February 27, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

(Pic: ATP Challenger Tour)

Davis Cup is done, unfortunately with no ranking points involved.

But plenty – and we mean PLENTY – of tennis still to be played on the Challenger circuit, with a number of athletes trying that one last push to get into the top 100, and into the main draw at the Australian Open.

Chili-Canadian Alejandro Tabilo got the job done, winning his first hard-court Challenger in Brasilia and moving right back comfortably into the top 100.

He won’t have to qualify in Melbourne, where he’s already had some great career moments.

And veteran Fabio Fognini has been grinding on the clay to try to do the same thing.

He won his first Challenger in … eons in beating Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Albert Ramos Viñolas AND Roberto Bautista Agut (in a third-set tiebreak, saving match points) in Valencia.

He needs another good result this week in Maia. Can he do it?

As with the women, there is no change in the top – but plenty of action down below.

For the complete, updated Monday ATP Tour rankings, click here.

ON THE UPSWING

Roberto Bautista Agut  (ESP): No. 62 ========> No. 57 (Bautista Agut, who missed some time in 2023 with injury, gets himself back into the top 60 by making the Valencia Challenger final).

Alejandro Tabilo (CHI): No. 106 ========> No. 86 (A lot of late-season grinding has gotten Chili-Canadian Tabilo back into the top 100, and in safely under the wire to get into the main draw at the Australian Open. His title in Brasilia is his first hard-court Challenger trophy).

Pic: (ATP Challenger Tour/@Ftch_oficial)

Fabio Fognini  (ITA): No. 131 ========> No. 107 (Fognini needs maybe a semifinal in Maia, Portugal this week to squeeze in around No. 100 and look ahead to Melbourne. A final would seal the deal. Does he have anything left in the legs after this late-season grind, at age 36?)

Michael Mmoh  (USA): No. 122 ========> No. 114 (Mmoh missed three months early in the season. But he’s been out there most of the rest of this year, putting up decent if not spectacular results including a semifinal in Japan last week. But in the fall of 2022 he was on a roll –  winning the Fairfield Challenger, making the Knoxville semis and making the Drummondville Challenger final. So he hasn’t been able to defend all of that. He’s at another Challenger in Japan this week – a last shot to try to make the Australian Open main draw, as the No. 3 seed. Mmoh reached a career high No. 81 after this year’s US Open).

Read us

Roman Andres Burruchaga  (ARG): No. 211 ========> No. 174 (The 21-year-old Argentine reaches the final in Brasilia, moving him into the top 200 for the first time. He spent most of the seaosn ranked in the 250s. And he has never played in an ATP Tour event – not even in qualifying. Not even in Argentina).

Denis Yevseyev  (KAZ): No. 226 ========> No. 197 (An obscure 30-year-old from Kazakhstan – legit Kazakh, not Russian-turned-Kazakh – Yevseyev breaks into the top 200 for the first time in his career after making the final of the Valencia Challenger. Yevseyev has never won a main-draw match at the ATP level. And he’s only played one – last month in Shanghai after he qualified. And he’s only even been in qualifying in seven ATP events in his career. Which is probably why you’ve not heard of him).

Tomic qualified for the Australian Open in 2021, but didn’t make a match of it against Shapovalov in the second round of the main draw.

Bernard Tomic (AUS): No. 295 ========> No. 278 (The grind cannot be understated in the case of the 31-year-old Aussie, whose career high of No. 17 came nearly eight years ago He made the quarterfinals in Brasilia, losing in a third-set tiebreak to Tabilo, and has himself within range of the AO qualies. If he doesn’t make it, you’d hope Tennis Australia would give him a wild card. He’s certainly proven his devotion this year. Tomic has made $40,000 this year ($1,600 of it in doubles) and began his season making the final of a $15K ITF in Doha, ranked No. 464. He played another $15K just last month, in Las Vegas, and won it although most of the year has been on the Challenger circuit. He had the bad luck to run into rising young American Alex Michelsen in the first round of two straight Challengers this month in the U.S.)

ON THE DOWNSWING

Marton Fucsovics  (HUN): No. 53 ========> No. 59 (Fucsovics was in Tennis’s off-season central, the Maldives, while points from a Chalenger title in Bratislava and a semifinal in another in Andria fell off. A year ago, he was scrambling to get into the AO main draw – which he did, just. And made the third round. This year he’s in a much better position, and can enjoy a holiday and an offseason).

The good old days (2016) when the players would practice shirtless and Fucsovics was absolutely shredded)

Jakub Mensik (CZE): No. 147 ========> No. 156 (Mensik, just 18, sacrificed defending some late-season points to play Davis Cup for the Czech Republic. A key part of them making it to the final out of the September qualifiers, he didn’t see action during the quarterfinal tie against Australia last week. He ends up sliding outside the top 150. But you’d think that won’t be for long. Those points came from a 15-0 run through a $25K and two $15Ks in Greece and Egypt a year ago (a few more to fall off). a streak during which he was at No. 566 in the rankings to start, and near the top 400 when he ended. He’s in a different league now).

Guido Andreozzi  (ARG): No. 178 ========> No. 247 (The 32-year-old from Argentina. whose career high of No. 70 came in January, 2019, has been grinding it out all season. His first-round loss at the Brasilia Challenger last week was his 26th event. He began the season ranked No. 386, and got it up to No. 178 last week before falling back a bit).

Leandro Riedi  (SUI): No. 208 =======> No. 260 (The 21-year-old, whose career high of No. 126 game in March drops points from winning the Andria Challenger a year ago. It was a two-Challenger run through Helsinki that netted two titles, and a rise in the rankings from No. 277 to No. 157 …. But backing it up has been an up-and-down proposition, and as of Monday he is outside the top 250 after losing in the second round of a Challenger in Yokohama, Japan to an Italian ranked No. 299. He will probably squeeze into the AO qualifying).

Read us

Oleksii Krutykh  (UKR): No. 237 ========> No. 303 (Krutykh, from Ukraine, got a lot of air time during the Australian Open in January as the tournament did a Ukraine fundraiser. and then he went out the next day and qualified for the main draw. He was vocal in Australia about the waving of Russian flags, in addition to not shaking the hand of Russian opponents. We saw it more on the women’s side, but he was right in there on the men’s side. But through 31 events and Davis Cup this year, Krutyk – whose career high of No. 160 came after the AO – lost his openers 13 times and has had a tough time backing up some results – including a Challenger title win in Valencia a year ago. It’s been a rough ride).

Indian
Kicker at the Australian Open in 2021. He’s been MIA since Roland Garros this year.

Nicolas Kicker  (ARG): No. 372 ========> No. 535 (Now 31, Kicker has disappeared for long stretches before. But this time, he’s been dong since retiring in the first set of his first-round qualifying match at Roland Garros with a stomach injury. And hasn’t been seen since. Kicker rebuilt his career after, basically playing his best tennis in 2018, he was suspended for what originally was a six-year period (three suspended) for match fixing. In the end, he was out two years and eight months, with some of that through the pandemic. He started from zero in March 2021 but was only able to get to the 180s, at best).

THE CANADIANS

THE RACE TO THE AO MAIN DRAW

 

About Post Author