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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

43. Renke Von dem Knesebeck (21, AUT)

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

48. Girish Raychaudhari (21, SRI)

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

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

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

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

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

71. Aparna Chandrasekharan (25, SRI)

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

651. Sushant Srivastava (30, SRI)

60th in doubles for Srivastava.

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

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

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

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

Sri Lanka defeats India, 4-1!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A whole lot of nothing changing with the second four.

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

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

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

35. Renke Von dem Knesebeck (21, AUT)

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

40. Girish Raychaudhari (21, SRI)

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

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

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

58. Aparna Chandrasekharan (25, SRI)

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

692. Sushant Srivastava (30, SRI)

53rd in doubles.

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

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

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

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

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

In Other News ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25. Girish Raychaudhari (21, SRI)

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

29. Renke Von dem Knesebeck (21, AUT)

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

37. Aparna Chandrasekharan (25, SRI)

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

497. Sushant Srivastava (30, SRI)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elsewhere ...

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

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

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

The top four seeds made the semifinals, but there was one wrinkle. Ene Caballero lost a match to Jan Schleicher, which meant that as runner-up of that group, Caballero was matched up with Ben Faille in the semifinal. This turned out to be quite important as both semis were closely contested. Caballero defeated the #1, 7-6(4), 6-4, ending a 4-year streak by Faille at the WTF. In the other semi, Schleicher needed two tiebreaks to get by Johann Przalowik. The final went to Caballero, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, a reversal of the result in group play. This of course is the one that matters though. A significant narrowing of the gap between Caballero and Faille, and the biggest event in which the French living legend has been beaten by any of the current top players.
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Old 09-20-2023, 06:38 AM   #1464
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
WTC Playoffs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Old 09-20-2023, 10:36 AM   #1465
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Country Rankings

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

20. Sri Lanka - 1641

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

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

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

I don't think we'll have any problems with these three, two of which are recently promoted from Level 3, and looking around I think I would favor us for the Level 2 Champions this season. It's important to promote so we can start going up against the best, but you never know how the matchups will fall. We've still got to go through the process and win the matches.
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Old 09-21-2023, 11:52 AM   #1466
Brian Swartz
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Year 107 Top Ten Rankings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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Old 09-21-2023, 01:25 PM   #1467
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Year 107 Rankings, 11+

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

28. Scott Fielder (22, USA, 98%, 8.27, +0.24)

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

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

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


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

38. Aparna Chandrasekharan (26, SRI, 93%, 7.96, +0.15)

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

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

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

88(J). Ram Mayuri (16, SRI, 76%, +1.13)

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

30(M). Manager Ranking - 10.1k.

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

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Old 09-24-2023, 12:55 PM   #1468
Brian Swartz
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World Team Cup, Level 2, Group 2, Round 1
Latvia vs. Sri Lanka, Hardcourt

We lost only one set in a very anti-climactic sweep. Chile from Group 4 was similarly successful, while Georgia lost no sets against Guatemala in their first round encounter. We'll face Georgia on clay next, which should pretty much determine the group champion.
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Old 09-24-2023, 01:26 PM   #1469
Brian Swartz
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The New Class

We've now reached a point where a sizable group of good players are pushing upwards in the professional ranks, though none of them are truly great. Raychaudhari is right in the midst of this, but there are a number of others. I thought it would be interesting to take a look ahead at how the next few years might play out.

Who's Got Next: Age of Chaos

Perhaps the first question is when Ben Faille will lose the top spot, and who will take it from him. As I mentioned in the rankings, I think in a couple of years' time he will be in tight competition with Caballero and Jan Schleicher. I expect Caballero to be the third wheel here, but it could go either way between Faille and Schleicher. I'm taking the younger player though on the basis of his much better aging factor. It's probably more likely that he hangs on to enough of his abilities to eventually surpass the French legend as he declines. At this point Mankaba and Abercrombie are probably significant threats, but I don't think they can reach quite high enough to contend. Other secondary threats will be peaking around the same time; Sachse, Pinder, and Weltsch among them and they will not be far behind the leaders. There could be a brief situation where the Top 10 is extremely closely matched with a lot of jumbling about and battling for positions. Year 109, 2-3 years from now, is the timeline here.

Starkov Supremacy

As that group collectively descends at varying rates, I think Russian Iljia Starkov is best positioned to replace them. He's good enough and young enough that there should come a time, perhaps starting in Year 110, that he's able to seize the top spot. Starkov probably becomes the first stable post-Faille #1. Pitteaux could rise as high as #2 in this period.

A Brief, Intense Rivalry

One to two years after this, I think Starkov will be overcome by emerging rivals Girsh Raychaudhari and Renke Von dem Knesebeck. I think they'll have to pretty much peak before they can take him down after he's had some time to recede, and it's too early to say how long they will stay there as that depends on how quickly new challengers come up after them.

Rivalry Update & Path Forward

Last year, Raychaudhari was 63-12; Knesebeck had a mark of 62-27. Getting the same amount of wins with half the losses was crucial to overtaking him in the rankings.

Both players now face a new challenge; getting to 16th or higher. Right now they are seeded for all four Slams and two Masters Events (IW and Miami). Getting seeded positions for the other 7 Masters as quickly as possible is important. They are a number of other players in the 20s who can compete with them right now; obviously Starkov is very dangerous as is Weltsch, but also Derlanga, Pitteaux, Banana, and Fielder are dangerous. The picture will clarify in the long run, but right now it's a mess.

There aren't that many vulnerable players in 16th or higher group to target; Benth, Buckman, and Weigle are the obvious ones, and there will be intense competition for who gets to replace them. Raychaudhari looks like he's almost there at 21st, but there's a gap of about 900 points to 16th and he has less than 1800 currently. To compete with most of the players ranked above him, he must continue improving, so most of the focus will be on that while also looking for 250 and 500 events that are the best ranking opportunities. The more points he can maintain, the more able he will be to pounce when openings are available.

That's esp. true due to the fact that as a Top 30 player, he needs to play all the mandatory Masters this year whether he's seeded or not. If he doesn't, he'll be banned from one of them next year and the skipped Masters will be counted on his rankings anyway. For both improving/peaking and rankings, it's critical to get to that 16th or better spot as quickly as possible - and ahead of as many of his rivals as possible.

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Old 09-29-2023, 05:53 PM   #1470
Brian Swartz
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A little behind on recent action, there's been a lot happening.

Australian Open

There was some really important early matches for rising players, opportunities seized and opportunities missed. Unfortunately for our players, it was more of the 'missed' variety. After losing earlier than I hoped in his first Challenger of the year, Aparna Chandrasekharan was a bit short on form and lost his first-round match to Spaniard Sebastian Garmilla Espinosa ... that's a mouthful ... 6-4, 7-6(3), 7-6(6). Girish Raychaudhari got a solid opening-round win, then was beaten by Georgia's Badry Abashidze after toughing out a couple of tiebreaks to start the match, 6-7(4), 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-4, 6-3. It was, narrowly, the right result, but he might have been able to hold on if he'd managed better than 4 of 16 on break points. It was particularly annoying because the path was open to reach the 4th round, which Abashidze in fact did. The third-round opposition was declining Antoine Benth, who Raychaudhari had soundly defeated the previous week in making the final at Auckland.

Other notables early on:

- Jorg Weltsch looked good in the first couple of rounds, but then ran into Faille in the third with predictable results.
- Renke Von dem Knesebeck fell victim to another dangerous floater, American Luke Ayriss, in the second round. That was really a virtually identical case, as Knesebeck probably would have made the fourth round if he got past. In both cases it's a difference of 135 ranking points and some nice cash, so it definitely stings.
- Iljia Starkov was pushed in his second-round match but won in five, and later made it good with four-set wins in his next two to reach the quarterfinals. His fourth-round victim was #5 Davide de Laurentiis, a match decided in all tiebreaks. A bit of a coming-out party for the talented Russian, albeit delayed. He may well be on his way up now.
- Weigle lost in the third round, not a big suprise, but the player who benefited is another of the mid-20s solid players, Poland's Krzystof Derlanga. And then Derlanga got thumped but good by Schleicher.
- Michael Sachse, another predicted riser, won a close straight-set match over King to get himself in the quarterfinals as well.
- Olivier Pitteaux reached the fourth round before losing to Przalowik; he upset #11 Valentin Cordonie, although it's not really much of an upset, in the third round.

A lot of action, with the new class not running over the old guard yet but definitely firing more than a few warning shots. A pivotal fourth-round match saw Jason Abercrombie utilize home crowd to knock out last year's story, Kabo Mankaba.

There were three really good matches in the quarterfinals, the exception being Faille blasting Goya Banqueria. Abercrombie continued his run with an epic upset of Jan Schleicher, 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(3), 6-7(3), 6-4. Sachse gave Ene Caballero all he wanted to handle before eating a bagel in the 5th set there, and Starkov pushed Przalowik to a competitive four sets.

