CANCÚN, Mexico – It’s not even the final week of the ATP season, although only a couple of 250s remain next week to close it out before the ATP Finals in Turin.
But there’s a lot to play for.
The first five singles players have qualified for Turin: Djokovic, Alcaraz, Medvedev, Sinner and Rublev.
Three spots remain, with the final spot likely to be the most hotly contested. But with 1,000 points to the winner on Paris, a big run could change things dramatically.
For Basel champion Félix Auger-Aliassime, there’s no gain from his current No. 19, as he was the defending champion. But no loss, either – and that’s a big thing.
ON THE UPSWING
Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE): No. 7 ========> No. 6 (It’s been a season to forget on some levels for Tsitsipas. But there also have been some good things. And this week he moves past Holger Rune (who didn’t defend all his points from Basel a year ago) into the No. 6 spot. He plays the winner of Auger-Aliassime and Struff in the second round in Paris).
Alexander Zverev (GER): No. 10 ========> No. 9 (It’s been a low-key comeback from that gruesome ankle injury 17 months ago in Paris. But after a slow start it’s been an effective one. Zverev never fell beyond … And now he’s back inside the top 10 with a very good chance of qualifying for Turin. He drew qualifier Marton Fucsovics in the first round in Paris).
Tallon Griekspoor (NED): No. 25========> No. 23 (The still rather-unknown Dutchman gets to a career high with his quarterfinal effort in Basel. He defeated Chris Eubanks in the first round of Paris and now faces Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who upset Ben Shelton in the first round).
Matteo Arnaldi (ITA): No. 46 ========> No. 41 (Out in Paris with an ankle sprain, Arnaldi is at a career high after making the second round in Vienna. The 22-year-old had just four matches at the ATP Tour level before 2023 – all losses. This season, he’s 19-14 and has earned close to a million bucks).
Lorenzo Sonego (ITA): No. 52 ========> No. 46 (Two years ago, Sonego was at a career high No. 21. He’s played … a lot of tournaments this season, posting a 27-28 record and has gotten himself back into the top 50 after four weeks outside of it).
Aleksandar Vukic (AUS): No. 56 ========> No. 50 (The under-the-radar Aussie is back inside the top 50 despite a first-round loss in Vienna to Tomas Machac).
Alexander Shevchenko (RUS): No. 83 ========> No. 63 (The fiancé of WTA player Anastasia Potapova is at another career high after qualifying and making the quarterfinals in Basel. He lost to eventual champion Félix Auger-Aliassime by a hair – even after beating No. 9 Taylor Fritz in three tiebreaks, and before that Stan Wawrinka in the first round).
Tomas Machac (CZE): No. 74 ========> No. 64 (The better half of WTA player Katerina Siniakova – it’s a theme this week!) rises to another career high after qualifying and winning a round in Vienna. He narrowly lost to Tsitsipas – 7-5 in the third set. Coming into the indoor season he won back-to-back Challenges in France – 10 wins, only two sets lost as he has cut his ranking in half in a month).
Gael Monfils (FRA): No. 89 ========> No. 79 (Monfils is still having his issues physically. But after battling to the title in Stockholm, he won his first round in Vienna before losing to Frances Tiafoe, 6-4 in the third set. Monfils gets Francisco Cerundolo and then Casper Ruud, if he wins. Not a terrible draw this week in Paris).
James Duckworth (AUS): No. 125 ========> No. 111 (The 31-year-old grinder has been on the Challenger circuit since Shanghai. He won the Shenzhen Challenger without losing a set. And then he returned home to Australia and won the Playford Challenger, with the loss of two sets (both comeback wins) on the way to the title. Those two titles were worth 30 spots in the rankings, as he surely is looking to try to get straight into his home Grand Slam in January).
Pedro Martinez (ESP): No. 136 ========> No. 114 (Ranked a career high No. 40 in May, 2022, Martinez has really struggled at the ATP level this year – with a 4-12 record. But he makes a move in the right direction with the title at the Brest Challenger).
