Tuesday Topspin: A New Big Man

Not so wild: Last week marked a big accomplishment for Dutchman Thomas Schoorel–he won his first challenger-level title, and ascended to a career-high ranking of #126.  It’s now more than a big week, it’s a big nine days.

Schoorel entered this week’s tournament in Napoli with points to defend–last year at this time, he won a futures event in Italy.  The task was challenging–after a week of beating guys with rankings in the 100s, he drew top-seeded wild card Jeremy Chardy.  Today, he proved himself up to the task, dismissing Chardy in straight sets.  It will only get easier from here–in the second round, he draws world #256 Pavol Cervenak.

The Dutchman is a lefty standing 6’8″, a combination that surely makes it tough for first-time opponents.  His 22nd birthday was a couple of weeks ago, and with his new ranking, he’s among the top 15 players at his age or younger.

Also in Napoli: Thomas Muster is turning into an object lesson for former pros considering a comeback.  It’s a rare man who returns to the tour with any level of success, but Muster is setting new lows.  This week, he fell to Uladzimir Ignatik 6-3 7-5, moving his record on the year to 0-4.  I’m sure the former #1 is drawing the crowds … but that’s why there’s a champions tour.

Nadal’s next victims: In Barcelona, we’re still plowing through an uneventful first round.  Of the seven final scores so far today, the headline-grabber is Juan Carlos Ferrero’s successful return to the tour, as he dropped only six games in beating Xavier Malisse.  He’ll face Andy Murray in the second round, if the Brit plays–his elbow is still an issue, and he may withdraw.  If he does, it will create one of my favorite quirks of the tournament entry system–a lucky loser will get a bye into the second round.

The best matches of the day are still to come.  The second round gets underway as Gael Monfils plays Robin Haase, in a match that has upset potential, if only due to Monfils’s rustiness and the usual crapshoot of whether good Gael or bad Gael takes the court.  Finishing up the first round, Milos Raonic plays Radek Stepanek and Alexandr Dolgopolov takes on Nikolay Davydenko.

Yesterday I ran a full projection of the draw–if you haven’t seen it, click here.

That’s all I’ve got for today–see you tomorrow!

Barcelona Projections

It’s not quite Monte Carlo, but it may be the strongest field of any ATP 500 this year. Below find the full draw, along with each player’s chances of reaching each round.

One thing you may notice is the relatively low chance of Nadal winning the tournament. Intuitively, it’s tough to imagine him losing. For this sort of projection, 39% is actually fairly high for any one player, but Nadal on clay, of course, is in a class by himself. If the sportsbooks odds last week are anything to go by, my system just isn’t built to handle such extreme players.

With all that said, there are definitely some interesting matchups in the early rounds, and some tight matches in the first round that might not otherwise make the headlines. My system stubbornly loves Davydenko, to the extent of making him the favorite over Dolgopolov tomorrow, something that very few humans outside the Davydenko family would agree with.

Enjoy!

Player                   R32   R16    QF    SF     F     W 
(1)Rafael Nadal         100% 94.2% 85.2% 71.5% 52.1% 39.0% 
D Gimeno Traver          50%  3.0%  1.2%  0.3%  0.1%  0.0% 
Potito Starace           50%  2.7%  1.1%  0.3%  0.1%  0.0% 
R Ramirez Hidalgo        40%  8.2%  0.4%  0.1%  0.0%  0.0% 
(WC)Albert Ramos         60% 17.2%  1.2%  0.3%  0.0%  0.0% 
Santiago Giraldo         37% 25.3%  2.8%  0.9%  0.2%  0.0% 
(13)Thomaz Bellucci      63% 49.4%  8.1%  3.6%  1.2%  0.4% 
                                                           
Player                   R32   R16    QF    SF     F     W 
(9)Richard Gasquet       70% 56.4% 29.0%  7.0%  2.7%  1.1% 
Juan Ignacio Chela       30% 18.2%  5.5%  0.7%  0.1%  0.0% 
Tobias Kamke             50% 12.5%  2.8%  0.3%  0.0%  0.0% 
Blaz Kavcic              50% 12.9%  2.9%  0.3%  0.0%  0.0% 
(q)Flavio Cipolla        29%  3.7%  1.0%  0.1%  0.0%  0.0% 
Robin Haase              71% 18.6%  7.9%  1.1%  0.2%  0.1% 
(7)Gael Monfils         100% 77.6% 50.9% 13.6%  5.6%  2.5% 
                                                           
