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Cincinnati Post Mortem, Open odds, NEW Hard Court ATP Rankings as of 22 August 2011

August 22, 2011 | 06:57 PM

Following a brief forensic report on the maimed and injured at the conclusion of the 3rd annual (4th?) US Open Series, a march almost as bloody as the rebels path to Tripoli (anyone see a clever, not to inappropriate nickname for the the Series?), you can peruse Jeff Sackmann's latest Hard Court Rankings from his heavytopspin.com blog. They may give, numerically, a sense of who the favorites should now be going into the US Open. I will first list some the questions about the major contenders to win, starting with the finalists in yesterday's odd match.

I was taken by surprise at the news of Joker retiring when down a set and 3-0 to Murray in the final (Murray was my only injury hunch after he gripped his hamstring in the semis). I'd expected Joker would be tiring after 9 matches in 12 days and noticed he was losing his serve more often, but hadn't heard the rumors floated by the CBS commentators (Carillo and Courier) before the match began. Play began rather as Joker's earlier matches in Cincy had begun against Harrison and Monfils, with him making mistakes and losing his serve. Joker's body language was different this time, languid from the start, with a focus on his right shoulder, but the quality of tennis quickly improved to a final level. After being in danger of being down two breaks, Joker broke back to reach 3-3. Long points and long games followed on both player's serves, with interesting rallies reaching 42 shots. The two seemed equal to the task during the rallies, but by 5-3 for Murray it was obvious that Joker was the one worn down. The tennis then resembled more a Santoro v Brad Gilbert affair, with Joker slowing his serve down to 100 mph and introducing drop shot-lob combos while Murray was content to hit heavy loopers and prolong rallies. After being down 0-30, Joker came back to hold, and came back again from 0-40 on Murray's serve almost to deuce before the set ended, 6-4 Murray.

In the break between sets, the trainer worked on Joker's right shoulder while Carillo and Courier speculated about whether he would continue. Carillo was the more realistic, it turned out, while Courier held to the high ground, talking about the new 2011 Joker as a different character than the previous cards who had a pattern of bail outs in similar circumstances. It was certainly not the 2011 Joker who returned in the 2nd set, or even the Joker of the first set. His serves were now loopy, and his efforts half-hearted at best as he went down 0-3. With a thunder storm bearing down on the stadium before the change-over, Joker decided to mail it in before he got wet, leaving Murray to be interviewed under an umbrella. He now says he's confident that having 9 days off will be enough for him to recover his previous conditioning (he's a pretty confident fellow, and confidence breeds success, if not fitness).

Perhaps Murray was not the only top player who thought he'd be the last one top player standing in Cincy.

Here's a look at the other top 10 on the Hard Court Rankings (below), all of whom should make it at least into week two, even though they are all hurting in some way:

#2 Nadal: while he's been known to play well with fingers and feet swathed in bandages and tape (as they were in Montreal), since his Wimbledon 1st set against Del Potro, his tennis has been sub par and his fitness suspect. Rarely one to thrive this late in the season, he can't be expected to defend his Open title even though he'd nearly kill himself to do so. He practically killed himself to beat Verdasco in 3.5+ hours in midday Cincy heat, only to lose 3 and 4 to Fish the next day. Current Betfair odds on him winning: 1/5. Those seem high.

#3 Federer: After his wonderful but difficult two set win over Del Potro in his first Cincy match, Rog never looked the same. We know he wouldn't particularly care about defending his title there, but his movement against Berdych was not even second rate. Rog likes to return hard shots and glide into position, but did neither in that loss, not going to the effort to set up to make some backhand swings and producing errors that could only be called half-assed, completely uncharacteristic of his normal error profile from the baseline. He served well, but only into the deuce court. To me, this adds up to a hunch: he may have been protecting a strain to his lower back or shoulder/neck region. With at least 9 days off after his loss on Friday, I'd expect Rog to be back in pretty top shape by the start of the Open, and given injuries to other top contenders and his past success on hard courts here, I'd say he is a higher favorite than the odds now grant him at 1/6.

#4 Murray: Odds on his winning (1/6) are about the same as for Roger, which seem about right to me. This may be his best chance yet going in to the tournie, as none of the three men ahead of him have quite the momentum they'd like.

#5 Del Potro: Fifth is his Hard Court ranking according to Sackmann's algorithm, and the odds (1/19) also place him 5th in spite of disappointing hard court results in the last two weeks (losing in straight sets in the 2nd round to Cilic and Federer). Several more match wins would have moved his ranking to the top 16, which would have improved his draw and his chances. So I think the odds are rightly longer than I expected for him by now. He just hasn't played and won enough on hard courts leading up to the Open for him to defend his title of '09, when he had won Washington and gotten to the Canada finals beating Nadal and Roddick, then #5.

#6 Mardy Fish: The Open Series winner has won more matches (14) than anyone else has played this summer, losing only to Joker (in Montreal final), Murray (in Cincy semis) and Gulbis (in DC final). Though he should be in bad need of rest now, he may be the only one of the top 10 that hasn't at least appeared injured this summer, and partly for that reason I'd place him as a top contender for the Open title after only Joker, even with Murray and Roger. Sackmann's Hard Court Ranking places him 6th, though his actual ranking is again #8 (Monfils passed him after his wins in Cincy, as he was defending 0 points there). Betfair odds for him also tie him for 6th with Tsonga at 1/33, which I think are low. Once the draw is out, we'll know better: if he's in Joker's quarter, his odds decline to Betfair's level.

#7 Tsonga: Though his odds may be the same as Fish's and his ranking on Sackmann's scale just beneath the American at #7, I'm very skeptical of his chances to win. He retired from his semi-final against Joker in Montreal, and lost in his second match in Cincy to Alex Bogomolov (a bad loss, 3 and 4). His ATP ranking is #12, and even if gets past past the quarters with another upset of a top player, unlike Fish he's not fit enough to sustain a run all the way.

#8 Soderling: Hardly worth talking about him, as he's been injured since winning a tournie over Ferrer in Sweden in July. His odds (1/49) are still better than Berdych, probably because he's still ranked #6.

#9 Berdych: Tomas may be regretting his decision to withdraw against Joker after losing the 1st set 7-5 in the semis of Cincy, if only because he could have gained valuable points if he'd played further and waited for Joker to withdraw. I'm assuming his withdrawal was a conservative decision, and that his shoulder injury may be less aggravated than Joker's. Were this the case, he was playing very good hard court tennis against Federer in Cincy, and might be more a favorite than the odds give him at 1/79.

#10 Monfils: Gael is 1 behind #10 Wawrinka in the Hard Court assessment but is ranked #7 and was playing well in Cincy against Joker. Though he's won at the 1000 level before on hard courts, indoors in Paris last year over Federer, it's impossible to imagine him going all the way in a major. And yet, his odds are higher than former champion Roddick, who seems to have fallen nearly off the earth with, yes, a shoulder injury. I'd like to say Monfils is less injured than others above him, but since he's almost always injured, I can't. Suffice it to say he may make it to the 2nd week if he has a good draw and shows up playing serious tennis as he did last week.

If these injuries strike you as ridiculous and unnecessary (and there are more down the rankings, including Sam Querrey, out after elbow surgery to remove bone chips last month), then perhaps like me you're wondering if the player council isn't discussing changes in the format of competitive play. Here is an obvious one that could be kicked around:

- run singles competitions (except majors) the same as doubles with a super tie-breaker instead of a 3rd set, and/or,

- play no-add games (perhaps with a 3rd set)

Why might this help?

My sense is that the occasional difficult match longer than 2.5 hours does more to harm a player's condition than a lot of shorter matches in a row.

Among the apparently uninjured players a little further down the Hard Court Rankings, who might make the 2nd week in New York, I'd include these from #10 to 20 to round out my pool of the 16 most likely (ditching Roddick, Baghdatis, Davydenko, Nalbandian):

Wawrinka, Cilic, Ferrer, Simon, Gasquet, and Verdasco

In the next 20, to include another 8 names to the possible quarterfinalists, I'd add:

Gulbis, Tipsarevic, Youzhny, Kohlschreiber, Melzer, Almagro, Isner and Lopez

WOMEN: In Brief...

Worth highlighting that #4 Sharapova defended her title beating #12 Jankovic in 3 sets, but not until after blowing a two break, 4-1 lead in the first set and losing 7 games in a row. Surprised? Her 2nd big title of 2011 after Rome in May.

If Serena had really injured her toe before Cincy and not received an invitation to the Kardashian wedding, Maria would be the favorite in New York. As it is, her odds are 13/2 against versus Serena's 7/4 (Serena's current odds don't reflect the fact that unless the USTA breaks with tradition and seeds a player higher than her ranking, she'll be #29, which could make her draw very challenging).

Next in line are Azarenka & Kvitova, then Wozniacki, Zvonareva and Li, and apres, tout le monde in approximately their meaningless rank order. Still listed as playing is #36 ranked Venus, though it's anyone's guess if and how she'll play (no reason to think she'd play better than she did at Wimbledon, losing in the round of 16 to #51 Pironkova).

Clijsters will not defend her title due to her stomach muscle injury.

Rick



Hard Court Singles Rankings: 22 August 2011

Jeff | August 22, 2011 at 11:41 am | Categories: Rankings, U.S. Open | URL: http://wp.me/p1mxTm-7Q

With the U.S. Open a mere seven days away (and qualifying starting tomorrow!), it's time to update my hard-court singles rankings. If you're interested in some of the methodology underlying these rankings, start here.

Here's the top 101. For what might be the first time since I started publishing these, Delpo is knocked out of the top four. Because my system takes into account the last two years, he could take a hit when the 2009 US Open comes off the books. It's not as major a shift as in the ATP rankings, because my system has already heavily discounted the 2009 Open because it was so long ago, but given how large a factor those wins play in Delpo's ranking, it will make a difference.

Also interesting to see how my system reflects the mess that is 6 through 15. Fish, appropriately, heads the group on hard courts, while Ferrer loses several spots compared to the ATP rankings. (Remember, these numbers are hard-court specific.) Melzer and Almagro find themselves way out of the running.

Note also what these numbers do with some younger players -- Bernard Tomic is on the cusp of cracking the top 20, and Ryan Harrison is inside the top 50.

RANK PLAYER POINTS

1 Novak Djokovic 7509

2 Rafael Nadal 4977

3 Roger Federer 4154

4 Andy Murray 3911

5 Juan Martin del Potro 3207

6 Mardy Fish 2709

7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 2654

8 Robin Soderling 2360

9 Tomas Berdych 2034

10 Stanislas Wawrinka 1907

11 Gael Monfils 1842

12 Marin Cilic 1790

13 David Ferrer 1601

14 Andy Roddick 1518

15 Gilles Simon 1507

16 Nikolay Davydenko 1422

17 Marcos Baghdatis 1392

18 Richard Gasquet 1339

19 Fernando Verdasco 1321

20 David Nalbandian 1279

RANK PLAYER POINTS

21 Bernard Tomic 1279

22 Milos Raonic 1267

23 Ernests Gulbis 1256

24 Janko Tipsarevic 1159

25 Viktor Troicki 1143

26 Mikhail Youzhny 1108

27 Florian Mayer 1093

28 Alexander Dolgopolov 1068

29 Philipp Kohlschreiber 1061

30 Jurgen Melzer 1045

31 Samuel Querrey 1044

32 Nicolas Almagro 1023

33 Ivan Ljubicic 1011

34 Kei Nishikori 1005

35 John Isner 982

36 Ivan Dodig 948

37 Michael Llodra 921

38 Feliciano Lopez 903

39 Radek Stepanek 896

40 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 854

RANK PLAYER POINTS

41 Kevin Anderson 751

42 Jeremy Chardy 745

43 Juan Monaco 745

44 Dmitry Tursunov 740

45 Philipp Petzschner 736

46 Ryan Harrison 736

47 Julien Benneteau 734

48 Marcel Granollers 720

49 Tommy Robredo 716

50 Adrian Mannarino 709

51 Robin Haase 664

52 Alex Bogomolov 662

53 Xavier Malisse 660

54 Thomaz Bellucci 651

55 Lleyton Hewitt 621

56 Sergey Stakhovsky 613

57 Ivo Karlovic 607

58 Grigor Dimitrov 602

59 Thiemo de Bakker 598

60 Andrei Goloubev 596

RANK PLAYER POINTS

61 Lukasz Kubot 592

62 Olivier Rochus 586

63 Donald Young 585

64 Dudi Sela 559

65 Santiago Giraldo 554

66 Mikhail Kukushkin 543

67 Andreas Seppi 541

68 Denis Istomin 541

69 Igor Andreev 528

70 Pablo Cuevas 521

71 Fabio Fognini 512

72 James Ward 505

73 Yen-Hsun Lu 500

74 James Blake 488

75 Richard Berankis 477

76 Matthias Bachinger 474

77 Albert Montanes 468

78 Lukas Lacko 466

79 Benjamin Becker 466

80 Jarkko Nieminen 463

RANK PLAYER POINTS

81 Ryan Sweeting 461

82 Leonardo Mayer 458

83 Somdev K. Dev Varman 454

84 Jerzy Janowicz 444

85 Daniel Brands 444

86 Matt Ebden 440

87 Michael Zverev 437

88 Tobias Kamke 429

89 Evgueni Korolev 426

90 Blaz Kavcic 421

91 Michael Berrer 419

92 Daniel Gimeno 416

93 Vladimir Ignatik 416

94 Edouard Roger-Vasselin 412

95 Frank Dancevic 406

96 Alejandro Falla 401

97 Ilia Marchenko 399

98 Gilles Muller 396

99 Grega Zemlja 396

100 Simone Bolelli 387

101 Wayne Odesnik 386

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From: "Heavy Topspin: A Tennis Blog"

Date: August 22, 2011 11:41:37 AM EDT

To: erdevereux@gmail.com

Subject: [New post] Hard Court Singles Rankings: 22 August 2011

rick


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