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    The 2019 tennis season begins....

    GB beat Greece in their Hopman Cup opening match

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/tennis/46708917

    ... and the draw is out for the Brisbane ATP 250 event, Murray's return after months out since his brief previous return. Fingers crossed. His first round opponent is local wildcard Duckworth.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_B...en%27s_Singles

    #2
    Switzerland against USA should be interesting. Federer and Serena Williams set for a match-up in the mixed doubles...

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      #3
      First time (and highly likely also the last) they have ever played each other competitively, apparently. The BBC has an article on it.

      Harriet Dart qualified for, and has made round 2 of, the Women's side of the draw in Brisbane. As that is a Premier level event, this is worth a very good chunk of points. The main draw cut off was at #49, and even for qualifying was 160-odd. Dart's first round match was arguably considerably easier than some of her wins in qualifying as it came against a local wild card, Priscilla Hon (WR157) whereas in the q-draw Dart had two top 100 scalps in 7th seed Kateryna Kozlova (9-7 in a deciding set tie-break*) and 3rd seed and former top 10 player Andrea Petkovic in the last round of qualifying.
      Talking of former top 10 players, Jo Konta plays Sloane Stephens in Round 1. She ended 2018 with a run to the Semis in Moscow, which was a hopeful sign. Has the form carried on? We will soon find out. Oh, and Andy Murray says he still has pain in his hip, even after so long out and all the surgeries. That sounds... career ending to me.

      * - the Aussie Open has changed to deciding set tie-breaks for this year. But of the Veterans/Doubles variety, i.e. first to 10 points rather than 7. Wimbledon has also instituted deciding set tie-breaks. Normal ones. But at 12-all rather than 6-all. The French Open is the last hold out on ad sets. It does mean the format of every slam is now different, which is rather nuts.
      Aussie - first to 10 at 6-6 in the decider
      French - must win by two clear games
      Wimbledon - first to 7 at 12-12 in the decider
      US - first to 7 at 6-6 in the decider
      !

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        #4
        Dart had two wins over top 100 players in all of the 2018 season. She's managed to match that in the first week of the 2019 season.

        Britain also has a new number #7 ranked male, Jan Choinski, British mum, Polish dad, German nationality, but aged 22 has swapped his tennis allegiance to the UK. He's currently 270 in the world, so unlikely to scrape into mass consciousness unless he improves substantially.

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          #5
          Wins for Murray over Duckworth and Konta against Stephens. Both notable in their own ways. Despite the victory, Murray continues to send negative signals about his medium-term prospects.

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            #6
            I think with Murray the issue is how many five-set matches he can string together before his body or energy caves in. 3, 4 maybe, but not 6 or 7.

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              #7
              Appalling day for UK tennis. Murray loses his first test against a top 20 player, Konta and Edmund lose to underdogs, and as for Dart, no shame in losing to a much higher ranked player but the degree of her thrashing is very discouraging.

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                #8
                Beaten to the punch. Nuts. Oh well, post it anyway...


                New year, new enthusiasm for activity updates on British players, at Tour level at least (which somewhat petered out in 2018, like many of the players seasons!).

                Week 1 has three tournaments each on the WTA and ATP, plus the Hopman Cup which is part of both Tours but offers no ranking points.
                Britain’s team in that is Cameron Norrie and Katie Boulter. They are sharing a pool with Switzerland (Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic), USA (Frances Tiafoe and Serena Williams) and Greece (Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari). They have played two ties to date, beating Greece 2-1 but losing 3-0 to Switzerland.
                The win against the Greeks started with a straight-sets win for Norrie over Tsitsipas, which was pegged back when Boulter went down in three to Sakkari, to make the Mixed Doubles crucial. All three (mini-)sets of the Mixed went to tie-breaks. These are not regular breakers but rather James Van Allen’s original conception of the breaker, best of 9 points with a deciding point if it reaches 4-4. Which is exactly what happened in the third set breaker of this, making it a simultaneous match and overall tie point for both teams. Except the Greeks didn’t realise that! Apparently no-one had explained the full rules to them, and they didn’t think to ask. Whether it would have made a difference or not will remain hypothetical, but Britain did win that point and therefore the tie.
                A good start, but things got trickier against Switzerland, Federer duffing up Norrie 1&1, Bencic also beating Boulter in two rather tighter sets and the Swiss completing a whitewash by winning the Mixed in two as well. That, and the Swiss beating the USA yesterday mean that, if my Maths are correct, Britain cannot now reach the final, not even with a 3-0 win over the US tomorrow. Which would involve Boulter beating Serena*. Even if Greece beat Switzerland, which would leave both of them on 2-1 in tie wins-losses, one of the teams must have a rubber win-loss record of 6-3 and the best that Britain can reach is 2-1, 5-4. The US are also out, btw. Serena* has won both her matches, but Tiafoe has lost twice and they have also lost both Mixed rubbers.

