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Old 08-11-2023, 10:11 AM   #1451
Brian Swartz
Grizzled Veteran
Join Date: May 2006
Mayuri just played a practice match against a player called Harry Gotobed. Believe it or not, that is a game-generated name. No human manager has ever controlled the player.

Far from 'going to bed', Harry crushed Mayuri 6-3, 6-2. This has been your moment of zen for the day.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 08-11-2023 at 10:11 AM.
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Old 08-11-2023, 01:23 PM   #1452
Chas in Cinti
High School Varsity
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Ha! I love the game generated names in some of these games...
Email: [email protected]
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Old 08-14-2023, 09:34 AM   #1453
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Q2 Rankings Update

1. Ben Faille (27, FRA) - 18,080

For the first time in three years, Faille was undefeated in the opening months of the year. He had close calls in both Masters, first against Caballero and then against Schleicher, but was clearly the better player and deserving winner in both matchups.

Any semblance of competitiveness for the top spot has been removed for the time being.

2. Ene Caballero (26, ESP) - 12,550

Only losses are to Faille in the finals of the big events. He's had some close calls and it's only a matter of time until Schleicher starts beating him, but Ene hasn't done anything wrong. Falling further behind is just about what the legendary champ has done right.

3. Johann Przalowik (28, DEU) - 9,090

Another picture of consistency; three semifinals to being the year.

4. Jan Schleicher (24, AUT) - 7,280

Sensing a pattern here? All semis here as well. Nobody outside the top four has cracked any of them. His three losses have all been good too; four sets to Faille at the AO, then a third-set tiebreaker to Faille and a third-set tiebreaker to Caballero. None of them were matches he should have won, but he's definitely knocking on the door.

5. Jochen Weigle (31, SUI) - 5,050

Other than an early loss at the Australian, Weigle has continued to hold his own.

6. Davide de Laurentiis (27, DEU) - 4,830

Quarterfinals across the board, which is fine - just not as good as he did last year.

7. Goya Banqueria (27, ESP) - 4,250

8. Chris King (26, GBR) - 3,460

King is in danger of actually slipping further. What a waste of potential.

9. Jason Abercrombie (23, AUS) - 3,315

Abercrombie is in just his second full year at the big events, and hasn't impressed at them. He did win Sydney (250) and then more recently Dubai (500), which accounts for him jumping into the Top 10.

10. Rory Buckman (25, USA) - 3,230

These two have separated themselves from the others, and are gaining on the rest of the Top 10. King, Banqueria, etc. will be surpassed if they aren't careful.

43. Renke Von dem Knesebeck (21, AUT)

This year Knesebeck is playing in the WTC for Austria, and mostly getting his butt kicked in Level 1. In four Challengers, he's managed one each of winning, runner-up, semifinalist, and quarterfinalist. A few larger events have all resulted in early exits.

48. Girish Raychaudhari (21, SRI)

About a month ago, just prior to the IW/Miami Masters events, the time came to make a push for both Raychaudhari and Chandrasekharan. As I mentioned previously, they are playing singles only in Challengers during the big events, as it beats the snot out of taking a bad practice week.

Every once in a while, things just fall into place for you. Consecutive titles in Casablanca, Santiago, and Marrakech rocketed Girish up from the mid-70s to now holding a spot in the Top 50. He wasn't a clear favorite in any of the tournaments, and had multiple close three-set matches to pull through including a win over 30th-ranked Durante Campisi and other quality players ranked above him. This stretch was quite fortunate, and came at a great time. The whirlwind will continue, with four more challengers planned by the time the next update comes, after the conclusion of the clay season.

Longer-term, the goal is get to the Top 32 in time to be seeded for next year's Australian Open if not before. Progress at this point can be measured by the number of players between Raychaudhari and that goal; right now there are 16 of them. Several are very close to his playing level, within the margin of error either above or below. One notable exception is, or I should say was, Russia's Ilja Starkov. The 22-year-old Starkov is borderline Top 10 quality right now, but was hanging out right on the upper Challenger border. Was, because after reaching the fourth round at Miami ... and almost beating world no. 3 Przalowik ... he's now up to 22nd in the rankings and has graduated. All of which is to say that the upcoming events could be very successful, or not so much ... competition is tight and there are a lot more younger players in the way than older ones.

Of course my rival Knesebeck is one of the obstacles in the way. It looked like we'd be facing off for the first time in a year at Marrakech, but he was upset earlier in the tournament. I don't do a lot of images in this thread, but these are useful I think. The first one is Knesebeck's tournaments in his ranking; there's five more off the bottom of this image. Almost all of his best results are challengers, and the other tournaments pretty much bog him down, esp. the early Slam losses. Some of his points aren't even counted due to the tournament limit.

