already made significant progress in training on that front, and as of right now projects as a 4.63 trainer. That's about 0.15 ahead of where Anil Manohar retired at. The easy part is getting the doubles ability trained up, at which point he'll have reached 'super-trainer' status at around 5.1, then improve at a snail's pace further from there. Seven years of this grinding work remain. He'll still play the big events as long as he's in the Top 32, but will enter in both singles and doubles. Sometime this year I expect him to join the national team as a doubles representative. The last phase of Mehul's playing career is now in full swing.

15. Juan de los Santos(94%, 8.26, +0.02)

Santos actually dropped a few spots this year. He's got a top-notch serve but is another guy without enough technique from the back, and compared to a few of the guys his age is not the best athlete. Needs good clay results to be successful, and aside from winning Barcelona not much of that happened for him.

18. Jake Jolland(93%, 8.20, +0.13)

Good progress on his technical skills this year for Jolland, up from 24th a year ago. I still don't think he's got the ability to quite be a Top 10 guy, but he's still working and improving.

24. Andres Guardado(95%, 8.01, ??)

Guardado is not a top talent, lacking the necessary footspeed and mental game. He's done pretty well technically though, esp. with a fantastic serve, and deserves a mention for that reason.

26. Phillippe Besson(94%, 8.23, ??)

Besson is another of those who has spent too much time early on working on doubles. However he's very strong and has no major weaknesses as a player. Should be a Top 15 player even a little better this season. Phillippe is unquestionably the top Swiss right now.

27. Lars Kroese(96%, 7.97, ??)

Kroese is a guy who hasn't translated his success from challengers to the bigger events, and with his average-at-best athleticism and not-there-yet technical skills, I'm not sure he will. For my money he's not as good as his ranking says.

31. Ruslan Strelkov(98%, 7.62, ??)

Strelkov is only 22 which is why he's included here, but another guy who could have trouble sticking in the Top 32.

33. Mateo Kaspar(99%, 8.41, +0.49)

I double-checked this calculation after I made it to be sure I was right. Kaspar is 21, up from 57th last year, and definitely looks ready to make his move. He's too good not to almost compared to some of those ahead. 7th overall in my calculations and will definitely improve on that this season. I don't know if he jumps all the way up to the Top 10, but Top 16 at a minimum I would think. The only thing you can pick on here is that his technical abilities aren't quite there yet ... but of course they're not, he's still at his physical peak! I think NevStar was right; Kaspar should be the best of the new breed, surpassing Janin and Fangio most likely. A year of two from now, that trio could make Mooljee very uncomfortable ...

40. Guus Dirckx(101%, 8.01, ??)

Dirckx is one of those occasional players who rose fast immediately after coming out of juniors. He's just 19, the only teenager higher than 95th! And also, FWIW, Mehul's doubles partner. Technique, particularly on the serve, is a joke for a Top-50 player ... but athleticism and mental abilities are elite across the board. Probably doesn't move up that much further this year, and endurance isn't very impressive, but to be this good this soon is incredible nonetheless.

A number of players who were once 'up-and-comers' have sort of settled into position and aren't mentioned here: Tristan Benitez(19th), Sava Cirakovic(21st), Hugo Jurco(22nd), etc. They're all at least 25, so not much more is expected. No reason to keep tabs anymore on Shyam Senepathy at this point either.

510. Ritwik Dudwadkar(98%, 7.13, +0.91)

Dudwadkar really should be seeing rapidly improving results at this point. Almost to his physical peak, his goal will be to move through the remaining futures levels as quickly as possible and try to start establishing himself in challengers by the end of the year. Senepathy, for example, doesn't grade all that much higher at 7.44 and has been a Top 100 staple for several years. Really looking to see Ritwik snap out of his funk and start playing like he can. He did win his last eventat the end of last season, so that's a good first step.
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Old 01-23-2017, 11:49 PM   #570
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It's a week or two later than I wanted, but the clay season is starting and so it's time for another update.

World Team Cup -- Group Play

Sri Lanka started out against the Czech Republic, who eliminated us last year to end our long streak in this competition. This time it was indoors, and we beat them easily 4-1. After skunking overmatched Serbia, we got a bit of a surpise as Italy put up more of a fight than either. Anil Mehul got his first WTC doubles action in many years as Ujjaval's partner, but it wasn't enough to prevent a competitive straight-sets loss. Gillo Fangio defeated Girsh for our second defeat, but we cruised through the last couple days behind Mooljee and the fact that Italy's #2 singles player, Vito Brandini(81st), was just not good enough to be competitive. So we're through as the Group 4 champions.

The quarterfinals set up with three of the four matchups on clay. That includes us, as we face off against third-ranked Argentina. Not real thrilled with that matchup. Caratti is still at the very least quite dangerous. I'd call it a toss-up overall, and a real chance for an even earlier exit. Hopefully we can avoid that.

Rankings Update

1. Prakash Mooljee(25, SRI) -- 14,890

Mooljee's tear continues unabated; he has now, in Iglar-esque fashion, lost just one match in the past 9-10 months. That'll end now on the clay, but he has the biggest lead over the rest of the field that I've ever seen. He's not totally dominating; some matches have close, with a few sets lost in the Australian Open and a narrow 7-5 third-set win over Jurco at Indian Wells that could easily have gone the other way. Prakash is enough better than the competition that it takes almost a perfect match for them to beat him on hardcourts though. An impeccable 29-0 this year, and counting.

2. Tomas Niklas(26, CZE) -- 7,225

A runner-up finish at the Miami Masters allowed Niklas to ascend to #2 for the first time, which will almost certainly be the highest he reaches. And yet he's got less than half of Mooljee's total. Incredible. A big lead is about 4000 points; this was just under 8000 at one point. However the other side of that coin is that things are the most competitive from 2nd through 15th or 20th that I've ever seen. Almost anyone in that range can beat anyone else on a given day, and while these rankings are a snapshot at this point in time they are very much in flux.

3. Girish Girsh(30, SRI) -- 6,930

After making the Australian Open final, Girsh hasn't done quite as well since. For the moment though, he's as good as anyone other than Mooljee.

4. Johnny Browne(24, USA) -- 5,730

Pretty impressive stuff for Browne who continues to rise. He was knocked out fairly early(4th round) at both Masters events though. Don't look for much from him on clay, but he could be a threat at Wimbledon.

5. Khasan Zhakirov(26, UZB) -- 5,730

Tied with Browne, Zakirov was off to a very consistent start before an early exit in Miami. He's typically at his best in the clay and grass part of the season though, so he could well have another push.

6. Gustavo Caratti(30, ARG) -- 4,830

Caratti is no longer relevant anywhere but on clay. That's partly due to not showing up; he hasn't played at all this year, and appears to have simply given up the sport. If so, that's good for our WTC chances, but bad for tennis.

7. Shreya Ujjaval(27, SRI) -- 4,710

Partly due to imperfect preparation, Ujjaval lost in the third round of all three big events so far. It's been a very disappointing year for him, and there isn't much time to turn it around at this point.

8. Antonin Iglar(33, CZE) -- 4,085

Iglar has had three seasons in which he lost fewer than the eight matches he's dropped already, plummeting him through the top ten. Looks like it's time now for him to fade away.

9. Blagota Cojanovic(24, CRO) -- 3,985

Hasn't done much since last year's run to the USO finals, but he'll be relevant until that comes around again.

10. Zourab Andronikov(28, GEO) -- 3,760

This is a bit of a surprise; I thought Andronikov had peaked. He reached the semis at Indian Wells though, moving him ahead of a couple of the others.

Gillo Fangio, Luc Janin, and Tiosav Srbulovic are close behind here. They seem stalled, while Mateo Kaspar reached the fourth round at the AO and won the Dubai 500 to reach 20th overall. He's coming ... perhaps now.

19. Anil Mehul -- The singles decline continues, but he's up to 195th in doubles and part of our WTC contingent again after making a doubles run to the Miami QF.

56. Shyam Senepathy -- Just happened to notice that despite a continued insane schedule, Senepathy has had two of his best challenger wins already this year, at Sao Paulo and Dallas. That has him up to a career-high.

269. Ritwik Dudwadkar -- An undefeated season in three tournaments, the last a tier-1 futures title, has nearly slashed Dudwadkar's ranking in half. He'll have to play probably three more of those before breaking into the Top 200 and moving up to the challengers, but it's clear he's one his way there. Better a little late than never.
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Old 02-06-2017, 09:25 AM   #571
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Rankings Update: Summer 2050

1. Prakash Mooljee(SRI, 26) -- 17,100

Mooljee is on a historical run right now. His only loss this year came to Gillo Fangio in one of the clay Masters, a match he should have won. He's had close calls to be sure, most notably in the Wimbledon final where he outlasted Niklas 4-6, 7-5, 6-7(7), 7-6(10), 6-3 in an epic where he shut down multiple championship points in the fourth set breaker. Prakash came through it though and has now won five straight Slams, which is better than Iglar ever accomplished -- Eric Gorritepe was the last to reach these heights. For the year, he's an astounding 53-1. Nobody has ever gone through a year with less than two losses, but it'll be tough for him to sustain this given that the Olympics and a packed schedule afterwards is upcoming. He's making his way onto the all-time leaderboards now, tied for 7th in Slam titles(7), tied for 10th in Masters(12), and 10th as well in weeks at #1(97). Mooljee has also surpassed Girsh for #2 on the list of Sri Lanka's legends.

2. Tomas Niklas(CZE, 26) -- 8,535

Niklas has been more consistent this year, and adopted the mantle of clear #2. If Mooljee ever returns to earth he may be able to close the gap some, but as it is he is still astronomically distant. He's 47-10, runner-up at Roland Garros, Wimbledon, and the Miami Masters.

3. Girish Girsh(SRI, 31) -- 6,220

At 36-14, Girsh has lost nearly as many matches as last year and is clearly feeling his age. Since making the AO final, he's had a SF in Madrid but not much else. Wouldn't surprise to see his slip to 4th and 5th by the time he retires at year's end.

4. Johnny Browne(USA, 24) -- 5,510

5. Khasan Zakirov(UZB, 27) -- 5,430

These two appear to have plateaued, staying bunched together as the 'best of the rest'. The field appears to be gradually catching them. Zakirov has become one of the most accomplished clay players in the world, but not good enough to win any of the big titles.

6. Gillo Fangio(ITA, 22) -- 4,600

Rarified air for one so young, but it's been expected for Fangio. His 37-14 mark is basically identical to Girsh's. The upset of Mooljee and subsequent run to the Rome final was the highlight of a pretty consistent showing so far.

7. Shreya Ujjaval(SRI, 27) -- 4,090

Ujjaval saved a bad start to the year by reaching the Wimbledon SF. He made the quarters in Rome but everywhere else has been an early loss, partly due to scheduling but he just hasn't played as well as expected. He's definitely starting to slip.

8. Luc Janin(CAN, 23) -- 3,995

Janin is next in a group of players tightly packed together. It's been a mixed bag, but victory in Rome and a SF in Miami have been enough to get him back in the Top 10. He's still improving, but Luc's chances at reaching #1 aren't looking good unless his consistency improves soon.

9. Juan de los Santos(ESP, 24) -- 3,865

Spain's latest hope hasn't done much in most of the big events, but he did pull off an unexpected victory in Monte Carlo. That was followed up by winning the Barcelona 500 and a solid QF showing at Roland Garros. The best part of his year is now over, and I don't expect much from him in the second half.

10. Jake Jolland(USA, 24) -- 3,850

Jolland continues to surprise; I never expected to see him this high up. Consistency has been the watchword for Jake; he has 46 wins already with a QF showing at Wimbledon and at least that well in four of the Masters events.

11. Antonin Iglar(CZE, 33) -- 3,395

Iglar has finally crashed. He hung around for a long time, but the sun has set on one of tennis' great champions.

