Niklas Jager: A Journeyman's Tale

General discussions about the 1st version of Tennis Elbow Manager

Niklas Jager: A Journeyman's Tale

Postby Zorromorph » 22 Apr 2009, 23:35

** All comments and suggestions are welcomed**

Wherein his unremarkable, unlikely story shall be detailed.

It's a story that begins not with Jager, but with unknown german tennis coach Tom Beich. Unknown for good reason, I might add. Tom knows the sport well, but unfortunately is not nearly so good at teaching it as he supposes. He does have great charisma, solid business acumen, and a great eye for talent. And at the turn of the millennium(2000 start, Incredible difficulty), he signed Niklas Jager as his first pupil.

Niklas is nobody’s idea of a future #1, but he does have some natural talent(pot. limited to 75). At only 5-foot-8, he’s the farthest thing from imposing, but the local lefty youngster does have some surprising skills. He’s very mentally tough, extremely coachable, durable, and has a natural affinity for slice shots which complement his natural defensive skills. That isn’t to say he’s ever going to be a threat to current German #1 Nicolas Kiefer, but perhaps there’s more to this young kid than most can see.

As the 2000 season kicks off, the ATP Top Ten looks like this:

1. Andre Agassi(USA) 8105
2. Yevgeny Kafelnikov(RUS) 7430
3. Jonas Bjorkman(SWE) 4990
4. Pete Sampras(USA) 4525
5. Todd Martin(USA) 4270
6. Thomas Enqvist(SWE) 4130
7. Nicolas Kiefer(GER) 3785
8. Nicolas Lapentti(ECU) 3775
9. Gustavo Kuerten(BRA) 3725
10. Cedric Pioline(FRA) 3110

With Kiefer 22 years old, and 21-year-old Tommy Haas already ranked 19th, the German men's hopes look strong in the near future. 24-year-old Rainier Schuettler(48th) is the nation’s #3, with 4 players currently in the ATP Top 100.

Niklas will get his first matches in some European futures tournaments, and even Beich expects his new pupil to get drilled his first few times out. Due to rank stupidity – there is no other explanation – the obviously talented 18-year-old Argentinian David Nalbandian soon hired Beich as his coach as well. Niklas Jager’s first sponsor contract($154 a week, MalBaret, 9 months) offered a tiny bonus for winning any futures-level tournament. Fat chance there, at least in the immediate future.
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Re: Niklas Jager: A Journeyman's Tale

Postby Zorromorph » 24 Apr 2009, 00:20

France F1(Clay) -- #908

Q1 v. Oleksandr Nedovyesov(UKR)

Jager lost his serve right away to begin his first professional match, then lost it again after leading 40-15 his next service game. Both players were very inconsistent, and almost every game went to deuce at least once. As bad as the final looks on paper, it was actually even worse than that – Oleksandr converted on only 6 of a ridiculous 18 break points. Niklas Jager had 40 unforced errors, which is the same amount of points he managed to win for the match, and failed on all 8 of his net approaches.

Until his strokes get much more consistent, Niklas will be seeing a lot of lopsided losses.

L 1-6, 1-6

France F2(Indoor Hard) -- #907

Q1 v. (6) Joshua Goodall(GBR)

Jager was well off his game(63% energy) for this match, not that he would have had a chance anyway. Goodall is slightly better physically and far superior in any other comparison between the two players. He handed Niklas his first career bagel. I have a feeling it won’t be the last. For his first two matches, Jager has yet to record an ace(and has been aced 8 times, six by Goodall). This one took less than an hour, mercifully.

L 1-6, 0-6


There were some early surprises this year. World #1 Andre Agassi was knocked out by Wayne Ferreira in the second round, and he didn’t even put up a fight losing in straight sets. #3 Jonas Bjorkman lost in the third round to Alex Corretja, not as much of a surprise but still a big upset. Corretja and Ferreira both made it to the semis, but the final pitted two of the sport’s biggest names, #2 Yevgeny Kafelnikov and #4 Pete Sampras. Sampras had been on a tear the entire tournament, showing that at 28 he still has plenty left. Despite having lost only one set in his first six matches, he lost the first two sets in tiebreaks(13-11 in the first) and bowed out quickly. With the Aussie crown, Kafelnikov bumped Agassi from the #1 ranking, and Sampras moved up to #3. The Russian can largely thank a QF injury to Frenchman Cedric Pioline, who was leading him before being forced to retire in the fourth set.

