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

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.

Wimbledon 2011 – Ranking Review

The grass court season is over and with the end of Wimbledon it means more ranking points have been lost or gained during the fortnight.

The women’s top 20 is pretty much unchanged with Petra Kvitova up one place after her Grand Slam success, progressing two steps further than her performance last year.

Sabine Lisicki is the biggest mover in the top 100 after having no ranking points to defend and then duly making it to the semi-finals. She’s jumped 35 places from #62 to #27 and sits just six places from her highest ever ranking position which she achieved in 2009.

Laura Robson’s first round victory was enough to see her enter the top 200 again and to a career high of #185.

The 17-year-old beat Angelique Kerber and rattled eventual finalist Maria Sharapova but lost to the Russian. She can now take heart from a season which looked like a step backwards as she’s now 32 places ahead of where she started in January having been much lower than that.

After always being behind her sister Karolina, Kristyna Pliskova has now moved ahead of her 19-year-old twin following a first round appearance against Marion Bartoli thanks to getting though qualifying. The Czech left-hander is in a career high position of #188.

Austrian Tamira Paszek has moved into the top 50 from #80 after the 20-year-old’s quarter-final run as Bojana Jovanovski dropped out of it.

There were also ranking rises for Rebecca Marino, Christina McHale and Coco Vandeweghe. Heather Watson remained at #106 and one place ahead of 19-year-old Misaki Doi who has shot up from #133.

The significant mover from the men’s tour was not surprising. Bernard Tomic’s breakthrough quarter-final run as a qualifier means he’s not only into the top 100 but deep into it at #71, an increase of 87 places.

Fellow 19-year-old Ryan Harrison is on the edge of the top 100 after qualifying and progressing to the second round. He’s at an agonising 101 in the world.

Grigor Dimitrov and Kei Nishikori both went up two places after second round appearances and had decent matches against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Lleyton Hewitt respectively.

Milos Raonic and Alexandr Dolgopolov dropped a solitary place and are next to each other in the mid-20’s of the rankings. They’ll be looking at the return of the hard courts to make further impact this season.

French Open 2011 – Ranking Review

With the second Grand Slam of the year completed the ranking changes this week will feature significant drops and encouraging highs as the points gained or lost are at their highest values.

Therefore it seems an appropriate time to assess how the ATP and WTA tour rankings look heading into the grass court season and how some of the players being tracked on this website are progressing.

The biggest news, and the main brunt of it in all honesty, comes from the WTA tour.

Heather Watson’s five match winning run which saw her through qualifying and into the second round of the main draw has been rewarded with a top 100 place.

It’s the first time the 19-year-old has been in the top 100 and she has a great chance of getting higher this year as she’s entered the Aegon Classic and Wimbledon should give her a wildcard if she can’t qualify automatically.

Another big mover is Caroline Garcia. The 17-year-old almost pulled off the shock of the tournament after being two games away from beating Maria Sharapova in front of her home crowd but her first round win, with some help from her own wildcard, entry means she’s risen 38 places to #150.

Other young players who’ve made big strides are American Christina McHale, Canada’s Rebecca Marino and Romanian Sorana Cirstea.

Sabine Lisicki is back in the top 100 having made the third round and Vania King has reached #85 which is an increase of 30 places.

In terms of the top 10, there is good news for Petra Kvitova who’s at a career high world number eight whilst the chasing pack of Andrea Petkovic, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Julia Goerges have nudged ever closer to the next level.

Strangely enough it’s China’s Li Na who’s become a superstar at the age of 29 after becoming the first Asian player to win a Grand Slam title. Not many put that bet on two weeks ago but then again the same could be said of last year’s winner and her opponent in the final Francesca Schiavone.

A similar scenario is emerging in the ATP tour in that the titles are being won by older players. There really isn’t a new generation coming through yet in the men’s game with Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and now Novak Djokovic favourites to win every major, masters series and world championship final.

Two of the above are undoubtedly modern-day legends and until they either retire or become awful then the sport will continue to be dominated by them.

Looking to break the dynasty are the likes of Milos Raonic and Alexandr Dolgopolov, who have dropped a place and gained one respectively. They seem to be the only young players with top 10 potential at the present time.

Marin Cilic and Ernests Gulbis had that at one point but the former has gone down six places over the two weeks and 13 places in total from the start of the year. Gulbis, incidentally, has actually gone up five places.

There are other ways of becoming a tennis superstar though. Just making the top 50 these days gets you noticed whilst you can still be big in your home country or continent, which Li Na has proven and Kei Nishikori is still striving for.

The Japanese 22-year-old is down a place but is still up 38 from the start of January. The American situation is also intriguing with their supposed lack of depth but Mardy Fish and Andy Roddick have both returned to the top 10 but youngster Ryan Harrison has moved down three places to #122.

The men’s tour is interesting. It seems to be in different leagues right now. But still, the young players, and even some old where warranted, will continue to be charted here whether that be in the top 10, top 100 or number one in Kazakhstan.

%d bloggers like this: