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Old 04-02-2016, 06:23 PM   #301
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
July

As anticipated, very little happened here. No tournaments for any of my players so this is really an update to just note the passage of time as anything else. The Canada Masters will begin momentarily.

The dance between Cestmir Marcek and Girsh for the 4th spot continues. Marcek was upset in the semifinals of Washington which was more than enough to reverse the small lead Girsh had and swap them. Also, after some length of consideration Girsh will be playing doubles in Canada to jump-start his match condition just a little bit and hopefully give him a better chance to go deep. I'll rue that decision if he makes it far into the draw and gets too many matches, but that seems unlikely.

All three of my main players will be in action this coming week, so there will be a lot more action in the next update.
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Old 04-04-2016, 09:17 PM   #302
Brian Swartz
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Canada Masters

Mehul and Girsh were both drawn into the same quarter, a bit of luck that is either good or bad depending on how you look at it; very good odds that at least one would make the semis. Shreya Ujjaval did his usual as of late, qualifying and getting a first-round win before meekly bowing out to Caratti.

Anil Mehul had a rough third-round match against Perry Mockler, almost going out to the fading American before prevailing in a final-set tiebreak. Girsh swatted aside an exhausted Gustavo Caratti, setting up the second matchup this year between the two.

This was the fifth competitive meeting between the two, and for the first time the junior player prevailed in a classic, 7-6(3), 6-7(4), 6-4. Could have gone either way, Mehul probably should have won, but Girsh's mental game prevailed over 20 aces from Anil, who is the defending champion here. Ultimately it came down him needing the win more. The point count was 116-115, about as close as it gets.

In the semis Benda awaited, having just survived a three-tiebreak affair with Thiago Herrera. Having lost his last three and seven of eight in this matchup, things weren't looking any rosier for Girsh to advance further. Again he lost the total points count by one ... but found a way to win a match he was on the losing side of a coin-flip on overall, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. Back-to-back super-tight victories against his closest competitors in terms of overall ability ... I can't remember the last time Girsh managed that. I don't think there is really a precedent, and he advanced to his first Masters final.

A 20th straight loss to Iglar followed, 4 & 4. That's 21 consecutive sets as well, for those of you scoring at home. The last time he took one off the world no. 1 was at Shanghai nearly a year ago. But it was still one heck of a run here, and one that should end the conflict over the #4 spot in the rankings. That now belongs to Girsh, with Marcek bowing out in the quarterfinals to Gaskell.


Elsewhere ...

At the Trani Challenger, the top 5 seeds were all in the 100th-120th spots in the rankings. Prakash Mooljee was fourth among that group. He managed to qualify in doubles, but then lost in the first round. Better than most events, but not enough to make any real progress. Mostly he had solid wins, although a second-round clash with Sri Lanka veteran Rakesh Kuttikad was interesting. It was brutal also, a double-bagel beatdown. The tournament was basically decided in the semifinals against Falk Gries, a German journeyman who once was ranked 11th in the world, but at nearly 34 years old was just hanging onto respectability. It was a strange match; Gries was more consistent, while Mooljee played brilliant at times, and terribly at others. In the end, he got through as he generally does, with a narrow 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 comeback win, and had a relatively easy victory in the final to claim his second straight title and fourth challenger overall. Mooljee is now knocking on the door of the Top 100.


Cincinatti Masters

Ujjaval wisely took the week off here to practice, and the opening rounds were pretty similar to last week otherwhise. Girsh got Mockler this time in the third round, and won a close straight-setter. Mehul once again had to survive a final-set tiebreak, this time against Roger Federer. Both were in to the quarters again, but this time on opposite sides of the bracket.

Caratti made a nice run here, but was beaten in a competitive match by Mehul. Girish Girsh had to contend with hardcourt specialist Radek Smitala, and took his third win in four meetings but it was a real battle, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5. Meanwhile, Mugur Kinczllers upset Benda in a final-set breaker, the second time he's knocked off the German early this year in a Masters. That's an interesting little rivalry developing there.

Both semifinals were fairly anti-climactic. Iglar brushed aside Girsh again, competitive but not good enough as has often been the case. Mehul gave Kinczllers similar treatment. The final was even worse, with Iglar's impressive run this year continuing by the disappointingly lopsided count of 6-3, 6-1. It was as ugly as that indicated. We're back to the point, at least right now, where he has no real competition on the hardcourts. It's his 23rd Masters Shield, which ties for 4th all-time.

This might have been the best two weeks Girsh has ever put together, and he's got a lot of momentum now heading into the US Open. With Marcek an upset victim in the third round, he appears to be going exactly the opposite direction. The #4 spot is now firmly in the possession of Girsh, and he should soon be able to turn his attention to loftier matters.

Coming Up ...

A week off for everyone, and then the year's final Slam.
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Old 04-07-2016, 08:48 PM   #303
Brian Swartz
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One little side note; at Winston-Salem, the large 250 event the week before the USO, there was a rather shocking turn of events when flame-out Gareth McCuskey, the 13th seed, won the title. He's been on his way down for over a year, peaking at 24th in the rankings and was nearly out of the Top 50 before this moved him up into the mid-30s. At just 24 years old, I'm not sure what his issue is but he definitely doesn't look like the 'next big thing' he once had the potential to be. This is the first time in over two years(Hammerstein in the '42 Olympics was the last) that a double-digit seed won any professional event. Most of them don't even have more than eight seeds, of course. Helped that it was a 'home' event, but that was still a rather shocking turn of events.

2044 US Open

Opening Rounds

And now of course to the main event, the final Slam of the year. Shreya Ujjaval had himself quite a tournament, knocking off the fading 15-seed John Condon(PHI) in the first round in four sets, then getting to his second third-round result of the year. There, he stole the first set before falling in four to France's Theodore Bourdet, a loss that looked even better after Bourdet made it all the way to the semifinals, a huge result for him, and upset Bjorn Benda in the process. It was the first time in almost two years that Benda failed to reach the second week of a Slam.

Anil Mehul and Girish Girsh were both drawn on the same half, setting things up for a potential semifinal clash if they both took care of business. There was only one mild surprise for them in the first week; a surprisingly strong showing by 23rd-seed Andres Blanco of Spain. That's a name I haven't mentioned for a while, and with good reason; the former world no. 11 is 31 years old and had lost in the third round of the last seven Slam events he entered. He found a fountain of youth here, and not only went a round further but took a close tiebreak from Girsh to open the match before eventually going down in four sets.


In Other News ...

Como, Italy was the site of the latest Tier-2 challenger for Prakash Mooljee. Another first-round qualifying loss in doubles surprised nobody. As the #2 seed here, he smashed his way through all opposition, with only 7-seed Francis Ferzetti, aided by a partisan crowd, offering any real resistance in the semifinals. After Ferzetti failed to score a single point in the first-set tiebreak, even that was broken.


Second Week

The match of the quarterfinal round was the upstart Bourdet getting his second straight upset, this one over Thiago Herrera. Bourdet came from a set down to outlast the Peruvian 7-5 in the 5th. Elsewhere it was straight sets as it always is lately for Iglar over Marcek, while our two heroes each went four to advance. Mehul had little trouble overall aside from a third-set tiebreak against the always-dangerous but lately unimpressive Radek Smitala, while Girsh dropped a first-set breaker for the second straight match before righting the ship against Pierce Gaskell. And so it was that both remaining US players flamed out against my Sri Lankans, to the disgust of the crowds at Flushing Meadows.

Iglar flattened Bourdet in the first semi, to the surprise of nobody. In the second match, it was a real test of whether Girsh has finally matched Mehul on the court, or whether his victory a few weeks ago was simply a fluke. On this day, the younger player was a little more solid all the way around, not as many double faults, much better on break chances(3/4 compared to 1/8), and overall able to take a few more of his opportunities. Girsh has only won twice in this matchup, but both have been key victories over the course of the last month -- and this one advances him to his first Slam final, 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3, 7-6(3).

That meant facing Iglar for the 22nd time. Nobody has really pushed the no. 1 this year, and Girsh didn't either, but he played him a little tougher than the rest, forcing the Czech champion to a tiebreak which is more than anybody else managed. In the end, it wasn't close to enough in a 6-2, 6-3, 7-6(6) final, a remarkable 6th consecutive US Open title and this one without the loss of a set.
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Old 04-07-2016, 09:02 PM   #304
Brian Swartz
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Top Ten Rankings Update

1. Antonin Iglar(27, CZE) -- 14,970

Iglar is just being ridiculous this year. It could be his best year ever; he is presently 70-3, and while he may be challenged on the indoor courts at the end of the year, that's even a dubious possibility at this point. Right now he's pretty much even overall with Oliver Haresign for the final spot on the All-Time Mount Rushmore. More detail on that at the end of the year, but Iglar's victories in Canada and Cincinatti moved him up to a 4th-place tie with 23 Masters Shields, and there's no sign he's slowing down.

2. Anil Mehul(28, SRI) -- 10,510

Mehul is a very distant second right now, and for the first time in years doesn't even look like the second-best player in the world anymore.

3. Bjorn Benda(30, DEU) -- 8,450

The upsets are getting a little more common all the time.

4. Girsh Girsh(25, SRI) -- 6,810

It's been a great month for Girsh; not long enough to convince anybody it's more than a blip, but only Iglar has been better since Wimbledon. Two big finals in less than a month has him poised to not just hold onto the fourth spot, but eventually push higher.

5. Cestmir Marcek(30, CZE) -- 5,670

Marcek's level has definitely fallen off, at least in terms of consistency, leaving the WTC among other things wide-open this year.

6. Pierce Gaskell(28, USA) -- 5,290

7. Radek Smitala(27, USA) -- 4,450

It's hard to tell which of the Americans is really the better player at this point.

8. Thiago Herrera(27, PER) -- 4,090

9. Gustavo Caratti(25, ARG) -- 3,295

Still gradually moving up, Caratti has a bad case of not being able to say no to playing a ridiculous amount of tournaments. If this continues, he'll basically end up being a Gaskell clone -- good, but not as good as he could have been .

10. Mugur Kinczllers(25, ITA) -- 3,130

With Kinczllers up as well as it was predicted would eventually happen, Generation Flash is finally making it's move. Better late than never I guess. Somebody had to replace Mockler, and he's better than the rest of those chasing.
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Old 04-07-2016, 09:29 PM   #305
Brian Swartz
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Sri Lanka Rankings Update


Anil Mehul -- 2nd singles(unchanged). For the first time, I am left to wonder how long Mehul may occupy the #1 spot in the national rankings. I don't know exactly how long he's held it, but it's been at least the nearly 7 in-game years this dynasty has been going on. He was probably tops a year or two at least before that, so call it close to a decade. That's not to say that his run is over or anything, he's only declined slightly, but back-to-back losses to Girsh have all the appearance of writing on the wall. This year looks like it will end up being not as good as the last two, but better than the year before that. Good, but not great. Really not a surprise that the 'perfect storm' of last year's unexpected success didn't last. But a third straight Wimbledon is still worth celebrating, and he's still good enough to have some fun in Paris and the Tour Finals yet. There's a lot still to play for.


