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Island U Progress Report: From One Desert to Another

Welcome back to Island U, TTI’s new weekly round-up. After another week of intense play across the globe, Nicholas Nemeroff returns to grade the best, worst, and welcome two new names onto the Dean’s List, where players who earn three or more grades are filed  into an easy-to-follow GPA system.

Stay tuned as we reveal our next two entrants to the Island U Dean’s List, along with all the rest who made waves on the ATP and WTA Tours!


David Ferrer: A+

Within six days, the Spaniard won two ATP 500 level events on two different surfaces (clay and hard), the first since Ivan Lendl to do so. He also broke his five match losing streak to Kei Nishikori, and his performance against American Ryan Harrison in the semifinals – where he won the final twelve games after losing the first set – was one of the most impressive displays we’ve seen from any player thus far in 2015.

Ryan Harrison: A-

Ryan Harrison rose 60 spots in the rankings this week, doing so with a huge run to the Acapulco semifinals. The struggling American scored huge wins over Delray Beach finalist Donald Young, 2014 Acapulco champion Grigor Dimitrov and Delray Beach champion, Ivo Karlovic. It’s hard to believe, but the once highly-touted American hope is only 22; backed by a familiar team and looking in better shape, the sky remains the limit.

Fabio Fognini: C-

After reaching the final in Rio with a massive victory over Rafael Nadal, Fognini delivered a clunker in Buenos Aires, falling to Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq 6-3, 6-0 in the second round.

Fogna gonna Fogna.

Facundo Arguello: B+

Arguello entered his first round match in Buenos Aires last week with an 0-10 record in ATP World Tour-level matches. Pitted against clay court specialist Albert Montanes in the first round, Arguello erased his demons and captured his first-ever ATP victory.

Rafael Nadal: A

In a tournament that he was fully expected to win, Rafael Nadal got the job done in Buenos Aires, winning all eight sets he played throughout the week. The only trouble Nadal faced was in the semifinals against Carlos Berlocq, where he trailed 6-1 in the first set tiebreak before storming back to win the match in straights. The former No. 1’s consistency earns him a spot on the Dean’s List, but is still lacking the sort of 4.0 result to truly shout about, earning a 3.33 after three grades.

Roger Federer: A+

Federer defended his Dubai title in dramatic fashion, saving seven of seven break points in a showpiece final against longtime rival, Novak Djokovic. Federer fell behind 15-40 in two key games in the second set before using his always dependable serve to get out of trouble.

Andy Murray: D

Through the first two rounds, it looked like Andy Murray was going to be an extremely tough out in Dubai. His fate changed in the quarterfinals where he lost to 18-year-old Borna Coric, winning just four games in process. Murray hit 55 unforced errors in a match that lasted just 104 points.

Certainly not one to remember for the Brit.


Lucie Safarova: A+

Lucie Safarova won just her third title since 2008, beating Sam Stosur, Ekaterina Makarova, Andrea Petkovic, Carla Suarez Navarro and Victoria Azarenka en route to the title. Dropping just one set against a cadre of players with major tournament experience, Safarova showed impressive nerve to close out Azarenka and prove that she can compete with some of the hottest players in the game from first ball to last.

Sam Stosur: C

Even though Stosur lost to eventual champion Safarova in the first round, it will be no consolation for her. The Australian has yet to record consecutive match wins in 2015.

Sesil Karatantcheva: A

Sesil Karatantcheva is well known for talking smack on Maria Sharapova back in the day but the re-naturalized Bulgarian made a bit of a bang this week, reaching the semifinals in Acapulco as a qualifier and as a result increasing her ranking by 31 spots. Her win over Monica Puig was particularly dramatic, racing out to a 5-2 final set lead before holding off one last charge from the Puerto Rican starlet.

Timea Bacsinszky: A+

Timea Bacsinzky, Karatantcheva’s conqueror, had even fewer issues in Acapulco, taking the title in Mexico with the loss of only one set. Against talented Frenchwoman, Caroline Garcia, Bacsinszky dropped just three games, reducing Garcia to tears by the trophy ceremony.

This is Bacsinszky’s second career WTA title, and is now ranked at a career-high of No. 31.

Sara Errani: D

Sara Errani, winner in Rio, had no such luck in Acapulco, losing to Monica Puig 6-1, 6-1 in the second. Not the outcome Errani would have wanted the week after winning a title. Combine this with another tough week she had in Fed Cup, and the Italian enters the Dean’s List with a paltry 1.57 GPA, and will need to make up ground quickly before the season’s clay court mid-terms.

Victoria Azarenka: B+/A-

I really expected Azarenka to beat Safarova in the final, and though the Czech veteran played very well, Azarenka will be disappointed not to have come away with a title in Doha. With that said, the former No. 1 is continuing to prove that she is going to be a force to be reckoned with as she continues to improve.

How would you have graded the field last week? Sound off in the comments!

About Nick Nemeroff (66 Articles)
21-year-old NYU student. Passionate about playing tennis, coaching tennis, and writing about tennis. Feel free to contact me at any time!

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