Monday, February 29, 2016

Melog Rankings: End of February 2016

The tennis schedule is kind of weird.

It's a sport that is played almost year-round, but it has only four events that the casual fans care about, two of which are played within a month of each other despite being on completely different surfaces, allowing very little time to transition between them. And another one is played almost immediately at the beginning of the year, with essentially no time leading up to it. The schedule goes offseason (basically only the month of December), then two weeks of small events, then AUSTRALIAN OPEN!!! And then small events again for the next month.

There are benefits to this, I'm sure; for one thing, it puts the sport's biggest names at center stage right away, which wouldn't necessarily happen without a Slam leading off. (On the other hand, if they moved the Asian swing, including the Shanghai Masters, from October to January and made it part of the ramp-up to the Australian, which would then be held in mid-late February... I'm just saying, that could work.)

But there are also drawbacks, and one of them comes in the sleepy month of February. The tennis stories in January were about Djokovic and Federer and Murray, and then you move into smaller events and the stories are still kind of about those guys, but instead of a Grand Slam, they're about knee surgery and paternity leave and pulling out of moderately important events with eye ailments.

With the big names out of focus for the last four weeks, the casual fan's attention may have wavered - but there's still plenty to intrigue a more dedicated follower of the sport. And foremost on that list this February is a pair of young players who are jetting up the rankings.

Let's go to the numbers...

Monday, February 22, 2016

Past Melog rankings: 2013

The biggest story of men's tennis in 2013 was Rafael Nadal.

Nadal was injured at Wimbledon in 2012, and missed the remainder of the season. The ailment kept him off the court through the 2013 Australian Open, leaving him to make his comeback in February on the clay courts of South America. He reached the final in his first event back, then won the next two, highlighted by a thrashing of David Ferrer in Acapulco. The season shifted temporarily to hard courts next, and Rafa didn't miss a beat, dropping only two sets on the way to the Masters title at Indian Wells.

Up next was European clay season, and Nadal performed with typical excellence on his favorite surface; he lost the Monte Carlo final to World #1 Novak Djokovic, but rebounded with titles in Barcelona, Madrid, and Rome. He would be drawn to face Djokovic in the semifinals at the French Open, and prevailed in a classic match, 9-7 in the fifth set. He then dismissed Ferrer in perfunctory straight sets to take yet another Roland Garros title, the eighth of his career.

And then he lost to Steve Darcis in the first round at Wimbledon, and it seemed as though the second half of the season might not treat him quite so well as the first.

That impression was short-lived. Nadal charged to Masters titles in Montreal and Cincinnati, his fourth and fifth Masters crowns of the year, and then thoroughly dominated the US Open, dropping only two sets and capping his run with a victory over Djokovic in the final. He reclaimed the #1 ranking by reaching the final in Beijing (losing to Djokovic), and posted solid (albeit title-free) results of the rest of the year (semis in Shanghai and Paris and the final at the World Finals). It was enough to secure his third finish as the ATP's #1 player, all of which have come in non-consecutive years.

So let's see what Melog thinks of Rafa's resurgence. Just like last time, the table will include every player who was in either Melog's top 75 or the ATP's.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Melog Rankings: Mid-February 2016

The ATP held its first 500-point event of the year last week. It featured one of the greatest players of all time, and a solid selection of other players including two additional members of the top 10.

Oh, wait - that was the 250 in Buenos Aires. The 500 point tournament in Rotterdam had no top 10 players in the draw after Roger Federer and Richard Gasquet both withdrew. But that won't stop the ATP rankings from acting like Martin Klizan's title was twice as impressive as Dominic Thiem's.

Of course, those are only two of the six ATP events played in the last two weeks, not to mention the four Challengers. There's plenty to discuss, so let's get to the numbers and save the commentary (and sarcasm) for a bit later...

Monday, February 8, 2016

Past Melog Rankings: 2014

During this tennis season, I'll be updating the Melog ratings roughly every other week. In the off weeks, I'll generally try to put up at least one tennis-related post - and since I now have 19 complete years' worth of backward-looking data, a good number of those posts will be rankings from past seasons.

I've posted 2014 rankings before, so there's some old ground being covered here. The differences will be in the matches that weren't counted before (Davis Cup Group 1 and World Group Playoff matches), and the change in the baseline to the median player rather than player #75. (The median player of 2014 was Go Soeda, a veteran Japanese player who's among the all-time leaders in Challenger titles won and who has spent only a brief time in the top 50 in his career.)

Let's get to the numbers.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Melog Ratings: Post-Australian Open 2016

Well, the tennis season is off to its traditional start, as Novak Djokovic has beaten Andy Murray in the Australian Open final.

All right, so that's not technically a tradition, even if it has happened four times in the last six years (not counting the time it happened in the semis instead of the final). But since it happened last year as well, it probably won't have changed much in the ratings. So let's see what has changed.