(Photo credit: REUTERS/Susana Vera)
Mover of the Week
It was another superb Masters 1000 performance from Canada’s teenage sensation Denis Shapovalov. Coming into the tournament in Madrid, he had never won a clay court match at Tour-level, losing his previous two to Tsitsipas in Monte Carlo and Nikoloz Basilashvili in Hungary, without winning a set in either. That had left many doubting whether the Canadian had what it takes to win matches on the Tour’s slowest and most physical surface.
But Shapovalov answered those doubters in hugely impressive fashion in the Spanish capital. Beginning his tournament with a fine win against Tennys Sandgren, who last month made the final in Houston on the clay, Shapovalov played impressively all week. Benoit Paire was the next to fall at his hands as he advanced in three sets 7-6 4-6 6-4. He then defeated Milos Raonic, the long reigning Canadian #1, who has been as high as third in the world.
He faced a difficult test against Britain’s Kyle Edmund, who reached the Australian Open semifinals and had conquered Djokovic in three sets earlier in the week. But Shapovalov dug deep and pulled out the winning formula when it mattered most to advance 7-5 6-7 6-4. He looked a little leggy in defeat to Zverev in the semifinals, but the German was himself playing fine tennis, going on to win the tournament without dropping a set.
For Shapovalov, a second run to a Masters 1000 semifinal inside a year, after his breakout run in Montreal last season, earned him a 14 spot rankings rise to a career high world #29. To have broken into the top 30 at such a young age is a hugely impressive achievement for ‘Shapo’, and, for the rest of this season at least, it will carry real benefits if he can maintain it. Chief amongst them will be seeding at the Slams, which is virtually guaranteed at Roland Garros and Wimbledon now.
Loser of the Week
He may still be the undisputed King of Clay, but it was none-the-less a slightly frustrating week for Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard knew he had to defend all the points he won last year during the clay court season to stay on top of the rankings. Despite a fine start, winning in both Monte Carlo and Barcelona without dropping a set to keep Roger Federer at bay, Nadal slipped up in Madrid, losing in straight sets in the last eight to Dominic Thiem to send the Swiss star back to the top of the rankings.
Nadal will have chances to put things right. Victory at the Italian Open, where last year he lost in the quarterfinals, again to Dominic Thiem, should be enough to take him back to the pinnacle of the rankings. And he has significantly fewer points to defend for the rest of the season than his great rival. More important to Nadal, anyway, will surely be claiming an eighth Italian Open, which would be the perfect preparation for his assault on an eleventh Roland Garros crown. Certainly not time to start betting against him either.
Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic has put in some fine performances before on a clay court, including when he reached the fourth round at Roland Garros in 2014. But even that is arguably a less memorable achievement than his run through the qualifiers to the quarterfinals in Madrid. It included a stunning upset of Juan Martin del Potro, who had looked imperious early on in their second round match only to lose 6-3 4-6 6-7. It earned the Serb a rise to world #66, an improvement of 29 places.
Comfortably the best season of Kyle Edmund’s career continued in Madrid, where as mentioned above, he got a first win in five attempts against former world #1 Novak Djokovic. He managed to make it all the way to the quarterfinals before Shapovalov ousted him. But his efforts saw him break into the top 20 for the first time in his career. Now ranked at 19th in the world, Edmund will view a top 16 seeding at Roland Garros as well within reach.
- Roger Federer, 8670 points, moves up one place
- Rafael Nadal, 7950 points, drops down one place
- Alexander Zverev, 6015 points, no change
- Grigor Dimitrov, 4870 points, no change
- Marin Cilic, 4770 points, no change
- Juan Martin del Potro, 4540 points, no change
- Kevin Anderson, 3660 points, moves up one place
- Dominic Thiem, 3545 points, drops down one place
- John Isner, 3305 points, no change
- David Goffin, 2930 points, no change
- Pablo Carreno Busta, 2280 points, moves up one place
- Sam Querrey, 2220 points, moves up one place
- Roberto Bautista Agut, 2210 points, moves up one place
- Jack Sock, 2155 points, moves up one place
- Diego Schwartzman, 2130 points, moves up one place
- Lucas Pouille, 1995 points, moves up two places
- Tomas Berdych, 1980 points, no change
- Novak Djokovic, 1905 points, drops down six places
- Kyle Edmund, 1905 points, moves up three places
- Hyeon Chung, 1807 points, moves up one place
Who was your Mover of the Week? Let us know in the comments below!