Young celebrity Jack Sock will not be in Atlanta next week for the USTA’s Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs, according to tournament media staff. Neither will PAC-12 standout Steve Johnson. Ohio’s Chase Buchanan (#361) and Milwaukee’s Tim Smyczek (#128) will replace them, meaning Tim Smyczek should occupy the top seed in the playoffs.
Sock’s departure will be sorely missed. He was a huge crowd favorite last year against Denis Kudla in the first round before retiring to the Northern Virginian Kudla. Couple that with the fact that last year’s local faves Georgians Bobby Reynolds and Robby Ginepri have not returned in 2012. Does that mean that DC’s Denis Kudla will be the men’s ‘local favorite’?
If Smyczek does indeed replace Kudla as top seed, it would be a big win for Tennessee fans, who won’t have to watch 4 seed Rhyne Williams face 5 seed Tennys Sandgren in the Friday opener. Instead, 3 seed Williams would get 6 seed Kosakowski and 4th seed Sandgren would face 5 seed Brad Klahn. Although Smyczek’s replacement as #128 over Jack Sock at #150 beefs up the average rankings of the field, the loss of #175 Steve Johnson in favor of #361 Buchanan lower the rankings below their original assessment. Before the changes, the men’s field had an average rank of 232. Now, their mean player will be have a 252 World ranking. Call it the Norcross Challenger if you like.
Fear not: The women’s field looks like a WTA International-level tournament with a 143 average world player ranking. You go, girls!