Tag Archive: James Duckworth


My tenth and final Player to Watch pick for 2014 is bound to confound, surprise and possibly annoy. After all, there are so many worthy candidates, but only one more can be chosen. 

So. Could it be Lucas Pouille, the 19-year-old French lad who gained almost 250 places in the ATP rankings this year and for a brief time was the only teen in the Top 200 alongside 2014 Player to Watch number seven, Nick Kyrgios?

"Come on, you know it should be me!"

“Oui oui oui, it’s me me me!”

Or is it possibly Filip Peliwo, the 19-year-old Canadian former junior #1 who rose over 250 places in this years rankings and is now training in Spain with Galo Blanco?

"It's me, right?"

“It’s me, right?”

Since former US college players who are older than 22 are now allowed under the Colette Lewis amendment of 2013, will it be Tennys Sandgren, the 22-year-old University of Tennessee standout whom we last saw winning the Champaign Challenger and improving his 2013 ranking by almost 50 places?

"Looking for the final PTW pick? Look no further than this guy, right here!"

“Lookin’ for your final PTW pick? Look no further than this guy, right here!”

Howzabout Karen Khachanov, the Russian 17-year-old who shocked the world by making the quarterfinals of the ATP 250 Kremlin Cup, beating Janko Tipsarevic along the way, and raising his ranking a mere 1,458 places this season?

"Da da da!"

Da da da!”

Or Karim Hossam, the 19-year-old Egyptian who climbed over 800 ranking rungs in 2013 and won four Egyptian Futures titles?

"If it's not me, I will clobber you!"

“If it’s not me, I will clobber you!”

The answers: Non. No. Nope. Nyet. And sorry, Karim.

Nay, this year’s final Player to Watch is someone for whom I’ve shamelessly bent my own arbitrary rules, including him even though he’s ranked inside the original “between #150 and #500 in the world” criterion I established for original PTW selection.

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Our ninth Player to Watch for 2014 is the third 17-year-old to be featured in these here pages. For all the (rightful) talk of the Top 100’s average age increasing to 27, and the recent difficulty for any teens to break through in the men’s ranks, this trio of 1996-borners* has really been Doing Things at the pro level this year.

And it’s not because they’re particularly physically precocious either, which makes their 2013 achievements all the more impressive — and, of course, bodes well for when/if they eventually are at their corporeal peak.

I chose Mr. Ninth Player in part because my picks have been too Eurocentric so far; six of the eight PTWs to date are Euros, with only one South American and one Australian. And, with the Christmas holidays growing ever nearer, it just seemed right that we have a Christian on the roster. #logic

Therefore, it is with much(o) gusto that I present my penultimate Player to Watch for 2014, Christian Garin.

Go For The Gusto

Go For The Gusto

Though many first learned of him through his unseeded red clay sweepage of Roland Garros this year, losing only one set and beating the 3rd, 4th and 8th seeds on his way to the title, the ATPeerers among us took notice of his fine play at the ATP 250 event in Viña del Mar, where he beat Dusan Lajovic and took a set from third seed Jeremy Chardy before succumbing in the second round**.

Hereafter follows some highlights of that Chardymatch in which you can learn, among other things, that Christian could use some more practice with his forehand return of serve:

But you can also see that, while not quite at a Gonzo level of gusto, Garin can also crank his favorite stroke up to a near-Fernando forehandular ferocity, which is something he may have picked up from his pal and legendary countryman, Fernando Gonzalez. 

Gonzo, by the way, has not ruled out a return to the courts for the South American games in Santiago next October, but only in doubles and only if he can play with Christian.

Garin and his Fer-iend

Garin and his Fer-iend

As all Players to Watch apparently must do in 2013***, Garin also practiced with Rafael Nadal at Viña (and additionally signed with Nadal’s manager, Carlos Costa, on the strength of his performance there – although whether from practice or match-play is unclear at this time), a heady experience for the then-16-year-old.  

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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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Welcome back to the series everyone is talking about*!  The one in which we examine the questions: how advantageous is it to have the home court on the ATP tour?  Does it confer the same enormous weight as it does in team sports like football and basketball?  (You know, the pressing issues of the day.)

Let’s have a look at the data:

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
Matt Ebden 58.14% 59.04% 0.00% 40.63% 68.97% 61.54% 58.64% 56.42% 35.37%
James Duckworth 46.30% 58.82% 60.00% 70.33% 60.00% 50.00% 49.28% 65.69% 33.50%
John Millman 55.74% 68.70% 69.23% 53.42% 85.71% 45.45% 60.49% 60.48% 27.84%
Nick Kyrgios 77.27% 65.45% N/A 50.00% 0.00% 50.00% 73.91% 63.93% 27.38%
Sam Groth 59.80% 56.69% 68.75% 52.08% 70.00% 67.39% 62.32% 57.82% 31.94%
Matt Reid 59.81% 50.89% 41.67% 63.33% 44.44% 46.67% 57.03% 55.50% 36.99%
J.P. Smith 28.57% 70.73% N/A 60.00% 50.00% 50.00% 31.25% 64.54% 10.19%
Greg Jones 58.06% 53.90% 77.78% 58.93% 66.67% 55.26% 61.04% 54.32% 35.65%
Matthew Barton 62.07% 56.52% 42.86% 40.00% 42.86% 0.00% 56.56% 55.56% 65.95%
Ben Mitchell 65.79% 62.16% 64.71% 25.00% 75.00% 0.00% 66.19% 51.52% 58.40%
Player Home HC Wins Home HC Loss Away HC W Away HC Loss Home Clay W Home Clay L Away Clay W Away Clay L Home Grass W Home Grass L Away Grass W Away Grass L
Matt Ebden 75 54 111 77 0 4 13 19 20 9 24 15
James Duckworth 25 29 20 14 6 4 64 27 3 2 6 6
John Millman 34 27 79 36 9 4 39 34 6 1 5 6
Nick Kyrgios 17 5 36 19 0 0 2 2 0 1 1 1
Sam Groth 61 41 89 68 11 5 25 23 14 6 31 15
Matt Reid 64 43 57 55 5 7 57 33 4 5 7 8
J.P. Smith 4 10 58 24 0 0 12 8 1 1 7 7
Greg Jones 72 52 83 71 14 4 33 23 8 4 21 17
Matthew Barton 54 33 26 20 12 16 2 3 3 4 0 2
Ben Mitchell 75 39 46 28 11 6 5 15 6 2 0 5

