Three events – in Antwerp, Stockholm and Tokyo – meant a lot of moves.
And, given it’s October, the usual surprises and latecomers to the season’s party.
For Ben Shelton, one of four unseeded semifinalists at the ATP 500 in Tokyo, it was an excellent party as he wins his first career Tour title.
For Gaël Monfils, it was a great week as he wins his 12th – 12 years after he won Stockholm for the first time.
And there are FOUR Americans in the top 15 this week. Which would you choose? A Grand Slam title, or depth like this?
For the complete, updated ATP Tour rankings for Monday, click here.
ON THE UPSWING
Ben Shelton (USA): No. 19 =========> No. 14 (His first career ATP Title in Tokyo included wins over rival countrymen Tommy Paul, Marcos Giron and Mackenzie McDonald after squeaking past Taro Daniel in a third-set tiebreak in his opening round. He’s at a career high after starting the year ranked No. 89, barely eking out a win in the fifth-set match tiebreak against Zhang Zhizhen. No fun next up, as he draws No. 2 seed Jannik Sinner in Vienna. But with his ranking, will come much better draws going forward).
Aslan Karatsev (RUS): No. 50 =========> No. 37 (The Russian, who a year and a half ago was a THING and reached his career high of No. 14 out of basically nowhere, has ridden the roller-coaster since then. But the 30-year-old makes a nice jump by making the Tokyo 500 final as an unseeded player. He defeated top-20 players Tiafoe and de Minaur en route. Karatsev earned a special exempt into Vienna, where he’ll play wild card Borna Gojo).
Alexei Popyrin (AUS): No. 41 =========> No. 39 (The quarterfinalist in Tokyo squeezes into the top 40 for the first time in his career. He meets No. 3 seed Andrey Rublev in the first round of Vienna).
Sebastian Ofner (AUT): No. 47 =========> No. 44 (To start 2023, Ofner, 27, was losing to Laurent Lokoli in the qualifying at the Australian Open. After winning a round in Tokyo, he’s at a career high. Ofner faces Alexander Zverev in the first round of Vienna).
Marcos Giron (USA): No. 79 =========> No. 57 (The Solid Giron, 30, qualified and ran it to the semifinals in Tokyo last week, giving eventual champ Shelton all he could handle. He gets Ugo Humbert in Basel this week).
Pavel Kotov (RUS): No. 109 =========> No. 81 (That guy whose name you’ve seen but you’ve probably not seen play made the Stockholm final out of the qualifying. He snatched defeat from the jaws of victory as the astonishing Monfils got out of a jam in the 2nd set and rolled in the third. But still a great week. Needless to say, it’s a career high).
Flavio Cobolli (ITA): No. 106 =========> No. 95 (The 21-year-old reaches the Olbia Challenger final, and moves into the top 100 for the first time in his career. It’s a career high and the player who has grinded it out in so much qualifying in 2023 should be straight into the Australian Open in January).
Diego Schwartzman (ARG): No. 113 =========> No. 104 (Schwartzman has made a late move this season to avoid qualifying in Australia in January. A second-round loser in Tokyo, he faces No. 5 seed Alex de Minaur in the first round of Basel. Will it be enough?)
Maximilian Marterer (GER): No. 127 =========> No. 106 (Marterer went from the qualifying to the semis in Antwerp. Already 28 (time flies), the former No. 45 gets close to the main draw in Australia. But probably not close enough).
Gael Monfils (FRA): No. 140 =========> No. 89 (Monfils wins Stockholm! It’s his 12th title, and comes 12 years after he won Stockholm for the first time. It was a remarkable run for the 37-year-old, who takes only his second title since 2020. Monfils was ranked No. 394 just before this year’s Roland Garros, and he’s trying to earn a straight-in spot at the Olympics in Paris. He has more than a half-dozen Frenchmen ahead of him at this point, but there’s time).
Shintaro Mochizuki (JPN): No. 215 =========> No. 131 (A career high – by a lot – for the 20-year-old Japanese player, who made the semis at his home event in Tokyo).
Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard (FRA): No. 226 =========> No. 194 (Into the top 200 for the first time, the tall 20-year-old Frenchman joins a number of his contemporaries – Fils, Van Assche – as young players to watch as a new generation of Mousquetaires emerges. He went from the qualifying to the quarters in Antwerp, and faces Stockholm finalist Pavel Kotov in the first round of the Brest Challenger this week).
Kyrian Jacquet (FRA): No. 302=========> No. 201 (At 22, Jacquet isn’t as young as the more notable French rising stars. But the 5-10, 155-pounder from Lyon wins the Olbia Challenger and moves up 100 spots in the rankings, which is pretty massive in that area of the charts. He’s actually tied for No. 200 with Soonwoo Kwon, who wins the tiebreaker. So that big milestone will be for another day).
Illya Marchenko (UKR): No. 248=========> No. 212 (There are plenty of mid-30s players who aren’t getting the same bandwidth as Monfils, Nadal and Djokovic and Wawrinka. And Marchenko is one of them – still grinding away at 36. He wins the Hamburg Challenger to put him in good position to at least get into Slam qualies. And is playing the Ortisei Challenger this week to try to build on that).
ON THE DOWNSWING
Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN): No. 17 =========> No. 19 (It’s crunch time for Auger-Aliassime, who took a wild card into Basel to start his indoor defence a week early, and drew Swiss wild card Riedi in the first round, with Bautista Agut or a qualifier after that).
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA): No. 20 =========> No. 22 (Musetti won the pop-up tournament in Naples a year ago, and those points drop. He has a quarterfinal effort from last year’s Paris Masters coming up for renewal, too. He has a tough draw in Vienna with Grigor Dimitrov in the first round, and then Medvedev or Fils).
Mackenzie McDonald (USA): No. 37 =========> No. 42 (McDonald was also a quarterfinalist in Tokyo, but he drops some points from … He plays Francescu Cerundolo in the first round of Vienna).
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN): No. 44 =========> No. 49 (Nishioka lost in the first round of his “home” tournament in Tokyo, not defending a quarterfinal in Antwerp a year ago … He was at a career-high No. 23 in June. So it hasn’t gone great since then – he won just one match in five tournaments on the summer hard-court citcuit – although he did make the final at the Zhuhai tournament last month).
Denis Shapovalov (CAN): No. 45 =========> No. 50 (Shapovalov remains in the top 50 by a margin of nine points … He says he’s “working to get healthy”, without revealing any details of the knee issue that has hampered him most of 2023. Shapovalov’s points from a final in Vienna a year ago will drop next Monday, meaning his ranking will sink to somewhere in the mid-80s).
Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN): No. 61 =========> No. 67 (Ruusuvuori lost in the second round of Stockholm, where he made the semis a year ago, and lost in the final round of Vienna qualifying over the weekend – after skipping Shanghai and getting a zero-pointer there).
Richard Gasquet (FRA): No. 62 =========> No. 69 (While contemporary Gaël Monfils is having a renaissance in Stockholm, Gasquet lost in the first round of Antwerp. He’s playing the challenge in Brest this week).
Matteo Berrettini (ITA): No. 63 =========> No. 90 (Hopefully Berrettini is healing up from his US Open ankle injury, and will be back in fighting form in 2024. In the meantime, his points from last year’s pop-up ATP event in Naples final drop off. His rankings list is tough – zero-pointers in Shanghai and Rome and Madrid, and 1st-round losses in Cincinnati, Miami and Indian Wells. That means, at least, that he can only go up next season if he’s healthy).
Dominic Thiem (AUT): No. 86 =========> No. 99 (Thiem’s season has been a step forward, then a step back. He’s been hanging around tht same part of the rankings and lost in the second round in Antwerp, after making the semifinals a year ago. He got no help from the draw gods in Vienna, where he’ll face No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the first round in a rematch of a pretty dramatic one at Wimbledon this year. Right now, he’s fighting to stay in the main draw in Melbourne in January).
THE SINGLES RACE
THE RACE TO RIYADH
It’s hard to fathom that the top, say, five young players in this Next-Gen race are actually going to show up in Saudi Arabia. But you never know. Money talks. It would be an incredible event if they did.