The Germans had several men in the main draw, including two seeded players. 8-seed Nicolas Kiefer lost in four sets to Franco Squillari(ARG) in the round of 16, and 18-seed Tommy Haas made it to the third round before dropping a long match to (15) Mark Phillopoussis, 7-5 in the fifth. None made it to the quarters. Rainier Schuettler also made it to the third round, and nearly took out Ferreira before falling 11-9 in an epic 5th set.

Four of their countrymen made it through qualifying:

Marc-Kevin Goellner(lost to fellow qualifier Martin Garcia(ARG) in the first round)
Tomas Behrend(l. Marat Safin, R2)
Jens Knippschild(l. Q Sergi Bruguera(ESP), R1)
Marcus Hantschk(l. Jeff Tarango(USA) in four sets, R2)

Pretty much about what you'd expect overall, though it would have been nice to see Kiefer and Haas make it a round further each.


1. Yevgeny Kafelnikov(RUS) 7845
2. Andre Agassi(USA) 7475
3. Pete Sampras(USA) 5430
4. Jonas Bjorkman(SWE) 4870
5. Thomas Enqvist(SWE) 4040
6. Todd Martin(USA) 3570
7. Nicolas Kiefer(GER) 3455
8. Gustavo Kuerten(BRA) 3295
9. Nicolas Lapentti(ECU) 3280
10. Cedric Pioline(FRA) 2670

Tom Beich’s next recruit was Czech Bohdan Ulihrach, a countering player similar to Nalbandian though not as physically powerful, less mentally tough, and much older at age 24. Currently ranked #120 in the world, he is a much more established guy though. Beich sees him rising significantly from that position – Bohdan has neglected physical training far too much, and should increase the pop on all of his shots from their currently abysmal level pretty quickly. The new recruit’s goal is to win a Challenger tournament, so some of the upcoming European events were quickly added to his schedule.
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Re: Niklas Jager: A Journeyman's Tale

Postby Zorromorph » 25 Apr 2009, 05:01

Moving ahead to late February, Jager headed off to another round of futures fun.

Switzerland F1(Indoor Carpet)

Q1 v. Hijiri Kaneko(JAP)

An interesting first match, as both players were not ready at all. The quality of tennis was horrific. Jager was way off his game(59%), while Kaneko had criminally overtrained in preparation(55% form). Still, there was no reason not to expect Niklas’ losing streak to continue here. He put up a decent fight before getting broken(3 deuces) to start the match, and the result was very similar to his two efforts in France.

L 2-6, 1-6

Switzerland F2(Indoor Hard)

Q1 v. (2) Atsuo Ogawa(JAP)

For the third straight match, Niklas Jager showed up in a horrible frame of mind(55%). A tragedy, because he actually has the ability to compete with this opponent, and is already physically superior. However, Ogawa’s game was ready, and his was not. Another 40 errors, and only 37 points won. Against impressive competition, this is undoubtedly his most disappointing match. It can’t get much worse … can it?

L 1-6, 0-6

Sweden F1(Indoor Hard)

Q1 v. Phillip Harboe(CHL)

This time the roles were reversed: Harboe was off(61%) and Jager looked strong. He had improved his still-incompetent strokes across the board(15-20% now) and held his serve easily to start for his first-ever lead. Niklas got a quick break, lost it immediately, but then broke again and took the first set easily. He cruised to an easy first career win, allowing only two break chances!

W 6-2, 6-1

Q2 v. Donald Young(USA)

Niklas reverted to his inconsistent ways in this match(76%), and was quickly dispatched. Disappointing, but Young is a much better player right now. After putting 67% of his first serves in play last time out, he hit only 44% this match.