Player                   R32   R16    QF    SF     F     W 
(3)Robin Soderling      100% 91.5% 75.6% 55.9% 25.8% 16.2% 
(q)Vincent Millot        42%  3.0%  0.9%  0.1%  0.0%  0.0% 
Ivan Dodig               58%  5.5%  2.0%  0.5%  0.1%  0.0% 
Robert Kendrick          45%  9.2%  0.9%  0.2%  0.0%  0.0% 
(q)Simon Greul           55% 12.9%  1.4%  0.3%  0.0%  0.0% 
Radek Stepanek           38% 28.5%  5.9%  2.2%  0.4%  0.1% 
(15)Milos Raonic         62% 49.4% 13.5%  6.3%  1.4%  0.5% 
                                                           
Player                   R32   R16    QF    SF     F     W 
(12)G Garcia Lopez       60% 36.1% 12.7%  3.3%  0.7%  0.2% 
Denis Istomin            40% 18.9%  5.0%  1.0%  0.1%  0.0% 
Feliciano Lopez          63% 31.2%  9.7%  2.2%  0.4%  0.1% 
Mikhail Kukushkin        37% 13.8%  3.1%  0.5%  0.1%  0.0% 
Kei Nishikori            71% 22.7% 13.2%  3.6%  0.7%  0.2% 
Pere Riba                29%  4.4%  1.6%  0.2%  0.0%  0.0% 
(5)Tomas Berdych        100% 73.0% 54.8% 23.6%  7.8%  3.7% 
                                                           
Player                   R32   R16    QF    SF     F     W 
(6)Jurgen Melzer        100% 78.5% 54.7% 26.7% 11.0%  3.1% 
Marcel Granollers        53% 12.0%  5.1%  1.1%  0.2%  0.0% 
Daniel Brands            47%  9.5%  3.8%  0.8%  0.1%  0.0% 
(q)Benoit Paire          74% 27.9%  7.8%  1.7%  0.3%  0.0% 
(WC)P Carreno Busta      26%  4.8%  0.6%  0.1%  0.0%  0.0% 
Teymuraz Gabashvili      28% 14.4%  3.7%  0.8%  0.1%  0.0% 
(11)Albert Montanes      72% 52.8% 24.3%  8.8%  2.9%  0.5% 
                                                           
Player                   R32   R16    QF    SF     F     W 
(14)Kevin Anderson       45% 18.1%  3.6%  1.1%  0.2%  0.0% 
Pablo Cuevas             55% 26.1%  5.7%  2.0%  0.4%  0.1% 
Andrey Golubev           69% 42.9% 13.0%  5.9%  1.7%  0.4% 
Victor Hanescu           31% 12.9%  2.2%  0.6%  0.1%  0.0% 
(q)Jarkko Nieminen       55%  8.4%  3.5%  1.2%  0.2%  0.0% 
Carlos Berlocq           45%  5.4%  2.1%  0.6%  0.1%  0.0% 
(4)David Ferrer         100% 86.2% 69.8% 48.7% 26.9% 10.6% 
                                                           
Player                   R32   R16    QF    SF     F     W 
(8)Nicolas Almagro      100% 86.4% 56.5% 27.4% 14.6%  4.8% 
(WC)G Granollers Pujol   21%  1.0%  0.1%  0.0%  0.0%  0.0% 
Pablo Andujar            79% 12.6%  3.8%  0.7%  0.2%  0.0% 
(WC)Andrey Kuznetsov     51%  9.8%  1.8%  0.3%  0.1%  0.0% 
(q)E Roger-Vasselin      49% 10.2%  1.8%  0.3%  0.0%  0.0% 
Nikolay Davydenko        60% 50.1% 24.8% 10.7%  5.4%  1.7% 
(10)Alexandr Dolgopolov  40% 29.8% 11.2%  3.9%  1.5%  0.3% 
                                                           
Player                   R32   R16    QF    SF     F     W 
(16)(WC)Juan Monaco      67% 45.3% 13.4%  4.9%  1.9%  0.4% 
Grigor Dimitrov          33% 16.8%  2.9%  0.7%  0.2%  0.0% 
Fabio Fognini            67% 29.1%  5.8%  1.7%  0.5%  0.1% 
(q)Simone Vagnozzi       33%  8.8%  0.9%  0.1%  0.0%  0.0% 
Xavier Malisse           40%  5.0%  2.2%  0.5%  0.1%  0.0% 
Juan Carlos Ferrero      60% 10.7%  5.8%  2.1%  0.7%  0.1% 
(2)Andy Murray          100% 84.2% 69.0% 46.7% 30.7% 13.6%