Raychaudhari, shown in the second image, is still ranked slightly lower but most of the gap has been made up and I expect to surpass Knesebeck soon. WTC points play a significant role here, but the other big factor is a much better bang for the buck without the extraneous early exits. It's harder for Knesebeck to increase his ranking points without either changing his schedule significantly or just advancing further, meaning winning basically all the challengers he plays and/or getting more upsets in the bigger tournaments. That will happen eventually, but by the time it does I expect Raychaudhari will have seized the upper hand.

71. Aparna Chandrasekharan (25, SRI)

Chandrasekharan is starting to lag behind as anticipated, and also gets second choice of events. He really can't fully compete with the top handful of challenger players, and would really like it if more of them would just get out to the way. He's not doing badly at all, and recently won CH3 Bath, his sixth career challenger title. Aparna is right at his career-best ranking, but not in a position to secure a rapid rise of the same speed and success.

651. Sushant Srivastava (30, SRI)

60th in doubles for Srivastava.

193 (J). Ram Mayuri (15, SRI)

At press time, Mayuri is playing his final JG5 event, and anticipates making the jump to JG4 soon. He has not lost a singles match this year, so there's no complaining to be done about his results. If anything, I probably should have jumped him up a tier sooner.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 08-14-2023 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 08-15-2023, 04:30 AM   #1454
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
World Team Cup, Level 2, Group 3, Round 3
India vs. Sri Lanka

A. Jandhyala d. A. Chandrasekharan, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
G. Raychaudhari d. P. Kambhatla, 6-1, 6-0, 6-1
Srivastava/Raychaudhari d. Kambhatla/Chandrashekar, 6-2, 6-1, 6-2
G. Raychaudhari d. A. Jandhyala, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-3
A. Chandrasekeharan d. P. Kambhatla, 6-0, 6-1, 6-1

Sri Lanka defeats India, 4-1!

A classic case of one good singles player not being enough. Veteran Anil Jandhyala split two competitive matches, but the other three were one-sided. India ties with Mexico and Romania for the second spot in the group; Mexico wins the tiebreak and moves on. Unfortunately our run is likely to end in the quarterfinals against Australia. They have a top-ten player in both singles and doubles. We should be able to get two wins, but it's hard to imagine us picking up a third anywhere. It would be really nice to find a way through and get ourselves at least a playoff match for some more experience at the end of the year, but it would take quite a surprise to pull that off given the matchup.
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Old 08-24-2023, 10:51 AM   #1455
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Q3 Rankings Update

1. Ben Faille (28, FRA) - 18,080

Faille is still perfect on the year - it's worth remembering that he's well off his peak level at this point. It just really doesn't matter enough apparently. He was banned from Madrid due to one of the Masters he skipped last year, but otherwhise it's been a clean run event after event.

There have been some very close calls, including a 5-set final at Roland Garros, but 50-0 at this stage of his career is just amazing regardless.

2. Ene Caballero (26, ESP) - 12,910

Caballero won in Madrid, and lost to Schleicher in the Rome semis. Other than that, it's been the usual 'reach the final, lose to the legend' routine.

3. Johann Przalowik (28, DEU) - 8,430

4. Jan Schleicher (24, AUT) - 7,520

Inching closer and closer to snagging the #3 spot from Przalowik. There's a big gap both up and down from here.

5. Davide de Laurentiis (27, DEU) - 4,880

6. Jochen Weigle (31, SUI) - 4,810

7. Goya Banqueria (27, ESP) - 4,490

8. Chris King (26, GBR) - 3,340

A whole lot of nothing changing with the second four.

9. Rory Buckman (25, USA) - 3,185

10. Jason Abercrombie (23, AUS) - 3,125

No further progress from these two over the course of the clay season. If anything they slipped a bit. The Top 10 was actually incredibly stable these last couple months.

35. Renke Von dem Knesebeck (21, AUT)

Knesebeck had himself a fine couple of months, winning three Challengers and getting a good draw at RG. He made the third round, and came within a set of knocking out #8 Chris King. 6-7(8), 5-7, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 was the final there, really a bizarre match in which everything went against King until he turned it on.

40. Girish Raychaudhari (21, SRI)

Raychaudhari has moved up some as well, but definitely still trails his rival thanks to missed opportunities. Four challenger events for him, and he won only one of them - narrowly at that. One of the losses was to American Scott Fielder, one of the top challenger players who appears to have recently graduated. The other two losses came in a QF and a SF, both of which were not complete shocks but definitely upsets.

You can see here how compressed the rankings are; there's tough matches at the end of every event, and competition is fierce at the moment to get into the elite level. Luck definitely plays a role, but it also looks like Girish may possibly be hitting a bit of a slump at a bad time. Knesebeck is further away than he was before the clay season, and looks like he may well win this round and get out of Challengers first. He just won a CH+ in Prostejov in which he was the 5th seed; we left it alone and figured he had a good chance of not making it through. Instead, he beat Dite, Fielder, and others and earned the big points. Can't do more than tip your cap to that.