L 2-6, 1-6

Sweden F2(Indoor Carpet)

Q1 vs. Pablo Arraya(ARG)

Once again Jager is out of his depth here. Arraya was exhausted(47% form) and it didn’t really even matter. 31 errors, and only 9 winners. 34% on first serves. That’s just ugly. Jager is still looking for his first ace.

L 1-6, 2-6

Talented Croatian Ivan Ljubicic(21, ranked #100) became the final member of the Tom Beich stable this week.
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Re: Niklas Jager: A Journeyman's Tale

Postby Leena » 25 Apr 2009, 07:07

Potential limited to 75% on Incredible? Man, that's gonna be tough. I hope you can at least reach ATP level after a few years with stats probably reaching 60-65, at best. I'd love for you to knock off that nut, Kiefer. :)

How is Niklas so low with his energy in matches? Do you rarely rest during the first year? That might be the best strategy. I usually stay near 100% because I'm afraid of long injuries...

Also, the CPU's form must be originally based on age (Arraya is 38 at your point in the game), and doesn't seem to effect performance (other than it reaching 0%, which leads to default). Navratilova on the women's side always has her form in the 30s, yet she still kicks butt. I hate that when I purposely keep all my players at 100% form.
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Re: Niklas Jager: A Journeyman's Tale

Postby Zorromorph » 25 Apr 2009, 17:53

Yeah I don't see any Slam titles in my future. I think I can at least make it to the ATP level, but beyond that it's anybody's guess.

The energy being low is because of consistency(It's energy, not form). Form I always have in the 98-100 range for matches, or almost always. But the energy will sometimes start out lower based on consistency, which of course sucks for the first year.

Strange because the CPU form does seem to affect performance in my experience *shrug*.
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Re: Niklas Jager: A Journeyman's Tale

Postby Zorromorph » 25 Apr 2009, 21:26

Italy F1(Clay)

Q1 v. (6) Kris Goosens(BEL)

A big step here. Goosens was fairly seriously unprepared for the match, but it was still a big win, and a relatively easy one for Niklas Jager. His serve was on-target(69%) and he hounded the Belgian into 24 break point chances, even though only 5 were converted.

W 6-3, 6-2

Q2 v. Stephane Bohli(SWI)

Bohli is a veteran(29) with a much more developed game, and hounded Jager into another miserable effort(8 winners, 37 errors).

L 2-6, 1-6

Italy F2(Clay)

Q1 v. Paul Dogger(NTH)

Dogger is a much faster player with very consistent ground strokes, and also a clay-court specialist. Jager didn’t look sharp(62%), and got himself pounded after a solid start to the first set.

L 2-6, 0-6

Italy F3(Clay)

Q1 v. Andrey Golubev(RUS)

This was an interesting match between two lefties: Jager is a little quicker and more fit, while Golubev has better baseline strokes. After winning the first set, Niklas fell behind 3-0 in the second but quickly rallied. It was by far the longest and most competitive match so far of his career(2:02), and both players made a ton of errors, but Jager had the more reliable serve, earning a 15-5 edge in break point chances.

W 6-3, 6-4

Q2 v. (2) Krzysztof Kwinta(POL)

A third attempt at getting past the second qualifying round, and this one actually looked like a clear advantadge for Jager. Kwinta doesn’t have as good of physical skills, and his serve-and-volley style isn’t cut out for the clay. His Polish opponent also was having quite the bad day(59%), and this was a quick one – for the first time, Niklas advanced to the final qualifying round.

W 6-1, 6-0

Q3 v. Bo Ram Cha(KOR)

Unforunately, Cha’s ground strokes are well over twice as reliable as Jager’s right now. Which was a recipe for a fairly quick match. Give him credit for never giving up: down a set and 4-0 in the second, he charged back to win three and almost four straight games.

L 4-6, 4-6


It was another disappointing Slam for No. 1 Andre Agassi, who lost in the round of 16 to Juan Carlos Ferrero in straight sets. Australian Open finalist No. 2 Yevgeny Kafelnikov lost in the same round, to Marat Safin, also in three straight. American Pete Sampras reached his second straight Slam final, but was denied once again by No. 4 Gustavo Kuerten, the clay-court specialist from Brazil, in four sets.