Girish Girsh -- 4th singles(unchanged), NR to 595th doubles. The dance with Marcek is over; the Czech no. 2 is clearly in the rearview mirror and for the second year in a row, Girsh is playing his best tennis at the end of the year. After semifinal results in Shanghai and Paris last year, it's unlikely he'll improve a great deal on his standing before the new year arrives. More importantly will be doing well at the Tour Finals which is where it started coming apart for him last year. He's shown recently that he's good enough to be #2 -- going further than that means waiting for Iglar to turn into a human again instead of this Lord of Tennis thing he's been doing again this year -- but he hasn't proven he can be consistent for more than a couple of months. It remains to be seen if he can confound those expectations. Girsh's return game, particularly on break chances, has been persistently brilliant lately and could carry him to many a title in the future.


Shreya Ujjaval -- I meant to note his ranking progress in this space, even though Ujjaval is not managed by me, but neglected to this year. He's up from 108th to a career-best 48th after his successful run at the US Open, and his manager appears to be improving in giving him more(although still not quite enough) weeks off to practice. He's improved significantly this year, and Ujjaval could well be a Top 20 player within a year's time.


Prakash Mooljee -- 114th to 87th singles, 755th to 720th doubles. Pairs is still a struggle, but after losing two of three matches a few months ago Mooljee is back with a vengeance. He's reeled off three straight Tier-2 Challenger titles, giving him five challengers overall -- at a younger age than either Mehul or Girsh were when they won their first! That's partly due to him being more of a natural/less of a worker, partly due to him aging a bit faster, a little better athleticism has helped as has better scheduling, but the bottom line is it's been another wildly successful year, 36-2 at this stage. Towards the end of the year he'll probably step up to play at least one Tier-1 event at some point. A bit more luck in his partners for doubles would be nice though ...


Manager Ranking -- 3rd(unchanged), 32.6k points to 33.7k. Hayato continues to stay just ahead, 655 points at this juncture. oprice meanwhile has broken his record once again, now at over 64k.


Coming Up ...

The WTC quarterfinals, with Sri Lanka heavily favored against France, are next week. Assuming that we prevail there, it'll be all WTC action between now and the Shanghai Masters in a little over a month; Mooljee is due for a sizable break, and the other two will get enough action for the national team to keep them sharp.
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Old 04-07-2016, 09:45 PM   #306
Brian Swartz
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Race to the Tour Finals Standings
Second Edition, Post-USO


In

Antonin Iglar -- 12,620
Anil Mehul -- 7,780
Bjorn Benda -- 7,690

Still surprisingly close for the #2 spot, which is not wrapped up by any means.


Probable

Girish Girsh -- 5,390
Cestmir Marcek -- 4,930

Marcek has picked up a lot of points in small events, the only thing keeping him this close here.


Contenders

Pierce Gaskell -- 4,110
Radek Smitala -- 3,820
Thiago Herrera -- 3,775
-----------------------------------

Winning the 500-level tournament in Washington gave Gaskell a lot more confidence that he'll pull through and return to the Finals, while Herrera has made three Slam quarterfinals after winning Monte Carlo earlier in the year. Right now this trio has a sizable lead on those chasing them.


Long Shots

Gustavo Caratti -- 2,895
Mugur Kinczllers -- 2,790

Most of the pretenders have dropped off the grid now, and even Caratti and Kinczllers both need a big finish to have any chance to crash the party.
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Old 04-08-2016, 09:44 PM   #307
Brian Swartz
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World Team Cup Quarterfinals
France(5th) vs. Sri Lanka(7th), Hardcourt

Monday: G. Girsh d. T. Bourdet, 6-2, 6-1, 6-3
Tuesday: A. Mehul d. D. Poilblan, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3
Wednesday: R. Iraugui/T. Rey d. S. Ujjaval/R. Kuttikad, 6-0, 6-2, 6-1
Thursday: A. Mehul d. T. Bourdet, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2
Friday: G. Girsh d. D. Poilblan, 6-1, 6-4, 6-0

Sri Lanka defeats France, 4-1!!

I was surprised by how one-sided the singles rubbers were; the French contestants are ranked 19th and 20th right now, and Bourdet just gone done with a semifinal run at the US Open. We move past Spain, and a single point ahead of France as well into 5th in the world rankings. Next up will be Peru after they edged favored Argentina 3-2. Gustavo Caratti was the goat in this case for the Argentinians, as he didn't come in prepared and it cost them.

On the other side, the Czech Republic blanked Austria 5-0, while Italy stunned the United States 3-2 thanks largely to a favorable clay surface. It was still a surprising result though, with Gaskell losing both of his rubbers. The Americans are clearly on their way down; all three of their elite players(Gaskell in 6th, Smitala in 7th, Mockler in 11th) are past their peaks to one degree or another. There is nobody nearly ready to replace them yet, though they have six players out of the 16 presently ranked 31st-46th, all of them still improving. They will still be a force, but in terms of contending for the WTC crown and maintaining their world's best ranking, that ship has sailed for a while I think.


Coming Up ...

In two weeks we meet Peru for the right to almost certainly face the Czech Republic in the final. This is a lot like the matchups with Germany the last few years; the Herreras are good clay specialists but not nearly so dangerous on other surfaces. It'll be another hardcourt tie, which means we will once again be prohibitively favored.
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Old 04-10-2016, 05:21 PM   #308
Brian Swartz
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World Team Cup Semifinals
Peru(8th) vs. Sri Lanka(5th), Hardcourt

Monday: G. Girsh d. T. Herrera, 6-4, 6-0, 7-6(5)
Tuesday: A. Mehul d. M. Herrera, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2
Wednesday: S. Ujjaval/R. Kuttikad d. J. Torres/V. Bureba, 6-3, 6-3, 5-7. 7-6(5)
Thursday: A. Mehul d. T. Herrera, 6-3, 6-1, 6-1
Friday: G. Girsh d. M. Herrera, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4

Sri Lanka defeats Peru, 5-0!!

Again an easier victory than expected. The surprise, make that a shock, was getting the first-ever WTC doubles victory by this year's team of Shreya Ujjaval and Rakesh Kuttikad. Other than that it was pretty much by the book, steady straight-set wins all the way around. We're still 5th, but have a bit of a margin in that spot now over the nations behind us.

Our opponent will be the Czech Republic as expected, but their semi against Italy didn't go as expected. Iglar won his two as anticipated, leading them to a 3-2 win, but the other three rubbers all went the distance. Kinczllers(8-6) and Alberti(9-7) both outlasted Cestmir Marcek in epic matches. If those scores were reversed, it could have been a total skunking in that tie as well. On the other hand, if Italy didn't blow a two-set lead in doubles, losing 7-5 in the 5th set there, they might have actually pulled a stunning upset. It helped their cause playing on grass, but still they could be a force for a few years year with both of their top players still improving.

The ground for the WTC Championship will be indoors, which is definitely an advantage for us. Doubles is basically a guaranteed loss, but it's hard to imagine Marcek giving us any real trouble in singles. That means one upset of Iglar could give us our first-ever title ... and he's at least somewhat vulnerable indoors, as has been demonstrated the last couple of years. If he keeps playing the way he has most of the year it may not matter, but it's a whale of a lot better than having to tango with him on hardcourt. Paris and the Tour Finals will give us a better idea of what kind of chance we have. Right now I'd say the Czechs are still favored, but it's definitely a better shot at it than we had against Germany on clay the last couple seasons. Nice to have favorable luck for a change, and we certainly have had that this year.

Coming Up ...

An off week, and then it's off to Shanghai with everybody playing.
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Old 04-12-2016, 06:13 PM   #309
Brian Swartz
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Shanghai Masters

This tournament was a bit unique. The theme, although it's a bit of an early spoiler, was the consistent dashing of upset dreams. I'm not sure I've ever seen a big tournament in which the favorites escaped so many times, and the format of this report is a bit different than usual for that reason. The early rounds, which tend to be the kindest to seeds, were the toughest. Only one of the eight in play in the first round lost; Federer was knocked off, barely, by Garreth McCuskey whose resurgence continues. Shreya Ujjaval was among the best qualifiers, but converted just 1 of 7 break chances in a straight-sets loss to Mockler. In the second round, there were a pair of upset victims; Marcelo Herrera and Milan Farkas, the latter player reaching the Top 10 for the first time afterwards despite the early loss.

But that's where it ended. All three players to exit were low seeds. From there on out, every match from the third round on, all 15 of them, was won by the higher seed. At that point there were two that could have gone the other way. Thiago Herrera required a third-set tiebreak to get by McCuskey, and Benda took a close three-setter against rising Swede Elias Trulsen. The other six matches were much more one-sided.

In the quarterfinals it got even more interesting. Benda was tested a bit by Herrera and advanced, while Anil Mehul dropped a set before rallying against the ever-dangerous Radek Smitala. Both escaped, while Girsh and Iglar blasted their opponents easily.

The semifinals brought drama in both matches. Antonin Iglar's winning streak stretched to 23 against Girsh by the narrowest of margins, 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(2). Girsh had him on the ropes in the second set after stealing the first, but both players dropped serve multiple times prior to the tight tiebreaker. In the third there were no breaks, and after going up a mini-break at 2-1, Girsh lost six straight points and the match along with them. It was played dead-even, and was the first time he'd taken a set from the legend since last year at the same juncture here. A very encouraging effort, but still frustrating to get that close and not get the win. In the other match, Mehul just edged Benda 7-6(5), 7-6(5). The German continues to be more of a threat than he has any right to be, and could well have snagged the year-end #2 spot if he'd won here.

In the final, a fatigued Iglar found his way through another close one, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Anil Mehul actually slightly outplayed him, but dropped both break points he faced while converting just 1 of 7 on his own end, and that was that. With this, the Czech champion completed a perfect calendar year on hardcourt, something he's never done before -- and in his last two matches Sri Lanka's top two players each had ever chance to stop him and couldn't do it. A good tournament otherwhise but that is a real gut-shot. Six matches in the last three rounds went the distance, and a couple others were close -- the favorites were perfect however. Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes.


Elsewhere ...

