If ATP 250-level tournaments the week before back-to-back Masters 1000s don’t have huge draws, it’s often compensated for by the great stories that come from those who might break through and win them.
Notable in Estoril was the doubles title by the Portuguese wild card team of Nuno Borges and Francisco Cabral, who had never, ever even played an ATP Tour-level event before this past week.
Both are now in the top 100 in doubles; it’s a game-changer.
And the singles winner, Sebastian Baez, won his first ATP title over a depleted Frances Tiafoe.
In Munich, two players were vying for their first career title. In the end, 18-year-old wild card Holger Rune held his nerve better, winning when Botic Van de Zandschulp retired at 4-3 in the first set due to illness.
(There doesn’t appear to be a WTA rankings update; there were no events last week because of the spillover from Madrid this week).
ON THE UPSWING
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL): No. 22 =========> No. 20 (Idle last week, the Bulgarian veteran is back in the top 20).
Frances Tiafoe (USA: No. 29 =========> No. 25 (The American’s SUPREME effort in coming back from the brink of defeat twice last week in Estoril moves him up to the top 25 for the first time in his career, a career high. That he had nothing left for the final was a shame for the match itself, but a tribute to his fight all week).
Sebastian Korda (USA): No. 37=========> No. 30 (Korda was already at a career high, so this is a new one and a break into the top 30, which should ensure he’s seeded in Paris).
Botic van de Zandschulp (NED): No. 40 =========> No. 31 (Having come more or less out of nowhere at age 26 this year, the Dutchman moves up nine spots to a career-high No. 31 after his effort in Munich, and also should be seeded in Paris).
Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB): No. 38 =========> No. 32 (Kecmanovic backed up his impressive play in Belgrade with a semifinal in Munich, and is another who rises to a new career high).
Sebastian Baez (ARG): No. 59 =========> No. 40 (When Baez, 21, made the Next-Gen Finals last fall, most people were like, “Uh, who?” But he’s built on that and in winning his first career ATP Tour title in Estoril, breaks into the top 40).
Holger Rune (DEN): No. 70=========> No. 45 (The kid who turned 19 on Saturday won’t have to complain about not getting enough wild cards any more. The one he was given this week was the gateway to his first career title. And it included a second-roun upset over Alexander Zverev. And at a career high, now, he won’t have to do any more qualifying, either.
Oscar Otte (GER): No. 62 =========> No. 53 (Another late bloomer, the 28-year-old German made the Munich semis and is about 25 points from the top 50, a new career high).
Alejandro Tabilo (CHI): No. 91 =========> No. 84 (Another career high for the Canadian-turned-Chilean, who qualified and made the quarterfinals in Munich. After losing, he rushed to Madrid and won his first round. But he lost in the final round to David Goffin on Sunday).
Jack Sock (USA): No. 139 =========> No. 123 (Sock, the former No. 8, doesn’t seem inclined to actually leave the U.S. these days. But he’s made hay on the Challenger circuit by winning Savannah last week).
Jay Clarke (GBR): No. 191 =========> No. 161 (The young Brit comes within eight of his career high after winning the Morelos Challenger).
Evan Furness (FRA): No. 278 =========> No. 214 (The diminutive Frenchman – seen below at the Wimbledon juniors a few years ago with Jack Draper – goes from the qualifying to the title in Ostrava and leaps to a career high that should at least get him into the Wimbledon qualifying. He’s never played any other major but his home Slam at Roland Garros).
Alexis Galarneau (CAN): No. 311 =========> No. 302 (A new career high and close to a milestone as the 23-year-old Canadian lost in the second round in Savannah).
Brandon Holt (USA): No. 487 =========> No. 417 (The 24-year-old son of tennis legend Tracy Austin won a $25K ITF in Nottingham, rocketing him up 70 spots to a new career high. He’s really just sort of getting going after a distinguished college career at USC).
Yibing Wu (CHN): No. 1738 =========> No. 880 (We’re not sure if moving up … 880 spots in one week is a record. But the 22-year-old from China, whose career high of No. 298 came three years ago and was ranked No. 1 in the juniors after winning the 2017 US Open junior boys’ title, won the $15K ITF in Orange Park and leaps the rankings equivalent of a tall building in a single bound).
ON THE DOWNSWING
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO): No. 20 =========> No. 27 (Basilashvili drops the points from his title in Munich a year ago. But having lost to Benoit Paire in Madrid and Matteo Berrettini in Rome last year, both in the first round, he has plenty of opportunity to make it up the next few weeks).
Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP): No. 31 =========> No. 43 (Ramos made the Estoril semifinals this year, but as the defending champion it wasn’t nearly enough of a points defense, so he drops out of the top 40).
Benjamin Bonzi (FRA): No. 58 =========> No. 70 (Bonzi’s second-round loss in Estoril, after winning a Chalenger title a year ago in Ostrava, drops him. It’s not unusual for players who got their ranking high on the Challenger circuit, and are making the transition even as they defending those Challenger points, to bounce up and down some).
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER): No. 69 =========> No. 90 (A tough rankings blow for the former world No. 29, as he withdrew from play this week and drops his finalist points from Munich last year).
Juan Manuel Cerundolo (ARG): No. 113 =========> No. 127 (You’d figure this was time for the young Argentine to shine. But he hasn’t been around much and drops his points from a title at a Challenger in Rome a year ago. The younger Cerundolo brother was at a career high No. 79 in January, and made the third round in Miami to defend some other 2021 points after winning just one match in his first six tournaments of 2022. And you know he’s ruing the lost opportunities on clay; since Miami, he has played just one match – at a Challenger in Spain in early April – where he retired in the first round).