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Discussion Starter #1
Sydney: The Candidates

Three more weeks. That's it. Three more chances to qualify for Sydney.

Perhaps, since Sydney is the only justification for the current ATP "ranking system," we should briefly outline how the Race works.

It is not, properly speaking, a ranking system at all; it doesn't tell how good a player has been over the past year. It is, rather, a predictor, endeavoring (with limited success) to forecast a player's chances of reaching the Masters Cup in Sydney. The Race consists of two parts: The Required Events, of which there are thirteen, and the Optional Events. All top players are expected to play the Required Events, which are the four Slams and the nine Masters Series. If they don't play, they still have the events "billed against them"; they get a zero in their scoreline. Since these events are so important, they carry big points: 200 Race points for a Slam win (140 for a final, 90 for a semifinal, etc.) and 100 Race points for a Masters Series win (70 for a final, etc.)

The Optional Events are just that: You can play whichever ones you want, and as many as you want (or, really, as few as you want; the system's bias against these events is so strong that you can't get to the top by playing there). Only your five best Optional Events count -- and since they carry a maximum of 60 Race points for the winner, and most carry only 35 points for the winner, they truly don't matter much.

A player's Race score consists of his total from the Required Events plus his five best Optional Events. The eight players who end the season with the highest Race Rankings play the Masters Cup. (Exception: If a Slam winner is not in the Top Eight but is in the Top Twenty, he gets admission. If there are several such Slam winners, only the highest-ranked one gets in. In 2001, that exception will put Goran Ivanisevic in Sydney.)

For most of the year, the Race doesn't mean much: It doesn't tell you who has had the best results in the past year, because it doesn't include a full year, and for most of the year it isn't a very good predictor of players' chances for Sydney, because it doesn't reflect all surfaces or all required events. This is why the ATP has been forced to retain its Entry Rankings: Because it needs a real (if still rather inaccurate) system to determine seedings and tournament admission.

But as we approach the end of the year, the Race finally starts to take on meaning. As of now, 11 of 13 required events have been played (Stuttgart is #12), and 88% of required event points have been awarded. And any leftover points from 2000 are stale, and about to expire. And everyone is gunning for Sydney. As of now, there is a good (though still far from perfect) correlation between Race and Entry rankings, and players have only three more weeks to earn their way into Sydney.

We know how many Race points a player can earn in that time: 100 at Stuttgart, 50 at Basel (less whatever a player would lose off his fifth optional tournament), and 100 at Paris. Since Pete Sampras and Sebastien Grosjean are at 363 points, that theoretically means that anyone with a Race score above 113 (i. e. with a race standing of #59 or higher) is still in the Race.

Only they aren't. Even if someone did earn that many points, that reduces the total anyone else could earn to 185, and so forth. So even though the ATP's Race algorithm denied it, we have known for several weeks that six players will play Sydney. Five have earned spots directly: Kuerten, Agassi, Hewitt, Rafter, and Ferrero. Another, Goran Ivanisevic, earned the Get Into Sydney Free card at Wimbledon; he's going even though he hasn't and won't earn the points to qualify directly. That leaves only about ten players with outside shots at Sydney.

Let's examine the candidates.

1. Gustavo Kuerten
STATUS: QUALIFIED
Titles in 2001: 6
Indoor Titles in 2001: 0
Comments: Kuerten is the ATP #1 under every reckoning system, and has enough points that he could qualify for Sydney twice. The question is not whether he will qualify; it's what he'll do once he gets to Sydney. Kuerten has only one indoor title in his life -- last year's Masters Cup. The courts at Sydney probably won't be that slow. The good news for him is, he could still end the year at #1; Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt have a long way to go to catch him.

2. Andre Agassi
STATUS: QUALIFIED
Titles in 2001: 4
Indoor Titles in 2001: 0
Comments: Agassi started 2001 looking absolutely invincible. Then the hardcourt season ended. By the time summer hardcourts started, he wasn't quite as unbeatable. And he has "only" ten indoor titles in his career. But will there be anyone at Sydney able to stop him?