Monday Topspin: Seven in a Row

King of Clay: It’s no shocker, but it’s still mighty impressive.  Rafael Nadal won his 7th consecutive Monte Carlo championship, defeating David Ferrer in a tight match.  It’s a sign of just how dominant Rafa is on clay that his last two matches actually represent a step forward for the field–Andy Murray took a set on Saturday, and there was very little separating Nadal and Ferrer yesterday.

In fact, if I were a fellow player watching those matches, I might think–for the first time in at least a year–that Nadal can be beaten.  Murray showed that you can beat him (at least for a string of several games) at his own game, with a heavy dose of patient defense and the occasional attack.  Yesterday, Rafa was off his game, and it was enough to give Ferrer several chances.  In fact, here’s a bold prediction for you: I’m going on record saying that Nadal will lose a match on clay this year.

Betting on it: I don’t think the oddsmakers agree with me.  The betting lines on Nadal’s matches last week were absolutely off the charts.  Before Rafa’s second-rounder with Jarkko Nieminen, at one point you could have gotten 120-1 odds on the Finn.  Sportsbooks were giving both Richard Gasquet and Ivan Ljubicic about a 3.5% chance of winning, and even Andy Murray merited only a 9% chance.  Hey, maybe those odds are correct, but … a top 5 player going off at 11-1?  Amazing.

Rankings: The biggest points gainer of the week is Ferrer, who improved on his previous result in Monte Carlo, but he stays at #6, merely closing the gap separating him from Robin Soderling.  Other players whose rankings benefited from the tournament include Milos Raonic, up 6 places to #28, Ivan Ljubicic, up 7 to #33, and surprise quarterfinalist Frederico Gil, up 18 to a new career high of #64.

Two challenger winners climbed to new career highs: Matthias Bachinger, champion in Athens, breaks into the top 100 for the first time at #99, while Thomas Schoorel, the Rome titlist, jumps 36 places to 126.  Also notable is Tallahassee winner Donald Young, up 24 to #98.

The loser of the week is, without question, Fernando Verdasco.  Finalist last year in Monte Carlo, he lost his first match and his place in the top 10, falling four places to #12.

Barcelona: The first round in Spain is in progress, and after the star-studded cast in Monte Carlo, it’s a bit of a letdown.  While there’s plenty of firepower at the top of the draw–Nadal, Murray, Ferrer, and Soderling are all present–the top eight seeds have byes in the first round, leaving something that looks more like Monte Carlo qualifying.  The highlight of today’s action is probably the last match of the day, between Juan Monaco and Grigor Dimitrov.

We’ll have to wait until tomorrow for the biggest story of the opening round: the return of Juan Carlos Ferrero.  He hasn’t played since last year’s U.S. Open, and has seen his ranking fall to #77 in that time.  He’ll begin with a match against Xavier Malisse for a chance to play Murray.

Beyond that, it’s a clay-courter’s paradise.  14 of the 56 men in the main draw are Spainards, and the percentage of locals may climb even higher after the first round.  Also of interest in the country count: There’s only one American in the draw, and it’s Robert Kendrick.  That must be a first for him at the ATP level.

Housekeeping: As regular readers surely noticed, I wasn’t able to keep up my daily schedule last week.  Unfortunately, that’s probably a sign of things to come.  I’ll keep posting as much as my schedule allows.

Also, later today, as soon as I can get my databases updated, I’ll post my projections for Barcelona.  It will be a little silly with so much of the first round on record, but I like to get this stuff on record.

Wednesday Topspin: The Underdog Three-Seed

Back on the board: It’s a strange situation when you don’t really expect a top-five player to win his opening match.  Yet Andy Murray had plenty of doubters before he finally won his first match since the Australian Open.  As it turned out, he made easy work of Radek Stepanek, advancing to the round of 16 in straight sets.

Murray’s seeded, straight-set win was indicative of the entire round.  Only two seeds lost in the 16 second-round matches, and only a couple other matches could be considered upsets.  What’s more, only three matches in the round went to a third set.

