In the final chapter in the road to ATP FINALS at Walsall Tennis club on March 1st, Richards added to previous titles Australian and French Opens. Yet this time it was not Darrean taking home the US Open, it was Richards senior; Michael who defeated Luke Gwalchmai in a final littered with net cords.

On February 8th in glorious sunshine 10 players battled it out in the US Open to secure and jostle for end ranking positions for the big £60 knockout finals in March. We had another first, a player withdrawing with injury in the group stages, to the joy of the rest of the field looking for bigger points resulting in progressing to the elimination stages. Wimbledon champ Grayson was the unlucky one pulling his groin, yet knowing his qualification was safe, as others realised only a top four finish would be enough. We had yet another debutant in Ross Fox knowing only a final appearance would see him through to the ATP finals.

Here’s how the finishing 9 man handicap round robin panned out, including the handicaps they played off in the race to 7 points, when both players had minus starts the scores were brought closer to zero, and likewise when both players had plus handicaps.

ROSS FOX          0    WON 4/8  46 POINTS   5TH as more points than Anthony but less than Dan

DAN PLATT      0   WON 4/8    49 POINTS   4TH on more points than Ross and Ant

DARREAN RICHARDS  -1  WON 2/8   44 POINTS   7TH on more points than Simon and James

SIMON CROOK  +2   WON 2/8     40 POINTS  8TH on less points than Darrean but more than James

MICHAEL RICHARDS  0    WON  7/8    53 POINTS   1ST

TIM BOLAND  -1      WON 6/8    53 POINTS   2ND

LUKE GWALCHMAI  +1  WON  5/8  48 POINTS   3RD               

ANTHONY BOLAND    -1     WON 4/8   45 POINTS 6TH on less points than Dan and Ross

JAMES HODGES   -3   WON 2/8    37 POINTS  9TH as less points than Darrean and Simon

An interesting group stage seeing father Michael in fine form losing just one, and 2 time grand slam champion son Darrean scraping home with just two wins from eight in 7th place. Everyone winning at least two games but James suffered and was eliminated by least points as he found his -3 handicap just too much on the day. Many knew they had qualified for ATP finals but today’s main aim was still to win the US Open, although others knew they had to goo deep today to make it.

To the Quarter finals where handicaps are retained and now become best of 3 tie break matches.

QUARTER FINALS

1ST MICHAEL     v   8TH  SIMON…..   MICHAEL WINS 7-5 7-2 Simon gains 2 points for 8th

4TH DAN   v  5TH ROSS…….ROSS WINS 4-7 7-6 7-2  Dan  gains 5 points in 5th

3RD LUKE v 6TH ANTHONY ….. LUKE WINS 7-2 7-6   Anthony gains 4 points for 6th

2ND TIM v 7TH DARREAN….. TIM  WINS  7-5 7-2   Darrean gains 3 points for 7th

Just Ross upsetting the top 4 in a 3 set win over Dan, however Dan had done enough to make the ATP finals, to join already qualified Darrean, Jack, Tim, Grayson, Michael and Luke. With one spot remaining Ross must get to the final to stop the absent (through man flu) Rob Keeling from also qualifying. At this stage, for this year it’s all over for Simon and Anthony.

Onto the important Semi’s then where ranking points will still prove crucial for those wanting an ATP quarter final easier draw (if such a thing exists).

SEMI FINALS

1ST MICHAEL v 5TH ROSS……MICHAEL WINS 4-7  7-3 7-6  Ross gains 7 points in 4th, great debut result.

3RD LUKE  v 2ND TIM…. LUKE WINS 7-6 7-6 Tim gains 10 points guarantee 2nd seed.

So we will have a new winner and our 10th different Grand slam winner in just 12 Opens, Michael edged out Ross to qualify Rob into March’s Finals, and Luke squeezed past veteran Tim with two deciding point winning sets. It’s all about the US Open winner now as the rest pull up a chair for the floodlit final.

FINAL

1ST MICHAEL v 3RD LUKE…. MICHAEL WINS  7-5 4-7 7-2  Michael makes it 3 out of 4 slams for the Richards happy household, Luke Gwalch-mai think what might of been in the deciding set if not for the ridiculous two net cord winners from Michael, as he is yet again the bridesmaid, but all will be forgotten if Luke can capture the big prize on March 1st.

US OPEN RUNNER UP…. LUKE GWALCHMAI gains 13 ranking points and half price entry into ATP finals.

US OPEN CHAMPION…. MICHAEL RICHARDS gains 16 ranking points and FREE entry into ATP finals.

All competitors had a great time in what was another high quality Grand Slam, the handicaps are there to give every possibility for close games and unpredictable results, but they can’t account for players being in top form or being totally out of sorts, or how players can react to coping with the handicaps given in pressure situations.

So let’s find out what today’s earned points do the final leader board and who will be the 8 competitors on March 1ST for ATP TITLE, TROPHY and £60 PRIZE?

……….HANDICAP/US OPEN/ EVENTS/ TOTAL/ POS CHANGE

1ST D RICHARDS  -1        3            4                48               =

2ND T BOLAND       -1      10          4                33               =

3RD M RICHARDS   0       16         4               28              +2

4TH L GWALCHMAI +1    13         2               23              +3

4TH J EVANS              -1       –          2               23              -2

6TH G MARLOW      +1      1            3                21             -2

7TH D PLATT              0       5          3                 13             +2

8TH R KEELING        0       –           2                 11              -2

9TH R ROBINSON    +2      -          1                  10             -2

10TH R THAWAIT     -2       –          1                   7              =

10TH R FOX                  0       7         1                   7              NEW

12TH J HODGES         – 3       1           2                 6               -1

13TH A BOLAND        -1          4        2                  6              +1

4 PLAYERS ON 3 POINTS OR LESS.

So Darrean tops the group with 2 titles and runner up and highest ever ranking points total. Steady Tim takes 2nd seed. 28 points after today’s win takes Michael from 5th to 3rd while runner up Luke draws level with Jack on 23 points to share 4th place and will face each other in the quarters. Injury hit Wimbledon champ drops to 6th, as Dan rises from 9th to 7th with Rob fortunate to cling onto last 8 spot.

So here is the knockout draw for March 1st to be played best of 7 sets for Quarters and Semi’s. Final will be best of 9 sets. Entry is £6

Q1   1ST D RICHARDS V 8TH R KEELING

Q2  4TH L GWALCHMAI V 4TH J EVANS

Q3  3RD M RICHARDS V 6TH G MARLOW

Q4 2ND T BOLAND V 7TH D PLATT

SEMI 1 Q1 V Q2

SEMI 2 Q3 V Q4

THEN FINAL, No replacements will be given for non attendees, as what would be the point of qualifying when we all know in a handicap positions 9 or 10 could easily go on to win that knockout. If your quarter final opponent isn’t available at 2pm on March 1st then you advance to the Semi’s.

What a fantastic Grand slam season, thanks to all those that played and best of luck to those 8 qualifiers on March 1ST, could those competitors please confirm your place asap.

Cheers and big well done to Michael on this victory.

 

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