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~♥ Magnus Norman ♥~
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This weekend has highlighted the different strategies players can use as they attempt to get up to "main draw" territory. Chung Hyeon won the Savannah Challenger and made his Top 100 debut at #88, while Thanasi Kokkinakis easily qualified for the Istanbul 250 (losing only thirteen games in three qually matches).

Both teenagers appear to be handling the transition well: since the start of 2015, Chung has gone from #173 to #88, and Kokkinakis from #150 to #103. Yet they've done so with opposite styles. Despite his ranking, Kokkinakis has played an entirely main-tour schedule (not a single Challenger), going 4-for-4 in qualification attempts and getting a couple of WCs. Meanwhile, Chung has tried to qualify for a tour-level event only twice (succeeding once), electing instead to tear his way through the Challenger circuit (with two titles, another final, and two SFs since January).

For both these guys their choices appear to be working for them. Which strategy do you prefer? Or is the ratio of Challenger vs. main-tour something each guy has to balance on an individual level? Main-tour can be high-risk - you can lose in quallies and get piddly points, and even if you get through, you might draw a top-10 player in the first round. Challengers (particularly the weaker ones) are great opportunities to pick up easier points. And yet the money (and arguably the experience level) is higher on the main tour.

Even in this case, you can see the difference - both have been very successful, but in 2015 Chung has vaulted 85 ranking spots and earned $65K, while Kokkinakis has jumped "only" 47 spots and earned $150K.

Anyway, this is all just stuff I've been thinking about! Anybody have any thoughts on Challengers vs. main-tour quallies?
 

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Challengers seem the easier and wiser option.
In the ATP quallies you won't play against a TOP100 player but most of the time Kokk qualified he lost in the 1R against a relatively weak opponent. Might be because he played too many matches at once.
 

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Thanasi's game is so offensive minded, so when he is on he can beat top 30 players. (he played great at IW) but when he's off he can lose to Berlocq on hard, easily. So, for him it's better to play qualies. Chung on the other hand more consistent but strong-wise worse than Kokki. So it's better for him to play challengers mostly, at least for now. I think that after second part of the season, Chung will play mostly ATPs, too.
 

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I say mix it up. Play challengers but do a qualification/wild card entry now and then.

It's good to have a feeling of how top players play like even if you do challengers.
 

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Thanasi does seem to rise to the bigger occasions more which might be part of the reason for his choices. Not sure the Berlocq loss was about anything other than exhaustion though, long season playing virtually every week in qualies/MD plus deep run at IW...many other more experienced players have dropped at Miami for similar reasons.

I suspect the experience factor is important - nothing like real match experience, even if you lose.

Some players get into the top 100 off a ton of challengers and never make the transition to main tour successfully (Matt Ebden being a case in point).

Mixing it up and testing yourself to see where you really are has advantages, especially if you are consistent enough to keep getting through.

That said. The Kokk would almost certainly have been better off playing challengers this year from a pure ranking points perspective.

But if he'd missed Brisbane to play in his home town challenger (Happy Valley) for example, he would have missed a win over Benneteau that perhaps gave him the confidence to beat Gulbis, which gave him the win over Rosal, and gave him the confidence to do his IW win.

Got to think that having those wins under his belt will help down the track too.

So a difficult one to call.

In fact he did the almost identical tour run last year, albeit with much less success, then went back to challengers.
 

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I was going to ask the same question thinking about Kyle Edmund's scheduling choice (even more challengers than Chung).

He's slowly working up towards top 100 but he'll need to do better than QFs every time if he's going to make the jump to direct entry in ATP.

If you're young then the challenger route seems better for getting guaranteed tennis spread over a week against similarish ranked players.

If you're a vet at #100-150 then playing qualies for the money seems a better choice.
 

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The biggest talents did the transition really fast. Federer/Nadal/Djokovic/Murray. All of them, relativel simular. I'm not even considering a player a #1 prospect if he doesn't develop as fast as those guys. Coric did it. Seems like nobody from the 97' generation will do it. A few players from the 98' generation have a chance of doing it.
 

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I like reasonable growth strategies, which means few years on futures, then futures/challengers, then challengers (not only weakest Asian events like Kavcic or Chung - despite he has just won American one), then challengers/ATP qualies, and then ATP qualies/main draws. That's the way Damir has adopted and it works perfectly, every single year is better for him than previous one, he has not received any single wildcard or support from big sponsor and national federation, but made it to 85th, and its gonna be better. So as you can see, going step by step is enough and it helps a lot in the future.

Of course we have players like Coric, who almost completely skipped this challenger part of career, Chung is currently doing well, I like the fact he's playing challengers, but as I said in other threads, he needs to play some stronger ones, before moving to ATP level. Kokkinakis in my opinion slightly too early decided to leave challenger tour, but it was forced actually due to big amount of WCs into world tour events. The craziest example is Zverev of course, who even skipped futures level and is gonna have huge problems later this year, after his Braunschweig and Hamburg points will drop, as he has almost nothing else, because of playing too difficult events as WC entry, without experience from lower levels.
 

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Actually, prize money seems more secure for challenger level. A large part of Kokkinakis' prize money came from his success at the Aus Open and IW, and he got WCs for both of those so he didn't have to worry about qualifying and started fresh in the MD. Chung likely played challengers because it's more secure in money and points, until he could get to a rank where he could comfortably play on the tour via direct entry. Challengers and qualies are essentially the same in terms of opponents, that's why they don't count towards the official W-L record on tour. I think it was really just a choice to maximize efficiency and affordability for Chung.
 