The one major upset went to a man having nearly as rough a season as Murray: Fernando Verdasco.  He lost in straight sets to Tommy Robredo, landing only 53% of his first serves.  I suppose that isn’t quite as painful as losing to Pablo Andujar on a hard court, but it does nasty work to his ranking.  Verdasco reached the final last year, so he’ll fall at least four spots to #12.

A lesser surprise, but still notable, was Milos Raonic’s win over Ernests Gulbis.  Both players suffered some mental hiccups–Raonic couldn’t close out the match with 40-0 on his own racquet–but as usual, Gulbis’s mind lost the match for him.  A bad call in the middle of the first set kept him chattering at the umpire for the next several changeovers, and that was more than enough to give Raonic the first set.  The Latvian didn’t return to form until midway through the second, and Raonic was too strong to let it slip away.

The round of 16: You have to feel bad for Richard Gasquet–he showed fantastic form in beating Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, and he’s rewarded by a match with Rafael Nadal.  At Monte Carlo, that’s just an elaborate form of ritual sacrifice.  At least the sportsbooks think more highly of him than they did of Jarkko Nieminen–Gasquet gets a 3.5% chance of beating Rafa, while at one point, oddsmakers were giving Nieminen less than 1%.

Thanks to the surface, the best bet for an upset tomorrow is the match between Tommy Robredo and Viktor Troicki.  Troicki is the seed, but of course Robredo is at home on clay.  My system gives the Spainard a 54% chance of winning, while oddsmakers set it at closer to 62%.  It’s a better deal for Troicki than a matchup against Verdasco, but it will still be impressive for him to get through.

The winner of Robredo-Troicki faces the winner of Raonic-David Ferrer.  Ferrer was the man who finally stopped Raonic in Australia, and on clay, he should have an easier time of it.  His 6-2 6-0 drubbing of Feliciano Lopez today certainly suggests that he’s in form.  Then again, the Canadian has exceeded expectations in both round so far, and he has the benefit of zero expectations.

There’s plenty more to look forward to.  Both my system and the sportsbooks forecast a tight contest between Nicholas Almagro and Jurgen Melzer; Almagro fought through a three-setter with two tiebreaks to beat Maximo Gonzalez today.  In the other half of the draw, Murray will face a tough match against Gilles Simon, who has cruised through his first two rounds.  And Roger Federer will try to fend off Marin Cilic.

Challengers: Just a couple of quick updates today. Cedrik-Marcel Stebe continues to impress, taking out Evgeny Donskoy for a quarterfinal berth in Rome.  He’ll face yet another youngster, the tall lefty Thomas Schoorel, who has beaten two qualifiers to get this far.

In Tallahassee, James Blake needed three sets to get past Frank Dancevic.  He’ll play Amer Delic later today for a spot in the quarters.  The first man into the quarters was Donald Young, who can look forward to a probably matchup with top seed Rainer Schuettler.

See you tomorrow!

The Odds of Breaking Back

Perhaps the most unquestioned piece of conventional wisdom in tennis is this: after breaking serve, a player is particularly vulnerable to being broken himself.  It certainly seems to be true–to take just one example, in the Isner/Karlovic match last week, there were only two breaks of serve, and they were consecutive.

As with most bits of conventional wisdom, it’s not clear exactly what people mean by it.  When Djokovic crushes someone 6-0 6-1, do we really think his serve is more vulnerable after each of his five or six breaks than it is after the one game his opponent holds?  When a player does break back, is he then more vulnerable in his next service game?

Today, I’ll try to address the more basic versions of the cliche.  The results are a bit surprising.

The dataset

I’m working with all of the 2011 Australian Open matches from courts where Hawkeye was in place.  That’s about 80 of the men’s singles matches, and roughly the same number of women’s matches.  I’ve run the numbers on both genders but will keep them separate, for reasons that will become clear.

These matches give us over 2,700 men’s games across about 300 sets, and nearly 2,000 women’s games over a bit more than 200 sets.

Breaking back: Men

At this year’s Aussie Open, 24% of all men’s games were service breaks.  If we take the conventional wisdom literally, we would hypothesize that in the game following a service break, another break would occur more than 24% of the time.

But it doesn’t.  In the game following a service break, the server is broken only 19.5% of the time.  (I’m excluding service breaks that end a set or take a set to a tiebreak.)  In other words, in the aggregate, a player is more likely to hold serve after breaking serve than he is after his opponent holds.