Some last-minute entrants meant that Prakash Mooljee faces just as tough a field in the Tier-2 Tiburon challenger as the Tier-1 in Rennes. He was seeded 4th, but all of that ended up not mattering a hill of beans when he was upset in the first round by Djurdje Moicevic(DEU). It was a close loss against another up-and-coming player, a hardcourt specialist, and Moicevic went on to reach, and nearly win, a seedless final. All of that aside, it's still a disappointment to lose this early in a matchup he should usually win. Doubles did go better, as he qualified and made the quarterfinals -- this made the week not a total loss.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 04-12-2016 at 06:48 PM.
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Old 04-12-2016, 06:48 PM   #310
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Race to the Tour Finals Standings
Post-Shanghai Edition

In

Antonin Iglar -- 13,620
Anil Mehul -- 8,530
Bjorn Benda -- 8,250
Girish Girsh -- 5,900
Cestmir Marcek -- 5,380

Benda just will not go away, and still has a chance at snagging the #2 spot.


Probable

Thiago Herrera -- 4,365
Pierce Gaskell -- 4,350
Radek Smitala -- 4,300

It's not mathematically over, but it might as well be. It's well over a thousand points to the nearest competitors, a very anticlimactic Race this year.
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Old 04-15-2016, 07:42 AM   #311
Brian Swartz
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Early November

An interesting dilemma was in front of us here. With the way the end-of-season schedule is spaced out, Girsh and Mehul could either peak for Paris and the Tour Finals, or for the WTF Final, but not both. Given that we've got a real chance at taking home our ultimate goal as world champions in the WTC, that was chosen. This meant overplaying heading into the other events, which will make them tired by the end.

To get there, both players entered 500-level events the week before Paris. Girish Girsh entered the Valencia Open. He quite surprisingly was extended to a third set by unseeded Roberto Martin in the second round, but crushed all comers the rest of the way with a 6-0, 6-2 beatdown of Condon in the final.

Anil Mehul was back at the Swiss Indoors, where he'd suffered one of the most disappointing losses last year as Federer staged a comeback despite being badly outplayed in the final. After the first round, pretty much ever match was competive. Local veteran Vito Bonamoni, then each of the rising young French players, and finally revenge against Roger Federer himself in the title match, 6-3, 7-6(0). Mehul faced a pair of tiebreaks on the way but did not drop a set.

Mission accomplished, and on to Paris.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 04-16-2016 at 08:58 AM.
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Old 04-16-2016, 08:58 AM   #312
Brian Swartz
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Paris Masters

Paris was, in some ways, the opposite of Shanghai; nothing in the final rounds went as planned. Earlier, Shreya Ujjaval qualified again but lost narrowly to another qualifier, and that was that. Girsh cruised early while Mehul sputtered a bit in his first match, but both made it through to semifinals along with the other members of the elite without losing a set.

Girish Girsh had Antonio Iglar again. Take 24. Only this time, the script flipped and Girsh easily beat the man he'd never beaten in 23 tries, 6-3, 6-4! That was rather anti-climactic. He didn't lose his serve once. On the othr side, Anil Mehul was fairly shockingly upset by Bjorn Benda in what ought to have been a gimme match given Mehul's facility with indoor courts, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. He was just flat outplayed; Benda was fresher but frankly in this matchup that shouldn't have mattered much.

This left Girsh favored to take his first Masters title ... and he nearly did. Unfortunately, while neither player did well on their break chances, Girsh did particularly poorly at 1-11 and didn't quite have enough at the very end, losing, 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-6(4). Benda, who hadn't won here in five years and hadn't made it past the quarterfinals the last two, all of a sudden seizes the upper hand in the race for #2 again with his second Masters of the year. He's tied for 7th overall with 13.

Elsewhere ...

Prakash Mooljee faced a weak field in Sao Leopoldo, one of four challengers this week. As the top seed and strong favorite, he bashed his way to final with virtually no opposition, then bageled Venezuelan Luco Benauides in the first set of the final ... and still managed to blow it, 0-6, 6-4, 7-6(5). Benauides is an all-rally, no-serve kind of player and a clay specialist, but after that kind of a start this is pretty disastrous.


Up Next ...

Despite the disappointment of losing the Paris final, Girsh has now made three straight in big events and should be able to improve on his round-robin departure from last year in Norway at the Tour Finals. Mehul will go into the event having stunningly dropped behind Benda briefly into the #3 spot, and needing a good result to not stay there. Mooljee will have a week off and then another challenger or two in the final weeks, which have tougher competition as pretty much everyone else has the same idea as well: getting enough matches in to make it through the end-of-the-year break.
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Old 04-17-2016, 06:22 PM   #313
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Late November

The end-of-the-year challenger rush is on. The next-to-last week has Prakash Mooljee playing at a tier-3 in Salzburg(indoors). It was the usual; he waltzed his way through the draw as the top seed while losing immediately in a close qualifying doubles match. He'll have another tournament next week to wind up his season.


World Tour Finals Preview

The top spot is secure with Iglar, but Benda has taken over #2 by just over 100 points so that's very much up for grabs between him and Iglar. Girsh and Marcek are all but locked into the 4th and 5th spots, looking for a strong finish to set them up for the next year. At the bottom, first-time qualifier Smitala, two-time semifinalist Gaskell, and Thiago Herrera could finish in any order depending on what happens here; any win for any of them is big with just 205 points separating the trio. For the most though it's the same cast of characters; only Girsh among the younger players, and he's really reached his prime now as far as that goes, has managed to crash the party. He had a very bad practice week leading up to the Finals, so that's a definite concern.
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Old 04-19-2016, 04:52 PM   #314
Brian Swartz
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World Tour Finals
Trondheim, Norway

Group A

Anil Mehul and Bjorn Benda got the better end of the stick at least by rankings, going up against the last two players in the field, Pierce Gaskell and Thiago Herrera. Benda's improbable Paris Masters title a few weeks ago nothwithstanding, he laid a complete egg here and did not win so much as a set. Mehul didn't lose one, while the second semifinal spot was decided on the last day with Gaskell surviving against Herrera 6-7(10), 7-5, 6-3 to get through the round-robin stage for the third straight year in which he was not favored to do so. He must just like the Tour Finals for some reason.


Group B

Girish Girsh blazed through the second group, even knocking off Iglar in a fairly easy three-set encounter. The world #1 needed the full distance to escape the ignominy of being knocked out early, edging Radek Smitala 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 in another third-day nail-biter. Marcek went down pretty easily in all of his matches. It might be his last rodeo here.


Semifinals

I felt confident after all this that one of Sri Lanka's players would take home the title. Girsh did not face a single break point in claiming his fifth straight win over Gaskell, 6-2, 6-4. Mehul and Iglar staged a classic in their 36th meeting, a frustrating 7-6(7), 7-6(7) defeat in which Anil had his chances in both breakers and deserved at least a third set. He narrowly won the points comparison 97-95 and more consistently pressured the legend's serve. Both players defended themselves well, with the server taking 9 of 11 combined break points, and Iglar moved on by the narrowest of margins. It was just a point here, a point there from an all-Sri Lanka championship match.

Finals

Antonin Iglar comes in having lost two indoors matches in the last month to Girish Girsh. Unfortunately this time he blasted Girsh badly, 6-2, 6-4, leaving Sri Lanka's 'junior' star one match short of a big title once again. For Iglar, he becomes the 5th player to win the Tour Finals three times after being defeated by Mehul the last couple of seasons.


Elsewhere ...

Prakash Mooljee's final event of the year was another Tier-3 in Cancun. It was pretty much the usual, he lost in his first doubles match and took his 7th challenger title of the last eight months. It wasn't all easy though; US wildcard Patrick Brewer pushed him to a tiebreak in the semifinals, and top-seeded Ricardo Fagundez of Paraguay gave him a 7-5, 6-3 battle in the final. Mooljee won without losing a set though, and should settle somewhere in the low 70s in the rankings at the end of the year. 50-4 isn't as impressive as 52-1 last season but it's still awfully good; he'll be taking another step up in competition next year though.


Coming Up ...

Mehul and Girsh will be fresher and looking for revenge on Iglar at the World Team Cup Final to end the season. Can't think of a better way to finish off the year.
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Old 04-19-2016, 08:19 PM   #315
Brian Swartz
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World Team Cup Finals
Czech Republic(2nd) vs. Sri Lanka(5th), Indoor

So here we are. The plot is simple; Sri Lanka will likely claim it's first-ever championship if either Mehul or Girsh can do what they couldn't manage at the end of the WTF -- knock off Antonin Iglar. Doubles is pretty much a guaranteed loss, and Marcek shouldn't be much of a threat, so it boils down to that. I'd say based on recent events we should be slight favorites here.

Monday -- Iglar vs. Girsh

This right here is our best chance. Girsh got off to a fast start, leading 6-3, 4-1 but then nearly gave the second set away. Iglar came back strong in the third, and the fourth was close for the first half until the world no. 1 saved some break chances in the sixth game, then surged to the lead with a break of his own in the seventh. After leading 2-0, Girsh found himself in a fifth set he should have been able to avoid, and dumped his serve again right away. He was behind for the first time in the match. By the time he got back in the fight it was already 4-0. He won three straight games, but couldn't get the second break back. An epic collapse here, and it may have cost Sri Lanka our first world title. 3-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 is the final, a match we won't soon be able to forget. If all else goes well, Mehul will still have a chance to get us the needed win on Thursday ... but this looked over after the first set and a half. It almost certainly should have been over, but it wasn't. A tough one to swallow. The break points tell the story; Iglar was 6 of 9, Girsh 5 of 17. He had every opportunity, particularly in the middle of the fourth when the Czech was serving at 2-3.
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Old 04-20-2016, 08:05 AM   #316
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Tuesday
Marcek vs. Mehul

An obvious must-win, and Mehul lost just eight points on his serve. He was still broken at the only opportunity, but it mattered little. He crushed Marcek 6-4, 6-2, 6-3, evening the tie up at 1-all.


Wednesday
L. Nedved/J. Simunek vs. S. Ujjaval/R. Kuttikad

Not a whole lot to say about this as we were never going to have a chance here. 6-3, 6-0, 6-2 was the scoreline. The Czech Republic leads 2-1 now, just one rubber away from victory. It's all on Mehul shoulder's tomorrow now ...
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Old 04-20-2016, 08:50 AM   #317
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Thursday
Iglar vs. Mehul

This one would decide the tie. Mehul stayed with the no. 1 for a tight first set, but lost a one-sided tiebreak and mostly disappeared in the second set. He rallied to win a tight third, but went down a break early in the fourth and couldn't get it back. At this point you have to take your hat off to Antonin Iglar, as frustrating as it is; he's now won four straight against us(two in the WTF, two here) on his worst surface. 7-6(2), 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 is the final count here. It's 3-1, and Girsh will almost certainly win on Friday but that's a moot point now.