                * - Serena was clutching at her right shoulder rather a lot during the Switzerland tie. Given the dead rubber nature of the US-Britain match, it would be no great shock if she didn’t play it. There is a vastly more important event due in 10 days time... If Serena does pull out, it would mean Boulter vs an alternate instead, which would likely be a young Aussie guesting for America.


                On to the more regular stuff, and of the three events on the WTA, Brits are only involved in the Premier level event in Brisbane (for the record the other two Internationals, one offering triple the normal prize money in Shenzhen, China and the other a standard one in Auckland). Or rather were involved. Heather Watson was the 5th seed in qualifying but lost in q1 to Marta Kostyuk, Harriet Dart got three good qualifying wins (Catherine Dolehide in q1 in addition to the wins over Kozlova and Petkovic mentioned up thread) and also beat Priscilla Hon in R1 but lost overnight quite heavily to #8 Anastasija Sevastova in R2. And Jo Konta didn’t back up her good R1 win over Sloane Stephens (her first top 10 scalp since beating Halep in the 2017 Wimbledon QFs, apparently) as she has lost in straight sets to Ajla Tomljanovic in the last hour. Having watched extended highlights of the Stephens match, it was more that Sloane beat herself whilst Jo was on the other side of the net than anything particularly special by Konta. The top 10 form still seems a long way off.

                Over on the ATP, all the events are 250s but like the WTA one (Qatar) is offering much higher prize money. Despite that, the only Brits attracted to the Gulf were James Ward, who sneaked into singles qualifying as an alternate, and Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot for the Doubles. Ward’s good fortune in getting a chance to play didn’t extend to winning a match, beaten in straight sets by Gullermo Garcia Lopez in q1 (the first set did go to a tie-breaker, so at least Ward was competitive). Murray and Inglot’s tournaments were similarly brief, despite being seeded #2 and #4 respectively. Murray/Soares lost in two to Fucsovics/Pella and Inglot/Skugor were beaten on a match-breaker by Haase/Middelkoop.
                More singles action has occurred in Brisbane, which is a joint Men’s and Women’s event (but with higher prize money for the Women, given its higher rating on their Tour). The Men’s singles is only a 28-man draw, which means byes to R2 for the top four seeds. That included Kyle Edmund (#3), but he lost his first match to a qualifier, Yasutaka Uchiyama, in straight sets. That completed a bad day or so for Edmund as he and N.Skupski also lost in the QFs of the doubles to Daniell/Koolhof (they did beat #3 seeds Kontinen/Peers in R1, mind). In fact, it’s been a bit of a massacre of Brits in R2 of the singles as joining Dart, Edmund and Konta in going out is Andy Murray, who has just lost in straight sets to 4th seed Daniil Medvedev. That leaves Joe Salisbury, playing with Rajeev Ram, as the only Brit standing in Queensland. They are yet to play their QF of the doubles.
                The only other Brits still in action are playing in the third ATP event of the week, in Pune, India. They are Luke Bambridge and Jonny O’Mara, who beat a local wild carded pair in R1 of the Doubles and now face another in the QFs (though these Indian wild cards did eliminate the #2 seeds in R1 so need to be taken seriously). No Brits entered the singles here.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Interesting piece on Radio 4 about Murray and the unlikelihood of him returning to anywhere near the top rankings again. Positive comparisons were made with Federer and Nadal and their return after major injury (although the latter's return has again been curtailed, of course). However, I think that there are two issues with this - firstly, Murray's hip problem is more central to his body movement and is obviously still not fixed and, secondly, Murray is being very downbeat about his own prospect of carrying on long-term and a player's own belief in rehabilitation is hugely important to a successful return. It was mentioned that Murray has started helping out managing other players as a possible career after retirement. Hopefully, Murray will make a Tiger Woods-style return but I think a lot of that is down to his own belief and desire as well as, obviously, the genuine physical recovery of his hip.

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                    #10
                    Katie Boulter is the one I know about (i.e. Murray being involved in their management). She got a wild card to the event in Washington last summer as that was a condition Murray imposed for that tournament getting him into the Men's draw. A bit iffy, but Boulter may soon reach the point where she doesn't need wild cards. Not that she beat Serena overnight, in fact it was straight sets but with a tie-break in the second. That score was moreorless a reverse of Norrie's win over Tiafoe. Boulter/Norrie then won the doubles, meaning the US team's matches have all followed the same pattern:- Serena wins, Tiafoe loses, they combine to lose the mixed. She needs a better partner if she plays next year...
                    Switzerland (the defending champs) are into the final after Federer beat Tsitsipas (two tie-breaks). They will play either Germany, which would be a repeat of the 2017 Final, or Australia in the title match. These two have what is effectively a semi-final tomorrow.

                    On the British front, Salisbury/Ram are into the Semis in Brisbane, and Bambridge/O'Mara likewise in Pune.

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                      #11
                      Crikey, this will probably the only time in my life I get to correct Janik on a tennis-related point, but I'm fairly sure you're confusing your Katies there Janik. It was Swan in whose management Murray was involved, and who got a ticket to Washington on his account. From *your* very own post of 2 August on last year's tennis thread:

                      On Swan, she apparently only got a wild card for Washington at the behest of Andy Murray('s management company, who also now represent Swan), who apparently made an entry for Katie a condition of Murray also playing in the event! I guess if you have weight you might as well throw it around. Or something... She looked nervous in set one, and then I turned over to the Hockey.
                      Boulter also played in the Washington event, but as of right.

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                        #12
                        Swan lost in the SF of her ITF 25k event at Playford (Taylor having lost in the QF of the same event), so neither of those players looks as if she's likely to rocket into the top 100 particularly soon.

                        Mixed news in the qualifiers for next week's WTA events. Konta has made it to the 2nd (final) qualifying round for the Sydney Premier event, and Watson has made it to the 2nd (final) QR for the Hobart International (an event which she won 4 years ago, one of only 3 career WTA-level singles titles). but Boulter lost in Hobart Q1.

                        Norrie is competing in next week's 250 event in Auckland.

                        Presumably quite a lot of British players, male and female, will be competing in the Aussie Open qualies in the second half of the week.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          There seems to be a widespread expectation that this year will finally see the changing of the guard in men's tennis. Federer is finally, and surprisingly late, reaching the age limit of his champion-level performance, Nadal is plagued by numerous injuries, Murray looks probably incapable of a return to the top 10 as much from his own downbeat comments as his poor results, and even Djokovic, by far the most likely of the Big 4 to keep dominating, is faltering.

                          A few years ago I think there were very few under 25s (twenty fives) in seed-level ranking places. We now have eight under 23s (twenty threes) in such positions:

                          Zverev (age 21 rank 4)
                          Khachanov (age 22 rank 11)
                          Coric (age 22 rank 12)
                          Tsitsipas (age 20 rank 15)
                          Medvedev (age 22 rank 16)
                          Chung (age 22 rank 25)
                          Shapovalov (age 19 rank 27)
                          De Minaur (age 19 rank 29)

                          The hype seems to be mainly about Zverev (fair enough given his ranking and the results that have given him it) and De Minaur. But maybe Shapovalov is just as much one to watch. He may have been impeded in the last year or two by the psychological impact of having damaged that umpire's eye socket, and if so, that might wear off.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Konta is in, out, in, out, shake it all about in Sydney. And Watson loses in Hobart R1, which will see her drop out of the top 100 again, although fortunately too late to affect her direct entry into the Aussie Open. Better news on the men's side as Norrie beats Paire in Auckland R1.

