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Old 08-11-2017, 06:17 PM   #651
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
January

World Team Cup, Round 1

We started out against Italy, with Gillo Fangio the center of attention. He certainly got his money's worth out of things. We didn't lose a set against anyone else, guaranteeing the victory. Fangio lost to Dudwadkar in five sets, and beat Mooljee in another rubber that went the distance. Ultimately a solid 4-1 win on the clay to start things off.

Sushant Chiba looked to boost his points total in Prejov(tier 1), and while he lost quickly in doubles, the singles was more of a test. The final against top-seeded Willy Bochette(FRA), then ranked 4th, went to 6-4, 7-5 but Chiba got the victory.

Ritwik Dudwadkar and Prakash Mooljee both had a warm-up event as well(250s). Mooljee, playing in Auckland, was the #1 seed and had a test QF over Besson before losing to Hsuang-tsung Teng in the semifinals, 6-4, 6-4. Dudwadkar did no better, going out in Sydney SFs to Andres Guardado by the same score. A disappointing start for those two: hopefully Australia will be better. Mehul didn't need any more matches it was decided.
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Old 08-18-2017, 01:26 PM   #652
britrock88
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I wouldn't mind more juniors coverage this year while we've each got a top-5 player.
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Old 08-18-2017, 05:51 PM   #653
Brian Swartz
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Not for long I don't. I find the current situation humorous since Chiba is actually not quite as good as my other players are/were. Might be able to work something in though.
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Old 08-19-2017, 05:09 PM   #654
Brian Swartz
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2054 Australian Open

Having slipped just barely into second position, Mehul/Kroese had a pretty easy road to the semifinals, where they lost 7-6(4), 6-0 to #3 seeds Podkopayev/Cordovez. Disappointing lack of fight there after dropping the tiebreak, and they'll slide a bit further down now. On the singles side, [b]Shyam Senepathy[b] is still plugging away. Got a four-set win in his first match, then stunned (22)Tristan Benitez(ARG) in the second round, 7-6(9), 6-7(10), 6-2, 6-3. Quite a couple of epic sets to start, and then he pulled away. Definitely one of the most impressive victories of his career, and the first time he's ever made it to the Round of 32! Unfortunately, he was set up against Kaspar there. 6-2, 6-0, 6-1 in that clash. Almost 30 years old, he's never been more than a journeyman but still trying. Gotta give him credit for that.

Elsewhere, there was a stunning early exit as 12th-seed Milos Schmucker(CZE) was bounced by American Harry Bayliss in four sets at the first hurdle. He was the only seed to lose in the first round; Benitez and youngster Dick Blake were the only ones to fall in the second. The third round had a couple of tense four-setters involving the Spaniards: #6 Martin Zarco survived a bad opening set, while #13 Juan de los Santos started well but then fell against Janin, which is no great upset there really. The big news came further down, with #4 Guus Dircx failed to win a set against Ruben Piazzola(17th). The young Chilean is no hard-court expert by any stretch, so this was a pretty massive defeat. Mooljee had a bit more trouble than expected with (24)Ruslan Strelkov(RUS), but came through in straights, 7-5, 6-2, 7-5. American Vinnie Cone proved no match for Dudwadkar, who has looked pretty good so far.

This set up a golden opportunity for Ritwik Dudwadkar, as he prepared for a matchup with (8)Sigmund Kronecker(DEU) in the fourth round. The winner would have a very good shot at the semifinals with Dircx no longer barring the way in this section of the draw. An even matchup in terms of skill, in reality this favored Dudwadkar on hard-court; on clay it'd be the other way around. It was a tight match though, and one that went back and forth with alternating winners each set. All the numbers were very close except for serving and break points. Kronecker ended with 15 aces and a single double-fault, converting 5 of 10 break chances; Dudwadkar had 8 aces, 5 doubles, and 3 of 13 BPs converted. And that was that; a big chance to move into the next circle of the Top 8 and make a deep run here was stymied 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. Combined with the early exit a week prior in the warmup tournament, there's definitely signs of regression here for Ritwik. Opportunity knocked, and he didn't seize the moment.

Fairly predictable stuff elsewhere, except for an unprepared Ariel Borja getting bounced by another German, (14)Stefano Espinoza. Good showing for them with two Germans in the quarters now. Piazzola was knocked out by Jolland in four, ending his run. Six of the top eight made the quarters, with Espinoza backing up his QF run at the USO to finish last year. He took the first set from Prakash Mooljee as well, but was eventually beaten back in four sets. Kaspar over Zarco, Fangio over Browne in straights to surprise nobody. The Jolland-Kronecker match was the most interesting on paper and in reality, with the American eventually prevailing 8-6 in the 5th. Neither had made the semis before: it's Kronecker's 7th quarterfinal appearance, including the last four; he's lost every time.

Mateo Kaspar brushed aside the American upstart 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, while once again Mooljee gave Gillo Fangio a good match, and once again the Italian prevailed. It went four sets, three by tiebreak. The mental strength of Fangio continues to be the only thing that sets him apart in this matchup. He showed it again in the final, rallying from two sets down before Kaspar finally stopped what would have been quite a comeback, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1. Looked like it would be just another beatdown, but Fangio made the French champion earn it ... and he did, notching his 4th straight AO trophy.

In juniors, Kutuzov/Chiba were the story for me, cruising to the semis and then winning a couple of close matches at the business end to hoist the trophy. A surprising Mexican pair who were unseeded forced a super TB in the final, but we got through. In singles, Chiba was seeded 5th and was easily tossed aside by 3-seed Chalerm Prachuab in the quarterfinals. Kutuzov, the #1, made it to the final easily. There the #2, American Stanley Edelman from the britrock stable, smashed him 6-0, 6-3. That was as close as anybody got to him. Looks like there's a new sheriff in town.

For Chiba, the doubles title was enough to move him up to #3 in the rankings, and the doubles pairing with Kutuzov is going to inflate his ranking for a while. Pretty clear though he isn't the third-best player on the junior tour, and eventually I think the standings will reflect that to an extent.
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Old 08-20-2017, 05:54 PM   #655
britrock88
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With an aging factor of 104% and TE/SS scores of 7.6 and 6.7, this year will be as good as it gets for Edleman!
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Old 08-20-2017, 08:59 PM   #656
Brian Swartz
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Make hay while you can! Chiba is my usual late-bloomer and has a 8.8 for TE ... but a decidedly crappy 5.3 SS. Most guys I'm confident they'll eventually be #1, but I'm not predicting anything better than Top 5 yet for him.
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Old 08-20-2017, 10:45 PM   #657
Brian Swartz
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February

World Team Cup

The second round pitted us against Spain, top competition in our group. It started off fiery right away: Ritwik Dudwadkar narrowly beat their best, #6 Martin Zarco, rallying for a 4-6, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 win. Good thing we're on a hardcourt here, because on clay that's probably a loss -- and perhaps the tie as well. We didn't lose another singles set. The doubles didn't go our way, but another 4-1 win to clinch the group was just fine by me. #13 Juan de los Santos proved too far past his prime to pose any real threat.

For Prakash Mooljee, the usual break afterwards ended at the Acapulco 500 a few weeks later. He was shocked there by 7th-seeded American Matthew Panter, a rising player who is still pretty young. Mooljee outplayed him, but didn't convert his chances and Panter thumped 14 aces to sneak by 7-6(7), 6-4. Rather large upset there . That opened the door for Ritwik Dudwadkar, who snagged his first 500-level title ... but barely. He had to rally after losing the first set in the final to Panter, and that was after a final-set tiebreak in the semis against unseeded Swede Valentin Rosenberg. He got there, but the journey wasn't super-impressive.

Anil Mehul spent the same week in India, winning a tier-1 futures to maintain his singles status in the mid-200s. Sushant Chiba found a weak field in a busy week at tier-1 Nonthaburi(Thailand), and a victory there put him back at #3 after he'd slipped to 5th.

Masters-level events for all players were on for the next week.
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Old 08-23-2017, 09:11 PM   #658
Brian Swartz
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Indian Wells

Shyam Senepathy got a solid first-round win, then went out to one of the newer members the elite class, 26th-ranked Matteo Zimolo ... of Monaco. Only the most obsessive readers will remember the name of that tiny nation's greatest player -- I barely remember it myself. Jean-Luc Veniard reached a peak of 19th nearly two decades ago. Zimolo is already considered #3 in their history. At 27 and essentially at his peak, it's interesting little small story to see if he sets a new record. Project 18 anyone? Meanwhile a poor start to the year for Mehul/Kroese continues, as they are bounced by the Rhodes bros., seeded 8th, 11-9 in a super TB in the QF round. Went in as the #1 doubles team again, but after winning this event last year that status just went away.

First testy match for either of my big boys came in the third round, with Mooljee having to work against Andres Varas(ARG, 19th) for a 7-6(0), 6-3 win. Kronecker almost lost at that stage but survived, and young American Dick Blake used the home crowd to knock off Santos. Overall the Americans were doing quite well for themselves, though Borja continues to fall like a sinking ship -- Hsuang-Tsung Teng(17), who seems stuck in the teens, took him down. In the fourth, a rematch between Sigmund Kronecker and Dudwadkar, with a stunning result. Two breadsticks. 6-1, 6-1, Ritwik destroyed him with more than 60% of his return points going in the plus column. Where was that at the AO? The only other unexpected seed to get past here was (14)Stefano Espinoza, keeping the German dream alive with a straight-set win over Jolland.

Espinoza put up a bit of a fight in the quarters, but was dispatched by Mateo Kaspar. Martin Zarco went out in a close one to Fangio, and in another close match between the two of them, Guus Dircx was stopped by Browne, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3. Meanwhile my two guys were in the same quarter, with Mooljee taking this one 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. By the end of the year he probably won't be winning these anymore, but for now ...

After a decent fight, Prakash Mooljee lost 4 & 4 to Kaspar. In the second semi, the crowd helped will Browne past Gillo Fangio after an epic first-set breaker. The top American didn't have much left for the final, as he found himself eating a 6-1, 6-1 count. Result's not a surprise, but I thought it might be closer. As it ends up, Mooljee was Kaspar's toughest match here.

Copa Gerdau

The juniors version of Masters event, the JGA, had it's first edition of the year as well but this one on clay. Kutuzov/Chiba took the doubles without much resistance and no sets lost, continuing to help his case for staying up in the rankings. On the other side of the draw, it was another one-sided QF loss; 6-3, 6-1 to (7)Willy Bochette. The champ was Edleman again, who apparently has no juniors competition. 6-3, 6-2 was his closest encounter.
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Old 08-27-2017, 12:11 PM   #659
Brian Swartz
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Miami

Mehul/Kroese had a similar, but slightly better tournament this week. They escaped a close match against Ukrainian 7-seeds Buynoz/Bezhin in the quarterfinal, but lost in the semis to #2s Podkopayev/Cordovez. Both semifinals went to super tiebreaks, highlighting the continued very narrow margin between the top doubles pairings. Shyam Senepathy got through another first-round match, then got smashed by Mooljee in the second, which was no surprise.

It was a bad start for the Spaniards, who saw both Santos and #6 Martin Zarco depart at their first hurdle in the second round. Only one other low seed went that early. Easy progress continued for my top guys in the third, while 21-year-old American Stuart Pargeter grabbed another win, this one over (25)Ruslan Strelkov. Pargeter was around 50th at this point, and took advantage of the favorable crowd to grab himself a nice result. Dircx was challenged by Dick Blake but got through it, and in a very tense match, young Panter was narrowly defeated by Hsuang-tsung Teng. 7th-ranked Sigmund Kronecker was the latest clay specialist to fall.

All the favored players moved on in the fourth round, with a three-set classic between Espinoza and Valentin Rosenberg, 3-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(6) proving to be the match of the day. The second-best German continued a strong year so far with this win, and was the only player in the quarterfinals who wasn't a Top 10 seed coming in. Form held there again, but there were some tight ones. Crowd favorite or no, Johnny Browne could present only one competitive set to Kaspar. Stefano Espinoza pushed Dircx to a third set but was clearly the inferior player, while Ritwik Dudwadkar lost again to Mooljee though that one went right down to the wire. 7-5 in a 3rd-set tiebreak, could have gone either way, but Prakash was somewhat better and deserved the win. In the other match, Gillo Fangio absolutely demolished Jolland, losing only three games.

In an interesting quirk, both semifinals were decided by the same scoreline: 6-3, 7-6(5). Nothing more than a curiosity, but I don't think I've ever seen that symmetry before. The winners were the expected ones: Kaspar ended pGuus Dircx, and Fangio stopping Prakash Mooljee. That's 9-1 in their last 10 meetings now. Mooljee still holds a 15-14 lead in the overall head-to-head, but clearly that's not going to end in his favor. Mateo Kaspar pummelled the Italian in the final -- two games, two sets, two breadsticks. That is a painful finish.
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Old 08-27-2017, 12:22 PM   #660
Brian Swartz
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The game world is well past this point(RG is underway as I write this) but I took note of the rankings so I could properly catch up the thread. At the quarter-pole of the season, here's how it stood.

Rankings Update

1. Mateo Kaspar(FRA, 25) -- 16,620

*Yawn*

2. Gillo Fangio(ITA, 26) -- 10,230

Fangio is slowly pulling away from the rest esp. Mooljee, and gaining on Kaspar. He's in no danger of catching him, but merely entrenching himself as the #2.

3. Prakash Mooljee(SRI, 29) -- 8,650

By year's end we may be talking about him being in danger of getting dumped out of the Top 4 as a worst-case. Looks like 3rd or at worst 4th through this season though. He continues to handle his business in the early rounds consistently and pretty routinely.

4. Guus Dircx(NLD, 24) -- 6,860

Still just barely staying in the Top 4.