The Czech Republic wins it's second straight title and third out of the last four years, while Sri Lanka gets as close as you can without winning for the second time in three seasons. We'll get there eventually, but it might have to wait until Iglar descends to the ranks of mere mortality.
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Old 04-20-2016, 10:29 AM   #318
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That's a tough loss. I have to say though, Iglar is ridiculous in your world.
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Old 04-20-2016, 12:05 PM   #319
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Yeah, he definitely is -- and this was arguably his best year yet. Sometimes it's fun going up against an all-time great, and other times I wish he'd just get out of the way for a minute.

Friday
Marcek vs. Girsh

Anticlimactic in more ways than one since the tie was already over, but one dead rubber left to play. Girsh rolled here, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2, surrendering just eight points on serve. Marcek never had a chance. And that's a wrap.

The Czech Republic defeats Sri Lanka 3-2, the same margin we lost to Germany by two years ago. Next week will be the playoff rounds, where we'll find out what the Level 1 field will be in the coming year, and see what our path will be through group play.
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Old 04-21-2016, 01:54 PM   #320
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WTC Playoffs

** Switzerland(22nd) vs. Ireland(11th) -- Interesting matchup here between the Swiss looking to extend an unsuccessful two-year stay at the top in which they've won just a single tie, going up against the Irish who are in their third promotion tangle in four years since being sent down. Switzerland has by the far the better players with Ireland an aging shadow of it's former self, and the status quo is maintaind with a 4-1 margin.

** Croatia(8th) vs. Romania(18th) -- Somebody's going up here in a rematch of the Level 2 Final, won by Croatia 4-1. They were sent down two years ago, narrowly avoid bouncing back up in a defeat against Denmark last year, but the Croatians are going to be a force to be reckoned with. Talented 20-year-olds Sava Cirakovic(42nd) and Blagota Cojanovic(78th) could be a major power for a few years when they peak. Another matchup that was basically a foregone conclusion: Croatia is promoted 4-1.

** Luxembourg(15th) vs. Mexico(16th) -- It's strange to have a matchup at this level with no singles player ranked higher than 100th, but that's exactly what we've got here. Luxembourg is in it's fourth promotion playoff from Level 2 in the last five years; they haven't won a single one of them. Mexico meanwhile has been a Level 1 nation for ten straight years now, failing to advance past the quarterfinals in four attempts and generally doing just enough to stay up. Form holds again here; the singles rubbers were split, but Mexico's quality doubles tandem got them a 3-2 win, and they stay up.

** Serbia(30th) vs. Germany(4th) -- A seriously one-sided matchup according to the rankings, though the Germans don't have much other than Benda these days. Serbia's been at the top level the last four years in a row themselves, but has done basically nothing there. Still, this is every bit as one-sided as the rankings would indicate. Germany didn't lose a set despite an unfavorable choice of indoor ground, and the Serbians are relegated.


Summary

Croatia moves up and will be one to watch, Serbia moves down, the other 15 nations in Level 1 will remain as they were. Par for the course generally speaking.

There was a momentous bit of Sri Lanka news as well; after more than 14 years of preparation, Anil Manohar, just over 42 years old, has retired and become a trainer. Manohar had a singles record of 469-275(.630) and was a nearly-identical 468-262(.641) in doubles play. He won just over $150k in total winnings(by comparison, Mooljee is already at $110k). In singles he took home 10 junior and 5 amateur titles, never winning at the futures level with a career-best of 238th shortly after I hired him back in 2030. He was much more successful in doubles, with 3 amateur and 34 futures tournaments won, though a high ranking there of just 430th as he saw most of that success in his later years. It had become increasingly clear over the past several months that he was declining, partly due to focusing on the investment to become a trainer; just two weeks ago, in his last tournament, he failed to qualify in both singles and doubles.

He ends up at a 4.5 level as expected; 4.47 to be more exact was my calculation. By making the switch at the end of this week I was able to get in a few sessions, mostly with Girsh and Mooljee. The goal with Manohar was never about his limited career on the court, but his ability to become a decent trainer for the younger players. Now that this is achieved, my efforts to maximize Sri Lanka's talents will move into a new phase. He'll help the younger players the most of course:

** Anil Mehul will merely get a little bump in rare occasions on his efforts to extend his career, and after that move towards being a premium trainer in his own right. Sri Lanka's most accomplished player ever(at least so far) is now largely past the point of needing a trainer, having begun to go with only singles practice on occasion due to fatigue concerns. I still expect him to be relevant for another 2-4 years on the singles circuit.

** Girish Girsh will see a little more use, as he still regularly is in need of extra matches. That will only be the case for another year or two.

** Prakash Mooljee is expected to make use of Manohar's services the most, pretty much every week most likely for a while as he is still at his physical peak.

** Most importantly, Sri Lanka's next junior phenom will be recruited/created next week, and he will be the first player to be able to make full use of Manohar's skills and accumulated experience. There will be a lot of experimenting going on especially at first, but more on how I plan to approach that situation next week once I get a look at the newcomer.
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Old 04-21-2016, 04:13 PM   #321
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And so the year-end spam-posting begins anew ...

2045 WTC Preview

The Czech Republic edges out the United States for the #1 spot in the overall rankings, while Sri Lanka slips a bit with our loss in in the finals but remains 5th, which is still two spots up from where we started the season. We're drawn in Group 3 again, facing off against Germany(4th), Italy(12th), and Denmark(19th). Should be trivial to advance, especially since we'll get the Germans on hardcourt and not on their favored clay. Most of the groups are pretty equal except #2, which has the Czech Republic(1st), Argentina(3rd), France(6th), and Mexico(16th). Either France or Argentina loses out there, and that should be a fascinating matchup. We'll definitely be aiming to win our group, and hopefully get a favorable draw afterwards.

2045 Top 10 National Rankings

With the heights we've ascended to, I thought I would start showing this annually also.

1. Czech Republic -- 2566
2. United States -- 2547
3. Argentina -- 2287
4. Germany -- 2162
5. Sri Lanka -- 2067
6. France -- 2045
7. Spain -- 2033
8. Croatia -- 1978
9. Peru -- 1973
10. Austria -- 1907

For quite some time now, the Czechs and Americans have been well ahead of everyone else. We're gaining ground on them though, slowly but surely.

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Old 04-21-2016, 06:18 PM   #322
Brian Swartz
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Finally time to create my new player today. Here's how it went ...

Ritwik Suksma

** Age: 14y25w. Usually they end up about here, will have a birthday around Wimbledon similar to Mooljee.
** Raw Skill/Service: 5 skill, 1 service. That's quite low, I think Girsh started at 10-12 skill or somesuch. Does it matter all that much? No, just means he starts off a hair behind.
** Mentality: 3.6. Every player I've created so far has been in the 3.4-3.8 range, so this is right down the middle.
** Aging Factor: 96%. Decent, using 'Peaks Late' I've never gotten higher than 97, so 95-97 is the range I think.
** Talent: 4.4. Not super, same as Mehul/Girsh, Mooljee was better at 4.7.
** Peak Athleticism: 2.9 strength, 2.4 speed. This is quite bad for a created player, seems the average is about 6.5 combined. 5.3 here is yuck.
** Peak Endurance: 3.7. This gives a combined TE of 8.1, and is again subpar. Girsh, Mehul, Mooljee all in the 4.2-4.5 range.

Summary

So I actually like his name, aging factor and talent are ok, but overall this is a bad fish. By far the worst result overall I've gotten for a created player. Fortunately I have enough credits right now to try again -- so Mr. Suksma is fired and will soon be available for someone else to pick him up. this isn't to say he's horrid, he could be a Top 50 player probably, but he's below the standard I usually get and am looking for. There is some risk here because I've only got 1-2 more shots at this; I need my luck to improve.

Take Two

Ritwik Dudwadkar

I guess Ritwik is the name of choice in Sri Lanka for boys these days. Last name is a bit of a tongue-twister. But let's see what he's got ...

** Age: 14y29w. A little on the older side, so that's a small strike against him.
** Raw Skill/Service: 7 skill, 4 service. That's pretty decent actually. Seen better, seen worse.
** Mentality: 3.5. Just a hair below-average.
** Aging Factor: 96%. Decent
** Talent: 4.5. Not as good as Mooljee but still pretty good. Starting to feel a bit better about this.
** Peak Athleticism: 2.8 strength, 3.8 speed. Not as good as Mooljee, and I'd like the strength to be higher but this is the fastest player I've had with any I've created.
** Peak Endurance: 4.4. That's better than anyone I've had other than Mehul.

Summary

There's always something you can complain about, but this is solid. 8.9 TE, 6.6 SS on Mark's evaluation system. Pretty low home advantage at 2.3 but I don't care since nobody plays in Sri Lanka anyway. Should be right in the same category as my existing players, thrown in the fact that he'll have a trainer the whole time and he could well be the best of the bunch. This one i'm not throwing back, so get used to the name Dudwadkar. Just don't ask me to pronounce it :P.
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Old 04-21-2016, 08:47 PM   #323
Brian Swartz
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2054 Final Top Ten Rankings

1. Antonin Iglar(CZE, 28) -- 15,030

Iglar just had arguably his finest overall year -- and that's saying something. He tied his lowest number of defeats ever(5) and was one off his best for wins(88). He's cemented his place as one of the top all-time greats -- more on that in a bit -- and will likely stay at the top of the rankings for at least another couple of years.

2. Anil Mehul(SRI, 28) -- 9,790

A slightly disappointing season for Mehul, but he managed to stay in the #2 spot despite a brief blip. It's no longer presumed that he'll stay there, but he had his third-straight 70-win season(75-15) and will still be a major factor some while yet.

3. Bjorn Benda(DEU, 30) -- 9,330

Benda has refused to go quietly. His shocking first title at the Paris Masters gave him 13 total Masters Shields, good for an 8th-place tie on the all-time list. He's impressively managed to keep his serve at a world-class level despite the advance of time, and is still the best clay-courter in the world.

4. Girish Girsh(SRI, 25) -- 8,050

A strong finish for the most part allowed Girsh to make some serious inroads on the usual challengers ahead of him, and it may not be long before he surpasses them.

5. Cestmir Marcek(CZE, 30) -- 5,510

Reality is finally starting to set in for Marcek, now merely the best of the third tier. He lost 26 matches this year, four more than in any previous season, though he did equal his best of a year ago with 64 victories. Still, he's looking more and more vulnerable these days.

