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Old 11-08-2017, 06:59 PM   #701
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Madrid

The clay season heats up, and Mehul/Kroese start it off with a QF loss to the rising Spanish pairing of Alvelo/Algarin. It wasn't real close, and they would eventually make the final. Shyam Senepathy qualified but was then crushed by Piazzola. So much for all of that.

No seeds went out in the first round, but Teng was dropped in the second by Andres Varas in a match that went the distance. He didn't stop there, claiming the scalp of Ruben Piazzola, a fine clay player, 7-5, 7-5 in the third. Quite an impressive showing for Varas. Also in the third round, Prakash Mooljee dropped the first set against Rosenberg before rallying for a win, and Kronecker upset Gillo Fangio. Not having the best clay season is the third-ranked Italian.

Along with Varas, American Gregory Mackenzie made it two unseeded players into the quarters. The Argentine got a whole two games off Kaspar, while Mackenzie was the second player in a row to win the opening set against Mooljee then lose the match. Guus Dircx was upended in a close two by Dudwadkar, and Martin Zarco narrowly escaped Kronecker, 7-5 in the third. There were some really tight matches here, with the exception of our sporting potentate.

Mateo Kaspar thumped Mooljee 6-2, 6-3 in the first semi, while Zarco had little more trouble with Ritwik Dudwadkar in the second match. Pretty good showing by both players but they didn't do much on this day. The final was Kaspar's toughest match, but that's relative; lost seven games in a straight-sets win, converting all five of his break points. If he's going to beat everyone even on the dirt, there is truly no hope for the rest of the tour.
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Old 11-09-2017, 10:02 PM   #702
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Rome

Mehul/Kroese bounce back again with a better showing than last week. Easily they took down the #2 seeds in the quarters, resulting in close loss to #4s Podkopayev/Cordovez in the semis. 12-10 in the super tiebreak ... doesn't get much tighter than that. A point or two from the final there. Shyam Senepathy qualified again, but ran into Varas, one of the more dangerous floaters lately. A bagel and a breadstick later, he was on his way out and quickly.

Jake Jolland narrowly survived a qualifier's challenge, but all the seeds safely got through their first hurdle. Alexey Nikitin had himself a decent tournament, getting one win and throwing a scare into Panter before falling 6-4, 7-6(5) in the second round. Andres Varas worked his magic again, dropping Teng at that stage, while Johnny Browne had a horrible 6-2, 6-2 defeat to countryman Cone. 15th-ranked Espinoza also left early. Two Top-10 players gone already. On to the third round, and Varas claimed another scalp(Rosenberg, who won just four games). [b]Guus Dircx[b] had himself another disaster, falling to Benno Duhr. And Prakash Mooljee went out to clay veteran Kronecker, 6-4, 6-4. Really not that bad a result all things considered, until you see the details and realize that he did basically nothing on return. Zarco came very close to losing to Schmucker, which would have been a shocking result.

Only half the expected players made it to the quarterfinals. Low seeds Duhr and Piazzola joined non-seeds Duhr and Varas along with the notables. Martin Zarco showed that his poor play in the previous round was no mirage, getting lasted 1 & 2 by Kaspar. Not an inspiring showing for him here. Varas had the same line against Kronecker, while Ruben Piazzola wins the door prize with at 7-5, 6-2 of the Austrian Duhr. Match of the day was the last one, Fangio going up against Ritwik Dudwadkar. A poor second set by Dudwadkar sent it to a decider, which he ultimately edged in a tiebreak. That breaks a string of three straight defeats to the Italian, but he's 3-0 against him on clay(1-7 everywhere else). Each of those clay victories has gone the distance though.

Sigmund Kronecker was the first to take a set off Kaspar in a while, falling 6-1, 6-7(4), 6-4 in a first semi that was quite good after the first set. Piazzola had his series with Dudwadkar knotted at 3-all, failing to dent Ritwik's serve in three attempts. This gave another opportunity at Mateo Kaspar, the king of everything. Already the 5th meeting of the year. It started well but went the way of the other four, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4. Kaspar definitely showed some vulnerability here, but he once again got through to another title. It's not foregone that he wins RG though. Likely ... but he was offered resistance in the final two rounds.

A big run here for Dudwadkar who narrowly moves up to a career-best of #3. He may well not stay there, but it's quite helpful for him to get a draw that will avoid the top players until the semifinal round.
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Old 11-11-2017, 10:19 AM   #703
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Roland Garros

Another solid but unspectacular showing from Mehul/Kroese, who lost a close quarterfinal match here. They're hanging around, but slowly fading from view. Shyam Senepathy drew 14th-ranked Jolland in the first round, and took a set but lost fairly meekly.

I was surprised to see Juan de los Santos(ESP, 18th) as the only seed to go out in the first round. After a long match with Cypriot Alberto Sartzekakis, he was defeated 7-5 in the 5th on his best surface. It's safe to say Santos, now nearly 30 years old, is done. He once was ranked 6th in the world. Johnny Browne was the first big name to go out in round two, courtesy of Ivan Coria in four sets. Alenichev joined him while some others had to struggle more than expected. Mooljee was pushed to a couple of tiebreaks before coming through in straight sets.

In the third, #11 Schmucker lost out to Maliagros(25th), while the matchup between unseeded players saw Coria go out to Frenchman Christophe Asqueborg, 6-7(2), 4-6, 6-0, 7-6(3), 7-5. Aside from the middle set is was quite a match, and the home crowd definitely played a part of Christophe's comeback. Ranked outside the Top 100 coming in, it's quite a feat for him to win three matches here. Alexey Nikitin was another victim of losing a two-set lead, this against MacKenzie. Big missed opportunity for him, slowing his ascent. Ariel Borja made his first appearance in a long while, outlasting Rosenberg 9-7 in the 5th set of a real epic. Mooljee dropped a set against Beno Duhr but managed to push on, while Dudwadkar has not yet been remotely challenged. Gregory Mackenzie managed a second straight 5-set comeback win in the fourth round, this against 7th-ranked Hsuang-tsung Teng. The American is dashing a lot of hopes this week. It was pretty much as expected elsewhere except for a fine match between Prakash Mooljee and Piazzola. Rallying from two sets down to force a fifth, Mooljee couldn't complete this rally, and loses a tight one in which both players won 173 points apiece. The younger Chilean did apply the more consistent pressure though, and was the deserved winner. After a SF showing last year and four straight finals(two titles) here before that, it's a pretty big fall for Mooljee to not even make the second week.

Top four and five of the top six all made the quarterfinals, so it's top-heavy but Kronecker(10th), Piazzola(13th), and Mackenzie(16th) are all not seeded to show. First two are strong clay players though, so the American is really the only real surprise. Sigmund Kronecker kept up his good play and gave Kaspar a serious run for his money before falling 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-4. That's by far the toughest match the #1 has had since his season-opening defeat. Mackenzie was crushed by Fangio, Piazzola pushed Guus Dircx to four sets but had nothing left by the third, and another real toss-up was played in the last match between Zarco and Ritwik Dudwadkar. Back and forth it went, ending at 2-6, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4, 10-8, the Spaniard narrowly prevailing. Paper-thin margin here; it came down Martin having the better serve(17 to 8 aces) and getting a couple more free points at the end as the grinding wore on both men. He wasn't as consistent as you can see by the first and third sets, but Dudwadkar couldn't quite match his peak level. Very close ... but not quite there.

Gillo Fangio took a pair of tiebreaks to start things off with Kaspar ... but lost the third set 7-5 and would win only three games the rest of the way. Mateo simply would not be denied. This was the chance to knock off the King, but Fangio blinked and before you know it he'd lost a golden opportunity. In the other half, Martin Zarco had to go the distance and rally again, but he did so, stopping Dircx. He presented a third straight quality foe for Mateo Kaspar, but once again it wasn't enough, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(2), 7-5. Gotta tip your cap to the French legend, this was not an easy tournament for him and he had to fight for it. Earned it though, his third RG title and second in a row. Eight straight Slam titles. That's insane.
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Old 11-12-2017, 01:38 PM   #704
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June

Ritwik Dudwadkar headed back to Halle(500), which he won last year, as his grass warmup. He defended his title there, but it was far from easy; Piazzola pushed him to a third set in the semis, and it took a pair of tiebreaks to stop Guus Dircx in the final. Prakash Mooljee played in Queen's Club, but lost early --10th-seed Cristian Castegali eliminated him in the round of 16, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6(4). Anil Mehul added another tier-2 futures win the next week, while Sushant Chiba took a short trip to China. There he got a tier-3 futures, winning both singles and doubles to claim his first tournament title at this level.
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Old 11-13-2017, 09:01 PM   #705
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Wimbledon

Not too bad, not too good for Mehul/Kroese who continue to sort of hang around. They made it to the quarters pretty easily, losing there to (3)Zopp/Srbulovic in four sets. Could have been a straight-sets loss. Shyam Senepathy had a miserable trip to England, losing right away to qualifier Pantelija Cucurevic in four. It wasn't as close as that sounds; he only won six games combined in the three sets he lost. Not his finest moment.

All the seeds went through their first match, though Luc Janin was pushed the distance -- and then bageled his challenger in the final stanza. All made it through the second one as well. Definitely rare to see none of the Top 32 get bounced early. Blagota Cojanovic had the most trouble against Zimmolo, coming through 6-7(1), 7-6(1), 7-6(4), 7-5. 54 aces and five breaks of serve, only two total points separating the players. That's grass-court tennis for you. In the next round, he proceeded to take an epic against former champion Johnny Browne, 8-6 in the 5th for that upset. That was really the only notable surprise though as things continue to go amazingly on-form. Valentin Rosenberg had to go to 9-7 in the final set to evade Besson, and Espinoza was pushed the distance as well, but both got through.

On then to the fourth without a whole lot having happened yet. Jake Jolland pushed Kaspar to a pair of early tiebreaks, yet departed in straights. Cojanovic was dismissed routinely by Dudwadkar later on. #3 Martin Zarco was knocked out by Schmucker, a finalist last year, in four sets. Not a huge surprise there given the 11th-ranked Czech's grass acumen. There were two real epics on display though, both in the bottom half. Prakash Mooljee was involved in probably the best one, an age-vs-youth tussle against American Matthew Panter(13th). He came out on top of it, 6-7(11), 6-3, 6-3, 6-7(5), 10-8. Couldn't win a tiebreak, but eventually managed to get through in the final set. Panter's despicable 2 of 19 showing on break chances was the match; without that, he's the one moving on. Then, after each player had survived a 5-setter in the last round, Rosenberg and Espinoza both went there again. The Swede eventually made it out, 8-6 in the determiner. The quality and excitement of play rising, the first week was complete.

7 of the Top 8, plus last year's finalist Milos Schmucker. A real high-quality field to decide tennis's grandest championship this year. Milos rallied from two sets down, perhaps taking advantadge of fatigue in a victory over Rosenberg that stood as the match of the round. Elsewhere, Kaspar eased past Hsuang-tsung Teng, and Gillo Fangio lost a trio of 6-4 sets to Dudwadkar in a critical matchup for both players, stunning failing to convert any of his four break opportunities, and just as surprisingly losing the ace battle 19 to 7. Guus Dircx was sent home a bit early by Mooljee in four sets, a pretty surprising result. Even match, another one decided by which player would convert in the big moments. A fair bit of choking going on out there, and we seem to be taking advantadge.

Mateo Kaspar continued his trend of taking a close tiebreaker and then steamrolling in the semifinals, sending Dudwadkar home 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-3. Schmucker stopped Mooljee in another three sets, though much closer, in the second match. So both of our players end up two wins shy of the title, one of the final. Not bad really. It's the same matchup as last year -- and the same result, though Milos Schmucker looked to have the upper hand. Another escape by Kaspar here, 6-7(4), 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3, 6-4. He could easily have lost both here and RG -- but he won both. It's one of those summers that really puts the stamp on his legacy, just refusing to lose even when he's up against it and doesn't appear to have his best game. 29 aces for Schmucker ... but 0-for-6 with the chance to break the legend. And that's pretty much that.
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Old 11-13-2017, 09:06 PM   #706
Brian Swartz
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Rankings Update

1. Mateo Kaspar(26, FRA) - 20,000

Most points I've ever seen, and 97% of the maximum possible. After sweeping the clay season for the first time ever, Kaspar is now threatening to have the greatest single-season in history and sitting on 61 consecutive match wins. If he is perfect over the second half of the year, which he was he last couple of seasons, he'll be the first to ever go an entire year with only a single loss. It only takes one match to ruin that, which has almost happened already, but I still wouldn't bet against him. It's been over two years since he lost on anything other than clay, and that's now in the rear-view.

2. Guus Dircx(25, NLD) -- 6,980

Just hanging on to the #2 after a QF loss at Wimbledon. Already a surprising 11 losses for him.

3. Martin Zarco(26, ESP) -- 6,930

Zarco could become the new #2 if he can keep up his excellent play -- had his usual early exit at Wimbledon(4th round) but prior to that a strong clay season with two finals along with surprisingly good hardcourt results had him exceeding expectations with his rise.

4. Gillo Fangio(27, ITA) -- 6,285

Continuing to slide and we're seeing more doubles out of him. Soon Fangio's Top 4 spot will belong in the hands of someone else.

5. Prakash Mooljee(31, SRI) -- 6,150

The strong run at Wimbledon pushed him back into the spot of our nation's top player for a bit; he'd lost in the third round the year before. His best Slam showing since the USO last year; he can't play at that level consistently, but still managing at 31 to be a threat once in a while.

6. Ritwik Dudwadkar(25, SRI) -- 5,970

Still hasn't made a decisive move upwards, but it's coming. He's just over a thousand points short of the #2 spot, and playing as well as anybody in that group with the possible exception of Zarco overall. His 8 losses are the second-fewest(to Kaspar of course) and the majority of them including Wimbledon have come to the French legend.