Abercrombie got a serious wake-up call in a 6-1, 6-1, 6-0 semifinal. That's just ... that doesn't happen at the business end of a Slam. Ben Faille has had enough of all this next-generation nonsense, and reminded us that he's still the king thank you very much. Johann Przalowik turned back the clock and knocked out Caballero in four sets, and he gave it a good run in the championship match before losing 6-3, 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-4. That tiebreak is the only set Faille lost in the tournament.

Somewhat early losses by Caballero and Schleicher have the French living legend sitting more comfortably on his throne once again, and served notice that what is probably in store is yet another year of dominance. But the rumblings of future change are very much still there.
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Old 09-29-2023, 05:59 PM   #1471
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World Team Cup, Level 2, Group 2, Round 2
Sri Lanka vs. Georgia, Clay

- G. Raychaudhari d. B. Kavkasidze, 6-0, 6-1, 6-0
- B. Abashidze d. A. Chandrasekharan, 7-5, 6-4, 6-2
- S. Srivastava/G. Raychaudhari d. B. Abashidze/V. Andronikashvili, 3-6, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2
- B. Abashidze d. G. Raychaudhari, 7-6(6), 2-6, 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-2
- A. Chandrasekharan d. B. Kavkasidze, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2

Sri Lanka defeats Georgia, 3-2!! Georgia is a tough customer, and only a narrow win in doubles swung it our way. Badry Abashidze is only ranked down in the 30s due to being too aggressive and losing in a bunch of early Masters. Hopefully that's not a preview of Raychaudhari's future, but another narrow loss for him against the same opponent for the second time in three weeks was tough. It was a great week for gaining experience, and ultimately we seized control of the group.

Guatemala should be a virtual walk-over, after which we're hoping for a better draw in the knockout phase than what we got last year. It would not surprise me at all if we faced Georgia again before the year is out.
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Old 10-03-2023, 12:55 PM   #1472
Brian Swartz
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It's really starting to get interesting/tense/dramatic. In the month since the WTC Round 2, Girish Raychaudhari has gone unbeaten with his 2nd and 3rd 250-level titles. The second of those two was the Brasil Open, where it was just a weak field in a week that had a couple of 500s where most of the top players were siphoned off to. The first ... well it was really something and showed the strength of our strategy. Argentina Open, on his favored clay, seeded 2nd to Michael Sachse. Knesebeck was there also, but seeded 5th; pushing up the rankings has really helped. He lost in the quarterfinals to Sachse, bad draw for him, in the three sets. Raychaudhari won three-set matches in the QF and SF, both times being definitely the better player but close enough that he could have potentially been upset. Then he faced Sachse in an epic final that was very close the whole way. The German is significantly better, but not as good on clay and Girish was more prepared coming in. The scoreline was 7-6(7), 6-7(10), 6-4. It was the correct result, but there were many moments where it could have gone the other way.

For his part, Knesebeck had three 250s in this timespan, a pair of SF results and a QF here. Aparna Chandrasekharan got a win at CH2 Quimper, but then a shocking loss in the final of CH2 Casablanca to 71st-ranked Fabiano Bucci. One of the more unlikely upsets I've seen in a while, and Chandrasekharan outplayed him overall, although not by a lot.
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Old 10-03-2023, 02:20 PM   #1473
Brian Swartz
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Indian Wells Masters

With all that in the background, the first Masters of the year comes and it was not boring at virtually any stage. (7) Jason Abercrombie lost in the 2nd round, his first match, to Spanish veteran Delpin. (22) Luke Ayriss, favorable crowd or no, lost a three-setter to rising Russian Nikolay Koltsov.

Renke Von dem Knesebeck had a favorable draw, and took advantage by dumping 9th-ranked Goya Banqueria in the third round. He would go on to reach the quarterfinals before losing to Faille competitively; a very nice showing for him and a good bump to his prospects. Koltsov had a lot more to say also, eliminating another American, Rory Buckman, and then even (5) Davide de Laurentiis 7-6(4), 6-4, before eventually being eliminated by Schleicher in the quarterfinals. And we were just getting started. Girish Raychaudhari had a tougher road than his last match against (12) Antoine Benth, but won it in three sets; he got an extra round in to reach the 4th before running into a Caballero buzz-saw. Iljia Starkov continued to impress, eliminating (8) Kabo Mankaba to get to the 4th round himself, (6) Chris King was knocked out by Jorg Weltsch, and in possibly the best match of the round, Weigle was eliminated by Clavet Jadot, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4(4).

In between all the names, the larger picture is that only 9 of the 16 players seeded to reach the 4th round actually made it there, just over half. Most lost at that point, but not all of them. Alvin Fant leveraged the home crowd to eliminate (4) Johann Przalowik, and finding only Jadot waiting for him got through that match as well. The American fans had a semifinalist joining the world's Top 3 players there. He didn't do well, getting blitzed by Caballero, but getting there was the reward for him.

There was one surprise left yet in the championship match. Ben Faille's coronation was cancelled by Ene Caballero, 6-3, 7-6(7). There were only three break points in the match and it was very tight; could have gone either way. But after a 14-match winning streak between them, Faille has now won only three of the past six. If that trend continues, it could get very interesting between the top two.

And now we do it all over again in Miami. No reason not to expect more fireworks and shakeups.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 10-03-2023 at 02:21 PM.
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Old 10-06-2023, 12:36 AM   #1474
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Miami Masters

Starting in the third round, we've once again got lots of action to get to:

- Jorg Weltsch had a bad draw, ate a pair of breadsticks from Faille, and that was that.

- Jochen Weigle impressively held out, barely, against American Luke Ayriss. 7-6(4) in the third set.

- Girish Raychaudhari met up with 7-seed Chris King. I discovered a clerical error that I made at some point, recording King's mentality as being a perfect 5.0 instead of a poor 1.8. That turns my assessment of him quite a bit; he hasn't been underachieving, he was just never that good. So I figured Raychaudhari had a pretty good chance here. He lost 6-4, 6-3 though, and it wasn't particularly close

- Iljia Starkov continues to show he's better than he's ranked, knocking out Antoine Benth.

- Strong effort by Olivier Pitteaux, who pushes crowd favorite Alving Fant to the limit before losing 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.

- Renke Von dem Knesebeck crashes through again. 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(4), a most impressive win over world #5 Davide de Laurentiis. Knesebeck wins these last couple of rounds, no doubt about it.

- Goya Banqueria exists in three sets to Derlanga.

- Shockingly, Clavet Jadot outlasts American Kevin Pinder in a matchup of similarly ranked players. I expected that one to go the other way.

This time there were only three unexpected players in the fourth round. Starkov beat (6) Jason Abercrombie in three sets, and then the other two matched up with Knesebeck taking down Derlanga in a close two. Both of them make big statements in getting back to the quarterfinals. The only real on-paper upset is King losing to 16-seed Rory Buckman, which ... is not really much of an upset in this case when you factor in the crowd. The top four all won their quarterfinal matches, and the only close one was Kabo Mankaba pushing Przalowik to 7-6(1), 4-6, 7-5. So, drama over now, right?

Not by a long shot. After cruising to this point, Ben Faille was upset by Jan Schleicher 7-6(2), 2-6, 6-4. It was their 15th head-to-head match, and the first time Faille hasn't prevailed. There have been some close ones, but it had been a year since they'd even gone the distance. After Ene Caballero pushed past Przalowik in a surprisingly difficult three, he couldn't take down Schleicher either; 6-4, 6-4 for the title match.

Jan Schleicher earns his first Masters Shield! In this era that is indeed a thing to celebrate. The general of feeling of 'ok, now what' intensifies. We'll see if this was a one-off or not.

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Old 10-06-2023, 01:14 AM   #1475
Brian Swartz
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Q2 Rankings Update

1. Ben Faille (28, FRA) - 14,760

2. Ene Caballero (27, ESP) - 13,190

The points gap is now low enough that it's conceivable - probably unlikely, but possible - that we could have a new #1 as soon as this summer. At the very least it's dangerous territory for Faille, on the heels of him looking so dominant to start the year.

3. Jan Schleicher (25, AUT) - 8,310

Schleicher needs to win more consistently if he is to close the gap. You have to start somewhere though; Miami was a start.

4. Johann Przalowik (29, DEU) - 7,130

5. Davide de Laurentiis (28, DEU) - 4,575

6. Jason Abercrombie (24, AUS) - 4,080

Abecrombie is already up three spots on the strength of his strong showing at the Australian Open, but that's mostly a function of how closely together the players are packed here. He's actually only gained a little over 300 points.

7. Kabo Mankaba (25, ZAF) - 4,040

8. Chris King (27, GBR) - 3,895

As I mentioned, I had accidentally over-estimated King's abilities, and his career path makes a lot more sense. Having said that, he's still not being managed particularly well, so that's a factor also. Either way, Chris is definitely a candidate to slip.

9. Goya Banqueria (28, ESP) - 3,695

10. Jochen Weigle (32, SUI) - 3,595

Banqueria and Weigle are definitely both in the process of taking their final bows. They still have a hundreds of points in hand each against the players who will replace them, but that's temporary.

11. Alvin Fant (25, USA)

12. Michael Sachse (23, DEU)

These look like the next couple of members of the Top 10 - by year's end for sure, and quite possibly sooner.

19. Girish Raydchaudhari (22, SRI)

I'm somewhat surprised that Raychaudhari hasn't passed his physical peak yet. I expect that to happen at any time.

22. Renke Von dem Knesebeck (22, AUT)

Stellar work reaching those hardcourt Masters QFs by Knesebeck. He's narrowed the gap again to a degree.

40. Aparna Chandrasekharan (26, SRI)

The last two Challengers for Chandrasekharan have ended in the 2nd round and the quarterfinals. That won't get it done. He appears to be in a slump, which happens, but it will mire him in the 'not quite good enough to graduate' group in the 30s.

429. Sushant Srivastava (31, SRI)

60th in doubles, really right about where he's been. Just two more training sessions before he maxes out his doubles abilities.

98 (J). Ram Mayuri (16, SRI)

Mayuri has tried a couple of JG3s, with mixed success. Won one of them, lost in the quarterfinals in the other. Right now he seems to be at a place where he'll play JG3s in weeks with a lot of events, JG4s if the competition is tighter. Ram is definitely behind schedule to a degree.

The current rankings picture; Chandrasekharan has slipped a bit, but it mostly just not making progress anymore. Raychaudhari is tantalizingly close to his goal, but yet still quite a ways away from it. Still has a pretty solid points lead on Knesebeck, but it's three players and almost 400 points for him to make 16th. The players in that group have been trading successes lately, keeping them out of reach. If Girish could just break in, he could potentially make some noise on the clay season which is still his best surface at this point. There'll be room later this year, but I don't see any good way to force it yet which is going to make for some interesting decisions on what events to enter the next couple of months. Starkov remains in the best position to take the next available spot, but Raychaudhari is still doing ok as long as he can remain close behind him.

Two points to note here are the increasing impact of the mandatory events, and the success in the 250s. Those two trends are sort of fighting against each other here. Without being seeded, it would require quite a bit of luck for him to get far enough in Rome and Madrid to replace the points from whatever event those results replace. He'll have to keep trying to make up whatever ground he can wherever there's a chance, hope for the best, and wait for his chance. It's largely out of his control at this point. And of course, keeping improving as much as possible.
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Old 10-06-2023, 09:51 AM   #1476
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I'm happy to finally get Tallado into the top 100!
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Old 10-06-2023, 04:47 PM   #1477
Brian Swartz
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World Team Cup, Level 2, Group 2, Round 3
Sri Lanka vs. Guatemala, Hardcourt

As expected, we didn't lose a set in this matchup. Didn't even have a competitive set really. Guatemala is at least one, possibly two levels higher than they should be, and I fully expect them to be relegated. It made for bad experience for the week, but there's nothing to be done about that.

Our quarterfinal opponent is going to be Greece; we may not sweep them but I'm confident of victory. Mostly likely after that it'll be solid but declining Chile, and then someone like Morocco or Georgia in the final. We should at least get there and probably win it; it'll be a good year either way, but I won't really be happy unless we get promoted and that's always very matchup-dependent.
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Old 10-08-2023, 04:27 PM   #1478
Brian Swartz
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Monte Carlo Masters

Barring a lot of luck, this was going to be a bad week for Girish Raychaudhari no matter what. I hemmed and hawed about how to handle it, but ultimately decided to take a bad practice week over a bad experience week and a bad rankings week at the same time, the likely result of playing. Raychaudhari was two spots short of making the seeded positions, and hopes to get some better results in the 250 events the next couple of weeks.

- Battling through to the third round and then losing there were Starkov, Banana, and Abashidze. No unseeded player went further. Not even making it that far were Knesebeck and Pitteaux. Yeah, I think I made the right choice.

There was some notable third-round drama though. Michael Sachse narrowly missed upsetting Schleicher, losing in a tight third-set tiebreaker. On the flip side of that coin, Abercrombie barely survived against Alvin Fant. Weigle held off Meligqili Banana in a close two sets, and there were a couple of upsets; (16) Kelvin Pinder crushed (6) Kabo Mankaba 2 & 2 ... ouch ... and (15) Clavet Jadot upset 4th-ranked Johann Przalowik. Jadot has no business being in the Top 16, but has snuck in there by a combination of good strategy and luck. That's rather annoying, as it's hard enough to break in without a player like him sucking up a position.

(4) Davide de Laurentiis lost to Banqueria in the quarterfinals, with the rest of the matchups proceeding as expected. Jadot had a close match but came up short against Abercrombie. With Ben Faille not playing this event, the Spaniards feasted. Caballero continued to cruise through, and Goya Banqueria somehow got by Jan Schleicher 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Missed opportunity for the Austrian to consolidate and pick up some points by at least getting to the final. No surprise that on a clay event without the world no. 1 Ene Caballero took the title 6-3, 6-4, his 9th Masters.

Just 170 points separate Faille and Caballero in the rankings. The #1 spot is now officially up for grabs, and Banqueria buys some time, bouncing back up a couple spots to 7th.

Elsewhere ...

Solid showing by Aparna Chandrasekharan at CH2 Naples. In the semifinals he avenged a recent loss to rising 20-year-old Jack Gigg in a tough 3-set win. A loss to aging Canadian Mathieu Mallarme in the final was not overly surprising, although it definitely would have been nice to win. Aparna continues to do pretty well ... but not yet well enough.
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Old 10-12-2023, 05:58 AM   #1479
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The in-between weeks were ... tense.

Bucharest 250

Everything was going just fine ... until Iljia Starkov joined the draw late in the week. He was the #2 seed, Kelvin Pinder the top seed who I thought Raychaudhari could handle. There was no changing tournaments, as the other one was the Barcelona 500 and was crowded. Not only that, but Valentin Cordonie repeated there which was exactly what I didn't want to happen, as I thought he'd lose a little earlier and drop some points. He was a 11-9 third-set tiebreaker away from losing in the semis to Weltsch, which would have been much better.

Anyway, back to Bucharest; the draw wasn't kind either and matched up Girish Raychaudhari with Starkov in the semifinals. Under optimal conditions he might have a chance, but form was against him by the narrowest of margins. 20 going in, with 20.1 required for the sweet spot. Grrr. Even more annoyingly, it probably cost the match; 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 was the scoreline with Starkov winning and going on to win the title. A 160-point swing between semifinalist and champion, when we're grinding for every polnt we can get.

Argh indeed - and to make it worse I noticed that the ranking bug is affecting at least Raychaudhari and Starkov, and possibly others. So I can't even rely on getting all of the points I expect to shake out correctly, and with narrow margins right now, that really matters.

Istanbul 250

This one went better. It was a breeze until the final, third match and third win against Antoine Benth. It could well have been a loss though; 4-6, 7-6(8), 6-1. Possibly should have been a loss in that second-set tiebreak. A nice boost, but it still left Raychaudhari at 19th and not good enough for a seed in the Masters events to come. There was nothing for it though; he just had to hope for a good draw and to pull some upsets. If that doesn't happen, an early loss or skipping would mean the same thing - a bad week of training and dropping points in the push to reach 16th or better. Cordonie won another event this week, because of course he did.

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Old 10-12-2023, 06:40 AM   #1480
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Madrid Masters

The fun started right away, with Rory Buckman going out in the first round, and then (11) Michael Sachse being knocked out - easily - by Starkov. Raychaudhari had a comfortable first-round win, and then came a matchup with ... (14) Valentin Cordonie. A clay court match against a Spaniard with a home crowd behind him, who had just won back-to-back clay tournaments despite the fact that he never figured out he's supposed to be a clay-court specialist and is just solid on the surface. That success the last couple of weeks also meant he came in a little over-played, while Raychaudhari was ready to go. Girish took the win, 7-5, 2-6, 7-6(5). Definitely a cliche, but it could have gone either way and looking at the match stats, I can't even tell you who should have won. That's how close it was. Tight match like that in Masters is obviously great for gaining exp, but also getting to the third round was huge in terms of this being a decent week for ranking points rather than being a step backwards.

Elsewhere in the 2nd round:

- #6 Abercrombie lost to Meligqili Banana, and it wasn't close. With Abercrombie banned next week in Rome due to missing a Masters last year, it's a really rough look to his clay season.