As a result, Agassi has been knocked from the top spot yet again, though wins in Doha and San Jose and a finalist showing at the Monte Carlo Masters have kept him near the top.

The Germans didn’t do as well here as in Australia. 13-seed Tommy Haas blew a two-set lead in losing to Stefan Koubek in the first round. 6-seed Nicolas Kiefer once again lost in the round of 16, this time to Franco Squillari(ARG) in three sets. The rest were unimpressive as well:

Rainier Schuettler(l. Steve Schalken R2, four sets)
Tomas Behrend(l. Andrei Pavel R1, winning only two games)
Bernd Karbacher(l. Jim Courier R1, four sets)
Q Daniel Elsner(l. Jerome Golmard R1, straight sets)
Q Markus Hantschk(l. Lleyton Hewitt R2, four sets)
Q Jens Knippschild(l. Franco Squillari R2, straight sets)


1. Gustavo Kuerten(BRA) 5595
2. Andre Agassi(USA) 5320
3. Pete Sampras(USA) 4885
4. Yevgeny Kafelnikov(RUS) 4760
5. Todd Martin(USA) 3520
6. Magnus Norman(SWE) 2950
7. Nicolas Kiefer(DEU) 2915
8. Alex Corretja(ESP) 2805
9. Thomas Enqvist(SWE) 2680
10. Cedric Pioline(FRA) 2525
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Re: Niklas Jager: A Journeyman's Tale

Postby Rob4590 » 25 Apr 2009, 21:50

Leena wrote:Potential limited to 75% on Incredible? Man, that's gonna be tough. I hope you can at least reach ATP level after a few years with stats probably reaching 60-65, at best. I'd love for you to knock off that nut, Kiefer. :)

Err - totally incorrect - potential on incredible level is limited to 95% not 75% - I think you are confusing it with the potential you can SEE thanks to your coaches special skills - just cos you can't see potential higher than 75%, the skills don't stop there. :thinking:
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Re: Niklas Jager: A Journeyman's Tale

Postby Zorromorph » 25 Apr 2009, 22:54

That's normally true Rob, but I edited it to be 75% for this game. I didn't want it to turn into another uber Grand Slam-fest, I wanted to do something different for this game :).
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Re: Niklas Jager: A Journeyman's Tale

Postby Rob4590 » 27 Apr 2009, 17:45

Ok - fair enough - my bad!
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Re: Niklas Jager: A Journeyman's Tale

Postby Zorromorph » 28 Apr 2009, 04:17

Norway F1(Indoor Hard)

Q1 v. (5) Juan-Martin Anguren(ARG)

It may be at the very bottom of the heap, but Niklas Jager has become competitive. Here, a good match against a guy with more consistency off the ground, but not as much pop on his serve or physical prowess, he won a tough comeback set and then flattened Anguren in the second. His first two career aces are also notable.

W 7-5, 6-1

Q2 v. Atsuo Ogawa(JAP)

Same surface as his humiliating worst performance ever at the Switzerland F2, against the same opponent. Ogawa has virtually no power in his game at all, and should be an easy mark despite that loss. It took only 50 minutes, with Ogawa getting just 8 winners – a great reversal.

W 6-1, 6-3

Q3 v. Raul-Isaias Rosas-Zarur(MEX)

This was a true David v. Goliath matchup, except that Rosas-Zarur came in horribly overextended(55% form, 49% energy). This win was largely a gift, but regardless, it sends him into his first-ever main draw!

W 6-3, 6-3

R1 v. Luka Gregorc(SVN)

Jager was an underdog here, but had a couple factors in his favor: Luka has virtually no tactical sense, and was a somewhat off(81%). Niklas grabbed a quick break to go up 3-1 in the first, gave it back, then won a long, tough game to re-take the lead 4-2. Neither player’s serve was very effective, but he held on to take the first set, and then cruised in the second.

W 6-3, 6-0

R2 v. (4) Nathan Healey(AUS)

This was a different matchup altogether: Healey is a little bit better than Jager across the board, and an incredibly confident and intelligent player. After losing eight of the first nine points, Niklas threatened to make a match of it, but he was just outclassed here.

L 3-6, 1-6

Norway F2(Cement)

Q1 v. (1) David Tavernier(FRA)

An expected easy win despite Tavernier’s high seed, and after a bit of a rough start that’s exactly what he got.

W 6-2, 6-1

Q2 v. Filip Prpic(SWE)

Prpic is similar but not quite as good as Nathan Healey, and his superior strategy paid off as one would expect. Neither player had their best stuff(Jager 79%, Prpic 65%).

L 1-6, 3-6

The second-round finish at Norway F1 gave Niklas Jager his first ranking point, moving him up to #844 in the rankings.


This time all of the top players did well, reaching at least the QF. It made for an exciting final weekend: nobody in the quarters was ranked lower than #10 in the world. The final was a rematch of the French: Gustavo Kuerten against Pete Sampras. Pistol Pete broke his losing streak, getting the better of the Brazilian, but it took five long sets, 7-5 in the fifth, and a pair of tiebreaks that were split to do so. It was not enough for Pete to overtake Gustavo’s hold on the top spot, however.

It was another poor Slam for the Germans. Kiefer(#7 seed) lost to Todd Woodbridge in the second round quickly, and 13-seed Tommy Haas lost in the third round to Younes El Ayanoui in 4. He was the only one of his countrymen to get that far.

Rainier Schuettler(L R2, Tim Henman in 4)
Tomas Behrend(L R1, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, 3 sets)
Jens Knippschild(L R1, Alex Corretja, won only 2 games)
Q Daniel Elsner(L R1, Lucas Arnold in 3)
Q Lars Burgsmuller(L R1, Steve Schalken in 3)

Getting injured in the second round of qualifying was the last straw for Ivan Ljubicic, and he fired Beich as his coach. He was replaced with the German #3, Rainer Schuettler, currently ranked #44 in the world and boasting a final appearance at Vina Del Mar earlier in the year. Rainier is a classic defensive clay-court specialist, similarly versatile to Jager but considerably more talented. His goal is to win any IS event – pretty lofty, but he’s capable of it if he improves.


1. Gustavo Kuerten(BRA) 5675
2. Pete Sampras(USA) 5530
3. Andre Agassi(USA) 4760
4. Yevgeny Kafelnikov(RUS) 3930
5. Todd Martin(USA) 3215
6. Magnus Norman(SWE) 3045
7. Thomas Engvist(SWE) 2920
8. Alex Corretja(ESP) 2660
9. Marat Safin(RUS) 2355
10. Cedric Pioline(FRA) 2305

Nicolas Kiefer tumbled to 11th …
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Re: Niklas Jager: A Journeyman's Tale

Postby Zorromorph » 28 Apr 2009, 17:02

Belgium F1(Clay)

Q1 v. (5) Martin Verkerk

Jager has improved his ground strokes quite a bit in the last month or so, but Verkerk is still a much better player. Or at least he should be. Unexpectedly leading a set and up 4-2 in the second, he collapsed and lost three straight games, then fended off a few set points to tie it at 5-5, only to get broken again easily and drop to set. On to the third, with momentum headed full bore the other way. Verkerk won the first seven points, and it was over quickly. Nearly an impressive upset, but Jager faded at the end.

It really came down to taking advantadge of opportunities. He won only 4/16 break points, while giving up 7/13.

L 6-4, 5-7, 1-6

Belgium F2(Clay)

Q1 v. Sascha Kloer

An off day for Jager(69%), and Kloer is a solid baseline player. A pretty quick loss, his third in the last four matches.

L 2-6, 1-6

Hungary F1(Clay)

Q1 v. (6) Jean-Claude Scherrer

Another player out of Jager’s league, Scherrer has a powerful baseline game that is better than some of the ATP Top 50. His opponent did take the match too lightly, coming in at 61% form, and Niklas stole the first set, only to quickly lose the second. He put up more of a fight in the third, but the difference in skill was too much to overcome.