7. Valentin Rosenberg(25, SWE) -- 4,440

Rosenberg has been steady in recent months but not spectacular, and if he doesn't repeat his final at Canada last year he'll be sliding back down in the next edition of these rankings. Still improving, and a clear threat to almost anyone on hardcourts.

8. Hsuang-tsung Teng(25, NZL) -- 4,425

QF showing at Wimbledon was a round worse than a year ago, but it's still been a solid year for him. Tough to compete with the top half-dozen right now and he's not up for that challenge, at least not yet.

9. Sigmund Kronecker(27, DEU) -- 3,860

Quarterfinals at least in all of the big clay events kept him afloat, but it wouldn't surprise me me to see Germany's top player fall off the first page by year's end.

10. Johnny Browne(29, USA) -- 3,665

Browne is shifting more and more into doubles -- he's done as a singles player and he knows it.

12. Ruben Piazzola(24, CZE)

13. Matthew Panter(24, USA)

Both still hanging out in the wings, waiting for others to falter.

16. Gregory Mackenzie(24, USA)

Him too, just a bit further down.

17. Benno Duhr(25, AUS)

Some big clay wins for Duhr who is up from 31st at the end of last year. He's pretty terrible on hardcourts though, so that might be the end of the rise for now.

20. Vinnie Cone(24, USA)

Up somewhat from 25th at the start of the year. Cone has a chance to make more of a splash in the US summer HC events.

22. Dick Blake(23, USA)

Same story; up a few spots but not making a huge move.

23. Alexey Alenichev(24, RUS)

Has bounced around a lot the last couple years, but another guy up modestly from 30th.

27. Alexey Nikitin(23, UKR)

Already cut his ranking last year(51st) in half, but the assault has slowed. Good enough to be dangerous, not good enough to take down many Top 10 players yet, so a continued gradual rise now is expected. Better than those around him though.

28. Stuart Pargeter(22, USA)

Another britrock special and a guy who has joined the Blake/Nikitin generation coming up. +10 already this season.

32. Damian Cortecedo(24, CHI)

A strong clay game has him +10 from 42nd.

Good grief that's a lot of young players heading in the right direction or at least treading water. The next youth movement is definitely here.

177. Stanley Edleman(19, USA)

Tried and failed to qualify for Roland Garros, but did so at Wimbledon of course, getting the opening-round baptism by Dudwadkar. He's playing his first Challenger as I write this, so we'll see how his progress through that tier goes. Only one loss in futures play, and that was several months ago; Edleman tore through that level with ease.

190. Anil Mehul(39, SRI)

Down to 15th in doubles, just hanging on to the inner circle there. WTF qualification is a big question mark. In singles, he's moved back into the Challenger range, and we'll see how that goes soon. A sparkling 24-1 record in the futures events so far this year.

703. Sushant Chiba(19, SRI)

Got that first futures title a few weeks ago in China, and is still somewhat better than players at his ranking but is losing some in practice as well. Gradually plowing upwards but definitely taking it slower now, and won't be seeing Edleman on the court anytime soon.
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Old 11-13-2017, 09:07 PM   #707
Brian Swartz
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Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-Wimbledon Edition

In

Mateo Kaspar -- 11,900

The nigh-invincible potentate of tennis stands very much alone.

Probable

Martin Zarco -- 4960
Ritwik Dudwadkar -- 4530
Guus Dircx -- 4400
Prakash Mooljee -- 3595

You can see very clearly here what Zarco has achieved this year -- and what Fangio hasn't, since he's dropped down below. Meanwhile, Dudwadkar has played like at minimum a Top-4 player, and is anxious to see that eventually reflected. It's not at all out of the question for him to take the #2 spot by year's end, though the draws he is getting right now from the sixth position will certainly hamper that pursuit.


Contenders

Valentin Rosenberg -- 2985
Sigmund Kronecker -- 2855
Gillo Fangio -- 2845
----------------------------
Milos Schmucker -- 2725
Ruben Piazzola -- 2640

Many things could still happen this year. I knew Fangio wasn't doing well -- but I didn't know it was this dire. Schmucker has back-to-back Wimbledon finals but nothing to go with them other than 250 titles. That won't be enough. Kronecker and Piazzola figure to fade now that clay is done. And others can challenge this group as well, while it already contains quite the logjam.


Long-Shots

Hsuang-tsung Teng -- 2535
Johnny Browne -- 2440
Jake Jolland -- 1845

Teng's hardcourt proficiency definitely makes him the favorite the crash the party here, much as it did last year. He was adequate at best early in the season, but at worst he won't fade as much as some of the others. The two Americans here are just stirring the ashes of their careers.
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Old 11-14-2017, 07:30 PM   #708
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July

Per usual, not a lot happened with a time for rest and preparing for the second hardcourt swing. Anil Mehul played a lower-level challenger and was bounced by the top seed in the quarterfinals. He's back inside the Top 200 now but that figures to be as good as it gets for him. Mooljee, Dudwadkar, and Chiba all did a bunch of practice events/training, but had no other activity over the month.
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Old 11-15-2017, 08:37 PM   #709
Brian Swartz
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Canada Masters

The Mehul/Kroese partnership finally ended before this -- for good. Kroese's manager dumped him, and the new ownership found another player for him to join with. Without a decent mate, Mehul lost in the first round. Attempts at finding a quality replacement failed. For the rest of his playing days(about five and a half years now), Anil will be a former champion toiling in obscurity. Meanwhile Shyam Senepathy lost 6-2, 6-1 in the first round ... to fellow qualifier Efim Golubev(RUS). At least he qualified, I suppose.

Milos Schmucker was pushed to a tiebreak in his first match, but (15)Benno Duhr was the only name to fall. It wasn't really that much of an upset; Stefano Espinoza, who is almost good enough to be seeded, did the honors 6-2, 6-4. (12)Ruben Piazzola was the lone casualty in the next stage, with American Vinnie Cone narrowly defeating him. Nikitin nearly made it two, losing to 7th-ranked Teng in a deciding tiebreak. Jolland(13th) was also close to being defeated.

No suprises at all in the third, despite a number of tight scores. Teng d. Jolland 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-6(5); Rosenberg d. Mackenzie 6-7(12), 6-4, 6-4; Zarco d. Kronecker, 6-0, 3-6, 6-4; Mooljee d. Espinoza, 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-2; Fangio d. Cone, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2. That's five matches of eight going the distance without a single lower-ranked player winning; a sixth was a close two-setter with Dudwadkar moving on. Not sure I've ever seen the like of this before.

That meant another rarity in the QFs; all top eight seeds making good on their positioning. For Kaspar it was merely another warm-up round, as he blasted Hsuang-tsung Teng 6-1, 6-3. Zarco did well to get by Valentin Rosenberg in a much closer match. The other two were close as well but both decided in two sets; Ritwik Dudwadkar lost to Dircx, Prakash Mooljee to Fangio. The deserving player won in both cases, but it was somewhat disappointing. Dudwadkar had won three straight this year against his generational rival, on different surfaces; this setback makes their H2H 6-4 in Dircx's favor.

Martin Zarco made Kaspar work a bit before losing in straight sets in the first semifinal; a moderate upset in the second one as Gillo Fangio stopped the Dutch #2 6-4, 7-6(4). Didn't have a whole lot left for the final though as Mateo Kaspar cruised through 6-3, 6-0. That's what he does on hardcourts, of course.

In Australia for another tier-3 futures, Sushant Chiba made the final and ran into an old 'friend'. Ugljesa Svajnovic, the #2 player and only one to beat Edleman during their final junior year. Here we learned nothing much has changed, as Svajnovic dominated 6-1, 6-3 and won over half of Chiba's service points. That's four buttkickings in as many meetings, for those scoring at home.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 11-15-2017 at 08:39 PM.
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Old 11-17-2017, 10:51 PM   #710
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We've now reached the new year, and I got that stuff all prepared but we're close enough to the end that I'm going to keep plowing through the reports per normal. Maybe this will teach me to stay more up to date ... nah.

Cincinatti

Anil Mehul did a hair better in doubles, but not much, running into second-seeded Zopp/Srbulovic in the second round. Shyam Senepathy made a better accounting of himself though, qualifying again and making Johnny Browne play a bit before losing 6-4, 6-4.

(15)Beno Duhr lost in the first round to Tomas Niklas, now 31 but still capable of putting in his two cents every once in a while. The second round saw some interesting results in a few spots, including both of my players. Dudwadkar was pushed by young American Stuart Pargeter, but the crowd was not enough as skill won out 7-6(7), 6-3. Still a good show by the upstart and a dangerous match for me. Prakash Mooljee was not so lucky, losing in three to Zimolo. It's one of those where Mooljee was a little more consistent, but couldn't translate that into a winning edge. Elsewhere, Dick Blake took down (10) Schmucker in a nice show for the Americans, while Rosenberg narrowly beat Alexey Nikitin, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3. The close misses continue to mount for him.

The third was very straightforward, only one 'upset' and it really wasn't one; (13) Matthew Panter over Kronecker, seeded 8th. On hardcourt, with a favorable crowd, this is no surprise. Panter and 12th-ranked Piazzola are the two surprises in the quarterfinals, but not major ones. Ritwik Dudwadkar's run stopped with another loss to Kaspar, 6-3, 6-3. Not at all a terrible showing but he didn't manage a single break opportunity. Zarco outlasted Ruben Piazzola in a hardcourt matchup of two clay experts, and the bottom half was quite interesting. Panter defeated Guus Dircx in epic tiebreak fashion, 6-3, 7-6(12). Could have gone either way in the second set, and no doubt the crowd played a significant part. Then Teng rallied to go the distance and just barely defeat Gillo Fangio in the final match. All in all it was quite good viewing here.

Martin Zarco met his end against Kaspar in the first semi as expected, though he did at least force one tiebreaker. Matthew Panter did very well to make it this far, but went out in straights as well. That left Hsuang-tsung Teng in the final. He stilll lost to Mateo Kaspar, 7-6(4), 7-5, but it's rare to see the champion pushed like this on a hardcourt these days. In reality, it wasn't really that close at all; Kaspar was just 2 of 10 in break opportunities and there was a wide disparity in the match stats on the whole. Teng did just enough to make him work more than he should have.
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Old 11-18-2017, 08:56 PM   #711
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US Open

Anil Mehul continued to flounder with unknowns, seeded 13th here and losing a close second-round match in doubles. Shyam Senepathy had the misfortune of playing Dircx in his opening match; 6-3, 6-1, 6-0. A walkover by a different name.

As always, most of the quality was to be found in the matches between has-beens, journeymen, and youngsters in the first round. There was some action worth watching in a few of the matchups involving the seeds though. Angel Zaferia(31st) was pushed to a tough four, and even moreso Prakash Mooljee almost endured the unthinkable, outlasting Cristian Castegali of Mexico, one of the top unseeded players, 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3. One set away from a first-round exit. How monstrous! (26) Juan de los Santos continued to show his age, the only seed to actually lose. Nikolay Bronislav of Belarus in four sets is the answer to the trivia question. It may well be the only time we note his name. Zaferia survived another tough one in the second round, going five this time including three tiebreaks. Luc Janin was pushed the distance also, but no additional seeds were eliminated and most of the action was of the routine, three-set variety.

In the third, two of the young US hopefuls clashed with Blake taking it in four over Matthew Panter. Jolland and Cone, also Americans, butted heads with Jake the winner in five there. (9)Milos Schmucker was also pushed to the limit. Best match of the day was between Mooljee and the still-upstart (21)Alexey Nikitin. 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-6(4) was the final as Prakash wins his second 5-setter of the tournament in that most unique fashion that only the US Open has; the fifth-set tiebreak. The near-misses for Nikitin just keep coming and coming, and he probably should have won this one(+13 in total points, 193-180). In the end though, there were once again no real upsets. The fourth round brought the first bit of fight for Dudwadkar, who was taken to a pair of breakers before knocking out Sigmund Kronecker in straights. Mooljee had an easier time of it with Johnny Browne, showing how far he's fallen. The first shocker arrived with Martin Zarco losing to Piazzola in a five-set epic, close tiebreaker at the end and all. The world no. 2 is gone in the first week.

Seven of the top eight plus the Chilean surprise(although not that much of one, seeded 11th) made the quarterfinals. A strong field. Ritwik Dudwadkar was in the path of Kaspar once again and quickly dismissed. Another unfortunate draw for him in that regard, and the 7th time this year he's been eliminated by the same player. Guus Dircx was made to feel the sting of a mild upset, taken down by Rosenberg in a five-set encounter. Teng knocked out Ruben Piazzola in four, while Mooljee's journey ended against Gillo Fangio, 7-5, 6-3, 6-2.

On to the semis with no Sri Lanka representative, something that has become too commonplace. Valentin Rosenberg was absolutely throttled by Kaspar, 6-2, 6-0, 6-1. That's just brutal, opening-rounds kind of scoring. In a Slam semifinal. Hsuang-tsung Teng provided a better second match, losing to the Italian Fangio 7-5, 6-7(9), 6-4, 6-4. The final was the expected straight-sets coronation, with Mateo Kaspar rolling one more time.
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Old 11-18-2017, 09:00 PM   #712
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Top Rankings Update

1. Mateo Kaspar(FRA, 26) -- 19,250

Lost the Olympics from his total, but still has just the one loss on the year. Winning streak is now at 80 matches with no end in sight. The USO title ties him for #2 on the all-time list with Nicholas Sullivan. I really wouldn't bet against him getting the seven more he needs to set the record. Really wouldn't.

2. Martin Zarco(ESP, 26) -- 7,320

I've said a couple of times I didn't see Zarco rising above 4th or 5th. I, uh, wasn't right there.

3. Guus Dircx(NLD, 25) -- 6,710

Not having a great year, and disappointing for him to stumble a bit.

4. Gillo Fangio(ITA, 27) -- 6,455

USO final is the latest evidence of a resurgence for him. Well done for Fangio, who's past his peak but on a nice run at the moment.