- Jochen Weigle bows out to American Kelvin Pinder, continuing his gradual points-bleeding.

- Benth is out to fading veteran Renato Delpin, a Spanish wild-card.

- Renke Von dem Knesebeck played a tough match against 10th-seeded Alvin Fant, losing 7-5 in the third. What a shame.

The third round brought Raychaudhari's third career match against world no. 2 Ene Caballero. Also home crowd favorite. We'll just say that in those three matches, Girish has never won more than three games in a set. No way he was going further than this, but it's still a moderately successful week for him. He avoided the worst-case scenarios. Iljia Starkov kept right on motoring like the upwardly mobile player he is, losing a first-set tiebreak and then frankly dominating #5 de Laurentiis the rest of the way. Two more Germans faced off with a surprising result; #4 Przalowik goes home to Jorg Weltsch in a final-set tiebreak.

That all meant three unseeded players through to the quarters, as a strong element of chaos continues to pervade the tour. All of them left at this stage, and the favorites moved through cleanly all the way to the championship match. Under the circumstances, it was not even an upset to see Caballero topple Ben Faille, but a 6-4, 6-1 scoreline was a little more lopsided than we're used to seeing. 10th Masters Shield for Ene; that's a significant career milestone even if he has no Slams yet. Faille didn't play here last year, so he extends his lead in the rankings even with the loss.

Elsewhere ...

Aparna Chandrasekharan's struggles continue with a semifinal result at CH1 Bordeaux; Greece's Castor Papagos was the winner in a match that Chandrasekharan should not have lost. Pretty bad upset there.
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Old 10-13-2023, 07:55 AM   #1481
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Rome Masters

Abercrombie is banned this week, and Caballero elects to skip the event to set himself up for an optimal run at RG. Bold strategy, and one I probably wouldn't have done since Faille still has home-court advantage there. All of that makes Raychaudhari the top-ranked player who doesn't get a seed. *sigh*

Faille was the only Frenchman feeling particularly happy in the first round. (11) Antoine Benth lost to Knesebeck, (16) Clavet Jadot to clay specialist Stanislav Mukarovsky of Slovakia. (13) Kelvin Pinder needed three tiebreaks to escape Delpin. In the second round, Jorg Weltsch keeps being disrespectful of his superiors in German tennis, knocking out 9-seed Sachse. (6) Chris King loses a third-set tiebreak to Durante Campisi, making me eat my words about the French players a bit. And Raychaudhari got himself a nice upset against (10) Alvin Fant, fair bit of US players exiting earlier as well. Went three sets but Girish was pretty clearly better, and once again gets an important upset to avoid leaving early.

A near perfect-storm but just missing the upset for Renke Von dem Knesebeck, who pushed world no. 1 Faille to 7-5 in the third. By match stats he actually should have beaten him, just didn't do quite as well in the break points. That's a tough loss to take. Must have been a good day for him and a bad day for Big Ben. Starkov crushes Jochen Weigle 2 & 2, Schleicher barely survives Valentin Cordonie for some reason, and Campisi keeps on going with a 3-set win over (14) Rory Buckman. 4th-seeded de Laurentiis gets worn down by Raychaudhari, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

3 of the final 8 were not seeded to get there, so we continue to see some surprises. Ben Faille was apparently mad about the last round, feeding Starkov a bagel and a breadstick. Ouch. (3) Johann Przalowik is handled routinely by Mankaba, nice tournament for him. (2) Jan Schleicher doesn't escape this time, Banqueria knocking him out in three. Last match is an all-unseeded matchup, and Campisi ... can't get by a certain Girish Raychaudhari, 6-4 6-1! This is the opening we've been waiting for, a couple of nice upsets and then this one just was an invitation.

Kabo Mankaba has a competitive loss against Faille, and Raychaudhari ran out of gas against Goya Banqueria. Very similar overall quality of players at this point, but by now Girish has too many matches and he's not quite as strong on clay. 6-3, 7-5 is a more respectable final than the actual match was. Ben Faille takes the title in dual tiebreaks, 45th Masters for him, but there are a couple of big sub-stories here.

- Banqueria, at 28 and well past his prime as a fast-ager, has just put together his best series of Clay Masters in his career. Two finals and a semifinal. Not good for me as it just means it takes him that much longer for the up and comers to get past, but a nice little mini-renaissance for Goya anyway. Gotta respect it.

- Raychaudhari making his first Masters semi is a big deal, and figured to end the push to reach the Top 16. Except it didn't, as the rankings the next weeks looked liked this ...

13. Antoine Benth - 2735
14. Valentin Cordonie - 2695
15. Iljia Starkov - 2675
16. Girish Raychaudhari - 2660
17. Kelvin Pinder - 2660
18. Rory Buckman - 2630

Wow is that tight ... and a dead-even tie for 16th with Pinder. It shouldn't be, but is thanks to the ranking bug. Raychaudhari should be at 2750, Starkov at 2780. That would make Girish 14th, but that's not what the numbers are because reasons. What that means is that assuming nothing changes which it probably won't, there will basically be a coin-flip to see whether Raychaudhari or Pinder gets the 16th seed at RG and gets to avoid the top seeds until at least the fourth round.

Elsewhere ...

Aparna Chandrasekharan loses in the final of CH2 Cremona for the second year in a row, this time to a very similar player in station, Maurits Soesbergen (NLD). 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4. Aparna should have won it too. 0 for 4 on break chances compared to 2 of 6. Close match, but he had the overall edge. He's eventually going to break out of this and win more consistently. Apparently not yet however.

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Old 10-15-2023, 10:44 AM   #1482
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Roland Garros

I learned something new; it is possible to have a different ranking than seed if you are tied. I thought it would be poetic justice if Raychaudhari and Pinder were matched up in the third round to decide it on the court. Instead, Raychaudhari was ranked 16th ... but seeded 17th. I am annoy.

All of the seeds made it through the first two rounds, which is fairly uncommon. Raychaudhari had a tough-ish four-set match to open against Romanian Sergiu Eliade, one of the most dangerous floaters in the draw, and then a laugher. The top half of the draw kept right on going according to form, with Abashidze, Pitteaux, and one Renke Von dem Knesebeck failing to break through. Knesebeck pushed de Laurentiis to the limit, but wasn't as consistent as the German. The bottom half was ... not so kind to the favorites, with less than half of the top seeds advancing.
(9) Chris King goes down in straight sets to Jadot, a clear example of the crowd making the difference. Epic match ending in a 10-8 5th set with (8) Jason Abercrombie ending a thoroughly disappointing clay season against Serbian Simeun Despotovic, and the crowd edge wasn't enough to save Antoine Benth against Weltsch. Jochen Weigle losing really isn't a shock, but it was the final seed that got him, American Luke Ayriss in 5 sets.

And then there was one of the more epic matches I've been a part of. As soon as I saw the draw, I expected this to be where the journey ends for Girish Raychaudhari against Michael Sachse. Sachse is still a better player, Raychaudhari somewhat better on clay but not a huge advantage, and the form situation was against Girish so I figured that was shoot any reasonable chance for an upset. The German won a tight first-set tiebreak ... and then lost the next 10 games ... and then rallied from 4-0 down to win the third set 7-5. That's just how this match went. I've forgotten most of the twists and turns but it was just nuts. Raychaudhari eked out a 6-4 4th set, went down 3-0 in the 5th, rallied and the match just kept going, both players having chances and failing to capitalize. Finally it was Girish pulling it out somehow in a second 10-8 5th set finish. Just over 400 total points in the match and the second and third sets were so weird ... you just don't see 10 straight games reeled off in a close match that goes five. One lopsided set maybe, but this is just something I don't know if I've ever seen before.

However it happened, it was of course a huge win. I hadn't even looked at who was next; I actually had him as a slight favorite in the next round against Kabo Mankaba, although the South African was looking sharp. After Mankaba went out to a dominant 6-1, 6-1 start, it was clear something was wrong. Then Raychaudhari battled to take the third set, dominated the fourth with a breadstick of his own ... before ultimately losing 6-3 in the 5th. Back-to-back 5-set matches, and both of them very weird. Three sets in a 5-set match with the loser getting only a single game? Would have been nice to get one more round to the quarterfinals, but it's still a big tournament to get this far.

Mostly expected results elsewhere in the fourth round. Despotovic lost to Jorg Weltsch in a 5-set battle of 20-something seeds, and Iljia Starkov is another rising star to fall short against #5 Davide de Laurentiis, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Very even by the numbers, Starkov even possibly a hair better, but key points in the right moments went to the more experienced player. Another case of 'next time ... '.