5. Johnny Browne(USA, 28) -- 6,490

Browne has been consistent enough that you can't completely write off the possibility that he could catch Dircx again. Doesn't look likely though.

6. Martin Zarco(ESP, 25) -- 5,030

As ever, his season will be made or not in the coming clay campaign.

7. Sigmund Kronecker(DEU, 26) -- 4,415

Continuing a slow rise.

8. Ritwik Dudwadkar(SRI, 23) -- 4,410

Now that he's worked his way into the Top 8, he's got his sights set on a WTF qualification that shouldn't be too tense, and slowly working his way up.

9. Jake Jolland(USA, 27) -- 4,065

Don't expect anything more from him than this.

10. Ariel Borja(USA, 25) -- 3,065

Taking over the 'disappointment of the year' is this sinking ship. His turn I guess after doubles partner Janin had that role a year ago. Big thing to note here is the big gap between him and Jolland. A full thousand points. The first nine players here are probably the same guys all year long; this last spot could be a revolving door.

13. Ruben Piazzola(CHI, 23) -- 2,760

Best chance to crash the Top-10 party, depending on how many inroads he can make on the clay.

6(D). Anil Mehul(SRI, 38) -- 10,090. About 2k behind the top two doubles teams now, Mehul/Kroese appear to be in decline although it's too soon to be certain. Both of those above them are roughly in their prime(27-29 years old), and of course Anil's age is more of an issue each passing year. Might have just had a poor start to the year and bounce back though. We shall see.

3(J) Sushant Chiba(SRI, 17)

The doubles success has been just enough to keep him in the #3 spot for now, while Edleman runs away with the juniors top spot, easily crushing all opposition. I went back and looked up my previous players; the only one who finished the year in the Top 10 was Girish Girsh, who finished 7th. So this is a heck of a spot to be in by comparison. And of course Girsh was also my worst pro. Looking through the years at the top juniors players, some of them end up about peaking at 20th or so, some never got on the radar. A few were excellent, but it's definitely no predictor of senior success in and of itself. More on this probably later in the year.
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Old 08-30-2017, 08:56 PM   #661
Brian Swartz
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April/May

Word Team Cup, Round 3

Ruben Piazzola(#13, CHI) was the main attraction in an otherwhise meaningless tie against Chile. He didn't disappoint, beating Ritwik Dudwadkar in an epic opener. 7-5, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5, and it put us behind right away. We wouldn't drop another rubber, with Mooljee taking him down in four sets later on. The other three were straight-set wipeouts. Their #2, Cortecedo, was 47th in the world at the time and is well short of being able to challenge us.

Sri Lanka 4, Chile 1, and another undefeated run through group play. Easy draw in the quarterfinals, as we'll play Mexico(26th) who is a shocking team to see at this stage for the first time ever. France/Germany is a real barnburner of a matchup and we'll have much bigger resistance against the winner of that; Spain and the United States are on the other side of the draw.

Monte Carlo

Mooljee and Fangio skipped this year's event, taking out two of the top three. Kaspar was here though, and Ritwik Dudwadkar was the 4th seed. His one WTC win a couple weeks earlier inched him just above Kronecker into 4th overall. That would prove important. On the doubles side, Mehul/Kroese got rudely railroaded by the Rhodes brothers, 2 & 2 in the quarterfinals. Yikes. Shyam Senepathy showed up and was escorted quickly away by Dick Blake, the young American star, 6-3, 6-3.

Top-10 seeds Jake Jolland and Milos Schmucker showed they weren't ready for the dirt, getting bounced before the third round could even start. Dudwadkar went up against Teng and dismissed him routinely at that stage, which saw all of the favorites advance. That put seven of the top nine seeds into the quarters, with Luc Janin an obviously worthy party-crasher. And then it happened. Mateo Kaspar lost a match for the first time this year, 6-4, 6-4 to Kronecker. For once he was outplayed in the key moments; both players had four break chances but the French legend converted only one, and saved only one. Dudwadkar got through Janin in a competitive match, and in an excellent battle Guus Dircx came through against Piazzola, 7-5 in the third.

Sigmund Kronecker figured to get one back against Dudwadkar in the semifinals. What he got was a crushing 6-3, 6-3 defeat that wasn't that close; 13 to 3 in break chances. I don't know where that came from but it's a huge win for Ritwik. On the other side, another straight-sets win for Martin Zarco over Dircx. The Spaniard's been pretty sharp here and Ritwik Dudwadkar couldn't stop him; 6-2, 7-5 was the score in the title match. Martin didn't lose a set this week, and while it'll have an asterisk by it this is his first Masters Shield. As for Dudwadkar, making the final and getting the upset over his would-be rival Kronecker gives him a nice push forward. He's now decisively staying in the Top 8, and has to set his sights higher.

Anil Mehul won a tier-2 futures in Uzbekistan a couple weeks later, but other than that everyone was off preparing for the clay season to begin in earnest.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 08-30-2017 at 08:57 PM.
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Old 08-31-2017, 08:22 AM   #662
JonInMiddleGA
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fwiw, I figured out very quickly that this was a game I was never going to get the hang of & walked away from it. That said, you found a great groove for telling the stories & I'm able to follow it from your point of view pretty easily.

That's about the definition for a good dynasty thread IMO.
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Old 09-02-2017, 01:51 PM   #663
Brian Swartz
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Thanks Jon. I'm closer to the end than the beginning, and it's still enjoyable to do.
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Old 09-02-2017, 02:09 PM   #664
Brian Swartz
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Madrid

One of the better showings this year for Mehul/Kroese, but it still ended earlier than hoped. 2nd-seeds Podkopayev/Cordovez ended their run 6-3, 7-5 in the semifinals. Still searching for their first final of the year. Shyam Senepathy qualified, then got smashed in the first round of the main draw by (14)Milos Schmucker.

Interesting second day for the Americans: Matthew Panter upset Schmucker to send him out early, while (11)Ariel Borja continued his swift decline in losing to countryman Gregory Mackenzie in straight sets. The big surprise was 8th-seed Sigmund Kronecker, one of the best clay players in the world, losing to Austrian Benno Duhr 6-3, 7-6(5). That result is frankly quite hard to fathom. Only one favorite went down in the third; unfortunately for me it was Ritwik Dudwadkar, who was defeated by Ruben Piazzola by the same score. Interestingly, while Dudwadkar is having a much better career to date, he is 0-3 against the slightly younger Chilean. Second loss here in just over a month with the WTC match a little while ago.

The top six all progressed to the quarterfinals, where Kaspar absolutely annihilated Johnny Browne, losing just three games. Prakash Mooljee was next up for Piazzola, and he won ... barely. 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 for the tough comeback victory, just two points overall separating the players. Dircx got by another surprise, Hsuang-tsung Teng, while Fangio narrowly escaped Martin Zarco, that one going three sets as well.

Mateo Kaspar made very short work of Mooljee in a rather embarrassing 6-2, 6-1 score in the first semi. He sure looks sharp right now. Weird second match, with Gillo Fangio taking a narrow first set, getting bageled in the second, then rallying for the win. He earned it, despite losing the points count 100-96 against Dircx. The final was the exact same score for the third straight match for Kaspar. Three games allowed in each of the last three. Even for clay, that's ridiculously dominant. Perhaps trying to atone for his first loss of the year back in Monte Carlo.

Italian Open

Meanwhile, the first big clay event for the juniors was also underway. Sushant Chiba teamed with Kutuzov for another title that was far from easy; both of the last two matches went to super tiebreaks, narrow 10-8 successes in each. Still counts though, and another nice bundle of points result. In singles, it was another trip to the QFs, and another one-sided loss; three games from Uglesa Svajnovic(6). Stanley Edleman yawned his way through another tournament. A bad match for him is now one in which he loses three games or more. Here he lost seven. For the tournament.
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Old 09-02-2017, 02:27 PM   #665
Brian Swartz
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Rome

Italy finally brought a breakthrough for Mehul/Kroese, who looked quite solid all the way through. The only test came in the final; 10-6 in a super TB over Arendt/Yumashev. They'll need a lot more of this to stay up in the rankings, but it'll definitely help. Shyam Senepathy had a tough week, losing in the last qualifying round.

A bit of a twist to the fortunes of a couple of veterans in the opening set of matches; Luc Janin, fallen enough not to be seeded here, took out (13)Juan de los Santos in a match of a couple of guys far too good to be playing this early. Stefano Espinoza, the German 10th seed, is not at all like his country's top player Kronecker; clay is not his forte, and he was bounced in the second. There was a rough patch here or there, including Fangio dropping a set to one of last week's standouts Mackenzie, but all of the top players ultimately came through.

The third round was basically not worth watching. None of the matches were close, and only one 'upset': another quick exit for Browne, with Tomas Niklas showing a rare flash with a 6-2, 6-2 demolition there. He joins 7 of the top 8, sans the top American, who move on to the quarters. The Czech was crushed there by Gillo Fangio, but the other three matches were all much closer. The first one was the most noteworthy, with Kaspar suffering just his second defeat of the year thanks to Martin Zarco. Definitely the best win of the Spaniard's career, and a very tight one: 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5). Could have gone either way, and neither play had much to show for their serve in the clutch; 10 total breaks of serve in the back-and-forth encounter. Not only had Zarco lost all 12 previous meetings, he had one just one set, none in the past three years. Definitely not the outcome that was expected, even with his clay expertise. A better showing for Ritwik Dudwadkar came to an end as he didn't have quite enough firepower to take advantage of his opportunities against Dircx, losing there in two close sets. Sigmund Kronecker lost to Mooljee in another razor-thin match, 7-4 in a third-set breaker. It was very close, but the German was actually a hair better overall, putting more consistent pressure. It all came down to the end though, and experience seemed to be the only determiner.

Big opportunity in the first semifinal for both players. Guus Dircx put up a fight but Zarco was the unsurprising winner in a close two. Prakash Mooljee dropped his fourth straight against Fangio in the second, 6-3, 7-6(5). The Italian had to go the distance, but managed a 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 victory in the title match, claiming his 4th Masters at Zarco's expense.
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Old 09-03-2017, 11:16 AM   #666
Brian Swartz
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2054 Roland Garros

The junior event is a week earlier, so I'll start there. The manager for Chiba's doubles partner, no. 2 junior Pavel Kutuzov, decided to fire his young charge. That ended the partnership, and the luck of the draw for RG wasn't kind in terms of the new player to join with. Largely as a result, he was bounced in the second round there. It's been fun while it lasted, but the doubles gravy train looks over. In the weeks that followed, repeated attempts to get another high-ranking partner were rejected. Not sure why nobody wants to join up -- Chiba is still pretty good -- but it is what it is. On the singles side it was a new day and the same old story. Pretty easy road to the quarterfinals, where Paulo Alcantra(ARG), the 8-seed, bounced Sushant 7-6(2), 6-0. Stanley Edleman is the champ again, losing four games in the title match. That's more than usual.

In the senior event, Mehul/Kroese came up with just one good set in the quarterfinals, losing early to Argentinians Disanti/Escavias, 6-3, 0-6, 6-4. They continue to slip slowly down. An interesting matchup for Shyam Senepathy against Czech Hugo Jurco, a veteran who was marginally relevant at one point, peaking at 14th in the world. Now 30 years old, he still had enough to send Senepathy packing in four sets.

In the first round the seeds were even more dominant than usual; all 32 won, and only Juan de los Santos lost a set. Sounds strange that he would struggle on his best surface -- but his foe was former no. 4, 31-year-old Khasan Zakirov, the best player in decades for Uzbekistan as you may recall. Not your typical opening flunkie. Cojanovic and Blake both departed in the second round, but the Top 20+ continued forward.

In the third, the match of the day was (16)Hsuang-tsung Teng(NZL) against (18)Andres Varas(ARG). Both on paper, and on the court. Varas got the better of Teng eventually, 8-6 in the 5th, in an epic encounter that he probably should have lost. Santos was pushed to the distance by Matthew Panter in the latest strong showing by the slowly-rising American. Gregory Mackenzie was most impressive in crushing (12)Tomas Niklas easily in straight sets, while Borja crashed out again; (25)[/b]Valentin Rosenberg[/b](SWE) eventually prevailed in another five-setter there. Seed 11th, he was the top seed to leave so far. The fourth round saw the 28th-seeded Mackenzie rise up again, beating #8 Jake Jolland in four ... including two bagel sets! He's a strange player who has roughly equal ability on all four surfaces, but no question he's moving upwards. The bottom half of the draw was filled with long matches; the only one that didn't go the distance was a crushing victory by Dudwadkar, who eliminated Rosenberg and lost just six games. Gillo Fangio survived Piazzola by the narrowest of margins, 12-10 in the 5th there -- 463 points in that contest of survival. Tough defeat for the young Chilean to be sure. Sigmund Kronecker had a moderate upset of #6 Martin Zarco in an early meeting of two of the best on the dirt, rallying from a 2-1 sets deficit to take the last couple and get the victory. Prakash Mooljee had to do the same against Varas, who almost pulled off another five-set win but couldn't quite get there; 6-4, 6-7(9), 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-1 was the final there. Before the strong finish, it wasn't really looking good.

Into the quarters then were seven players who would be expected to contend ... and Mackenzie. Guus Dircx thumped him aside with ease, but I'm sure we haven't seen the last of him. Kaspar eliminated Johnny Browne without breaking a sweat as well. Those two have galloped through the top half easily. On the bottom, there were more wars to wage. Gillo Fangio handed Dudwadkar a pair of breadsticks, but Ritwik won the other three sets in closer fashion. Nice to get a win he should have lost, and here's an interesting fact: not a single double fault in over 150 service points. That's staying focused for you, while the Italian was very up and down. Winning a long match against him is not easily done, given Fangio's mental fortitude ... and getting to the last four of a Slam is huge for Dudwadkar as well. Then Mooljee narrowly won the first set over Kronecker, lost the next two badly ... and pulled himself together again to control the final two and advance for his second straight 5-set victory.