17. Mateo Kaspar(FRA, 21) -- 2,515

Kaspar has moved up a bit but we haven't heard a ton from him. The young French phenom has an extreme hardcourt focus though, so I expect him to finish very well.

18. Anil Mehul(SRI, 34) -- The gradual slide continues, and I've had to be careful with his schedule: he's still winning too many singles matches to play doubles all the time. Despite missing some events in the latter, he's up to 118th there and in terms of training more than halfway done with the doubles work. The national record for doubles is held by Ujjaval at 46th; Mehul reached 77th himself many years ago. At some point next year those marks will likely fall, but I'm not sure how high he will be able to reach.

51. Shyam Senepathy(SRI, 26) -- Senepathy is nearing his peak but also, it appears, about to make me into a liar. I've long expressed skepticism about him reaching the Top 50, but it looks like I'm about to be proven incorrect.

215. Ritwik Dudwadkar(SRI, 20) -- Dudwadkar is a perfect 25-0 on the season and has another futures event or two left before he makes the jump to challengers. He'll likely play his first Slam event at the USO, and is doing better in doubles also(13-3, 669th). I expect him to get in a couple of tournaments at the next tier before the end of the season.

Quite the shake-up in the Top 10, where there are now four of the Top 8 who are 24 or younger. Mooljee probably dominates for another year at least, but after that things could get quite interesting at the top. Dudwadkar will be trying to break in while that group is in command, and that will not be easy.
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Old 02-06-2017, 03:10 PM   #572
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Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-Wimbledon Edition

In

Prakash Mooljee -- 10,260
Tomas Niklas -- 6,575

I don't think I've ever seen a year where both #1 and #2 were already locked up at this point. All three of Niklas' Slam losses this year were to Mooljee, and all of them went at least four sets. Everyone else is playing for the scraps they leave behind, hoping they don't run into these two until deep into the draw.


Probable

Khasan Zakirov -- 4120
Girish Girsh -- 3090
Luc Janin -- 3025
Juan de los Santos -- 2985

Zakirov should be able to add a bit here and there to complement his clay results. The others have more work to do, and are not that far ahead of the rest of the field ...


Contenders

Jake Jolland -- 2735
Gillo Fangio -- 2640
--------------------------
Johnny Browne -- 2600
Shreya Ujjaval -- 2505

At this point it is anyone's guess who makes it in. I'd take Fangio and Browne from this quartet, but others could move down into this group, or up into it. A highly competitive, dramatic finish would seem to be very likely here, though it's always too early to tell with this many events left to play.


Long-Shots

Zourab Andronikov -- 2355
Tiosav Srbulovic -- 2290
Tristan Benitez -- 2195
Hugo Jurco -- 2010
Mateo Kaspar -- 1775
Blagota Cojanovic -- 1725

The top few players have a real chance to make a run at qualifying, needing only one good week to move up to contender status. Kaspar is still transitioning, having several challenger events still in his record of results, and if he plays as well as he can in the fall things could get interesting for him as well. Definitely the odds are against it this year however. Not listed here is Martin Zarco(ESP), who made the Barcelona final and semis at RG. He's still got mostly challengers and is ranked 20th, but is a clay specialist who probably won't be heard too much from the rest of the year. Definitely a name to watch for the future though.
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Old 02-14-2017, 04:49 PM   #573
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Rankings Update: Autumn 2050

1. Prakash Mooljee(SRI, 26) -- 15,810

The gauntlet started out well for Mooljee as he swept to victory at the Olympics, his first medal there and our second title in a row(in '46 Girsh won). It was the 16th different champion in as many tennis Olympiads, and history will almost certainly repeat itself as he'll be 30 next time. Canada went well also, but in the Cincinatti final Niklas edged past him 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 in a tight match. Both players were quite tired but Prakash even more so. The US Open ended earlier, with Johnny Browne rallying to take a five-set quarterfinal in front of his home fans. After losing just twice in over a calendar year, he drops two in successive events. Fatigue is the biggest issue here and I knew it'd be tough to run the table ... he's still a dominant #1 and likely to remain so. Mooljee is tied for 7th in Slam victories(7), T-9th in Masters shields(13), and 8th in time spent at the top ranking(105 weeks, just over two years now). In that last category he is now the Sri Lanka record-holder.

2. Tomas Niklas(CZE, 26) -- 9,865

Niklas continues to emerge as the clear top challenger, though he ran into trouble early on at the USO falling in the third round. No question that he is still well clear of the other players though.

3. Girish Girsh(SRI, 31) -- 6,705

Girsh put some distance between himself and the others by reaching the USO semifinals after early exits in Canada and Cincinatti. A fine run, featuring a win over Iglar, in his last Slam under my management.

4. Johnny Browne(USA, 25) -- 6,200

Browne is the big story of the past few months after pulling off an incredible, astonishing feat at the USO. The home crowd helped, to be sure, but Johnny took home his first Slam title in a made-for-TV story. In the quarters(Mooljee), semis(Girsh), and finals(Fangio), he lost the first two sets before rallying to take each match in five. He should have lost all of them, but he simply refused to be defeated. Technique from the back still needs work, but he's still probably over a year away from his best tennis and has good athleticism and an elite serve. At least during the US swing, he's going to be a threat for a while.

5. Khasan Zakirov(UZB, 27) -- 5,830

Zakirov took the bronze at the Olympics in Switzerland, followed by three straight quarterfinal exits. Solid but unspectacular as we've come to expect from him when not on his favored clay.

6. Gillo Fangio(ITA, 22) -- 4,600

For the second year in a row the US Open was Fangio's finest event. His first Slam final ended in disappointment, but he's played like the third-best player in the world this year and is definitely continuing to move up.

7. Juan de los Santos(ESP, 25) -- 4,405

Santos really surprised me the last few months, mostly with a SF run in Cincinatti. He has shown better results than expected from a clay-court specialist, and right now I'm projecting the next year to be the best of his career.

8. Luc Janin(CAN, 23) -- 4,040

Janin has been in a moderate slump for most of the last year and a half now. This should be his time, but he's not taking advantage the way he's capable of. He should be frankly competing with Niklas for the #2 spot. QF or earlier exits everywhere, 4th round at the USO where he lost in four to rising American Ariel Borja. Not a terrible loss on it's own, but it seems like there's always a reason for him not to break through even when going against players he should beat most of the time. Still probably almost two years away from his prime, but Luc is definitely underachieving right now.

9. Shreya Ujjaval(SRI, 27) -- 3,905

A yo-yo season for Ujjaval continues. A straight-sets win over Fangio to reach the Canada quarterfinals was his only standout moment of the past months.

10. Tiosav Srbulovic(USA, 24) -- 3,605

Srbulovic was the suprising silver medalist, then went deep at both Masters only to suffer a stunning straight-sets lost to Moicevic in the third round of the US Open. He's down a bit from his peak but still up a couple spots from last year.

11. Mateo Kaspar(FRA, 21) -- 3,345

He's coming .... Kaspar won the Washington 500 in lieu of participating at the Olympics, then was mostly 'meh' elsewhere aside from a SF run in Canada where he pushed Niklas to a decisive third set. Not quite the impact I expected him to have here, but he's still moving up and is probably in the Top 10 at year's end. At 21.

13. Kire Zopp(FIN, 25)

Unquestionably Zopp is the front-runner for this year's most improved. He exited stage right at the first hurdle in the Olympics, then was a quarterfinalist in Canada and semifinalist at both Cincy and Flushing Meadows. He decisively knocked out three straight higher-ranking players at the USO: Niklas, Cojanovic, and Santos(2nd, 12th, and 6th by the seedings). Finland's favored son in terms of tennis, Kire has outstanding power and serve though his rally ability and footspeed are ... lacking. On hardcourts though he's shown consistently proficiency obviously, and is another guy who will definitely be a factor for the next couple of years. I totally did not see him coming.

16. Martin Zarco(ESP, 21)

Worth a mention as he was 45th at the start of the year but continues to progess well.

21. Anil Mehul(SRI, 34)

Seems to pretty have settled around the 20 or so range. I expect his decline at this point will slow quite a bit -- still has enough to be an obstacle. 120th in doubles, continuing a slow ascent there as he was only able to play recent at the Olympics ... where he combined with Ujjaval to win the bronze! Unfortunately no points are awarded in the Olympic doubles.

24. Guus Dirckx(NLD, 20)

Somebody forgot to tell him he's too young. Right now it's all small events and his big showing in Rome earlier in the year ... he's not performed consistently at all on the big stage so he gets the pretender label until he shows otherwhise.

26. Ruslan Strelkov(RUS, 22)

Makes the rundown not because he's done anything particularly exciting, but because he's another young guy continuing to improve and make his mark.

31. Ariel Borja(USA, 21)

Seems the Americans have no end of talented young players. Borja was a qualifier at the big events earlier in the year, and made a run to the USO quarterfinals to book his place in the outer circle of tennis's elite.

51. Shyam Senepathy(SRI, 26)

Senepathy never met a tournament he was too tired to enter, and has repeatedly been one match away from reaching the Top 50. He's still not there.

173. Ritwik Dudwadkar(SRI, 20)

Dudwadkar made it four players at the USO as he made his Slam debut. He easily made his way through qualifying and lost in the second round to Sigmund Kronecker(#36, DEU). A very credible showing, and one that earned him 70 points, more than twice his best futures wins. Ritwik is now a challenger-level player, and he's in Brazil right now at his first event. Scheduling for challengers is always the most flexible, dynamic, and challenging period given how things change from week to week. With seven events, it created an opening for him to get a decent draw. He'll take several weeks off after that before heading into the mandatory big finish for challenger players in a couple of months. There are only a third of the players left above Dudwadkar that he was looking up at when the year began, and the USO loss was his first in singles of the season. Time to start making his mark on the sport, whatever that may be ...
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Old 02-14-2017, 05:11 PM   #574
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Join Date: May 2006
Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-USO Edition

In

Prakash Mooljee -- 13,050
Tomas Niklas -- 8,400
Johnny Browne -- 5,030

Browne's US Open title makes him the third player to join this year's field.


Probable

Khasan Zakirov -- 5000
Girish Girsh -- 4115
Gillo Fangio -- 4110
Juan de los Santos -- 3955

Girsh still looks to tumble some at the end of the year, unless he somehow defends last year's Shanghai crown. From the #3 spot on there are a lot of things that could happen yet; it's all about finishing strong. Girsh is still an excellent indoor player, so he could go out well at Paris and the WTF. On the other hand, if he'd lost early at the USO he's be on the edge of not qualifying right now.


Contenders

Luc Janin -- 3610
-------------------------
Tiosav Srbulovic -- 3425

As it stands, we've got a two-man competition with neither player have made the Tour Finals before. Even with his slump, my money's on Janin here. He's too good not to make it ... right?


Long Shots

Jake Jolland -- 3005
Shreya Ujjaval -- 2935
Kire Zopp -- 2835
Mateo Kaspar -- 2825
Tristan Benitez -- 2750
Zourab Andronikov -- 2625

Zopp and Kaspar are definitely worth watching here. Kire has been on a tear as mentioned, and Mateo's just frankly got the talent for the one deep run it'll take to get in the hunt. Shanghai should be very interesting as both of them will need to strike there to have a realistic shot at crashing the party.
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Old 02-19-2017, 02:05 PM   #575
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September/October

World Team Cup

For some reason clay seems to be a favored surface this year -- both semis, the finals, and half the quarters are all on the dirt. We beat the Argentianians first 4-1, with Caratti out of the picture it wasn't too much trouble. Then came Croatia, who waited until the last day to even win a set in a 5-0 skunking. That puts us in the final, where we expected to meet the US. They were knocked out 3-2 in a comeback win by Spain though, who are probably the best clay-court nation again with two rising players, Juan de los Santos(7th) and Martin Zarco(16th). They'll be the obstacle to regaining our crown, and I can see that going either way; we've got better players, but not nearly as skilled as theirs on clay.