Top 7 players through to the quarterfinals ... and Jorg Weltsch spoiling as the 21-seed. He won a set against Caballero before losing, and the top four go through. Biggest surprise was Goya Banqueria pushing Faille to five sets. It happened again in even closer fashion the next round, with Jan Schleicher leading by two sets before being unable to finish, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4. Johann Przalowik loses to Ene Cabellero in four, setting up the classic final ... which was an absolute shock. In front of his home crowd, after struggling through back-to-back five-setters, Ben Faille was absolutely crushed 6-2, 6-1, 6-2. What?!? 0-for-4 compared to 6-for-11 on break chances, but Caballero badly outclassed him anyway. A margin that wide is really hard to explain.

This ends of string of 28 straight Slam titles over 7 years from Faille. This is the last Slam I would have expected him to lose at, and he loses not just the tournament but also the top spot in the rankings. Too early to say it's an era coming to an end or anything, but this is definitely a historic turn of events, and not one that I saw coming at all.
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Old 10-15-2023, 11:55 PM   #1483
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Q3 Rankings Update

1. Ene Caballero (27, ESP) - 14,030

First Slam title, and first time at #1! I didn't think Caballero would quite get to this point, and yet here he is. The big question now is if he can stay there.

2. Ben Faille (29, FRA) - 13,560

The last three matchups with Caballero have all gone the wrong way, and four of the last five. A stunning turn of events as less than a year ago Faille was sitting on a 14-match winning streak in their 'rivalry', if you could even call it one at that point.

3. Jan Schleicher (25, AUT) - 8,070

4. Johann Przalowik (29, DEU) - 6,840

Both still just kind of hanging out at arms length from the players above and below.

5. Davide de Laurentiis (28, DEU) - 4,795

6. Kabo Mankaba (25, ZAF) - 4,770

Mankaba looks he's about to claim the 'best of the rest' spot.

7. Goya Banqueria (28, ESP) - 4,295

Banqueria turned back the clock on clay ... but he's about to turn 29 and I still say his time is coming soon.

8. Jason Abercrombie (24, AUS) - 3,950

Abecrombie needs to pretty much forget the last few months ever happened and re-focus.

9. Chris King (27, GBR) - 3,705

Slowly slipping.

10. Alvin Fant (25, USA) - 3,205

Introducing the latest member of the Top 10. Fant has been just good enough to pull some key upsets on the hardcourts with help from the crowd, and there's no reason to expect this summer to be any different.

Jochen Weigle is officially gone.

14. Girish Raydchaudhari (22, SRI)

A lot of tense matches on the clay season, and it was just enough for Raychaudhari to get into the next tier. Maybe. 18th-ranked Antoine Benth is just 70 points behind, so it's still very tightly packed and every tournament matters for consolidating his position.

23. Renke Von dem Knesebeck (22, AUT)

Knesebeck is almost a thousand points back, although unlike Girish he has not yet ended his physical peak. That's another edge coming into play for the Austrian, but he's strategically behind now.

34. Aparna Chandrasekharan (26, SRI)

Treading water only, but still sitting at his career best. Could actually slip some soon as it was at this point that he went on a nice run of challenger wins. If he can't repeat that, he could regress.

461. Sushant Srivastava (31, SRI)

Srivastava has reached 5.0 in doubles, so all there is left is just to preserve as much of his singles abilities as he can.

104 (J). Ram Mayuri (16, SRI)

It's getting more difficult for Raychaudhari to add more points - he'll need to transition into playing more 500s soon but that's easier said than done, particularly since those tend to have high-ranking players in the countries that host them. Grass is Girish's weakest surface, but at least not getting knocked out early at Wimbledon is important. I don't really have any ambitions for pushing up much further in the rankings just yet; maintaining his spot now is about the best I expect to be able to do.

The big thing is the strategic position, and advantage over Knesebeck and others, of now being seeded at all Masters events and protected for that extra round in Slams to get more matches and experience in those events consistently. Just holding on to his spot and not slipping back down, looking for more opportunities like Madrid and taking advantage when they happen. Hitting the form sweet spot for the big events is the top priority now; the 250s and 500s are secondary to that.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 10-15-2023 at 11:58 PM.
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Old 10-21-2023, 10:55 AM   #1484
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Ahh, grass season. *sigh*. Let's get this over with.

Girish Raychaudhari was the 3-seed in Antalya (250), losing a 3-set match that probably shouldn't have gone that long against Alvin Fant in the semifinals. Wasn't a match he could really expect to win, and it got him the matches he needed to be set up properly for Wimbledon. That was really the goal here.

Michael Sachse had himself a week in Halle, where naturally all the Germans converged, monopolizing the event from the semifinals on. Sachse beat Weltsch in a third-set tiebreak in the SF, then outlasted top-seeded #4 Johann Przalowik 6-7(3), 7-6(3), 6-4 in the championship match. This vaults Sachse up to #9, demonstrating the point that to break in to the next tier, you need to do well in 500s. Raychaudhari isn't there yet, but he's looking for his chance ... which is not in the near future it would appear.

Aparna Chandrasekharan got himself a win against a weak field at CH2 Marburg. Maybe he can get a good streak going on here. Meanwhile checking in on our competition, Renke Von dem Knesebeck did ... not well. 2nd round in Stuttgart, QF in Eastbourne. So I'm feeling pretty solid about where we are heading into Wimby.
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Old 10-21-2023, 11:16 AM   #1485
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Join Date: May 2006

Well, surprise surprise. Aparna Chandrasekharan snuck in the back door to accomplishing his main career goal; getting seeded at a slam. Two players ranked ahead of him just decided not to play; had they both entered, he would have been the best player to not get a seed. Points-wise it's probably better for him to play a challenger this week, but you don't turn down this kind of a chance to get Slam-level experience. Even when you blow it by losing in straight sets to a player ranked in the 70s in the first round - Oscar Calazzo of noted tennis power nation San Marino in this case.

Yeah. Chandrasekharan was the only seeded player to lose in the first round. Pretty brutal. Still the right thing to play, but it would have been nice if he'd not stumbled so hard. Two more low seeds were out soon after, but the real fun as usual began in the third round. And it was only a matter of time before this matchup came up: Girish Raychaudhari against Renke Von dem Knesebeck. 4th match ever, second as pros with the first one coming almost a year ago, first one in a major event. Both players are optimally prepared, both are bad on the grass - this could go either way. It went the wrong way, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(5). Both players fired 19 aces, but Knesebeck has the better serve and had just one double fault; five for Raychaudhari. It was that close. Return points? 47/145 for Girish, 49/144 for Renke. 8 BP chances for the Austrian to just 3 for my guy, so I think it was really mostly a case of timing. 2-2 is the head-to-head now, and an upset one round early. Elsewhere in the third round:

- Taking advantage of the hole made by Chandrasekharan, Serik Boyev became the guy to knock out Weigle. Consider this the 'notice of burial' for the 32-year-old Swede, who made the semifinals here last year and will drop precipitously.

- #5 Kabo Mankaba is stopped early by Kelvin Pinder, 7-5 in the 5th of an epic clash.

- #9 Chris King is informed that whatever he used to have, he doesn't anymore. Quarterfinals last year, but Olivier Pitteaux gets by him in a tough four-setter.

- Michael Sachse and Antoine Benth in a real epic; Sachse continues his run of strong results, 10-8 in the 5th.

- A final long 5-set match sees #7 Goya Banqueria definitely not backing up his clay results, going out to a player we've gotten to know only too well; Georgia's Badry Abashidze.

On to the fourth round with an interesting mix of players, and the fireworks continued. Iljia Starkov had a chance to take another step, but falls to Pinder in four. Pinder is one of those guys with relatively substantial grass proficiency, and is really making it show. Pitteaux keeps on coming, taking down #8 Jason Abercrombie who is just not having fun this year. That match went the distance. Abashidze almost pushed further as well, but was eliminated 8-6 in the 5th against Fant.

The top four all made the quarterfinals, and #6 as well, with Fant, Pinder, and Pitteaux as party-crashers. Pinder pushed Caballero to a fourth set, Pitteaux looks to be a force on the grass and nearly took down Przalowik before losing 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-7(3), 7-5. So many near misses happening for upcoming players here. Surprising straight-sets exit for Jan Schleicher against Fant; Schleicher lost in the quarters here last year, but I expected more. He'll need to deliver more if he wants to challenge the top two. Not yet, apparently.

Ene Caballero handled Przalowik in a tough four-setter, while Alvin Fant was easily dismissed by ... guess who ... Ben Faille. Caballero was the only man this tournament who could give him a fight, and fight he did in the championship match. It wasn't enough, with the French legend restoring order to who wins Slams these days, 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-5. If Faille makes the necessary commitment to the hardcourt Masters, he could potentially be back in the #1 spot before the summer is out. It's the fourth straight year those two have met in the final round, with the same result each time.

