More than half of the ATP Tour’s top 20 are missing in action at the Olympics, although most did not play anywhere else last week.
Still, with three tournaments on the docket, there were plenty of opportunities for the rank and file to earn points and prize money and give their careers a bit of a kickstart.
(That’s what everyone says they want, for the lower-ranked players to have an opportunity. And then people moan about the post-Wimbledon clay swing as if it weren’t there to do EXACTLY that. People. Sigh).
Notable was the victory by Carlos Alcaraz, who won his first career ATP Tour title at age 18 despite his right arm being practically encased in cement.
He defeated 35-year-old Richard Gasquet in the final. At Alcaraz’s age, Gasquet was doing the things that got him “Youngest to do X since ….” attached to his name.
At the other end of it now, Gasquet could look over to the other side of the net and see where he once was. If he’s the introspective type at all, it must have been a bit bittersweet.
ON THE UPSWING
Cameron Norrie (GBR): No. 30 =========> No. 29 (Norrie, 25, wins his first career ATP Tour title but only moves up one spot because he was defending semis points from Atlanta back in 2019).
John Isner (USA): No. 39 =========> No. 35 (Isner still has a little work to do to not go into the US Open unseeded. But given Dominic Thiem and Stan Wawrinka are likely to miss it, he’s almost there. He also pinched the doubles title in Los Cabos this week).
Carlos Alcaraz (ESP): No. 73 =========> No. 55 (Alcaraz is eight days older than Rafael Nadal was when he won his first title in Sopot, Poland. And about a month younger than Kei Nishikori among players who are still active on the circuit. Feels like the first of many – as soon as he can get that cast off his arm).
Arthur Rinderknech (FRA): No. 100 =========> No. 91 (The Frenchman turned 26 on Friday playing the best tennis of his career, in relative career middle age. He began the season at No. 178).
Brandon Nakashima (USA): No. 134 =========> No. 115 (The 19-year-old reached the Los Cabos final).
Hugo Gaston (FRA): No. 155 =========> No. 133 (Gaston lost his first career ATP final to Casper Ruud. But he rises to another career best).
Altug Celikbilek (TUR): No. 203 =========> No. 172 (The 24-year-old rises to a career high by winning the Pozoblanco Challenger, against his lifelong friend Cem Ilkel in the final. In fact, the two were roomates at the hotel this week. What a great moment for both).
Cem Ilkel (TUR): No. 209 =========> No. 188 (Ilkel also rises to a career high with his effort this week, losing to his pal Altug in the Pozoblanco final).
Zizou Bergs (BEL): No. 212 =========> No. 196 (The 22-year-old Belgian with the great name rises into the top 200 for the first time by qualifying and winning a round in Gstaad).
Casper Ruud is the third of the three champions on the ATP Tour this past week. He wins in Gstaad (ATP Tour)[/caption]
Vit Kopriva (CZE): No. 249 =========> No. 199 (An upset win over Denis Shapovalov, and a run to the semis from the qualies puts Kopriva into the top 200 for the first time, after his first career tournament at the ATP Tour level).
Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS): No. 350 =========> No. 278 (Facing Canadian Peter Polansky three weeks in a row – and winning two of them – has helped Kuznetsova (playing on a protected ranking) to get his real ranking back into the top 300 after winning the Kazakhstan Challenger).
Nicolas Kicker (ARG): No. 384 =========> No. 314 (It’s been a long road back from oblivion after the Argentine served a long match-fixing suspension. He went from the qualifying to the final at the Challenger in Tampere, Finland).
Alexis Galarneau (CAN): No. 440 =========> No. 424
ON THE DOWNSWING
Reilly Opelka (USA): No. 32 =========> No. 36
Taylor Fritz (USA): No. 37 =========> No. 42
Race to Turin
Race to Milan