Shanghai

Neither Kaspar or Zopp made the big splash they needed to here. Mateo Kaspar was close though, losing a tight match to Mooljee he probably should have won, once again in the round of 16. Prakash moved on to the final, where his serve deserted him repeatedly. He had a chance to serve the match out at the end, but couldn't do it and lost to Gillo Fangio, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6(4). This has the feeling of a watershed moment. It's the third straight event where Mooljee has failed to take the title, and the younger players are getting tougher and tougher for him to beat. He's still improving a bit, but they are improving more quickly. Fangio in particular has just been on a tear. Mooljee is probably still the best player in the world, but not for much longer and not by nearly the margin he has been. The days of him going into each tournament expecting to win may well be over. Girsh had a good run to reach the semis, but still dropped to 4th after being the champ here last season.

As for Ritwik Dudwadkar, his practice sessions have been better lately. His ranking appears to have nearly caught up to his playing level: he's at about 160th and is playing at a plane somewhere in the 100-150 range. He lost to Colombian Ruben Piazzola in the Belo Horizonte final after beating top-seeded Bonamoni easily in the semis. A pretty good start to his challenger career, and he'll have probably three more events to play at the end to boost him closer to the Top 100.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 02-19-2017 at 02:05 PM.
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Old 02-19-2017, 02:33 PM   #576
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Join Date: May 2006
Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-Shanghai Edition

In -- cut line is at 4486

Prakash Mooljee -- 14,150
Tomas Niklas -- 8,805
Johnny Browne -- 5,600
Gillo Fangio -- 5,160
Khasan Zakirov -- 5,100
Girish Girsh -- 4,575

Fangio, Zakirov, and Girsh make it six in now. Girsh can still reach as high as 3rd or 4th with a strong finish at Paris and the Tour Finals, which are in Lithuania this year benefitting nobody. It seems clear he'd drop from that position early next season anyway though.


Probable

Juan de los Santos -- 4115

Santos is by himself in 'no man's land', not in yet but still with a solid lead for the 7th spot.


Contenders

Luc Janin -- 3750
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tiosav Srbulovic -- 3655

Still could go either way; still my money is on Janin, who lost to Borja again at the same stage in Shanghai to keep the status quo here.


Long Shots

Kire Zopp -- 3210
Mateo Kaspar -- 3175
Shreya Ujjaval -- 3025
Jake Jolland -- 3015

We're down almost to 'needing a miracle' time here. If one of them wins a 500 heading into Paris, maybe. Otherwhise they are pretty much out.
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Old 02-22-2017, 04:38 PM   #577
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This year's Race to the World Tour Finals ended up having the most dramatic conclusion I've ever seen. It would hardly even be possible for it to be more so. The two-man competition between Luc Janin and Tiosav Srbulovic was tossed aside when Mateo Kaspar won the Vienna 500, putting him in 8th heading into the Paris Masters. That meant that unless Santos lost really early, it would come down to who went further in Paris: Kaspar or Janin.

Apparently neither one of them wanted to miss out. Each of them cut a swath through the top players in the world. Kaspar knocked off Girsh, then Mooljee on the top half; Janin beat #3 Browne, then outlasted #2 Tomas Niklas 11-9 in an epic third-set tiebreaker. That set the stage for a final between the two, winner to make the WTF and the loser to be probably the best player ever to miss it. Kaspar won 7-6(5), 6-3, though it wasn't quite that close, and goes from being third man out three weeks before to 7th position for his first-ever Finals. As strange as it seems, Janin has still not made the field yet in his career, even though he's spent much of the last two years in the Top 10. Here's the standings going in:

Prakash Mooljee -- 13,760
Tomas Niklas -- 8865
Johnny Browne -- 5870
Gillo Fangio -- 5250
Khasan Zakirov -- 4980
Girish Girsh -- 4845
Mateo Kaspar -- 4800
Juan de los Santos -- 4295
-----------------------------
Luc Janin -- 4120

Having nine players at over 4k points is rather amazing. I've never seen anything close that before. Fangio, Kaspar, and Santos will all be making their debut this year. Meanwhile it's definitely the last go-round for Girsh. Mooljee has now failed to win four straight big events in a row. The top two spots are set in stone for this year, but it's increasingly obvious that the youth movement is here, and 4-7 could finish in any order. Obviously everyone's going to be fighting for that #4 spot to get off on the right foot for next season.

Meanwhile Ritwik Dudwadkar played in a tier-2 challenger during Paris, once again reaching the final and once again being soundly defeated once there. He'll have two more challengers to try and push himself as close to the Top 100 as possible by year's end(139th as of this writing). Anil Mehul has dropped to 28th in singles, and may not be far at all away from switching to a primarily doubles focus. He's up to 82nd there, close to a new career high(77th previously).

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 02-22-2017 at 04:39 PM.
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Old 02-28-2017, 02:46 PM   #578
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World Team Cup Final

Spain proved a worthy adversary as expected on their favored surface. #7 Juan de los Santos beat Girsh in straight sets to open the tie, with Mooljee beating #19 Martin Zarco in three as well to even things up. Then we showed our improvement in doubles by rallying for a 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 win, moving a single rubber away from the title. Mooljee got it for us by winning almost half of the points on Santos' serve, a surprisingly one-sided three-setter there again. Girish Girsh finished his career with me out with a whimper, losing perhaps the week's best match on the final day to Zarco. The final there was 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-4, 7-5. He goes winless but we took the others for a 3-2 victory, returning to the top of the international tennis world.

Final 2050 National Rankings

1. Sri Lanka -- 2691(+90, --)
2. United States -- 2528(+96, +1)
3. Argentina -- 2429(-72, -1)
4. Spain -- 2233(+197, +2)
5. Germany -- 1940(-284, -1)
6. France -- 1936(-123, -1)
7. Slovak Republic -- 1929(+124, +5)
8. Croatia -- 1889(+141, +5)
9. Czech Republic -- 1826(-77, -2)
10. The Netherlands -- 1796(-19, --)

Things are bunched up even more than usual after the top four. We're just shy of our national record(2705 pts.) and look more secure in the top spot for the moment after last year's champion Argentina took a dive. The USA is definitely the long-term threat with three players in the 3-13 range in singles. In a couple of years, the Santos/Zarco pairing will make Spain a real threat on clay. Those are the two I'll be keeping an eye on. I expect us to struggle a little more as Girsh declines for the next couple of years -- Mehul will help with doubles, but until Dudwadkar's ready we won't have a quality #2 singles and by the time he is Mooljee will be starting his decline. The golden era of Sri Lanka tennis is definitely over, with Ujjaval out of the Top 10 and figuring to slide further ... but we still had enough to take our 5th world championship in 6 years. Should definitely be among the contenders every season, but no longer prohibitive favorites.

WTC Playoffs

** China(36th) vs. Germany(5th) -- It's almost unheard-of for a Top-5 nation to suffer the indignity of a playoff. The Germans lost close ties to The Netherlands and Argentina as part of a very tough group that also included the US. It's the first time in six years they have had their spot in the top tier at risk. Meanwhile it's quite bad luck for China after they reached the top level for the first time ever in a playoff last year; they were almost certain to go back down. The opener was close, but after that Germany lost only one set and cruised to a 5-0 shutout.

** Finland(18th) vs. Serbia(26th) -- As recently as '43, Finland was regularly involved in relegation battles from Level 2, so the fact that they are even here is a victory. 11th-ranked Kire Zopp's rise aided them in reaching the Level 2 final this year, where they narrowly lost to the Slovak Republic. The last time they made it to this point was 13 years ago ... and they lost to Serbia then, 4-1. Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes. In 40 straight years of competition -- they didn't join until two decades in -- that's the only chance they've had to reach the top. A second chance to make history here. Serbia's been a team that's bounced between the top two levels, winning narrowly in playoffs the past two seasons. Zopp won his two rubbers, leading to a decider on the final day. Uolevi Paasilinna rallied from a 2-0 sets deficit to beat Rusomir Mrakovic 3-6, 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-3, 6-4. A very dramatic serving of revenge here, and Finland gets the 3-2 victoy!

** Slovak Republic(7th) vs. South Africa(14th) -- Just three years ago, the Slovaks were a Level 3 nation. Last year they were Level 2 runners-up and lost a close playoff to Sweden; this year they won the second tier title. They've got a pair of journeyman-level singles players just outside the Top 50, which should be enough. They have history, but it's old history. It's been two decades since they were last in the top flight, having been pushed down in 2031 and never making it back yet. South Africa made it up to Level 1 a couple of years ago, got blanked in a playoff loss to the Netherlands last year, and is trying to bounce back. A 4-1 SF loss in a recent matchup between these nations doesn't bode well for them though. For a country that doesn't have a single current Top 100 singles player, they've done remarkably well. This one was closer, with South Africa's Esrom Hoaton splitting a pair of five-set rubbers. He needed to win both, and the Slovaks win again, 3-2 this time.

** Uzbekistan(23rd) vs. Sweden(11th) -- Uzbekistan has basically been single-handedly revived by world no. 7 Khasan Zakirov. Five years ago they were on the bottom, Level 4. After back-to-back 3-2 promotion playoff wins, they were knocked out twice in a row by Serbia in the Level 2 quarterfinals ... and then again last year in their first crack at promoting to the top tier. All three were decided by a 3-2 margin, so Uzbekistan doesn't really like Serbia much. Sweden is in their 7th straight year in the top group, though they've made it past the quarterfinals only once(losing 5-0 to Argentina two years ago). They are definitely in decline, with 91st-ranked Olav Birkeland their top singles player, but the doubles are still excellent led by Elias Trulsen. Zakirov's basically a lock in his two rubbers, but who can get that third win against the Swedes? As it turns out, nobody. Zakirov swept his chances, but Uzbekistan didn't win a set in any of their other opportunities. Sweden stays up 3-2.

Finland and the Slovak Republic join Level 1, with China and Serbia being relegated. With three of the matchups decided on the final day, it was quite an excellent playoff week.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 02-28-2017 at 03:23 PM.
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Old 02-28-2017, 03:02 PM   #579
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Next Man Up

In the final week, it was time to terminate the services of Girish Girsh. 31 and now world no.6 and definitely falling, he departs now so that Mehul can keep working towards becoming a supertrainer. It's been six years since Dudwadkar and it's time for fresh blood. Girsh was 63-25 this season, the most singles losses he's ever had and the fewest wins in nine years. Over the 19 seasons of his career to date, he amassed a record of 962-241(.800) in singles, 203-104(.661) in doubles. Other accomplishments:

Prize Money: $43.6M
Weeks at #1: 100(10th all-time)
Olympics: Champion in '38(first Sri Lanka player to win the Olympic gold)
World Tour Finals Titles: 1
Grand Slams: 1
Masters: 16(5th all-time)
500s: 8
250s: 7
Challengers: 10
Futures: 3
Amateur: 3
Juniors: 10
World Team Cup: 5(Sri Lanka record, T-5th all-time). No non-Spaniard has won more.

Girsh ranks 3rd on the Sri Lanka legends list; Mehul is still first, Mooljee second, and as of this writing Dudwadkar is eighth. His record of Masters Shields, winning our first Olympic crown, and spending almost two years at the top of the rankings all speak very well of him. He didn't win enough Slams or Tour Finals to earn serious consideration in terms of the all-time greats though. In that respect his resume is 'spotty', but he definitely carried the torch quite successfully in between Mehul and Mooljee, and was good enough to hasten the fall and limit the career of Antonin Iglar.

I could have made him a trainer instead of firing him, but there would have been no point to that. He grades out as a 4.34 right now, a little worse than current trainer Anil Manohar, and I couldn't wait any longer. With Mehul a better long-term candidate, it was time for Girsh to go.