On the top half then, it was Mateo Kaspar losing his first set of the tournament but prevailing in four over Dircx, who couldn't come through on enough opportunities there but has no apologies to make after an excellent run here. On the bottom, an All-Sri Lanka Slam semi. That's a heck of a thing, and one that hasn't been seen for many years. Mooljee led the H2H 6-1, and was looking to get to his first big final in over a year. I think he ran out of gas though -- the younger man put a lot of pressure on him throughout and won this in a competitive three. On to the final then, where Ritwik Dudwadkar aimed to kill the giant and take his first Slam crown. Or not. 6-3, 7-6(3), 6-2. Nice to make your acquaintance kid, but you're not worthy. Compared to Kaspar though, who is? Making the final vaulted Ritwik from 7th to 5th, and essentially made this year a success for him already with over half of it remaining.
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Old 09-05-2017, 06:48 AM   #667
Brian Swartz
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June

Both of my top players decided to take in a 500 event on the grass as a warm-up to Wimbledon. The fields were pretty strong there with some late entrants. Prakash Mooljee was the #2 seed in Halle, but lost a not-that-surprising result to Dircx in the SF, 6-4, 6-4. Much more surprising was Sigmund Kronecker beating Fangio on the other side, then going on to win the title. Ritwik Dudwadkar played in the other event, Queen's Club, and had competitive matches throughout. In the quarters, Hsuang-tsung Teng stretched him to three sets, Zarco gave him a close two in the SF, and then in the title match it was a real epic against Johnny Browne. Dudwadkar came out it with a very satisfying 7-6(6), 5-7, 6-4 win, edging the American to get his second 500-level title. This gives a chance at moving into the #4 position if he can do well enough at Wimbledon, as he's just a bit behind Dircx in the rankings ...
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Old 09-07-2017, 07:54 PM   #668
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Wimbledon 2054

Juniors came first, once again. Teaming with Argentine Isaac Roqueta, Chiba was able to progress easily through the draw. They were stopped in the final by the Edleman/Prachaub team, a basically unbeatable combo, 6-3, 6-4 -- but he'll take that result for sure! In singles, that block at the quarterfinal finally gave way. With two top players not participating, Sushant Chiba knocked aside (7) Jacek Andrejova(CZE) easily, then had a credible showing against 3rd-ranked Prachuab in the semi, losing again 6-2, 3-6, 6-2. Stanley Edleman faced more resistance here on the grass than in other tournaments, but did not lose a set and claimed another title to maintain his perfect record.

In doubles, disaster struck from Mehul/Kroese, seeded 4th now. Fading after a good start against the Spanish duo of (10) Alvelo/Algarin, they ended as upset victims ultimately. 7-6(8), 1-6, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 in the marathon match. Increasingly dominant #1s Aspelin/Cordasic went on to claim the title. As for Shyam Senepathy, he faced a fairly unheralded but rising US foe, Stuart Pargeter, and was quickly knocked aside in straight sets at the first hurdle. (27) Matteo Zimolo had to go the distance against Jurco, but the seeds all survived their initial tests.

Two were not so lucky in the second, no. 11 Ariel Borja chief among them. Both went the distance and put up a fight before losing; his conqueror was Phillippe Besson, a recognizable name from a year or two ago for those who follow proceeding here closely. The Swiss is definitely one of the more dangerous floaters in the draw, winning here 7-5 in the 5th of a match which was tight throughout. As often happens, the really interesting stuff started up in the third round, with 32 players remaining. (19) Matthew Panter continued his strong play of late, knocking out Niklas in straight sets. Juan de los Santos was pushed by Rosenberg, but prevailed in 5, delaying that changing of the guard a bit. Prakash Mooljee succumbed to his young challenger though, in a shocker. (17) Hsuang-Tsung Teng(NZL) eventually came through 7-6(7), 7-6(10), 6-7(1), 1-6, 8-6. Any match with all those tiebreaks can go either way, but Mooljee, partly on the strength of that dominant 4th set, was much the better player here. Couldn't make it count at the business end enough times though. Prakash has consistently gotten through the early matches, which is what makes this so surprising -- after making the final here 4 of the last 5 seasons, this is the first time he's departed any Slam this early in over 7 years. One more sign of the vulnerabilities of age, and on the other side a huge win for the New Zealander who has been struggling and expected to break through for a couple years now. This will certainly help. Elsewhere, Dudwadkar progressed pretty easily, both of the top Germans, Kronecker and Espinoza, were pushed to five but advanced. Besson kept on going, knocking out (31) Vinnie Cone(USA) pretty easily -- great result for him here.

In the fourth, a couple of suprising results on the top half. Santos over Jake Jolland and Teng eliminates Andres Guardado, both interesting in their ease in straight-sets. Besson's run ended at the hands of Dircx, while 7th-ranked Martin Zarco was stopped by Czech Milos Schmucker(16th). Ritwik Dudwadkar hit his first bit of trouble, but got by Kronecker in 4. That's three straight wins for him now over the top German, a 5-3 edge in the head-to-head. It appears he's convincingly moved past that obstacle. Into the quarters then where 5 of the top 6 made it ... but the other three are 14th or lower. A good showing by the next tier here, in a Slam where the unexpected happens as often as not. I almost never say anything about Kaspar for the first half of these events, because it's usually another yawning easy ride. Santos took a whole eight games off him, justifying the confidence. Teng went five sets once more, and won once more: his latest victim is #6 Johnny Browne(USA). Tiebreaks were critical again; he won both of them in close fashion, then closed it out 6-4. The other five-setter involved #2 Gillo Fangio of Italy, who has cruised so far. Not here. Schmucker, an extreme grass specialist but a guy who has been in 'maybe he'll do something someday, but probably not' territory for years, rose up and snatched a stunning upset. 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-7(8), 6-3 was the count as the upstart had to hold off a Fangio rally, and ultimately succeeded. The final quarterfinal had a ton on the line, with Dudwadkar matching up against 4th-ranked Guus Dircx(NLD). The top two players of their generation, Ritwik has nearly completing the chase-down and trails by less than 100 points in the rankings; the winner would grab that crucial 4th spot at the end of the tournament. The more proven star of the Netherlands had more firepower and ultimately showed it, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2. Objectively he's still somewhat better, but I was still hopeful. The former Wimbledon champion frankly dominated this one after that first set though. No question Dircx deserved the win.

In the semis, Mateo Kaspar slapped aside Teng in three sets -- fantastic showing for Hsuang-tsung but he wasn't going anywhere in this one. Milos Schmucker stunned Dircx with a four-set win, making his first Slam final after having never done better than the quarterfinals before(twice, including here a year ago most recently). He also managed to give Kaspar his toughest match of the tournament -- but still went down 7-5, 6-4, 6-4. There is only one king of the hill, and the final wasn't quite as close as that score would indicate.
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Old 09-07-2017, 07:55 PM   #669
Brian Swartz
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Top Rankings Update

1. Mateo Kaspar(25, FRA) -- 16,620

12th Slam at Wimbledon is his third straight there, and gives him sole possession of 5th place on the all-time list. It was a bit surprising to see him lose early twice in the clay season(Monte Carlo and Rome), but he rose up to get the big one at RG.

2. Gillo Fangio(26, ITA) -- 9,750

3. Prakash Mooljee(30, SRI) -- 7,060

The early loss at Wimbledon is probably just a blip, but it could be the beginning of the end here. It does put a lot of pressure on Mooljee to play well in the second half if he wants to retain his status. The gap between him and the next couple of challengers has closed considerably.

4. Guus Dircx(24, NLD) -- 6,480

Narrowly holds this spot as a result of that QF clash at Wimbledon. It'll be interesting to see what the summer and fall hold.

5. Ritwik Dudwadkar(24, SRI) -- 6,330

Already having a better year than I expected, he's about to face the biggest challenge of his career. In just a couple weeks' time, the hardcourt gauntlet begins, starting with the Olympic Games in China. This is even more daunting than usual, as he'll be playing singles and doubles there.

6. Johnny Browne(28, USA) -- 5,610

7. Martin Zarco(25, ESP) -- 5,330

8. Jake Jolland(28, USA) -- 3,985

9. Sigmund Kronecker(26, DEU) -- 3,635

10. Milos Schmucker(25, CZE) -- 3,230

I don't expect Schmucker to have an extended stay in the Top 10, but reaching a Slam final is nothing to sneeze at. The Czech Republic finally has a new standard-bearer, as Milos has surpassed Tomas Niklas.

12. Hsuang-Tsung Teng(24, NZL) -- 2,840

Teng could still make a run at getting on the first page by year's end. We'll see if he can backup that impressive SF run.

15. Ruben Piazzola(23, CHL) -- 2,650

Piazzola is pretty much treading water here.

10(D). Anil Mehul(38, SRI)

The days of doubles glory seem clearly to be over. It was fun while it lasted. 4 Slams and 7 Masters in a solid second career that went a couple of years past what any of his contemporaries were able to achieve in terms of longevity at the top. We'll gradually see more singles events from him to fill out the schedule now. At present he still hangs out at the top of the futures crowd(226th).

4(J). Sushant Chiba(18, SRI)

Chiba will have an extended period off here, but that Wimbledon semi is the furthest any player of mine has ever gotten in a Juniors Slam, and gave him enough to hold this spot for now. He's got another 2-3 weeks off now before he'll head out for another event. Stanley Edleman continues to crush all opposition with a 48-0 record and more than double the points of anyone else at over 2600. Chiba by comparison is at 975 in the rankings, with the next four after him ranging from 764 to 926. Staying just ahead of them if possible is his goal for the rest of the year.

The two have much different career shapes, as mentioned a while back. I thought I'd do a quick comparison here; Edleman is already at his physical peak, where he'll be for a while. Chiba is at 89%, so he's not going to reach it for a while. His overall rating comes out to 5.80 at the moment, while Stanley's is at 6.80, making him nearly ready for challenger play with still several months of improving left. Exactly a 1-point difference as it turns out, which is massive: the American is almost at Challenger-level performance. Speed is the biggest difference; he's almost twice as fast, while also having much greater technical skills. Chiba will likely catch him eventually as a pro due to his longevity, but it'll take years to be sure to close this kind of gap. It probably has just started closing a bit -- both players are at about the same level in endurance right now(3.5) and my guy is still getting the benefits of physical maturation. He'll never be the athlete that the American is though. Due to the expressed interest I'll keep an eye on this comparison and report on how things develop.

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Old 09-07-2017, 08:00 PM   #670
Brian Swartz
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Race to the World Tour Finals
** Post-Wimbledon Edition **

Last year was a walk in the park for everyone who made it. This season looks like there could be at least one spot up for some debate and contention based on the overall rankings, but there are always some surprises once I dive in to the numbers here.

In

Mateo Kaspar -- 10,010

Kaspar's the only one who is in for sure. Usually there are at least two at this point, which tells you all you need to know about the kind of year he's having. Again.

Probable

Gillo Fangio -- 5410
Guus Dircx -- 4850
Ritwik Dudwadkar -- 4460
Prakash Mooljee -- 4130
Johnny Browne -- 3680
Martin Zarco -- 3435
Sigmund Kronecker -- 3175

Guus Dircx has already been successful at a number of smaller events, while Mooljee doesn't have that benefit yet. The Olympics will be a big factor in which one of them ends up higher in the year-end tally, but at the moment Prakash definitely has his work cut out for him. Dudwadkar is right there as well, and the others are close behind. I'm a little surprised that Gillo Fangio hasn't separated himself more, but he's had a couple more surprising losses after avoiding those for the most part last season. Hard to see him falling from the #2 spot though.

Contenders

Empty for the moment


Long Shots

Milos Schmucker -- 2590
Hsuang-tsung Teng -- 2570
Jake Jolland -- 2480
Ruben Piazzola -- 2260

Jolland is #8 right now, but not even close to taking the spot from Kronecker at year's end. He's got a couple of 500 titles from last year that will go away soon unless he defends them. On the other hand, he's headed towards his strength(US hardcourts) while the German has already finished his(clay), so the gap there could close again and make things interesting. Schmucker is closer right now but Wimbledon was his only trip to the quarterfinals or better of a big event. He'll need to do more of that, and he's quite weak on hardcourts so it's hard to see that happening. Teng on the other hand has the game to potentially make a run, esp. if things break well for him. There's a fairly good chance that either he or Jolland challenge for the final spot, but the list of potential contenders is once again short due to the relative strength of the top players in recent years.

Most of the drama though at this point is seeing how things fall among the qualifiers themselves; from 3rd on down there's a lot of uncertainty in terms of who will be where, and much jostling for position is expected in the second half of the year.

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Old 09-08-2017, 02:34 PM   #671
Chas in Cinti
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Back on the site after ~18 months, good to see this still going... and I got all caught back up...
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Old 09-08-2017, 04:47 PM   #672
Brian Swartz
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Glad you still find it worth reading.

July/August

Everybody was off for the abbreviated summer break. There wasn't much to do but rest and get some practice in.
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Old 09-09-2017, 08:27 PM   #673
Brian Swartz
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2054 Olympics
China

I've never had the Olympics not be on hardcourt. I think that's mandatory or something. Nobody has ever won the singles more than once; we had the last two golds with Girsh and Mooljee, though I held little hope anyone would continue that streak against the great Frenchman. Last time out the Swedes had the first back-to-back doubles gold medalists, the fabulous Arvid Hjoch a member of both teams but with different partners(Oberg, then Trulsen).