6. Pierce Gaskell(USA, 28) -- 4,710

It looks like Gaskell may well lose the top US spot to Smitala soon. He continues to play a ridiculously reckless schedule, racking up 108 singles matches this year. His speed is slowly becoming less of a weapon, and he could be looking at the beginning of the end.

7. Radek Smitala(USA, 27) -- 4,680

Smitala is the polar opposite of Gaskell, making the most of his gifts by playing a sparse schedule. He was only involved in 19 tournaments, two fewer than any other Top 10 player. It looks like time is running out on him now; his best tennis is probably a year behind him, but he still has a chance to become the USA's top player for a bit.

8. Thiago Herrera(PER, 27) -- 4,475

The occasional good result off clay has elevated Herrera into the middle of the pack here.

9. Gustavo Caratti(ARG, 25) -- 3,125

Caratti's going to be around for a while, and his athleticism should allow him to gradually pick off the older players in front of him.

10. Mugur Kinczllers(ITA, 25) -- 3,060

In and out of the first page this year, Kinczllers notably knocked off Benda a couple times, and made Masters semifinals in Rome and Cincinatti. Just needs a little more consistency.

Journeyman Milan Farkas, the Czech no. 3, made a brief appearance last year and could do so again. The next few behind him are on the decline, but after them there are some younger faces charging. Elias Trulsen(SWE, 25), Tobia Alberti(ITA, 25), along with the young French players that have been discussed before, Poilblan and Bourdet, are all continuing to push their way upwards. I'm not sure anyone in that quartet makes the Top 10 this year, at least until I take a closer look, but they'll be knocking on the door most likely.
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Old 04-21-2016, 11:55 PM   #324
Brian Swartz
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It's now time to hearken back to one of the first few posts I made in this dynasty.

All-Time Greats

Until recently, there were four who distinguished themselves in the history of this world as being head and shoulders above the rest. There is now a fifth member of the club, which I loosely define as anyone with double-digit Slam titles(there is nobody who has won more than 7 and less than 11). Here's what I wrote then about the top players ever, slightly edited and updated:


1. Eric Gorritepe(ESP). Gorritepe knows no rival, contemporary or historic. He combines the durability and competitiveness of a Davydenko or Nadal with the skill of a Federer, the best of all possible combinations. His reign of terror only recently abated just before this dynasty commenced, in the late 2030s. 2027-2037 looks like his era spread, with the last great ride being a final at the Australian just this past season. While nobody before him actually achieved the CYGS, he did it four times('29, '30, '32, and '33) and came one match short at the '31 Wimbledon. American Johnny Napier beat him in a five-set classic, coming from down 2-1 to provide the only major blemish in a five-year run the likes of which tennis has never seen before and will likely never see again. On both sides of that loss, Gorritepe won 10 straight Slams and won all five tour finals in those years as well. The final numbers for his unmatched career:

Slams: 23(1st, six more than Sullivan)
Tour Finals: 6(1st, one more than Prieto)
Masters: 52(1st, 20!! more than Sullivan)
500: 18(2nd, though only half of Prieto's number)


2. Martin Prieto(ESP). In the early years of the tour, there was Prieto and then there was everyone else. He also was a force for an 11-year period, 1995-2005. For decades it looked as if nobody would touch him. Twice he had three Slams, the tour finals, and a semifinal Slam loss as the only blemish on the big events. Overall he took home 16 Slams, one fewer than Sullivan. 30 Masters also ranks him third, just behind the Irishman, but Martin's 36 titles in 500 events put him over the top in my estimation, along with his 5 tour finals which is also second-best. No other player has won more than half that many. You can make an argument either way, but I place Prieto here.

3. Nicholas Sullivan(IRE). This is the one controversial spot on the list. Sullivan's 17 Slams place him second all-time, prompting some to think he should be up a spot. There are good reasons to place him here though. No question he was a great, great player. Sullivan was making appearances in the second week of Slams from 2016-2026, an impressive period of longevity. He came even closer than Haresign to the CYGS but did not quite make it in 2019. After dropping the Australian final in four sets, to Carl Hamilton, the longtime #2 during his reign and also from Ireland, Sullivan swept the remaining three Slams and the tour finals, taking the last four Masters titles for good measure. He is second in all-time Masters with 32, but like Haresign did not do much at the smaller events.

4. Oliver Haresign(USA). Haresign flourished from 2022-2029, winning 11 Slams(4th) and two tour finals(T-5th). He is not nearly as accomplished as the three above him on this list, but far better than anyone not on it. In 2026 he won the first three Slams and lost in the final at the USO, nearly sweeping the season. Countryman Jason Coxetter, himself a fine player and ranking third at the time, stopped him in straight sets. Haresign has 23 Masters titles(also 4th all-time) though he did not do much at smaller events.


A New Legend

The much-discussed Antonin Iglar, who still has time to increase his portfolio, now clearly belongs on this list. In fact, over the past few months his achievements have grown to the point where we can comfortably knock Haresign down to 5th. Here's how their careers compare:

** Slam Titles: Iglar 13(4th), Haresign 11(5th)
** Tour Finals Titles: Iglar 3(T-4th), Haresign 2(T-6th)
** Masters Titles: Iglar 24(4th), Haresign 23(5th)
** Olympics Titles: Haresign 1, Iglar 0
** Weeks at #1: Haresign 228(4th), Iglar 198(5th)
** Prize Money: Haresign $84M(3rd), Iglar $50.8M(not in Top 10)

When it comes to longevity, Haresign has the upper hand, but in winning the big titles he's behind in everything except the Olympics. With the massive lead Iglar has in the rankings, he'll overtake at least the Weeks at #1 spot as well. Haresign's won more 500-level events(5-1) but fewer 250s(15-1 Iglar). If you look at dominance, Iglar is the only man other than Gorritepe to lose six or fewer matches in a season -- and he's done it three times now.

He hasn't won enough at RG or Wimbledon to have a prayer at catching the unapproachable Spaniard, but Iglar has a good chance to threaten Prieto and Sullivan on this rundown as well before he hangs it up. The total body of work is scary-good, and worth taking a moment to recognize. It will be a long time, and maybe never, before there is another member of this club.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 04-21-2016 at 11:56 PM.
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Old 04-22-2016, 06:18 PM   #325
Brian Swartz
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It is now officially 2055. This week we begin anew our quest for a WTC Title against Italy, but while that happens it's time to take a look at the year ahead.

Sri Lanka Rankings Update

Anil Mehul -- 1st to 2nd singles. This may well be the last time Mehul is Sri Lanka's top player at the beginning of the season. With Manohar hanging it up, he's the only one of my original players from 14 years ago that is now left. I think he'll be relevant, though declining, for at least another three years on the singles stage; at the same time, it's worth keeping tabs on his trainer progress since he'll be the next one several years down the road. Right now he scores a 4.12.

Girish Girsh -- 5th to 4th singles, unranked to 612th doubles. Girsh struggled at the start, contributing to him losing three more matches(20) than a year ago; he also won nine more, a new high of 75. Late in the year he reached four consecutive finals(Cincinatti Masters, USO, Paris Masters, World Tour Finals) but did not win any of the events and had the crushing collapse in the World Team Cup. What he hasn't shown so far is the ability to consistently avoid major letdowns for a full year. That's all that's holding back from taking Mehul's place right now.

Shreya Ujjaval -- 52nd singles, 125th doubles. Ujjaval still plays too much but not as badly as he used to. He was able to consistently qualify for Masters events(five times) and had good, but not great results on the challenger circuit. No titles this year, although he did come close. Ujjaval is good enough to crack the Top 32, but whether he does or not is anothe story. He is improving quite steadily, up about 50 spots roughly from a year ago, but tends to bite off a little more than he can chew. It'll be an interesting year for him.

Prakash Mooljee -- 232nd to 72nd singles, 2120th to 617th doubles. Doubles success continues to evade Mooljee, but he had another outstanding year in singles. Like Ujjaval, he is now set to enter his 'Challenger Hero' season. He had a pair of futures titles and won all four tier-3 challengers he entered last season, but had more mixed results in the tier-2s; three early-round exits to go with a trio of titles and a runner-up placing. He'll be stepping it up another level this year, an early tier-1 is basically forced by the schedule, and after that he'll be playing his first slam in Australia. Results in those first two events will go a considerable way towards determining where he plays in the following months. There've been some great practice weeks lately as Mooljee is ranked as high as he deserves, perhaps even a bit too high. By comparison, Girsh was 98th at the same age plus six weeks, though he had done better in doubles(424th). This year Mooljee should either be just in or just out of the Top 32, depending on his results. He's not as good as the top challenger players yet, but he's getting there.

Ritwik Dudwadkar -- unranked. The newest addition will have a few weeks of practice before his first junior event gets him started. He's going to be a guinea pig of sorts in figuring out when to use Manohar's training services.

Manager Ranking -- 3rd to 2nd, 30.6k points to 33.0k. Finally passed Hayato, and -- assuming I can stay there -- the only thing left to do is the long, long slog of trying to narrow the gap to oprice, still almost 30k there. Not going anywhere for a while :P .

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 04-22-2016 at 11:28 PM.
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Old 04-22-2016, 11:18 PM   #326
Brian Swartz
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2045 Preview

1. Antonin Iglar(87%, 10.07, -0.13)

Iglar is actually a smidgeon older than Mehul in terms of aging, even though he is several months younger. Having said that, he's still the unquestioned king of the hill and it's hard to see that changing in the next year or two.

2. Anil Mehul(87%, 9.86, +0.01)

Anil will start seeing his abilities decline from here on out on an annual basis; his body just can't take the training workload it once could. I do think he'll be able to hold his own until he's at least 31 though, three years from now. Hopefully he's got one more big year in him somewhere in there.

3. Bjorn Benda(82%, 9.65, -0.02)

Benda is now closer to 31 than 30, but his game isn't really showing it. He's done a fantastic job maintaining his serve, and is as effective a player as I've seen anyone be at his age since the incomparable Gorritepe. Most of the Top 10 even still is far beneath him.

4. Girish Girsh(93%, 9.91, +0.11)

It's all about consistency for Girsh as I've mentioned. He's pretty much exactly on par right now with where Mehul was at his peak -- but he hasn't made the most of those skills yet, too often falling short against inferior competition. I'm not as sure as I was a few years ago that he'll ever make it to #1, but for the next 2-3 years he can be right there a couple steps behind Iglar if the Czech legend slips, ready to take advantage. That's if , and only if, he can put his underachieving days behind him. There's also a chance he could be the first Sri Lankan to, if only briefly, break the 10.0 barrier ...

5. Cestmir Marcek(82%, 9.29, -0.14)

Marcek finally returned to reality the last few months. You have to admire the way he stepped up for the year or two prior to that, but you don't win matches with positive feelings and respect. I expect a gradual decline, and most likely it will be Farkas instead who is Iglar's partner for the world-champion Czechs in the WTC by the time this year comes to an end.