5. Ritwik Dudwadkar(SRI, 25) -- 5,790

Top Sri Lanka player again, but continues to hang around the same point total, close but not quite to the next level.

6. Prakash Mooljee(SRI, 31) -- 5,620

Still doing quite well for his age overall.

7. Hsuang-tsung Teng(NZL, 25) -- 5,145

Teng has stepped away from the pack a bit, and is trying to chase down the big boys. Looks like Mooljee is his first target.

8. Valentin Rosenberg(SWE, 25) -- 3,905

This is now the best-of-the-rest spot, and Rosenberg can be counted on to make noise on any big hardcourt event. That's good enough to separate himself.

9. Milos Schmucker(CZE, 27) -- 3,620

10. Sigmund Kronecker(DEU, 28) -- 3,500

11. Ruben Piazzola(CHI, 24) -- 3,495

Piazzola comes so close to breaking in but isn't quite there yet. Might be on the verge of finally making it though.

13. Matthew Panter(USA, 24)

Card-carrying member of the dangerous-but-not-lethal contingent.

14. Benno Duhr(AUS, 25)

16. Gregory Mackenzie(USA, 24)

17. Dick Blake(USA, 23)

The Americans truly grow them in packs.

21. Vinnie Cone(USA, 24)

22. Alexey Alenichev(RUS, 24)

24. Alexey Nikitin(UKR, 23)

Progressing slowly but surely.

25. Stuart Pargeter(USA, 23)

This guy is right behind and we'll see more of him as well.

Fully half of the Top 25(13 players) are 25 or younger. Another wall is forming here for my next intrepid youngster(Chiba) to bash his head against. At least none of them are obvious all-time greats, but that's still not going to be easy.

184. Anil Mehul(SRI, 39)

Seems clear that doubles glory has passed him by, and that he's not going to make any significant inroads on Challengers. He's too good for futures as well, so he'll hang around this point for a while I think. Doubles ranking is down to 21st, and it'll see a steady decline from here on out. It really is over for Mehul now.

124. Stanley Edleman(USA, 19)

His progress has slowed, although he just won his first challenger event in Binghamton a few weeks ago. Edleman is a Top 100 guy clearly but not ready to make his move into the big-time. Welcome to the Wall that proves frustrating for nearly all players, and impenetrable for some. That won't be the case for Stanley here, but I expect some relative stagnation now. Pargeter crushed him at the USO, his second first-round Slam defeat in as many attempts. All that may sound negative, but Edleman is the top-ranked teenager in the world. He's doing very well by any reasonable measure.

612. Sushant Chiba(SRI, 19)

Also 1773rd in doubles. Making his move up the futures ladder but a lot of work yet to be done. Soon he'll start working his way up to the larger events. Meanwhile, in two months his first amateur event will drop off the rankings. Wins more than he loses in practice events, but has to work for it fairly often. Chiba is under-ranked, but not by a large margin. He's still a futures-level player.
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Old 11-18-2017, 09:01 PM   #713
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Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-USO Edition

In

Mateo Kaspar -- 15,900

The year's mostly over and only Kaspar is certain. Others will join soon, but this is quite strange.

Probable

Martin Zarco -- 5980
Guus Dircx -- 5300
Ritwik Dudwadkar -- 5250
Gillo Fangio -- 4825
Hsuang-tsung Teng -- 4215
Prakash Mooljee -- 4145
Valentin Rosenberg -- 3975

Dudwadkar is still very much in the hunt for a Top-4 spot. Zarco's got the #2 if he keeps up his currently level of play, while Mooljee fades and can easily be seen finishing 8th. Rosenberg has basically ended the Race this year with his USO SF showing. There just isn't anyone close enough to make a serious challenge likely.

Contenders

Zilch.

Long Shots

Sigmund Kronecker -- 3580
Ruben Piazzola -- 3225
Milos Schmucker -- 3040
Johnny Browne -- 2800

Browne is over the hill and so is Kronecker(also weak on HC). Schmucker is a one-trick pony on grass, while Piazzola just has too much ground to make up most likely. He's got the best shot here, but it's not much of one.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 11-19-2017 at 07:06 PM.
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Old 11-19-2017, 07:18 PM   #714
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September

WTC Quarterfinals

We faced Italy on clay, which meant it was all about Gillo Fangio. All of the singles matches were competitive, and Fangio split. It was the only win the Italians would get as we won 4-1. Prakash Mooljee's Tuesday victory over the world no. 4, 6-4, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, was the highlight of the week.

WTC Semifinals

Spain, on clay again, was next up. One problem was that Dudwadkar was replaced in doubles by Ritwik Suksma due to a ranking bug; he was listed as unranked despite three WTC wins in the past year on his personal sheet. Mooljee was once again our best singles player, but he still went down to Martin Zarco on the first day 7-6(3), 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(4). Ultimately those tiebreaks would cost us the tie altogether. We were skunked in doubles to go down 2-1, and Zarco blitzed Dudwadkar to give them the win. Juan de los Santos didn't win a single rubber for them, but he didn't have to. Spain takes it 3-2, and we were knocked out.

Ritwik Dudwadkar went back out the next week at the Japan Open(500), getting past Mackenzie in a close final and then an epic confrontation with Ruben Piazzola in the final. Ritwik won, barely; 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(10). Hard to have a more dramatic finish, his fifth straight win in their rivalry even though most have been close. He was the better player today, but only by a hair. The week before the WTC SFs were played, Mooljee entered a 250 in Moselle. He got through a testy match against Borja in the semis, but couldn't stop home favorite (5) Serge Cardone in the final, losing 6-3, 6-4. Cardone's a guy who has hung around just inside the Top 50 for a while, though he's still fairly young. Anil Mehul played a couple of Challengers over the period, making the SF at tier-2 Ljubljana, but taking a bad 6-3, 6-2 loss in the first round in Sacramento a couple of weeks later. Sushant Chiba had one event, a tier-3 futures in China where he won in singles, making the SF in doubles.
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Old 11-24-2017, 09:35 AM   #715
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Shanghai

Anil Mehul did even worse this time out in doubles, losing to a qualifying tandem 10-5 in a super TB. Ah well. Shyam Senepathy qualified in singles, then lost to Mackenzie 6-2, 7-6(7) in the first round. Not a bad showing really.

(11) Milos Schmucker was crushed by Varas 6-2, 6-1 in the opening round, while (9)Valentin Rosenberg lost narrowly to Nikitin as well. That's a statement win for the young Ukrainian finally, and the draw opens up just a bit early on. The carnage would continue with Prakash Mooljee crashing out in his first match next, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 to Besson. Just flat-out got beat by an inferior player, nothing else really to say there. After making the QFs or better at 20 straight Masters events, Mooljee has failed to do so there of the last four. That there is a pattern. Panter also got a scare, but none of the other favorites lost at the same stage.

In the third, Alexey Nikitin kept it going with a comeback, 2-6, 7-6(5), 7-5 win over Piazzola. Zarco, Fangio, and Teng were all pushed the distance but survived. It was the rising prodigy as the lone surprise with everyone else who reached the quarterfinals among the Top 10. Kaspar cruised along crushing Sigmund Kronecker, while Teng sent [b]Guus Dircx[b] home a bit early, 7-6(5), 6-2. Zarco had a competitive two-set win over Nikitin, and Ritwik Dudwadkar met his first real resistance, surviving over Gillo Fangio 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Good win for him, third in their past four meetings.

In the semifinals, Hsuang-tsung Teng played quite credibly with Kaspar still prevailing 6-4, 6-4. Rather surprisingly, Dudwadkar cruised through Martin Zarco in the second match, breaking a three-match losing streak. Into his third Masters final of the year, he found the same result as the other two; Mateo Kaspar wins, 6-2, 7-5. Still a fine week for him.

Sushant Chiba stepped up to the tier-2 futures, and won an indoors event in Luxembourg, losing in the first round of doubles. His smooth progress continues.
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Old 11-24-2017, 09:36 AM   #716
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Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-Shanghai edition

In(4945 to qualify)

Mateo Kaspar -- 17,000
Martin Zarco -- 6,590
Ritwik Dudwadkar -- 6,300
Guus Dircx -- 5,720
Gillo Fangio -- 5,055

Now the field finally grows to five, but after Kaspar the order could still switch around some. Dudwadkar has pushed into a solid #3 spot with his recent strong results.


Probable

Hsuang-tsung Teng -- 4665
Prakash Mooljee -- 4155

Teng is nearly in, while Mooljee still needs one more decent event to confirm his spot for what I'm sure will be the final time.


Contenders

Valentin Rosenberg -- 3845
--------------------------
Sigmund Kronecker -- 3660
Ruben Piazzola -- 3655

A few months ago it looked like Rosenberg had his spot all but locked up. That is decidedly no longer the case after a first-round exit in Shanghai and good results from a couple of others here. He's still got the best chance but will go into Paris needing to win a couple matches most likely.


Long Shots

Milos Schmucker -- 2890
Johnny Browne -- 2890

Barely hanging on to hope, but neither have a realistic shot.

Meanwhile in news from my players, Chiba now ready for his final futures push. He'll start playing tier-1s and will need to win four of them, possibly five, to make his way into the challenger level. That won't happen until next year, but he'll get at least one, maybe two opportunities yet this season. Conundrum whether to accelerate tournament schedule with singles-only again now. Practice has gotten a little easier and better opponents would help -- but that would mean getting into the challenger wall when he's a little less ready for it. Overall though I think it's better to move up through the futures ranks since he is capable of finishing that off now, so it is time to hit the gas again.
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Old 11-25-2017, 08:26 AM   #717
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October

Ritwik Dudwadkar played in the final week of 500s just before Paris as my players often do. At the Swiss Indoors, he lost to Hsuang-tsung Teng in a tight final match that counts for sure as a missed opportunity, 7-6(4), 7-6(5). Just couldn't quite get over the top there. Prakash Mooljee lost a QF match to Jolland in Vienna, and made the semis in doubles there also alongside Anil Mehul. We've had to start getting really inventive in trying to get matches for the old guy. Sushant Chiba had the two weeks between Shanghai and Paris off.

There weren't any major changes here in terms of the Race.
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Old 12-03-2017, 09:57 AM   #718
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Paris Masters

Another first-round doubles loss for Anil Mehul. That's becoming the rule rather than the exception. Shyam Senepathy qualified, then lost to Besson in a competitive first-round match.

After the first-round byes, hopefuls starting dropping right away. (11) Johnny Browne, (12) Milos Schmucker, and most notably (9) Valentin Rosenberg(to Nikitin) lost in the second round. That last one pretty much ended the Race; Rosenberg has stunk it up in the last two Masters. Varas and Alenichev handed out the other two upsets. There were some good matches in the third round, starting with Andres Varas doing it again in a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 victory of (8) Ruben Piazzola. He might be backing in, but it looks Piazzola will be in the field anyway. Fangio and Zarco were pushed but survived in three, as did Prakash Mooljee, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 over Alexey Nikitin.

Quarterfinals then featured the Top 7 plus Varas. A first-set bagel gave way to a better second for him, but Kaspar was still a clear winner. Then Ritwik Dudwadkar lost a depressingly one-sided 6-3, 6-2 decision to Fangio. He just can't hang on indoor courts, never has been able to. Similar score for Zarco in a strong performance to eliminate Hsuang-tsung Teng, but a surprise upset in the last match. Mooljee rallies 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-1 to stun (4) Guus Dircx.

Kaspar had one tough set against Gillo Fangio but a 7-5, 6-1 score in the first semi, while Mooljee did it again, 7-5, 6-4 in a close one against second-ranked Martin Zarco. At 31, Prakash reaches his first Masters final in more than two years. Heck of a week for him. Getting there was his victory, and it showed; Mateo Kaspar flattened him 6-2, 6-0. In so doing, he sets another record; first player to ever win all 9 Masters in a single year. Gorritepe came close once, losing in the Cincinatti final. But nobody had ever won all of them -- until now.
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Old 12-05-2017, 06:36 PM   #719
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November

Anil Mehul had a futures title in Guatemala, Sushant Chiba one of his own in India, so they made use of their time. Of course that wasn't the main attraction.

World Tour Finals

Prakash Mooljee was in Group 1, and lost every set he played. Kaspar placed first, Dircx second, and Fangio third. Just the way they were seeded. Ritwik Dudwadkar was in Group 2. Zarco ran through it undefeated to take the top spot, but the other three ended up tied. In their matchups, Teng beat Dudwadkar, who beat Piazzola, who beat Teng. They all ended up with one win. Hsuang-tsung Teng finished with four sets up and four down though, while the other two only won two sets each. That was the tiebreaker. A better showing that last year, but once again Ritwik is out in the round-robin stage.

Mateo Kaspar beat Teng 6-1, 7-6(6) in the first semifinal, with Martin Zarco falling to Dircx 6-4, 6-4 in the second. Guus Dircx represented the Netherlands well here, but lost a 6-4, 7-6(4) decision in the final that wasn't as close as that score would make it appear. And that pretty much clinches it; Kaspar becomes the first player to ever make it through an entire season with just a single loss. That's at least one mark he can put in the record book above anyone else.
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Old 12-07-2017, 08:58 PM   #720
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December

World Team Cup Finals

Really the only major attraction of the final month, featuring the United States and Spain on an indoor court. As it turned out, only the first day's contest was close. Johnny Browne defeated Juan de los Santos 6-2, 6-7(2), 3-6, 6-1, 9-7 in an epic finish. And then the Spaniards won the next three straight, rendering that moot. The first world championship for Spain in 15 years.

Final WTC Rankings

1. Sri Lanka -- 2742
2. United States -- 2564
3. Spain -- 2341
4. Argentina -- 2153
5. Czech Republic -- 2151
6. Germany -- 2148
7. Russia -- 2016
8. Italy -- 1973
9. France -- 1971
10. Croatia -- 1955

2056 WTC Preview

Top position isn't under threat yet, but we seem likely to have things narrow more. This is likely to be the first time in over a decade that we fail to win two years in a row. I seriously considered firing Mooljee and going with a new junior, but that'll wait another year for Chiba to be closer to ready to replace him. Either way, our doubles ability is declining and Mooljee is now far over the hill. I figure we have about one chance in three, no better.