For our doubles, I didn't expect a whole lot but the effort must be made. Mehul/Dudwadkar went in seeded 8th, a little worse than I'd hoped. An easy first round, then they got through a pair of tiebreaks against the South African team in the second. The Rhodes brothers, seeded 4th, figured to end that in the quarterfinals ... but we narrowly escaped, 4-6, 6-3, 10-7! On the medal round, a heck of a result. Top four seeds were all out at this point, and the Spanish 6-seeds Mercari/Cordovez were pretty easily dispatched. All of a sudden it was the gold medal match, with unseeded Hungarians of all things on the other side of the net. After we took the early lead, Kovacs/Del Petro rallied to their credit, but we slammed the door on them at the end. 6-3, 7-6(2), 2-6, 3-6, 6-0 ... and Sri Lanka has won Olympic gold in doubles for the first time! Interestingly, this means all four of my created players that I've stayed with have one; Mehul disappointingly never got it done in singles, and it's the first Dudwadkar now as well.

The solo draw found less desirable results. Prakash Mooljee had hopes for a medal, but instead bowed out to Schmucker in the third round. Embarassing. Ritwik Dudwadkar had some trouble with fading prodigy Nikitin at that stage, but made it through. A solid win over Jolland in the quarters put him in the medal round again ... but he was thumped by Kaspar and then lost the bronze match to Fangio. Surprising silver-medalist Martin Zarco got the expected treatment by Mateo Kaspar, your obvious winner. More impressive was Zarco's 12-10 third-set survival against the Italian Fangio in the semis.

Already fairly worn after all the matches this week, Dudwadkar faces four tournaments in six weeks still. Some early defeats are virtually inevitable. And the ranking system bug that crops up every so often strikes again. After getting 270 points for his Olympic efforts, he loses 460 points and drops to #7. He was slightly inflated before, but now he's hundreds of points below where he should be. Grrrr. Not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things because he's likely to end the year in the 5-7 range anyway, but still annoying.

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Old 09-11-2017, 12:49 AM   #674
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Canada

Seeded fifth, Mehul/Kroese had a quality run here, narrowly edging 4th seeds Srbulovic/Zopp in the QF 10-3 in a super tiebreak after splitting tiebreakers in the first two sets. That earned them a beating from dominant #1s Aspelin/Cordasic in the semis, which is as good as can be expected at this point. Shyam Senepathy qualified and won tiebreaks in the second and third sets, rallying from a poor first against Zakirov in his first match. Quite a nice win for him, leading to a 3 & 1 shellacking from world no. 2 Fangio.

It was upset central right away for the seeded guys. Niklas(14th), Panter(15th, a narrow loser to Dick Blake), and Santos(13th) were all gone by the end of the first round. No more fell in the second, though (7)Johnny Browne needed everything he could muster to survive Besson, 4-6, 7-6(12), 7-6(5), saving a number of match points in that second set breaker. In the third, everything went as planned on the top half. Mooljee had a testy encounter with Jake Jolland but got through it in straights. Not so on the bottom. Dircx nearly went home early to Ruben Piazzola before rallying for a narrow victory. Fangio was shocked by unseeded Valentin Rosenberg, 7-6(5), 6-7(8), 6-4, while Ritwik Dudwadkar went just 1 of 8 on break chances, just enough for the youngster Blake and the home crowd to send him out early. 7-5, 6-7(5), 7-6(4) there in another match that could not have been any closer. If you like tight battles, it had already been one heck of a tournament, but this was a bitter pill for Ritwik to swallow.

Six of the top eight into the quarterfinals, along with the two unseeded guys who were matched up against each other. Blake couldn't overcome Rosenberg, so the Swede marched on. Kaspar and Dircx cruised onwards, while Prakash Mooljee lost to a guy who barely made it this far. Browne got the better of him, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Another case of just not closing out opportunities. Mooljee had 9 BPs, the American 3 --- but it was 2-1 Browne in terms of conversions, breaking a five-match winning streak in their personal head-to-head. Both losses here leave a real bad taste in my mouth -- Canada '54 is not a tournament to remember fondly.

Mateo Kaspar brushed Browne aside in the semis, while Guus Dircx became the latest victim of Rosenberg, 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-3. Valentin is an extreme hard-court guy, but he's still the most unlikely Masters finalist in some while. Kaspar swatted him fairly easily, losing six games in total. He was not remotely challenged in what amounted to a virtual walk-over of a tournament, appearing to be in full flight amid the chaos elsewhere in the draw.

Elsewhere, Sushant Chiba entered a tier-1 in Quebec, and made the final. Top seed Chalerm Prachuab, who has been ranked third most of the year but up to #2 recently, thumped him once again 6-1, 6-1. He's knocked Chiba out of two Slams already in their earlier meetings this year, and it's abundantly clear this is a one-sided matchup.

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Old 09-11-2017, 01:46 AM   #675
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Cincinatti

Mehul/Kroese had another good run, and this time the draw was a bit better. It took another close super TB to get past Srbulovic/Zopp, this time 10-5 and a round later in the semis. That put them in the title match, where the #1s once again were solidly better. Good couple of weeks though, and they are back up to the 4th spot in the rankings. It was deja vu all over again for Senepathy, who beat another qualifier for the second week in a row, then lost to a highly-ranked player(Zarco this time). He keeps plugging away.

It wasn't all roses for the seeds but most of them survived round one, though Niklas and Piazzola were both pushed hard with a pair of tiebreaks for each. Milos Schmucker(10th) was absolutely crushed by Vinnie Cone, 6-1, 6-2 -- not a shocking result but the margin sure was. He was the only early casualty. (13)Juan de los Santos left the next day, as Rosenberg backed up his run last week with another good start. He kept it going by taking out Browne 6-4, 7-6(5) in the third round. This is becoming a trend now -- we're going to have a keep a close eye on him. Guus Dircx left early, a 7-6(5), 7-6(3) loser to Jolland, while Dudwadkar rallied to get past Ruben Piazzola, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4. It's his first win in four tries against the Chilean; he's a more accomplished player but it's still nice to finally get the victory. Martin Zarco lost badly to Teng in a match that was an upset only by ranking, given their respective hardcourt abilities.

Mostly the usual suspects in the QFs, though Valentin Rosenberg's return visit as an unseeded player was the bigger story. This time he ran into the Kaspar buzzsaw a little earlier. All of the other matches went the full three sets. Jolland, the lone remaining American, was knocked out by Sigmund Kronecker, Fangio had another disappointing ending with Hsuang-tsung Teng progressing a little too easily against him, and the last matchup was an all-Sri Lanka affair. In a tight final set, Ritwik Dudwadkar beat Mooljee for the second straight time and third overall against six defeats, 3-6, 6-1, 7-5. You'll win a lot of matches converting 100% of your break points, and Ritwik was 5-for-5 here in what was overall a very even match.

Kronecker gave Mateo Kaspar one tough set, an 8-6 breaker, then folded like an accordion in the second. Dudwadkar left all of his clutch play in the previous round unfortunately, losing a match he should have won 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3. He had the most consistent pressure by a good margin, but Teng consistently found a way to salvage things, surrendering just one break. Once again Kaspar faced an upstart challenger in the final, and once again he dominated -- five games the count against him this time. Only the first stanza in the semis was even a challenge, and he wins again unblemished in terms of sets.
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Old 09-11-2017, 08:07 PM   #676
Brian Swartz
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2054 US Open

The junior and pro events are synchronized for this unlike in the summer, so this was clearly the biggest tournament week left in the year. Sushant Chiba's partner was ranked 91st, so they weren't the best doubles team and lost a tight one in the quarterfinals. In singles he saw his usual QF result also, with (5)Uglesa Svajnovic(CRO) an easy 6-1, 6-4 winner: it was almost a copy of their other meeting earlier in the year. The Croatian had more in mind this time though. He barged through to the final and absolutely shocked previously unbeaten(this year) #1 Stanley Edleman, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, vaulting himself up to second in the rankings. It appears our American friend, though he should have won(only 1 of 7 on BPs), is not invincible after all.

Mehul/Kroese did well in the pro doubles, getting to the semis before a 6-4, 6-3 loss to Cordasic/Aspelin. However, given that they won this event a year ago, another tumble in the rankings was inevitable regardless. Shyam Senepathy pulled off a good straight-sets win in his first match, and then ate a couple of breadsticks courtesy of Mooljee in round two. Such is the life of the journeyman, and Senepathy is well-versed in it.

Russian Alexey Alenichev was the man of the hour in the opening round, accounting for the lone notable upset; #18 Andres Guardado went out in four sets. American Harry Bayliss brought cheers from the crowd as he almost took out Zimolo, the 30-seed, but ultimately the pride of Monaco prevailed in five. The partisans had more reason to cheer in the second, watching wild-card Hugo Cordova outlast Niklas 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5. Cordova was ranked 263rd at the end of last year; he'll have cut that in half by the end of this match. Heck of a story there. (28)Benno Duhr was the victim of another US player, Stuart Pargeter, also in five. That wasn't a huge upset, and neither was one final bit: (31)Angel Zaferia was eliminated, easily, by a name we haven't had occasion to mention in several months: Ukrainian Alexey Nikitin. Nikitin's too good not to pull his head out of his arse -- perhaps now's the time for that to start.

There were several epic matches to come in the round of 32. One thing's for sure: this year's USO did not get off to a boring start. (10) Hsuang-tsung Teng bumbled away his recent exploits by losing to (21)Andres Varas, 6-4 in the 5th there after he led two sets to one. Borja made a rare appearance, outlasting Santos, though not a big surprise: Espinoza went out to Gregory Mackenzie in a close three, another US triumph; and Ruben Piazzola had yet another disappointment, dropping his match with Besson in four. The last two matches were another couple of epics, both involving Americans. Dick Blake nearly took out Kronecker, but the top German got him 7-5 in the final set. Nikitin also had his upset bit narrowly squashed, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(3), 3-6, 6-4 against rising (16)Matthew Panter, just a bit short on the comeback there. I have to think we'll be seeing increasingly high-level matches between those two for quite some time to come.

On to the fourth round, where Kaspar continued to blaze a trail, having yet to give up four games in the same set. Same story, different verse for everyone unlucky enough to be in his path through the draw. Looking to back up his last performance, Varas was the victim of a triple-bagel from Ritwik Dudwadkar. That's a rare thing in the first round, never mind here, against a guy ranked in the Top 25!! Valentin Rosenberg, who I forgot to mention before, outlasted #6 Zarco in a five-setter in the previous round, then won in four here over Janin. He's still pushing, make no mistake. Johnny Browne narrowly escaped Mackenzie in an 8-6, final-set TB, while Panter kept on going with a tight straight-sets victory over Kronecker.

The quarterfinal tally was five of the top six, then also surprises Rosenberg and Panter. In the first match, Dudwadkar gave Mateo Kaspar his efforts and ended a weird scoreline: 6-1, 6-2, 6-7(1), 6-2. The French legend advanced again obviously, but how do lose three sets like that and then win one in a dominant tiebreak? Honestly it was probably boredom more than anything for Kaspar. Rosenberg found himself on the losing end this time against Guus Dircx, but a fine run there; Fangio obliterated Browne, losing just five games; and Panter's run ended but not without a fight. Mooljee got him 7-6(5), 7-6(6), 7-5, a brutal result for the young gun to not get at least a set.

So after all the craziness, the top four were left. Return to status quo. Routine three-set win for Kaspar over Dircx, and Prakash Mooljee pushed one set to a tight tiebreaker but ultimately went fairly meekly in his 5th straight(10 of the last 11) against Fangio. France vs. Italy, #1 vs. #2, etc. for the final. You already know the result. Gillo Fangio comes up short again, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4. Their head-to-head is now 28-4. Yowzers. The king lost just the one set, which Dudwadkar can claim, and takes all four Slams for the second time.
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Old 09-11-2017, 08:19 PM   #677
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Top Rankings Update

1. Mateo Kaspar(25, FRA) -- 18,010

2. Gillo Fangio(26, ITA) -- 8,860

3. Guus Dircx(24, NLD) -- 7,200

Dircx reaches a new personal-best with the SF showing at the US Open, and definitely has the inside track on the year-end #3 now.

4. Prakash Mooljee(30, SRI) -- 6,790

A veteran still trying to hold off the tide of youth, Mooljee also made the USO semis, and it may well be enough to keep him in the Top 4 for this year. I expect a significant dip after that though.

5. Ritwik Dudwadkar(24, SRI) -- 5,410

Narrowly back up to his best from earlier in the year. Dudwadkar already has more victories than he did last year(55 to 53) with more than two months to go.

6. Martin Zarco(25, ESP) -- 5,240

7. Johnny Browne(29, USA) -- 5,060

Slowly sliding, but sliding nonetheless.

8. Sigmund Kronecker(27, DEU) -- 3,895

9. Jake Jolland(28, USA) -- 3,475

10. Hsuang-tsung Teng(24, NZL) -- 3,380

Disappointing early loss last week, but no question he's on the way up. As the only Top-30 player in New Zealand history, he stands alone in his nation's annals.

13. Matthew Panter(23, USA) -- 2,750

14. Valentin Rosenberg(24, SWE) -- 2,730

15. Ruben Piazzola(23, CHI) -- 2,630

18. Gregory Mackenzie(23, USA) -- 2,330

While Piazzola appears stuck, Panter is up 10 spots so far this year, Rosenberg 12, and Mackenzie 18. They might be getting going a touch on the late side, but they are still moving and no two ways about it.

44. Shyam Senepathy

Nearly 31, and yet he sets a new career high. Gotta really given him credit; won't give up.

