Wth the ATP Tour’s “regular season” done and dusted after Metz and Sofia, there remain plenty of Challengers to play.And, of course, this week’s ATP Tour Finals.
But some players made moves in those last tournaments. And more still are going to scramble the next few weeks to get into the main draw in Australia and finish with rankings milestones for the year – top 50, top 100, whatever it might be.
It’s a bit of a wonky week, as the points from last year’s ATP Finals (including the 1,500 that Novak Djokovic earned as the champion) come off – only to have many of the points be re-added on after Turin.
ON THE UPSWING
Holger Rune (DEN): No. 10 ========> No. 8 (Rune moves up after Taylor Fritz and Casper Ruud, who didn’t qualify for Turin, have their points fall off).
Hubert Hurkacz (POL): No. 11 ========> No. 9 (Same for Hurkacz, who is an alternate in Turin and jumps inside the top 10 for the first time in his career).
Ugo Humbert (FRA): No. 23 ========> No. 20 (There were moments over the last few years where Humbert wondered if he’d get back at all. But tennis players are resilient creatures. And with his title in Metz – his hometown – the 25-year-old jumps into the top 20 for the first time in his career, and is the French No. 1).
Adrian Mannarino (FRA): No. 25========> No. 22 (It was a good week for French tennis because as Humbert was winning in Metz, Mannarino was winning in Sofia, Bulgaria and ties his career high).
Alexander Shevchenko (RUS): No. 63 ========> No. 49 (The 22-year-old, who recently got engaged to WTA player Anastasia Potapova, jumps into the top 50 to end the season with a final in Metz. He began the season at No. 54).
Stan Wawrinka (SUI): No. 53 ========> No. 50 (Wawrinka had terrible luck, rolling his ankle when he seemed on his way to winning … He posted a photo of himself walking in a boot. It’s not the way he wanted to end the season, but it’s still top 50).
Jack Draper (GBR): No. 82 ========> No. 61 (Draper made the final in Sofia after winning the Challenger in Bergamo a week ago, and gets himself almost into the top 60 after dropping to No. 123 in August and missing a lot of time early in the season. His career high of No. 38 came in January, just before the Australian Open).
Alex Michelsen (USA): No. 114 ========> No. 99 (The 19-year-old, who began the season at No. 600, is into the top 100 after his effort to win the Knoxville Challenger. It’s quite a rise. And he won’t need the USTA wild card to get into his first earned Grand Slam main draw in Australia in January).
Alejandro Tabilo (CHI): No. 109 ========> No. 104 (The Chilean-Canadian doesn’t need much to get into the top 100 and seal a spot in Melbourne. Literally 15 points will do it. He’s trying to earn those on the clay in South America and put a nice dent in after making the semifinals in Lima).
Luciano Darderi (ITA): No. 137 ========> No. 124 (Another young Italian steps up, as Darderi, 21, wins the Lima Challenger on clay to move to a career high).
Luca Nardi (ITA): No. 143 ========> No. 128 (Right behind Darderi is Nardi, just 20, who won the Challenger in Matsuyama, Japan over Taro Daniel in the final. It’s too bad the Next-Gen Finals have moved to Saudi Arabia from Milan, because these two could headline).
Fabio Fognini (ITA): No. 147 ========> No. 129 (On the other end is 36-year-old Fognini, still battling, as he beat Sonego and Bublik to reach the semifinals in Metz.
Corentin Moutet (FRA): No. 173 ========> No. 133 (Moutet, 24, has battled much of the season without his two-handed backhand because of a wrist injury. But he’s battling. Moutet won the Helsinki Challenger – a top-level tournament at that level – to make a big move and defeated five qualify players to do it).
Abdullah Shelbayh (JOR): No. 215 ========> No. 188 (The 19-year-old from Jordan, who made a statement in Metz last week, qualified and won a round, moves into the top 200 for the first time).
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA): No. 344 ========> No. 251 (Nearly 100 spots in the rankings for the 32-year-old, whose career high of No. 36 in singles came in Feb. 2019. He’s come a long way after his career basically derailed during and after the worst of the pandemic. Herbert was outside the top 500 as recently as July).
Liam Draxl (CAN): No. 430 ========> No. 297 (A vault into the top 300 and a career high for the 21-year-old Canadian, who wins his first Challenger title in Calgary. In his first steps as a pro, this is a great result and will open up possibilities of playing higher level events going forward).
Justin Boulais (CAN): No. 731 ========> No. 583 (A nice leap for the 22-year-old Canadian, an Ohio State product, as he … He also won the doubles in Calgary with countryman Juan Carlos Aguilar, and is at a career-high No. 439 there after moving up 341 spots).
ON THE DOWNSWING
Casper Ruud (NOR): No. 7 ========> No. 11 (Given the sub-par year Ruud had, it’s actually kind of surprising that he hung around in the top 10 for as long as he did. But now he’s out. The challenge for 2024 will be to get back in).
Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN): No. 22 ========> No. 29 (Auger-Aliassime’s 200 points from last year’s ATP Finals fall off, leaving him at No. 29 to end the season. He may still squeeze in as a seed at the Australian Open, but it will be incumbent upon him to do well at the United Cup to seal that deal).
Dominik Koepfer (GER): No. 71 ========> No. 82 (Koepfer made the final at the Calgary Challenger as the top seed, but was shocked by young Canadian Liam Draxl in the final. He was the defending champ, and so drops some points).
Hugo Gaston (FRA): No. 83 ========> No. 101 (Gaston puts himself on the Melbourne bubble with his loss of the points from a Challenger title in Roanne a year ago, after a first-round exit in Metz).
Alexis Galarneau (CAN): No. 187 ========> No. 198 (Galarneau, who is playing the Drummondville Challenger this week, pulled out of the Calgary Challenger last week and didn’t defend his quarterfinal points. He has quarterfinal points to defend this week again).
Vasek Pospisil (CAN): No. 287 ========> No. 300 (Pospisil is nursing an elbow injury and has missed most of the Challengers in Canada and the U.S. this fall. He’ll drop another 80 points next Monday and likely find himself down another 40 spots. It feels, at 32, as though he’s kind of at an inflection point in his career).
Henri Laaksonen (SUI): No. 380 ========> No. 556 (Laaksonen, 31, was out from February to May. But since his return, he won two main-draw matches at a Challenger in Prague in May and … just three since then. He drops points from making a Challenger final in France last year).
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO): No. 496 ========> No. 592 (It’s not as though Basilashvili, a former No. 16, isn’t trying to win matches as he returns after a 4 1/2-month absence. It’s just that he’s losing – notably, in the qualifying in Sweden this weekend against the No. 264 ranked Alibek Kachmazov. He drops points from a Challenger quarterfinal a year ago, and doesn’t have much left on his resumé. It’s going to be a grind).
Rafael Nadal (ESP): No. 244 ========> No. 664 (Nadal’s points from last year’s ATP Finals drop. And that’s a shocker next to his name as he’s been out since the Australian Open. It looks, from social-media postings, like he’s practicing pretty hard and the goal is to make it back in Australia. He’s been missed).
THE RACE TO THE AO MAIN DRAW
As you can see, nearly all of the players on the bubble for Melbourne are battling hard to try to scrape a few more points to get over the line.