6. Pierce Gaskell(86%, 9.7, -0.09)

Still good enough to be a threat, still mismanaged enough not to be a major one.

7. Radek Smitala(86%, 9.15, -0.14)

It was fun while it lasted; Smitala's year or two of fun is basically over now.

8. Thiago Herrera(88%, 9.32, +0.04)

Still the #2 on clay, and still getting a little better past the point where you'd expect it. Herrera may well move up a little more in the coming season.

9. Gustavo Caratti(94%, 9.32, +0.08)

Caratti will go as far as his power can take him, and right now Girsh is the only player ahead of him who isn't on the downswing or about to be. He's looking to restore the glory of Argentine tennis, and should take this push further in the next couple of years.

10. Mugur Kinczllers(92%, 9.25, +0.08)

Kinczllers is the opposite of Caratti -- he's developed a world-class serve and is very good from the baseline as well, but doesn't have as much athleticism to back it up with. His ceiling isn't as high, but he should be able to push upwards also.

11. Milan Farkas(87%, 9.2, --)

Could crash the Top 10 party again; he's been right on the edge of it for a while now. He's the last of a group basically forming the 6-10 or so spots that should be packed close together and very competitive. Further down the ladder, there are finally more talented players chasing them ...

16. Elias Trulsen(93%, 9.54, --)

Trulsen started making some noise last year; he has a good serve and great athleticism. He's spent too much time on doubles and doesn't have the goods at the elite level from the back of the court, but I still have him right now sixth-best player in the world. He definitely has my vote to move into the Top 10 this year. He could even surpass Caratti as the biggest generational threat to Girsh if things go well for him.

17. Tobia Alberti(92%, 9.33, --)

Another very good athlete, though not quite as good, who has developed his skills to the point of being ready to rise up. He doesn't have a ton of time left to do so though ...

18. Theodore Bourdet(96%, 9.19, +0.15)

Didn't improve as much as you'd hope this year; needs to spend more time on his rally game. Having said that, Bourdet's still fairly young and good enough to keep moving upward.

21. Davide Poilblan(94%, 9.21, +0.04)

Disappointing year training and on the court. If he doesn't make a jump this year, it may never happen.

24. Afanasy Bereznity(97%, 9.1, +0.08)

Creeping his way up slowly, but he's not quite ready yet. Overall though, there's an increasingly dangerous group of youngish or coming-into-their-prime players pushing their way up. In a couple years, the competition for Top 10 spots could be a lot stronger.

52. Shreya Ujjaval(99%, 8.99, +0.35)

The serve is lacking, but he should keep moving up. There aren't many better outside of the Top 20 at this point .

72. Prakash Mooljee(99%, 8.77, +0.55)

Right on track with where Girsh was at his age(8.79), and about another year at his physical peak before things get a little more difficult. He should be able to pass about half of the players ahead of him this season, give or take.

NR(J). Ritwik Dudwadkar(60%, 2.45, --)

Just beginning his journey.
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Old 04-23-2016, 04:13 PM   #327
Brian Swartz
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World Team Cup, Group 3, First Round
Italy(12th) vs. Sri Lanka(5th), Indoors

Monday: G. Girsh d. M. Kinczllers, 6-1, 6-3, 6-0
Tuesday: A. Mehul d. T. Alberti, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2
Wednesday: X. Jue/A. El Brazi d. S. Ujjaval/R. Kuttikad, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2
Thursday: A. Mehul d. M. Kinczllers, 6-2, 6-1, 6-0
Friday: G. Girsh d. T. Alberti, 6-4, 7-5, 6-4

Sri Lanka defeats Italy, 4-1!

Obvious result is obvious here, only the Czechs really have a chance against us on an indoor court. Only the final, dead rubber was even competitive. A bit surprised Girsh wasn't able to win that one more decisively, but he was never in all that much danger. We stay in 5th ahead of France who also won, and behind Germany who won as well. The latter is our next opponent, and you can pretty much pencil in the winner as the Group 3 champion.

Coming Up Next ...

Mooljee heads to Noumea for his first-ever tier-1 challenger, where he'll likely be one of the lower seeds at best. The week after that, Girsh and Mehul will get a warmup 250 to get themselves set for the Australian Open .
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Old 04-27-2016, 07:50 PM   #328
Umbrella
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I finally got a trainer in my game, and went looking around to find a new young player. I saw a promising young guy from Sri Lanka. None other than one Ritwik Suksma. I know you weren't high on him, but he looks like the best of the 14 year olds that I could find. He's not as strong as my other youngster, but we'll see how he pans out. Although by my calculations, his peak endurance is 4, not 3.7. Hopefully I am doing it right.

Last edited by Umbrella : 04-27-2016 at 07:53 PM.
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Old 04-27-2016, 08:25 PM   #329
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Cool, good luck! He's not bad, just not as good as my other players. I took a look at him again ... I think you are right on the endurance. Looks like I did the bad math there, though I still would have cut him.
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Old 04-28-2016, 01:49 PM   #330
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Fell a little behind here, although I seem to have had company in that with the other RR dynasties. Regardless, let's get moving again.

January

First up was Prakash Mooljee, and I guessed wrong in sending him to Sao Paolo instead of Noumea. He ended up barely as the 8th seed, where he would have been sixth in the other one. Last-minute entries will do that to you sometimes, and there's a few AI players down here -- you never know what they are going to do. Anyway, Mooljee got through a couple of potentially dangerous early-round matches, then lost to Zourab Andronikov(GRG). It wasn't close -- 6-2, 6-2 -- but that's not a huge surprise. Mooljee is almost a year away from being at the Georgian #1's level; Andronikov is the kind of player who should be out of the challenger field soon, and I'm a bit surprised it hasn't happened already. He would go on to lose very narrowly in the final.

The next week, I screwed up with my top players, entering them both in Sydney(250). I intended to send one each there and to Auckland. Gaskell was the beneficiary of my mess-up. As it was in Sydney, both had more trouble than expected in the quarterfinals. Mehul escaped Federer, and Girsh narrowly got through against Bourdet, both in tight three-set matches. It was smooth sailing in the semis, and Mehul reversed last year's trend in winning 6-4, 7-5 to take the title. It was one of those where it all came down to a few break points. Girsh had the more consistent pressure, but lost all three of his chances while Mehul snagged 2 of 3, and that was the match.
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Old 04-28-2016, 02:01 PM   #331
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Australian Open

Lots of players to cover here, with Mooljee getting his debut. The big storyline is the fact that Iglar has beaten Mehul in four straight finals here. Would Girsh be able to break up the dominance that pair has shown down under?

Opening Rounds

As usual, I'll start from the bottom up. Prakash Mooljee had a fairly friendly draw for his first Slam, which is always nice. Could have been better, but could have been a lot worse at all. WC Nawal Sebban -- sorry, Deacon! -- was fairly easy pickings in the first round, 6-3 in all three sets. Next up was Elias Trulsen, my pick for the year's top riser. He dismantled Mooljee 6-2, 6-4, 6-2, and it actually wasn't quite even that close. Trulsen is in the shrinking class of players that are totally out of Mooljee's league, so I didn't expect much.

Shreya Ujjaval has stalled just outside the Top 50 it seems over the last few months. He had a nice run to the third round here last season. This time he won a tough four-setter over a spanish qualifier, then was smashed with only one competitive set against Afanasy Bereznity. Bereznity would go on to reach his second Slam quarterfinal in his last three(also at Wimbledon last year). If he gets some consistency, the 24th-ranked Russian could still be a threat to a lot of the players ahead of him.

Girsh and Mehul both cruised through the first three rounds. Girsh kept that going with a one-sided beatdown of Federer in the fourth, while Anil Mehul had a bit more trouble with Gustavo Caratti. The Argentine is getting more dangerous all the time, and took the first set before Mehul rallied for a hard-fought 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 victory. Caratti's serve was on point, taking the ace count 28-19, but it wasn't quite enough.

I'd expected to have Dudwadkar play his first juniors tournament, but I held off a week as he was worn out from his first few weeks of practice.
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Old 04-28-2016, 02:19 PM   #332
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Australian Open -- Second Week

Along with Bereznity, former #7 Perry Mockler, an afterthought for nearly a year now, was a surprise quarterfinalist after surviving a 10-8 fifth set against his better fellow American Radek Smitala. Mockler went away quickly here though, thanks to Iglar. Benda smacked Bereznity around pretty good, while Mehul had only a few tense moments in the third set against Cestmir Marcek, still coming through easily in straights. Girsh Girsh looked about the same against Pierce Gaskell, leading 2-0 before losing a tense tiebreaker in the third. After the wheels came off in the fourth, it looked like a repeat of last year's WTC final against Iglar. He saved the match, barely, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 1-6, 6-3, but it shouldn't have gone that far.

Iglar and Benda had a very tight first set in the first semifinal, but after the Czech squeezed through in a tiebreak, the German veteran folded and it was over in three. Once again the world's top player was through to the final here, and he'd taken on one of my power pair who were set to go in the second semi. It was all Girsh in the first set, but he didn't do a whole lot afterwards. Anil Mehul's second win in as many weeks over his younger rival served notice that he isn't quite done yet as the top player in Sri Lanka tennis, 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4. Just like in Sydney, Girsh played well enough overall to win but Mehul's serve(17 aces to 10) came through more when things were tight, and Anil's experience allowed him to seize more opportunities.

So, for the 5th year in a row, it's Iglar vs. Mehul. A couple of the matches have been very close, with last year's going the distance, and the two before that taking four sets. This time, Mehul won a pair of very close sets at the outset, but the Czech legend didn't take this lying down. An easy third, and then a tight fourth-set breaker had them going to a fifth set again. This time though, it was Mehul who got the last laugh, 7-5, 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-7(8), 6-3! An epic final, and a huge victory here for Anil. Over more than five years, Iglar had won the last 11 hard-court Slam tournaments. Not this one. Not today. Mehul claims his 4th Slam title, first away from Wimbledon, and strangely now holds more of them at the moment(2, 1 each for Iglar and Benda) despite still being thousands of points down in the rankings due to other results. It's a heck of a start to the year for him, and a second straight match that he won in the key spots despite being slightly outplayed. Give yourself a chance enough times, and eventually you might come through. That's exactly what happened here. The head-to-head is now 26-12 Iglar -- this was his first hardcourt loss though in a year and a half. A sign of things to come? That remains to be seen.

Elsewhere ...

Ritwik Dudwadkar had his first juniors event, and lost competitive qualifying matches in both singles and doubles.