9(D). Anil Mehul

I think he can do a little better than what was showed this year, but I don't see Mehul ever getting higher than 4th team(7th-8th doubles ranking) again. Singles continues to hold in the low-mid 200s; still getting enough doubles matches in that opportunities for singles are rare, esp. with the addition of the Olympics. Shifting to a more even schedule between the two is still coming, just not quite yet.

5(J). Sushant Chiba

Finally out of the top 4 due to the surprising USO juniors champ from Croatia, Chiba has basically accomplished what he's going to accomplish at this stage of his career. There are three 'junior masters'(i.e., JGA) events still to go, and he'd skip them if it wasn't for the fact that he wouldn't be able to get any decent practice with most of the other top players participating. Definitely going to look seriously at playing an amateur or two though instead of looking for smaller juniors tourneys. I've found in the past that I'm not ready to jump straight to futures when going pro with my late-bloomer guys, but I also end up with some bad practice periods against low-ranked stiffs while grinding through the amateur ranks. Getting 1-2 events ahead of time would seem to be a good way to split the difference there. Still learning little quirks of the process.

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Old 09-11-2017, 08:20 PM   #678
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Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-USO Edition

In

Mateo Kaspar -- 14,760
Gillo Fangio -- 7,220
Guus Dircx -- 6,020

Fangio and Dircx make it three players having booked their spots so far. It's a long-shot, but with the Italian having generally not looked all that inspired lately(though we note the USO final showing), he hasn't locked up #2 yet.

Probable

Ritwik Dudwadkar -- 5140
Prakash Mooljee -- 4980
Johnny Browne -- 4625
Martin Zarco -- 4065
Sigmund Kronecker -- 4035

Dudwadkar should have the inside track on #4 by a bit, but the ranking calculation bug has one questioning it. Either way, Browne really didn't make the usual splash on the American hardcourts, and we seem pretty strong bets to hold the 4th and 5th-place spots, in whatever order, at the end of the year. Whether it happens late this season or early next, it's clearly not going to be long before Mooljee relinquishes his long-held position as Sri Lanka's best player.

Kronecker has been hit the ranking bug as well -- seems it's just a bad year for it. He's a few hundred lower than he should be in the main rankings, though still in the right spot.

Contenders

none

Long Shots

Hsuang-tsung Teng -- 3280


Looks like we've got our eight men early, much like last year. Teng could always perform a magic act here at the end, but his only realistic chance is to make the Shanghai final like he did in Cincinatti recently. His chance was in Flushing Meadows, and he whiffed. Even then he'd need to play well elsewhere and get some help. It looks like the picture is remarkable set, with that 4 vs. 5 situation involving my players the only really close call remaining.

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Old 09-13-2017, 07:58 PM   #679
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September

World Team Cup

Our quarterfinal matchup with Mexico, possibly the worst nation to ever get this far, ended as expected: a 5-0 wipeout. Didn't lose a set until the final day, when Cristian Castegali pushed Dudwadkar to the limit. Elsewhere the big news was Kaspar pulling out; he's played a lot of matches but I still think it was a mistake. That made things easy for Germany, who ran over France in another 5-0 score. Things were much closer on the bottom, with Spain and the US moving on. All the favorites. Clay was our ground for a repeat of last year's tight final against the Germans, and it was of questionable benefit to both sides. Kronecker would be a tough out, but their #2, Stefano Espinoza, would struggle and we should handle him. One win against Sigmund or a win in doubles should be enough I figured a competitive victory with 3-4 points for us.

Prakash Mooljee handled Espinoza in straight sets, but Sigmund Kronecker downed Dudwadkar 7-6(2), 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4. Tough loss there as Ritwik played well enough to win. Doubles was tense as well, even after two sets but we pulled through in four, needing just one more win. It looked like Mooljee would get it for us, but he lost consecutive 7-5 sets in a razor-close rubber against Kronecker after taking the lead. Nearly identical stats in that one, but somebody had to come out on top. That left it all up to the younger man in a dramatic Friday affair. Ritwik Dudwadkar was sharp in a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win over Espinoza that left no doubt. Once again they were close, but we got through 3-2. The other semi was also on clay, benefitting Spain who beat the Americans 4-1 ... and drew the dirt again for the final. I'm not pleased with that. Zarco will be very tough, although I figure we should handle Santos. Most likely doubles will be the decider, and Benjamin Cordovez is one of the world's best so we'll have no edge there with Mehul. From here I honestly think it's a real 'pick-em' tie; we'd be favored on any other surface, but on clay it's going to take our best efforts.


Elsewhere ...

The WTC was plenty of matches for our senior players, while Sushant Chiba was back out there at the Osaka Mayor's Cup (JGA). He made the final in doubles and lost to Kutuzov in the singles quarterfinal, a solid showing. Stanley Edleman got a bit of revenge on Svajnovic for the USO result, winning after a poor start 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 to close the door strong and re-establish dominance ... at least for the time being.
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Old 09-15-2017, 08:46 PM   #680
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Shanghai

The slow fall continues for Mehul/Kroese, who lost routinely to #2s Podkopayez/Cordovez in the quarterfinals. Shyam Senepathy was awarded a wild-card, which he promptly squandered in a bad 6-1, 6-3 loss to Zakirov in the first round. Ah well. It's one of those points of the year where his insistence on playing every.single.week really hurts him.

(12) Stefano Espinoza lost badly to Cojanovic on the first day; everyone else kept on moving. Old fart Nicklas almost stopped Zarco early in a three-tiebreak epic the next day. Most of the press went to WC Alexey Nikitin for his easy upset of 7th-ranked Johnny Browne though. Looks like he's starting to figure out what professional tennis is all about here towards the end of the season. Mooljee had all he wanted to handle from Luc Janin, but pulled through and there were no further suprises.

Martin Zarco couldn't escape in the third round, with Piazzola doing the honors in straight sets. Good win there for him. Prakash Mooljee dropped a tiebreak to Schmucker, then finished strong with a 6-1 final set to advance. Dudwadkar was pushed by Matthew Panter, a theme on the bottom half of the draw with a number of rising players coming up short. Hsuang-tsung Teng couldn't quite get through Dircx, and Nikitin was no match for the wiles of the veteran Cojanovic. Six Top 8 players into the quarters, with (15)Ruben Piazzola and Blagota Cojanovic the outliers. The latter is 30 years of age and hadn't been this far in almost two years. Didn't stay long either, taking only three games from Dircx. Piazzola, matched up with Kaspar, did even worse(6-1, 6-1). In the other two, Mooljee took the only close match of the round, 7-5, 7-6(2) over Sigmund Kronecker, while Ritwik Dudwadkar was pretty soundly beaten by Fangio. Can't really blame him for that one.

Top four through the semis, and Mooljee took the worst beating I've seen him take in I can't remember when from Mateo Kaspar. Losing isn't a surprise; losing 6-2, 6-0 when you are the 4th-ranked player in the world is though. Yuck. Gillo Fangio dismissed Dircx in a match that wasn't all that much closer. The Italian seems to be slowly turning it on and separating himself from the pack. His reward of course was another straight-sets loss to the king, but what else is new.
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Old 09-15-2017, 09:02 PM   #681
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Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-Shanghai Edition

In(4950 to qualify)

Mateo Kaspar -- 15,560
Gillo Fangio -- 7,820
Guus Dircx -- 6,580
Ritwik Dudwadkar -- 5,680
Prakash Mooljee -- 5,340

Dircx won the China Open(500) a couple of weeks ago, which appears to have pretty much locked him in to no worse than third. On the other hand, he wasn't as much of a challenge as expected to Fangio in the Shanghai semis. Looks like things are likely to stay where they are here.

It's a different story for my guys. Both are in now, bringing our total to five qualified. Dudwadkar still has a slight edge at the moment, but I expect Mooljee to be able to pick up more points in the season-ending rush; he doesn't have as many small events in his tally to date.

Probable

Johnny Browne -- 4,500
Martin Zarco -- 4,255
Sigmund Kronecker -- 4,215

Browne just needs one more decent event to get in, while the other two could well wait until the final week at Paris.

Contenders

Long Shots

Hsuang-tsung Teng -- 3,730

The close loss to Dircx at Shanghai was a missed opportunity, but Teng still closed the gap with his win at the Japan Open(500). To have a real shot at getting in, he needs another good result in the next couple of weeks before Paris. Odds are still against him ... but it's not over yet.
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Old 09-17-2017, 10:29 AM   #682
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October

As always the goal here is to load up on matches more than usual, in order to keep form high and training effective over the off-season. Normally also for WTF hopefuls to make their last push, but in recent years that hasn't really been much of a thing.

Prakash Mooljee was out there both weeks, winning the Stockholm Open(250) over Milos Schmucker. It was Duhr in the SF that took the only set he would lose all week, but not much trouble prevailing 5-7, 6-3, 6-3. Then he entered Vienna(500) the week after, but was not as successful. It took two tiebreaks including one in the third set(7-5) to narrowly escape Duhr again. Borja pushed him to three as well, and once again it was Schmucker in the final, but this time a different result; the Czech takes it 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(5). You can only tempt fate so many times before you get bitten. Prakash nabs his 10th 250 title, and was just a couple points from his 12th 500. Ritwik Dudwadkar took the first week off, and entered Vienna as well; this allowed both players to avoid Gillo Fangio, who played the other event, the Swiss Indoors. Dudwadkar did well early on, but lost to Schmucker in the semis fairly routinely. Somewhat disappointing, but indoor courts are his worst surface as a grinder.

Anil Mehul played two tier-1 futures, getting some singles matches in and moving up to just outside the Top 200. He played well enough that I expect him to dip back into Challengers next year. Sushant Chiba continues to practice as he'll be able to play juniors or amateurs all the way up to the end of the year.

The final Masters of the season in Paris awaits now.
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Old 09-17-2017, 10:43 AM   #683
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Race to the World Tour Finals
Start of Paris

In(4890 to Qualify)

Mateo Kaspar -- 15,560
Gillo Fangio -- 8,320
Guus Dircx -- 6,580
Prakash Mooljee -- 5,820
Ritwik Dudwadkar -- 5,770

The last couple weeks have moved Mooljee every-so-slightly ahead of Dudwadkar. Their private battle looks set to go down to the wire. I still like the veteran's experience and better serve on a faster track in Paris and the Tour Finals.

One thing I've discovered that drives me stark raving mad is their doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to accounting for the WTC points. Some players count it in the 250 category, some in the 500. That throws things off and makes it tough to be sure of my predictions and standings here. At this point it should be stable though, with all of those smaller events having been played.

Probable

Sigmund Kronecker -- 4575
Johnny Browne -- 4525
Martin Zarco -- 4360

I think we are about to have some controversy/scandal here. While it's not over yet, Kronecker should have a very strong bet to be in at this point, but his ranking is miscalculated much like Dudwadkar's. A few hundred points for each, leaving the top German actually ranked 9th behind Teng at the moment even though he should be well ahead of him. I imagine they will raise quite a stink if he's screwed out of his spot ...

Contenders

Long Shots

Hsuang-tsung Teng -- 3940
Milos Schmucker -- 3450

Good results for both lately; Teng was very close to beating Fangio in the Swiss Indoors final. It's too little too late though ... or rather it should be.
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Old 09-18-2017, 05:01 AM   #684
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Paris

Mehul/Kroese had themselves an eventful tournament. The quarterfinals brought a narrow super TB win over Podkopayev/Cordovez. Then Arendt/Yumashev, presently ranked third, beat them in the semis by a similar score; 6-4, 2-6, 10-8. Both matches could have gone either way. A solid showing keeping them in the #5 spot overall, although the Rhodes brothers from the Phillipines and the Ukrainian pair are both close behind. It will take a good showing in the tour finals to keep from slipping further. Shyam Senepathy made it through qualifying, then beat Cirakovic in a first-round epic, 7-6(5), 6-7(3), 7-6(5). You don't get any closer than that. In the next round he was broomed quickly by 14th-seeded Rosenberg, so as good as you can ask for here from him.

In the second round, first hurdle for the WTF hopefuls, the veteran Tomas Niklas put in his two cents with a considerable upset over Teng in a close three-set affair. That should have , but probably wouldn't due to the ranking issue, knock the New Zealander out of contention. Mooljee had to struggle to get by unseeded Argentine Andres Varas, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4. There were a couple other close calls but no other defeats. In the third round, almost everyone had some trouble. Dudwadkar got a rematch with Milos Schmucker, getting the better of him this time 7-5, 6-7(7), 6-3. Mooljee had similar trouble with Matthew Panter but won as well. Also going the distance were Dircx over (9) Sigmund Kronecker, and Browne over Piazzola. With the top German losing here, he was now at the mercy of the accountants. Unless they made a correction, he would be unfairly cast aside from the WTF field. Another tough win by Tomas Niklas, three tiebreaks over Espinoza, sent the German contingent home in total.

It also made the former world. no.2, now nearly 31 years old, the lone party-crasher in a quarterfinal round that featured the top seven players as well. In Slam events he hasn't gotten this far in three seasons, but still manages to do so in the Masters a couple times a year. His old rival Mooljee was awaiting him, and after stealing the first set the Czech was eventually defeated. Ritwik Dudwadkar got the treatment from Kaspar, 3 & 1, winning just four points from his serve. That's rough. Johnny Browne pushed Dircx before losing, while the big surprise was Guus Dircx losing badly to Zarco, 6-3, 6-2. The Spaniard isn't a particularly noteworthy indoor player -- it's his worst surface, so this was not expected.