3. Lleyton Hewitt
STATUS: QUALIFIED
Titles in 2001: 4
Indoor Titles in 2001: 0
Comments: Until he won the U. S. Open, the knock on Hewitt was that he couldn't win the big ones. Now we have to come up with a new knock on him. How about this: He can't win indoors. Hewitt is up to ten career titles -- and still doesn't have an indoor victory, though he reached last year's Stuttgart final. If he's going to break through, Sydney would seem a logical spot. Except that Patrick Rafter will be there, too.

4. Patrick Rafter
STATUS: QUALIFIED
Titles in 2001: 1
Indoor Titles in 2001: 0
Comments: You'd think a guy with Rafter's serve-and-volley game would have an indoor title or seventeen. But no; of his eleven career victories, four are on grass and the rest on hardcourts. He has only three indoor finals, and none of those at major events. Right now, he's sort of coasting his way to Munich; he's more or less shut himself down since the U. S. Open. If he has a Secret for Sydney, it's the Australian fans; they'll be cheering for him even more than Hewitt.

5. Juan Carlos Ferrero
STATUS: QUALIFIED
Titles in 2001: 4
Indoor Titles in 2001: 0
Comments: Juan Carlos Ferrero played like gangbusters in the clay season. He did so well that he even won a hardcourt title. But since then, all the energy seems to have come out of him. Even on clay, he's underperformed. And indoor surfaces make it worse. His Race ranking has been slipping for half a year. He's still such a strong #5 that he's set for the Masters Cup (he's almost 200 points ahead of co-#7s Sampras and Grosjean), but don't be surprised if he falls lower by year-end.

6. Yevgeny Kafelnikov
STATUS: LIKELY TO QUALIFY
Titles in 2001: 2
Indoor Titles in 2001: 2
Comments: If Yevgeny Kafelnikov were a clay player, we might say there is a slight chance that someone would overtake him in the ATP Race. But rumors to the contrary aside, Kafelnikov is an indoor player; of his 24 career titles, fully twelve were earned indoors, and his proportion is climbing; of his ten titles since 1998, seven have been under a roof. Kafelnikov has never won an indoor Masters Series (he has, in fact, never won a Masters Series at all!), but with a 75 point lead over Sampras and Grosjean, it's hard to imagine two players passing him in the Race in the next three weeks.

7 (tie). Sebastien Grosjean
STATUS: MAY QUALIFY
Titles in 2001: 0
Indoor Titles in 2001: 0
Comments: The good news for Sebastien Grosjean is that he's playing, and hence earning points, again. The bad news is, Pete Sampras has more room to add points (if he plays next week), and the worse news is, indoors is probably Grosjean's worst surface. That's not to say he's bad here; he reached the Stuttgart semifinal last year. But if there is a surface where he is vulnerable, this is it. Tim Henman looks like a real candidate to pass him, and so does Pete Sampras. Our guess is that Grosjean will not be going to Sydney.

7 (tie). Pete Sampras
STATUS: MAY QUALIFY
Titles in 2001: 0
Indoor Titles in 2001: 0
Comments: How can we possibly predict what Pete Sampras will do? The guy has won the Masters Cup five times, and has a total of 22 indoor titles -- but hasn't won an indoor Masters Series since 1997. His only indoor title since the end of 1998 was the 1999 year-end event. In 2000, he played neither Stuttgart nor Paris; in 1999, only Paris, losing in the third round. He has no titles this year. On the face of it, he ought to be able to outplay Grosjean indoors. But can he outplay Tim Henman?

9. Tim Henman
STATUS: MAY QUALIFY
Titles in 2001: 1
Indoor Titles in 2001: 1
Comments: Tim Henman may have only one title this year, but it was indoors, and overall he's had one of the best years of his career. He's had a rather poor career at the indoor Masters Series, but of his seven career titles, four have been indoors -- and they're his most recent four (Basel 1999, Vienna 2000, Brighton 2000, Copenhagen 2001). He entered this week only 11 Race points behind Grosjean and Sampras. In context, that's pretty much a dead heat. His odds look pretty good.