Going in, the plan was that no matter what the quality of my new junior, I'm going to stick with him and save as many regen chances as possible for when Mehul goes trainer. It's time to meet Sushant Chiba.

Age: 14y 34w -- a bit on the older side by a month or two which gives me less time. Unfortunate.
Raw Skill/Service: 10/5. That's a little higher than usual, which is somewhat of a compensation.
Mentality: 4.4. I've never had a player higher than 3.8. Chiba will definitely be tough when the match is on the line.
Aging Factor: 97%. Same as Mooljee, so he'll peak and decline a bit earlier than I'd prefer.
Talent: 4.4. This is even with the minimum I've gotten(Mehul/Girsh), a bit lower than Dudwadkar and Mooljee was best at 4.7.
Peak Athleticism: 3.1 strength, 2.1 speed. Ugh. Feet stuck in cement. He'll struggle more than most on grass and against top servers. I always use speed as the weak attribute, but even the strength here is not impressive. Definitely the worst athleticism of any player I've used. This will more than compensate for his abilities in the clutch.
Peak Endurance: 4.3. Pretty average for the players I've generated.

Overall a tad on the weak side. He probably won't be quite as good as my other players, but close. Definitely a top contender; whether he gets to #1 or not depends on the competition, but I think it's more likely than not. As I said, definitely not throwing him back. A high home advantage at 3.9 is going to be irrelevant unfortunately. 8.7 TE, 5.2 SS. As of right now I've got two more creation chances stored up, and by the time Mehul turns trainer in six years, I'll have more. Hopefully one of them will be a real standout. Until then, we'll go with this. Style-wise he'll be the opposite of Dudwadkar, with a relatively high focus on his serve due to being slow; his predecessor is more on the grinder side of things. But as always, that's only a marginal adjustment.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 02-28-2017 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 02-28-2017, 03:18 PM   #580
Brian Swartz
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2051 World Team Cup Preview

Sri Lanka is in Group 1, which gives new meaning to the phrase 'group of death'. I think it's the most ridiculous one I've ever seen. Joining us are the United States(#2), Slovak Republic(#7), and Czech Republic(#9). It's hard to imagine that it's not us and the USA coming out there, but that's still an insane grouping. None of the other groups have more than two Top 10 nations, and Group 4 has just one(#3 Argentina). So yeah ... the RNG definitely had it in for us there.
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Old 03-01-2017, 02:00 AM   #581
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Final 2050 Rankings

2051 has arrived; here are the rankings for the top players to start the new season.

1. Prakash Mooljee(SRI, 26) -- 14,260

Despite a disappointing finish to the year, it was a third straight outstanding season for Mooljee. His final record of 87-6 represents three more wins and the same amount of losses as his past two campaigns. That's a rather amazing overall consistency. 4 Masters, 3 Slams, an Olympic gold medal, and the driving force behind returning Sri Lanka to the top of the World Team Cup. With no titles to claim over the last four-plus months though, there are serious questions about whether he can stay on the top. For now though, he's up to a national-record 120 weeks at #1, 8th-best all-time, and still has a huge lead.

2. Tomas Niklas(CZE, 26) -- 9,265

Niklas had the best year of his career as well, for several months consistently meeting the #1 in the finals of just about every important event. He too faded late in the year. A 77-19 mark is easily his most victories. Masters wins in Cincinatti and Monte Carlo along with a pair of Slam finals helped Tomas pull away from the pack and establish himself as the unquestioned top challenger to the throne.

3. Johnny Browne(USA, 25) -- 6,270

Browne's record was actually a hair worse than a year ago, but he still reached his career-best ranking as well. That's mostly due to his spectacular, dramatic maiden Slam title at the US Open. For of all of the talent the Americans have, it was the first time since Mick Elder a dozen years ago that an US player won in Flushing Meadows.

4. Mateo Kaspar(FRA, 22) -- 6,065

France has a new hero after the decline of Bourdet & Poilblan. And Mateo is already better than either. He wasn't spectacular most of the year, failing to reach the second week of any Slam, but finished in grand style by taking all comers in Paris and the World Tour Finals to narrowly claim the fourth spot. It was 13 years ago(Elder again) the last time an unseeded player won the WTF. Since then it had been the #1 or #2 every single time, usually the top seed. An impressive showing, and one that has him aiming higher in the new year.

5. Gillo Fangio(ITA, 23) -- 6,050

Just behind Kaspar is another talented, fast-rising young gun. Fangio won in Shanghai and reached his first Slam final at the USO, where he should have won. He was also runner-up to Kaspar at the tour finals. Had about the same success as a year ago, but with better opportunities given his higher seeding.

6. Girish Girsh(SRI, 31) -- 5,045

I've already talked about Girsh's year, in which he has tumbled from the ranks of the top challengers. It's time for the next generation to take over.

7. Khasan Zakirov(UZB, 27) -- 4,980

Zakirov slipped a bit from being a 4th/5th guy the last couple of years, though it wasn't so much a decline in his game as others just getting better. He is just now embarking on the downside of his career though, and with the number of young talented players I don't see him doing more than hanging on as a solid Top-10 performer.

8. Juan de los Santos(ESP, 25) -- 4,595

Santos showed more versatility than expected; he's a noted force on clay, but actually was knocked out early in Rome and Madrid. A SF showing in Cincinatti and a QF at the USO earned him a debut at the tour finals. The Spanish #1 is primed for what could be a career-best season, currently playing his best tennis, and could well move up further this season.

9. Luc Janin(CAN, 23) -- 4,230

Another disappointing season for Janin, who has turned into something of a cautionary tale. There's still time for him to be a top contender, but he's got to start winning the big matches. Aside from the runner-up late in the year in Paris, his only real good moment was taking the Rome Masters.

10. Tiosav Srbulovic(USA, 25) -- 3,835

Consistently solid in the Masters but departing early at the Slams, Srbulovic just hasn't been quite good enough to take the next step.

There's a pretty decent gap right now with nobody looking like a serious threat to crack the Top 10 soon. #11 Kire Zopp(FIN) and #13 Jake Jolland(USA) are still improving though and could get there this year.
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Old 03-01-2017, 04:47 PM   #582
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2051 Preview

1. Prakash Mooljee(92%, 8.77, +0.02)

Mooljee is not quite to his peak yet, which he'll likely reach sometime this year. He's sitting at the usual max level that my players have been able to sustain for an extended period when at the top of their game(5.3 skill, 4.0 serve) and pretty much exactly equal to the peak of Girsh(8.78) and Mehul now. I think it's accurate to say no Sri Lanka player has ever been objectively better ... though Mehul was more consistent which could give him the edge. Antonin Iglar probably maxed out at about 8.91-8.93(estimating) by comparison, so this is a nice place to be. Prakash is still the best player in the world ... but not for much longer. He really needs to get this year off to a big start in order to hang on to the #1 this year -- because the next generation has arrived. More on that as we proceed through the rundown.

2. Tomas Niklas(90%, 8.48, -0.03)

Niklas is now just past his peak, and even more than Mooljee will need to concern himself with holding off the young guns. I don't think he'll be able to do that for much longer, and he'll probably be battling to stay in the Top 4 at best by year's end.

3. Johnny Browne(94%, 8.53, +0.11)

Power, an elite serve, and the best mental game I've ever seen. Browne is still quite weak by contender standards from the back of the court, but he definitely has compensations for that and is still clearly improving. I don't see him rising past third though -- but only because even though he's a fine player, he's in tough spot compared to the excellence of the competition.

4. Mateo Kaspar(99%, 8.70, +0.29)

Kaspar has just over the past few weeks shown the first signs that he's passed his physical peak. It's easy to get too enamored with the way he finished last year; the season before, Zourab Andronikov stunned everyone in Paris ... and this year he stumbled to 15th, with his best days clearly behind him. Mateo is a different matter though. He's special. Most notable is his endurance, which at 4.8 is the highest I've seen in a top player since the incomparable Eric Gorritepe who came in at 5.1. Mateo has already reached a level that few players do, and he's going to get better for several more seasons. There's little question that he's going to be the first player to breach the 9-point barrier since I started reporting this dynasty(only Iglar has come close), and while he has some good competition I expect him to go down as second only to Gorritepe by the time his career's over. Mateo is simply that good, elite in almost all categories(only exception being speed, which isn't bad). Around the end of this year he should equal Mooljee, and I figure him to move up to #2, ready to strike the year afterwards.

I don't know that I've ever seen a player go from 33rd to 4th in one year. That's frankly astounding.

5. Gillo Fangio(97%, 8.62, +0.12)

All of that is not particularly good news for Fangio, who seems destined to never be better than second-best despite his status as a very fine talent. He was simply born at the wrong time. The overall excellence and in particular outstanding mental game, nearly as good as Browne, will let him have his moments at least occasionally I expect. This year he probably moves up to a competitive third past the American but still behind Mooljee and Kaspar.

6. Girish Girsh(80%, 8.40, -0.09)

I'm not sure where Girsh ends up this year -- a lot depends on how long it takes someone to pick him up, and what they decide to do with him. Could be a borderline Top 10 player, could fall a lot further. His decline has definitely been accenuated by the success of the next generation though ... otherwhise he might have hung on near the top for another year.

7. Khasan Zakirov(90%, 8.41, -0.02)

Zakirov is just starting to decline, and I don't expect to see his ranking change much after finishing 8th a year ago. Probably passes Girsh and falls below Janin, maybe another spot or two in either direction but that's it.

8. Juan de los Santos(91%, 8.27, +0.01)

Should be Santos' best year. Real question is what does that mean? A strong clay season could push him up to about 5th or 6th. That's my best guess. He's too limited to do any more than that, and after this season a swift decline should commence. He's a meteoric player much in the mold of, for those long-time readers of this story, Perry Hogue of many years ago.

9. Luc Janin(95%, 8.63, +0.06)

Objectively, Janin is pretty much even with Fangio for third-best player in the world. Will he ever start playing like it??

10. Tiosav Srbulovic(92%, 8.36, +0.01)

Srbulovic should have one more bit of improvement in him, but it was definitely a little disappointing for him not to learn more this past year. He's just too limited to become much more than he is.

11. Kire Zopp(93%, 8.20, ??)

The unquestioned surprise player of the year took Finland to Level 1 for the first time ever. He's about as lazy as I've ever seen for a player of this stature(2.1 endurance), so I don't expect him to get much better though. Still a fine story.

12. Shreya Ujjaval(87%, 8.33, -0.06)

The work Ujjaval put in this year was belied by his results, tumbling out of the Top 10. He's still capable of moving back up a couple spots and has elite technique, but age is obviously enough of an issue here that he's sliding overall. He's an important insurance policy for Sri Lanka the next year or two in case Girsh completely falls apart.

13. Jake Jolland(94%, 8.26, +0.06)

Still improving little by little, part of a deep group of American players at the moment. My outlook for Jolland continues to be a guy who never quite makes the Top 10. He's up from 18th a year ago, and progressing slowly.

17. Phillippe Besson(92%, 8.43, +0.20)

A fine year for Besson, up from 26th a year ago, and he's good enough to possibly make a run at cracking the first page. He needs to do it now though, as the top Swiss has almost peaked.

18. Martin Zarco(99%, 8.36, ??)

Zarco's new to the rundown, having been somewhere around 50th a year ago. He's got a lot of work to do technically, but is an outstanding mover along with being another example of the upcoming generation's incredible mental toughness. Along with Santos, he ensures a return to relevance for Spain particularly on clay. Zarco seems a shoo-in to be Top 10 within two years.

20. Andres Guardado(94%, 7.98, -0.03)

Guardado's lack of physical gifts make his continued gradual rise(24th last year) somewhat puzzling.

