– With his performances on last weeks, Mikhail Kukushkin has comebacked where I think he belongs, the Top-100. He has climbed his way back into where I think he belongs, the Top-100, after a R3 showing in the USO, and two Challenger wins. But it hasn’t just been a three week work, as 2013 has seen him climb from #324 in June ( his drop in the rankings was due to a combination of injuries in the 2nd half of 2012 and not being able to defend his early points from 2012 [ he reached R4 in the AO and R3 in Monte-Carlo] ) to finally #100 this week. This year he’s won 3 CH’s [ Kosice, Istanbul-2 and Izmir] , and has reached 2 finals [ Tanger and Astana]. He didn’t appear much on the main tour ( 2-4 record, plus one loss to Hajekon Davis Cup), but he performed great in the USO, as he qualified and reached R3, losing to Ferrer in a hard-fought match. I think it’s time again for Mikhail to play ATP’s regularly, and I think he will end the year around #85.
Some Facts about him:
– Reached his 1st SF in Moscow 09′ ( aged 21).
– Won St.Petersburg over #10 at the time Youzhny in 2010.
– He ended 2010 in the Top-60.
– He made his maiden GS R4 in the AO, beating #23 Troicki and #15 Monfils in 5 sets.
– He also made his only M-1000 R3 in Monte-Carlo 2012 ( beating #20 Florian Mayer).
– Is yet to beat a Top-10 player.
– Has 9 Challenger titles in his résumé.
– With his epic win over #11 Milos Raonic ( he even saved 1 MP, winning 7-5 in the fifth), the talented frenchman Richard Gasquet finally broke his curse of not progressing further than R4 in any Grand Slam since Wimbledon 2007 [ till yesterday he had a 1-14 record on GS R4’s].
– Earlier on last week no one thought that Milos Raonic would be on the Top-10 on the following week : the Canadian was experimenting a rough patch, winning just 2 of his last 7 matches and on a coach changing period ( he dumped Galo Blanco, and hired former Top-5 Ivan Ljubicic). Plus, he was giving us the sensation of having stagnated on his developing, as his ground game developments where nowhere to be seen on 2013.
– After the Pole great performance in Wimbledon, where he reached his 1st GS SF ( getting a career high of #17 in consequence) , it’s quite fair to say that he’s surpassed fellow youngstar Grigor Dimitrov as the most exciting prospect for the future ( Dimitrov stands at #29). We will draw some comparisons:
– Remember that crafty entertaining lefty which was as high as #49 in 2011?
Well, he’s back on track after a woeful 2012 ( 1 ATP win, vs Anderson & a Challenger final in Istanbul) which saw him go down to #198. This season, though he’s been much better, at least in the Challenger circuit. He started the season winning Noumea, Sarajevo, was a finalist in Mexico and has also made a couple of QF’s and SF’s. He’s lacking an ATP result [ lost in AO R1, Montpellier R1 & Marseille QR1] and a top-100 win [ best was vs #107 Sela in Mexico]. Adrian was known for beating higher ranked players and then lose to players who seemed worse than him. This year has been the other way round, as he’s got more solid, but consequently more predictable. I would like to see him like in 2011, where he was an ATP regular and got great wins [ Del Potro, Simon ^2, Monaco, Chela, Gulbis, took a set off Ferrer…]. He’s currently standing as #109 in the rankings, and a good CH week would get him back to where I think he belongs, the Top-100.
This week featured two ATP 250 tournaments [ Casablanca & Houston] , which saw Tommy Robredo win his 11th title ( 10 on clay, the other one was in Metz vs Murray) and John Isner bounce back in form winning the Houston title. First we’ll talk about Casablanca, where Robredo signed his return to top-50 by beating 4th seed Paire, 1st seed Wawrinka and 2nd seed Anderson, winning that three matches in hard-fought battles of 3 sets vs players who were at times outplaying him ( Wawrinka won 61 the 1st set, and Paire 62 the 2nd in their respective matches). Overall, a very nice week for Tommy, who has been plagued by injuries since 2011 ( a year in which he was playing great [ AO R4, Santiago title… till he got injured in Monte-Carlo), but who seems injury free in 2013, accumulating 11 wins so far this season, 10 of them on clay. He will miss Monte-Carlo, but I think he will pose a threat in the European clay season if he keeps this up. Anderson on the other hand, played a great week, reaching his 1st clay final ( 2-3 record), but like in Sydney, he fell short when it really mattered. However, the big Southafrican, can’t complain, as he’s having a great week, with a 14-5 W/L record.
In Houston, John Isner overcame two tough claycourters like Monaco and Almagro in the latter stages, after having to defeat Jack Sock in three long sets on R2. The Spaniard disappointed a lot, as he was more or less a heavy favourite, considering how bad Isner 2013 was till then. The Spaniard is giving us the impression of not being able to defeat an inform opponent, specially since his heartbreaking losses in DC vs the Czechs, and vs Ferrer in the AO QF’s. I think this title can kickstart Isner’s 2013, but we can expect an early exit in Monte-Carlo,mas he’s facing Latvian Ernest Gulbis on R1.
Current standings of the finalist in the RACE and in the Rankings:
Tommy Robredo – #43 in the Rankings, #30 in the RACE.
Kevin Anderson– #26 in the Rankings, #16 in the RACE.
Nicolás Almagro– #12 in the Rankings, #10 in the RACE.
John Isner– #23 in the Rankings, #23 in the RACE.
It’s been a great start of the year for Tomas Berdych, as he is standing #4 in the RACE this year, with a 18-4 record with some really solid tennis, which makes us think he can finally assault Top-5 this year and why not try to win his maiden GS.