In the semis, Martin Zarco kept going with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win over Dircx. Should have lost that one(96-92 in points), but he managed to sneak out the win regardless. Mooljee was the latest victim of Mateo Kaspar, and he did little better; five points won on the Frenchman's impregnable serve. Zarco did better than that on return in the final, but was broken five times himself in a 6-3, 6-0 debacle. Kaspar was probably the most dominant I've ever seen him here, and that's saying something. He lost 20 total games in five matches, with only one competitive set(Jolland, third round).

Final Race Standings

There were no surprises here at Paris; those who were in stayed there. Here's how it will look going into the Finals in Russia.

1. Mateo Kaspar -- 16,360. Going for his 5th straight title, which would tie the record by Gorritepe. It's obvious that he can be beaten by nobody but himself.
2. Gillo Fangio -- 8,320
3. Guus Dircx -- 6,940. Locked into #2 and #3 here.
4. Prakash Mooljee -- 6,180
5. Ritwik Dudwadkar -- 5,410. Making his debut, and too far back of Mooljee to have a realistic shot at catching him. That'll have to wait till next year.
6. Johnny Browne -- 4,765
7. Martin Zarco -- 4,610. Another good tournament by Zarco could see him move back up to sixth.
8. Hsuang-tsung Teng -- 3,950. Should be Kronecker here. Teng is our second player making their WTF debut, but it comes with a massive asterisk. We'll see what he makes of the opportunity.

It's still a young group, with only the fading Mooljee and Browne over the age of 26.

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Old 09-23-2017, 10:38 PM   #685
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Before we got to the main event here, Sushant Chiba played his first amateur event. He lost in doubles qualifying, but was seeded 12th(??, must have been a bad week for amateurs) in singles and easily bashed his way to the final. There he lost in three to top-seeded Argentine Agusto Fontanet, ranked about 1000th. Chiba did well enough that he enters the rankings at 2055th, I think it was. Got some good match experience, and his professional journey has officially started -- though it'll be a while till his next senior event.

World Tour Finals

As for this, there was good and bad. Mooljee and Dudwadkar were both in the first group, meaning one of them wasn't going to make it out with Gillo Fangio around. Ritwik Dudwadkar was good enough for only one set; he lost all three matches, and took the first set from Teng before losing the next two. I wasn't expecting much from him, yet still ended up disappointed. A tough 4-6, 7-6(8), 7-5 comeback win by Mooljee over the New Zealander was all that got him through to the semifinals. From the other group, Browne was a completely disaster winning no sets, never mind matches. Dircx got a win, Kaspar cruised as expected, but it was Zarco who was the surprise, claiming the second spot.

Prakash Mooljee got the treatment, 6-2, 6-3, in the semi against Kaspar. Can't really blame him, it was as good as you can expect for a guy at 30. Martin Zarco blasted 19 aces past Fangio in a 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 win on the other side that was fully earned. He's really found something here. In the final, what he found was four games in the expected beatdown by Mateo Kaspar. A 5th straight WTF title ties the all-time streak by Gorritepe. One more thing to put in the history books for him.


At the Orange Bowl(JGA), Chiba got back out there again despite having played the previous week. It was better than getting crappy practice against nobodies. He narrowly escaped (11) Andre Marlowe(UK), 7-6(6), 7-5, to reach the quarterfinals. And then got flattened by Svajnovic. The usual final matchup ended 6-2, 6-4 in favor of Stanley Edleman, and that was that.
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Old 09-24-2017, 10:27 PM   #686
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World Team Cup Finals
Spain vs. Sri Lanka, Clay

This got off to a great start for us despite my thinking it was a tossup matchup. Mooljee crushed Juan de los Santos, which wasn't a real big surprise, but when resurgent Martin Zarco, one of the top clay players in the world, was dismissed 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 by Dudwadkar I was frankly rather astonished. Up 2-0, it looked to be in the bag.

Cordovez/Algarin snatched one back for them in a strong doubles showing, beating us 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1. Not very close at all. Then Prakash Mooljee took Zarco the distance, but for the second straight day we missed our chance to put them away. Martin takes it 7-5, 1-6, 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4. An up-and-down match with just one point overall separating the players, but I must admit it was the correct result.

So it came down to Friday, with Santos having a chance, albeit a long-shot one, to give them a comeback championship. Ritwik Dudwadkar had to work a bit more than expected in the final rubber, but lost his serve just once in a 6-3, 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-3 victory. We beat the Spaniards on their best surface 3-2, the 7th straight year that the WTC Final has been decided by a single point.

8 World Championships in 10 years. Before this, it had never been done before. Another feather in our cap.


WTC Playoffs

** Bulgaria vs. Switzerland -- Both went winless in group play at Level 1 this year, though the Swiss have been there a lot longer. Or perhaps had. Both sides have only one Top 100 player. Switzerland's Phillippe Besson(35th) has a manager who has gone MIA, and with him running on fumes it was an easy 5-0 cruise. The Bulgarians lost just two sets, and they will stay up.

** Canada vs. Denmark -- The big surprise here is that it took this long with Luc Janin on the Canadian side. The last three years prior to this one, they were knocked out in a close ties in the Level 2 QFs. This time they won that level, and get a 4-1 win here. The Danes were going for back-to-back promotions, but their top player(Simen Gram, 55th), is 30 years old and not in Janin's stratosphere. Only singles guy in the Top 200 for them, so it's hard to see them getting to the top level.

** Chile vs. Slovak Republic -- Chile was promoted last year to the top flight, while the Slovaks were looking to bounce back up here after being demoted from it. Interesting matchup in that way, but Piazzola(15th) and Cortecedo(40th) gave the Chileans two players better than anyone their opponents could muster. They did well to keep it to 3-2. Chile stays.

** Norway vs. Sweden -- Exact same script here, and another close tie. Norway came up last year, with Sweden being demoted. In this Scandinavian tussle, Valentin Rosenberg(14th) was the clear dominant force. They found the one additional win they needed. Sweden gets the 3-2 win and moves up, Norway goes back down. Olaf Bergman(64th) is by far the Norwegians' best and it looks like he's been abandoned as well. If so, this is the last we'll see of them.

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Old 09-24-2017, 10:34 PM   #687
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2054 Final WTC Rankings

1. Sri Lanka -- 2803
2. United States -- 2451
3. Spain -- 2244
4. Argentina -- 2168
5. Germany -- 2078
6. Czech Republic -- 2059
7. Croatia -- 2053
8. France -- 1970
9. Italy -- 1936
10. The Netherlands -- 1881

It's generally highly-competitive right now, but back-to-back titles and four out of five gives Sri Lanka a dominant lead. That belies the fact that is has not been easy; we've been just good enough I'm not sure how much longer that lasts as Mooljee's skills deteriorate on the other side of 30. Next year we've got a bit of a tough draw in Group 4: Czech Republic(6th), France(8th), Sweden(19th). We should get through but the first two will not be gimmies ... if Kaspar plays.

Casablanca Cup

This seems as good a place as any to put this. The last big tournament of the juniors'(JGA) takes place the same week as the WTC Playoffs. Although not with his normal partner, Sushant Chiba reached the final in doubles, and the semifinals in singles. There he ran into Edleman and didn't win a game. He was exhausted by that point, as this was his third tournament in five weeks. It was rather stunning that he got that far. The American was challenged in the final by (3) Chalerm Pracuab, but won it 7-5, 6-4.

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Old 09-24-2017, 11:09 PM   #688
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2054 Final Top Rankings

1. Mateo Kaspar(FRA, 26) -- 17,860

Kaspar lost just two matches all year for the second straight season. 'Only' 89 wins, down four from the previous season. His career winning pct is now over 90%, which is just ridiculous. It takes a strong #1 to hit that for a year, never mind a career. Starting this year I'm going to do a new year-end feature talking about his place among the all-time greats. That'll come next after this.

2. Gillo Fangio(ITA, 27) -- 8,940

Fangio appeared to slip just a bit ... 84 wins but 17 losses. Three titles, and only one(Rome) in the big events. He continues to hold the clear mantle of top 'challenger' to the unreachable Frenchman.

3. Guus Dircx(NLD, 24) -- 7,140

Up a spot from last year to a new career best, he was exactly one win better at 73-16. It's mostly down to Mooljee sliding. It's likely that he eventually gets to #2, another one of this generation's luminaries lost in the glow of Kaspar.

4. Prakash Moojee(SRI, 30) -- 6,530

Mr. Consistency wasn't quite as much so, slipping to 68 match victories after back-to-back 75-win campaigns. He was a master of the semifinals still(10 big ones), but didn't reach a single final. Kaspar 5x and Fangio 4x at that stage, with the only real chance the AO defeat against Dudwadkar.

5(t). Ritwik Dudwadkar(SRI, 24) -- 5,410

Who gets the last spot in the Top 4 as Mooljee falls? Right now Dudwadkar has the inside track, and he should be that guy. He actually lost more matches this year in singles(22 to 19), but dwarfed the previous win count(67, up 14 from 53). He did well in the small events but only made the semis of the big ones twice with a lot of QF losses(final at the Australian Open, SF at Cincinatti). To move up, he needs to get to one more round more often. Kaspar will be in the way plenty of times, but the question will be winning when the legend isn't.

5(t). Martin Zarco(ESP, 26) -- 5,410

Zarco would be a little higher aside from an up-and-down clay season that, despite the Monte Carlo title, was a bit below expectations. A stunning drop from 79 to 65 wins this year, but part of that is simply not overplaying quite as much. Also ventured into doubles a little more.

7. Johnny Browne(USA, 29) -- 4,765

Still America's best, Browne is rapidly ceasing to be a real factor.

8. Hsuang-tsung Teng(NZL, 25) -- 4,150

Albeit with some help from the skewed ranking calculations, Teng made his jump this year. In what is still an overall improving group of players ahead of him, it won't be easy to progress futher.

9. Sigmund Kronecker(DEU, 27) -- 3,805

The Germans are hopping mad about the injustice done to him. It's particularly rough because it would have been his second WTF appearance, and he's on the downside of things now so another chance is unlikely to come his way.

10. Milos Schmucker(CZE, 26) -- 3,540

Another guy with a big year: 67-22 after consecutive 56-win seasons with the same number of defeats.

12. Matthew Panter(USA, 24) -- 3,050

It can't be long until he surpasses Browne as the US standard-bearer.

14. Valentin Rosenberg(SWE, 24) -- 2,775

Strong, strong second half from last year to build on.

15. Ruben Piazzola(CHI, 23) -- 2,545

ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz.

18. Gregory MacKenzie(USA, 23) -- 2,315

There's no end to the Americans, truly there is not.

13(D). Anil Mehul(SRI, 38)

Barely hanging on to the elite class in doubles, it isn't a surprise that longtime partner Lars Kroese has dissolved the arrangement. That chapter is now officially over. Mehul is up to 200th in singles, a slight rise. I would have put him in another futures tournament the last week of the year, but he was actually ranked a few spots higher and therefore didn't qualify.

817. Stanley Edleman(USA, 18)

I'm curious to see how long Edleman stays ahead of Chiba, so he'll be profiled here as well. As you'd expect, he's got a sizable lead here as well .

2050. Sushant Chiba(SRI, 18)

Not exactly rarefied air, but made the finals in that one first amateur. We'll soon see how much his cement feet will hold him back in the professional ranks.


Junior Rankings

1. Stanley Edleman(USA) -- 2,745

8 junior GS titles and a near-perfect final year at 76-1 in singles.

2. Ugljesa Svajnovic(CRO) -- 1,411

Only player to beat the American this year, and it was just enough to give him this spot.

3. Pavel Kutuzov(RUS) -- 1,280

Chiba's on-again, off-again doubles partner and a strong player in his own right.

4. Chalerm Pracuab(THA) -- 1,229

As you can see, it was quite competitive in the category of 'players not named Edleman'.

5. Sushant Chiba(SRI) -- 1,050

A new national record in terms of highest-ranking junior. He won 19 junior tournaments, two more than Mooljee's previous record of 17 which was far above all previous players. Let's see how that translates at higher levels.
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Old 09-24-2017, 11:29 PM   #689
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Top Juniors in the Pros

Here's the first of two special features this year. The exploits of Stanley Edleman, as well as Chiba's notable if relatively muted successes, make it appropriate to consider how well top juniors players have done in the professional circuit.

Starting 10 years prior(so the players in question can have at least reached the later stages of their prime), I went back and looked at 25 years of junior #1s. How predictive is that of pro success? Below are the top rankings achieved by these 25 during their careers.

** World #1s -- 2
** 2-5 -- 3
** 6-10 -- 3
** 11-16 -- 1
** 17-32 -- 4
** 33-50 -- 5
** 50+ -- 6

One caveat here: there is some of this that is due to management dropping guys. Certainly a number of these could do better than they did, but that's an issue that sort of cuts both ways. Part of the reason some of them were dropped is that they weren't suitable to be top pros and people wanted someone different/better.

A particularly interesting case is that of American Tommy Day, who was the #1 junior two years running in '35-'36. He had a good manager until the time he was 25, then bounced around between various incompetents during his prime, with a career-best of just 71st. I found another player who never even got a single professional ranking point, which is just plain stupid all the way around.

There are some notable successes. I well remember Perry Hogue, who was #1 in the world briefly in a fairly strong era and a regular Top-5 guy -- and he did have a quick aging factor at 103%. Mugur Kinczllers reached #5 a while later. Current player Jake Jolland got to #8. Other top players:

** Mick Elder, who was a slow-developer and I was quite shocked that he was a top junior.
** Gael Graff, a name that is a real blast from the past and one the best ever to not reach #1. He was second behind Gorritepe for years, much like Fangio now.

