I am going to start the round-up with news of Jay Clarke making the final of the Challenger in Bangalore, India. A big effort indeed despite losing in the final to Sumit Nagal and he now improves his ranking to 220. A result that by my calculations will gain him direct entry into the qualies for the Oz Open! Having seen the lad play over the grass court campaign he is starting to reap the rewards of his hard work ethic, the signs were there over the summer with wins over such players as Ilya Marchenko and Elias Ymer. Clarke was within a whisker of making the main draw at Wimbledon, losing in the final round of qualifying to Sebastian Ofner (who made the 3rd round proper). His ITF form has been solid with four semi-finals and a runners-up appearances since SW19, he also made the Quarter’s of the Challenger in Pune recently. Muzza is buzzing about Jay too so let’s all wish the 19-year-old the best for 2018, promising times!
I feel pretty bad for David Goffin, in fact, I feel very bad for him right now. Had you have said going into London that he would beat Rafa, Federer, Pouille and Tsonga and be runner-up on both occasions, you would forgive him for being a bit miffed! It Happened! The Belgian was also unbeaten throughout his six rubbers in the Davis Cup this year. There are a lot of positives to take out of these last few weeks even though it might not seem like it right now. The decisive doubles which this tie hinged on were won by Gasquet/Hugues Herbert, who beat Bemelmans/De Loore in four on the indoor hard in Lille! Goffin had hammered Pouille on Friday and Tsonga on Sunday, both in straight sets but Pouille picked himself up to beat Steve Darcis 6/3 6/1 6/0 in the fifth rubber! Darcis was quoted as saying “I’ve been spanked twice even if I tried my best,” after having a similar outcome on Friday’s matchup with Tsonga! The French will begin defending their title in February with a home tie against the Netherlands, Belgium will host Hungary and Great Britain will see be preparing for the Spaniards!
Top seeds Aryna Sabalenka and Shuai Zhang won Mumbai and Hawaii respectively. These were the two 125k events last week. Sabalenka has finished the season off nicely after a semi-final showing in Tashkent and runner-up to Maria Sharapova in Tianjin, the 19-year-old added this to her impressive CV. The Belarussian dropped one set all week and beat Dalila Jakupovic 6/2 6/3 in the final! When she finds the balance she is some player and next year will be very interesting for her. Zhang won her second event in a row after going back to basics and winning the $100,000 ITF in Tokyo, she then went on to victory in Hawaii. The 35th ranked Zhang beat Su Jeong Jang 0/6 6/2 6/3.
Andy Del Potro