L 6-3, 1-6, 3-6

Hungary F2(Clay)

Q1 v. (7) Alessandro Motti(ITA)

Finally a winnable match: Motti is a fellow clay-court specialist, and is Jager’s equal from the baseline, but Niklas should have the edge everywhere else, and the Italian’s serve is a joke. It wasn’t a walk, but he got through it pretty easily to break the losing streak.

W 6-4, 6-2

Q2 v. Sergio Rojas(PER)

W 6-3, 6-2

Q3 v. Ilia Kushev(BGR)

An interesting and pretty even match for a shot at another main draw. Kushev has a little better game from the baseline, but Jager has a physical edge and a slight mental one as well. Unfortunately the first set was a disaster, and a poor service game late in the second sealed his fate. 50 errors, compared to only 21 for Kushev, fatal with both players serving well.

L 1-6, 4-6
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Re: Niklas Jager: A Journeyman's Tale

Postby PattySchnyder » 03 May 2009, 04:29

Love your dynasty please keep us updated!
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Re: Niklas Jager: A Journeyman's Tale

Postby Zorromorph » 03 May 2009, 23:10

Thanks for your support! :). The story shall continue, I just had a brutally busy week and RL takes precedence :).
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Re: Niklas Jager: A Journeyman's Tale

Postby Zorromorph » 06 May 2009, 15:52

Italy F7(Cement)

Q1 v. Adrian Cruciat(Romania)

Niklas Jager had some advantadges here: a mental edge and a more powerful serve – but Cruciat is a far better baseline player and similarly patient. After losing the first three games, Jager came back to fight for the first set, and eventually won a crushing victory in the tiebreak – the first one of his career. Again in the second set he overcame an early break to eventually level it at 5-5, after fending off a few set points. He lost his serve again in the next game, and failed on two break attempts, forcing a third set.

The Romanian seemed slightly fresher as the match wound down, but Jager won all the big points and won a very tough match, the most satisfying win he’s had in his first year on the tour. It doesn’t get him any points and only a few dollars, but it’s an upset and he earned this one. It lasted 3 hours 41 minutes, nearly twice the length of his previous max time on the court. Both players committed a horrendous number of errors(nearly 100 each), but Jager had more winners(63 to 51) and played a little better on the big points.

W 7-6(1), 5-7, 6-2

Q2 v. Florin Mergea(Romania)

An even matchup on paper, except that Mergea is a brilliant tactician which gives him an edge, while Jager is more fit and a little quicker. Both players looked like they were ready with their best tennis.

The first set made no sense: Jager was horrendous early and fell behind 5-0, then rallied to even it up before falling apart serving to enter another tiebreak at 5-6. The second set ended the same way. He was just a little short on this one.

L 5-7, 5-7

Germany F3(Clay)

Q1 v. Krzysztof Kwinta(POL)

Niklas has already beaten Kwinta once, crushing him the second qualifying round of one of the Italian events just before the French. This time it wasn’t quite as easy, but another one-sided victory soon resulted, taking less than an hour.

W 6-2, 6-1

Q2 v. Grzegorz Panfil(POL)

Another overmatched Polish opponent, but this time Jager fell behind 5-2 in the first set before rallying to win it in a tiebreak – and then dropping his serve immediately to start the second. He rallied again, but it was a much tougher match than it should have been.

W 7-6(4), 6-3

Q3 v. Branislav Stankovic(SLV)

A pretty even matchup here with a spot in the main draw at stake. Stankovic is a little more powerful from the baseline, while Jager has a small edge mentally and physically across the board. He was by far the more rested player for the match, and came through with a surprisingly easy win, converting on 6 of 8 break chances.

W 6-2, 6-2

R1 v. Andreas Haider-Mauer(AUS)

A solid edge for Jager here: the Austrian has no net game at all and is somewhat inferior in every part of the game, particularly lacking in strength and quickness. Another easy win, and he advances to the second round.