In Part I of the Home and Away series, we saw that American players spend the majority of their year at home. Even Wayne Odesnik, who spends the most time playing abroad, spends 64.4% of his match time in North America.

This time around, we see the Aussies are just the opposite**.  Since there aren’t enough events (and enough points on offer) inside of Australia, the Oz contingent must hit the road to ply their trade***. And once they’re overseas, they try to stay awhile; these guys (the smart ones, anyway) aren’t going to fly 24 hours to a destination only to play one event.  That eventually would be fiscal, if not physical, suicide.

So away they stay.  Whereas the American Top 20 play an average of 81% of their matches at home, the Aussie Top 10 (of those who still play regularly on the Challenger/Futures Pro Circuit) only play an average of 36% of their matches in Australia.  Of that bunch, the person most like Marge Simpson’s husband (in that he’s the biggest homer) is also the only guy to play more than 37% of his matches at home. That would be 21-year-old Matthew Barton (with a whopping 66% of his matches played at home), and this year even he has played the majority of his tennis Up Over (as opposed to, you know, Down Under).

Homer and Matthey have never been seen in the same place, which I think is kinda suspicious.

Homer and Matthew have never been seen in the same place, which I think is kinda suspicious.

Although one must reconsider the definition of “home tennis” when one considers the case of one John-Patrick “J.P.” Smith. The 24-year-old Townsville, Australia native made another home for himself in Knoxville, USA, where he was a four-time ITA All-American in singles and doubles at the University of Tennessee.  Hmmmm, an Australian All-American, eh?  The plot thickens.

When we look at the numbers, we see that J.P.’s only ostensibly played 10% of his matches at “home” (i.e. Australia).  And he performs far better on non-Australian soil — he wins 64.5% of his “away” matches, as opposed to his 31% in Oz.  It seems as if the table is inverted where J.P.’s concerned, and his true tennis home is much more Americentric these days.

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So.  Hello.  I’m pretty sure it’s not me you’re looking for either.  And I know I’m supposed to be driving to Florida right now, but the Northeast is getting slammed with snow – bamboozled by blizzard, we are! – so I’m (Tom) delayed for one more day. Which means, despite my procuring of the finest guest-hosting talents (and they are doing a spectacular job), you are stuck with me for one more day. I don’t know what to do with myself, other than sully my site with more of my words. Therefore, I proudly present to you my Australian Open men’s qualifying day one wrap-up – cabin fever edition:

I was able to wake up in the middle of the night and watch the livestream of the John Millman v Sebastian Rieschick match as well as the Greg Jones v Olivier Patience contest. Then I fell asleep again (sorry Gooch!) Turns out that Greg and the Mailman were the only Aussies to come good out of the twelve who played yesterday.

That’s right, two wins out of twelve. Maverick Banes, Matt Reid, Chris Guccione, Sean Berman, Sam Groth, James Duckworth, Ben Mitchell, Luke Saville, James Lemke, and Brydan Klein all lost. Ouch. All Ozzed up, and no place to go. In fairness, Mitchell’s effort (some of which I saw) was superb, taking top seeded Blaz Kavcic to 4-6 in the third set. And Saville lost to a red hot Nicola Mahut. 

Benny Mitchell – Will He Escape From Full Screen Mode?

So I’m especially glad to have seen the rare instances of Aussome success in all their glory. And they were glorious indeed. If ever a match could be called “classic John Millman”, this match vs. Rieschick was the one. The Mailman seemed dogged by the conditions early, and easily distracted by “fans” with highly questionable etiquette. His shots were landing short in the court, and his opponent was taking those short balls and teeing off, making more than he missed.

Thus, the amiable Queenslander found himself down a set and a break, with the burly German serving for the match, when he was granted a rain-delay reprieve. After an hour or so break, Milkman came out raring to go, a noticeable spring in his step that was absent pre-precip. Maybe he enjoyed some caffeine during his break. I offer this as evidence for my hypothesis:

Meanwhile, Rieschick was nowhere to be found, and ambled out onto the court a good five minutes or so after John did. When play resumed, Mailman overcame match point, shoddy line calls, and dodgy inter-game spectator migrations to break twice and take the second set 7-5. Rieschick also could no longer find the court – that helped, too.

The third set opened with three straight breaks, Sebastian settled a bit more into his game after an extended walkabout during the previous frame’s conclusion.

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