The clay-court purgatory period between the grass-court season and the North American hard-court swing has been fruitful for a lot of players.
But few have taken better advantage than Dominic Thiem, on the comeback grail, and Lorenzo Musetti.
Musetti, highly touted but not so far into the top 50, changed all of that Sunday by winning his first ATP Tour title in Hamburg.
And Casper Ruud, oft-criticized for unfathomable reasons on his participation in these mid-summer 250 clay events, goes about his business as he defeats a top-class opponent in Matteo Berrettini in the Gstaad final.
Both took a pass on Kitzbuhel this week. Because they know the big summer grind on hard courts is coming up quickly.
ON THE UPSWING
Carlos Alcaraz (ESP): No. 6 =======> No. 5 (Alcaraz enters the top five for the first time, after reaching the final at the ATP 500 in Hamburg. To tell you how close he is to being in the top 4, had he won the final over Musetti and earned the extra 200 points, he would have been tied with No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas with 5,045 points. Would have to do a deep dive to find out what the tiebreak is there).
Karen Khachanov: No. 26 =======> No. 23 (Khachanov got dusted off by Alcaraz in the Hamburg quarterfinals in his first tournament since before Wimbledon. Still, he moves up three spots).
Francisco Cerundolo (ARG): No. 30 =======> No. 24 (It’s been a profitable summer clay swing for Cerundolo, who reaches yet another career high with his semifinal effort in Hamburg. He began the 2022 season ranked No. 127).
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA): No. 62 =======> No. 31 (Musetti, still only 20, cuts his ranking exactly in half with his maiden ATP Tour title in Hamburg. Obviously, a career high; actually, it’s his first time inside the top 50. He’ll be looking at a seed at the US Open, which should help him navigate that major. He’s also still on the docket to play Umag this week and add more to his tally).
Alex Molcan (SVK): No. 48 =======> No. 38 (The Slovak lefty has been an underrated story this year. He began the season ranked No. 88. And now he’s tied the career high reached in May after making the Hamburg semifinal).
Alejandro Tabilo (CHI): No. 68 =======> No. 64 (Tabilo was idle last week, but he rose to another career high when other players fell down the list).
Daniel Elahi Galan (COL): No. 113 =======> No. 99 (Elahi Galan, an under-the-radar Colombian, made the second round in Hamburg and beaks into the top 100 for the first time, at age 26. It was his 21st tournament of the year, and he’s up a total of 20 spots. So there’s been a lot of defending and holding on – and a lot of tennis).
Roman Safiullin: No. 151 =======> No. 119 (The 24-year-old Russian appeared to be the 2022 version of Aslan Karatsev, with his surprise performance during the ATP Cup in January. It hasn’t quite worked out that way, but after winning the Challenger in Nur-Sultan, he’s at a career high. Safiullin was ranked No. 167 at the start of the season and has been in the top 200 for the last 2 1/2 years. So this is new territory).
Zsombor Piros (HUN): No. 165 =======> No. 139 (The 22-year-old Hungarian, ranked No. 3 in the ITF juniors back in Sept. 2017 after winning the European champions – and the Australian Open juniors earlier in the year), reaches a career high after winning the Challenger in Tampere, Finland. That event is celebrating its 40th edition this season).
Francesco Passaro (ITA): No. 187 =======> No. 144 (Another young Italian male on the rise as the 21-year-old wins the Trieste Challenger, and moves up 43 spots to a career high. He began the year outside the top 600 and spent a … lot of time in the Futures factory that is Tunisia).
Borna Coric (CRO): No. 183 =======> No. 147 (Coric is still operating on a protected ranking a fair bit. But his quarterfinal in Hamburg gave him a boost, even if his injury retirement is a concern).
Yibing Wu (CHN): No. 233 =======> No. 174 (Into the top 200 for the first time, as he wins the Indianapolis Challenger Sunday by a crazy score of 6-7 (10), 7-6 (13), 6-3. Wu was the No. 1 junior in the world five years ago, after winning the US Open juniors. It is tough out there).
Dominic Thiem (AUT): No. 274 =======> No. 199 (Thiem’s real ranking finally gets back into the top 200, after making the Gstaad semis. The rejigging of the draw in Kitzbuhel means he plays a lucky loser instead of Richard Gasquet in the first round).
Francesco Maestrelli (ITA): No. 237======> No. 206 (What’s this? Another young Italian named Francesco at a career high? This one is 6-4, much taller than the more compact Passaro. Maestrelli made the semis in Trieste, losing to Passaro – who ended up winning the tournament. A week ago oin Verona, he went from the qualifying to the title. Mastrelli began the season ranked No. 755).