Our draw won't help. Group 2 is definitely a group of death. Along with ourselves, there's defending champion Spain(3rd), the Czech Republic(5th), and Russia(7th). That's just ridiculous. Neither of last two is as good as their ranking though; we should have no trouble getting through, but no guarantee of beating the Spaniards for the top spot.
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Old 12-07-2017, 09:01 PM   #721
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2055 Year-End Rankings

1. Mateo Kaspar(27, FRA) -- 19,250

Kaspar just completed the best season in tennis history. After losing his first match to Dudwadkar, an epic in the opening round of the WTC, he won the next 95, a record, and became the first player every to complete a year with only one defeat. The main question now is how he can keep it going.

2. Martin Zarco(27, ESP) -- 7600

Zarco didn't do particularly great in the Slams, but made six Masters SFs and also one at the Australian while reaching the RG final. Also helped Spain to the WTC championship. Overall a sparkling 81 wins, and a better show than I thought he was capable of.

3. Guus Dircx(25, NLD) -- 6900

Dircx has been up and down, but this year he was consistent though not spectacular. A pretty even mix of SF and QF results, failing to reach that far only at Rome among the big events. 74 wins after 73 and 72 the previous two seasons.

4. Ritwik Dudwadkar(25, SRI) -- 6580

As high as 3rd and as low as 6th, Dudwadkar bounced up and down this year. 68 wins is only one more than the year before, but four fewer defeats as well(no Olympics this season basically accounts for the difference). Three Masters finals, but only one Slam SF(QFs at the other three). Quarters or better at all the big events. With a couple of the older players sliding further, he will hope to make a renewed assault on the guys ahead of him. He was 3-1 vs. Dircx, but just 1-4 in matches with Zarco. That's a total of 4-5 combined, so it's not a surprise that he sits just behind them.

5. Gillo Fangio(25, ITA) -- 5365

Fangio saw a stunningly sharp drop in his success, falling from 74 wins a year before to 52 this year. Still had the occasional success but he is no longer a consistent threat to the best players.

6. Hsuang-tsung Teng(26, NZL) -- 5305

Moving up despite somewhat less success, Teng is taking advantadge of some of the decline of the others. There's no evidence yet that he has the game to get much further.

7. Prakash Mooljee(31, SRI) -- 4750

Mooljee has seen his last WTF nearly for certain. Making it at 31 is no small feat, so he has done well. This will be his final year in my stable of players, after failing to reach the QFs four times in '55. I'd expect the occasional good run, mixed in with more frequent early defeats.

8. Ruben Piazzola(24, CHL) -- 3865

After lurking in the mid-low teens for some while, Piazzola was just consistent enough to break through. He had 67 wins this year, just one short of Dudwadkar and more than some above him. We'll see what he can do now that he's made it to the Top 8.

9. Valentin Rosenberg(25, SWE) -- 3570

A lot of close losses prevented Rosenberg from making his first Tour Finals. Did well in the Slams including the AO final to start off last year, but only a single QF in the Masters. Definitely needs to be more consistent if he is to progress, and I expect that will ultimately happen.

10. Sigmund Kronecker(28, DEU) -- 3500

I had Kronecker picked to slide further than this, but he did just enough to stay on the first page.

13. Benno Duhr(25, AUS)

14. Matthew Panter(25, USA)

15. Gregory Mackenzie(24, USA)

This trio is the closest to breaking in next, but they are several hundred points behind still. They haven't quite found the formula to make it through just yet.

100. Stanley Edleman(19, USA)

I'll have more on him in the annual preview, but he's the first teenager to make the Top 100(by the skin of his chinny chin chin, but still) since Nikitin did it four years ago.

198. Anil Mehul(39, SRI)

22nd and falling in doubles. Last year he played more singles matches(47) than doubles(41), a trend which will continue.

230. Sushant Chiba(19, SRI)

There are six players his age or younger that are ranked above Chiba. That's a small enough list(Edleman is a few months older). He figures to get out of futures quite soon, and then we'll see what's what as he attempts to take on the Challenger ranks.

Manager(4th) -- 28.9k. I continue to slowly slide, while hugoboy, Kaspar's manager, has taken the top spot narrowly.
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Old 12-07-2017, 09:01 PM   #722
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Chasing Gorritepe
Mateo Kaspar's assault on the record books

Grand Slam Titles

1. Eric Gorritepe -- 23
2(t). Nicholas Sullivan -- 17
2(t). Mateo Kaspar -- 17
4. Martin Prieto -- 16
5. Antonin Iglar -- 14
6. Oliver Haresign -- 11

World Tour Finals Titles

1(t). Eric Gorritepe -- 6
1(t). Mateo Kaspar -- 6
3. Martin Prieto -- 5
4(t). Marcelo Rios -- 4
4(t). Antonin Iglar -- 4
6(t). Henri Pirenne -- 3
6(t). Anil Mehul -- 3

Masters Titles

1. Eric Gorritepe -- 52
2. Mateo Kaspar -- 37
3(t). Nicholas Sullivan -- 32
3(t). Antonin Iglar -- 32
5. Martin Prieto -- 30
6. Oliver Haresign -- 23

Weeks @ #1

1. Eric Gorritepe -- 393
2. Martin Prieto -- 340
3. Nicholas Sullivan -- 304
4. Antonin Iglar -- 247
5. Mateo Kaspar -- 237
6. Oliver Haresign -- 228


Synopsis

Kaspar just put forth the best single season in the history of men's tennis, and aside from time at the #1 ranking he is at worst tied for second in every major category. He's also less than $1 million away from breaking into the Top 10 in career prize money. In terms of career achievements he's still 2-3 years away from equalling Gorritepe, but it sure doesn't appear that there's anyone capable of stopping him.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 12-07-2017 at 09:02 PM.
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Old 12-07-2017, 09:03 PM   #723
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Generational Breakdown

** Over-the-Hill Gang(4) -- As ever this is those players 30 and over. Prakash Mooljee(7th) is the headliner with Browne(11th), Besson(26th), and Niklas(27th) still around as well.

** Fading From View(9) -- Those in the 28-29 bracket are definitely on the decline but still able to put in their .02 now and then. Gillo Fangio(5th) is tops here. Joining him are Kronecker(10th), Jolland(16th), Varas(20th), Espinoza(21st), Janin(22nd), Maliagros(25th), Paschal(28th), and Zimmolo(31st). Can't believe the likes of Janin is now considered an old veteran and gatekeeper of the top level of tennis. I've been doing this too long. Regardless, there's quite a few of these.

** The King & His Sychopants(6) -- Mateo Kaspar(1st) is in his prime and untouchable. There are others in the 26-27 age range who are simply unfortunate enough to play at the same time as the most dominant player ever to set foot on a court. Zarco(2nd), Teng(6th), Schmucker(12th), Borja(29th), Zaferia(30th). Not all that many though. Seems other talented players of this age mostly decided to have a business career or become hopscotch enthusiasts or whatever. Can't really blame them.

** The Wannabes(10) -- With Guus Dircx(3rd) at the top of the list, there are a good number and quality of players in the 24-25 age bracket. They all have one thing in common; they aren't nearly good enough or young enough to see the decline of Kaspar, at least not enough for it to matter. Dudwadkar(4th), Piazzola(8th), Rosenberg(9th), Duhr(13th), Panter(14th), Mackenzie(15th), Alenichev(18th), Cone(24th), Cortecedo(32nd). Right now this is the largest group.

** The Rising Hopefuls(3) -- The next #1 will likely come from those who are presently 22-23, or 4-5 years younger than Kaspar. Dick Blake(17th) is the current standard-bearer. Also worth noting are Nikitin(19th) and Pargeter(23rd).

There are some 21-year-olds presently in the 40s of the rankings, so they aren't quite here yet but a new group is just over the horizon.
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Old 12-07-2017, 09:09 PM   #724
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2056 Season Preview

1. Mateo Kaspar(90%, 9.11, -0.06)

Although the situation could change, it appears that the long, slow fall from his peak has begun. Losing half a step means very little in the grand scheme of things -- he'd need to lose a couple more full ones before it was even largely noticeable. But those who are still improving may taken note; time is on their side.

2. Martin Zarco(90%, 8.73, -0.04)

Clay expertise, elite mental game, good athleticism, a strong serve. Zarco never quite got there as a baseliner, but the other plusses combined to make him more versatile than expected. Starting to slip now a bit as well, but still quite good. He's got a reasonable chance to hold onto this spot, but only if he continues to perform well.

3. Guus Dircx(91%, 8.80, +0.01)

Dircx appears to have undearchieved just a bit, being pretty inconsistent the last couple of years. This is his best chance though. He's got the game to be the guy -- the guy who takes the #2 spot again and holds it for a bit.

4. Ritwik Dudwadkar(93%, 8.83, +0.13)

Dudwadkar continues to get better and has another year of doing so. Look at the men ranked 2nd-4th and consider this: when Mooljee, who held the #1 spot for almost three years, was in his prime 8.79 was as good as he ever got. These players are Prakash's equal at a minimum, and all it gets them is a fight with each other for the spot behind Mateo the legend. This is a very high-quality Top 4, and it's one that I don't expect to be broken up for the next year, maybe two or so. As for Ritwik, he is technically considered now the #2 player in the world and the best Sri Lankan tennis player who has ever lived. Not in terms of accomplishments where he won't be close, but in terms of level of play. It's so close though, both on paper and in the rankings. Avoiding early upset losses to others will be key, and the matchups between this trio in the big events will be very interesting to watch. Who will seize the moment in 2056?

5. Gillo Fangio(87%, 8.72, -0.09)

Fangio is better than he showed last year, and deserves to be mentioned on the very edge of the group above. It would take a serious renaissance for him to get back in, but it's not out of the question.

6. Hsuang-tsung Teng(92%, 8.55, -0.01)

Not a good year at all in relative terms for Teng(he is up a spot from 7th a year ago), who should still be getting a little better here. It's sort of a reflection of his overall career; he's got the monstrous mental toughness that characterizes most of this generation of players, but the baseline game has never really gotten close to the elite level(4.7). That's what's holdling him back, and it's a gift if he does any more than stay right where he is.

7. Prakash Mooljee(80%, 8.34, -0.19)

That's a big number there, but only the truly great have enough athleticism to still compete past the age of 30. Mooljee never had that level of gifts, and while the technical skills are still quite respectable they are increasingly not enough to forestall the advance of time. A more and more losing battle all the time for him is the natural expectation -- and perhaps still a moment or two of brilliance.

8. Ruben Piazzola(93%, 8.43, +0.13)

Piazzola finally burst up from 15th last year, making his move on the strength of a finalist showing at the Japan Open(500). He was solid elsewhere but that sort of separated him from some of the others. I figure him to move up a spot past Mooljee, but that's about all this year. He's managed by the same person as Zarco, and the distribution of his training reflects that; good on clay, emphasis on serve. Although he's not quite at the same level as the Spaniard, we'll see if he can achieve similar versatility in results over the next couple of seasons.

9. Valentin Rosenberg(92%, 8.25, +0.03)

Rosenberg is sort of a case study in how far you can go with an extreme development plan. Combination one of the best serves in the world and hardcourt speciality means he's going to be a threat half of the year, esp. if he's playing well; it's tough to break him. On the other hand, he should have improved more this year and his baseline game is a joke compared to other Top-10 guys. Still another year for him to make some improvements.

10. Sigmund Kronecker(87%, 8.39, -0.08)

Main question here is how long he's still relevant on clay. Probably still is for a bit more, is my guess, but also probably not enough to keep on the first page.

13. Benno Duhr(92%, 8.05, +0.08)

A decent gain here, but not enough to explain his rise of nearly 20 spots from 31st, that's for sure. He definitely figures to be overranked; a good serve and prodigious talent, but doesn't have the whole package. Another clay specialist.

14. Matthew Panter(93%, 8.30, +0.01)

Solid in every way but unspectacular, Panter hasn't done much to improve his game the last couple of seasons and as a result the future of US tennis has taken a bit of a hit. He's been almost good enough to break into the Top 10 but not quite a while now, and I don't see that changing soon. Down a couple spots from 12th.

15. Gregory Mackenzie(95%, 8.38, +0.11)

Mackenzie is another matter. He figures to become the top American soon(Browne 11th, Panter 14th, Jolland 16th ... but no Top 10 US player for the first time possibly ever). Still a couple of years to get better but he could break in this year. He's drank too deeply from the glass of Big Serving(tm), and also has low endurance. Looks to be managed well though, and that really makes a difference. Up 3 from 18th.

17. Dick Blake(95%, 8.36, +0.20)

Right there with him is this guy, who nobody wants to play at any of the US masters or the USO itself these days. He's younger but a meteoric type; won't be around long but his moment is about to arrive and judging by his growth last year(up modestly from 26th) he realizes that. Five Americans in the 11-17 spots in the rankings.

18. Alexey Alenichev(94%, 7.86, +0.04)

Not sure what he's doing here(30th a year ago), but this isn't the prodigy you're looking for. He's done well to get this far but I don't see him going above about 15th pretty much ever; too much time in doubles, limited athleticism, etc.

19. Alexey Nikitin(96%, 8.47, +0.07)

Had a strong year last season on the court but not so much off it, the reverse of the previous year. Hard to criticize going from 51st to the Top 20, but he shouldn't have been down that far to begin with. In any case, he's got at least two maybe three years of growth left, and despite his lagging serve(I still find that amusing given how unusual it is, at 3.5) he's the best candidate to make a run into the Top 10. Objectively he's now 7th in the world. I figure a low-teen ranking this year, there's probably too much traffic ahead of him for him to make it this year.