10. Marat Safin
STATUS: MAY QUALIFY
Titles in 2001: 1
Indoor Titles in 2001: 0
Comments: Marat Safin had his big chance at Lyon. He could have gotten up there with the big boys. Instead, he lost to Ivan Ljubicic. By reaching the semifinal, he put himself at #10 in the Race, and kept his hopes alive -- but he has to gain 40 points on Sampras and Grosjean, and 30 on Henman. He has a good chance to overtake someone on that list, but overtaking them all is a different bucket of borscht. Safin is at last looking solid again, and we'd call his chances good if there were more time for him to gain ground -- but there isn't.

11. Roger Federer
STATUS: MAY QUALIFY
Titles in 2001: 1
Indoor Titles in 2001: 1
Comments: Roger Federer's situation is a lot like Marat Safin's: Injuries have hurt him badly. He was one of the best indoor players in the spring, but he missed most of the summer tournaments, which cost him in the Race and left him in poor form when the indoor season began. We'd consider his chances better if we thought he were fully recovered. As it is, he's still mathematically a strong contender (39 points behind Sampras and Grosjean), but probably not a "real" contender -- especially since he lost on Tuesday at Stuttgart.

12. Tommy Haas
STATUS: MAY QUALIFY
Titles in 2001: 3
Indoor Titles in 2001: 1
Comments: Haas is suddenly the come-from-nowhere guy. By winning Vienna, he put himself in contention. He has a long way to go, but his best surface statistically is indoors. And he has a secret weapon in the German fans. If they can propel him to a Stuttgart title, his chances for Sydney look pretty good.

13. Alex Corretja
STATUS: UNLIKELY TO QUALIFY
Titles in 2001: 1
Indoor Titles in 2001: 0
Comments: Alex Corretja's Race standing says he has an outside shot at Sydney. His history makes it unlikely. Corretja has two indoor titles (Lyon 1998, Toulouse 2000), which is pretty good for a Spaniard. But he's sixty points behind Sampras and Grosjean. He's never been past the third round of the indoor Masters Series. It adds up to falling short.

14. Goran Ivanisevic
STATUS: QUALIFIED
Titles in 2001: 1
Indoor Titles in 2001: 0
Comments: Goran Ivanisevic took the shortcut to Sydney: Win a Slam and who cares how lousy you are the rest of the time? Historically, he isn't bad at all indoors; two-thirds of his career titles are indoors. But they also were a long time ago. There is no way Ivanisevic can fall below #20 in the Race, so he'll make Sydney. Whether he can pick up significant points along the way is another question.

15. Arnaud Clement
STATUS: UNLIKELY TO QUALIFY
Titles in 2001: 0
Indoor Titles in 2001: 0
Comments: Early this year, Arnaud Clement seemed like a shoe-in for Sydney; he had built up a lot of points, and he historically was at his best indoors; his only career title (Lyon 2000) and his first career final (Marseille 1999) were both under a roof. Then he started losing and losing and losing some more. He's now 70 points behind Sampras and Grosjean. He'll have one more chance at Paris, where the crowd will try to pick him up -- but he just doesn't seem to have it any more.

16. Guillermo Canas
STATUS: UNLIKELY TO QUALIFY
Titles in 2001: 1
Indoor Titles in 2001: 0
Comments: Canas demonstrates part of the problem with the ATP Race system: The Great Discontinuity between those who qualify for Masters Series events and those who don't. Canas started the year playing qualifying and Challengers; he's now #16 in the Race, but in effect he lost the first third of the year. It's nearly impossible to qualify that way. And he's 82 points behind Sampras and Grosjean. He just reached his first indoor final, and also won his first match at Stuttgart, but he needs at least a win or a final and a semifinal at the remaining required events in order to make Sydney. And his background is on clay.

17. Andy Roddick
STATUS: UNLIKELY TO QUALIFY
Titles in 2001: 3
Indoor Titles in 2001: 0
Comments: Roddick suffers from the same problem as Canas: He started the year ranked too low to get into the required events. His chances indoors are probably better than Canas's, but he's five points further back; even if he wins one of these events, he has to pass ten other players to get to Sydney. Someone in that list should surely earn enough points to stay ahead of Roddick. That's the real difficulty. Roddick could finish ahead of almost any of the other not-yet-qualified candidates. But he has to finish ahead of all of them.

The #18 player in the Race is Thomas Johansson, who at 249 points entering Stuttgart is 27 points behind Roddick and 114 behind Sampras and Grosjean. It's too much.

So who will go to Sydney? Six we know, and we'll bet on Kafelnikov. #8 remains beyond our power to guess. Henman has the best indoor history, so he perhaps should have the best odds. But we will probably change our minds many times in the next few weeks. We may not know with certainty until the Paris final.

(bob larson's newsletter)
 

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Thanks for the article....

Yes, Kafelnikov is a sure bet...
But I hope that his compatriot, Safin can join him although that may be a long shot...
 

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Becca: I know EXACTLY what you mean, LOL...

Safin's draw in Stuttgart looks pretty tough but with him blowing hot & cold.. you are right anything can happen... <IMG SRC="smilies/rolleyes.gif" border="0">
 

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Federer can count himself out unless he wins PARIS

Yevgeny needs Semis in any of the Two Masters and he's in. Plus he can gain around 30 pts for winning St Petersburg.

Marat Safin can also gain some optional pts by winning there (37) winner gets 45.

Marat v Pete may or may not take place as yet both still to win , Marat was pretty pleased when Rios beat his nemesis Santoro.

Henman has a pretty easy draw , hopefully Clement can put paid to him in 3rd rd.

If Agassi doesn't lose to Arazi he should make semis.
 

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Haas has been playing really well recently and he deserves to play in Sydney but I doubt he'll win Stuttgart, though he can have some really good wins
 

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Well, well, what a day of upsets... Poor Safin, probably he was too happy at not playing Santoro to care .. <IMG SRC="smilies/frown.gif" border="0">
Yevgeny was made to work hard against Pavel but he came through.. <IMG SRC="smilies/smile.gif" border="0">

Agassi, Ferrero....... Bye from Sttutgart...

Seems that either Sampras or Grosjean will have a higher chance to Sydney now.... Yeah, Nina, I prefer Haas to qualify as well, he did well for this year winning 3 titles already...

[ October 17, 2001: Message edited by: bubble ]

[ October 17, 2001: Message edited by: bubble ]
 

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Marat <IMG SRC="smilies/firey.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/firey.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/firey.gif" border="0"> disappointing <IMG SRC="smilies/frown.gif" border="0">

now he's got little or no chance <IMG SRC="smilies/frown.gif" border="0">

its between Sampras , Henman and Grosjean for last place.

Top half is loaded with the big guns
 

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Discussion Starter #13
The race to Sydney is getting tighter and the result is spectacular tennis. I love it! Kafelnikov, Sampras, Haas and Henman are still in contention. Grosjean was beaten by Ferreira but he cannot be counted out. Who will get the one remaining slot? Hmmm... Here's an update on the article I posted earlier.
TC

Stuttgart: Right Back Where We Started
Weren't things supposed to be clearer by now? With one spot at the Masters Cup still wide open, someone was supposed to fold.

But they didn't. Even though eight of sixteen seeds lost in the second round at Stuttgart, the Big Three -- Sebastien Grosjean, Pete Sampras, and Tim Henman -- all came through. So we're still right where we started: We don't know who will make Sydney.

Henman had advanced on Tuesday, but Sampras and Grosjean both were in action on Wednesday, and both advanced in straight sets over clay-courters. #8 seed Grosjean had the easier win, a 6-3 6-4 victory over Albert Costa. #9 Sampras was pushed harder by Stefan Koubek, but still won 7-6 6-3.

Several players further down the Champions Race didn't have such luck. Marat Safin, seeded #6 but only #10 in the Race, faced exactly the sort of opponent he hates in Marcelo Rios and lost 7-6 6-3. Safin still has an outside chance for Sydney, but this definitely did not help.

#10 seed Alex Corretja, who stood at #13 in the Race, saw his hopes just about end when he lost 3-6 6-2 6-2 to Jiri Novak. He's now down to #14 in the Race, and both Guillermo Canas and Andy Roddick have chances to pass him. Mathematically, Corretja could still qualify. But he won't.

Nor will #12 seed Arnaud Clement, a 4-6 6-2 7-5 loser to Nicolas Lapentti. Clement falls to #16 in the Race, after having been #2 early in the year. The slump just won't end. Let's put it this way: We've now played eleven required events since the Australian Open, but 48% of Clement's Race points are still from the Australian Open final. He's still #13 in the Entry Rankings. Don't expect him to stay there. Lapentti, on the other hand, may earn his way back into the Top 25. Making it worse for Clement is that he loves surfaces like this, and Lapentti tends to like things more clay-like.

Three players with outside shots at Sydney won their matches and kept their hopes alive. #15 seed Tommy Haas faced a tough challenge from Sjeng Schalken, but won 4-6 7-6 6-2, and by doing so moved up to #11 in the Race. And Andy Roddick, seeded #14, outgunned a tough Julien Boutter 7-6 7-6.

In the toughest match of the second round, Guillermo Canas, the top unseeded player and ranked #18 coming in, beat the bottom seed, #16 Thomas Johansson, ranked #17. The score was 3-6 6-3 7-5 for Canas, and it means that the two will swap rankings. And Canas will take over the #15 Race spot.

#4 seed Juan Carlos Ferrero continued to struggle indoors, losing 4-6 6-3 7-6 to Thomas Enqvist. It's a good thing Ferrero is already set for Sydney; he couldn't earn his way in at this rate! Even so, it's a big win for Enqvist; who will break back into the Top 25 in the entry rankings (perhaps #22), and around #30 in the Race. It's been a long road back for the Swede.

#5 Yevgeny Kafelnikov faced a tough opponent in Andre Pavel, but pulled it out in the end, winning 4-6 7-6 6-3. It still doesn't quite guarantee him a spot in Sydney, but he's going to be very hard to overtake.

Oh, and Andre Agassi lost. Hicham Arazi handed the #2 seed his second indoor loss of the year, 7-6 7-5. Making this even more significant is the fact that Lleyton Hewitt won on Tuesday. That means that Agassi will definitely fall to #3 in the Race next week. It's even possible that he'll fall to #3 in the Entry Rankings if Hewitt wins Stuttgart. And the Australian is the top seed left -- indeed, the only one of the top four seeds left. Still, Hewitt has never won an indoor title; Gustavo Kuerten must be breathing a sigh of relief to see his competition going down so quietly.
(bob larson newsletter)

[ October 19, 2001: Message edited by: TC ]
 

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Go, Sampras win it all!!!!!!!!!
 

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pts POS latest

<PRE>
<FONT SIZE=3>

1-Kuerten 756
2-Hewitt 722*
3-Agassi 684
4-Rafter 557
5-Ferrero 553
6-Kafelnikov 483*
7-Sampras 388
8-Grosjean 378
9-Henman 377*
10-Haas 337*
11-Safin 332
12-Federer 325

* still in Stuttgart

[ October 19, 2001: Message edited by: TheBoiledEgg ]
 

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Great win for Yevgeny over Enqvist 75 64 to get into the semi and cement further his ticket to Sydney! <IMG SRC="smilies/bounce.gif" border="0">

Good luck to
Max!
Haas!
Wayne!
 

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bubble ..... i added those points on already

Max has to beat Pete
Haas to beat Henman

go Tommy Boy !!!!!!! & Maxim !!!!!
 

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Egg, I know that already! <IMG SRC="smilies/wink.gif" border="0">
Was just happy for Zhenya's win to add in my comment. <IMG SRC="smilies/smile.gif" border="0">
 

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Max Mirnyi leads Sampras 6-4 2-0 <IMG SRC="smilies/bounce.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/bounce.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/bounce.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/bounce.gif" border="0">


Zhenya v Maxim semi i hope <IMG SRC="smilies/bounce.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/bounce.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/bounce.gif" border="0">
 

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WOW Mad Max !!!!!!!!

He just beat the crap out of Pete

6-4 6-2 ..... great stuff Maxim <IMG SRC="smilies/smile.gif" border="0">


Guga , Goran and now Pete !!!!!!!!!

Max v Yevgeny is tomorrow SF
 
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