Friday, May 6, 2022

Raducanu’s progress is fast but still a long way from the French Open pace power rankings

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Who is hot and who isn’t? That’s according to our algorithm designed to predict who could be fighting for the top honors at Roland Garros

Assessing Emma Raducanu’s progress is difficult at the best of times, but it’s particularly difficult in the context of clay-court tennis.

Every Thursday morning before the French Open, we will release ICalculated by a new algorithm that takes into account historical performance on clay and particularly at Roland Garros, as well as form in 2022, ‘s Power ranking is weighted using more recent results. Every week we release the new leaderboard and see how everything is progressing.

Prior to Spring 2022, Raducanu had never played a professional match on clay. The surface is vanishingly rare in the UK, and its interstellar rise in international rankings occurred between the last elite clay season and this one.

Add to that the fact that she’s a Grand Slam champion with historically little experience of anything like this and it’s virtually impossible to hold her to any particular standard.

Our model, by a curious coincidence, ranks her just below Naomi Osaka in terms of probability of winning the French Open, some 40 places behind favorite Iga Swiatek.

It reflects the fact that like Osaka, Raducanu has undeniable talent but we have no confidence in their ability to deliver at Roland Garros that day. The British No. 1 has never played there as a senior.

She’s made a decent fist of her clay court season so far. Starting in Prague representing Great Britain, where she defeated Tereza Martincova (and again in Madrid), she had what she calls a “good transition” from the hard courts. She played the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart, a tournament with sand underfoot but a roof over one’s head, meaning the conditions were much faster and more predictable than on an outdoor clay court. Madrid is also unusual in that it’s played hot, dry and at some altitude, making it faster than Rome (stop next week) and the French Open.

The other concern for Raducanu is injury. Physical resilience has always been one of her biggest challenges in 2022 and she has had lower back treatment in Germany and Spain and took medical time off during her loss to Anhelina Kalinina in Madrid, which she says was an attempt to improve her chances of winning – which she rated at just five percent.

She insisted afterwards that she would still play in Rome, but that will depend on her condition. To an extent, this clay swing is a giveaway; but if it ends with an injury that threatens their Wimbledon participation, it will come at a heavy cost.

She reaps the full value of her run in Stuttgart, Arina Sabalenka moved up another spot in the Power rankings to ninth place.

That feels pretty high for a player who’s never made it past the third round of the French Open, but it’s worth remembering that the ninth-best player at a Slam technically only makes the last 16, and has since her last visit to Roland Garros, she has reached two semi-finals, at Wimbledon and at the US Open.

Clay is undoubtedly their weakest surface and the loss in the first round in Madrid is too Amanda Anizimova didn’t look good, but overall it’s trending in a positive direction.

Also Anisimova goes from strength to strength, now projected from I‘s model to reach the quarterfinals in Paris for the first time since breaking through to the semifinals three years ago. This week in Madrid she probably should have gone beyond the quarterfinals, beating Sabalenka and beating Viktoria Azarenka before missing early opportunities and losing to Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Time is running out Maria Sakkari to prove she’s a threat for the French Open this year. World No. 5 languishes at No. 18 in our Power ranking, which is quite heavily weighted on form.

Losing to Daria Kasatkina in Madrid is no great disgrace, but it is the encounter Sakkari, who is 3-1 since reaching the Indian Wells final in March, would likely win.

The schedule of the Madrid Open remains completely confusing. On Thursday morning, the women’s semi-finals were set, while many of the men’s, including some, were played Rafael NadalHe only played one match. That means we know a little less about the form of the top men than usual, but it was good to see Nadal defeat Miomir Kecmanovic, one of the form players outside the top 10 this year, in his first competitive game for 45 days.

Now that he appears fit, Nadal is practically guaranteed to top our power rankings when Roland Garros swings around in two weeks’ time.

Another name that we might have expected a bit further up is Jannik sinner, who finally graces our top 10 for the first time after two wins in Madrid, including the dismissal of the in-form Alex de Minaur. The 20-year-old, a former French Open quarterfinalist, could expect to climb even higher ahead of the June 19 draw.

Novak Djokovic remains in third place but it’s very tight at the top (Stefanos Tsitsipas is rated 5.09 by the model compared to Djokovic’s 5.03) and the world No. 1 win due to Andy Murray’s food poisoning puts him in the Quarterfinals from Madrid after he produced perhaps his best performance of the season when he defeated Gael Monfils in the second round. Menacing Enhancement.

Alexander Zverev has become the latest victim, in Iat least in the ranking of the Carlos Alcaraz movement. The Spaniard is unlikely to go higher, but it’s very likely that Zverev could go lower if he doesn’t bounce back quickly.

Madrid is the ideal place for him to do that – he’s won the title there twice – but he’s got a few demons to fend off. He lost to Holger Rune in Munich, a game on home soil in which he admitted he had played “incredibly nervous” after not appearing in front of a German crowd for three years.

Meanwhile Indian Wells Champion TaylorFritz was a late withdrawal from the Madrid Open. Fritz currently sits 12th in the Power rankings and would be disappointed if he doesn’t continue his run to the quarter-finals of last month’s Monte Carlo Masters.

Follow i sport on Facebook for more tennis news, interviews and features, or listen Love Tennis Podcast presented by I‘s James Gray on iTunes, Spotify or just search “Love Tennis” wherever you find your podcasts

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