23. Stuart Pargeter(97%, 8.15, ??)

Pargeter, a late-bloomer, might well be the best of the incoming Americans when all is said and done. Quite talented, reasonable dedication to the craft, and fairly strong. Technical abilities aren't there yet but he has 3 years yet minimum to get there. It shouldn't take that long. A modest move upward, to the 15th-20th range, is expected.

24. Vinnie Cone(92%, 8.17, +0.08)

Cone is another US weed but in the 'not quite good enough' category. Up a single spot from 25th a year ago, his current career-high is 19th and I don't see a reason to expect anything much better than that.

32. Damian Cortecedo(94%, 7.78, ??)

After a bunch of vets and former stars, Cortecedo is a Chilean popping his head in. The common disease of too much doubles and not enough skill here, and he's not good enough to be worth a longer look.

A number of other young players lurk in the upper Challenger ranks -- they need to take another step forward though if they are to earn a profile.

100. Stanley Edleman(101%, 7.40, +0.40)

First teenager in four years to make the Top 100; he's actually just tied for the spot, but whatever -- it's still an achievement worthy of notice. Edleman's good enough to make further inroads but not good enough to escape the Challenger levels; I figure he'll progress further towards but not into the Top 50, depending on how fast he improves. 817th a year ago so the charge is definitely still on for him. Stanley played in nine smaller challengers this year, with a title, two finals, and a smattering of other results.

198. Anil Mehul(62%, 6.94, -0.18)

The steady erosion of skills continues, and trainer projection is up to 5.29(+0.04). Five years to go for Mehul.

230. Sushant Chiba(99%, 7.16, +0.94)

Most of the gap to Edleman has been closed, but Chiba reached physical maturity a couple months ago and his improvement will definitely slow. He's good enough to put his .02 in the Challengers though, and will soon do so. Last year he was 2049th, so obviously it will be a smaller rise this season. I don't expect any more than about Top 100. This will be about establishing himself in the next tier. I may start to get a better handle on how big a handicap his cement feet are; so far it hasn't seemed to really hurt him.
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Old 12-08-2017, 07:24 PM   #725
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January

WTC, Group Play, First Round

We get the Czech Republic first. Only doubles was close, with Mehul/Suksma earning a 6-3, 6-7(5), 1-6, 6-2, 7-5 win to give us a perfect 5-0 sweep. Didn't look good after the third set, but they turned it around. 12th-ranked Milos Schmucker didn't take a single set from us. Nice showing at the first hurdle.

Anil Mehul entered the tier-1 Sao Paolo challenger a week later, and was bounced in the second round. Sushant Chiba took some time off here, having played in a futures tournament in the final week of last year. Prakash Mooljee was runner-up to Kaspar at the Qatar Open(250), while Ritwik Dudwadkar headed off to Brisbane for his warm-up event. Cristian Castegali took a set in the semifinals, and that ended up being the toughest match; he thumped top-seeded Guus Dircx 6-2, 6-4 in the final, a good start to the year with the title and a message that he intends to push higher this season.
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Old 12-11-2017, 09:09 PM   #726
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Australian Open

Anil Mehul did enter in doubles again, losing badly in the first round. Sushant Chiba made his Slam debut here, qualifying routinely. Then he faced #31 Zimmolo in the main draw, and won six games(6-2, 6-4, 6-0). So really pretty much what I'd expect. First taste of the big time, but unless he got really lucky with the draw he wasn't going to make it any further than that. Shyam Senepathy faced off against Ireland's Badu Isangegidhe, who I'd never heard of either but he is a Top-50 guy so not a pushover. Quality 6-4, 7-6(9), 6-3 win for Senepathy, then a straight-sets loss to #25 Maliagros. Last year he hadn't won a single Slam match though, so it's still not bad. Overall a decent show of it for our 'also-ran' quality guys.

American Gregory Mackenzie had himself a real bad day, with the world #14 losing in the first round to another US player in Hugo Cordova, 6-4, 6-2, 7-5. Cordova, just shy of his 22nd birthday, was ranked 45th at the end of last year. Looks like he'll be one to watch. The only other seed to fall was (30)Damian Cortecedo, a five-set loser in one of those not-really-an-upset matches to Spaniard Benjamin Cordovez. Cordovez is one of the top doubles players in the world; we'd know more about him if he'd gone the singles route. In the second round, the decline of #15 Jake Jolland continued with a 7-5 5th-set defeat against Jakob Heinen(DEU). Zaferia, 28th-seed from Argentina, lost as well but that was about it.

The third round heated up things and once again young Cordova was right in the middle of it. He took one of the first good epics of the event, 7-6(5), 2-6, 4-6, 7-6(4), 7-5 from 20th-ranked Andres Varas, the top Argentine player. Not a great tournament for that nation, but Hugo has definitely proven himself here. Elsewhere Nikitin rallied from two sets down to beat Panter, and after another long day between two Americans it was #21 Pargeter getting the better of #16 Blake. Vinnie Cone pushed #5 Fangio to the brink but couldn't take him down, while Sigmund Kronecker was felled in five by the veteran Besson. Mooljee lost the first set to Zimmolo, but then rallied to take care of business in his first test. In the fourth, Ruben Piazzoa finally silenced Cordova, but it's rather apparent he'll be back. Dudwadkar(over Nikitin) and Mooljee(against Rosenberg) both faced quality competition and won testy four-set matchups. Most of the other matches were routine, though #2 Zarco was pushed to a tough four as well, with Stuart Pargeter providing the opposition. Slowly but surely, Pargeter is making his way. He looks more dangerous all the time.

Some good tennis the last couple of rounds, but at the end of the day is was a Top 8-only party in the QF. Kaspar flushed Piazzola 6-2, 6-1, 6-1. Ouch. Next up was an Sri Lanka section, with Dudwadkar doing what is expected over Prakash Mooljee, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-3. That's about right for this point in their careers, and it makes four wins in the last five encounters. Zarco got by Gillo Fangio, and providing the lone upset was #6 Teng, who dropped the first set but then rallied against the somewhat underachieving Guus Dircx.

Ritwik Dudwadkar gave King Kaspar one good set in the semifinals, but wasn't close. Martin Zarco became the latest victim, in four, of Hsuang-tsung Teng. It's his first Slam final, and unless I'm mistaken the first for any player from New Zealand. And he actually won a set when he got there, which is pretty impressive. The result was well known ahead of time though: Mateo Kaspar takes his 11th consecutive Slam title, 6-2, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. That's another all-time mark: Gorritepe won 10 and 9 in a row, the only one close.
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Old 12-12-2017, 08:06 PM   #727
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February/March

World Team Cup, Round Two

Time to tango with Spain again. It's all about Martin Zarco here, and of course it's on the 2nd-ranked player's favorite surface; clay. Santos is ranked 40th, so he's no issue. We beat him twice, lose in doubles with Mehul/Suksma. As anticipated, it all comes down to Dudwadkar v. Zarco on Thursday; we trail 2-1 going in. It's another epic, but this time Ritwik comes out on top, 6-3, 7-6(4), 1-6, 5-7, 6-3. Almost collapsed there but got it done at the end. Zarco takes the points comparison 170-169. It pretty much was that close; and by that margin we beat the world champions 3-2. See you later in the year guys. Most likely, anyway.

Ritwik Dudwadkar also played several weeks later in Dubai(500). Nikitin in the semis and Blake in the final(7-5, 6-4) were quality opponents, but he claims the title in a good warm-up for the HC masters. Prakash Mooljee headed to Acapulco(500, Clay) the same week -- and he managed to thoroughly embarrass himself in a 6-1, 6-2 SF loss to Valentin Rosenberg -- who isn't even much of clay player. Egads. The Swede went on to win the title over Teng, but still not a good moment. Anil Mehul won a tier-2 futures in Venezuela, then in a tier-3 Challenger in Brazil he lost early. Par for the course there. Sushant Chiba's futures career ended the second week of the AO; another tier-1 victory, this one in Iran. That meant making the Challenger leap, and playing both singles and doubles again now as he's probably not ready to make a big splash. After a month off he headed to Florianopolis, same event Mehul played in. First-round doubles exit, beat top-seeded Tristan Benitez(ARG, 31, former #14) in the quarterfinals, but then lost his next match. 3 of 14 BPs, otherwhise he should have had a chance there. Final was 6-3, 7-5. Pretty good first showing, could have been better but quite a nice win over Benitez who is still a Top-50 player.
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Old 12-15-2017, 09:02 AM   #728
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Indian Wells

Anil Mehul was part of a pairing that won a whole two games against the Rhodes brothers in a first-round doubles match; he's just playing out the string waiting for his ranking to drop further in doubles. Meanwhile former singles standout Johnny Browne was part of the unseeded champions. He's making a breakthrough in his second career. Shyam Senepathy lost his first-round match to an American ranked outside the Top 100, Steven Whitney. Not the best look for him either.

(25) Luc Janin was the first seed to fall, to qualifying doubles star Radule Cordasic. (11)Milos Schmucker stumbled at the first hurdle as well; he's been criminally running himself into the ground, and it's showing. Cordasic went on to knock off (12)Benno Duhr in the third round also. No real surprises elsewhere but there were some close ones. Jolland pushed Martin Zarco to third set, Kronecker was close to leaving early, and in another one of those early-round tussles between US hopefuls , Stuart Pargeter was beaten by Blake, 6-7(11), 6-4, 6-2. In the fourth round, there were three matches in a row that were all close; but no upsets. Piazzola escaped Hugo Cordova, Dircx another American in Mackenzie, and Mooljee outlasted [b]Sigmund Kronecker[b], 7-5 in the 5th.

Once again it's the Top 8 all making the quarterfinals. That group is really stable right now. Kaspar thumped Ruben Piazzola to start things off, while Dircx easily eliminated Prakash Mooljee, 6-2, 6-4. Zarco got through a testy match with Gillo Fangio, and the match of the day was Dudwadkar over Hsuang-tsung Teng, 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-4. He deserved to win it, but barely. Teng is really playing well this year.

Top four all move on, and Guus Dircx made it tough on the #1, 7-6(9), 6-4 in his first real test of the week. In an absolutely crucial matchup, Martin Zarco took the early lead but couldn't hold it against Dudwadkar, who moves on 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. That's two in a row now, with both players improving on how they performed last year. Another competitive showing in the final, but Ritwik Dudwadkar can't end the run of Mateo Kaspar, 6-3, 7-6(2). Really wasn't quite as close as that indicates. Can't ask any more than what he did here though.
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Old 12-17-2017, 03:11 PM   #729
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Miami

Anil Mehul got through a round; and then got double-bageled by #1s Aspelin/Cordasic. I remember the days when we were able to give them a run for their money. Past tense. Shyam Senepathy didn't do badly, beating a qualifier before losing to Jolland 6-4, 6-2.

(28) Ariel Borja over Cirakovic was one of the most entertaining early-round matches, a pair of has-beens going at it but it was still good viewing. Hugo Cordova struck again, taking out (30)Matteo Zimmolo 4-6, 7-6(8), 6-3. Gotta figure the crowd was the deciding factor there. (11)Milos Schmucker went down to a qualifier, and Janin(26th) exited as well. Schmucker's really the only big name -- and his name is getting smaller by the week the way he's playing. (15) Gregory Mackenzie, home court and all, was surprised by Mexican (32)Cristian Castegali in the third round. Cordova nearly struck again, but lost a pair of tiebreaks to Kronecker. Mooljee was pushed by (17)Jake Jolland, but survived in three to keep on moving.

There were a couple of interesting matches in the fourth round, but the results were stunningly predictable; all eight favored seeds won, and none lost a set. Zarco had a close one against Stuart Pargeter, Valentin Rosenberg came close against Teng, but in the end it was all of the Top 8 moving on the quarterfinals. Yawn. Ruben Piazzola was thumped 2 & 2 by Kaspar, who keeps on rolling. A modest surprise as Guus Dircx lost 6-3, 6-4 to Fangio, Prakash Mooljee got the first set against Zarco before falling 5-7, 6-1, 6-4, and Hsuang-tsung Teng was easily handled by Dudwadkar.

Another crushing win by Mateo over Gillo Fangio set up another matchup between Martin Zarco and Ritwik Dudwadkar in the second semi. This one wasn't as close as last week; Dudwadkar easily took it in straight-sets to make himself 3-for-3 against the higher-ranked Spaniard this year. He's certainly doing his part to climb the ladder. Mateo Kaspar was less hospitable in a 7-6(6), 6-2 final, but getting there is the trophy at the moment. A good tournament all the way around.
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Old 12-19-2017, 11:28 PM   #730
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April

World Team Cup, Round Three

6th-ranked Russia was our final group play foe. Alexey Alenichev(18th) is their only singles threat, and Mooljee outlasted him 6-4 in the 5th set on day one. It was pretty much over from there; we lost doubles again but win 4-1 to finish atop the group. #13 Chile, the lowest-ranked team to advance, will be our quarterfinal opponent. An indoor surface, which isn't great for us, and this isn't without danger: #8 Ruben Piazzola is good enough to cause some problems. They might get two wins, one from him and doubles, but it's hard to see them getting more than that. Should be a comfortable win. United States or Netherlands would be next up, with Spain or France most likely to come out of the other side of the draw.

Monte Carlo

Anil Mehul entered in doubles here ... and didn't make it out of qualifying. Eeek. Ritwik Dudwadkar has had plenty of matches and took the tournament off. Jolland and Duhr both exited in the first round, while Shyam Senepathy lost in the first round of qualifying.

The upsets continued in round two. Prakash Mooljee was dumped in his first match, courtesy of Matteo Zimmolo, 7-6(5), 6-4. Fairly even overall but he went 0-for-9 in break chances. Schmucker and Pargeter both lost as well as the top half of the draw esp. was just seeded-player carnage. In the third round, another good run by Hugo Cordova as he dumped Rosenberg out.

Cordova was the lone unseeded player in the quarters, where (14)Dick Blake and (9)Matthew Panter were also unexpected guests for the Americans. Panter was sent away 6-4, 6-4 by Kaspar, Cordova even easier by Teng, and that was pretty much that. Blake did no better against Zarco, while Ruben Piazzola lost the best match of the day, 7-6(4), 6-4, 6-2 to Dircx.