Of course, as I suggested by mentioning Djokovic a moment ago, there’s a huge selection bias here.  A player who breaks serve is (all else equal) likely to be a better player than one who doesn’t.  The best players in the most lopsided matches are breaking serve frequently, and because they are the better player, it makes sense that they are more likely (again, all else equal) to hold their own serve.

Without looking at individual matchups, it’s not immediately clear how to address this problem.  For one thing, I’m not convinced it’s a problem.  When Federer broke Kohlschreiber today, a commentator may have said, “Roger is particularly vulnerable here, let’s see if he can consolidate the break.”  One could easily respond: “Roger just showed us he’s in tremendous form; the very fact he just broke serve is an indication that he’s less vulnerable than usual on serve right now.”  And so it proved: Roger broke four times; Kohlschreiber never broke back.

What might be more instructive is to look at situations where the player who broke serve is considered to be roughly equal or inferior to his opponent.  Had Kohlschreiber broken serve early in the match, even given the assumption that he must be playing well in order to do so, the conventional wisdom would suggest that Federer is more likely to break back.  Perhaps that’s true.  It’s not something I can answer today–quantifying the matchups is beyond the scope of this afternoon project.  It’s also problematic in that it would also shrink the size of our already-small dataset.

In any event, it is clear that we can’t take this bit of conventional wisdom at face value.  It may be true in certain scenarios–some players may crumple under the pressure of consolidating a break, and others may rise to the occasion after losing serve.  But it is wrong to say that, in general, players are more vulnerable on serve after a break.

Breaking back: Women

As you might expect, breaks of serve are more prevalent in the women’s game, as are breaks-following-breaks.

At the 2011 AO, women broke serve 36.5% of the time.  In games following breaks of serve, they broke 36.0%.  In contrast to the men’s results, this suggests that in the women’s game, a service break doesn’t tell us as much about the strength of the player who has accomplished the break–or, if it does, that a server is more vulnerable after breaking serve.  Anecdotally, it certainly seems that differences in mental strength play a larger role in WTA matches, so I would expect that the break-back rate would be higher.

As I’ve said, this is far from the final word.  As usual, the conventional wisdom masks many subtleties that only further analysis can unearth.

Tuesday Topspin: Federer Cruising

Kohl down: A couple of days ago, I suggested that Roger Federer might have his hands full with a second-round matchup against Philipp Kohlschreiber.  While Kohlschreiber looked great in Indian Wells, knocking out Robin Soderling and nearly upsetting Juan Martin del Potro, he didn’t do much to justify my optimism this week.  He just barely made it past Andrey Golubev, and earlier today, lost to Federer, winning only three games and 36% of total points.

Federer has gotten a head start on the pack, becoming the first man into the round of 16, and one of only two of the top eight seeds in action today.  (The other is Tomas Berdych, who will take on Olivier Rochus later.)  Federer’s section of the draw is distinctly unchallenging; his likely next opponent is Marin Cilic, and after that, he’s seeded to play Jurgen Melzer (or, very possibly Nicholas Almagro).  If he reaches the semifinal, we could be treated to an interesting contrast of clay-court styles, as his probable opponent is either David Ferrer or Fernando Verdasco.

Sets up: There haven’t been a lot of upsets so far in the first round, but a slew of matches have gotten interesting.  Among yesterday’s 13 first-rounders, 7 went to a deciding set.  Already today, three more have done so, including the clash between Feliciano Lopez and Janko Tipsarevic, which Lopez won in a third-set tiebreak.  Ivan Ljubicic has just taken the first set from Jo-Wilfriend Tsonga, which means we’ll either see an upset or yet another three-setter.

A fascinating match still on tap for today is a second-rounder between Ernests Gulbis and Milos Raonic.  As I mentioned yesterday, Gulbis had an excellent clay season last year, even if his dreadful recent results tend to camouflage them.  Raonic, of course, has virtually no history on the surface, yet it didn’t stop him from advancing past Michael Llodra.  Oddsmakers give Gulbis a 67% chance of winning, which is almost exactly what my system says, as well.