Alvin Fant is a big story here making the semifinals. He and Sachse replace King and Weigle in the Top 10, and if he isn't careful Abercrombie will get passed up as well. Meanwhile the tour turns towards the summer hardcourts, mostly in the United States. The numerous Americans will be quite dangerous the next couple of months.
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Old 10-24-2023, 02:08 AM   #1486
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
Summer Break

A few weeks of relative relaxation, the last we're going to get for over two months leading into the end of the season.

As tempting as it is to play one of the two 500-level events, the German Open or Washington, those were guaranteed to be well-stocked with players from those nations with home crowd advantage. Instead, Girish Raydchaudhari played in the Gstaad 250, having an easy time of it until the final against home favorite Jochen Weigle. He still got through fairly comfortably, 6-2 7-6(3), taking his 5th professional title.

Aparna Chandrasekharan had a completely inexcusable loss in the QF of CH+ Bogota, then bounced back with a win in CH1 Orbetello the following week. Ram Mayuri got a singles win and doubles QF at JG3 Aveiro; his second JG3 crown and it's time for him to start amassing a collection of them if he's going to be close to on schedule.
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Old 10-26-2023, 03:48 AM   #1487
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Chaos in Canada

The hardcourt season resumes, and two seeds lost in the first round; Cordonie and, shockingly, Pinder. This was only the beginning. Bigger fish starting falling in the second round. (16) Antoine Benth lost meekly to Jadot, and world #3 Jan Schleicher was stunned by Renke Von dem Knesebeck, 7-5, 0-6, 7-6(6). No, I can't explain that scoreline. Banqueria and Sachse escaped narrowly, Starkov was pushed to a third set by Weigle for some reason, and (7) Alvin Fant lost to Serbian Simeun Despotovic, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.

The fun continued in round three. (5) Kabo Mankaba couldn't get past Abercrombie, a revival perhaps for the Australian? (8) Davide de Laurentiis was a not-really-upset victim of Girish Raychaudhari, 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-4. Nice win though, and a competitive match was expected. Sachse pushed past Goya Banqueria in three sets, again only a paper upset, and then #4 Johann Przalowik was eliminated by Starkov.

The fallout of all of this is a quarterfinal round that had #1 and #2 still standing ... and nobody else better than 9th. Two of the participants were unseeded. Definitely a case of the haves and the 'what in the world are you doing here?'s. Jason Abercrombie lost easily to Caballero, and then there was the second match in recent weeks between Raychaudhari and Knesebeck. Having already beaten two players he should have lost to, the Austrian kept going in a crushing 6-2, 6-2 win. He is just flat-out playing way above his head this week, but it's still disappointing to have lost three straight. At some point we need to start winning some of these head-to-heads. Overall, quarterfinals in a Masters is still a good result of course. Michael Sachse was competitive with Faille but lost, and Iljia Starkov was outlasted by Despotovic 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-4, another result that didn't make a lot of sense. Starkov is definitely the better player.

Two unseeded players in a Masters semifinal. That just doesn't happen, and yet it did. They won seven games combined, a clear demonstration that the two best players in the world are precisely that, and Ben Faille came up short against Ene Caballero, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Perhaps that #1 spot won't be swinging back his way after all.

Elsewhere ...

I unintentionally played Aparna Chandrasekharan in both singles and doubles, which will cost him an event next week. He did well this week though, winning CH2 Vancouver.
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Old 10-26-2023, 04:02 AM   #1488
Brian Swartz
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Cincinatti Masters

Cincy was a little more sane, but there were still some curious results. Ben Faille decided to skip again, putting all the focus on Caballero. Iljia Starkov faced Simeun Despotovic again, this time in the first round ... and again Despotovic won in three sets. He's a solid player, good enough to be in the Top 20 but I wouldn't put him higher. He's not good enough to be doing this; apparently he's just in the zone or something. Raychaudhari had an unfortunate draw of Weigle in his first match, but got through it comfortably enough. A war in the second around around Jorg Weltsch, one of the most dangerous unseeded players, didn't go his way; 6-7(5), 7-6(7), 6-4. Very tight match stats as you might expect, and that second set tiebreak could have put him in the next round. Can't really complain though, Weltsch is a little better player despite being lower-ranked. Just bad luck is all.

A number of other seeded players also dropped: Cordonie again departs early in a third-set tiebreak against Stanislav Mukarovsky, Davide de Laurentiis continues to show his age, as does Benth. The third round was much more predictable, with only Goya Banqueria losing among the better seeds. This week 6 of the top 8 seeds reached the quarterfinals, and the only unseeded was quite understandable; American Scott Fielder.

Fielder lost in two competitive sets to Przalowik, and the crowd wasn't enough for Alvin Fant to get a set from Caballero either. Scheicher easily advanced against 15-seed Clavet Jadot, and the one match going the distance had Abercrombie once again getting the best of 4-seed Kabo Mankaba, 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-3. Both of the semis went to three sets, by similar topsy-turvy scorelines. Ene Caballero, prohibitive favorite to win, was stunned by Przalowik. Jan Schleicher got past Abercrombie, and then cruised past Johann Przalowik 6-2, 6-3 to claim his 2nd Masters.

Even with skipping the tournament, Faille could still take the #1 spot back after the US Open if Caballero fails to reach the final there. As we just saw, that's not completely out of the realm of possibility.
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Old 10-30-2023, 12:11 AM   #1489
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US Open

We had two players seeded again: Raychaudhari 13th, and Chandrasekharan as the last seed, 32nd. The only seed to go down in the first round was the continually fading Jochen Weigle who hasn't gotten the message that his singles career is over. Clavet Jadot came as close as you can to joining him, prevailing only in a tight 5th-set tiebreak. Everybody kept on rolling in the second round as well.

The first upset in the third round was (12) Iljia Starkov, whose ascent is put on hold after a four-set defeat to (21) Olivier Pitteaux. Then Girish Raychaudhari had yet another run-in with Renke Von dem Knesebeck. It was their longest match to date, but unfortunately ended the same way; Knesebeck prevails 7-6(3), 6-2, 4-6, 4-6, 7-5. I was quite disappointed since Raychaudhari had the advantage of being in the form sweet spot while Knesebeck was not, and on paper should have been favored a little. Four losses in a row to his rival, and two of them could have gone either way but the luck or whatever just didn't fall for him. It's still very much an open question which of the two will be the best when their reach their peaks, but if this keeps happening then aspirations of reaching #1 won't be fulfilled. At some point Girish needs to start winning at least his share of these matchups.

de Laurentiis and Pinder both held on in 5 sets, but (10) Michael Sachse was beaten surprisingly easy by his countryman Weltsch, in three sets. That one was a matchup of the 3rd and 4th-ranked German players, but soon to be the best two I expect. (11) Chris King was pushed the limit by Banana but moved on, and Aparna Chandrasekharan got through the first couple rounds but was able to take just five games from Banqueria. A Top 10 player, even one in decline, is way better than Chandrasekharan will ever be able to handle, and making the third round of a Slam is his best career result. Couldn't ask for more. Finally, Jadot bows out in a close three to (28) Luke Ayriss, Ayriss being boosted by the US crowd. There were some tight matches in the fourth round, but the only lower seed to win was Ayriss again; four sets over Goya Banqueria. Caballero was down 6-2, 6-2 to Pitteaux before rallying to win, nearly a huge upset for the rising French no. 4. Knesebeck was dismissed in competitive straight-sets by Schleicher.

The quarterfinals had seven of the top 8 ... and 28th-seeded Ayriss. He was routinely sent packing by Przalowik after a nice run, a sign that it was time for the top players to take control. That didn't mean it wasn't competitive anymore though; all three of the other matches went the distance. Again rallying from behind though just one set this time, Caballero overcame the crowd and the top American player, 7-seed Alvin Fant. Maybe next year he'll be ready to push further. Kabo Mankaba went up a set twice before succumbing to Schleicher, 4-6, 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-6(2), 7-6(3). Those last couple of tiebreaks had to be brutal for Mankaba. And a final-set tiebreak also was needed for Faille to see off Jason Abercrombie, who is showing definite signs of life for basically the first time this year.

In the semifinals, there were two competitive straight-sets matches. Johann Przalowik out to Faille, and Ene Caballero runs out of ways to escape, losing to Jan Schleicher. That set up a chance for Ben Faille to take back the #1 spot in the championship match - and he did exactly that, 7-6(3), 6-1, 6-4. After all of the quarterfinal drama, none of the tournament's last three matches went more than the minimum. Everybody was tested and it felt like a few different players could have walked away with the trophy - but as he usually does, Faille is the one who did walk away with it. His 30th Slam title may well have been one of his most satisfying.
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Old 10-30-2023, 12:30 AM   #1490
Brian Swartz
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Q4 Rankings Update

1. Ben Faille (29, FRA) - 13,560

Faille is back on top ... narrowly. This could be turning into a real rivalry.