Bottom line with these players is that anything can happen. Well-handled they can still have a strong, if usually somewhat abbreviated, professional career. If not, they can completely drop off the map. Edleman I would say has a good chance to become a Top 10 player ... beyond that depends on how the wind blows really.
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Old 09-24-2017, 11:48 PM   #690
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Chasing Gorritepe
Mateo Kaspar's assault on the record books

Herein shall be detailed, annually for the next few years, the reigning king of tennis's efforts to chase down the previously unreachable Spaniard Eric Gorritepe. They are quite different players, but you can't argue with their results either way. Gorritepe redefined greatness in the game but also what it meant to be a grinder. Off-the-scale baseline play and endurance. Kaspar's a hardcourt guy, and arguably the best ever technically. The numbers will put the current situation in context.

The list of first-tier all-time greats is now up to six, and you'll see their names repeated in most of these. Everyone else falls significantly short in some aspect.

Grand Slam Titles

1. Eric Gorritepe -- 23
2. Nicholas Sullivan -- 17
3. Martin Prieto -- 16
4. Antonin Iglar -- 14
5. Mateo Kaspar -- 13
6. Oliver Haresign -- 11

World Tour Finals Titles

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

Masters Titles

1. Eric Gorritepe -- 52
2(t). Nicholas Sullivan -- 32
2(t). Antonin Iglar -- 32
4. Martin Prieto -- 30
5. Mateo Kaspar -- 28
6. Oliver Haresign -- 23

Weeks @ #1

1. Eric Gorritepe -- 393
2. Martin Prieto -- 340
3. Nicholas Sullivan -- 304
4. Antonin Iglar -- 247
5. Oliver Haresign -- 228
6. Mateo Kaspar -- 185


Synopsis

Kaspar does not have the longevity yet, but that would seem only a matter of time. On balance he is somewhere in the middle of the pack among this group that is the top handful of tennis history, the best of the best. You could debate exactly where to rank him there right now, but that debate will not last much longer. Another year like the last two, and there's no reason whatsoever not to expect it, would make him clearly #2 in the history of the sport. And that's the reason for the title of this section; very soon, he will competing against the nigh-immortal Spaniard. It's been a long time already since any of his contemporaries provided any push, and the historical comparisons are soon to fall by the wayside against the others.

There is too much question in the future to say exactly where he ends up, but I think he has a legitimate chance to knock Gorritepe off his pedestal and end up as the true GOAT. At the moment, I'd say he's somewhat more likely to do that than not. It is an astonishing, and growing, record of dominance.
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Old 09-25-2017, 09:29 AM   #691
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2055 Preview

1. Mateo Kaspar(92%, 9.17, +0.03)

Still inching upwards.

2. Gillo Fangio(89%, 8.81, -0.04)

The decline has just started for the Italian, but he should hold onto the #2 spot. There are multiple players nipping at his heels, and they're going to get him before too much longer.

3. Guus Dircx(93%, 8.79, +0.04)

Good enough to rival Fangio, but not surpass him for the role of top challenger.

4. Prakash Mooljee(82%, 8.53, -0.11)

He may well be able to leverage his position here enough to stay at 6th or so this year, but more and more players are going to be better than he is now. I expect this will be Mooljee's last year in the Tour Finals.

5. Ritwik Dudwadkar(95%, 8.70, +0.11)

Quite good, and he could end up having the highest peak of any player I've ever had. Only fifth-best right now though, and I don't think he has any chance of ever being #1. Dudwadkar was born at the wrong time. Should grab the #4 as Mooljee slides, but isn't quite the player that the others ahead of him are. He's gaining on them though. Up from 9th a year ago.

5. Martin Zarco(92%, 8.77, +0.04)

Zarco's good enough to be the top alternative by a significant margin on clay, as Kaspar's struggles tend to be most pronounced there. If he can capitalize on that, he can push past Dudwadkar and grab the #4 spot. Another example of the incredible strength right now at the top of the sport.

7. Johnny Browne(85%, 8.31, -0.27)

A stunningly precipitous drop, but as I thought he might a year ago, Browne has gone doubles. Didn't actually play that many matches though and only ranked 329th there. As soon as he starts doing that more often, he'll disappear from singles for good I would think.

8. Hsuang-tsung Teng(93%, 8.56, +0.08)

Not as good as the top challengers, but Teng should be able to use his newfound status to push up another spot or two. Outstanding power and mental game, but not quite there in terms of his shotmaking yet.

9. Sigmund Kronecker(89%, 8.47, -0.04)

10. Milos Schmucker(90%, 8.54, -0.02)

Schmucker and Kronecker are a couple of the quality players -- Jolland is another example -- who have been pretty good but couldn't quite break through the wall of resistance to be more than marginal Top 10ers.

12. Matthew Panter(95%, 8.29, +0.05)

Up from 23rd a year ago, Panter surprised me this year. I didn't expect a whole lot from him, but he was able to take advantage of the favorable crowds over the summer and turn in some nice results with better-than-expected play. Still, it's hard to see him going much higher. Doesn't have the baseline ability or breakout athleticism to do so.

14. Valentin Rosenberg(94%, 8.22, +0.11)

Also up sharply from 26th, yet lacking. One of the best serves in the game, but return is abysmal. A lot of credit for maximizing his bonuses; that serve and hardcourt expertise.

15. Ruben Piazzola(95%, 8.30, +0.01)

Didn't improve really last year, and it shows as he stagnated in the teens. Limited hardcourt proficiency slows his progress, as does the baseline game. I'll still be surprised if he doesn't crack the Top 10 at some point though.

18. Gregory MacKenzie(96%, 8.27, ??)

Our top debut guy seems to have come out of nowhere. He fits the big-serving American mold. Good athlete, excellent mental game, can't hang from the baseline. Looks to have a bit better career than the other risers in the teens ahead of him though.

22. Xavier Dorso(95%, 7.95, -0.02)

Wow. He's going nowhere if he can't even improve before he reaches what should be his prime. Up just a bit from 25th last year.

25. Vinnie Cone(94%, 8.09, +0.08)

Progressing on and off; up from 32nd somewhat. Continues to be solid but unimpressive. Probably peaks around 15th I'd say.

26. Dick Blake(97%, 8.16, +0.06)

A meteoric player like him doesn't have time to just hang around. Needs a big year on and off, boosting his technical ability. Otherwhise he'll end up as just a flash. 29th a year ago, so this was definitely a stall for him.

30. Alexey Alenichev(95%, 7.82, ??)

A quality serve by the standards of the elite, but Alenichev doesn't have anything else to offer. Athleticism in particular is substandard.

31. Benno Duhr(94%, 7.97, +0.13)

Right where he was last year despite the improvements. Like Alenichev, Duhr doesn't have the requisite athletic ability and has invested too much in doubles.

51. Alexey Nikitin(98%, 8.40, +0.18)

Rather silly to see him down this low. The serve is still a big problem but skill has become fairly decent and he's still got monstrous power. Down from 38th, probably because he locked himself in to playing an elite-player schedule when he wasn't quite there yet. Too much ability not to break through though. He should be 35 spots higher. There are a handful of 21-22 yos ahead of him, not the least of which is britrock's other player, American Stuart Pargeter. Between them, Blake, and Nikitin here, they should make their presence felt by the end of the year in the Top32 more significantly. I've still got my money on this Ukrainian though. None of them have his gifts, recent results notwithstanding.

99. Garreth Nebett(101%, 7.22, ??)

We've got another teenager in the Top 100(barely on both counts, he'll turn 20 in two weeks). Wouldn't you know it, it's another American. There's nothing to get excited about here though. It wouldn't surprise to see this one never reach the Top 20. Decidedly average across the board.

207(13 D). Anil Mehul(64%, 7.12, -0.17)

I expect a low-level challenger player here for a while. Trainer value is at 5.25(+0.05). After some consideration I've decided to take him all the way up to the limit, holding on six more years until he's 44(that would be just a dozen weeks before mandatory retirement). It'll be lower this year, but I tracked his experience gain this year. In their prime, I can get over 500 points a week; he was at about 375, a quarter less. Right now I'm projecting Mehul to be able to get to 5.4, possibly close to 5.5 as a trainer. I've never seen higher than 5.3, and what can I say -- I'm greedy.

817. Stanley Edleman(101%, 7.00, ??)

When you come out of juniors right on the border of being Challenger-ready, your career's off to a good start.

2049. Sushant Chiba(92%, 6.22, +1.01)

Chiba had a lot of matches at the end of the year, so he'll basically have the first two months off, though it may be a bit less if practice results are as poor as I fear they might be. Can't shorten it much though as I must keep his form under control and amateurs are match-intensive. At any rate, he's in the futures-capable range(6+ roughly) and will spend the first half of the year in amateurs before he tackles them. Was a full point behind Edleman six months ago, so he's already closed some of that gap mostly due to physical maturation which will continue. Long ways to go though.

Manager Ranking; 2nd(32.4k points, down a bit from last year I think but didn't record the amount). Nevstar has deposed me, first time I've not been #1 in a while. Congratulations!

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Old 09-28-2017, 12:53 AM   #692
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January

World Team Cup

The first rubber against France was a stunner. It was a clay match, but it was still a great way to start the year as Ritwik Dudwadkar handed Mateo Kaspar his first defeat in eight meetings, 2-6, 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-3, 8-6. Could easily have been a straight-sets loss, but he kept fighting back and eventually prevailed. Mooljee lost in fairly similar fashion, another 5-setter to Xavier Dorso, essentially handing back the advantage. We easily won the doubles, Kaspar handled Prakash Mooljee, and so it was another final-day decider. Dudwadkar punished Dorso, 7-6(3), 6-2, 6-3, cruising after that first set to hand us the point. We're eventually going to pay the price if we keep having these narrow ties, but it wasn't this time.

Anil Mehul had a bit of a close shave in the quarterfinals but ultimately won the tier-1 futures in Venezuela a couple weeks later, maintaining his status just outside the Top 200. Prakash Mooljee entered and won the Sydney 250; he was pushed in each of the last three rounds by Zaferia, Espinoza, and then Blake -- 7-6(4), 6-4 there in the final -- but he got through to take his 48th pro-level title.

Interesting Factoid: Our doubles gold at the Olympics last year put us in the record books. Dudwadkar was the youngest, and Mehul the oldest, to claim that honor in the history of the Games. I thought that was interesting when I noticed it recently.

Coming Up ...

The Australian Open beckons.
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Old 10-08-2017, 07:05 PM   #693
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2055 Australian Open

Mehul/Kroese made it to the quarterfinals, which is about what I'd expect of them these days. Lars Kroese has broken off our partnership a couple times, only to realize nobody better wants to play with him and reoffer. Against 4 seeds Srbulovic/Zopp, they won the first set in a close one, lost a second-set tiebreaker ... and then got bageled in the decider. Shyam Senepathy had a competitive 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 defeat against Alenichev to start off his year.

The seeds were perfect in the first round, with Fai Jue of Singapore one of the bigger stories. A veteran journeyman who has never ranked higher than 50th, he gave (30)Tristan Benitez a scare in a 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 scoreline. Tight match all the way through. The Argentine was the only seed to get in serious trouble at the first hurdle. Benitez lost in three in the next round though to Czech Damian Cortecedo, while his countryman Angel Zaferia, the lowest seed in the draw, narrowly escaped. Not a great start for Argentina.

A couple of moderate upsets in the third round, with some battles between players of the same nation. Two American upstarts, Matthew Panter and Dick Blake, went at it with Blake the fairly surprising winner in four. Now 31, Tomas Nicklas knocked out fellow Czech Schmucker in a match that went the full distance. Luc Janin beat Santos in four, a matchup of contemporaries and it seems they always entertain. Espinoza narrowly escaped Gregory Mackenzie in a five-setter, and Piazzola went to 8-6 in the 5th before moving on over another US player, Vinnie Cone. Mooljee had his first struggles against Alexey Alenichev(RUS) as well. After a first-set bagel of the Russian, it was a fight the rest of the way before he prevailed in four sets. Form held for the most part in 4th round as those who would advance to week two were decided. There was one very notable exception, as #2 Gillo Fangio was bounced by Rosenberg; in straights no less, 7-6(5), 7-6(6), 6-4. The Italian was the better player(slightly) on this day, and for someone of his mental prowess to lose in such a fashion is a rare thing indeed. He certainly can't be happy. Both of my players lost their opening sets but rallied to take the next three and move on. Dudwadkar stopped Ruben Piazzola for his second straight win in their rivalry, while Mooljee got the better of Sigmund Kronecker.

Seven of the top eight into the quarterfinals, plus (13) Valentin Rosenberg(SWE), continuing his strong play from the previous year. And he wasn't done, dumping Ritwik Dudwadkar 5-7. 6-2, 7-5, 6-4. Ritwik was more consistent but he couldn't stop Valentin when he really bore down at multiple points in the match, and it cost him as this was definitely an opportunity for a deep run. Prakash Mooljee did not better, failing at the end as Zarco got him 7-5 in the final set. The superior player did not win here; 6 of 9 on BPs for the Spaniard, 5 of 14 for Mooljee. Very frustrating to see both players lose in this fashion; they had a great chance at an all-Sri Lanka semi with one going on to the final. On the top side, it was routine stuff with Kaspar over Johnny Browne, Guus Dircx over Teng.

Dircx actually took the first set in a tiebreak over Mateo Kaspar, but it got worse for him after that. The last three went 6-4, 6-2, 6-0. Martin Zarco wasn't able to stop the Swiss train losing in four in the other semifinal. Valentin Rosenberg was obliterated in the final though, losing seven games. That's what happens when you play Kaspar ... whatever you did before that, he's still going to teach you a lesson. Still, Valentin's only prior QF appearance at a Slam was last year's USO, so making the final here was huge for him, propelling the 24-year-old into the Top 10.
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Old 10-29-2017, 10:57 PM   #694
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Three weeks since last I posted here. The US Open is about to start, so I've got, in game terms, about 7 months worth of stuff to get caught up on. I'm going to try to do one update a day -- that will be minimal thread-spamming while allowing me get this back to where we are before the end of the year(I think).

