ATP 2011 – Ranking Review

Following the conclusion of the 2011 ATP World Tour Finals, the tennis season for top male professionals came to a close.

Only the Davis Cup final remains to be decided but with the publication of the year-end rankings on Monday, we have a clear view of how the season went for the young players.

Here are some of the winners and losers of the 2011 ATP World Tour.

High-climbers

Juan Martin Del Potro (#258 to #11): Still only 23, the former US Open champion had been as low as #484 in February but battled back from a persistent wrist injury to end the year on the fringes of the top 10 and can still win the Davis Cup with Argentina.

Kei Nishikori (#98 to #25): On the court, 2011 proved to be the best season for the Japanese 21-year-old since winning the 2008 Newcomer of the Year award. Outside tennis, he suffered tragedy when his homeland was hit by a deadly tsunami. After strenuous campaigning, he transformed his ranking by reaching his first Masters 1000 semi-final and became Japan’s highest-ranked male player in tennis history.

Milos Raonic (#156 to #31): The 20-year-old won the 2011 Newcomer of the Year award thanks mostly to a blistering start to the season. A fourth round run at the Australian Open followed by his first title at the SAP Open in San Jose took him into the top 50 for the first time.

Donald Young (#127 to #39): Reached his highest ever ranking position after making his first ATP final in Bangkok and the last 16 of his home tournament the US Open. The 22-year-old left-hander recorded wins over Stanislas Wawrinka and Andy Murray along the way.

Bernard Tomic (#208 to #42): His standout achievement was reaching the Wimbledon quarter-finals as an 18-year-old which propelled the Aussie into the top 100. Third round appearances at his home Grand Slam as well as the Shanghai Masters took him into the top 50.

Ryan Harrison (#173 to #79): The 19-year-old American broke into the top 100 with a successful string of results on the hard courts of his home country. Semi-final runs in Atlanta and Los Angeles were halted by US no.1 Mardy Fish. 

Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (#375 to #81): Having only turned professional in 2010, Stebe’s rise to the top 100 has been rapid. Two Challenger Tour titles in September qualified the 21-year-old for the inaugural Challenger Tour Finals, which he also won.

Stagnates

Grigor Dimitrov (#106 to #76): On the surface it may seem like a decent season for the 20-year-old Bulgarian but for a man dubbed the next Roger Federer, he’s yet to take that great leap forward. He did have his best Grand Slam performances in his career and had been on the cusp of the top 50 but the former junior US Open and Wimbledon champion fell away.

Ricardas Berankis (#87 to #125): Lithuania’s best ever player looked set to have a progressive year until he injured his back before the start of the clay court season. His performances in Challenger tournaments kept him from falling too far from his 2010 year-end ranking.

Biggest Fallers

Ernests Gulbis (#24 to #61): Much like Dimitrov, Gulbis is a player many expect(ed) to make the top 10. Now aged 23, his chances of making a name for himself are dwindling as he finishes the year outside the top 50.

Thiemo De Bakker (#43 to #223): The former Dutch number two has a string of first round defeats to his name and the 23-year-old became restricted to Challenger events towards the end of the season as his ranking dropped outside the top 200.

Honourable mentions

Alexandr Dolgopolov won his first ATP title in Croatia and moved into the top 20.

Youngsters Gastao Elias, Aljaz Bedene and Vasek Pospisil all finished inside the top 200.

Former US Open junior champion Jack Sock made the top 400 while 18-year-old Brazilian Guilherme Clezar is already in the top 300.

For a full list of the official 2011 year-end rankings click here.


Advertisements

Casablanca Cup Changes

The Casablanca Cup, the first Grade A tournament on the junior circuit, will change venue and surface this year. The event which runs from 26th December 2011 until 1st January 2012 will be played on clay at the Club Deportivo Chapultepec having moved from the hard courts of the Club Casablanca Satelite. The tournament remains in Mexico City.

Thiem and Khromacheva take titles

Top seeds Dominic Thiem and Irina Khromacheva claimed the boys’ and girls’ singles titles at the XXV Yucatan Cup 2011 in Mexico after beating their second seeded opponents in the final.

Austria’s former French Open finalist Thiem inflicted a 6-2, 6-4 defeat on this year’s US Open semi-finalist Kyle Edmund, who had also played a role in Britain’s triumph at the Junior David Cup, to claim his second singles title of the season.