2. Ene Caballero (27, ESP) - 13,410

3. Jan Schleicher (25, AUT) - 9,120

Slowly but steadily, Schleicher is creeping up on the top pair

4. Johann Przalowik (29, DEU) - 7,870

With a more consistent summer than last year, Przalowik isn't going away yet either.

5. Kabo Mankaba (25, ZAF) - 4,730

Mankaba has established himself as the top threat to join the Top 4. He's got quite a bit of work to do before that happens though.

6. Goya Banqueria (29, ESP) - 4,150

7. Jason Abercrombie (25, AUS) - 4,110

8. Alvin Fant (25, USA) - 4,075

For the moment, 6-8 are virtually indistinguishable. I like Fant to emerge from this group, and of course Banqueria is expected to fade eventually.

9. Davide de Laurentiis (28, DEU) - 3,305

de Laurentiis has lost a staggering 1790 points and four spots in the rankings in just a few months, coming down from his career-best of 5th. It would appear that he's the current weak link in the Top 10, and ripe for replacement.

10. Michael Sachse (24, DEU) - 3,210

Sachse has not been able to separate himself from the players below him consistently enough yet, but he's got the ability to do so. I expect his results to improve next year, and probably he'll move at least up to 8th at that point.

13. Girish Raychaudhari (22, SRI)

There's just one more Masters to add before Raychaudhari has a full collection of events. It's about improving his results at the big tournaments now; that's the main way for him to improve.

17. Renke Von dem Knesebeck (22, AUT)

Knesebeck's string of wins over Raychaudhari have him on the verge of moving into the next tier with him.

33. Aparna Chandrasekharan (26, SRI)

At his career high, Chandrasekharan is literally the best Challenger player in the world and has made the recent Slams as a seeded participant because a couple of players above him didn't show up. It was a good showing at the USO, but he needs to do a little more to secure further appearances.

571. Sushant Srivastava (31, SRI)

83 (J). Ram Mayuri (17, SRI)

Mayuri recently won JG3 Montreal, though he lost earlier in doubles. He has three JG3 titles now, with a runner-up also the one before that in Nagoya. He may be ready for the jump to bigger events just in time for his big year at the top of juniors. His development is still going reasonably well, a little better than I expected actually.
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Old 10-30-2023, 12:45 AM   #1491
Brian Swartz
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Race to the World Tour Finals
Post-USO Edition

With a tight battle for #1, some new faces, and prospect of wanting to look at where Raychaudhari & Knesebeck fit in at least next year, I thought I'd go back to doing these reports.


Ben Faille - 11,460
Ene Caballero - 11,400
Jan Schleicher - 7,710
Johann Przalowik - 6,750


Goya Banqueria - 3,995
Alvin Fant - 3,905
Kabo Mankaba - 3,710
Jason Abercrombie - 3,690



Long Shots

Davide de Laurentiis - 3,015
Michael Sachse - 2,850


The race for #1 could hardly be closer; it seems likely to come down to the Tour Finals themselves. Kabo Mankaba ranks lower here because of something I'd forgotten; he was the surprise winner of the Shanghai Masters last year. It seems unlikely that he'll repeat, which will put him right back in the scrum of the 5-8 positions. Those four will almost certainly make the WTF, there's no significant drama on the makeup of the field; merely their order.

Within a few hundred points of the cutoff there are multiple players who will be a threat next year; Starkov, Raychaudhari, Knesebeck, perhaps Pinder, Pitteaux, and Weltsch. Not all of them will figure in of course, there's not enough room, but the first three should be in position to make a push for the Finals. But for this year, we have a high degree of confidence who the field will be.
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Old 10-30-2023, 12:50 AM   #1492
Brian Swartz
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World Team Cup Level 2 Quarterfinals
Sri Lanka vs. Greece, Hardcourt

Only one set was lost in a 5-0 cruise; with it, Sri Lanka officially joined the promotion playoff at the end of the year. Next up is Chile on an Indoor court; they beat Tunisia 4-1. I expect a 4-1 or 3-2 win for us, winning doubles and losing a singles match or two but no serious danger.

On the other side, Georgia is up against Morocco, both advancing by 3-2 scores. Most likely scenario is Georgia wins, and we get an epic rematch against them in the final. I'm just hoping we don't have to deal with them in the playoff.
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Old 11-01-2023, 03:11 AM   #1493
Brian Swartz
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World Team Cup, Level 2 Semifinals
Sri Lanka vs. Chile, Indoors

- G. Raychaudhari l. T. Chiostro, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(4), 7-6(6)
- A. Chandrasekharan l. F. Gonzalez, 6-3, 7-6(1), 7-6(2)
- Srivastava/Raychaudhari d. Larkin/Falcon, 6-2, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3
- G. Raydchaudhari d. F. Gonzalez, 6-4, 7-6(4), 7-6(3)
- A. Chandrasekharan l. T. Chiostro, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4

Chile defeats Sri Lanka, 3-2!!

That ... was not the plan. I didn't give Tobia Chiostro enough respect going in; I assumed Raychaudhari at least would beat him, and combined with Chile's weak doubles team that would assure us of victory. Playing indoors definitely favored Chile, but not being able to beat a declining player ranked in the mid-40s is still concerning. Now we don't get to the finals, and I definitely have to dial back our odds of getting promoted. I really don't want to spend another year at Level 2; the lower-level nations are total pushovers for us. But we'll have to see how the matchup goes.

Events elsewhere didn't go as expected either. Morocco beat Georgia 3-2, and in Level 1 Austria returned to the final. That gives Renke Von dem Knesebeck an extra WTC round, and also moves him up to 16th. He's just been on a tear lately, and all I can really do is hope he chills out. He outperformed his counterpart, #3 Jan Schleicher, by managing to beat #4 Przalowik; a win that made the difference in Austria beating Germany. Just gotta tip your cap to that.

If we weren't involved here, I would have had Raydchaudhari play in a 500 event next week. China and Japan 500s in the same week is an opportunity, but he can't afford the matches with Shanghai coming up the following week. Meanwhile, with no wins Chandrasekharan dropped a few spots to 38th so he's got some ground to try and make up. All in all, it was not an award-winning week for Sri Lanka tennis.
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Old 11-10-2023, 12:35 PM   #1494
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Location: Madison, WI
Banana and Rippon secure the WTF Level 4 win for Zimbabwe! Also look likely to promote to Level 3 v. Colombia.

Banana just hung on to #30 at year-end, but a transition to doubles isn't too far off.
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Old 11-12-2023, 05:24 PM   #1495
Brian Swartz
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Looks like they made it!
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Old 11-12-2023, 05:28 PM   #1496
Brian Swartz
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I'm behind, so I'll just summarize a bit; Shanghai and Paris Masters met with mixed results, both for Raychaudhari and the top players.

World Tour Finals

The #1 spot went down to the final match in truly dramatic fashion. Caballero and Faille both went undefeated in the round-robin section, and won then won their semifinals as well. Both were close; Kabo Mankaba lost to Caballero in two close sets including a tiebreak, while Jason Abercrombie lasted a tough three. In the championship match, Ene Caballero got the upper hand 7-6(4), 6-3, claiming his second straight Tour Finals. It's not without controversy, but for now he's back on top after the two players switched control of the top ranking back and forth the last couple months.
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Old 11-12-2023, 05:37 PM   #1497
Brian Swartz
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World Team Cup Playoffs

For the first time in some in-game years, I screwed up and forgot to enter my players in practice events the week before. No fatigue was wasted, but Manoj Datar was made very busy doing a bunch of training to salvage as much XP as he could.

As for the matchup itself, we were against Chile who had beaten us in the semifinals earlier. I was not happy to see this, but it ended up being just fine. We had hardcourt as the surface, and rather surprisingly cruised to a 5-0 win. Only two sets were dropped ... both by Raychaudhari curiously enough. Morocco, Georgia, and Argentina also won their playoff encounters; the first two of that trifecta have been rising competitors of ours, and it's interesting that all three of us join the top tier together.

It should also be noted that Renke Von dem Knesebeck had the final and decisive win in Austria claiming the world championship 3-2 over Spain. This was definitely Knesebeck's year; the entire second half of it he did about as well as he possibly could have.