Eight more players to pass, and the sooner the better. On paper, Raychaudhari is better than all eight of them and some up a little higher. But that needs to translate into on-court results.

58. Aparna Chandrasekharan (25, SRI)

Chandrasekharan continues to progress, up to a new career-high as well. One title, two finals and a semi for him recently.

692. Sushant Srivastava (30, SRI)

53rd in doubles.

174 (J). Ram Mayuri (15, SRI)

Mayuri won his first JG4, and is playing his second one this week. His practice weeks have been very productive lately, so there's no reason to push harder; just keep grinding away.

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Old 08-29-2023, 08:19 AM   #1456
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006

The early rounds were fairly chaotic - we'll get back to that - but by the second week there was only one slight disturbance in the status quo. #7 Goya Banqueria was out in the fourth round to #9 Jason Abercrombie. Can't even really call that an upset. Abercrombie took his straight-sets medicine from Faille, and in a closer three-set match Chris King lost to Caballero despite home crowd support. The other two quarterfinals both went the distance though. Johann Przalowik was eventually eliminated by Weigle 10-8 in the 5th after tiebreaks in the previous three sets, while Davide de Laurentiis needed to win both breakers to beat Schleicher in an up-and-down 7-6(11), 2-6, 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 scoreline.

So #3 and #4 both went out a round 'early'; this is the only Slam that Jan Schleicher has yet to reach the semis in. Jochen Weigle, nearing 32 years old, played a competitive 3 sets before losing to Faille, and Ene Caballero dismissed de Laurentiis fairly routinely. The final was a trifecta of 6-4 sets, with Ben Faille staying perfect on the year and claiming his 26th Slam.

In Other News ...

What goes around comes around. Renke Von dem Knesebeck lost almost everything he gained in the clay season in a matter of two weeks. A year after winning CH2 Rijeka, he entered Antalya 250 and lost in the second round. Then he lost in a competitive first-round match at Wimbledon to Alfred Landau in four sets, after making the second round the previous time. Risk is indeed the flip side of the reward coin. Meanwhile Girish Raychaudhari easily won the first CH+ of his career in Braunschweig, and Aparna Chandrasekharan his first CH1 in Turin ... which Raychaudhari won last year. That moves Aparna up into the Top 50 for the first time.

This really shows the fluctuations that a lot of players saw. Olivier Pitteaux cashed in big, reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon. You can't even see Scott Fielder here because he's put some room between himself and this group with a good showing. Delpin, Hughes, Ejlersgaard are not so happy, all of them past their prime and unable to replicate last year's results.

The point total for making #32 is now at 1300; just a few months ago it was 1450, which is as high as I've ever seen it. Now it's on the low end, but the main point is just how everyone is moving all over the place. Girish Raychaudhari has a chance, I'd say it's maybe 30-40%, to be seeded for the US Open in a little over two months. It all depends on what falls his way and what doesn't. His next event figures to face him off with #34 Basilis Pavlopoulos in the final, and Pavlopoulos will be favored though it's winnable. Then there will be additional Challengers during the Canada & Cincinnati Masters. But we'll make a run at it and see. If not there, he should definitely be set to crash through at the start of next year. But the sooner the better.

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Old 09-04-2023, 11:20 AM   #1457
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Special Summer Update

It's been quite a month or so on the courts.

Two weeks after Wimbledon there were the dual-CH+ Challengers; Sopot and Bogota. Renke Von dem Knesebeck played in Sopot and had only one competitive match until the final, which he lost to Mathieu Mallarme 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(4). Knesebeck had a very slight edge overall in the match, nearly even, could have gone either way. In Bogota, Girish Raychaudhari's tough match was not the one I anticipated. He needed to win a first-set tiebreak to outlast Alexander Darbello in the three sets in the quarterfinals. The final against Basilis Pavlopoulos was an unexpectedly routine win.

A couple of weeks later, roads converged in his first 250. I wasn't really planning on this yet, but rather was just looking at them as we'll want to playing some in the future, and getting a handle on how strong the competition tends to be, etc. The Kitzbuhel Cup had a weaker field with everyone focusing on the upcoming Masters events. Seeded second, Raydhaudhari was nearly upset in the semifinals by Agama Erbati final was 6-1, 5-7, 7-6(4) despite a 48 to 36% edge in return points won. Break points were 5 of 8 for Erbati, 6 of 17 for Raychaudhari. Nearly a brutal upset, but he made the final, where Knesebeck was waiting ... with the crowd behind him. 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3 the Austrian won, that was too much of an edge to overcome, but really both players won by taking the next step forward in their careers. Slanted though it was, the first professional-level match goes to Knesebeck; he cuts the head-to-head margin to 4-2.