Khromacheva, meanwhile, chalked up her fourth title of 2011 after beating Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard 6-7 (2-7), 6-3, 6-2. The Russian further cements her place at the top of the junior rankings despite not playing a junior event since the US Open but was prevented making it the perfect week when her opponents were handed a walkover in the doubles.

The Yucatan Cup is a Grade 1 hard court tournament and ranks only one below the junior Grand Slams and Grade A events. The Eddie Herr International Junior Tennis Championships is also at Grade 1 and starts on Monday in Florida.

For a full list of this year’s Yucatan Cup winners and draws click here.

Raonic Award

Milos Raonic has been named the 2011 ATP World Tour Newcomer of the Year. It comes with the Canadian placed at number 31 in the world after starting the year at #156. The 20-year-old’s highlights include a fourth round appearance at the Australian Open and winning his country’s first tour title for 16 years in San Jose.

Stebe Wins Challenger Finals

Source: Douglas Daniel/www.challengerfinals.com.br

Cedrik-Marcel Stebe capped a remarkable turnaround this season by winning the first ever ATP Challenger Tour Finals after beating Dudi Sela 6-2, 6-4 in Sao Paulo.

The 21-year-old German came into the year as world number 375 and had been ranked as low as #405 in February but claimed two Challenger Tour titles in Bangkok and Shanghai during September to qualify for the finals.

In Brazil, the left-hander lost to Sela in his opening round robin match but defeated fellow countryman Matthias Bachinger and Portuguese second seed Rui Machado to face another compatriot Andreas Beck in the last four.

The semi-final couldn’t have been more tight. After losing the first set 7-5, Stebe found himself a break down at 6-5 but levelled and won the tiebreak to take the match into a third set.

Despite having 16 break point opportunities in the match, Stebe could only convert three but 12 aces helped force a deciding tiebreak which he won 7-4 to earn a place in the final after two hours and 49 minutes.

The final didn’t last nearly as long. Sela won just one of his six break points while his opponent took four of eight to comfortably take his third career title.

Earlier in the year, following wins over Nikolay Davydenko and Fabio Fognini in the ATP 250 event in Stuttgart, he received a wildcard to another home tournament and beat the Russian again along with Juan Carlos Ferrero.

He eventually fell at the third round stage of the International German Open but his impressive results meant he reached the top 100 for the first time at the end of October.

Entering the Challenger Tour Finals, Stebe had been ranked just outside the top 100 but the young German is now set to rise and end the year in his highest ever ranking position.

WTA 2011 Ranking Review

Following the Czech Republic’s 3-2 victory over Russia in the Fed Cup final, the tennis season came to an end for hundreds of female players on the WTA Tour.

Barring the few with minds on ITF events during the winter, the rankings which came out on November 7th will be the number they start at in 2012 and are the clearest indication of how players have progressed during the last year.

Here are some of the winners and losers of the 2011 WTA Tour.

High-climbers

Petra Kvitova (#34 to #2): In a remarkable season capped by the Czech’s two singles rubber victories in her country’s Fed Cup final win, the 21-year-old won Wimbledon and the WTA Championship crown along with another four titles.

Sabine Lisicki (#179 to #15): Going into the year on the back of a serious ankle injury, the German didn’t really prosper until the grass court season. After winning the Aegon Classic in Birmingham she went to Wimbledon and beat French Open champion Li Na en route to a semi-final place.

Irina-Camelia Begu (#214 to #40): The Romanian’s breakthrough came in Marbella where she lost to Victoria Azarenka in the final of the Andalucia Tennis Experience. She reached her second international final in Budapest and found success on the ITF circuit to claim a top 50 place.

Christina McHale (#115 to #42): Finished the year in her highest ever ranking position after the 19-year-old put in solid performances throughout the season which included a straight sets victory over Caroline Wozniacki.

Petra Martic (#144 to #49): The Croatian started the year knowing she’d been in the top 100 before and quickly established herself back amongst the big names and into the top 50 for the first time.

Mona Barthel (#208 to #67): Lisicki isn’t the only young German to rise significantly in the rankings. With the country now having her, Andrea Petkovic, Julia Goerges, Angelique Kerber, Kristina Barrois and Barthel in the top 100 their tennis status looks healthy again.

