Re: NZ players join entry list
6 NZ players were involved in a playoff for two Wild Cards into the main draw of the 2005 Auckland Open (starts Jan 10). Nielsen and Jones took the Wild Cards. The other 4 players will receive entry into the qualifying draw.
One thing the round robin tournament showed was that the gap between the NZ players is not as big as is represented by their respective rankings. Current NZ menís rankings:
ATP Menís Singles Doubles
Cur Prv Cur Prv
Mark Nielsen 618 615 355 354
Adam Thompson 754 751 710 702
Simon Rea 962 958 690 682
Rubin Statham 1100 1094 - -
Lee Radovanovich 1152 1146 938 933
Matt Prentice 1463 1456 717 709
William Ward 1463 1456 1637 1630
Daniel King-Turner - - 1100 1093
G.D. Jones - - 1760 1757
Note: Simon Rea has thrown in his towel and given up the ghost. Alas, another NZ tennis player, who like Alistair Hunt, has prematurely ended his career. It brings a tear to my eye, when sports players of the caliber of cricketer Chris Cairns could still be representing NZ. How much fun is it sitting at home watching NZ getting caned on T.V, if you are still capable of playing?
Anyway, Ward showed some big match potential, but ultimately a lack of consistency, by upsetting Nielsen and Thompson the two highest ranked players.
G.D Jones and Statham were the two players, which really shone for me though. G.D Jonesí game seems to have developed rapidly. His 4 wins, 1 loss record (to top seed Nielsen) canvassed his potential
Radovanovich was barred from entering the mini tournament on the grounds that he will not play professional tennis in 2005. Wildcards, NZ tennis stipulated, are only for those playing professionally in the coming year. Sounds good in practice. But what if Radovanovich, continuing his win at the NZ Residentials then qualified for the Heineken, picking up some ATP points and then decided to ply his trade on the futures and challenger circuits. It seems a strange decision to drain the shallow pool of quality players NZ has, when stronger domestic competition can only battle harden NZ players, upgrading their preparation as they try to break into The Show (ATP tour), or play Davis Cup.
Details of 2004 Residentials Final: Auckland third seed Radovanovich won the final 6-1, 7-6 (13-11) over fourth seed Matt Prentice of Wellington. "I wanted to be aggressive and just went for it "I went out there thinking it would be three sets, and thatís what happens every time we play," said Radovanovich. "I knew I could hold my serve and would have to take some risks on his serve when he was banging them down. In the second set I got over-anxious and tried to force the play a little. I was really nervous in the tiebreak."
Surely Radovanovich is a candidate for singles play this year in the Davis Cup?
Adam Thompson was the biggest disappointment, of the wild card playoff. He only had wins against King Turner, (the tournament bunny it turned out) and Statham. I hope he improves for the qualifying.
Statham had a good week at the NZ Residentials, where he lost in the semi-finals to Radovanovich. In the wildcard mini tournament, Statham beat King Turner, and Ward, but couldnít get past form player Jones, or top seeds Thompson and Nielsen. I hope he does well in the actual Auckland tournament qualifying rounds.