Coming Up . ..

The important WTC tie against Germany is up next week. Mooljee will be training, and Dudwadkar will try his luck in another tier-5 juniors due to only getting a couple of matches this time.
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Old 04-28-2016, 06:13 PM   #333
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World Team Cup, Group Three, Second Round
Sri Lanka(5th) vs. Germany(4th), Hardcourt

Monday: A. Mehul d. S. Baune, 6-2, 6-2, 6-1
Tuesday: G. Girsh d. B. Benda, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4
Wednesday: H. Arendt/E. Ercan d. S. Ujjaval/R. Kuttikad, 6-0, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4
Thursday: A. Mehul d. B. Benda, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2
Friday: G. Girsh d. S. Baune, 6-1, 6-0, 6-0

Sri Lanka defeats Germany, 4-1!

That was rather one-sided. The match with Girsh was closer than the score indicates, but Bjorn Benda got absolutely crushed by Mehul. Even won a set in the doubles. We're still 5th, but nearly eliminated to gap with Germany with the win here. We're now guaranteed to top spot in Group 3, and the final tie will be against 19th-ranked Denmark, who doesn't have a player near the Top 50.

Elsewhere ...

Ritwik Dudwadkar played a rare home tournament in Colombo. He lost in singles again first time out, but qualified and reach the semis in doubles. This gets him into the juniors rankings officially, at #1317.

Coming Up ...

There's a break in the schedule now. I don't expect Mehul or Girsh to take the court for the next month, until Indian Wells. Mehul is 15-0 -- it'll be interesting to see if he can maintain this level of perfection in a few weeks. Girsh has lost twice, both to Mehul, so that's not terrible but he's got to win those matchups if he's to move up. Still a solid #4, with a big gap ahead and behind him right now.

Mooljee will be in Dallas next week for a tier-2 event; the following week there's only one challenger, and there's no reason to risk a crowded field. If he does well that's probably his only event of the break. Dudwadkar will take a couple weeks off, and play at least one more tournament during this timeframe as well.
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Old 05-02-2016, 11:54 AM   #334
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February/March

Mehul and Girsh both took the month off as expected to practice, and both had an overall disappointing year last year in the first two Masters about to commence. There's an opportunity here for both of them starting in Indian Wells which will soon begin.

Prakash Mooljee had a rather unfortunate draw at the tier-2 Dallas challenger. In the quarterfinals he played Joseph Skirrow(USA, 47th), the best player in the draw and the one player who is basically an equal. Skirrow won 6-4, 7-5, and it was the usual one-match doubles exit. Mooljee will be playing at Kyoto(CH2, Indoors), which has by far the weakest field of the two challengers this week and expecting a better result.

Ritwik Dudwadkar had another tier-5 juniors in Yerevan, winning his qualifying match in doubles but losing again in singles. He'll be back out there again, this time in Noumea, France, in the upcoming week.

With everybody playing somewhere it will be a busy period, with the eyes of the tennis world focused the most on how long Mehul's unbeaten streak to start the year will last ...
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Old 05-02-2016, 12:26 PM   #335
Umbrella
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I don't know if this is hijacking your thread, since your goal is to get Sri Lanka #1 in the world, and I have a Sri Lanka player, but Ritwik Suksma won his first singles match in Trnava, making it to the first round proper. He's done OK in doubles as well, reaching a semi-final and runner up so far.

My other (more promising) youngster is playing in Noumea, so maybe he'll meet Dudwadkar.
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Old 05-02-2016, 12:48 PM   #336
Brian Swartz
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Not at all. I have no problem with this thread becoming a general 'RR1' update thread or whatever if you want to post stuff about your players go right ahead.

It's always interesting to me playing against other people's guys -- I've had a couple of times where my top players beat up on deacon's journeyman, but having a real rivalry even if only in juniors would be cool.
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Old 05-02-2016, 04:48 PM   #337
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I actually got rid of him and picked up Siobhan O'Doherty to be a trainer. As soon as I get him to the requisite number of points, I'll make the transition.
My junior Javier Canolli is up to 10th in the junior standings. He won't have a long career with and age factor of 104% but I 'll work on getting my next one to have a lessor factor.
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Old 05-02-2016, 07:05 PM   #338
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Canolli is how I realized you were in world 1. I recognized your name when looking at the junior rankings.
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Old 05-03-2016, 12:57 PM   #339
Umbrella
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Swartz View Post
Not at all. I have no problem with this thread becoming a general 'RR1' update thread or whatever if you want to post stuff about your players go right ahead.

It's always interesting to me playing against other people's guys -- I've had a couple of times where my top players beat up on deacon's journeyman, but having a real rivalry even if only in juniors would be cool.

Well in that case, the youngster I am the most excited about, Jakob Heinen, got his first trophy, a doubles win in Noumea (JG5).
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Old 05-03-2016, 05:55 PM   #340
Brian Swartz
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Yay! I did slightly less well, losing both qualifying matches :P.
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Old 05-04-2016, 11:55 AM   #341
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Indian Wells Masters

Shreya Ujjaval improved slightly on his first-round exit a year ago, beating journeyman Falk Gries of Germany in the first round before a competitive loss to 12th-seed Marcelo Herrera. This will help him bounce back a bit, as his ranking is slipping -- he was down well into the 60s coming in.

Our power duo had little trouble in the first week. Girish Girsh had his second competitive matchup with Alberti in the fourth round, but got through in straight sets. The quarterfinals had him matched with Perry Mockler, who backed up a surprising run at the AO by upsetting Gaskell in the previous round. He kept it going here, as Girsh thoroughly embarrassed himself after taking the first set in a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 setback. He was just 1 of 9 on break chances in an evenly played match. Mockler is on fire right now, but it's still humiliating -- Girsh should virtually never lose to a player of this caliber, and he hasn't been able to sustain the momentum from the end of last year unfortunately.

Anil Mehul trounced Elias Trulsen, while another surprise quarterfinalist, Theodore Bourdet, almost upstaged Benda before falling in a heartbreaker, 5-7, 7-6(2), 7-6(4). Hard to play better than that without winning. Mockler had the next shot at Sri Lanka's best player, and he gave it a run but Mehul stopped him in a serve-dominated match, saving all three break points he faced.

Antonin Iglar was the opponent in the final as you'd expect. He looked to be in pretty dominating form here and that didn't change. Mehul hung in for most of the first set but the dam broke towards the end of it in a 6-4, 6-1 defeat, ending a career-best 20-match win streak to start the year. He only managed to get one break chance on the Iglar serve -- the world no. 1 was in legend mode this fortnight, nobody was going to beat him, nobody came close to even taking a set.

Elsewhere ...

Prakash Mooljee stared at the Kyoto(tier-2 challenger) draw in a bit of disbelief when he saw more late entrants, among them Joseph Skirrow to whom he'd lost his last match. Both cruised to the semis, but this time Mooljee won 6-4, 7-5. He thumped German Djurdje Moicevic, who he's had trouble with in the past, in the final to claim his first title of the year and 8th challenger overall. He also did much better in doubles than usual, qualifying and reaching the quarterfinals. I think the win over Skirrow(presently 46th) was his first over a Top-50 player. He's also been doing a little better against players of that level in practice weeks, though he's still not a match for the best of the challenger players yet. It's progress though, and he's up into the mid-50s now.

Ritwik Dudwadkar had a tough day at the Noumea JG5, losing both qualifying matches. His singles match was a weird one -- two close tiebreaks went against him, in a match that saw 22 breaks in 24 service games.


Coming Up ...

The big guns have another Masters in Miami. It'll be a busy week again, with Mooljee probably heading to Africa for another tier-2 challenger, and Dudwadkar hoping the fifth time's the charm in terms of getting his first solo juniors victory.
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Old 05-06-2016, 08:59 PM   #342
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Miami Masters

More of the same for Shreya Ujjaval, a pretty easy first-round win and then a loss to the Peruvian Herrera clan. This time it was Tiago.

There were some close matches in the early rounds, but none involving my guys until the fourth. Girish Girsh narrowly avoided defeat against Caratti, and I do mean narrowly. 5-7, 7-5, 7-6(11)! Had to save 9 of 11 break points to do it, and it was one of those coin-flip affairs, not just in the epic tiebreak that ended it either. Mehul made the second week as well on cruise control.

Popping over to the other players, Prakash Mooljee had another tier-2 event at Marrakech. He was seeded third, and potential rival Jonathan Ardant(FRA) took a close tiebreak ... and then was served a pair of bagels in the quarterfinals. He did well from there, winning the tournament in straight sets including a semifinal victory over top-seeded Vito Brandini(ITA, 45th). Another sign he's ready to move up into the Top 50 himself there.

Ritwik Dudwadkar's latest outing saw him lose in singles qualifying again -- the fifth straight time -- and qualify in doubles before falling in the quarters there. He still definitely hasn't gotten over the hump.

Back in Miami for the conclusion the next week, Girsh had an easy one over Kinczllers and it was Anil Mehul's turn to struggle. Gaskell nearly broke a 13-match losing streak against the world no. 2, but he got through eventually 6-4, 6-7(3), 7-5. The semifinals were a joke, both of them. Antonin Iglar crushed Girsh horribly, 6-2, 6-1. Not a shame to lose; but to not even compete is another story. Meanwhile Mehul dispatched Benda almost as easily.

All of the big three hardcourt tournaments this year have had the same matchup in the finals. This one was closer than Indian Wells, but not as close as the 7-5, 7-6(4) score would indicate. Regardless, Iglar takes it again for his 26th Masters Shield.
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Old 05-06-2016, 09:11 PM   #343
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Top Ten Rankings Update

1. Antonin Iglar(CZE, 28) -- 14,230

A narrow loss in the Australian Open final is his only blemish this year. His lead has decreased, but it's still a pretty big cushion.

2. Anil Mehul(SRI, 29) -- 11,340

A great start to the year for Mehul, who looks much better than he did this time last season. He's a stellar 26-2 to start the year.

3. Bjorn Benda(DEU, 30) -- 9,610

A little more consistent to start this year than last. Still a top 5 player pretty much anywhere.

4. Girish Girsh(SRI, 25) -- 8,020

Basically treading water. He hasn't started this year as well as he finished the last one.

5. Pierce Gaskell(USA, 28) -- 5,140

Sort of in no-man's land right now, Gaskell can rarely challenge the top players but is much better than anyone else.

6. Cestmir Marcek(CZE, 31) -- 4,620

Gradually losing his grip.

7. Thiago Herrera(PER, 27) -- 4,240

Thiago is just sort of hanging out with solid but not impressive results. He'll probably pick up another spot but he's not getting any better.