                            Well, I'll leave it to Janik to start the usual dedicated slam thread for the Aussie Open, but British interest would appear to be as follows:

                            Men's main draw: Murray (PR), Edmund, Norrie
                            Men's qualies: Clarke, Evans, James Ward

                            Women's main draw: Konta (if fit), Watson, Boulter
                            Women's qualies: Dart, Swan, Taylor, Broady

                            The qualifying draws are out. Swan gets possibly the shortest Q1 straw, playing rising 18 year old star Bianca Andreescu who just beat Wozniacki, Venus and Hsieh Su-wei in Auckland before losing in the final. Only other comments I'd make on the Q1 draws are that Clarke faces the no.1 seed and that James Ward's (Aussie) opponent bears the first name Maverick, so Ward is presumably bracing himself for a ride into the danger zone.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              If Kyle Edmund justifies his seeding but no more (which would be a good performance) and goes out in the fourth round, how far down the rankings will he drop (losing his semi-final points from last year)?

                              Comment


                                #16
                                He'd lose 570 points (750 - 180), which would currently drop him to 24th, I think.

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                                  #17
                                  720-180, surely? But yeah, 24th approx - obviously depends on what points others around him are defending and how they fare.

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                                    #18
                                    ... and, as Murray is defending zero points, currently ranked 229, the approximate ranking places he'd end up with an exit at the following stages are:

                                    R2 190th
                                    R3 171st
                                    R4 138th
                                    QF 100th
                                    SF 49th
                                    F 28th
                                    W 14th

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      Probably not that different than if he were starting the year as a rookie with no points at all. Some patriotic pundits are putting silly money on Murray because he's 14-1 in some markets.

                                      It looks like Nadal will play so it will be interesting to see how far he goes. It's only six month ago that he took Djokovic very close at Wimbledon so he is still in contention anywhere when fit.

                                      Novak is going for his 7th Australian Open title which would put him in the all-time lead for the event (currently tied with Emerson and Federer). Roger could also get No. 7 of course, and has won the last two. Novak is 4-1 or 9-2 and that would seem a bargain to me if I were a betting person.
                                      Last edited by Satchmo Distel; 08-01-2019, 01:30.

                                      Comment


                                        #20
                                        Taylor and Broady have lost in Q1. Dart is a set up in her Q1 match, second set currently with serve. Swan and the 3 men still to play Q1. The main draws are currently being made, if the partly completed Wiki pages are a guide. [Edit: no, they weren't. Either I mistook one page for another or someone was bizarrely filling in a fake draw on Wiki].
                                        Last edited by Evariste Euler Gauss; 08-01-2019, 15:38.

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                                          #21
                                          Dart wins in 3 sets. Taylor's defeat was a thrashing.

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                                            #22
                                            Taylor has a nice game, which is why she is so consistent at beating players outside the top 250, but she's a bit overpowered at this level.

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                                              #23
                                              Originally posted by Evariste Euler Gauss View Post
                                              720-180, surely? But yeah, 24th approx - obviously depends on what points others around him are defending and how they fare.
                                              Indeed - sorry - I was misled when checking the points on the internet. First site linked by google gave it as 750 - oops.

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                                                #24
                                                Dart gets a first Fed Cup call up and moves up to her highest seeding - the mid 130s. Konta, Watson, Boulter, Swann are the other four called up.

                                                Comment


                                                  #25
                                                  In the Aussie Open Q1, Evans won and Clarke lost. Still to be decided who'll be top gun in James Ward's match against Maverick Banes: JW lost the first set but leads 5-1 in the second.

                                                  Swan unsurprisingly failed to beat the conqueror of Venus and Wozniacki. In fact she had to retire after losing the first set 6-1, hope that's nothing serious. Anyway, that makes it 1/4 (Dart) for the British women in Q1.

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