Five challengers: Thanks to the small Monte Carlo draw, plenty of top-100 players are contesting challengers this week.  There are five of them, meaning that the talent is spread fairly thin.  As I noted over the weekend, the top tourney is in Rome, where a handful of youngsters are in the field.  That event has already seen a major upset, as Serbian qualifier Boris Pashanski knocked out #2 seed Bjorn Phau.  Top seed Andreas Haider-Maurer also has his hands full with an opening matchup against Uladzimir Ignatik.

In Athens, the field is not as strong, but two good players anchor the draw.  Benjamin Becker is the top seed, while Dmitri Tursunov is #2.  In Brazil, the tournament in Blumenau keeps the South American clay circuit going.  Tiago Fernandes, the surprise finalist last week, is in the draw, as are the winners from two weeks ago in Barletta and Barranquilla, Aljaz Bedene and Facundo Bagnis.  There’s also plenty of experience there, as the field includes Martin Vassallo Arguello, Jose Acasuso, and Nicholas Massu.

Plenty of notable Americans are playing at the Tallahassee event, including wild card James Blake and fourth-seed Ryan Sweeting.  Also of interest is a first-round match between wild cards Denis Kudla and Michael Shabaz, as well as the presence of Wayne Odesnik, who qualified.  Finally, Dustin Brown highlights the field in Johannesburg, the weakest of the five events at this level.  Clearly, there will be plenty of tennis to follow this week.

See you tomorrow!

Monday Topspin: First-timers

New titlists: We have two first-time champions on the ATP tour: Pablo Andujar and Ryan Sweeting.  Andujar got better as the week went on in Casablanca, going three sets in the first round against Florent Serra, to a tiebreak against Jeremy Chardy in the second, and finally disposing of Potito Starace 6-1 6-2 in yesterday’s final.  He is definitely a man to watch over the next two months; he’ll next play in Barcelona.

Sweeting was the upset winner over Kei Nishikori in Houston, surprising just about everybody by playing so well on clay.  It was a very close match: the American won 51% of total points, and a lower percentage of service points than his opponent did.  Nishikori may be the more heralded prospect, but Sweeting is working his way up the scale.

New rankings: Champions Andujar and Sweeting are two of the biggest gainers in this week’s rankings, as both ascend to new career highs.  Andujar rises to #52, Sweeting to #67.  Also notable is Nishikori’s jump to #48, also a personal best for him.

The biggest losers are last year’s titlists in Casabalanca and Houston: Stanislas Wawrinka and Juan Ignacio Chela, neither of whom played this week.  Wawrinka drops two spots to #15, while Chela crashes 14 places to #42.

Challenger winners last week were Julian Reister, who breaks into the top 100 for the first time, Tatsuma Ito, who defeated the weak field in Recife, and Paolo Lorenzi, winner in Pereira.  Also of note is Tiago Fernandes, a wild card who reached the final in Recife before he withdrew.  His three-set battle with Julio Silva in the semifinals helped him jump 129 ranking points to #380.

Monte Carlo: If you missed them yesterday, be sure to check out the results of my Monte Carlo simulation.  My clay rankings are in many ways more interesting than the hard court rankings, since they differ so much more from the standard ATP list.

A couple interesting examples of the difference have already been on display.  Yesterday, oddsmakers heavily favored Alexandr Dolgopolov over Ernests Gulbis, only to see the higher-ranked Dolgo lose in straight sets.  By contrast, my system recognizes his three straight quarterfinal appearances in last year’s clay season, including a win over Roger Federer.  Accordingly, it saw the Gulbis win coming, giving the Latvian a 67% chance of advancing.

Here’s another one: Olivier Rochus just snuck by Chela in three sets.  Sportsbooks gave Chela a roughly 65% chance of winning, while my predictions set him at a more modest 54%.  Rochus has had plenty of success on clay, especially at the challenger level, while my system sees Chela as somewhat overrated on the surface.

Of course, we could cherry-pick all day, and we’d be sure to find plenty of examples where my system went wrong.  All I want to highlight is that predicting clay court results is tricky, and it’s easy to give too much weight to recent results (Dolgopolov) or clay reputation (Chela).

In addition to the two matches I’ve already mentioned, today has already seen a notable upset: Florian Mayer over Mikhail Youzhny.  It’s another strong step forward for Mayer, and a couple more wins on clay will get him in position for a seed at Roland Garros.  It’s an equally strong sign for Youzhny, who has seen his results yo-yo over the last few years.  His only strong showing so far in 2011 was a victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga back in February.

See you tomorrow!