8. Radek Smitala(USA, 27) -- 3,935

Smitala's moment has come and gone; he could be out of the Top 10 by year's end.

9. Mugur Kinczllers(ITA, 26) -- 3,420

Not good enough yet to grab a better placement, Kinczllers is waiting for it to be handed to him. It will, eventually, but he's pretty much peaked in terms of his ability so he's probably never going to crack the Top 5.

10. Gustavo Caratti(ARG, 25) -- 3,125

Caratti seems primed for a big move on clay. He only had one good result out of the three big events last year, and is probably the guy who will eventually dethrone Benda on the surface. If not this year, soon.

Elias Trulsen(13th) and Theodore Boudret(14th) have been moving steadily upwards, while Farkas tumbles. They could push into the Top 10 later in the year, but they've got some distance to go yet and it's over 500 points that Caratti has on the rest of the field right now. Should be a pretty stable group at least until the summer.
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Old 05-07-2016, 01:35 PM   #344
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Sri Lanka Rankings Update

Anil Mehul -- 2nd singles(unchanged). Mehul has narrowed the gap to just under 3k points with Iglar, and pulled away from Benda somewhat. At this point his goal is just to keep the good times rollin' as long as he can, having just turned 29 but certainly playing like a guy a couple years younger. He had a disappointing clay season last year until reaching the final at RG, and will hope for my consistency on the dirt.

Girish Girsh -- 4th singles(unchanged), 612th to 606th doubles. Girsh should be the second-best player in the world but appears to be slumping again -- Mehul is still the better player despite being past his prime, and the label of 'underachiever' is pretty much accurate here to a degree. Unless he steps it up again like he did at the end of last year, all he'll be able to do is wait for the players above him to enter more serious aging decline.

Prakash Mooljee -- 72nd to 52nd singles, 617th to 564th doubles. Mooljee is starting to see a hair more success as a doubles player lately, and his last pair to tier-2 challengers wins have boosted his ranking to a career-high. Knocking on the door of the Top 50 now, he's become the #3 player in the Sri Lankan ranks in both singles and doubles. It's going to hard to push significantly higher though, since other than a couple of early-round losses during the RG timeframe last year he's basically just replacing low-level challenger titles from the previous season. In the summer when the challenger circuit hits it's peak, he'll need to take on the top tier of players in the 30-45 range and win some of the bigger challenger events. Time will tell whether he's more ready for that or not as compared to the start of the year.

Shreya Ujjaval -- 52nd to 64th singles, 125th to 157th doubles. On paper it looks like Ujjaval is having a bad year. He hasn't actually gotten worse -- in fact, he's still objectively better than Mooljee despite what the rankings say(9.0 as compared to 8.92), though it's getting quite close. Incidentally, they played three times in practice this current week and Ujjaval won convincingly each time. He has passed his physical peak at this point while Mooljee won't for probably about a year, so it's just sort of a premature switch. The main problem Ujjaval is running into right now though is that he's stopped playing challengers in favor of the bigger events, about a year before he should have in my opinion. He's not embarassed himself by any stretch, but hasn't been able to get deep enough in the tournaments he's played to replace the points he's losing.

Shyam Senepathy -- 240th singles. The criminally overplayed Senepathy is nonetheless climbing through the ranks to a degree. Despite being poorly handled, he could make the Top 100 someday. Talent alone will ensure he has a career to some degree -- but it's too late for him to ever really become an elite performer.

Ritwik Suksma -- NR to 1139th juniors. Suksma has been picked up by competent hands, and is struggling his way through having won his first singles match in Trnava a few weeks ago. He has the ability to be very good though not great in time -- we'll see what he manages to achieve.

Ritwik Dudwadkar -- NR to 1227th juniors. Also just at the beginning of his journey, Dudwadkar is winless so far in singles and still trying to find his stride.

Manager Ranking -- 2nd(unchanged), 33.0k to 33.6k points. Slipped to third for a couple of weeks but generally have stayed just ahead of Hayato -- less than 200 points ahead as of this writing. Both of us are narrowing -- at a snail's pace -- the massive gap to oprice.
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Old 05-07-2016, 04:23 PM   #345
Brian Swartz
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World Team Cup, Group 3, Third Round
Sri Lanka(5th) vs. Denmark(19th), Grass

Monday: A. Mehul d. F. Klitgaard, 6-2, 6-4, 6-0
Tuesday: G. Girsh d. J. Petersen, 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-1
Wednesday: J. Petersen/C. Daamsgard d. S. Ujjaval/R. Kuttikad, 7-6(4), 6-1, 6-1
Thursday: A. Mehul d. J. Petersen, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4
Friday: G. Girsh d. F. Klitgaard, 6-0, 6-1, 6-0

Sri Lanka defeats Denmark, 4-1!!

Every tie ended with the same score for us, and we advance to the quarterfinals as unbeaten Group 3 champions, roughly tied with the United States as the most dominant in group play so far. We stay in 5th place behind Germany as events in the JTC saw them gain some points, while the Czechs plummeted due to their failures in the juniors to well back of the US for the #1 spot.

Germany edged Italy 3-2 to claim the second spot and make the quarterfinals as well. Three were some interesting goings-on elsewhere also. In Group 1, Trulsen led 11th-ranked Sweden to an undefeated showing, and Spain advanced as well, far from the embarassment of last year when they had to endure a playoff to stay up. The Swedes have an aging Birkeland and nobody looking ready to come up to replace him, but Trulsen will at least keep them afloat for a few years. Group 2 saw the Czechs sweep to victory, with chaos behind them. France crushed Mexico ... who beat Argentina ... who then beat France. That leaves all three of them with one win each, but France held the tiebreaker which I think is total matches won, so they get the spot and the third-ranked Argentines are swept out early. Group 4 saw a fine performance by the US, with Peru getting the deciding tie against Russia on their favored clay and taking an easy victory to advance.

Our quarterfinal opponent will be the French on grass; they are improving and are pretty good grass players but we should get through them. Sweden and Peru is the other pairing on our side of the bracket, and the only way we lose against either of them is if Peru gets through and draws clay. We've got an easy path to the final again. The other side has the Czechs and Spaniards, then the USA and Germany. Most likely the US and Czech Republic battle it out to see who gets us in the final again. Smart money is going to be on Iglar.

Elsewhere ...

Ritwik Dudwadkar had his best tournament to date this week. He seems to have gotten enough consistency on his serve now to have an advantadge in throwing far fewer double-faults than his opponent. His first-ever singles win was in qualifying over Hungary's Boris Balzar, an easy win 6-3, 6-2. He faced 2nd-seeded Czech Libor Polzar, ranked just inside the Top 300, and acquitted himself well in a 7-6(5), 6-3 loss. If this week was any indication, he should be ready to start getting a few consistent results and move up. In doubles he didn't have to qualify this week which was a first, and suprisingly was part of the winning team!

Coming Up ...

Mehul will be off until Madrid in a few weeks, while Girsh is slated to be the top seed at Monte Carlo. The next ten players behind him in the rankings are all playing though, so it won't be like there's no competition -- it's just the top three skipping it. Gustavo Caratti or one of the Herrera's is my pick to take it this year. Mooljee has had a couple weeks off and will be taking another month at least; he won't be back out there until at least Madrid, and maybe not until Rome, playing a challenger at least one of those weeks. Dudwadkar's good week has earned him a little more time off than usual, he'll take three weeks to train and continue to improve before going back out there. Overall it's another break in the schedule other than our lone participant at Monte Carlo, and then it will all pick up again at Madrid.
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Old 05-09-2016, 11:53 AM   #346
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Ritwik Suksma had a great weekend. He hoisted his first trophy in doubles at Banja Luka (JG5), and also advance to the semi-finals in singles, which is the best he's done there as well. This jumped him all the way up into the top 1000 at #969. However, his endurance is not good enough for deep runs in both singles and doubles, as his fatigue reached almost 900!
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Old 05-09-2016, 12:07 PM   #347
Brian Swartz
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Yeah that's a problem for the really young players -- honestly my players have usually been 'good enough' for JG4s well before I have them actually start playing them, since they don't have enough endurance for a JG5 which is a round shorter. Enjoy taking a couple weeks off now .. .

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Old 05-10-2016, 10:36 AM   #348
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Young Jakob Heinen finally broke through, and in a big way. He won both the singles (his first) and doubles (his second) titles in Instanbul (not Constantinople). He's the youngster I think is going to be really good. Unfortunately, he will probably have to rest for a week or two after those runs.
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Old 05-10-2016, 10:52 AM   #349
Brian Swartz
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Monte Carlo Masters

It was the same drill for Shreya Ujjaval -- one of the better qualifiers so that was a breeze, tight win over Zakirov in the first round, routine loss to a seed in the second. Alberti in this case. Still a solid result but he's fallen into the overplaying trap for the first time in a while unfortunately. Hopefully he'll take at least one of Madrid/Rome off.

Meanwhile Girsh had a completely optimal draw in order of seeds. What that meant is that he would face the gauntlet of Herreras. The first was Agustin in the third round, and it almost ended for him there before he staged a rally to win 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. Marcelo went down pretty easily, leaving the third in a row as the best of the bunch, No. 7 Thiago in the semifinals who is the defending champion here. Again Girsh lost the first set but came back, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2. As the fresher man for both that match and the final, he went for the title against my favorite for the tournament, Gustavo Caratti, who he had narrowly beaten in that epic tiebreak last time out. Stunningly, Girsh won it in routine fashion, winning just over half his return points!

He's been to several finals, but this is the first Masters title for Girish Girsh and also the first time he was a top seed. For the moment this cuts the gap between him and #3 Bjorn Benda in less than half, and provides hope he might make more progress on that front in the rest of the clay season. A fine performance for him, though he could easily have lost multiple times he pulled through.

Coming Up ...

A couple weeks off before Madrid ramps up the dirt season. Ritwik Dudwadkar is the only player expected to enter any tournaments in this gap.
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Old 05-11-2016, 03:41 PM   #350
Brian Swartz
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May

Zippidy-do-dah from my players as Dudwadkar got really worn out the practice week before he was scheduled to play his next tournament, so he took an extra week off to rest. Shreya Ujjaval foolishly entered Barcelona, getting knocked in his first match in both singles and doubles. At least he's finally taken a couple of weeks off now, and looks like he's going to skip Madrid which is wise given how much needs a break. Frankly he should be skipping Rome as well but as of now it doesn't look like that's the plan.

We're off to Spain next week, Italy the week after for Rome. This year the clay field is as wide-open as ever. Several players could take the bull by the horns, Benda's always a favorite but he's no longer unbeatable. It'll be interesting to see who steps up the next few weeks.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 05-11-2016 at 03:42 PM.
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