Oliver Crawford (USA): No. 225 ========> No. 196 (Not everyone’s ambition, or ceiling, is top 20. So for Crawford, 24, a product of three years at the University of Florida – he’s still listed as a volunteer assistant coach at the University of South Carolina – getting into the top 200 without yet having played an ATP Tour-level match is a terrific milestone. His last two months have been a ride: ITF 25K finals in the Netherlands – to Kigali, Rwanda (two more finals). And then over to Charleston, where he made the Challenger final. And last week, he went down to Brazil to play outdoors on clay and made yet another final – losing in a third-set tiebreak to Hugo Dellien).
ON THE DOWNSWING
Borna Coric (CRO: No. 33 ========> No. 38 (It appears Coric’s season ended with a first-round loss to Sebastian Baez at the US Open, as he said a “couple of niggles” turned into injuries. So his semifinal points from Vienna (and his quarterfinal points from Tokyo) have dropped off in recent weeks.
Stan Wawrinka (SUI): No. 46 ========> No. 51 (After a brief return to the top 50, Wawrinka slides out again. He draws … qualifier Dominic Thiem in the first round of Paris-Bercy).
Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP): No. 48 ========> No. 66 (The veteran Spaniard hasn’t won back-to-back matches since Halle in June. And before that it was on the Australian swing. He was out of action after Gstaad until a few weeks ago, when he returned at a Challenger in Malagá, but he lost his openers in both Stockholm and Basel. Happy news Monday, though, as Bautista Agut beat Jiri Lehecka in straight sets in the first round in Paris. He gets either Hubert Hurkacz or Sebastian Korda in Round 2).
Denis Shapovalov (CAN): No. 50 ========> No. 93 (It’s all very mysterious, but it appears that a persistent knee injury is the problem as the Canadian hasn’t played since losing in the fourth round at Wimbledon. That continues, and with the points from a 2022 final in Seoul, semifinal in Tokyo and now the 2022 Vienna final coming off, Shapovalov’s ranking has plumetted from the low 20s to just inside the top 100 since the US Open).
Arthur Rinderknech (FRA): No. 82 ========> No. 99 (Exactly a year ago, Rinderknech was aat a career high No. 42. That’s been tough to sustain, and a run from the qualies to the quarters in Basel a year ago was not offset by his second-round qualifying loss this year. He has nothing more to defend the rest of the year, but he’ll want to assure his spot in the AO main draw. He was two points away from winning his first-round qualifying match in Paris, but bowed out to Christopher O’Connell).
Dominic Thiem (AUT): No. 99 ========> No. 108 (Thiem has dropped points from 2022 results in Antwerp and Vienna last year in recent weeks, and his ranking has dropped from No. 86 to outside the AO main draw range. The Austrian has avoided qualifying as he’s tried to make his way back from injury – a combination of a protected ranking at first, then some wild cards. He did it in Adelaide to start the season – losing in the first round – and that is literally it. But he tried his luck in Paris, knowing how key it was. And he made it through – only to draw Wawrinka in the first round. On the plus side, those qualifying wins get him back to about No. 100).
Brandon Nakashima (USA): No. 139 ========> No. 151 (Now 22, the American reached a career high a year ago, at No. 43. But the progress sort of stalled there even though he has played a full year, avoiding the Challenger route with only two exceptions (including last week). There have been some physical niggles, to be sure. But he’s sort of his plateau, it appears).
Juncheng Shang (CHN): No. 165 ========> No. 176 (The 18-year-old known as “Jerry” came out of the IMG Academy and was all-world as a junior. But the lefty is sort of a work-in-progress in the pros, in part likely due to the fact that he’s far from physically mature yet. It’s a journey.
Tennys Sandgren (USA): No. 203 ========> No. 266 (A top-50 player before the pandemic hit, and a two-time Australian Open quarterfinalist, the 32-year-old has kind of been in freefall in recent years. He has played 23 events this year – the first three were ITFs in Thailand. One was a Challenger in Quebec. And the rest have all been in the U.S. He’s at a Challenger in Charlottesville this week, where his first-round opponent is a blast from the past who’s finally back: Reilly Opelka.
Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP): No. 253 ========> No. 347 (An elbow injury has basically crushed the Spaniard’s season. He was out from February, and tried to return numerous times. But only a few weeks ago did he finally get on court, at a Challenger in Alicante. But he’s been idle the last two weeks, with a quarterfinal in Basel falling off this week – and a third-round effort at Paris-Bercy falling off next Monday that will drop him outside the top 600).
ON THE AO BUBBLE