Expected victors Mateo Kaspar and Martin Zarco had little trouble in their semifinal matches. Kaspar thumped the Spaniard 6-3, 6-2 in the title match; the QF against Panter ended up being his toughest day of the week. Regardless, the seemingly-invincible Frenchman just keeps right on winning.


Elsewhere ...

Sushant Chiba played another challenger, tier-3 in Savannah, where he ran into none other than Stanley Edleman for the second time, first as professionals. Edleman is still the best as he showed in a 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 score that shouldn't have gone the distance; a lot closer match than their juniors encounter but the American is still the superior player. Prakash Mooljee went back out there for the Estoril Open(250) to get some more matches, and was the top seed. He lost to Mexican Gilberto Chinaglia in he final 6-4, 6-4 however. So it hasn't been a real good month for him.
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Old 12-22-2017, 08:08 AM   #731
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Madrid

For the first time, Anil Mehul skipped a big event here. Shyam Senepathy also failed to qualify as the clay season ramped up this week. Mexican Cristian Castegali continues to cause havoc, knocking out 10th-seeded Rosenberg in the first round. Mackenzie was forced to a third-set tiebreak, but none of the other seeds failed at the first hurdle.

Dircx had a tough second-rounder but survived; a few others did not. Another quick loss for the tumbling Milos Schmucker(12th), who went out to Frenchman Karl Kaspar; Mackenzie(16th) didn't make it through this time, thanks to Moroccan Hmal Sbai; and Phillippe Besson put in his two cents once more, stopping (15)Dick Blake 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(3). Mooljee was pushed also, but won in three over Espinoza. While Besson is an older player, the other two causing trouble here are definitely younger rising players. The third round was mostly predictable; once again Guus Dircx was pushed and once again he got the job done. Sbai was the big story, as he caused another upset over (7)Gillo Fangio. Kronecker took out Hsuang-tsung Teng(5th) in a mild upset, while Dudwadkar had his first challenge but got through Panter 6-4, 7-5.

7 of the Top 9 then to the quarterfinals, and then our 23-year-old Moroccan making his first significant surge. Last year Sbai was 35th; looks like he'll be more worthy of attention now. He took a set from Zarco, no small feat on clay, before losing 3-6, 6-2, 6-2. Elsewhere Ruben Piazzola won the first set against Kaspar ... and then won just two more games. Kronecker continued his run, knocking out Guus Dircx who had no more miracles here, while Ritwik Dudwadkar was stunned in an epic by Mooljee, 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(5). All four matches went the distance, and this was the only one in which the 'wrong' player won. Ritwik won eight more points and was fairly clearly the better player, but the tiebreaks both went against him and that was that. Mooljee leads the series 8-5 altogether, and has never lost more than two in a row despite the fact that Dudwadkar has clearly been the better player now for years.

In the semifinals, something happened that has not occured in 137 matches. Mateo Kaspar lost. This is not a misprint. A winning streak that ultimately lasted for about 17 months is finally over, courtesy of Sigmund Kronecker. The German veteran and 9th seed handled Mateo in straight-sets no less, 6-3, 7-6(1). Both the last loss before the streak(to Dudwadkar) and this one that ends it, happened on the Frenchman's least favorite surface. In the second match, Prakash Mooljee nearly made the final despite being now 32 years old, an incredible run here. He gave Zarco a heck of a match, going to 12-10 in the decisive tiebreak. Could have gone either way. In the end though, it 2nd-ranked Martin Zarco moving on, and winning the title over Kronecker 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. It's his second Masters shield, and solidifies his hold on the #2 spot.
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Old 12-23-2017, 08:52 AM   #732
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Rome

Anil Mehul played, qualifying in doubles -- and winning just two games against unseeded Spaniards in the first-round match. Ahh well. Another qualifying loss for Shyam Senepathy highlights the fact that the 31-year-old is soon to depart our consideration(once he falls out of the Top 100).

After a first round with no surprises, Gilberto Chinaglia(Italy, aged 23) made his presence felt with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 upset of 5th-ranked Hsuang-tsung Teng, who has been good so far this year. 37th last year, Chinaglia is clearly one to watch now and one of the year's surprises. Several others would fall also. Gillo Fangio lost an epic to Karl Kaspar, 6-7(1), 7-5, 6-4; Blake lost to Zaferia, Panter to Cone, and Schmucker to Maliagros. Draw opened up quite a bit early here.

Two of them played each other, but the rest all went their ways meekly in the third round. Match of the day was Dudwadkar barely surviving (15)Benno Duhr, going to a third-set tiebreak. The quarterfinals had six expected players, but also #16Gregory Mackenzie and Argentine Angel Zaferia, unseeded. Mackenzie was a quick Kaspar victim, while Ruben Piazzola was crushed by Dudwadkar who looked much sharper this round. 7th straight in what was once a prospective close rivalry, but most have been much more competitive. Zaferia was drummed out easily by Zarco, and Prakash Mooljee was pretty easily dismissed by Dircx.

Top four into the semis, where Ritwik Dudwadkar lost to Kaspar 6-4, 6-3. Martin Zarco was surprised by Guus Dircx in a straight-set match in the second one, and Dircx won the first set of the final. He couldn't hold it though, and Mateo Kaspar bounced back from last week with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 title that serves notice he is still a man to be reckoned with even on the clay.
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Old 12-24-2017, 09:06 PM   #733
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2056 Roland Garros

The pursuit of the #2 ranking doesn't look good right now on the surface. Zarco leads by 1410 points going into RG, but the situation is not nearly as good as that. He's badly overplayed and made the finals last year, while Dudwadkar was knocked out in the QFs. Add those up and Ritwik actually has quite a good chance to get right back in the battle for #2. The next two weeks on the French dirt will be very vital.

A second-round double bagel isn't exactly what Anil Mehul was looking for, and not against one of the top teams either. He also qualified in singles, and won just two games against Cordova in his main-draw match there. It's the way things are now for Anil. Senepathy got thumped by Livio Kaspar, 6-2, 6-0, 6-1, in his first-round match. So that all ended real quickly. All the seeds won their first, though Espinoza was pushed to five, and (5)Hsuang-tsung Teng had a big-time scare, surviving dangerous floater Damian Cortecedo 8-6 in the 5th. Almost a near-unthinkable early defeat there, but he survived.

Lots of smooth sailing in round two, and a pair of upsets. The latest fail for (12)Milos Schmucker came to Italian WC Gabriele Cacadino, 6-7(1), 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, 11-9. That's about as epic as they get. 29th-seeded Manee Paschal was a very typical early loser, an aging player going out to a rising young one, Finland's Veini Aikio. On to the third then, and mostly intact. Valentin Rosenberg continues to prove he was a flash in the pan, losing in four to Varas. Dick Blake(14th, USA) was surprised by 27th-ranked Vinnie Cone, one of a couple of All-American matchups. Dudwadkar lost a set against (31)Matteo Zimmolo but looked in control the whole way, while (13)Alexey Nikitin went to 9-7 in the 5th before escaping in the match of the day.

Fourth round, and an interesting first encounter with Sigmund Kronecker bidding to take down Kaspar again. He won the first set, but that was it; lightning did not strike twice. It was a tough four though. Expected results all the way through; Mooljee was the only other favorite to even drop a set in this yawner of a round of 16. He lost the first to (15) Gregory Mackenzie, then bounced back to advance in four. Top 8 players, all on the quarterfinals. Time for the real show to start.

Kaspar trounced Ruben Piazzola, who is getting rather sick of this(0-9 lifetime, second clay loss in a month). Of course he's got lots of company there around the tour. Teng's early struggles seemed prophetic as he was trounced 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 by Dircx, an ugly lack of showing there. Zarco had a bit of trouble with Prakash Mooljee, getting pushed to four, while Dudwadkar easily disposed of Gillo Fangio. Another batch of routine results, and once again no upsets.

First semi was a little closer, but routine for the King over [b]Guus Dircx[b]. And then there was the second one. Everything on the line here. Dudwadkar came into the semifinal clash having won all three meetings this year to even the H2H at 8-8. That would mean little though if he didn't win this one as well. Ritwik started fast, surviving a bit of an early hiccup in his first service game and winning five straight games to secure a quick first set. After breaking again to start the second, he looked to be in command of the match. Down 4-1, Zarco started to rally and got one break back, but it was too big a mountain to climb and soon Dudwadkar was up two sets, needing only to clinch his spot in the final with one more. He lost the first three games of the next set though, having served two of them -- but then ran off the next three, the last a break to love to level it at 3-all. After losing his serve again at 4-all, he broke back and the third set became the tight battle that I expected from this match going in. A tiebreak became a chance to finish this off now, but he blinked first, double-faulting at a key juncture and losing a close one. Two sets to one, and now the Spaniard had the momentum.

Both men dropped their serve to start a fourth set that proved to be another battle of wills. Dudwadkar was the first to consolidate at 3-1 -- all he needed to do was keep his nose in front and the match would be his. Down 0-30 at 4-3, he reeled off four straight points to bring himself one game away, and finished it off on return in his second match point after a tough struggle in the next one. 6-2, 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3 is the final scoreline. Superior preparation played a big part in this match.

If Ritwik lost the final, he would still be just behind Zarco -- a 90-point gap. If he won it, his first Slam title would be accompanied by ascending to the #2 spot in the rankings. And of course this is the one surface on which he has a legitimate shot at knocking off Kaspar. A tight match at the start, but for once Mateo Kaspar was the one to fold: Ritwik Dudwadkar wins a stunning first Slam of his career, 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2! The last couple of sets he just made the French legend look old there. The record streak of 11 straight Slam tournament wins is over; Mateo almost looks human here, if only for a day.
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Old 12-25-2017, 07:10 AM   #734
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Anil Mehul played a tier-2 Challenger in Montevideo, winning in doubles but losing in the first round in singles. Nice to be in the ranking range to play both at the same event though. Sushant Chiba had less than stellar results at two Challengers. Tier-3 Dublin, during Roland Garros, saw him lose in the quarters; that was followed up by a second-round loss at tier-2 Rijeka the next week. Didn't make it out of qualifying for doubles in either. So he's definitely got some work to do. The second loss was particularly interesting, to 2nd-seed Uglesa Svajnovic(CRO). Svajnovic had been the #2 juniors player in his class(behind Edleman), and trounced him in all four previous meetings, but this one looked to be a lot closer. Chiba should have won it in fact, and was up a break twice in the final set only to fall 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(5). The Croatian would go on to make the title match, so this could well have been a fine showing ... but Sushant couldn't finish.

Prakash Mooljee entered the Eastbourne 250 as his grass warm-up, losing to Nikitin in a close final there. Ritwik Dudwadkar needed rest after his clay accomplishments, and didn't defend his title at Queens(500). That lost him a sizable amount of progress, though he remained, narrowly, #2 heading into Wimbledon. The battle for that spot is far from over.
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Old 12-26-2017, 10:05 AM   #735
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Anil Mehul found a bit of success, but only a bit. After a straight-sets win over a qualifying combo in the first round, his pairing was run over by 4th seeds Zakirov/Kroese. Nice to see Lars finding success again, and this time it's with former Top-10 performer Khasan Zakirov, pride of Uzbekistan. 6-0, 6-1, 6-4 in that match, so it was a clear-cut defeat. That's a more age-appropriate pairing; Zakirov is 33, Kroese almost 30. Shyam Senepathy lost his first-round singles match to Peruvian Paulo Alba. A competitive three there, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3. A significant result, because Alba's career-best ranking is 99th. Another clear sign that Senepathy's presence in this thread will soon go from marginal to non-existent(my standard for that is when he drops out of the Top 100, I'll stop reporting on him).

The big news from round one was undoubtedly the early departure of (11)Valentin Rosenberg. He's been down, but this isn't down, this is embarrassing. Ali Kaihep, of the mighty tennis magnate that is Algeria(had a #1 doubles player way back in the day, but 42nd is the record high for any singles, and that wasn't Kaihep) defeated him in one of several epic matches. 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 13-11. One of the best of the day, but Rosenberg going out in the first round, even though he's never been a great grass player, is pretty big news. Zimolo(32nd) and Besson(20th) were both pushed to five as well, but the Swiss is the only seed to actually lose. Of the other matches, there was an interesting one between a couple of the aging Herrera brothers, who haven't merited mention here in several years, and perhaps the best showcased German Muhammed Bedriddin another of the Kaspar clan, Lucas, 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-7(12), 7-6(4), 8-6. Only one set failed to get to 'extra innings' in that barn-burner. A couple of Chiba's juniors counterparts got a win to move on to the second round, where they would lose to seeded opposition: both Stanley Edleman and Uglesa Svajnovic were successful. Chiba himself of course is not at a level where he's participating in these events yet, so those players continue to be ahead of him ... for now.

A couple of casualties in a quieter second round. Ariel Borja, a name not heard for some while, knocked out (18)Alexey Alenichev, winning three straight tiebreaks. That's a pretty rare scoreline. The afore-mentioned Khasan Zakirov defeated (21)Stefano Espinoza in a tough four as well. 10th-ranked Matthew Panter nearly bought it, going to 7-5 in a rough 5-setter before surviving. Panter would make it no further, suffering a still-disappointing four-set defeat to (32)Matteo Zimolo ... who almost lost in the first round himself. It was also time for a mild upset of the ever-disappointing (13)Milos Schmucker ... perhaps not really an upset with Mackenzie doing the honors. There were some other fireworks as well. Jolland over Blake in four in one of those All-American clashes, Zarco(over Cone) and Dudwadkar(over #27 Castegali) both lost the first set before rallying for fairly tough wins. Match of the day honors goes to (9)Sigmund Kronecker, for whom seeding held, barely, in an 8-6 final-set triumph over 20th-ranked Besson.