W 6-3, 6-2

R2 v. Thorsten Popp(DEU)

Niklas faces his first fellow German here, with the chance to advance to the quarters for the first time ever and quadruple his ranking point total in the process if he wins. He’s a significant underdog though – Popp has pro-level consistency on his backhand, and is an above-average baseline player overall.

Neither player put on much of a display, but it was a disastrous match for Jager, who was nearly bageled in the first set – it was 5-0 before he got on the board. The second was better, but he squandered an early lead and will have to settle for a single ranking point here.

L 3-6, 5-7

Germany F4(Clay)

Q1 v. Franciso Roig(ESP)

Another poor effort here against a significantly inferior player. Thankfully Niklas woke up some after the first set, but a late collapse in the third let to probably the most disappointing loss of the year. His first serve %(39) was exactly half of what Roig managed, and even so he still outpointed him overall(90-89), thanks to the dominance in the second set.

L 4-6, 6-0, 4-6

2000 U.S. OPEN

Another disappointing effort for No. 1 Gustavo Kuerten, who lost in the third round to Arnaud Clement in straight sets. The rest of the big names reached at least the quarters. Most of the matches on the final weekend were quite one-sided. Pete Sampras made it to his fourth Slam final of the year, but he has only the Wimbledon title to show for it as he was sent to this third loss, this time by Russian Marat Safin, in three very competitive sets. Sampras moves up to the top spot in the rankings, while Safin remains fifth despite the title.

(13) Nicolas Kiefer suffered another third-round loss, this one to (19) Dominik Hrbaty(SVK). Kiefer came back from a two-set deficit, but dropped the fifth to spoil it. (14) Tommy Haas lost a five-set affair in the third round as well, to (20) Mariano Puerta(ARG). It was even more competitive, and Haas also rallied from two sets down, losing 6-4 in the deciding set. You don’t get any points for ‘close’ though. The rest of the Germans were out more quickly as you would expect:

Rainer Schuettler(l R2 v. Albert Costa in 3)
Daniel Elsner(l R1. v. Juan Carlos Ferrero, 3 sets)
Alexander Popp(l R1 v. Michael Chang in 3)
Tomas Behrend(ret. R1 v. Q Jan Mertl)
Q Jens Knippschild(l R1 v. Franco Squillari(ARG), losing a 2-set lead to the world No. 10)
Q Markus Hantschk(l R2 v. Sebastian Grosjean, 4 sets)


1. Pete Sampras(USA) 5390
2. Gustavo Kuerten(BRA) 4895
3. Andre Agassi(USA) 4690
4. Yevgeny Kafelnikov(RUS) 4325
5. Marat Safin(RUS) 3855
6. Magnus Norman(SWE) 2835
7. Thomas Engvist(SWE) 2620
8. Alex Corretja(ESP) 2510
9. Todd Martin(USA) 2470
10. Franco Squillari(ARG) 2440
crazy of the little yellow ball
crazy of the little yellow ball
Messages: 77
Gaming Since: 07 Sep 2006, 06:53

Re: Niklas Jager: A Journeyman's Tale

Postby Zorromorph » 10 May 2009, 03:29

Niklas Jager’s sponsor contract ran out, and he signed a new one -- $866 a week(15% taxes) with StarFlip Coffee, a big increase over the $154/wk. he got from MalBaret. There’s a $7,000 bonus for a QF appearance in any IS event, but I don’t see that happening. During the African futures swing, he got some focused training time in, and had high hopes coming into the last couple of events of the year ….

Spain F3(Indoor Hard)

Q1 v. Shannon Nettle(AUS) – W 6-1, 6-4

A noteworthy win as he would have struggled against this quality of opponent a few months ago … and because for the first time Jager went through the entire match without facing a single break point. In fact, he lost only a single point on his serve the entire way, and it would have been much more lopsided if he’d done better on his break chances than 4 out of 22.

Q2 v. (2) Mark Draper(AUS) – W 6-1, 6-0
Q3 v. Brent Haygarth(ZAF) – L 4-6, 6-4, 4-6

Haygarth is no pushover – a very consistent server with a good return and net game, and solid mental capabilities. It was a battle the whole way, but Niklas missed a chance to break at 4-4 in the third, then lost his serve quickly to end the match. It was extremely even, but just a hair short. The difference was the South African’s ability to pounce on Jager’s second serves with his return game.

