Tag Archive: Ryan Harrison


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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Young Guns Taking Shots At ATP Early

We’re only four days into the 2011 tennis season, and already some of the players who’ve spent most of their young pro careers at the Challenger level are making a bit of noise at this week’s ATP 250 events.  Here are the notable performances so far:

At the Brisbane International, unseeded 18 year-old Ryan Harrison made it through the qualifying tournament, taking out the hobbled third-seed Michael Russell before posting wins over solid Challenger players Matthias Bachinger and Jurgen Zopp to qualify.  Unfortunately for Ryan, he drew top seed Robin Soderling in the main draw, and went down to the fifth ranked player in the world 2-6 4-6 in a fairly respectable effort.

20 year-old Richie Berankis, last seen winning the Helsinki Challenger in a win that propelled him into the Top 100, has done Harrison one better: so far he’s not only qualified (including a tough three-set win against Peter Luczak in which the 5′ 9” Lithuanian served 23 aces against only 2 double faults) but then defeated former Top 25 player (and current #78) Arnaud Clement in straight sets.

 

Ricardas “Richard” Berankis and coach Remigijus “Regis” Balzekas after the Clement match

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[Editor’s note: it’s only the second day of the year, and already I’m overtaxed/lazy.  So I outsourced my Noumea preview to friend, contributor, and general tennistico Jonathan Artman aka @jonnyboy613 on the Twitter.  I hope you enjoy his art(man)icle – please leave your praise/blame in the comments.]

 

The first week of the brand spanking new 2011 tennis season begins for the Challenger players in Nouméa, a French owned island which is actually nowhere near France. This beautiful island, part of New Caledonia, is part of the Pacific Ocean territories, and is just a short boat (or cruise ride, if you will), from Australia.

Whilst this mysterious island is still owned by France, the French have gradually released power over the island in favour of New Caledonia itself. Regardless, French is still the official language; in fact, less than 1 % of its inhabitants reported that they don’t know how to speak la Française. Now you may be wondering the significance of the geography of Nouméa; it is quite a fascinating place and like no other; it appears on the map nowhere near its genuine owners and the island even has its own New Caledonia football team, a part of FIFA since 2004. Its population is relatively small, at just under an estimated 250,000. The Nouméa tennis championships are not just clouded in mystery, it possesses some genuinely amusing stories, too. In 2009, the island suffered a deluge of highly unusual rain, which quite literally forced the 2009 doubles tournament to be “Cancelled Due to Rain”.

Rather like Cancun, the scenery is nothing short of spectacular, as is rather evident by the above image. This may lend the destination to a pure holiday resort, where professionals can play a bit of tennis during the week too. Far from it – the tournament has a proud heritage and Gilles Simon, once a Top 10 player in the ATP rankings, is a double champion, having won the tournament twice consecutively back in 2005 and 2006. Florian Mayer, the German, currently ranked 37 in the World, was the champion in New Caledonia last year, and crushed his final opponent Flavio Cipolla of Italy 6-3, 6-0. The Italian himself is not a stranger to success in Nouméa; he will have fond memories of his success 3 years ago in 2008 where he fought off the improving Swiss Stephane Bohli in straight sets to clinch one of the more coveted and unusual Challenger titles.

The lack of live scoring over the years for these mystifying Championships is perhaps not surprising considering its somewhat remote and remarkable location. Thankfully however, thanks to internet communications, we have access to the players who are turning up this year, and the match-ups that they have been placed in, so let’s take a look at the key fixtures of the first round that start on a fairly modest Monday’s play:

Gilles Muller (3) v Danai Udomchoke
 
The big serving lefty who hails from Luxembourg will face off against Danai Udomchoke, one of few notable tennis professionals originating from the nation of Thailand. Muller can be proud of what he has achieved for his country’s sporting reputation; he is by far the most successful male tennis player that is affiliated with Luxembourgish origin. He turned Pro exactly 10 years ago and once upon a time, he was ranked 59 but is now outside the top 100 and sits 134 in the ATP World rankings. In 2008 Gilles enjoyed a spectacular run in the US Open where he advanced to the Quarter Finals, which was a big shock at the time. His serve being his obvious main weapon, he can be a real handful for any player on his day; he is also one of a diminishing number of players that possesses a fancy two-handed backhand.

His opponent Udomchoke will turn 30 in August of this year. He was once ranked at no. 77 in the World and his best performance at a Slam was the 3rd round of the Aussie Open back in 2007. The Thai’s most recent Title was in Busan, South Korea, where he defeated up-and-coming Slovenian Blaz Kavcic in straight sets 6-2, 6-2 just a couple years ago.

Danai endured a rather miserable 2010 and is now ranked in the 400’s so he is sure to be itching to get back on the tennis circuit for 2011 and climb back up the rankings, where no doubt he feels his ability warrants. He did appear in the Bangkok ATP event in his home country, of course, but his Wildcard only took him as far as the first round where he lost to the ever impressive Finn Jarkko Nieminen in straight sets.