After all that, the best nine players were still here for the fourth round. Without a doubt, the most surprising scoreline at the last 16 was the following: (9)Sigmund Kronecker(ITA) d. (6)Gillo Fangio(ITA), 6-0, 6-1, 6-0. What even happened there? Seriously?? It was the only upset, though Mooljee, after cruising through three matches, went up two sets on (16)Benno Duhr and then narrowly survived, 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-7(8), 4-6, 6-2.

8 of the Top 9 then, sans Fangio, into week two. There's been some chaos, but once again it's ultimately the same guys. A close three is all that was needed for Kaspar to douse Ruben Piazzola once again. Prakash Mooljee was bageled in the first set, fought back to split a pair of tiebreaks, but ultimately fell in four to Dircx. Kronecker was next up on Dudwadkar's hit parade, and while it went four Ritwik really dominated the match. 6-7(7), 4-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(6), 11-9 was the score for one whale of a comeback victory and the only 'upset' of the quarterfinals: (3)Martin Zarco expires courtesy of Teng. That's a tough one to be on the losing end of.

Another close three for the King, and Guus Dircx is the latest to not beat him in off-clay matches. Hsuang-tsung Teng had enough left in the tank to give five again ... but not enough to pull off another upset. Ritwik Dudwadkar prevails 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-7(5), 7-5. Then in the final, Mateo Kaspar extracts a bit of revenge. He may not be what he was a year or two ago, but he's good enough to win Wimbledon, his third-choice surface, without losing a set. 6-3, 7-6(3), 7-6(7), his closest match yet, but it was clear who the deserving winner was. By making the final while Zarco lost in the quarters though, Dudwadkar solidifies his grip on the #2. I doubt it comes under threat again for a while.

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Old 12-26-2017, 10:07 AM   #736
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Rankings Update

1. Mateo Kaspar(FRA, 27) -- 17,460

It's been a terrible year for Kaspar; he's already lost twice! He was clearly the best player at Wimbledon though, and all evidence indicates he'll continue to be untouchable on hardcourts. So he's lost a step or two, but primed to continue historically-great dominance.

2. Ritwik Dudwadkar(SRI, 26) -- 9,060

47-5 including his first Slam title is quite a fine first half of the year. Dudwadkar now looks to try to pull away from a pesky Zarco and do what he can to close the gap with the legend.

3. Martin Zarco(ESP, 27) -- 8,500

Martin may be down a spot, but he's still hanging out right there, close enough to pounce if Ritwik falters.

4. Guus Dircx(NLD, 26) -- 7,190

5. Hsuang-tsung Teng(NZL, 26) -- 6,890

The top five has really gotten stronger this year. At the beginning of the season, 5th place was 1500 points fewer here. Teng in particular has impressed even though he's only up one spot from 6th.

6. Gillo Fangio(ITA, 28) -- 4,560

Here there's a big drop-off, as Fangio continues to decline. The split between the haves and the have-nots is quite apparent.

7. Ruben Piazzola(CHI, 25) -- 4,245

Steady, basically just waiting for others to slide past. Mooljee just did, and the Italian is probably next.

8. Prakash Mooljee(SRI, 32) -- 4,120

Still hasn't had a major slip-up, reaching the QFs in all of the big events so far. Only once(Madrid) has he gone further though. Holding as a second-tier player at 32 is quite impressive.

9. Sigmund Kronecker(DEU, 28) -- 3,360

A brief renaissance for the German has elevated him above the other challengers. Obviously the big win for him was taking out Kaspar in Madrid to end the streak, and reaching the final there; he also got his first Slam QF of the year in Wimbledon.

10. Matthew Panter(USA, 25) -- 2,775

Hasn't looked very good lately, and lost in the third round of Slams already twice(AO, WIM). Wasn't overwhelming(4th round) at the US Masters either. He needs to show more in the second half if he wants to stay here.

11. Alexey Nikitin(UKR, 24) -- 2,750

Despite being regularly overplayed, Nikitin has almost gotten to the first page now. He's done fairly well in the small events, and consistent in the big ones; but no second-week results yet.

12. Gilberto Chinaglia(ITA, 23)

Unquestionably one of the big surprises of the year, Chinaglia was 37th at the start of the season. Wimbledon(4th round) was his 4th Slam of the year and he's played only one Masters(Rome). He has won several 250s already though. Strange profile, but I'm sure we'll be seeing him on the big stages from here-on out. He is a clay-focused player who has almost no hardcourt ability, a crucial weakness. For that reason, it's hard to see him going much further this year.

20. Karl Kaspar(FRA, 21)

The younger brother of Mateo it would seem, Karl is a second big surprise. He was 44th when the calendar turned. Doesn't have the same ability as his brother(who does?), but he's strong, has been well-handled, boasts excellent endurance, and technical abilities are quite good for his age. I'm going to call right now that he's the most likely candidate to take over for Mateo as the next #1(managed by the same person, hugoboy). He's not as good as Nikitin/Blake/etc., but probably will be by the time the job is up for bid again, and it's unlikely that Chiba will be quite as good as he is.

30. Hugo Cordova(USA, 22)

He'll bear watching also.

74. Stanley Edleman(USA, 20)

Edleman did win a match at Wimbledon, but he's only got one challenger title in the last several months. Lots of runner-up finishes though. He's close to making a bigger move, but right now still butting his head against the ceiling.

131. Sushant Chiba(SRI, 20)

Made it to the final at his first-ever 'plus' Challenger at Braunschweig during the second week of Wimbledon. That was a big moment for him, and going into the most challenger-heavy portion of the schedule, he figures to make more of a push and hopefully crack the Top 100 in the second half of the year.

Manager Ranking: 30.4k points, up to 3rd. Dudwadkar's strong season has been enough to start increasing this for the first time in quite a while.

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Old 12-26-2017, 10:26 AM   #737
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Ritwik will be telling his great grandkids about the time he knocked off The Immortal One for his first Slam title
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Old 12-26-2017, 05:59 PM   #738
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And they'll all roll their eyes at him and groan, 'Not this again, Gramps!' :P
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Old 12-26-2017, 06:01 PM   #739
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Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-Wimbledon Edition

In

Mateo Kaspar -- 10,210
Ritwik Dudwadkar -- 6,810
Martin Zarco -- 6,460

You can see how well Dudwadkar has played early in the year here; almost 7k of his 9k total points in the rankings. If he does anywhere near this well in the second half he should leave all non-Kaspar competitors in the dust. And yet Zarco is right there with him; he's been very good also.

Probable

Guus Dircx -- 4980
Hsuang-tsung Teng -- 4600
Ruben Piazzola -- 3090
Prakash Mooljee -- 3020


You can pretty much pencil in Dircx and Teng here, it's only a matter of time. Things are less certain after the clearly superior Top 5 though. Mooljee and Piazzola have been consistent enough to give themselves the clear inside track on two more spots, but they've got a lot of work left.

Contenders

Sigmund Kronecker -- 2500
--------------------------
Alexey Nikitin -- 2460

Meanwhile, Kronecker has the last spot for now, but it would be a big upset if he made the field after having reached it only once, and that three years ago. I've never seen anything like that happen. And with Nikitin still rising, he looks to me like the guy who'll take it.

Long Shots

Benno Duhr -- 2090
Gillo Fangio -- 1990
Matthew Panter -- 1965
Gilberto Chinaglia -- 1670
Valentin Rosenberg -- 1555

Fangio's got to figure something out by the time we get to the US Open, where he was a finalist last year. If he doesn't, he's going to be gone from the Top 8 positions after that. Hasn't been a terrible year for him; decent on HC, not very good clay season aside from RG. Still, he seems likely to be the only player capable of keeping the Ukrainian from making his debut.

Chinaglia's total is hard to calculate since it's almost all small events and I don't know how that will shake out. It would seem impossible for him to be in the hunt having played almost no big tournaments, and yet here he is. With the center of gravity shifting upwards in the rankings, there's a lot more of the usual chaotic scramble here for the last few spots.
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Old 12-27-2017, 08:09 AM   #740
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The busiest part of the Challengers calendar is the late summer, and Sushant Chiba took advantage to claim a tier-2 title in Recanati a few weeks later, encountering no real opposition. His first crown at this level comes a few months later than most of my players have gotten it done, but 10 weeks faster than Dudwadkar managed. Mehul, Mooljee, and Dudwadkar all took the four weeks behind Wimbledon and the start of the American swing off to rest and practice.
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Old 12-28-2017, 10:44 PM   #741
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First leg of the hardcourt swing, and notable because Anil Mehul does not participate at all. He's done playing doubles in Masters events. Shyam Senepathy, given a wild-card because reasons, gets a whopping two games off Cone in the first round. All the seeds advance, with only Mackenzie pushed to a decisive third set.

#16 Jolland falls to Damian Cortecedo, the 25-year-old Chilean who is making an increasing nuisance of himself as a Top 50 but not elite guy, in the second round. Espinoza takes a pair of tiebreaks to dimiss #15 Besson as well. Best match goes to Cristian Castegali not quite having enough this time; Gregory Mackenzie struggles for the second match in a row but moves on 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4. In the third, a man not heard from much the last few weeks arises again. Third-ranked Martin Zarco departs early courtesy of Alexey Nikitin, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3. Teng needs a third-set breaker to get past (14) Alexey Alenichev ... and in literally his first bad loss of the entire year, Ritwik Dudwadkar falls to (12)Dick Blake, 6-3, 6-7(9), 6-3. Blake needed 26 more service points than Dudwadkar, but you won't win many hardcourt matches going 1 of 17 on break points. Should have played better both technically and mentally here. It's not the end of the world or anything, but a rather shocking display to see two of the top three tumble out this quickly.

The quarterfinals got a lot more interesting all of a sudden. Kaspar pushed aside Ruben Piazzola, but it wasn't all roses this time as the match went to three sets. Rather stunning result on this surface. Prakash Mooljee was the last Sri Lankan around, but that didn't last long against the rising Ukrainian Menace(ok, that's a little silly, I admit it). 6-3, 6-4, Nikitin sends him out. Another third-round tiebreak gets the survivor Teng past Blake, and Guus Dircx drops a surprise 6-4, 7-5 decision to Fangio -- and the Italian was doubles champ here as well, by the way.

Straight-sets win for Mateo in the semis over Alexey Nikitin, but his first Masters semi moves him into the Top 10, and stakes a big claim to the tour finals spot. Gillo Fangio loses a close one to Hsuang-tsung Teng, the New Zealander surviving again 6-4, 7-6(5). He, uh, didn't exactly manage that much against Mateo Kaspar though, taking just three games in the final. Clearly happy just to get there. With most of the other top players losing early, it was a bit of a curveball start to the tennis fall season.
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Old 12-29-2017, 08:30 AM   #742
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Cincinatti

Shyam Senepathy skipped this week entirely for reasons unknown, leaving just the top two guys to soldier on. Despite a few close calls, all the top players made it through on the first day. In the second round, the Americans flexed their muscles ... except for (16)Jake Jolland who won just a single game in a shocking match against Karl Kaspar. The 'lesser Kaspars' are really starting to make some inroads now. (14)Alexey Alenichev was knocked out in a close match against Rob Lock, while (11) Beno Duhr lost to Matteo Zimolo, 4-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(2).

Unlike last week, form would return in the third as not a single higher-seed lost. Piazzola needed a 7-5 decisive set to get past Dick Blake, and Mooljee went to a third-set breaker to defeat Lock, but the US players, crowd favorites or no, all went home. The Top 8 all made the quarterfinals. Kaspar beat Ruben Piazzola again, a matchup that is getting awfully repetitive at this stage. Gillo Fangio lost a close one -- he's been playing better of late -- to Teng, while Dudwadkar ousted Prakash Mooljee, 6-4, 6-4 in just their third meeting this year. The overall is now 8-6 in favor of Mooljee. Martin Zarco departed perhaps a bit early, falling in three to Dircx in the last match of the day.

Another easy win for Kaspar in the semis over Hsuang-tsung Teng, and Guus Dircx was stopped by Dudwadkar, 6-2, 5-7, 6-3. First set he's lost, but he had enough in the tank to move on to the final ... and nearly win it. Took the first set from Mateo Kaspar, but eventually went down 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-4. Another sign of weakening in the French legend; this was close enough to show that he's no longer untouchable on hard courts, though it would still take a perfect storm of a bad day on his part for him to lose one. Didn't quite happen here.

Elsewhere ...

Anil Mehul was at a tier-2 challenger in Vancouver, losing badly in the second round. Not a real productive trip there for him,.
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Old 12-30-2017, 09:53 PM   #743
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2056 US Open

I've been remiss in not mentioning what Sushant Chiba has been up to recently. He's ranked high enough now that it's tough to get good practice opponents during the big tournaments, so he's played a few singles-only Challengers. His second straight title came at tier-2 Campos do Jordao during Canada, then he lost in the quarterfinals at tier-3 Brasilia the next week(to Livio Kaspar, one of the Kaspar cast-offs). During the year's final Slam, he got back in the winner's circle at tier-3 Astana, with a 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(1) final over aging Bulgarian Petko Yantchev, former world no. 50 but at 36 years old well past those days. So Chiba is gradually moving up, and the dictates of scheduling will have him playing a fairly steady diet of events. Anil Mehul got to the second round in doubles, double-bageled there by Arendt/Yumashev, familiar foes who were seeded 7th. In singles, Shyam Senepathy had the unfortunate draw of world no. 5 Teng: 6-1, 6-0, 6-1 was the gruesome result of that. A couple of Chiba's former junior mates, Edleman and Svajnovic, got favorable first-round opponents and advanced. But it is not his time -- yet. By this time next year, he'll be close to being ready for this stage ...