Combined with other results, Girish was vaulted to 31st and couldn't play Challengers anymore. The next few weeks were not as interesting but suffice to say he's headed to the US Open as a seeded entrant, as is Knesebeck. The next stage has begun; Raychaudhari is now a professional!

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Old 09-07-2023, 01:13 AM   #1458
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
US Open

Raychaudhari came into this event with two career Slam appearances; first-round losses in the last two Australian Opens. Didier Alembert had the 'honor' of being his first Slam victim, 6-2, 6-2, 6-1. The second round was even a little more one-sided; it was a very easy first couple of matches. Then came (11) Rory Buckman, who is a little better across the board and also had the crowd supporting him. Girish was fortunate to push it to four sets. It would have been nice to have more competitive matches, but the third round was his expected result. It was also the result ... barely ... for Renke Von dem Knesebeck. He had a close three-set win over Delpin in the second round, and then faced (12) Valentin Cordonie. Cordonie is not a hard-court specialist, and almost managed to lose a match in which he was definitely the better player 6-3, 6-7(5), 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(7). Knesebeck was very close to a big breakthrough; if he'd won that match, Banqueria in the next round was also winnable on hardcourt and he could have made the quarterfinals. He still had a better tournament than Raychaudhari, but it's definitely painful to just barely miss out on that kind of opportunity.

Jochen Weigle lost in the third round much as he did in Australia; this time it was Jorg Weltsch of Germany knocking him out in five sets. His spot in the quarterfinals would eventually be taken by 16-seeded Alvin Fant, as good a choice as any. Fant won a set against Schleicher before losing in four. There was one additional upset here, although it's not really one, as Johann Przalowik lost in four sets to Chris King, who decided to show up for once.

Faille over Jan Schleicher in four sets, King losing to Ene Caballero in a routine three were the semifinals. The championship match went to Ben Faille as it almost always does; it's now been nearly seven years since anyone else won a Slam title after his 7-6(6), 6-2, 1-6, 6-2 victory.
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Old 09-07-2023, 01:39 AM   #1459
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Q4 Rankings Update

1. Ben Faille (28, FRA) - 17,750

Faille's run at a third perfect year ended in a surprisingly meek loss to Caballero in the final of the Canada Masters. He was banned from Cincinatti as well, punishment for one of the Masters he skipped last year.

2. Ene Caballero (26, ESP) - 13,210

A very nice pair of hardcourt Masters added to his trophy case, Ene now owns seven of them. Otherwhise he continues to fill his role as top opposition.

3. Jan Schleicher (24, AUT) - 7,480

Schleicher didn't do any better this summer than last year, but with Przalowik slipping he is still able to move up and sieze the #2 spot. Really right now all he can do is grind away and wait. Jan isn't as good as the top two players, but time is most definitely on his side. He'll get better, and they'll continue to decline.

4. Johann Przalowik (28, DEU) - 6,730

Johann appears to be showing the first signs of not quite having it anymore. He's still similar quality to Schleicher, but even if he stays below him there's no immediate danger of him falling out of the Top 4.

5. Davide de Laurentiis (27, DEU) - 5,340

A pair of semifinals at the Masters events, one involving a tough 3-set upset of Schleicher, made it a positive summer for the German.

6. Goya Banqueria (27, ESP) - 4,410

7. Jochen Weigle (31, SUI) - 4,360

Weigle is finally surrendering to the aging process as he nears his 32nd birthday.

8. Chris King (26, GBR) - 4,150

For now the run to the USO semis is a blip for King. If he proves he can back it up, the door is still open for him to move up more.

9. Jason Abercrombie (23, AUS) - 3,425

10. Kabo Mankaba (24, ZAF) - 3,060

Mankaba breaks into the Top 10 thanks mostly to a semifinal run in Canada where he beat Przalowik and King. Kabo has been just on the outside of the first page for a while, but he's deserving of a spot.

25. Girish Raychaudhari (21, SRI)

Raychaudhari will have an interesting finish to the year, as he'll need to try to find good 250s or even 500s to enter and try to get matches in, grabbing whatever points he can. Out of Challengers now and into the select group of professionals, he will find it harder to make further progress until he improves more.

29. Renke Von dem Knesebeck (21, AUT)

Knesebeck has been close to knocking out a couple of much higher-ranked players this year, but hasn't quite gotten over the hump. Having moved out of the Challenger series as well, Renke will have more opportunities to pound against those obstacles.

37. Aparna Chandrasekharan (25, SRI)

Chandrasekharan has more opportunities now with these recent 'promotions'. I don't think he's quite ready to follow them up, but he'll have his chances as this year wraps up to at the very least inch closer.

497. Sushant Srivastava (30, SRI)

57th in doubles, holding steady in that range. Srivastava actually saw quite a reversal in his singles ranking, moving up a couple hundred spots after reaching the QF as a qualifier at CH2 Campos Do Jordao about a month ago.