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I like the arguments of Lukas15. I'd like to add the example of Thiem: he is a very good example of how quick it can work, if you still chose the traditional way: Futures => Challengers => ATP main tour, while not gaining many WCs to ATP main tour. Thiem chose to play challengers, but quickly passed this level. he then played many ATP qualies, which could be seen as "doing it the hard way".

very roughly you could say:
chung = 2013 thiem
kokk = 2014 thiem
;)
 

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The biggest talents did the transition really fast. Federer/Nadal/Djokovic/Murray. All of them, relativel simular. I'm not even considering a player a #1 prospect if he doesn't develop as fast as those guys. Coric did it. Seems like nobody from the 97' generation will do it. A few players from the 98' generation have a chance of doing it.
Not really that fast - around 2 years (plus or minus) to get from top 100 to top 10 for most recent group:

Name (entered top 100) (entered top ten)

Djokovic 4.7.05 19.3.07
Nadal 21.4.03 25.4.05
Federer 20.9.99 20.5.02
Hewitt 8.2.99 10.12.01

Kyrgios is still well and truly on track with them.

And different paths might lead to different speeds down the track...
 

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Very interesting thread! Combination is the key, because when you play only challengers you then face real struggle facing etabled players on tour. Playing only qualies may be demanding, and your finances depends on your wins. For example cutoff in Monte Carlo qualies was something around 140-150, so Gombos got in. He def. Jaziri in straight sets and Istomin withdrew in QFR and get 10 000 Euros for that. That's vital money in his case. Almost double than in Cherbourg challenger, where he won.

Other extreme is losing in QFR somewhere in Umag or at any 250s, where you get only 6 points and cca 500 Euros, but you played 3 matches, sometimes very hard. If you play at least 3 matches in challenger, you have at least 15-20 points assured, money-wise even better situation than in ATP qualies.
 

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I like reasonable growth strategies, which means few years on futures, then futures/challengers, then challengers (not only weakest Asian events like Kavcic or Chung - despite he has just won American one), then challengers/ATP qualies, and then ATP qualies/main draws. That's the way Damir has adopted and it works perfectly, every single year is better for him than previous one, he has not received any single wildcard or support from big sponsor and national federation, but made it to 85th, and its gonna be better. So as you can see, going step by step is enough and it helps a lot in the future.

Of course we have players like Coric, who almost completely skipped this challenger part of career, Chung is currently doing well, I like the fact he's playing challengers, but as I said in other threads, he needs to play some stronger ones, before moving to ATP level. Kokkinakis in my opinion slightly too early decided to leave challenger tour, but it was forced actually due to big amount of WCs into world tour events. The craziest example is Zverev of course, who even skipped futures level and is gonna have huge problems later this year, after his Braunschweig and Hamburg points will drop, as he has almost nothing else, because of playing too difficult events as WC entry, without experience from lower levels.

Incredibly dumb post, basically you don't like players having success, you prefer them to be average. :rolleyes:

If you can have wins on a higher level, no, you don't need to step back just because you skipped a step or 2.
 

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Incredibly dumb post, basically you don't like players having success, you prefer them to be average. :rolleyes:

If you can have wins on a higher level, no, you don't need to step back just because you skipped a step or 2.
I simply believe that this approach guarantees great achievements, okay - they are not quick, but later in career - yes, you need to be patient, but it will bring benefits. That's it.
 

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I simply believe that this approach guarantees great achievements, okay - they are not quick, but later in career - yes, you need to be patient, but it will bring benefits. That's it.
Yes, because most of the great champions were ranked 85 when they were 22.

It's a good approach for players aiming to spend their career on the verge of challangers and ATP, but some players have bigger aspirations, and apparently you don't like them because of that.
 

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Tsonga were somewhere around 200th that time.
Tsonga had injury problems after he was done with his junior career, where he was very successful.

You stated that that kind of slow progress guarantees great achievements later, which couldn't be any more far from the truth. The fact that Tsonga is the best you could have thought of, says it all. Not to mention that most of those young guns wouldn't settle for a Tsonga's career if someone asked them right now.
 

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Tsonga had injury problems after he was done with his junior career, where he was very successful.

You stated that that kind of slow progress guarantees great achievements later, which couldn't be any more far from the truth. The fact that Tsonga is the best you could have thought of, says it all. Not to mention that most of those young guns wouldn't settle for a Tsonga's career if someone asked them right now.
Exactly. Tsonga won junior USO and did well in other junior slams; stunning win over Carlos Moya in first ever tour MD match but then plagued with injury. Kyrgios is actually imitating Tsonga rather uncomfortably at the moment, Tsonga played only 8 tournies between 2004 - 2006 (19-21).

Dzumhur hasn't received wildcards because unlike Coric, Kokk et al, he looks like a steady journeyman type player, not a star - no early wins over top 100 players, no great upsets pulled off. For players like him the standard route - futures - challengers - qualifying - md - makes sense.

For those developing faster, the needs may be different. None of the number 1s of the last decade or so spent much time in challenger land. Challenger records:

Roddick 23/4
Agassi 15/4
Hewitt 13/5
Federer 16/7
Djokovic 28/8
Ferrero 20/8
Nadal 34/10
Safin 23/11
 
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