(17) Jake Jolland was the sole first-round casualty, and a surprising one; I didn't realize it at the time, but it appears his manager has gone the way of all flesh in terms of his participation in the game world. Such things happen from time to time unfortunately. The second round would hold a few more surprises. Uglesa Svajnovic got the biggest win of his career over (23) Angel Zaferia, the barely-seeded Milos Schmucker had yet another early exit, and in more of a surprise, (21) Phillipe Beson was dumped by journeyman Claudio Fandino in four. Fandino's one of those guys who has hung around the Top 50(career-best of 47th), never better but rarely much worse. Capable enough to be dangerous, as shown here. Another American, Rob Lock, won a 5-setter over another low seed, and Vinnie Cone came very close before losing to (26)Hamal Sbai, 7-6(3), 7-5, 4-6, 3-6, 7-6(4). Jolland's first-round conqueror, Bulgarian Trifon Strashilov, survived again with a last-set tiebreaker. So a few holes opened up and it was quite an entertaining start to the play at Flushing Meadows.

(15) Valentin Rosenberg was a not-really-an-upset loser in the third round, while (20)Stefano Espinoza nearly cleared out 6th-ranked Piazzola before tumbling 7-5 in the 5th. Svajnovic poked in again, impressively pushing Nikitin to five as well -- and (22) Cristian Castegali knocked out Kronecker, seeded 10th, in a tough four-set match. Castegali is really starting to be a consistent performer. Mostly predictable results continued in the fourth ... but not all of them. After cruising along so far, Prakash Mooljee became Castegali's latest victim, 7-6(3), 6-3, 7-6(8). Straight sets no less. (5) Hsuang-tsung Teng went out as well, a five-setter against Dick Blake that was doubtless largely down to crowd support; (7) Gillo Fangio lost less competitively to (11) Matthew Panter.

So the quarterfinals had a couple of extra Americans, and three players ranked outside the Top 10. Variety is the spice of ... something. Beatdowns of the unworthy are the expectation of the elite. And pretty much that's what happened. Kaspar over Blake, with just two games surrendered. Yikes. Ruben Piazzola went out to Dircx in a tough four, pretty expected result there. Cristian Castegali was shown the door by Dudwadkar, 6-1, 6-3, 6-4. That's a nice result by Ritwik that demonstrates he's learned how to handle interlopers. Matthew Panter pushed the top Spaniard, but Zarco took care of him in four sets.

So the top four all make it to the semis. Yawn. Routine, but not easy for Kaspar over Guus Dircx in the first match. In the second, the fifth match between Ritwik Dudwadkar and Martin Zarco went the way the first four have; but they haven't been this one-sided. 6-2, 6-4, 6-0. It's, uh, no longer exactly close who the second-best player in the world is. In his third straight Slam final against Mateo Kaspar, Ritwik started strong and then reality was forced upon him, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2. All hail the King, who now has 20 career Slam titles. And counting.
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Old 12-30-2017, 09:56 PM   #744
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Rankings Update

1. Mateo Kaspar(FRA, 27) -- 17,460

Still on track for a fourth straight year of two losses or less, unless/until somebody proves they can beat him off clay.

2. Ritwik Dudwadkar(SRI, 26) -- 10,230

Third Slam final of the year shows that Dudwadkar is clearly better than anyone else besides King Kaspar.

3. Martin Zarco(ESP, 27) -- 8,590

Similarly, the top Spaniard, while demoted a spot, looks to be an unquestioned #3.

4. Guus Dircx(NLD, 26) -- 7,550

Dircx and Teng have swapped the vital #4 spot a few times this year; for now the Dutch has it, and neither is all that far back of Zarco.

5. Hsuang-tsung Teng(NZL, 26) -- 6,530

Dropped back a bit after a disappointing 4th-round loss at the USO(was a semifinalist the year before).

6. Ruben Piazzola(CHL, 25) -- 4,540

Still a big, big gap here; there's the Top 5, and then there's everyone else.

7. Prakash Mooljee(SRI, 32) -- 4,110

Really impressive for a 32-year-old.

8. Gillo Fangio(ITA, 28) -- 3,330

Fangio here shows why. A few years younger, but he's fallen harder and faster.

9. Alexey Nikitin(UKR, 24) -- 3,200

Made his move with the SF showing at Canada, along with a 500 final and semi both in recent months. Still could be the next #1.

10. Matthew Panter(USA, 25) -- 2,935

Panter and Nikitin have definitely made it a younger Top 10. Still, over half of it is declining. This youth movement will only continue and intensify next year.

12. Gilberto Chinaglia(ITA, 24)

Soon to be the top Italian player it appears.

14. Dick Blake(USA, 24)

18. Karl Kaspar(FRA, 21)

Same name, same manager as Mateo. And Top 20 at age 21. Scary. In the 12-19 range right now there is nobody older than 26. Lots of solid players approaching their best years.

24. Hamal Sbai(MOR, 23)

Also worth watching.

27. Hugo Cordova(USA, 22)

Yet another new face here.
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Old 12-30-2017, 09:57 PM   #745
Brian Swartz
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Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-USO Edition

In

Mateo Kaspar -- 14,210
Ritwik Dudwadkar -- 8,700
Martin Zarco -- 7,450
Guus Dircx -- 6,240

Dircx has now done just enough to get in. Half the field complete.


Probable

Hsuang-tsung Teng -- 5740
Ruben Piazzola -- 4040
Prakash Mooljee -- 3560
Alexey Nikitin -- 3140

Teng isn't quite there yet, but will be very soon. Meanwhile, Nikitin has done well enough that what looked like it would be a close race for the last spot now has him as a clear favorite.

Contenders

None.

Long Shots


Gilberto Chinaglia -- 2710
Gillo Fangio -- 2710
Matthew Panter -- 2665
Dick Blake -- 2525
Sigmund Kronecker -- 2590
Benno Duhr -- 2265

Kronecker, who held the final spot after Wimbledon, added just 90 points to his total. That's partly because he was AWOL for Canada and Cincinatti masters. His bid for a final WTF appearance is on life support as a result. There's always the chance that somebody like Chinaglia, Panter, or Blake(he's got a couple of impressive wins lately) could make a last-ditch push here, but the odds of them catching Nikitin aren't high. Mooljee could still fall apart, but that's not looking that likely either.

There's still time for it to change, but it looks like the Top 8 has now selected itself, with the Ukrainian the latest addition eventually replacing Fangio.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 12-30-2017 at 09:57 PM.
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Old 12-31-2017, 09:04 AM   #746
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what better house targaryen or house kaspar
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Old 12-31-2017, 09:12 AM   #747
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September/October

World Team Cup Quarterfinals

#13 Chile was next up for us, indoors. #6 Ruben Piazzola was the main opposition here. Both of his rubbers went the distance, as did the doubles, in a topsy-turvy tie. Piazzola beat Prakash Mooljee on Tuesday, 6-7(8), 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(8), 6-2, as Mooljee seemed to finally run out of gas at the end in an otherwhise epic match. That tied things up at 1-all. Mehul/Suksma rallied from two sets down to win the doubles, including a bagel in the final set, to give us the lead. Then Ritwik Dudwadkar offered up two bagel sets to Piazzola ... but lost the third and fourth sets in tiebreaks, making things more interesting than they should have been. Still, the main difference here was that the Chilean no. 2 singles player was 37th-ranked Damian Cortecedo, who could offer us no significant resistance. We win 4-1, though it could easily have been 3-2.

World Team Cup Semifinals

Next up we moved into top competition against the United States, on clay. The choice of surface gives us the advantage, as the US #2, world no. 13 Dick Blake, is a weak player on the dirt. He started off by losing easily to Dudwadkar and giving us the lead. Prakash Mooljee lost to Matthew Panter, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(4), 6-4, and we were no match for the doubles team of Browne/Srbulovic. Down 2-1, we straight-setted both players in return singles matches. Ritwik Dudwadkar was first up to even things against Panter(just six games surrendered), and after that it was a simple matter for Mooljee over Blake on Friday. 3-2 we pulled it out; I think the Americans would probably have taken us had it been a hardcourt.

It's #1 vs. #2 in the final against Spain(though we have a huge points lead). Either they repeat or we take back our title. Hardcourts are best for us in that matchup, and it's another one where a weak second singles player should be enough for us to win 3-2. Third-ranked Martin Zarco figures to beat Mooljee but not Dudwadkar who has owned him this year, and we'll assuredly lose in doubles.

Elsewhere ...

Prakash Mooljee tried to get in some matches at the Open de Moselle(250). It didn't go as planned, with a second-round exit to Cone, 6-3, 6-3. Sushant Chiba, having played three Challengers in four weeks, was off for the entire six weeks between the USO and Shanghai to practice. One challenger for Anil Mehul, a tier-3 in Tulsa, and he did respectably by making the semifinals, though he was trounced there by Russian 2nd-seed Efim Golubev, winning just a single game.
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Old 01-01-2018, 10:40 PM   #748
Brian Swartz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by izulde
what better house targaryen or house kaspar

I dare not respond to this -- it could be fatal.

Shanghai

Shyam Senepathy qualified here, and lost to Maliagros in a good first-round match, 7-6(3), 6-3. My 'lesser players' were also in Challenger action. Anil Mehul(tier-2 Tiburon) dropped a first-round singles match but won the title in doubles. As one might expect, Sushant Chiba(tier-1 Rennes) was somewhat the opposite; first-round doubles loss, and a very tight defeat in the singles quarterfinals. Lucas Kaspar got him there, 7-6(5), 7-6(4). Both continue to be headed in the opposite direction, but fairly expected results.

Back at Shanghai, Vinnie Cone continued his upset-minded ways, narrowly missing an upset bid against Castegali. (12)Benno Duhr was not so lucky, dropping an instant classic 6-3, 6-7(8), 7-6(11) to Besson. The Swede is the only player to upset one of the seeds in the first round. One more fell in the second, also going three, with American Rob Lock doing the honors against 15th-seeded Alenichev. Mooljee had some trouble, losing a set against unseeded Milos Schmucker before rallying to win, and Nikitin was pushed also.

A whole bunch of expected results in the third round, except this: Prakash Mooljee doesn't escape this time, 6-7(5), 6-2, 7-6(5) the final in a match that could have gone either way against (11) Dick Blake. It's actually a round further than Mooljee made it a year ago but still not what he was looking for. Blake was the better player here though, and a perfect 4-for-4 in break chances. He was the only player to spoil an otherwhise-pristine QF party, and proceeded to get competitively straight-setted by Dircx. Elsewhere it was Kaspar trouncing Ruben Piazzola -- AGAIN -- Martin Zarco an upset victim against Fangio, and Hsuang-tsung Teng giving Dudwadkar a serious battle before falling 7-5, 7-6(9).

Guus Dircx threw a bit of a scare into Kaspar in the first semi, 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-2, but it still seemed little more than a hiccup. Gillo Fangio is within a match of having his personal series with Ritwik Dudwadkar evened after the Italian lost in straight sets there. Mateo Kaspar handled the final 7-6(5), 6-1, Dudwadkar's ninth meeting with him just this year ... and eighth loss. 1-8 against the King, 71-2 against everybody else. That's quite the split.
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Old 01-02-2018, 08:30 AM   #749
Brian Swartz
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I've finally managed to consistently flood the thread enough to be almost caught up; only a month behind now and I should get even with the progress of the tour right about at the end of the year.

October

Anil Mehul and Sushant Chiba both had the next couple of weeks off. Ritwik Dudwadkar returned to the Swiss Indoors(500), where he had lost a tight final to Teng last year. This time, a close semifinal against Panter went his way, and then he crushed arrogant interloper Karl Kaspar 6-1, 6-0 to claim the title. It's his first professional indoor championship. A smallish one, but he'll take it. Prakash Mooljee lost in the semis of the Kremlin Cup(250) to Matteo Zimolo in a third-set tiebreak, then in the Vienna(500) final to Hsuang-tsung Teng, 5-7, 6-2, 7-6(7). Very close to winning both, but he couldn't quite get there.

Heading into Paris, the final spot in the WTF is still up for grabs:

** Nikitin -- 3230
** Chinaglia -- 3170
** Fangio -- 3120

You'd think Nikitin has the edge here, but he's been afflicted by the ranking bug and is about 200 points lower than he should be. Also, his manager appears to be AWOL; he hasn't practiced at all or appeared in anything other than big events in the two months since the US Open. We may be witnessing a sad, premature ending to his(and Jolland's) careers.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 01-02-2018 at 08:31 AM.
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Old 01-03-2018, 09:21 PM   #750
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Paris Masters

Kroese/Zakirov is looking more and more like a good doubles partnership. They won the title here, and are now pushing their way up in the Top 10. Sushant Chiba won the tier-2 Eckental(indoor) Challenger, reaching the quarterfinals in doubles. Although he took advantage of a diluted field, there wasn't a remotely close match to be found. Anil Mehul took the week off.

Shyam Senepathy lost in singles qualifying, in the last round. 6th-ranked Ruben Piazzola was the first big name to fall. Alenichev, just barely out of the seeding, took him out in a tough second-round matchup. Nikitin and Castegali both went to third-set tiebreakers and a couple other seeds dropped a set, but none were eliminated. No upsets in the third round either: Alexey Nikitin couldn't get past Zarco, 7-6(6), 6-4, and that may have ended his bid for the Tour Finals.

Seven of the Top 8 into the quarterfinals, with #15 Gregory Mackenzie filling the other spot. He got a good dose of Kaspar, winning five games only on a server-friendly surface. The next two matches went to 7-5 in the third, both up-and-down ... Zarco beat Hsuang-tsung Teng, and Ritwik Dudwadkar's struggles on the indoor courts continued with a loss to Fangio. The Italian guaranteed himself a spot in the tour finals with this 'upset', by the way; that means it's the same players as last year, and the youth movement will have to wait. Prakash Mooljee played reasonably well but bowed out in straight-sets to Dircx, and that was it for Sri Lanka.

A little closer now, but Kaspar got through Martin Zarco routinely in the first semifinal. In the second, Gillo Fangio stepped aside, 6-4, 6-0 against Guus Dircx. It was to be his second Masters final of the year, and Mateo Kaspar handled things once again, 6-4, 6-2. He's on another big streak, having been perfect since the Roland Garros final.
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