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Tebbutt: Into the home stretch

Sep 25, 2018
written by: Tom Tebbutt
written by: Tom Tebbutt

The end of the tennis season nears but before that happens there are still lots of opportunities for players to improve their rankings for this year and heading into 2019.

At the moment, the most important thing for some players is assuring that they will have a good enough ranking to get into the main draw of the 2019 Australian Open. For others, it can just be improving their seeding position for the first Grand Slam of the year and/or aiming for a career best year-end ranking.

With all those considerations in mind, here’s a look at Canada’s top (all ranked upwards of No. 200) players and what’s at stake between now and the end of 2018 – using each player’s average points per tournaments over the past 12 months to project how things could be when the season is over.

MEN

MILOS RAONIC

Ranking: No. 20

Schedule: Tokyo (500), Shanghai (1000), Vienna (500), Paris (1000)

Points to defend: 45 of 1,755

Year-end projection: plus 323 points to No. 15 ranking.

Photo: Mauricio Paiz

DENIS SHAPOVALOV

Ranking: No. 31

Schedule: Shenzhen (250), Tokyo (500), Shanghai (1000), Stockholm (250), Basel (500) Paris (1000)

Points to defend: 55 of 1,295

Year-end projection: plus 205 points to No. 27 ranking.

Photo: Mauricio Paiz

VASEK POSPISIL

Ranking: No. 86

Schedule: Chengdu (250), Beijing (500) Q, Shanghai (1000) Q, Antwerp 250 Q

Points to defend: 51 of 677

Year-end projection: plus 130 points to No. 74

Photo: Mauricio Paiz

PETER POLANSKY

Ranking: No. 120

Schedule: Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger and unclear about other tournaments

Points to defend: 43 of 457

Year-end projection: plus 22 points to No. 116

Photo: Mauricio Paiz

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME

Ranking: No. 147

Schedule: Chengdu (250), 2 Challengers in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and three weeks in Europe likely starting in Antwerp (250)

Points to defend: 17 of 402

Year-end projection: plus 58 points to No. 119

WOMEN

Photo: Mauricio Paiz

GENIE BOUCHARD

Ranking: (WTA live) No. 105

Schedule: Linz and Luxembourg

Points to defend: 12 of 574

Year-end projection: plus 56 points to No. 96.

Photo: Bo Man Kwon

REBECCA MARINO

Ranking (WTA live) No. 186

Schedule: Templeton, Stockton, Saguenay, Toronto, Las Vegas, Houston

Points to defend: 0 of 309

Year-end projection: plus 110 points to No. 144.

CAROL ZHAO

Ranking: (WTA live) No. 194

Schedule: five events in Asia

Points to defend: 157 of 295

Year-end projection: plus 60 points to No. 265.

DAVIS CUP: THE HOSTING GAME

Photo: Mauricio Paiz

The Canadian Davis Cup will learn at 10 a.m. ET in Canada on Wednesday where and against whom it will play its February 2-3, 2019, qualifying round. That’s when a draw will take place at 3 p.m. in London at the headquarters of the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

At that time 12 seeded teams, including Canada, will be drawn against 12 unseeded teams to play for spots in what is now a Davis Cup final to be held the week of November 18, 2019, with a field of 18 nations.

As well as the 12 winners of next February’s ties, the line-up for the year-end grand finale, to be held in either Lille, France, or Madrid, will include the four semi-finalists from this year – Croatia, France, Spain and the USA – and two wild card countries.

The latter two nations are to be announced before Wednesday’s draw with the nominations coming from a panel made up of two representatives of the ITF, one from the Davis Cup organizers and one former player.

General speculation is that Switzerland, with Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, will get one wild card because the star power of the Swiss pair would be invaluable to the competition in its first edition. But, of course, there’s no guarantee Federer and/or Wawrinka would agree to play.

There has also been a suggestion that South Africa might get a wild card so that the continent of Africa would be represented. But world No. 9 Kevin Anderson has not played his country’s last 15 Davis Cup ties dating back to 2011 and currently the next best South African player is No. 129 Lloyd Harris.

With the draw looming in a matter of hours – to be streamed Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET in Canada on the Davis Cup website and the Davis Cup Facebook page – the odds do not look good for Canada.

Not counting the two Europe/Africa relegation playoff winners that will be slotted into the draw after late October ties involving Slovakia, Belarus, Portugal and South Africa, Canada’s chances of getting a home tie are only 35 per cent based on 10 potential opponents.

Photo: Mauricio Paiz

As for the unseeded Netherlands, which lost 3-1 to Canada in a World Group Playoff nine days ago in Toronto, its chances of a home tie are 70 per cent based on 12 potential opponents – one of which is Canada.

It has been written here before that the ITF should have awarded the winners of the World Group Playoffs a guaranteed home tie in February. Otherwise it seems there was very little to play for – being seeded is helpful but usually having what’s known as “choice of ground” is vital in Davis Cup.

Even when the eventual winning nations of those two Europe/African relegation playoff ties are considered, Canada still comes out on the short end with only a 37 percent possibility of a home tie.

Of the known possible qualifying round encounters for Canada in February not to be decided by lot (a draw) but on the traditional a home-and-away alternating basis, it would only host Brazil and play away against Chile, Colombia, India and the Netherlands. To be determined by lot (a draw) would be potential Canadian match-ups against Switzerland, Hungary, Russia, Australia and Uzbekistan with only, as previously mentioned, a 37 per cent chance of a home tie against whichever countries emerge from those two Europe/Africa relegation playoffs in October.

So it’s not the most promising situation for Canada playing at home, which could be critical because of the logistics involved for the players immediately after the Aussie Open next year. For example, travelling to India or Uzbekistan from Melbourne would not exactly be convenient for the Canadian team.

(Feature photo: Mauricio Paiz)