There’s a lull before “Cincy” – and almost no action at all on the women’s side of things.
So we’ll combine the WTA and ATP ranking reports into one good one this week.
There were a two high-level ATP Challengers in Europe. And there were some unusual guest stars as many players have opted to stay on clay in Europe until the Tour returns.
In the pre-pandemic world, this Monday would have been the Monday after Cincinnati, with plenty of moves.
But this is a new world.
Wawrinka grinds it out
Stan Wawrinka opted not to come to the U.S. and hit the bubble for the “Cincy” – US Open combo.
Rather, he’s remaining in Europe and, ahead of the scheduled big events in Rome and at Roland Garros, hit the Challenger circuit for the first time in a decade.
Really, save for playing one in his native Switzerland two years in a row in 2009-10, it’s his first foray since … Napoli in 2005.
(He won both chose events in Lugano as well).
There’s a method to his madness, too. He’ll keep the 360 points he earned a year ago by reaching the quarterfinals at the US Open and the 45 points from “Cincinnati”. But he was able to add another 125 points for winning the Challenger.
That nudged him past Karen Khachanov and Denis Shapovalov into No. 15 in the rankings. Being top 16 will help his position at the French Open.
Wawrinka did it the hard way. Despite his pedigree, he was in a similar position to his lower-ranked opponents in the Prague draw. And it was a slog.
Wawrinka is close to the next few players in the rankings. But he won’t be able to add much more in his second Prague Challenger; even if he added 125 more points, 90 would drop off from another countable result.
His first opponent will be Goncalo Oliveira of Portugal, a qualifier.
Herbert also moves up
The Wawrinka corner is the only change in the top 65 in the rankings.
But Pierre-Hugues Herbert, a Frenchman who is a top doubles player and a fine singles player as well, also made a move.
Herbert, who is skipping the U.S. swing because his wife is expecting their first child shortly, made the singles semis in Prague and won the doubles with younger countryman Arthur Rinderknech.
Herbert moves up three spots to No. 68. And as the No. 2 seed in the second Prague Challenger this week, might do more.
(Notably, Ernests Gulbis, Canadian Steven Diez and Korean’s Hyeon Chung are also in the singles draw. A quarter-final clash between Wawrinka and Gulbis would HAVE to be a rare situation in which two such high-profile former top-10 players squared off in that situation).
Cecchinato trying to return to top 100
In Todi, Italy, former world No. 16 Marco Cecchinato (it was only a year and a half ago) is trying to get back to the top 100. He moved up seven spots to No. 106 with a quarter-final effort at a Challenger in Todi, Italy. He lost to eventual champion Yannick Hanfmann.
Cecchinato had a terrible start to the season. His only win at the ATP Tour level came in the first round of Auckland in January. And even that was a close call; he defeated Leonardo Mayer 7-6 (6), 6-7 (18), 7-6 (2).
Cecchinato lost in straight sets to Alexander Zverev at the Australian Open. And he lost in the first round of all four of the tournaments on the South American clay-court swing: Cordoba, Buenos Aires, Rio and Santiago.
On the plus side, he lost in the first round of all four Grand Slams the last time they were played. So if he can get some confidence on the clay he could at least make a dent in Paris.
Meanwhile, Hanfmann is giving himself a shot at the Paris main draw. The title in Todi moved him up 27 spots, to No. 116. Depending on how things shake out he could well squeeze in. He’s the No. 3 seed in the Trieste Challenger this week.
Canadians stand pat
Not much action on the Canadian side. Here’s where they stand as the sport gets back into action.
The way the rankings currently work, the players can keep the best of last year’s “Cincinnati” tournament and this year’s. So there’s no risk. But all the Canadians have something to gain.
After winning his first-round match, Shapovalov matches his 2019 effort in “Cincinnati” so anything going forward is a bonus on his chart.
Auger-Aliassime lost in the first round a year ago, so he’s also in the plus column.
Raonic didn’t play it at all, so he can wipe off the zero-pointer from his results.
WTA very, very quiet
The WTA Tour hasn’t even updated its weekly rankings yet. What’s the point, really? Not much going on last week.
There was ONE pro event – an entry-level $15,000 ITF in Oeiras, Portugal.
For the record, it was won by 2019 Australian Open junior champion Clara Tauson of Denmark.
There are two $15,000 tournaments this week in Europe. The situation for the women is … pretty dire.