February/March

WTC Group Play, Round Two
Sri Lanka vs. Sweden

This tie was all about Valentin Rosenberg. It was on hardcourt, and that can make him a bear. Not in this case though. Rosenberg accounted for the only set they took from us(vs. Mooljee on the fourth day), but that was it and it was over by then anyway. Ritwik Dudwadkar avenged his AO defeat in straight sets, and we crushed them 5-0.

After a few weeks off, Prakash Mooljee played at the Acapulco 500 and took home the title over Browne. Matthew Panter in the semis proved the toughest challenger, but nobody took a set from him. A good showing for sure. Dudwadkar was in Dubai that same week, and made the final easily enough. Surprisingly Kaspar showed up, and thoroughly humiliated him 6-0, 6-0. A double-bagel in which he won just two of eight chances against his serve and only seven total points on return. Yikes. That just doesn't happen to Top 10 players ... normally. Anil Mehul headed to Morocco looking to add to his futures totals, but lost a three-set final to Emilio Gubou of Peru, 2-6, 7-5, 7-5. Sushant Chiba played one amateur event in France; that was a success as he took the singles title with a QF result in doubles. Next step up the ladder for him though there's more amateur fun to be had yet.
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Old 11-04-2017, 03:10 PM   #695
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Indian Wells

Mehul/Kroese didn't get the tournament they wanted, losing their first match in the second round to unseeded Spaniards, 11-9 in the super TB. Played well enough to win, but moral victories aren't real helpful here. Shyam Senepathy got through one round, then pushed Kronecker to a 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-3 score in the second. Almost played well enough to beat a Top-10 player. That's gotta be a moment to remember for him.

A couple of second-round upsets, as Stuart Pargeter(USA) took advantadge of a friendly crowd to beat (28) Angel Zaferia(ARG) easily, and Greece's top player Maliagros went out to doubles specialist and qualifier Tore Aspelin. There were a few mild surprises in the third, but a couple more significant ones. (20)Alexey Alenichev stunned favorite #13 Jake Jolland, crowd support or no, while Gillo Fangio was upended by Besson 7-6(6), 7-6(8). World no. 2 losing to the 31-seed is not exactly what he hand in mind coming in. The fourth was pretty much according to script. Prakash Mooljee was the only player to be pushed to a third set in a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 comeback win over #11 Milos Schmucker. Everyone else got through routinely.

Fangio's loss was the gain of Ruben Piazzola, as the 16th seed crashed the quarterfinal party. The other seven players were all ranked to advance this far. Ritwik Dudwadkar got crushed 3 & 1 by Kaspar; it'd be nice to have a closer score but that's just bad luck in the draw. Dircx beat Hsuang-tsung Teng in straight sets, while Martin Zarco needed three to stop Piazzola. Johnny Browne showed a bit of life, beating Mooljee 6-4, 7-5, his 5th win in 20 meetings but second out of the last three. Both my players were out here.

Kaspar had to work a little, but only a little, to get by Guus Dircx in the first semi. Browne rallied for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over Zarco, but won only 10 return points and neither of his break chances in the final. Mateo Kaspar wins his 4th IW trophy and third in a row, without losing a set or really being threatened as expected. Dircx in the semis was the toughest foe for him at 6-4, 6-3.
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Old 11-06-2017, 05:17 PM   #696
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Miami

Mehul/Krose did much better here, knocking off the 4th-seeded Rhodes brothers before running into the dominant #1 team of Aspelin/Cordasic in the semifinals. They played well here also, overcoming 17 aces in a 4-6, 7-5, 10-5 upset that ranks as their best win in quite some time. Couldn't get past Zopp/Srbulovic in the final, but still a fine run that shows they can still be relevant on occasion. After a good first-round win, Shyam Senepathy went out with just three games won against Browne in the second. Too much to overcome there.

(24) Xavier Dorso of France was the only seed to lose his first match(second round) against Russia's Efim Golubev. Nikitin barely survived, 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-5 against Fandino, but he made it through. Then the Ukrainian pulled off the biggest upset of the third round, taking out #7 Hsuang-tsung Teng in three sets as well. Dick Blake and Ariel Borja were mild but not-really surprises, two of the five Americans to move on at the expense of Espinoza and 11th-ranked Milos Schmucker. Mooljee had a testy one against Beno Duhr, but came through 6-4, 6-4. To wrap up the first week, Alexey Nikitin kept right on trucking, this time a stunningly routine victory over hardcourt specialist Rosenberg. Throw another Top 10 win on the fire for him. Ruben Piazzola outlasted #5 Zarco in an interesting third-set tiebreak between two clay specialists on hardcourt, while my guys both survived identical 7-5, 6-3 scorelines. Kronecker and Blake provided the unsuccessful opposition there.

Six expected players plus Piazzola(14th) and Nikitin(31st) on to the quarterfinals. Those two played Kaspar and Dircx respectively, with the sort of straight-set exits you might expect. Johnny Browne went out to Fangio in a pretty close one, while Prakash Mooljee may be the higher-ranked player for now, but he was treated to a rude, 6-3, 6-2 dismissal by Dudwadkar. Three out of the last four for him, but he still trails 7-4 in the overall H2H.

Gillo Fangio was the next to feel Kaspar's wrath(five games surrendered) in the semifinals. On the other side, a topsy-turvy match ended with Ritwik Dudwadkar prevailing over Dircx, 6-1, 5-7, 6-3! That he put him in the title match ... where he also won just five games. Well done to get this far though, it was just his second victory ever over his generational rival from the Netherlands; their first meeting since Wimbledon last year.


Meanwhile, Sushant Chiba claimed another amateur title(though he lost in doubles qualifying) at an amateur in Kitzbuhel. He'll need at least one more of those.
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Old 11-06-2017, 05:18 PM   #697
Brian Swartz
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Rankings Update

1. Mateo Kaspar(26, FRA) -- 18,360

Another brilliant start; Kaspar sweeps all the major events and hasn't lost since the opening week of the year in the WTC. As always, the clay season figures to reveal the only cracks in his armor.

2. Guus Dircx(25, NLD) -- 7,690

Moving past the fading Fangio, Dircx lost in the semis of all the big events so far but figures to push into some finals now that he's got the spot opposite the king in the draw.

3. Gillo Fangio(27, ITA) -- 7,025

His best days clearly behind him, Fangio lost early at AO and IW, only a SF showing in Miami registering as decent by his standards. The next few players smell blood in the water, and he could tumble further.

4. Martin Zarco(26, ESP) -- 6,410

Definitely the surprise of the year so far. Zarco could make a real statement on clay with his new Top-4 status. Only the Miami loss to Piazzola is a real mark on his year so far, with surprise SF runs in the first two big hardcourt tournaments. Unfortunately, it looks like he's set up to overplay on the dirt just as he has in past years. That's going to come back to bite him at some point.

5. Prakash Mooljee(30, SRI) -- 6,330

After close QF losses at the AO(Zarco) and IW(Browne), Mooljee was embarrassed by Dudwadkar at that stage in Miami. That's what you call a trend. On his way down to a comfortable perch in 6th soon I expect.

6. Ritwik Dudwadkar(24, SRI) -- 5,920

An excellent start so far, and the rankings will eventually reflect that. Four losses, and three came against Kaspar. The other one, to Rosenberg in Australia, was a missed opportunity -- but a lot of people are having trouble with the Swede these days on the hardcourts. It'll get worse before it gets better though. A victim of his own relative success, Ritwik won't be able to defend his finalist points at Monte Carlo in a couple of weeks. He needs time off to be fresh for the other clay tournaments, and with a final at RG to defend as well, I don't expect a further rise from him until the second half of the season.

7. Johnny Browne(29, USA) -- 4,455

Good consistent results so far. Finalist at Indian Wells, quarters in the other two. Browne's not going out gracefully just yet.

8. Hsuang-tsung Teng(25, NZL) -- 4,375

Might be up a spot if he wasn't the victim of upstart Nikitin's first signature win just recently in Miami. Other than that he's been solid enough to validate his status.

9. Valentin Rosenberg(25, SWE) -- 3,935

Great run to the Australian Open final, then two 4th-round losses in the Masters events failed to back it up. Losing to Dircx is one thing, but the Nikitin match was definitely not one he is happy with. Another guy unlikely to make further inroads on clay.

10. Sigmund Kronecker(27, DEU) -- 3,580

No splashes yet this year. The clay campaign will be his last hurrah, if he has one in him.

Four Top 10 players are clearly on the decline, and there's more opportunity for those looking to move up or in than there has been in years. It's still a challenge, just not quite as intimidating.

12. Matthew Panter(24, USA)

No breakthrough yet.

13. Ruben Piazzola(24, CHI)

Back-to-back QF showings at IW and Miami could be the start of something.

23. Dick Blake(22, USA)

Made it an extra match to the round of 16 in all three big ones so far. That's solid work as he looks to move up another tier.

31. Alexey Nikitin(23, UKR)

Making the quarterfinals with a pair of Top-10 wins in Miami is pretty stern stuff. It's about time. Now we'll see if he can capitalize. My guess is that won't happen at least until Wimbledon as clay isn't really his thing.

13(D). Anil Mehul(39, SRI)

Mostly meh doubles results with the one exception, and two out of three good futures won. He's still just a hair out of Challenger range at 201st in singles.

318. Stanley Edleman(19, USA)

Won four out of five futures events he's won so far. Definitely looks on his way to the Challenger circuit sooner rather than later, though he's not quite there yet.

1155. Sushant Chiba(18, SRI)

Won both his amateur entries since making the turn to the new year, and will have another in a couple weeks. Another title should put him just barely into the Top 1000, and set the stage for the move up to futures play. Still above his class in practice weeks, though it is definitely getting more competitive.
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Old 11-07-2017, 11:00 PM   #698
Brian Swartz
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April

World Team Cup, Round Three

The once-mightly Czech Republic was our foe for the final round of group play. It was on hardcourt, and with Tomas Niklas well over the hill and their top player, Milos Schmucker, a near-zero on the surface, they didn't pose much threat. We didn't drop a single set en route to a 5-0 skunking, claiming the Group 4 top spot. Only Spain sported a better record in the early rounds.

Gillo Fangio and Italy await when the quarterfinals roll around.


Monte Carlo

Mehul/Kroese were seeded 7th here, and got through the early rounds unscathed. Aspelin/Cordasic got a bit of revenge for the upset in Miami in the quarterfinals though. Took them to a super TB where they won 10-6. After a tough struggle the #1s would go on to claim another title here. Shyam Senepathy qualified here, but lost to Boller 6-3, 6-4 in the main draw first round. Ritwik Dudwadkar needed rest and took this tournament off.

Espinoza and Ruben Piazzola were the big names out on the first day. Piazzola lost to another strong clay player, Argentine Andres Varas. Once ranked 17th in the world, Varas has been good but not great for a while. Best days behind him but still no pushover as he showed here. In the second round, more would fall as often happens on clay. Juan de los Santos showed his age, while #2 Dircx was stunned by Beno Duhr, 6-4, 7-5. A few others in the lower seeds also failed to advance.

In the third round, Teng, Fangio, and Rosenberg were all pushed to the limit before taking care of business. (4)Martin Zarco however was eliminated by a blast from the past, Luc Janin, in a deciding tiebreaker. Not the kind of clay start the Spaniard had in mind. Janin and the unseeded Duhr crashed the quarterfinal party, with everyone else familiar. Janin got himself thumped hard by Hsuang-tsung Teng, winning just three games. The Austrian however pulled off another upset, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 over Prakash Mooljee. Mooljee had the opportunities but didn't capitalize, and a chance at a fine result here went away. Sigmund Kronecker took a set from the mighty Kaspar before crumbling in the third, and Valentin Rosenberg played well but not as well as Fangio in the other match.

Mateo Kaspar was back in form in the semis, easily beating Gillo Fangio for the 11th straight time. Teng handled his upstart opponent 6-2, 7-6(5) on the bottom half. He gave one competitive set, but lost the final and Kaspar's run continues, 6-2, 7-6(3).

Anil Mehul snatched another futures title in Portugal a couple weeks later, continuing to alternate between singles and doubles events. As for Sushant Chiba, his final amateur event was in Sam Remo, same week as Monte Carlo. He won there and graduated to futures play. It became clear that it was time to slow down, as his first event a few weeks later saw him barely qualify, and after another narrow win he lost in the QF round. Now at the 'semi-pro' stage, he needs to get some work in before progressing further.
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Old 11-08-2017, 03:21 AM   #699
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What happened with that guy who had those stunning back to back unseeded runs? I forgot his name already
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Old 11-08-2017, 05:47 PM   #700
Brian Swartz
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Good question. He's still around and popping up here and there. I'm pretty sure you are talking about Swede Valentin Rosenberg, who last year was an unseeded QF in the Cincinatti Masters and the finals the next week at Canada. He finished last year ranked #14 in the world after making the SF at the USO also. This year he upset Dudwadkar en route to the Australian Open final(first and only Slam final for him, lost to Kaspar like everyone else does) but surprisingly bowed out in the Round of 16 at both Indian Wells and Miami. Rosenberg is barely 25 and still improving, a hardcourt specialist so we probably won't hear a great deal from him until the late summer. Good athlete and elite serve, but hasn't put enough work into his baseline play. That and the focus on hardcourts makes him less effective elsewhere.

He's made himself into a Top-10 player(#9 in my most recent published supplement), so he's a guy to probably watch later in the year as someone who'll be fighting for a spot at the Tour Finals.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 11-08-2017 at 05:48 PM.
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