23. Guus Dircx(100%, 8.36, +0.35)

Last season I said this Netherlands phenom, just shy of his 21st birthday now, 'probably doesn't move up much further this season'. He was 40th. Shows what I know. Dircx is still much lacking technically, but athletically and mentally he's outstanding. He's shown enough to convince me he'll keep going up into the teens this year, and he figures to have a short but impressive career.

26. Ariel Borja(99%, 8.32, ??)

When it comes to pure power, Borja is literally the best I've ever seen(5.1 str). He announced himself with quarterfinal showings at Shanghai and the USO, beating Janin both times. Another obvious future Top-10 guy who will soon be representing the United States.

28. Anil Mehul(73%, 7.96, -0.17)

Mehul's ranking more than doubled, down from 13th as he worked on doubles. In that department, he moved up to 75th, narrowly a career-best. He's just past two-thirds of the way there(doubles training), and currently figures at 4.95 in his training progression. It'll be about another year and a half for him to max out his doubles abilities. Scheduling will continue to be tricky as he's ranked just high enough to be needed as a regular singles player in all of the big events.

29. Ruslan Strelkov(96%, 7.73, +0.11)

Strelkov basically treaded water this year, and he's a pretty limited player. Serve has become decent though, and he's a hard enough worker(4.4 endurance) to make him still worth watching.

31. Lars Kroese(94%, 8.17, +0.20)

Kroese was over-valued at 27th a year ago, but I expect him to bounce back up. He made major technical gains, and has enough mental ability to help mask very average athleticism. Should be a Top-20 guy, or close to that at least.

32. Milos Schmuker(98%, 8.24, ??)

This young Czech is worth getting to know. Solid technique for a 22-year-old, very good endurance, outstanding mentality once again, and good-enough athleticism. Definitely looks like the guy to be a standard-bearer after Niklas for the Czech Republic.

42. Benno Duhr(100%, 7.34, ??)

Duhr is a young Austrian clay specialist who has gotten this far by playing every challenger in sight on his favored surface. That only gets you so far, and he's not going much further despite his talent, at least for a while. Average athleticism and too much time spent on doubles are holding him back as well.

54. Shyam Senepathy(92%, 7.48, +0.04)

Senepathy continues to be stuck just barely outside the Top 50. Should be his best chance at getting over that barrier coming up this year, and probably he'll just barely do it.

91. Ruben Piazzola(101%, 7.65, ??)

The pride of Chile, not exactly known for their tennis prowess, has emerged as an early rival of Dudwadkar's. They played three times in challengers late in the year, with Piazzola getting the better of him twice. Excellent athleticism and endurance ensure the top-ranked teenager in the world(turns 20 in a couple weeks though) will keep moving upwards.

113. Ritwik Dudwadkar(99%, 7.73, +0.60)

Dudwadkar peaked at 105th, with a win and two finals in four challenger outings at the end of the year. He'll be playing in one of the packed tier-1 events, then off to an AO debut before resuming playing in the lower-level events. By comparison here, at the same age Moojee was 72nd, Girsh 98th, Mehul around 120th. He's on the lower end of that mostly because it took him longer to get into the challengers. Goal for this year is to make the Top 50, which should be very achievable. Getting beyond that will be more problematic. The Top 32 is competitive at a level I've never seen. For a number of years it took anywhere from 1115-1160 points to reach that elite circle. Sometimes it's in the 1200s ... but right now #32 Schmucker is at 1465, which is by the far the highest in at least the last 15 years for that ranking. If things stay that way, it makes the schedule a lot tougher once Dudwadkar becomes an top challenger player. Simply playing minimal #s of events in both singles and doubles won't get him enough points, so he'll have to either play some bigger events before he's ready to, or play a denser schedule focused more on singles. Neither are optimal for development, and it'll be a tough call, but that's about a year away.

Right now, it's a matter of continuing to work his way up through the ranks. He's more than good enough to keep making progress.

NR(J). Sushant Chiba(61%, 1.74, --)

I'm continuing to experiment with early-juniors development here. I think having an even investment in skill and service is a good idea starting out, but I did it for too long with Dudwadkar. I'm going to track the serving more closely and see where the double faults really start to drop off. Definitely no higher than 1.0/1.0 is where I want to go before switching to the normal development scheme. First practice week for our newbie is about to be underway.

Manager Ranking -- I'm still first by a long ways but continuing to slide. Down to 41.8k points from 45.5k last year.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 03-01-2017 at 04:57 PM.
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Old 03-01-2017, 07:54 PM   #583
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How many other (human) players are in this world?
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Old 03-01-2017, 08:58 PM   #584
Brian Swartz
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I don't know if there's a place for me to get a reading on that. I can tell you that there are 121 other managers(humans) who have more than the default amount of points. That means just about 250 players between them, which is probably a good rough starting point.
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Old 03-04-2017, 01:00 AM   #585
Brian Swartz
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I've decided to resume, at least for now, doing more updates during the year. Roughly 'monthly' in game terms as I did before. The rise of Kaspar/Fangio/Janin et al. is quite interesting to me, and in a couple of years when Dudwadkar starts trying to smash his head against that collective wall there could be some cool fireworks also. So, without further ado ...

January

World Team Cup

Our first group match was against none other than the United States, on hardcourt. A close tie was expected, and that's exactly what we got. The Americans easily won in doubles, so we needed at least one win from Girsh. Tiosav Srbulovic didn't play in a surprise, but they're plenty deep enough and unfortunately both Johnny Browne and Jake Jolland beat our no. 2 in four sets each. Prakash Mooljee took both of his matches, including an epic Thursday five-setter over Browne that was the match of the week, ending 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3. Unfortunately that wasn't enough, and as defending champs we fall 3-2.

Sri Lanka is still #1 but only by 47 points now in the world rankings. We need to beat the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic just to get out of group play, which we should be able to do but that's been a complete afterthought for years. Not anymore with this insane draw; there's no margin for error here. It's very likely we'll face the USA again somewhere down the line this season if we take care of our end.


Noumea Challenger

Ritwik Dudwadkar entered here the next week, one of a pair of Tier-1 challengers that are in essence mandatory; almost all of the top challenger-level players are here with the need for matches at the start of the year after the break to end the previous season, and so the competition is fierce. He beat two seeded and ill-prepared opponents before losing to young Czech star Milos Schmucker 6-3, 6-4 in the semis. That's quite a respectable score and he did better than I expected. Schmucker is a Top-20 player in terms of his current abilities, if not Top-15, and this is probably the last challenger he'll play. No shame at all in losing to a guy like that who he really isn't quite good enough to have a chance against.

That moved Dudwadkar up to 105th, equalling his career high so far. Doubles didn't go as well with a second-round loss in qualifying.

Chennai 250

In India, Mooljee beat all opposition with competitive straight-set wins against Besson in the semifinals and Niklas in the title match. The #2 had barely escaped Santos in a long semi on the other side, 7-5 in the third. Good start to the year for Prakash, a perfect 6-0 so far.

Unsurprisingly, Fangio and Kaspar won the other two tournaments. They aren't going anywhere either ...

Brisbane 250

Anil Mehul entered here, exiting immediately in singles against a player not heard from for a while, Garreth McCuskey. A third-set tiebreak in that upset which was disappointing. He not only qualified in doubles though but made the final, where top seeds Gaskell/Trulsen, the #2 team in the world, beat Mehul and his partner Lars Kroese fairly convincingly 7-5, 6-3. A good showing there that moves him up a few more spots to 66th.

Australian Open Preview

All three senior players will be in action here. It's a big, big tournament for Mooljee as time is against him. If he can re-assert himself here he'll buy himself additional weeks, even months at the top. If not, he'll be deposed all the more quickly. Mehul will look to keep rising in doubles and maintain a seeded position in singles -- he was out in the third round last year so that's not a high bar to maintain. Dudwadkar will play his second straight Slam in his debut here, as there are no challengers this week and all of his preferred practice competition will pretty much be here. The draw is the most important part for him; could be a good week if he gets a winnable first-round match. Also could be a very short one.

Sushant Chiba will have the week completely off, being fatigued from the last three weeks of practice. Then he'll enter his first juniors tournament, bottom level tier-5 of course, after that. I did some preliminary tracking on the double-fault issue. At his current crappy(effective 0.2) serving level he double-faults almost a quarter of his serving points. It's around 3% for an high-quality(4.0) server. I'll probably end the initial serving push when I can get that rate roughly down to 10% or lower for him, depending on how quickly it improves.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 03-04-2017 at 01:02 AM.
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Old 03-07-2017, 07:24 PM   #586
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2051 Australian Open

For a young player, a Slam tournament is often predetermined by the draw. The best you can hope for is a matchup that gives you a chance. Ritwik Dudwadkar at least got that, with American Harry Bayliss, a hardcourt specialist who hangs out around 50th in the rankings. Aside from the surface effect, he actually felt he had a slight edge in the matchup. Unfortunately, that and his inability to convert break points(2 of 11 on the day) led to a 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 loss. It was pretty competitive, but disappointing that he couldn't take a set. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka had four seeded players along with Shyam Senepathy for what I think is a record six entries. Senepathy took down Frenchman Jonathan Ardant in another competitive straight-sets match to start things off, making it a good event for him. Aging Agustin Herrera(22nd) and hardcourt-ignoring #25 Rui Padilla(ESP) were the only casualty seeds in the first round.

Shreya Ujjaval nearly went out to Claudio Fandino, a rising Colombian, in the second. He won a long tiebreak, then dropped the next two sets before he found his rhythm. Could very easily have been out in straights, but instead he rallies for the five-set win. Argentina's Tristan Benitez(15) was the only significant upset of the day. He goes out to a veteran qualifier from India. Yikes. Senepathy did well, taking #10 Srbulovic to four sets. He can be decent when he's not overplayed to death ... which unfortunately is only the case at the start of the year.

There were quite a few longer matches in the next round as the tournament proceeded. The big news was world #3 Johnny Browne decided failing to back up his USO title. #21 Blagota Cojanovic knocks him off, 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in a long, back-and-forth affair. Zakirov was stretched to five but survived, as did Ujjaval for the second straight match. This time he needed to go to 9-7 in the final stanza against Davide Poilblan, once a strong foe but no longer. Martin Zarco survived a five-setter as he looks to build a hard-court resume. The matchup of the day was Juan de los Santos against Ariel Borja. A big win for the young American, twice behind a set but surviving in five, he shows his QF appearance at the USO last year wasn't a fluke and continues his rise. Anil Mehul had the misfortune of meeting Kaspar, and he exits three sets later as expected. Less expected was Girish Girsh going away in his first semblance of competition: top Swede Phillippe Besson(19) toppled him in four.

In the 4th round, Prakash Mooljee dispatched Ujjaval in an all-Sri Lanka matchup; they were the only two left. Mooljee hasn't been threatened yet, which is a very good thing. Luc Janin was stronger at the end in a five-set win over Khasan Zakirov. It's the Canadian's best win in quite some time. Most of the rest went according to form: Kaspar and Fangio have yet to lose a set after dropping the 10th and 11th ranked players, Srbulovic and Zopp.

The quarterfinals had four of the top five, but also Janin(9), Jake Jolland(13), Besson(19), and Borja(27). The only two players who aren't still on the upside of their career here are the top two in the world, Mooljee and Niklas. That left a very clear narrative of youth vs. experience. Both of the old hands found themselves wanting on this day. In the 10th meeting between Mooljee and Janin, Luc won for just the second time, 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. It was another one of those where Prakash was the better player, but not by very much, and he failed in crunch time. He's usually good in BP situations, but when he isn't it often doesn't end well. 4 of 13 here, compared to 5 of 8 for the Canadian prodigy in the biggest win of his career. Fangio got by Jolland in a pretty close three, while Besson pulled off his third straight upset, sending Niklas packing in four sets. A career-best showing by him easily as well. Borja's run ran into a brick wall, as Kaspar stopped him in the most one-sided of the day's matchups.