Irina Falconi (#217 to #80): The 21-year-old American had her best season on tour at Grand Slam level, making the first round of the first three and the third round at her home major to earn a solid place in the top 100.

Heather Watson (#176 to #92): At one point, the young Brit looked like being the second-highest ranked player from the UK before Anne Keothavong’s late surge. The 19-year-old will be pleased to have broken the top 100 after reaching the second round of the French Open and several international quarter-finals.

Alexandra Cadantu (#378 to #96): Romanian tennis is also on the up. With six players in the top 100 including Begu and 20-year-old Cadantu just scraping in following a high climb thanks to a successful ITF campaign.

Sloane Stephens (#198 to #97): Being an American helped during the US-leg of the tour as a quarter-final run in Carlsbad and a third round loss to Ana Ivanovic at the US Open makes the 18-year-old the youngest player in the top 100.

Stagnaters

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (#21 to #16): Reached the top 20 early on in the year but indifferent end-of-season form prevented her from pushing on to a top 10 place.

Bojana Jovanovski (#71 to #65): After going into the season as the youngest player in the top 100, she entered the top 50 twice but couldn’t solidify a place and, had it not been for her win over Alona Bondarenko in October, could have finished outside the top 70 again.

Alize Cornet (#78 to #89): Having reached the fringes of the top 10 in 2009, she couldn’t get back to those heights in 2011 and dropped 11 places. Despite great performances on the big stages, a string of first round exits mid-season proved her downfall.

Coco Vandeweghe (#114 to #127): The 19-year-old American broke into the top 100 this year and had been there for much of the season. However, three successive first round exits at the end put her behind her 2010 final ranking position.

Biggest Fallers

Aravane Rezai (#19 to #113): France’s number two player coming into the year never recovered from the controversy surrounding her Australian Open campaign in January. After that point, the 24-year-old slumped to finish outside the top 100 for the first time since 2005.

Melanie Oudin (#65 to #139): Winner of the breakthrough award in 2009 following a quarter-final run at the US Open aged 17, the now 20-year-old American had a season to forget this year. The former top 50 player couldn’t get back to that level and dropped outside the top 100, ironically during the US-leg of the tour.

Agnes Szavay (#37 to #256): The 22-year-old former top 20 player suffered a huge setback at the beginning of the clay court season as she was hindered by a back injury. She then missed the rest of the year in order to recover from the career-threatening problem.

Honourable mentions

Polona Hercog, Rebecca Marino, Simona Halep and Sorana Cirstea all rose to higher places in the top 100.

Yulia Putintseva, Alison Van Uytvanck and Monica Puig all reached the top 300 after moving on from their junior careers.

Kazakhstan’s Galina Voskoboeva, 26, rose a staggering 474 places to return to the top 100 and make her highest ever final position of #58.

Laura Robson and Caroline Garcia both secured top 150 places with Robson now the youngest player in the top 150 at 17 years of age.

For a full list of the official 2011 year-end rankings click here.

Nishikori stuns Novak

Had he not secured the title of Newcomer of the Year for 2008, it would seem this year has been the breakthrough season for Japan’s Kei Nishikori.

Back then he claimed his first and only ATP World Tour trophy at Delray Beach but even though he’s yet to add any silverware to that collection he’s been to two finals including the Swiss Indoors this week.

In getting there, Nishikori did the rarest of feats for a male player in 2011 by beating current world number one Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals. If getting to his first Masters 1000 semi in Shanghai last month wasn’t enough of a landmark, then the 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-0 victory over the formidable Serb will certainly give him some attention.

Djokovic had only lost three matches on tour all year, with two of them retirements. The reigning Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open champion struggled with a shoulder injury in the final set so don’t read too much into the bagel.

Nishikori won’t care though. He’s now one of only four people to say they beat Djokovic in his historic year and only one of two outright, the other being Roger Federer.

Federer was Nishikori’s opponent in the final in Basel and although the 21-year-old lost comfortably in the Swiss’ home country he’s been given special discretion to enter the Paris Masters.

Anything Nishikori does from this point is a bonus for his home nation. Having become the first Asian to win the Newcomer of the Year award, his solid 2011 season including a final in Houston to go with Basel means he’s the highest ranked Japanese player of all time.

It comes after he missed most of the 2009 season through injury. He’ll now be looking to avoid another breakdown after a record season and kick on next year with a place in the top 50 secured.

%d bloggers like this: