Tag Archive: Jack Sock


Sunday Morning Reading List: Tuesday Afternoon Edition

It’s time for everyone’s favorite long-standing* weekly Challenger Tennis tradition: the Sunday Morning Reading List — the very best challenger-related articles of the week.  As is usually the case, Sunday’s reading list is appearing on a day other than Sunday because, let’s face it, the NFL is on Sundays and I can’t be expected to write while football is being played** I can’t be locked into a temporal limitation when good writing does not cohere to such Sunday-shaped, calendaric*** specifications.

For instance, this amazingly entertaining piece by Catherine Prendergast was just published today. (Confession: oftentimes I’m just waiting for a truly great piece of writing to inspire me to get off my lazy ass, walk to the computer, get back onto my lazy ass, and compile that week’s Reading List. AND THIS IS THAT.)

Titled  “The Last American Challenger”, this deliciously detailed read recounts the author’s week at what is the end of a long and grinding road for a lot of players: the Champaign Challenger.

What we have going on in Champaign, then, is something like Custer’s Last Stand—except in this version there are no Indians so the Americans are left shooting at each other.

I laughed approximately 18 times while reading this article. Prendergast does not pull any punches; from Jack Sock’s “brat”-like behavior, to Tennys Sandgren’s Lynyrd Skynyrd “porn stache”, it’s all here in glorious word pictures and not-quite-as-glorious picture pictures (although you seriously haven’t lived until you’ve seen the pointillist rendering of coach and tourney protagonist Billy Heiser).

"S-A-N-D-G, R-E-N. - NIGHT!"

“S-A-N-D-G, R-E-N. – NIGHT!”

Citing David Foster Wallace’s legendary tennis writing, this article dips into a vein of DFW-esque inspiration, which is the highest (and most deserved) compliment I can give it.

Speaking of Sandgren, this write-up from the UT Daily Beacon provides a nice summation of the Knoxville Challenger, from a University of Tennessee POV.  In the feature, Knoxville champ Tim Smyczek says, “Tennys is playing really well, and I think he is going to have a good Champaign.”  And boy, did Sandgren ever prove him right.

Had enough of Tennys? Of course you haven’t! Which is why you should also read Collette Lewis’s account of the success he and other college players had on the challenger tour last week, as well as the splashes juniors like Gianluigi Quinzi, Borna Coric, Christian Garin, Andrey Rublev and Ernesto Escobedo made at the Challenger and Futures levels.

On the subject of Futures, Irish #4 Daniel Glancy has been blogging about his experiences as he tours the late-season European Futures circuit. In the latest edition, he writes of the fiscal and physical challenges he faced at the Cyprus F1 event.  As ever, the best glimpses you can get into life on tour are from the players themselves.

Danny Glanny! (TM James Cluskey)

Danny Glanny! (TM James Cluskey)

Lastly, if you’re already over this season (though there’s still three Challengers and many Futures events happening this week, I’m obligated to point out parenthetically!) and can’t wait for 2014 and the possibilities presented for your Challfaves, look no further than Foot Soldiers of Tennis’s regularly updated series detailing the race to get into the Australian Open main draw.

That’s all for this week. Be sure to check back next (day I decide is) Sunday!

*Three weeks and running!

**Um, forget you just read that.

***Yes I made that word up.

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Hmmm.  It seems all I ever post here anymore is W.A.T.C.H. Lists.  Perhaps I should just change this blog’s name to WATCH List Tennis instead of Challenger Tennis.  Well fear not, loyal Challenger tennis fans, I’ve a post in the works that’s sure to be the best damn thing you’ll ever read*.  But enough about me and my lazy malaise; this post is about celebrating other people dammit! (Seriously, though, I’m great.)

Let’s therefore take a look at Who’s Achieved Their Career Highs for the week:

Player NATIONALITY Age New High
Federico Delbonis ARG 23 55
Michal Przysiezny POL 29 69
Tim Smyczek USA 25 87
Diego Schwartzman ARG 21 107
Facundo Bagnis ARG 23 143
James Duckworth AUS 21 147
Facundo Arguello ARG 21 150
Radu Albot MDA 23 172
Renzo Olivo ARG 21 179
Gerald Melzer AUT 23 187
Blaz Rola SLO 23 190
John-Patrick Smith AUS 24 208
Enrique Lopez-Perez ESP 22 224
Mohamed Safwat EGY 23 237
Lorenzo Giustino ITA 22 249
Kimmer Coppejans BEL 19 258
Thiago Monteiro BRA 19 266
Yong-Kyu Lim KOR 22 269
Chase Buchanan USA 22 275
Theodoros Angelinos GRE 29 283
Bjorn Fratangelo USA 20 292

So people, do you see what I see? (NOTE: I’ve highlighted it in blue, so if you don’t see it then you should get your eyes checked.)  Yup, that’s right: the Argentinians have continued their relentless assault on the weekly W.A.T.C.H. list charts.  And this week there are more then ever! Five (5) (FIVE!) of the Top 10 on this week’s list are from La Legion Argentina.

Seriously, what is in the water in Argentina?  Whatever it is, it makes them multiply like career-high Mogwai.

One of these beings is not like the others.

One of these beings is not like the others.

And can this Argentinian water be bottled and exported?  Because it’s almost as if the players from other nations are just WATCH list gate-crashers at this point. (And to think, San Juan Challenger winner Guido Andreozzi was only four ranking rungs off his high too!) Nothing surprises me about their success these days.  At this rate, I wouldn’t even be surprised if they all were from Tandil, a la Juan Martin del Potro, Juan Monaco, Maximo Gonzalez and others.  (Del Potro, by the way, thinks it’s the meat and not the water.)

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For the past couple of days, I’ve found myself wondering about just how advantageous home court advantage is in tennis.  Does it confer the same enormous weight as it does in team sports like football and basketball?

Yesterday, I finally started to look for answers. Since I found no sites online that distinguish between home and away records in tennis (and if there is one, please let me know so I can feel silly about having done all this work), I decided to do my own research on the matter. Here’s what I found:

Player Home Hard Court Win% Away Hard Court Win% Home Clay Win % Away Clay Win % Home Grass Win % Away Grass Win % Overall Home Win % Overall Away Win % % of matches played at home
Jack Sock 54.55% 50.00% 65.79% 62.50% 50.00% 33.33% 56.29% 52.94% 89.88%
Michael Russell 63.04% 56.48% 62.81% 44.04% 58.33% 42.86% 63.35% 48.75% 68.37%
Denis Kudla 56.73% 61.54% 55.56% 45.45% 42.86% 58.62% 57.29% 56.60% 78.97%
Tim Smyczek 57.27% 61.11% 59.26% 0.00% 66.67% 55.00% 57.47% 52.27% 91.63%
Ryan Harrison 58.46% 57.14% 53.85% 45.45% 55.56% 50.00% 55.88% 51.61% 68.69%
Rajeev Ram 49.50% 53.00% 35.71% 33.33% 70.00% 34.48% 52.17% 48.24% 71.99%
Rhyne Williams 50.62% 40.00% 59.46% 62.50% 0.00% 40.00% 54.59% 55.88% 84.47%
Alex Kuznetsov 54.84% 52.50% 61.73% 25.00% 62.50% 53.33% 55.21% 46.94% 83.04%
Wayne Odesnik 62.24% 51.28% 70.59% 58.08% N/A 50.00% 62.56% 56.36% 64.40%
Bradley Klahn 65.98% 50.00% 41.18% 50.00% 0.00% 50.00% 59.52% 50.00% 92.65%
Donald Young 58.05% 57.50% 56.00% 0.00% 40.00% 36.36% 57.07% 47.73% 81.55%
Bobby Reynolds 61.87% 56.00% 53.85% 27.27% 40.00% 53.66% 60.15% 51.38% 82.73%
Steve Johnson 58.14% 72.73% 47.06% 60.00% 50.00% 75.00% 57.03% 69.23% 83.12%
Austin Krajicek 58.09% 76.47% 65.22% 33.33% N/A N/A 60.22% 65.22% 89.00%
Brian Baker 53.70% 53.33% 87.14% 73.33% 66.67% 61.54% 64.07% 59.57% 83.09%
Robby Ginepri 58.02% 50.00% 48.15% 45.65% 69.23% 39.02% 56.99% 50.26% 66.26%
Tennys Sandgren 63.11% 40.00% 55.17% 16.67% N/A N/A 59.56% 27.27% 94.33%
Bjorn Fratangelo 46.94% N/A 63.64% 75.00% N/A N/A 57.66% 75.00% 89.54%

And yeah, I know that table is hard to read. Alas, my wordpress/HTML tabling skills aren’t what they could be.  To that end, I had to eliminate the “Indoor Home Win Percentage” and the “Indoor Away Win Percentage” columns in order to make room for the rest.  If you’re desperate for that information, I’ll be happy to email it to you.

To make things slightly more legible/enjoyable, I’ve colorfully highlighted the numbers I’m focusing on.  If you’re interested in the methodology behind how I arrived at these numbers, do please check the footnote*.

But within this horrid chart, the first thing that jumps out at me is:

Three of the four players who have a better winning percentage outside North America than they do within have something in common — can you spot it?  That’s right: they all played collegiate tennis. Rhyne Williams, Stevie Johnson and Austin Krajicek all have better records in far-flung regions than they do in the American North.

Steve Johnson and Rhyne Williams, NCAA Trophies In Hand

Steve Johnson and Rhyne Williams, NCAA Trophies In Hand

This suggests a few things.  First, the learning curve isn’t as steep transitioning to the pro game from college. This could be because a) they’re more familiar with playing against hostile crowds and people cheering against them (those of you who watch college tennis will know of what I speak); b) their bodies are more developed and physically able to keep up with the men as they begin life on the pro tour; c) their strategic sense is more developed or; d) all of the above. I lean toward “d”, myself, but I’m open to other suggestions.

(Author’s note: yes, I know Tennys Sandgren’s match record away from home flings a statistical wrench at my theory.  However, Sandgren is the American who plays the largest percentage of his matches on U.S. ground, and I don’t consider eleven matches (3 wins, 8 losses) to be a large enough sample size to be statistically relevant.  So my theory remains largely undamaged.  I think.  Maybe. You be the judge.)

Does Tennys Sandgren's Winning % Away From Home Make My Theory A Stretch?

Does Tennys Sandgren’s Winning Percentage Away From Home Make My Theory A Stretch?

You also may notice a red-highlighted Bjorn Fratangelo hangin’ a hefty 75 percent win rate in the foreign soil column.  In this case, the word “soil” is the key to figuring out that stat; e.g. the 2011 French Open Boys Champion is a red clay hound, and there ain’t hardly many red clay courts Stateside.  So he and his team have done a great job finding the proper venues through which he can find success.

The above numbers also give Ryan Harrison a couple of boosts he might be in need of these days: Harrison is the only “young gun” to play over 30% of his matches away from home. Only  the older guys like Robby Ginepri, Wayne Odesnik, and Michael Russell have played a similar schedule. Plus, Ryan has a winning record both at home and on the road.

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It’s Monday, and you know what that means: another W.A.T.C.H. List! So let’s see Who’s Achieved Their Career Highs this week*:

Player NATIONALITY Age New High
Edouard Roger-Vasselin FRA 29 64
Pablo Carreno-Busta ESP 22 66
Kenny de Schepper FRA 26 67
Joao Sousa POR 24 77
Jack Sock USA 20 79
Julian Reister GER 27 92
Alejandro Gonzalez COL 24 108
Diego Sebastian Schwartzman ARG 21 112
Oleksandr Nedovyesov UKR 26 116
Dominic Thiem AUT 20 150
Guilherme Clezar BRA 20 177
Renzo Olivo ARG 21 180
Kristijan Mesaros CRO 25 193
Gerald Melzer AUT 23 197
Pierre Hugues-Herbert FRA 22 199
Blaz Rola SLO 22 202
Mirza Basic BIH 22 204
Norbert Gombos SVK 23 214
Marton Fucsovics HUN 21 230
Valery Rudnev RUS 25 263
Shuichi Sekiguchi JPN 22 265
Patricio Heras ARG 24 269
Hiroki Kondo JPN 30 279
Kimmer Coppejans BEL 19 289
Victor Baluda RUS 20 290
Mikhail Biryukov RUS 21 294
Bjorn Fratangelo USA 20 296
Alexander Rumyantsev RUS 21 297

A week ago, there was this idiot banging the doom drums re: the lack of young Americans achieving career high rankings post-US Open.  Well that’s because no one was playing in those weeks, idiot! This week sees two young Americans, Jack Sock and Bjorn Fratangelo, charting career highs — they each made the semis of the Kaohsiung and Campinas Challengers, respectively.  Hopefully this will shut that guy up!

Jack Sock - Challenger Tennis's Original Mascot

Jack Sock – Challenger Tennis’s Original Mascot

Meanwhile, the rise of the young Argentinians continues, seemingly unrelentingly. I wonder, though, what kind of ceiling 5′ 7” (1.70 meters) Diego Schwartzman will have.** I’ve been very impressed with his game and the power he can generate with his small frame, but we’ve seen players of similar heights struggle to move up the rankings before (Ricardas Berankis and Olivier Rochus are the first ones who come to mind).  On the other hand, there’s Michael Chang and, more recently, David Ferrer.  So time will tell if the Schwartzman’s height limitation will also limit his height on the rankings ladder.

May The Schwartz Be With You

May The Schwartz Be With You

Either way, you just know that the second David Nalbandian – whose lifelong tennistical goal has been to win the Davis Cup for his country – retires, this contingent of young Argies will probably win it.  Maybe Nalby (who, incidentally, fell 8 spots to #232 in this week’s rankings) will at least get to be coach if/when that happens.

This weekend saw some big results for guys who played collegiately in the US: Oleksandr Nedovyesov, winner of the Sczecin Challenger and former All American/ITA Player of the Year for Oklahoma State, is up 34 spots. While Ohio State’s 2012 NCAA doubles champion and 2013 NCAA singles champ, Blaz Rola, rolled on up 23 spots to #202, courtesy of his semifinal showing at the Kenitra Challenger. As if we needed more evidence, it’s clearly looking more increasingly viable for college players to make a smooth transition to the pros — I really don’t think John Isner will be college athletics’ one-hit wonder***.

Rola Rollin'

Rola Rollin’

Apropos of absolutely nothing, two of my favorite tennis names made it onto this week’s List: Norbert Gombos and Marton Fucsovics. Long may they rise!

Finally, Filip Peliwo, who some morons were saying only has a 14% change of making the Top 200 while he’s still in his teens (aka another 4ish months), won the $15,000 Markham F9 Futures in Canadia, and the 27 ATPts he takes from there will zoom him up to ~250th when his points are added next week (Futures points aren’t usually added until 8 days after its final is played).  He now needs ~51 pts to make the Top 200, so 2 more comparable victories can get him there.

Oh, and in case you didn’t click either of those links above, the “idiot” and “moron” I referred to was me in both instances.  *bows theatrically*

*ranked between #60 and 300, that is

**here’s where a less classy writer would make a “at least there’s plenty of room under the ceiling at that height” joke. But I would never. Not even in the footnotes.

*** why yes, I am trying to make a joke about his serve ending most points.

Delray Day One – aka Aussie Wildcard Playoff Redux

The day dawns warmly and beautifully at the ATP 250 Delray Beach for the first day of qualifying action. It’s so toasty, in fact, that this February day in South Florida offers a reasonable facsimile of what I’d imagine Australia was like around, say, the Tennis Australia Wildcard playoffs. Not content to merely imagine, I proceed to track down every Aussie on the grounds throughout the day, it seems.

I arrive early and scavenge the practice courts. First and best stop of interest is out on Court 6, where none other than International Tennis Hall of Famer Mark Woodforde is out with new charges Marinko Matosevic and Matt Ebden, helping them with their serves (note: they’re all Australian). “Use the same setup when you go down the ‘T’,” he advises Matosevic. “Gotta get that disguise.” Matosevic scolds himself for each little technical transgression but is very supportive of Ebden.

In the first match of the day, I see Ebden put that serve to good use, as he faces 2010 Easter Bowl champ, 17-year-old Bjorn Fratangelo, who received a wildcard into qualifying. Ebden serves five aces and just one double fault, connecting successfully on seventy percent of his first deliveries, and winning 79% of those.

Ebden serves vs. Fratangelo

Fratangelo is overmatched, sure, but it’s among the more impressive less-than-an-hour defeats I’ve seen in a while. If that sounds like I’m damning with faint praise, I don’t mean to be. He hits some terrific-looking backhands, displaying excellent footwork, balance and technique, outright catching the man from Perth flat-footed on a few. Good movement and the occasional ripping forehand, too (although he seems a bit more inconsistent off that wing).

Ultimately, though, the Western Australian is just that much stronger and steadier, on serve and otherwise. He advances 6-2 6-3 to the next round, where he’ll face second seed Igor Kunitsyn, a 7-5 4-6 6-2 winner over Tim Smyczek.

I watch a bit of Smyczek, who looks good in the set I see him play (I’ll let you guess which one that was), then move to catch top-seeded Blaz Kavcic against the popular Ecuadoran, the 28-year-old Giovanni Lapentti. From Smyczek to Kavcic – seems poetic enough to me. Oh, wait. Back up a bit. While watching Smyczek, I’m treated to the unintentional hilarity of well-meaning fans accosting poor Woodforde while he watches yet another Aussie, Mr. Samuel Groth, fire some first balls.

One gent tells Woody that he got his autograph at Disneyworld in 1999. Another quizzes him about long ago matches vs. the Bryan Bros. “Do you remember that match?” the beset upon coach is asked. “Yeah, we played them a few times,” Woodforde answers patiently, while trying to do his job. Good man.

OK. Kavcic. Lapentti. What can I say? Blaz blazed through the tired-looking younger Lapentti bro, taking some time to gripe along the way, as per. The 23-year-old Slovenian is one of those players whose venting just amuses me (though not in a Joe Pesci way). With others’ negativity, there’s a real sense of menace. With Blaz, it’s just what he does. The Courier-esque baseliner, currently on a career high of #83 in the rankings, displays his usual tenacity and scrambling – with bits of skill and volleying thrown in for good measure. The net result is all kinds of not bad – he advances 6-2 6-2 and will play Rajeev Ram in QR2, who won 7-5 6-2 over local fave and wildcard winner Eric Hechtman.

As today is turning into an Ozsome theme day, I check in on how Matosevic is faring against 28-year-old South African Raven Klaasen.

That’s So Raven

Under a watchful Wood(e)y(e), he’s playing haphazardly, as has been the case for 2011. At 3-all in the third set, he looks up at the chair umpire. “Score?” he inquires. Then he ma-tosses in three consecutive service winners from 15-0 and flashes a cheeky, little-boy smile to his coach, like, “Look what I just did!” He reels off the next eight points to win the match 7-6(1) 3-6 6-3. Amazing how he can just seem to click his game “on” sometimes and thereafter look unbeatable. He’s similar to Alex Bogdanovic, in that respect. When it’s all going right, you think, “How is this guy not Top 50? Top 25?” It seems so effortless. Sadly for them (and possibly for us as well), it hardly ever all goes right.

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