Ben Shelton (USA): No. 323 =======> No. 281 (The 19-year-old American lefty, son of former ATP player Bryan Shelton, is into the top 300 with a semifinal effort in Indianapolis. That backed up a run from the qualifying to the final in Rome, Georgia the previous week. Indy was only his fourth pro event of the season, as he was at the University of Florida dominating there. He has a wild card into the ATP Tour event in Atlanta this week, which will mark his ATP debut; his only experience at that level was in the qualifying at the US Open last year, where he defeated Michael Mmoh in the first round before taking Botic Van de Zandschulp – then ranked No. 117 – to 6-4 in the third in the second round. And he’s looking to get out of his lease in Gainesville).
Rlly need to find someone to fill my bedroom in my 2×2 apartment in Gainesville so I can get out of my lease. Maybe some retweets would help?— Ben Shelton (@benshelton1009) July 24, 2022
Harold Mayot (FRA): No. 395 =======> No. 304 (Mayot, 20 the champion at the 2020 Australian Open juniors – and the No. 1 ranked junior in Feb. 2020 – makes the final at the Tampere Challenger and rises to a career high).
ON THE DOWNSWING
Casper Ruud (NOR): No. 5 =======> No. 6 (Ruud defends in Gstaad. But because he adds no additional points, that allows Alcaraz to squeeze by him into the No. 5 spot, and Ruud actually loses a spot. He has withdrawn from the Kitzbuhel tournament this week, which means he won’t defend those 250 points. And that could allow Novak Djokovic to pass him for the No. 6 spot next week).
Cameron Norrie (GBR): No. 11 =======> No. 13 (Norrie drops the 250 points he earned a year ago, when the Los Cabos tournament was held earlier because of the Olympics).
John Isner (USA): No. 22 =======> No. 25 (Drops 90 points from his semifinal in Las Cabos a year ago).
Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP): No. 40 =======> No. 52 (Ramos-Viñolas …. . He made the semis in Gstaad but went down in a hurry to Ruud. And he drops the 50% of points that he STILL has on his resumé from the title in Gstaad in … 2019 as well as his semifinal effort in Umag a year ago. Tough week).
Hugo Gaston (FRA): No. 59 =======> No. 75 (Tough draw getting Dominic Thiem in the first round of Hamburg, and he drops his points from the Gstaad final a year ago. And to add insult to a bit of injury, he also drops 3 points from a semifinal at a $25K ITF in Gandia … yes, all the way back in 2019).
Richard Gasquet (FRA): No. 64 =======> No. 79 (Gasquet fell to Berrettini in the second round in Gstaad, as he tried to defend a final in Umag a year ago. Slated to meet Thiem in the first round of Kitzbuhel next week, he caught a break when both Ruud and Berrettini pulled out, moving him up to a seeded spot and moving him out of Thiem’s way – at least until the second round).
Mikael Ymer (SWE): No. 91 =======> No. 107 (The younger Ymer brother falls out of the top 100 after losing to Federico Delbonis in the first round of Gstaad. A year ago, he reached the Gstaad quarters. As well, he drops points from winning the Tampere Challenger in Finland back in 2019).
Ernesto Escobedo (USA): No. 120 =======> No. 158 (While idle last week, the 26-year-old American got a double-whammy of points removed from his resumé: a quarterfinal at the ATP Tour in Los Cabos in 2021, and 50% of the points still remaining from his title at the Granby Challenger in 2019).
Vit Kopriva (CZE): No. 124 =======> No. 159 (A year ago, the 25-year-old was a surprise semifinalist in Gstaad out of the qualifying. This year he lost in the Gstaad qualifying, and so drops back down. So it goes).
Damir Dzumhur (BIH): No. 185 =======> No. 217 (The former No. 23 drops out of the top 100, dropping 45 points from Umag 2021 while he was idle last week. Dzumhur hasn’t played since Roland Garros, and he’s riding a four-match losing streak from his struggles before that).
Feliciano Lopez (ESP): No. 246 =======> No. 267 (It’s going south for the 40-year-old Lopez. But he’s been there, done that, and all of this is just dessert at this point).
Andrey Kuznetsov: No. 226 =======> No. 300 (Kuznetsova, who wirked SO hard to get his ranking back up after missing a lot of injury time, loses in the second round of the Pozoblanco Challenger and drops his points from winning the Nur-Sultan Challenger a year ago).
Steven Diez (CAN): No. 379 =======> No. 420 (This is the lowest the Canadian’s ranking has been since Jan. 2019. The points drop comes from his quarterfinal effort in Grandby back in 2019. At 31, it’s kind of a crossroads; since April, he’s 3-7 on the Challenger circuit and lost to No. 1074 Henrique Rocha in the first round of qualifying in the Porto Challenger in early July, the last time he played).