Mover of the Week
After winning his biggest title in five years last week, Juan Martin del Potro went one better in Indian Wells. After 51 appearances at Masters 1000’s, at his fourth attempt in a title match, the world #8 won his first Masters title in Indian Wells. He did so the hard way. He fought his way through the draw, defeating rising star De Minaur, veterans Ferrer, Mayer and Kohlschreiber and 2016 Wimbledon finalist Raonic. That left him facing unquestionably the toughest opponent currently in the men’s game; Federer.
The Swiss world #1 was riding a 17-match long unbeaten start to the season that had seen him defend his title in Melbourne and win the ATP 500 in Rotterdam for the third time. He was also the defending champion in Indian Wells, an event he had won five times in his career. But it was del Potro who made the better start. Federer didn’t seem to be able to keep the ball away from his wrecking ball of a forehand or unsettle him. Del Potro broke midway through the set and sealed it with a love hold.
But del Potro had won the opening set in their last three contests and only emerged triumphant once. And early in the second set there were signs that the tide was beginning to turn. Federer began to turn on the style and it took the very best of del Potro to stay with him. He had to save two set points down 4-5 before forcing a tiebreak. It was a bad-tempered affair. Federer had a set winning ace wiped out by hawkeye before he double faulted. Del Potro then missed when up match point before Federer eventually got across the line.
It took a while for del Potro to shake off the disappointment. Federer had him on the ropes early on in the decider, but the great man seemed a little punched out himself and the Argentine escaped. Or at least until the tenth game of the set when some Federer magic produced a break to leave him serving for title number six. Three times he had it on his racquet and three times del Potro denied him before breaking himself and then winning it in a tiebreak.
The win sends him to world #6, his highest ranking since 2013 and puts him to within striking distance of the top four. A deep run in Miami may now be expected of del Potro, but that may be premature. As impressive as the ‘Tower of Tandil’ was in the California desert, to go back-to-back requires a level of physical resilience he arguably does not possess. Still, it re-establishes him as a threat at the top of the game and suggests a good year could be in the offing for him.
Loser of the Week
It’s not been an ideal start to the season for Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta. After a career best year last season that ended in London at the ATP Finals, he has struggled so far in 2018, going 6-6 for the year. A run to the fourth round in Melbourne was respectable, particularly as he was only stopped there by eventual finalist Marin Cilic. But he won just one match during the South American clay court swing and came into Indian Wells in desperate need of some victories after a semifinal showing in 2017.
He had to work hard to get his first, coming back from a set down against Zeballos in the second round after a bye. He was more comfortable against Medvedev, defeating the young Russian 6-1 7-5. But he then lost out in a tight match to seventh seeded Kevin Anderson, falling in a final set tiebreak to the big serving South African. That sees him fall to 19th in the rankings. Fortunately for the Spaniard, the European clay court season will soon be upon us, which should allow him to rebuild his confidence. But he will not want to be outside the top 16 seeds for Roland Garros. Work to be done.
Canada’s Milos Raonic has had a torrid time of it lately with injuries, but will have taken real heart from his performances in Indian Wells. He was a finalist at the tournament in 2016 and was again playing fine tennis in the desert this year. He battled through a tough draw into the semifinals. There del Potro had far too much for him, but it was encouraging none-the-less for the former world #3. He climbed 13 places to back inside the top 30 at #25 and will be confident that his rise can continue.
Once a Wimbledon quarterfinalist, Philipp Kohlschreiber came into the first Masters 1000 of the year without back-to-back wins all year. But he put together a terrific run to reach the quarterfinals and played some excellent tennis to push eventual champion del Potro to three sets. He was rewarded with a six spot climb in the rankings to world #31 and will be looking to the clay courts of Europe as the perfect venue to continue his revival in form.
Semifinalist Borna Coric could well have found himself in the final but for a lack of composure when it mattered most. He twice led Federer by a break in the decider of their last four clash but couldn’t get across the line. None-the-less it was a fine week for the one-time junior world #1 as he had his best run yet at a Masters 1000 event. He improved his ranking by 13 places as a result to leave him just three places off his best ranking of #33. A seeding at Roland Garros looks achievable.
- Roger Federer, 9660 points, no change
- Rafael Nadal, 9370 points, no change
- Marin Cilic, 4905 points, no change
- Grigor Dimitrov, 4600 points, no change
- Alexander Zverev, 4505 points, no change
- Juan Martin del Potro, 4155 points, moves up two places
- Dominic Thiem, 3675 points, no change
- Kevin Anderson, 3235 points, moves up one place
- David Goffin, 3190 points, drops down two places
- Lucas Pouille, 2420 points, moves up two places
- Jack Sock, 2335 points, drops down one place
- Novak Djokovic, 2300 points, moves up one place
- Tomas Berdych, 2275 points, moves up two places
- Sam Querrey, 2265 points, moves up seven places
- Roberto Bautista Agut, 2255, moves up one place
- Diego Schwartzman, 2220 points, moves up one place
- John Isner, 2179 points, moves up one place
- Fabio Fognini, 2155 points, moves up one place
- Pablo Carreno Busta, 2045 points, moves down five places
- Nick Kyrgios, 1945 points, no change
Who was your Mover of the Week? Let us know in the comments below!