165 (J). Ram Mayuri (15, SRI)

Stamina is a significant issue still for Mayuri in the longer JG4 events. He's made the final in all four such tournaments he's entered, but lost two of them in singles and one in doubles due mostly if not entirely to fatigue. There's just no speeding up the physical maturation process.

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Old 09-10-2023, 11:50 AM   #1460
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
World Team Cup, Level 2 Quarterfinals
Sri Lanka vs. Australia, Indoor

This unfortunately went as expected. We didn't win a set against 9th-ranked Jason Abercrombie, and didn't lose one against their #2 singles player who is ranked just outside the Top 100. So it all came down to doubles, where Copperfield/Speke were too strong for us, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4. Competitive, but Australia advances and we try again next year.

Austria advanced in Level 1 3-2 over Great Britain, before losing to France in the semifinals. So that's a boost for Knesebeck, but the dance continues. Some weeks he ends up doing better than Raychaudhari, some weeks he does worse.
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Old 09-12-2023, 02:06 AM   #1461
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
The Shanghai Masters is worthy of a special report. Ben Faille was banned from the event, which always opens things up some. Taking advantage in a stunning turn was Kabo Mankaba. Having slipped to 12th, he upset #3 Jan Schleicher early in the tournament, and then later #4 Johann Przalowik in the final, both matches going the distance. That moves him up to 9th, and gives him a legitimate shot at making the Tour Finals. He's 345 points behind Jochen Weigle for the last spot, and Weigle will lose 200 from his participation last year so it's really just 145 with three weeks left.

Both players took a practice week instead of playing a 250. Weigle is playing in the Japan Open (500), while Mankaba has elected to skip that week as well and put all his eggs into doing well at the Paris Masters. That's probably the best option to maximize his form there; Kabo has only 90 points to defend the next couple of weeks; Weigle has 680, having won the Swiss Indoors 500 last year and made the quarterfinals in Paris. The most likely scenario seems to be for him to lose in the Japan final to 10th-ranked Jason Abercrombie, in which case he'd need to out-perform Mankabo in Paris to make the WTF field one final time.

Elsewhere ...

I'm rooting for Mankabo, as the faster Weigle falls the better news it is for Girish Raychaudhari to remove another player above him taking up valuable seeding spots. Raychaudhari is in the midst of a push to get his form as close to 30 as he can by the close of the Paris Masters, so that he'll be able to get good practice weeks for what will amount to a two-month off-season with no tournaments available for him to play between then and the start of next year. A few weeks ago he edged out his first 250 title at the Malaysian Open, highlighted by a 19-17 third-set tiebreak over Willibald Grossman in the quarterfinals. Aparna Chandrasekharan will begin a similar push soon, grabbing as many points as he can in the last few Challengers with the potential of possibly making the seeds at the Australian Open next year if he does well enough.

Both of them are hoping for a big conclusion to set themselves up well for next year.
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Old 09-15-2023, 01:35 PM   #1462
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
It pretty much went as expected. Jason Abercrombie did go on to beat Jochen Weigle in the Swiss Indoors final - taking down late-entrant top seed de Laurentiis in the previous round for good measure. Weigle still held the top spot after the Paris Masters, but had 3,700 points after last years Tour Finals dropped off; Kabo Mankaba had 3,755. Abercrombie wasn't that far behind, but it appears he'll be waiting another year at least for his shot.

32 years old and change, and Weigle was still very close to making it. Meanwhile the year is over for Raychaudhari after losing in the second round at Paris, his first Masters appearance; he has six solid weeks coming up of training. It's interesting to see the mix of other top players; some of them have prepared well for the 'offseason', but several of them are going to run short on form. 4th-ranked Jan Schleicher had a poor finish, losing early in a couple of late events including to Antoine Benth who made it to the Paris SF. That's actually bad news for us, as Benth is one of the older players who I hoped was going to drop some next year. Not yet, anyway after that showing.
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Old 09-18-2023, 01:47 PM   #1463
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
World Tour Finals

The top four seeds made the semifinals, but there was one wrinkle. Ene Caballero lost a match to Jan Schleicher, which meant that as runner-up of that group, Caballero was matched up with Ben Faille in the semifinal. This turned out to be quite important as both semis were closely contested. Caballero defeated the #1, 7-6(4), 6-4, ending a 4-year streak by Faille at the WTF. In the other semi, Schleicher needed two tiebreaks to get by Johann Przalowik. The final went to Caballero, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, a reversal of the result in group play. This of course is the one that matters though. A significant narrowing of the gap between Caballero and Faille, and the biggest event in which the French living legend has been beaten by any of the current top players.
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Old Yesterday, 06:38 AM   #1464
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
WTC Playoffs

Since we're aiming for promotion next year, the results here are of more interest to us than usual. The losers are nations we will likely be competing against to reach Level 1.