Three of the four semifinalists had never been this far before; only Besson was even close to peaking. There could hardly be a clearer statement that things are going to be different; Mooljee's Moment is officially over I think. Gillo Fangio lost the first set in what was a dead-even matchup going in against Janin, but took the upperhand in a couple of close sets before handing out a third-set bagel. He reaches his second straight Slam final. Mateo Kaspar had more trouble with Besson than expected, losing his first set in a 7-5, 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 victory. Going into the fourth, the Swiss looked like he had a good chance, but ran out of gas.

In the final, the guy who had never made it to the second week of a Slam before took another four-set win; Kaspar was seized control early and dominated Fangio except for a blip in the third. At just past 22 years of age, Mateo claims the first of what will assuredly be many Slam crowns; Fangio is runner-up again. It's not going to get any easier for him to break through. Shades of Mehul constantly butting his head up against the Iglar wall here.

The upheaval was such that the 3-9 positions in the rankings all changed. Kaspar is third, Fangio 4th, Browne down to 5th and Janin up three spots to #6. The order will change, but that Top 6 will likely stay for a while, probably until Zarco can bull his way onto the top page. Below them are Santos, Zakirov, Girsh, and Srbulovic. Maybe Santos can go on a big clay run, but that's about the only thing that could really change things much. And Janin/Fangio/Mooljee are all capable, if inexpert, performers on the dirt.
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Old 03-11-2017, 11:27 PM   #587
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February/March

The season's first break, although with nobody going that deep at the AO it wasn't quite as much of a break as usual.

World Team Cup, Group Play, Second Round

The Slovak Republic learned how titans such as Sri Lanka(even after all this time, I still feel weird writing that. But it's true) treat nations without a Top-50 player. They didn't win a set. The US barely beat the Czech Republic on clay, 3-2. That means it's us against the Czechs for a spot in the quarterfinals. The loser is good enough to move on, but won't. It'll be on grass, which is a bit of a disadvantage for us. I think both of our players can handle Hugo Jurco, but they'll probably take the doubles and Tomas Niklas probably beats Girsh. Need Mooljee to hold serve in his matches and Girsh to handle Jurco in order to win. We're definitely favored but an upset is far from out of the question. I looked up the last time we didn't get out of group play: it was exactly ten years ago. In a couple months, this will be a very important tie.


Anil Mehul took the whole stretch off after that for practice, while Mooljee entered the Acapulco 500. He didn't lose a set, beating Srbulovic and then Khasan Zakirov at the end of the event. Nobody else in the top four was there, but it was still a good showing to both gain some points to hold off the competition a bit and get some confidence going again.

Ritwik Dudwadkar did not fare particularly well in the tier-3 Caloundra Challenger, losing to 49th-ranked Claudio Fandino in the quarterfinals. It was another one of those matches where he was a little outclassed; Fandino is similar in ability but a hardcourt specialist, so he had the edge. Still, Dudwadkar did not play as well as I'd hoped, and he continues to overall have a deserved reputation as an underachiever. Hanging out just outside the Top 100 so far, and looking for a chance to break through.

Sushant Chiba had a shocking debut, winning three matches to reach the semifinals in his very first juniors event. This was soon shown to be a mirage as he lost his qualifying match at the next two tournaments more recently. He's shown some serving improvement but still needs work, about 18% or so double faults on a good day, 30% on a bad one. He's been about 1080th in the juniors rankings since that first event.

Coming Up ...

Indian Wells and Miami conclude the first quarter of the season. All eyes are on Mateo Kaspar, who can reach #2 during the next month if he can duplicate his success down under.
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Old 03-15-2017, 03:34 PM   #588
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Indian Wells Masters

Another quick exit for Tristan Benitez who continues to crash and burn, down several spots already from the start of the year. Anil Mehul, seeded 30th, suffered the indignity of losing his first match in the second round against Jonathon Ardant of France, 7-6(3), 6-7(2), 6-2. The top Spaniards didn't do well, with Zarco and Padilla upset in their first encounters, but Adergazoz Lugassy managed a three-set 'upset' of Herrera to give them some compensation. Shyam Senepathy left quickly in the first round against McCuskey, also not a surprise.

The third pretty went according to form. There were a couple of interesting matches that went the distance. Phillipe Besson(15, SUI) over Ruslan Strelkov(28, RUS), and Johnny Browne(5) outlasting Ariel Borja(22) in an All-American contrast of styles. Girish Girsh had another tussle with Zakirov in the 4th round and lost a narrow 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 decision. Besson was matched against the weak link Juan de los Santos, and once again beat him easily.

On to the quarterfinals then with the top seven plus the Swede, easily the surprise player of the year so far. Mooljee took care of Khasan Zakirov without much trouble, and in fact all four matches were completed in straight sets though Fangio had himself a time with Browne, 7-5, 7-6(6). Luc Janin had an upset that really wasn't, 6-3, 6-2 in an easy one over Tomas Niklas. Certainly looks like Janin is on the right track at the moment, another big win for him.

In the first semi, Prakash Mooljee had a shot at Mateo Kaspar and was the better-serving, more consistent player. He also went 0-for-8 on break points and didn't score a point in the opening tiebreaker, losing a close 7-6(0), 7-6(5) decision to the rising French star who is still unbeaten this year. A rough match as this is exactly the kind he needs to win. Janin outlasted Gillo Fangio in three in the second ... I expect the two of them to run into each other a lot the way things are going.

Kaspar was in control the whole way in the final, and notched his second Masters, moving up just past Niklas to #2 in the rankings as well. No indication anyone can stop him at this point.


Elsewhere ...

Ritwik Dudwadkar did the usual deal and entered a challenger during the first week of IW, tier-2 in Kyoto. He had a time with top-seeded Miroslav Derda in the semifinals, but rallied to win in three sets and later claimed his first title of the year and second overall challenger, this being the larger of the two. It's enough to break him into the Top 100, probably to stay.
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Old 03-15-2017, 03:49 PM   #589
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Miami Masters

Same thing all over again two weeks later, this time the Americans hoping for a better result. They did get a moment to celebrate when young Harry Bayliss knocked out rising German 26-seed Sigmund Kronecker, 7-6(4), 6-7(1), 6-3, the only seed to drop in the first match.

A couple of the lower seeds had their moments in the third round, with Zourab Andronikov and Hugo Jurco turning back the clock with upset wins. Borja came close but missed again this week, coming up short against Fangio in a three-setter that might have been the day's best action. All of the party-crashers left in the next round, leaving once again the top seven in the quarters. Obvious trend is obvious. The eighth was Kire Zopp this time.

Zopp was easily dispatched by Mooljee, and then a surprise as Gillo Fangio, who is not having a good start so far, dropped his worst loss in a while to Khasan Zakirov. It was close, but definitely a significant upset. There were more surprises to come. Despite being pretty well dominated on the whole, Janin stunned Mateo Kaspar for his first defeat of the year, 4-6, 7-5(5), 6-4. This is as lopsided a match in favor of the loser as I think I've ever seen; had some similar before but not worse. The Canadian prodigy seized on his lone break point chance, which came in the final set after a tight tiebreak in the second. He probably should have lost in straights, but that's the way fate is sometimes. Tomas Niklas exited again, this time in three to Browne.

Prakash Mooljee easily extended his success streak over Zakirov to eight straight(13-3 overall). Then another close one, with Luc Janin escaping Johnny Browne and the partisan crowd. The final was one of those that could have gone either way. Janin had more chances, but Mooljee stepped up when it counted and claimed his first big title in over seven months, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3! Very significant crown here for Prakash, as it helps him stave off the rising tide against him for a while longer.


Elsewhere ...

Dudwadkar entered a tier-3 challenger in Bath, and yawned his way to the final as the top seed. Unseeded Miguel Egea, a 'good futures'-level player at 240th coming in, nearly made him pay. Ritwik escaped with a second title in three weeks, 7-6(7), 3-6, 7-5.

Sushant Chiba's latest JG5 excursion saw him qualify but go no further in singles, while reaching the SF in doubles. He's still a bit outside the Top 1000, and his double fault rate is varying wildly still(anywhere from about 17% to 30%). Even straining of skill and serve continues.
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Old 03-15-2017, 04:09 PM   #590
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Rankings Update

1. Prakash Mooljee(26, SRI) -- 12,480

The Miami title gives Prakash 14 Masters, tying him with Runer for 8th all-time. Just this week he moved up to 7th on the list for weeks on #1, with 134. Kaspar moving up is in one way actually good for him -- he'll avoid what is now the world's best player until the finals, and he's the only player who has the luxury of that guarantee.

2. Mateo Kaspar(22, FRA) -- 8,970

There's no reason to expect the Miami loss that should have been a win against Janin to be anything but a minor hiccup. The only question is when he takes over at the top. My guess is somewhere in the Wimbledon - US Open window. I'd be very surprised if it didn't happen before year's end.

3. Tomas Niklas(27, CZE) -- 8,330

Niklas slides a spot, and more are coming; he's objectively only 5th or 6th best and I'd expect that to shake out by the end of the year. A fine career, but it looks like he'll be stuck on 1 Slam and 2 Masters. Very good ... but not good enough to be a real threat to Mooljee.

4. Gillo Fangio(23, ITA) -- 7,760

Fangio has definitely cooled off after the way he played last fall, but he's still set to move up to #3 soon which is where he should be. He's not playing terribly, just not as well as he was.

5. Johnny Browne(25, USA) -- 6,260

Bounced back from a slow start by making the Miami semifinals. He'll still be in the mix at least until it's time to defend his dramatic USO title.

6. Luc Janin(24, CAN) -- 6,085

Hasn't won any of the big events so far, but a semi and two runner-up finishes is nothing to shake a stick at. Still looks like he's on the way to 4th at worst, and sooner rather than later.

7. Khasan Zakirov(27, UZB) -- 4,980

Zakirov looks like he's in no man's land really. Better than anyone trailing him, not as good as those above him. Second-week fixture and likely WTF participant, but more than that is unlikely. The upset of Fangio in Miami will probably go down as one of his best moments.

8. Juan de los Santos(25, ESP) -- 4,455

Santos hasn't been able to back up his hardcourt success last fall in the new year, but he'll definitely be a factor as the tour shifts to the clay now.

9. Girish Girsh(31, SRI) -- 3,715

The predictable but unfortunate overplaying by a roughly average new manager has begun. And he was on his way down anyway.

10. Kire Zopp(25, FIN) -- 3,405

Crashing the first page, however briefly, Zopp is turning me into a liar again. I said he'd gone as high as he was going to when he was 12th at the start of the year. Tiosav Srbulovic has abdicated(down to 13th already) as much as anything, but still a job well done by the overacheiving Finn.

12. Phillippe Besson -- The top Swiss continues to waste no time. Could see him overtake Zopp in the months to come.

18. Guus Dirickx -- Only 21, but still climbing.

33. Anil Mehul -- Sliding to the very edge of the elite group ... but that's singles. In doubles, he's now 32nd, a Sri Lanka record. It's inconsistent; his partnership with Kroese led to a first-round exit in Miami but the final in Indian Wells. They aren't getting seeded yet, but that'll happen soon. No question that after this year he'll be taking on a doubles-focused schedule.

83. Ritwik Dudwadkar -- The usual pair of challenger wins during the Masters got him moving upward again. He's had a couple of practice matches against guys in the 20-30 range recently, and been competitive at best. Not ready for that level of play yet. He'll take several weeks off before doing the same routine during some of the big clay events. Schedule for the next few months is pretty much set and he'll continue to gradually move up ... the key will be how he finishes the year.

1017(J). Sushant Chiba -- Should be ready to starting winning more at the lowest levels of junior events soon. As expected, he appears to be slightly behind Dudwadkar's pace in terms of technical development.