Spain F4(Clay)

Q1 v. Bobby Kokavec(CAN) – W 6-2, 6-0
Q2 v. Carl Limberger(AUS) – W 6-3, 6-3
Q3 v. Vaja Uzakov(AZB) – W 6-3, 5-7, 6-2

A very uneventful trip through the qualifying draw this time, with no real quality opponents, until a collapse late in the second set against Uzakov. Vaja was sharp if an inferior player, and Jager lost his serve three straight times after leading early. He had a good third set to finally put him away though, and move on to the main draw.

R1 v. Zach Fleishman(USA) – W 6-2, 6-2

Fleishman has more power and accuracy off the baseline, particularly from the forehand side, and a more accurate serve. Jager is better mentally and in his basic physical condition, and has a more versatile game, so this shaped up to be likely a pretty even match. The American came in a little tired(81% form), and Niklas jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead. Winning here wasn’t a shock, but it’s suprising how one-sided it was.

R2 v. (6) Jonathan Marray(GBR) – W 7-5, 6-2

A third second-round appearance, and this looked like a very even match in most respects. Marray is a very good tactician, but not as mentally or physically tough, and if anything Niklas has a slight edge in the quality of his strokes. He should be able to win this with a strong effort. After both players held to 5-5, Jager dominated the rest of the match to earn his first-ever QF appearance!

QF v. Jim Thomas(USA) -- W 5-7, 6-1, 6-2

A confident player with a strong return game, Thomas doesn’t have the overall package to challenge Jager. He was tougher than expected in taking the first set, but it was all Jager in the second to even it up, and after a rough start the third set wasn’t much different.

SF v. Mark Nielsen(NZL) – W 7-5, 6-3

I would have expected Niklas to fade pretty quickly against Nielsen’s strong baseline game, but after falling behind 5-1 in the first he rallied impressively, winning six straight games to take the set! Once again he fell behind, dropping the first three games of the second, then never dropped another one in recording a very fine upset … and a very valuable one as well, putting him in the final! He harassed the New Zealander’s serve well all match long, earning a 28-9 edge in break chances.

F v. Feliciano Lopez(ESP) – W 6-1, 6-2

A dominant finish here to a breakthrough tournament to end the year! Niklas never lost his serve, putting 79% of his first serves in play, and taking just over an hour to dispatch his Spanish opponent. He earns 18 points here, increasing his total from 2 to 20! His ranking shoots up almost two hundred places to 526 as a result.


The Americans were knocked out during the round-robin stage, and fans were treated to a great match in the final between Marat Safin and Gustavo Kuerten. Four of the five sets were extremely competitive, with three tiebreaks, but eventually the Russian came through on top with a tiebreak win in the final set. A very strong year has Safin in the #3 spot, and in position to challenge Sampras and Kuerten for the top spot in the early going next year.


1. Pete Sampras(USA) 5525
2. Gustavo Kuerten(BRA) 5415
3. Marat Safin(RUS) 5020
4. Yevgeny Kafelnikov(RUS) 3515
5. Andre Agassi(USA) 3465
6. Alex Corretja(ESP) 2960
7. Magnus Norman(SWE) 2910
8. Thomas Enqvist(SWE) 2875
9. Franco Squillari(ARG) 2525
10. Juan-Carlos Ferrero(ESP) 2485

The picture is not rosy for the Germans: Tommy Haas(21st) and Nicolas Kiefer(22nd) both tumbled considerably this year. Two losses by Kiefer against the Netherlands(L 3-2) kept them from qualifying for the Davis Cup World Group.


Match Record: 26-19
Entry Ranking: 908 start, 531 end
Prize Money: $2,923($1,800 from the season-ending win at Spain F4)
crazy of the little yellow ball
crazy of the little yellow ball
Messages: 77
Gaming Since: 07 Sep 2006, 06:53


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