- Australia (13th) vs. Serbia (26th)

Australia is the Level 2 Champion this year, and has been gradually improving over their seven years at this tier. They originally survived a couple of relegation playoffs, stabilized, then lost to Great Britain in a promotion bid two years ago. This figures to be the time they finally make it, against Serbia who is in their first promotion chance after four years at Level 2. Much like when we played Australia, Abercrombie wins two singles matches, they take the doubles, and that's enough for Australia to prevail 3-2.

- Cyprus (9th) vs. Greece (4th)

This is pretty much the opposite sort of matchup; two former powers who have lost all of their top players and been unable to replace them. Between the two of them, they have no Top 100 players in singles and only one in the Top 200. Unquestionably the two worst teams in these playoffs while also the highest-ranked pair, but somebody has to stay up while the other slides down a rung. The singles are split, but Cyprus has Xanthos/Albanos, 15th and 16th in doubles, and that gets them a 3-2 win. Greece is relegated.

- Ireland (11th) vs. Czech Republic (33rd)

The Czech Republic narrowly promoted last year and is trying to hold on; their odds do not seem favorable against the aging group from Ireland but at least the Czechs players are improving rather than the other way around. It's not nearly enough in this matchup though; they lose in straight sets in all the singles matches, and are relegated 4-1.

- South Africa (18th) vs. Chile (23rd)

Second year in a row seeking promotion for South Africa, who boasts #8 Kabo Mankaba and ... well nothing else, really. They have only one win the last two years by larger than a 3-2 margin as a result. Chile was at Level 1 a year ago, narrowly lost their spot to Argentina, made the Level 2 final and is trying to bounce back up. This would figure to hinge on the doubles result, which in fact it does and it's a fairly epic one. Mankaba/Ramsey prevail against Falcon/Larkin 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-5, 3-6, 6-4. South Africa promotes 3-2.


An interesting set of matchups in that all the Level 1 nations played each other, and the same for the Level 2 quartet, guaranteeing that no matter what happened two would promote and two would be relegated. South Africa and Australia move up, taking with them two Top 10 singles players that we will not have to contend with next year. Greece will not be a problem should we run into them, and we should have enough to handle the Czech Republic comfortably as well. In this exchange I think Level 1 definitely got stronger and Level 2 weaker, which is the way it should be of course with cream rising to the top, and also clears the way significantly for us to get into next year's playoffs.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : Yesterday at 06:38 AM.
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Old Yesterday, 10:36 AM   #1465
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Country Rankings

1. Spain - 2716
2. United States - 2199
3. Argentina - 2163
4. Greece - 2138
5. Germany - 2134
6. Great Britain - 2082
7. France - 2044
8. Italy - 1974
9. Cyprus - 1911
10. Russia - 1896

20. Sri Lanka - 1641

Up 10 spots for us. France loses points and drops to #7 while winning the world championship this year. Weird. They just had some close results and lower-ranked countries, but it's still unusual. Spain's lead on the field is as big as the gap between #2 and #18.

We're in Level 2, Group 2 next year. Opponents;

- Georgia (32nd)
- Guatemala (25th)
- Latvia (19th)

I don't think we'll have any problems with these three, two of which are recently promoted from Level 3, and looking around I think I would favor us for the Level 2 Champions this season. It's important to promote so we can start going up against the best, but you never know how the matchups will fall. We've still got to go through the process and win the matches.
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Old Today, 11:52 AM   #1466
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Year 107 Top Ten Rankings

1. Ben Faille (27, FRA, 84%, 9.11, -0.18) - 16,050

Faille ended the year at 94-2, the third-best year of his career. And that's saying something. He missed three Masters, only one of them intentionally.

Slams - 27, 3rd all time
Tour Finals - 5, T-5th
Masters - 44, 4th
Weeks at #1 - 328, 5th
Prize Money - $83.1 million, 5th

I expect Ben to finish third at worst overall, possibly second. If he runs the table in the Slams again, he will equal the current 2nd-best player ever, countryman Mateo Kaspar, in that category. Missed opportunity to grab another WTF stings some, and he continues to progress slower than perhaps he could in Masters Shields. He'll almost certainly surpass Prieto in a few months for 4th on Weeks at #1 list, and has a way to go to move higher in prize money; the top four are over $100 million, which is a reasonable threshold for 'first tier all-time great'.

2. Ene Caballero (26, ESP, 88%, 9.06, -0.03) - 13,270

Caballero is not quite as close to Faille as the overall rating gap of 0.05 would indicate; the #1 just lost a notch of skill in the last week or so and may be able to get it back for a while. The Spaniard's overall mark slipped a bit this year, and he was just 2-9 against the Frenchman ... but that includes winning two of the last five and the big win at the Tour Finals. He was close to winning a third, falling 9-7 in a 5th set that ultimately decided the WTC title.