Country Rankings

1. Spain - 2737
2. United States - 2307
3. Argentina - 2242
4. France - 2211
5. Germany - 2098
6. Austria - 2068
7. Greece - 2028
8. Great Britain - 2015
9. Italy - 1997
10. Russia - 1935

14. Sri Lanka - 1780

We've earned our way back to the top level, and will be in Group 1. Opponents are Australia, Great Britain, and Canada. I expect to finish no worse than second; Australia is the top competition with Eddy Copperfield (#3 doubles) and Jason Abercrombie (#7 singles) a difficult combo to overcome. Best guess is we end up behind them but ahead of the other two, and most likely end in the quarterfinals. But we'll see how much we can do.
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Old 11-12-2023, 06:17 PM   #1498
Brian Swartz
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Year 108 Top Ten Rankings

1. Ene Caballero (27, ESP, 86%, 9.03, -0.03) - 14,250

Caballero won only 1 of the 4 Slams, yet is #1 after taking the Tour Finals and 5 of the Masters. His spot is not at all secure; this doesn't feel like a changing of the guard moment, but more him taking advantage of the door left open for him by the number of Masters Faille chose not to play - 3 compared to the 1 that Caballero skipped. On the other hand, the Spaniard has won 6 of their past 8 meetings. It's ... complicated. If you asked me who the better player is, I'd have to say I really don't know. It's that close.

2. Ben Faille (29, FRA, 81%, 9.02, -0.09) - 13,960

Having now regressed to the rank of mere mortal, Faille made some curious decisions; one of which was to play a 500 event, then skip his home Masters at Paris. Had he played and won Paris, he'd still be #1. Ben lost eight matches this last year, more than he has since he was a rising 21-year-old. He might still be the best player in the world, but for the first time since his ascension it's a legitimate question.

If he never gets back to #1, he'll end up 4th all-time in longevity on that list. Still 5th in prize money, 4th in Masters, T-4th in Tour Finals and it seems unlikely he'll add to that total, and 3rd in Slams with 30. He needs only one more tie Mateo Kaspar for Slam titles and two to surpass him, which seems likely to happen. Only Chris Adams can say without fear of contradiction that he had a better career.

3. Jan Schleicher (25, AUT, 92%, 8.94, +0.14) - 8,380

The gap between Schleicher and the top two didn't really change last year, but the gap should narrow more going forward. Jan is probably about a year away from his peak, and potentially good enough to be a more consistent threat.

4. Johann Przalowik (30, DEU, 83%, 8.77, -0.08) - 7,300

Przalowik probably has another year left as the Top 4's gatekeeper. Now on the north side of 30, he is close to the end but still quite capable.

5. Kabo Mankaba (26, ZAF, 92%, 8.75, +0.02) - 4,795

A solid rise for the second year in a row for Mankaba, who has established himself as the next man up. He's quite similar to Schleicher but just not quite as good, and might well reach the #2 spot in a couple years time.

6. Goya Banqueria (29, ESP, 82%, 8.52, -0.03) - 4,500

Last year I noted that I thought Banqueria was about to lose the battle with time. He responded with a stronger-than-expected showing on clay, actually rebounding a spot from 7th. An impressive showing, and he did well to not decline further in his skills, but he's definitely overachieving at this point.

7. Jason Abercrombie (25, AUS, 92%, 8.64, -0.03) - 4,150

Abercrombie's abilities have plateaued early the last couple of years, a reflection of his management it would seem. He still moved up to make his first Tour Finals as we expected, as a couple of previous participants made their farewells.

8. Alvin Fant (25, USA, 93%, 8.58, +0.02) - 3,955

Fant surprised me for the second year in a row. I once said he wouldn't make the first page; now it seems he may make an appearance in the Top 5. There are better players pushing up behind him however, even if they don't have the benefit of American crowds.

9. Michael Sachse (24, DEU, 93%, 8.69, -0.04) - 3,270

Sachse made a few quarterfinals in big events, but mostly rode strong showings in 500s to make the Top 10. He figures to be a factor for another couple of years at least.

10. Iljia Starkov (24, RUS, 95%, 8.92, +0.16) - 3,120

I have Starkov as no worse than 4th in the world on paper. A long-delayed rise had him slash his ranking in half last year, and he should just be getting started. Iljia is good enough that he should replace somebody in the Tour Finals this year, and it's only a matter of time until he pushes the field aside to claim his moment at the top.


Davide de Laurentiis, Chris King, and Jochen Weigle all were eliminated from the first page in the past year; Fant, Sachse, and Starkov replaced them. While only Schleicher and Starkov are notably better than they were a year ago, the turnover slightly increased the average rating of the Top 10 from 8.77 to 8.79. With Knesebeck and Raychaudhari knocking on the door, I expect there will be enough upward pressure to offset the decline in established players by continuing the turnover.
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Old 11-12-2023, 07:24 PM   #1499
Brian Swartz
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Year 108 Rankings, 11+

11. Renke Von dem Knesebeck (22, AUT, 98%, 8.65, +0.29)

Von dem Knesebeck rose dramatically in the second half of the year, helping Austria to the WTC title, winning the Vienna 500 with the help of a favorable audience, and making the Canada Masters SF among the highlights. Nearly up to Top 10 standards with years of improvement remaining, his future is bright indeed.

12. Girish Raychaudhari (22, SRI, 99%, 8.66, +0.30)

Close behind - 140 points to be precise - Raychaudhari joins the Austrian in pushing up on the coattails of Starkov. It is rather frustrating that Knesebeck had the better year despite a 62-25 record, while Raychaudhari's mark was 65-18. The key moments didn't go his way, and of course there was the fact that he lost all three of their head-to-head meetings.

Hopefully that will change, but either way both players expect to battle their way onto the first page sometime this year. The only big event left to add is Monte Carlo; otherwhise it'll be about improving last year's results at the Masters and Slams, and looking for chances to replace 250 results with successful 500s.

18. Olivier Pitteaux (22, FRA, 97%, 8.76, +0.25)

There seems to be little chance that Pitteaux's continued improvement won't be rewarded much more significantly this year. He's definitely under-ranked for his abilities.

19. Jorg Weltsch (24, DEU, 93%, 8.77, +0.10)

Similarly, Weltsch didn't gain as much ground as I expected either, just a modest gain from 22nd. He will continue to be a dangerous foe to encounter, and I'd just as soon both Olivier and Jorg moved up a little more so that we don't run into them as early in big tournaments.

20. Simeun Despotovic (24, SRB, 94%, 8.43, +0.03)

A year ago, Despotovic improved considerably but slipped in the rankings. This year he pushed up from 29th, but didn't see nearly as much actual progress in his game. A surprising run to the Canada SF was a real outlier; it just doesn't seem like Simeun has found consistency yet.

23. Luke Ayriss (24, USA, 94%, 8.49, --)

Our first new name of the year, Ayriss was one of the top challenger players for years but finally got sick of that. Making the quarterfinals at the US Open was a major breakthrough for him, and we'll see how much he's able to back it up. A fast-aging player, Luke only has a couple of years to do so. He's not spectacular, but has a good serve and just enough athletic ability and technique to expect continued improvement.

26. Stanislav Mukarovsky (23, SVK, 96%, 8.54, --)

Mukarovsky made inroads at a couple of 500s, but didn't make it past the third round at any of the big tournaments. He seems to be dabbling too much in doubles, but athleticism and endurance are both solid and he's developed pretty well for his age. I expect to see Stanislav as a second-tier Top 10 player down the line.

27. Scott Fielder (23, USA, 96%, 8.35, +0.08)

Fielder is just kind of hanging out at the moment. Rally skill is abysmally low; improved his serve last year, but I definitely don't expect him to be a factor long-term.

31. Aparna Chandrasekharan (27, SRI, 91%, 7.94, -0.02)

And next up in the 'probably not good enough to be here' department is our very own Chandrasekharan. He figures to hang out in the no-man's-land of being too good for Challengers but not good enough to be a full professional for a year or two; probably reaches his peak sometime in the next year and then starts slowly regressing. He's done well for what he is, but I expect a fair amount of ping-ponging between Challengers and 250s for Aparna.

53. Leo Mac Si (20, ESP)

There's a rather depressing lack of young players pushing up at the moment. Mac Si is managed by the same person as Caballero, Schleicher, and Knesebeck, and he looks to have the next generation as his own by default. He's been hanging out around 50th for about a year now. There's nobody else under 21 even in the Top 100, but Leo is also quite a good young player so he'd do well even if there was better competition.

671. Sushant Srivastava (31, SRI, 79%, 6.67, -0.18)

22(J). Ram Mayuri (17, SRI, 84%, 4.93, +1.08)

Mayuri continues to be just a little behind; he did win another JG3 right at the end of the year but I don't expect a big final juniors year for him.

28(M). Manager Ranking - 11.7k.

Starting to tick upwards more quickly; gained 1.6k points, double the improvement of the previous year. Still plenty of managers ahead of me.

Last edited by Brian Swartz : 11-12-2023 at 07:27 PM.
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Old 11-14-2023, 05:01 AM   #1500
Brian Swartz
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Join Date: May 2006
I'm surprised you haven't talked about Landau yet btw - he looks promising.
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