It would be foolish to expect too much from Muller’s opponent today on the back of a very disappointing 2010 season. Although Muller remains outside the top 100, he had a relatively successful season last year and he continues to hold his own against some top players; he took big John Isner, the American, to 3 very tight sets before succumbing to a harsh defeat. Muller went 40-23 (W-L) over the past 12 months, a highly respectable record indeed.

The Luxembourger should take this in straight sets barring any surprises. Both men possess plenty of experience but Muller should be able to find his groove early on, and if he brings the confidence from 2010 it should be a relatively straight forward task for the 27-year-old. For Danai Udomchoke, I expect it will be a case of hard work, determination and practise to get his career right back on track.

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Yup.  It’s officially that time of year again.  More specifically, it’s time to start breaking down those qualifying draws and seeing which Challenger Tour players can bust into the main draws this week.  Just to make it clear from the outset: as this is a Challenger Tour site, we’ll be covering top-tier ATP events only to the extent that they involve players ranked outside the Top 90.  Note: this number, while a darn good number, is also just a bit arbitrary and is subject to change at the whims of any of the writers here.  But it’s a good general rule of thumb for ATP tourneys, in any case.

ON TO THE DRAW!  You can click and get an official .pdf with lines and whizbangs and suchlike here or you can just look at a typed out version after this here colon:

[1] MANNARINO, Adrian FRA vs BALL, Carsten AUS
POLANSKY, Peter CAN vs [WC] MITCHELL, Benjamin AUS
SERGEYEV, Ivan UKR vs ITO, Tatsuma JPN
CABAL, Juan Sebastian COL vs [5] KOUBEK, Stefan AUT
[2] BERANKIS, Richard LTU
vs LISNARD, Jean-Rene MON
KLEIN, Brydan AUS vs CRUGNOLA, Marco ITA
[WC] DUCKWORTH, James AUS vs TURSUNOV, Dmitry RUS
PEYA, Alexander AUT vs [6] LUCZAK, Peter AUS
[3] RUSSELL, Michael USA
vs HARRISON, Ryan USA
FARAH, Robert COL vs BACHINGER, Matthias GER
KINDLMANN, Dieter GER vs ZOPP, Jurgen EST
REYNOLDS, Bobby USA vs [7] KOROLEV, Evgeny KAZ
[4] GREUL, Simon GER
vs [WC] JONES, Greg AUS
KNITTEL, Bastian GER vs LOJDA, Dusan CZE
EBDEN, Matthew AUS vs CRIVOI, Victor ROU
[WC] GROTH, Samuel AUS vs [8] ZEMLJA, Grega SLO

  
Mmmmmm.  Tennis draws.  My true and delicious love.  Let me savour this one for a moment, eh? *drools Homer Simpson-style while looking it over*
 
Well, the first thing I notice is that the Aussies got shafted, for the most part.  Now, I realize that any time you have eight Australians in a 32-person draw, perfect distribution is just not a possibility.  However, to have a draw in which there’s an entire Oz-free quarter (i.e. the Russell-Korolev 3rd quarter) and another two quarters that have three Down Under dudes, well… this is less than ideal. 
 
 
From left: Matty Ebden, Greg Jones, Carsten Ball, Fitness Dude, Marinko Matosevic, Peter Luczak
 
Especially egregious is the 4th quarter, which crams legitimate Australian hopes Greg Jones, Matt Ebden and the newly-mohawked Sam Groth into the same pack.  Grrrrrr.
 
 
The infamous, the rarely-photographed Grothawk
 
The next thing I look for is: where are Dmitry Tursunov and Ryan Harrison placed, who are clearly the most dangerous floaters in this draw.  As you can see (do follow along with me, won’t you?), it is Harrison who probably got the more fortuitous placement (for him) – away from top seeds Adrian Mannarino and Ricardas Berankis, who – in my opinion – are the only players who can beat him more often than not.  Thus, I can see the 18 year-old American coming good in this section.  Tursunov, however, has a much rougher road.  After a reasonably solid but should-be manageable opponent in the scrappy WC James Duckworth, Tursunov faces the prospect of a rejuvenated Peter Luczak – who gave Marinko Matosevic all he could handle in the final of the recent AO Wildcard playoff – followed by the lights-out Lithuanean Berankis.  And, as we all know, Rycka has rocketed into the Top 100 and won a whole host of Newcomer and Breakthrough awards at the end of last season.  A tough ask for Tursunov to get through, but not entirely beyond the former Top 20 player by any means.
 
OK, so that’s the overall view. Now let’s take out the fine-toothed draw comb and do a more in-depth, line-by-line audit, breaking down the first round matchups. 
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