This may be becoming a true rivalry, although one in which I still think Ene is holding the short straw. It still looks to me like Cabellero will never quite surpass him, although it's just close enough that one cannot discount that possibility entirely.

3. Jan Schleicher (24, AUT, 94%, 8.80, +0.09) - 8,080

Steady if unspectacular improvement continues for Schleicher, who reversed a late-year slide to reach the championship match of the Tour Finals. The gap between himself and the power couple at the top is still considerable, but he has probably two more years to improve and they will continue to decline in that time. When Jan reaches his peak, there could be a trio of very closely matched players indeed and I'm not sure how it will shake out. I can see him never rising higher than third, or eclipsing Faille to be the next #1. It's too close to call.

There are also players chasing, albeit mostly from a distance, that could be a threat in a good year.

4. Johann Przalowik (29, DEU, 86%, 8.85, -0.09) - 6,970

Theoretically Przalowik is still a bit better than Schleicher, but it didn't work out that way this year. Early losses in Canada and Cincinatti hurt, and he also lost at the QF stage at Wimbledon and the US Open. There's still time for him to challenge for the #3 spot again if he's a little more consistent this year.

5. Davide de Laurentiis (28, DEU, 85%, 8.65, -0.09) - 5,710

de Laurentiis occupies a semi-comfortable position as best of the rest. I think that's about to become less secure for him, but it's still a job well done. This is the career high for the #2 German, and really as high up as he could reasonably expect to reach in this era.

6. Chris King (26, GBR, 88%, 8.86, +0.02) - 4,180

King declined a bit a year ago coming into what figured to be his peak, then stabilized as he was expected to regress this year. He has had 22 or 23 losses each of the last four years, and 61 wins exactly in three of them. I mean, that's consistency; it's also still underachievement to a degree. Early losses in four masters and at the Australian Open, and only at the US Open, where he reached the semifinals, did he progress past the last eight.

6th is his career high, although it shouldn't be, but a small amount of credit is due for doing less poorly than he had been.

7. Goya Banqueria (28, ESP, 85%, 8.55, -0.13) - 4,080

Banqueria held on fairly well this year, but I think he's about to lose the battle with time.

8. Kabo Mankaba (25, ZAF, 94%, 8.73, +0.11) - 3,885

Last year he was 12th, and we predicted Mankaba 'ready for the first page', and he made it happen. I expect that Banqueria at least and possibly others will fall before his assault in the coming year. Still a couple years left for him to improve and press his way upwards.

9. Jason Abercrombie (24, AUS, 94%, 8.67, +0.02) - 3,755

Just behind, Abercrombie should make the Tour Finals this year with relative ease. His barely noticeable improvement this past year is concerning, but Jason still has plenty of game to move past sliding veterans.

10. Jochen Weigle (32, SUI, 78%, 8.40, -0.14) - 3,700

There's no sign yet that Weigle is giving up on his singles aspirations. Even so, it's time to stay good-bye; he lost 2500 points compared to the previous year, slipping from 74 to 61 match wins, and is probably playing at the level of 15th-20th at this point.


It turns out that Joss Fraikes decided to become the #1 doubles player instead of returning to singles, but Mankaba and Abercrombie provided some fresh meat while the majority of the top players continued to gradually falter. The average Top 10 rating nearly stabilized, down just a hair from 8.78 to 8.77.

Three are improving, the rest regressing. Weigle at least and possibly Banqueria will be replaced by better players this year, possibly improving ones. Overall I think this is close to the bottom; possibly not quite there, but I don't see significant decline in the Top 10 standard in the coming years.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : Today at 11:52 AM.
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Old Today, 01:25 PM   #1467
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Year 107 Rankings, 11+

11. Valentin Cordonie (24, ESP, 94%, 8.55, +0.04)

With Mankaba and Abercrombie graduating to the Top 10, Cordonie dutifully moved up to next in line. He didn't do all that much to get better though unfortunately, and technicque is still a bit lacking.

12. Alvin Fant (24, USA, 94%, 8.56, +0.20)

Quotable: "I'm selling rather than buying here. Fant is a fine athlete with a good serve, but baseline technique is nowhere near where it needs to be. Too late in the process to fix that, so I think he'll struggle to get out of the teens."

An excellent year of improvement combined with still-excellent athleticism and leveraging the US hardcourts to his advantage changed the picture somewhat. Up four spots, Fant is in fact narrowly out of the teens and might be able to force his way onto the first page. He'll have a lot of competition in trying to do that, though.

15. Michael Sachse (23, DEU, 95%, 8.73, +0.19)

Sachse had a good year of improvement as well, but stayed right where he was in the rankings. Hard to imagine him not having a breakthrough year on the court.

16. Kelvin Pinder (24, USA, 94%, 8.66, +0.12)

Pinder is up just one spot, but it's a big one to gain for seeding purposes. He should be able to move up further as well.