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Old 03-22-2017, 04:33 PM   #591
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April

I've fallen a bit behind here, so I'll try to get things caught up.

World Team Cup

The third round matchup with the Czech Republic was crucial; the winner moves on the quarterfinals, loser is eliminated. Tomas Niklas beat Girsh in straight sets on Monday, but that was the only bright spot they'd have. Prakash Mooljee had no major difficulties in either of his matchups, Mehul/Ujjaval were not threatened in a 3-set doubles win, and Girish Girsh even got a victory himself in a dead rubber on the final day, outlasting Jurco 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1. All together a 4-1 victory, and it may have been a bumpier road but the bottom line is we're through to the knockout rounds.

We've got Germany on clay in the quarterfinals, and are on the opposite side of the draw from the US so we won't meet them again until the finals if we both get there(probable). Germany has two mid-20s players; they're a solid nation and ranked 4th but we should be able to take them. Probably another 4-1 count.

Monte Carlo Masters

A couple weeks later, the top warmup for the clay season commenced. Most of the top players including Mooljee bypassed it, but Kaspar entered at the last minute. Andres Guardado(12) of Mexico was the only seed to drop out in the first round. Shreya Ujjaval was the top Sri Lanka entry; he eliminated Anil Mehul easily in the second round, making it to the quarters where Kaspar beat him in straight sets.

Form held for the most part, but there was a quite interesting quarterfinal match between two surprises: (11) Jake Jolland and (15) Guus Dirickx. Jolland won in a third-set tiebreaker, joining the top three seeds in the semifinals. That round went quickly, with Kaspar beating Luc Janin and Gillo Fangio taking out Jolland. Mateo Kaspar converted five of six break points to eliminate any chance of an upset, beating Fangio 7-5, 6-2 for the title. Another nice feather in his cap, but Fangio rises to 3rd also as the two of them keep pushing forward.

As for my players, Prakash Mooljee took a full four weeks off after the WTC to train. Anil Mehul had a solid QF showing in the Monte Carlo doubles to show for his efforts. Ritwik Dudwadkar needed the time off, while Sushant Chiba played two events. In La Plata he made the semis in doubles but was stopped early in singles again. Two weeks later in Bals, Romania, he took advantage of a weaker field to win the singles title, his first juniors crown, and a doubles runner-up finish. This moved him to about the mid-800s in terms of his ranking, and allowed him a few weeks off for training.

Next Up

The Rome & Madrid Masters as the clay season hits its stride.

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Old 03-24-2017, 08:35 AM   #592
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Madrid Masters

Started off with a thud for Sri Lanka. Anil Mehul was blasted in the first round by Jolland, and Shyam Senepathy qualified but quickly exited against Davide Poilblan. Girish Girsh was MIA, and not for the first week; looks like his manager has gone AWOL. Rough way for him to go out. Early exits for Kire Zopp(9) and young Guus Dirckx(16), while everyone else moved on.

In the third round, another Sri Lanka eliminator with Mooljee crushing Shreya Ujjaval. Janin and Niklas were both pushed to three sets but advanced. Sigmund Kronecker was the big story, having already beat Dirckx and now taking out 5th-ranked Johnny Browne to keep moving on. He was the only party-crasher in the quarterfinals with 7 of the top 8 making it there once again. Couldn't get past Gillo Fangio though. Favorites Kaspar and Niklas also kept going, while Prakash Mooljee got flat-out humiliated 6-3, 6-0 by Janin. I came in here thinking Mooljee might still be the best clay player in the world. That appears to be ... optimistic, to put it kindly.

Luc Janin pushed past Niklas in one routine semi, while Fangio came up with a mild upset over Mateo Kaspar, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3. That broke a three-match losing streak between the two, with many more to come. Fangio had just enough to win a tight final, claiming his second Masters Shield and strengthening his grip on the world no. 3 spot.

Ritwik Dudwadkar entered a small challenger in Zagreb, easily winning in singles but going nowhere in doubles. That was enough for him to take a few weeks off.
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Old 03-24-2017, 08:50 AM   #593
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Rome Masters

More first-round pain for us. Senepathy qualified again by lost to another one. Mehul dropped a close 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 to Americian qualifier Gregory Mackenzie. After losing in the second round of doubles as well last week, he and Kroese would make a tough run here to the semis where they narrowly lost a super TB 12-10 to the 4th seeds. So at least there was that to hang his hat on.

Another early exit by Zopp here, and also by Browne who really looks like he's fallen off a cliff this year although he was never much of a clay player. The third round was rough for both remaining Sri Lanka players. Mooljee just escaped Martin Zarco(14), with Shreya Ujjaval giving Janin a tough match before fading. Juan de los Santos is another guy appearing to fall off the pace this year, dropping a three-set match to Phillippe Besson after having dominated the first set. Besson and surprise German of the week Joseph Boller were the crashers to the quarterfinal round.

Mooljee and Luc Janin met again here, and it was closer this time; but the same result, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. Boller kept moving with an upset of Tomas Niklas; he appears to be a fairly serious customers. Kaspar and Fangio set up another clash by winning their encounters. This time, Mateo Kaspar came out narrowly ahead, 6-2, 5-7, 7-6(5). Boller stunned Janin in straight-sets on the other side, and comes through to the final unseeded in what has to be the most surprising run this year. Previously, he'd made it to quarterfinals once in Monte Carlo, and never at any other big event.

Kaspar ended his bid in a 6-4, 6-4 final to claim his 4th Masters.

Coming Up ...

Things are getting tight at the top now. If Prakash Mooljee doesn't at least reach the final in the upcoming slam at RG, Kaspar could wrench the #1 spot away from him there. Dudwadkar continues to move up very slowly, and continues to struggle against players of his own ability in the Top 50. Sushant Chiba had a few weeks off here, while Mehul will be seeded at RG in doubles for the first time.
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Old 03-31-2017, 09:39 PM   #594
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Roland Garros

'Twas a sad event for Sri Lanka tennis to start things off. Girsh is MIA, Ujjaval had been fired by his manager a couple weeks previous and he didn't show up either; both at least figured to have a shot at making the round of 16 minimum, so they're not irrelevant yet. Shyam Senepathy won just seven games in losing badly to an Argentine player who isn't even in the Top 50. Mehul won a tough match in four sets in his first round, but it definitely was a poor start as there were just the two players representing us. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

A couple of has-beens were knocked out in the first round; Andronikov was one, the second was probably the round's best match. Spanish qualifier Lucio Astaburuagua ended 31-seed Theodore Bourdet, 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-7(4), 7-6(8), 7-5. It's the first Slam appearance for Astaburuagua, so he really made a splash, and backed it up by winning his next match as well. The second round saw a shocked with world no. 4 Tomas Niklas going out in straight sets to Frenchman Hubert Lavicq, and a minor footnote as well with Moicevic departing early. Niklas has literally never lost this early in a Slam before, and was a finalist last year so for him to lose this easily to an unseeded player is a monstrous upset.

The third round saw a couple of upsets also; Browne was knocked out by fellow US player Ariel Borja(17), and the #2 American, Tiosav Srbulovic, lost in four to Guus Dirckx(18). A couple of rising stars making a path for themselves there. Mooljee kept right on trucking in the fourth round, crushing Cirakovic dropping just two games in the process, a rare domination this late in a tournament. No. 3 Gillo Fangio exited to Zarco in straight sets; Fangio's a credible clay-courter and this was definitely not the showing he was hoping for.

The quarterfinals had three players outside the Top 8, so there was more of a mix than usual. Mooljee had his first real fight, and nearly was dropped by Juan de los Santos. Santos was looked to show his supremacy on the dirt, and almost made it a straight-set affair before Prakash rallied for a 3-6, 7-6(7), 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 win. It was one of those he should have won easier, with a big BP edge of 18-8, but had to just keep fighting and grind it out. Martin Zarco gave Spain a representative in the final four by defeating Borja in four sets, while Kaspar and Janin were challenged with each losing a set, but both moved on as well on the bottom of the bracket.

Prakash Mooljee found Zarco to be almost as tough as Santos, but once again was relentless on return in a four-set win to reach the final. Kaspar-Janin was a fine second match, and Luc Janin walked away frustrated with a 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 loss. He was just 4 of 16 in break chances, while Kaspar converted 6 of 9. The difference in serve was significant, but the world no. 2 still got pretty fortunate here. By taking this match, he guarantees that he will ascend to the top spot, regardless of the result of the last match.

Mateo Kaspar may have reached the top of the mountain, but Mooljee showed him he hasn't learned everything yet in a dominant 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 display. It's his first Slam title in almost a year and 8th overall, tying him with Mehul for the national record and 6th all-time. Any win over Kaspar is a good one, and he'll stay close behind him for the time being.

Elsewhere ...

Ritwik Dudwadkar entered the tier-3 challenger in Dublin, and lost another one of those matches I figured he'd have a shot in. Seems he loses all of them. This one was against 2-seed Hsuang-tsung Teng of New Zealand, who hangs out in the lower 40s in the rankings. 6-4, 6-4 was the final and a pretty fair representation of the match. Definitely needs to keep working, he's not ready to take the next step yet.
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Old 04-01-2017, 10:05 PM   #595
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June

The 'Channel Slam' break was not all that eventful, but there were a few things going on. Dudwadkar took the whole month off, but the rest of my players were out there for something. Prakash Mooljee was pushed to three sets in three straight matches by younger players, but narrowly managed to defend his title at the Halle 500. Slowly improving Milos Schmucker of the Czech Republic was first, followed by a couple of German home-crowd favorites in Moicevic and Kronecker. Not his best tennis, but Mooljee did just barely enough. Anil Mehul had his first doubles-only outing in Halle as well, making the semifinals as he continues to rise slowly. Sushant Chiba's latest outing saw him reach the semifinals before losing in both brackets, a decent showing.

Coming Up ...

Wimbledon. We've about reached the halfway point, and Mooljee will be trying to stay as close to Kaspar as possible.
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Old 04-04-2017, 12:20 AM   #596
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2051 Wimbledon

A little better showing here than at RG, as we had four entrants. Shyam Senepathy lost in a close straight-sets match, but Mooljee, Ujjaval, and Mehul all easily won in the opening round. Cypriot Alberto Sartzetakis pulled off the biggest upset, knocking out Agustin Herrera(30) in five sets. He took down another Herrera in the next round, again going the distance. Quite a tournament for Sartzetakis. Anil Mehul did well to push Fangio to four sets but he was never going to win that matchup. Andronikov had an absolutely horrid showing, winning just five games against German Andre Feimer ... he is really crashing. There were a couple of epic matches in which lower seeds just survived; Blagota Cojanovic (20)was pushed to 9-7 in the 5th, 10-8 for young Ruslan Strelkov(27).

The third round didn't bring many surprises either. The one big one was a doozy though. Third-ranked Gillo Fangio was stunned by Guus Dircx in straight sets, winning just nine games and getting totally dominated. Dircx is definitely on his way up, but not to that stratosphere; I totally didn't see it coming. Cirakovic beat Guardado, 11-9 in the 5th, and Zarco had a match go nearly that long, but neither result was shocking.

Finishing up the first week, Shreya Ujjaval met his end against Niklas; he had a chance to win a couple of sets but came up empty. A quite respectable showing for him though to still make the last 16. Mooljee had his first test against Ariel Borja(17), getting through in three but he had to work a little for it. The top half of the draw had a couple of quite interesting matches. Dircx kept going, knocking out Martin Zarco in a hard-fought four, while Juan de los Santos(7) kept the dream alive for Spain with a riveting rally over 9th-seeded Besson, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(8), 8-6.

Dircx is the lone party-crasher in the quarterfinals, everyone else was a Top 8 seed. Kaspar knocked out Luc Janin in another tough draw for the Canadian, straight sets but it was a tight match. Dircx kept the magic going against Santos, and he's been a master of the tiebreaks all tournament; he won all three in a four-set win here. Prakash Mooljee fell early, victimized by the big serve of Johnny Browne(6), 7-5, 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-4. Mooljee was right there with him step for step most of the way, but couldn't match the firepower of 25 aces and in pivotal moments that was the difference. Khasan Zakirov isn't often mentioned as a big threat these days, but he easily beat Niklas in another surprise.

So it was sort of Kaspar and the misfits in the semifinals. He's a prohibitive favorite against three players who are thrilled to make it this far. Guus Dircx gave him two tough sets but then fell off when he couldn't break through; Browne and Zakirov gave the fans a very lengthy second match, taking 412 points to resolve; the American is the master of the five-setter and he prevailed again, 12-10 in the finale. In the title match, Mateo Kaspar found himself down two sets early. He rallied to force another 5th ... but Browne somehow had the energy to win it, a stunning upset. He's an accomplished grass-court player, but his results this year prior to this have not been inspiring, and attention has been focused on the Kaspar/Fangio/Janin trio. Despite his lack of results elsewhere he now holds two of the four Slams, moving himself back up to 4th in the rankings.

Elsewhere ...

Ritwik Dudwadkar was runner-up to #35 Manee Paschal at tier-3 Winnetka, once again showing that he is not yet ready for the next step. Sushant Chiba was forced to choke down a pair of breadsticks in a terrible first-round exit in his next outing, but he did manage to win the title in doubles so it wasn't a totally wasted week for him.
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Old 04-06-2017, 05:04 PM   #597
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Got a lot of ground to catch up on here.

July

Prakash Mooljee took the whole break off, and his Olympic title from last year drops off dropping him back towards the pack a little. Same for
Anil Mehul
and Ritwik Dudwadkar, but Sushant Chiba did play one more juniors event, winning in singles and losing in the QF in doubles. Otherwhise it was just a few weeks of training.
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Old 04-06-2017, 05:17 PM   #598
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Canada Masters

The biggest thing I noticed this week is that a long-time prodigy, 5th-ranked Luc Janin, has started self-destructing. It's a management-inflicted thing; he's playing both doubles and singles in all the big events which is just way too big of a workload, and is getting terribly worn out. Unfortunate, but it's good news for the rest of the top players. He lasted till the third round here.

Otherwhise it was a bad start for Spain with Santos and Zarco both exiting early on this week. Shyam Senepathy qualified and won a match, Ujjaval reached the third round, losing to Fangio, and Mehul dropped out in the first round ... but won his first doubles Masters, beating the powerful Trulsen/Gaskell team in the final! Looks like he's headed for some pretty big things in that competition now that his singles career has wound down.

The usual suspects made it to the quarters in singles, with a couple of American party-crashes(Borja and Srbulovic) which is typical for this time of year as they tend to be strong on the hardcourts. Kaspar knocked out Ariel Borja but it was a fight at 7-5, 6-4 there. Johnny Browne edged Niklas in a third-set tiebreaker; the Czech former no. 2 is becoming less and less of a factor. Gillo Fangio knocked out Zakirov, and Mooljee edged by Tiosav Srbulovic, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Pretty good showing there actually after a poor start.

Mateo Kaspar easily took care of Browne in the first semi, and in the second one Mooljee had another comeback to eliminate Fangio 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4. He certainly isn't going quietly. Even though they are very close in the rankings, it's his 8th win in 10 meetings with the still-youngish Italian. The script flipped in the final though; Kaspar came through 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. Mooljee was the more consistent player in a tight match, but the French champion is always tough in key moments and that proved true again here.

Elsewhere ...

Ritwik Dudwadkar found his best challenger opportunity at tier-2 Compos do Jardao(Brazil), and cruised to victory while reaching the QFs in doubles. Czech Petr Duris, ranked 80th and the second seed, was easily dispatched in a 6-2, 6-4 final. A good week for him.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 04-06-2017 at 05:17 PM.
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Old 04-23-2017, 12:11 PM   #599
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Two and a half weeks since last I posted in here. It's been a fun period personally ... and I've also been distracted by another project. That's what I got as far as excuses. Anyway the year has ended so it's time to spam the thread. I'll give an overview of the end instead of going back through specifics, some of which I don't recall.

World Team Cup

This is always a priority. When we left off, we had the USO and then the QFs here coming up. Germany, on clay, was potentially difficult but we did well, beating them 4-1. Over the years this has been our most common result; lose the doubles, win everything else. The Germans have a couple of strong players -- both just inside the Top 20 as of year-end -- but Mooljee and Ujjaval handled them.

Italy was next and they put up more of a fight. Gillo Fangio outlasted Ujjaval in a classic on grass in day 2: 7-5, 4-6, 4-6, 7-6(10), 6-4. That 4th-set breaker was our chance for the upset there. Then we lost the doubles and were just one more loss away from being eliminated. It was up to Prakash Mooljee to stop Fangio, and he did that in four tight sets. Ujjaval finished things off on the last day and we survived 3-2, moving on to the final.

There we would tangle with France, and legend in the making Mateo Kaspar. The world no. 1 won both of his outings, with Mooljee getting him 6-2 in the first set before Kaspar established dominance the rest of the way. They weren't up to the task in doubles though, and the French #2, Davide Poilblan(world no. 24) showed that he is clearly past it in getting bulldozed both times. For the second straight round we barely get it done, defending our world championship 3-2!

It was an exciting tournament. There were times in all three knockout rounds that I thought we might lose, which is rare. We're still the best in the world due to the balance that we get from Anil Mehul's increased doubles play and Shreya Ujjaval being a quality #2 singles, though nothing like what Girsh was. We are no longer able to dominate, that's for sure -- and Dudwadkar can't replace Ujjaval soon enough for my liking.

Final 2051 National Rankings

These are actually after the first WTC round of '52.

1. Sri Lanka -- 2715
2. United States -- 2356
3. Spain -- 2241
4. France -- 2114
5. Argentina -- 2087
6. Sweden -- 2035
7. Germany -- 2022
8. Croatia -- 1998
9. Italy -- 1980
10. The Netherlands -- 1860

We've pulled out to a dominant lead again after a second straight world championship and 6th in the last 7 years. It's a stretch that is fully the equal of anything ever achieved before. 4th through 9th are so competitive that nobody is in the same place they actually were at the end of last year. Very fluid there, and the USA is still ahead of the rest but they did us a lot of favors with an upset QF loss to the Netherlands that pretty much shocked everyone last season. Our overall spot at the top seems safe unless they can put together a couple of good consistent years.

2052 Draw

Group 2 this year, and we could fail to win our group again this year. Little question we'll advance though. Third-ranked Spain is a rough go, and wouldn't you know it we've drawn them on clay. Could well lose that one. We just finished bullying #11 Ukraine 4-1, with a five-set doubles setback the only blemish, and #15 Peru doesn't figure to challenge either. Without a Top-50 singles player, they're doing well to merely be in the top level of competition.

It'd be nice to beat Spain, but we'll get through group play regardless and that's when the real fun begins.
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Old 04-23-2017, 12:40 PM   #600
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2051 Final Top Player Rankings

1. Mateo Kaspar(23, FRA) -- 16,540

Kaspar has only one foe the next several years: history. It's hard to believe he'd never made the second week before this past season. Not since the magnificent Eric Gorritepe, who seems more a myth than a man these days, has anyone amassed the like of Mateo's 95-4 record in '51. He won six Masters, both hard-court Slams while reaching the finals of the other two, and repeated at the World Tour Finals. Mooljee had several shots at him over the second half of the year and was always competitive but always came up short ... and that gap is growing. Mateo has no rivals, and I don't see him ending up worse than #2 all-time. For the next few years I think he'll continue to be untouchable -- probably increasingly so. On hardcourt, nobody has a chance.

2. Prakash Mooljee(27, SRI) -- 10,210

Occupying the distant top challenger position, Mooljee had a good second-half run nonetheless. At one point he lost to Kaspar in four straight events, beating all other comers and oming very close to winning a couple times. Canada, Cincinatti, USO, Shanghai, Paris. Then Fangio got him at the Tour Finals, but it was a good show of determination and focus. It just wasn't enough in the face of an obvious generational talent. 82-12 is a big step back from his mark the last few years, but he was more consistent than the few others capable of challenging him this year.

3. Gillo Fangio(24, ITA) -- 7,660

It's easy to forget about Fangio with all of the deserved hype that Kaspar gets. He had a disappointing year as well, esp. early -- but he's still an outstanding player and it won't be long before he grabs the #2 spot. He held it briefly this year already, before Prakash snatched it back. Gillo could fade a bit before he ascends; he's got a finalist showing at the Australian Open to defend. The key this year is to do better at the other Slams, none of which saw him get to the second week. That should be automatic for a player of his skills. When the channel slams arrive in the late spring he needs to bring his game. If he does that, he should take the spot of top opposition for the long haul.

4. Johnny Browne(26, USA) -- 7,270

Inconsistent but dynamic, Browne adds a unique flavor to the tour. After doing a whole lot of not-much in the first half, Johnny was the unexpected Wimbledon champ and then bulled his way back to the USO final before Kaspar stopped him. The USA's top player can make even more of a nuisance of himself this year if he gets it off to a better start.

5. Luc Janin(25, CAN) -- 6,280

Underachiever is no longer a debate; it fits Janin to a T. Management was the problem this past year, and one can only hope the penchant for overplaying is reigned in this season. I'm not holding my breath though. This season and next should he best two campaigns, so he's out of time to figure it out as a meteoric player looking at a swift decline afterwards. If he handles his business, moving up to #3 is the minimum expectation. If he doesn't, he could even plummet. Who knows.

6. Khasan Zakirov(28, UZB) -- 4,645

Not a lot to say about Zhakirov. He's still hanging out as the 'best of the rest' here as he slowly fades. Can't challenge the Top 5 who are all a lot better, but good enough to be relevant and come up with the occasional upset. Six times he made the QFs of a Masters this year, and he went deep at RG and Wimbledon as well.

7. Juan de los Santos(26, ESP) -- 4,195

Santos ran into a bit of a wall this year, losing in all five of his big-event QF appearances. He's just on the downside of his career it seems, having peaked at #6.

8. Tomas Niklas(CZE, 27) -- 3,945

A long fall from #3 to afterthought this year, which appears to have been Niklas' last in the Tour Finals. He was just 53-19 after a career-best 77 wins the year before. Some players grow old gracefully, but that's not the case here. A fine career as a long-time #2, but he never reached the pinnacle. Two Masters titles, and he'll always have the '48 Wimbledon trophy to remember as his finest achievement. Also helped the Czechs win three WTC titles in his early years.

9. Philippe Besson(SUI, 26) -- 3,360

A SF run at last year's AO was followed by solid results the rest of the year, eventually getting the first Swiss in memory in the Top 10. Besson hasn't shown the consistency to prove he can stay here though; that's a big question facing this season.

10. Tiosav Srbulovic(USA, 26) -- 3,325

It seems Srbulovic has been hanging out here forever. Cleans up pretty well in the smaller events, but only makes the rare push in the big ones, often checking out before he should.

11. Jake Jolland(USA, 25) -- 3,295

12. Ariel Borja(USA, 23) -- 3,065

13. Guus Dircx(NLD, 21) -- 3,040

It looks like it's only a matter of time before Borja and Dircx kick out a couple of more experienced players on the first page. With four players in the top dozen, the United States continues to flex its muscles here.


Manager Ranking

I'm continuing to fall, down to 34k and less than 5k above #2 hugoboy, who manages Kaspar and is obviously doing a good job of it. By this time next year I expect I'll have lost my grip, and won't get it back until at least Mehul retires into training and I can bring up some new studs.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 04-23-2017 at 12:42 PM.
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