17. Clavet Jadot (24, FRA, 94%, 8.32, --)

Last year, I said: "I'm selling here as well. Quality athlete, but not enough time or endurance to make the needed improvements."

*ahem*. Jadot was ranked 30th at the time, and he slashed that almost in half. Time for me to eat some crow ... kind of. As the numbers show, Jadot didn't actually improve. He just got better results. I'm fully confident I was right about him in the long term, and if anything I'd expect him to tread water at best this year. He reached the Madrid Masters semifinals, which ... I would bet a lot on not happening again. Almost certainly a career-best result there.

20. Iljia Starkov (23, RUS, 97%, 8.76, --)

We've mentioned Starkov briefly before; a year ago he was in the low 40s in rankings. He's persistently been under-ranked for his abilities, and that remains the case. Objectively I'd put him 6th in the world right now, which ... is obviously not where he's at. Good athlete, very good mentality, world-class rally ability, serve needs work but other players should get out of the way, because he's coming through. Soon.

21. Girish Raychaudhari (21, SRI, 99%, 8.36, +0.32)

Raychaudhari needed to make a move in the rankings last year, and definitely did so, up from 74th. A title, runner-up, and semifinal showing at 250-level events, along with six Challenger titles. I'll get into his plan for the year in another post, but if he was not a player I was managing the evaluation would be something like this:

Solid athleticism, nearly there in rally ability, good mental game and very good endurance. Serve needs to improve yet, but still at physical peak so there's a lot of time to make that happen. Girish is headed to the Top 5 minimum (as is Starkov, for that matter).

22. Jorg Weltsch (23, DEU, 95%, 8.67, +0.18)

Weltsch showed good improvement last year, but the mileage is starting to pile up on his limited career span. Only up three spots in the rankings; I expect him to move more soon.

26. Olivier Pitteaux (22, FRA, 98%, 8.51, --)

Pitteaux is another new face; he was in the mid-80s or so last year so a big climb for him as well out of Challengers. Solid if unspectacular athleticism and mental game, excellent stamina, and like the others mentioned the only thing missing is improving his serve. He's going to be a player in the Top 10, and probably before too much longer.

27. Renke Von dem Knesebeck (21, AUT, 99%, 8.36, +0.48)[/b]

Von dem Knesebeck needs no introduction of course; good improvement and moved up from 48th. Four Challenger titles and won a home 250 at Kitzbuhel, but also had more than his share of ill-advised early exits.

Excellent strength and endurance, adequate mental game, technique still needs some work but another sure-fire Top 5 player and of course the expected 'shadow' and primary foil for Raychaudhari.

28. Scott Fielder (22, USA, 98%, 8.27, +0.24)[/b]

Fielder is even a big more powerful than Knesebeck, and has a good mental game, but is lacking in technical development. Probably Top 10 eventually but definitely a couple steps back from the other contenders. He's expected to lean hard into the US hardcourts as much as he can - an advisable approach. Scott was 35th last year, hanging around just into Challenger territory for quite a while until he got some quality runs at 250 events mid-year and boosted up.

29. Simeun Despotovic (23, SRB, 96%, 8.41, +0.26)

A quality year of working on his game for Despotovic, but he actually slipped three spots in the rankings. That's more a mini-correction than anything else though. He could yet challenge for a Top 10 spot.


There's a number of quality players looking to push up the rankings in the 20s. It definitely looks like a new, competitive generation will make up in numbers what they might lack in transcendent individual talents - and Raychaudhari is right in the middle of it.

38. Aparna Chandrasekharan (26, SRI, 93%, 7.96, +0.15)[/b]

Chandrasekharan saw a very nice rise from 71st, roughly cutting his rank in half. Some disappointing losses late in the year, but he's really not quite ready to leave Challengers yet anyway. Won about half of the events he entered, and will need to increase that success rate to finally escape. It's looking like Aparna will peak somewhere in perhaps the mid-upper 20s, which is just fine by me. He's done well.

436. Sushant Srivastava (30, SRI, 81%, 6.85, -0.11)

Srivastava just has a few training sessions left to max out doubles, and then he'll go back to hanging on to as much of his other abilities as he can for the next few years. I don't intend to make him a trainer; Chandrasekharan will do better there and give us better age spacing - so Sushant will just keep on doing what he can and helping in the WTC doubles until it's time for a new youth.

88(J). Ram Mayuri (16, SRI, 76%, +1.13)[/b]

Somewhat disappointing year for Mr. Mayuri - he made a whole bunch of JG4 finals but won only two of them so he has some catching up to to do. Some of it was fatigue, some just not being able to win. He'll keep working and prep for his final junior year as best he can.

30(M). Manager Ranking - 10.1k.

I've been hanging out in the 10-10.5k ballpark for awhile now. I think we need to get some higher-level results to move much more. Gained about 850 points and actually lost one spot compared to last year, both of which show the same result of basically stagnating.

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