Mover of the Week
2017 was a year of major frustration for a number of tennis’ biggest names, and Kei Nishikori was amongst their number. The Japanese star saw a promising 2016, in which he made two Masters 1000 finals give way to an injury hit campaign a year later and he pulled the plug on his season after a loss to Monfils in Montreal. His return was not an immediate success either as he lost first round at a Challenger in Newport Beach.
But the former world #4 didn’t panic, and has worked his way back into form gradually. He won his next event, another Challenger, this time in Dallas and reached the semifinals at the inaugural New York Open. There were further frustrations to come, including a heavy loss to del Potro in the Miami Masters second round. But Nishikori seemed to have faith that the results would start to come his way again, and they did just that at the Monte Carlo Country Club.
Nishikori began his tournament with an impressive comeback win against 12th seed Tomas Berdych. He then defeated the unorthodox Russian Daniil Medvedev in straight sets. He was again taken the distance by Andreas Seppi, but won through 6-0 2-6 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals. Back-to-back three-set wins against the second and third seeds, Marin Cilic and Alexander Zverev, sent him into the final, where he had the dubious honour of playing Rafael Nadal.
Nishikori, like everyone else who came up against Nadal, was overwhelmed by the Spaniard from the baseline losing 3-6 2-6. But Nadal was playing so well in Monte Carlo that it was a fairly creditable score line for Nishikori. His efforts also earned him a 14 spot rankings rise to back inside the top 25 at world #22. With the French Open on the horizon, Nishikori will hope to continue his rise, with a top 16 berth almost within his reach.
Loser of the Week
The last two years have seen a lot of success for Albert Ramos Vinolas. The Spaniard reached a first ever Slam quarterfinal at Roland Garros in 2016 (lost to Wawrinka) and won his first Tour-level title in Sweden. Last year saw arguably an even more impressive achievement at the Monte Carlo Country Club. The Spaniard upset first then-world #1 Andy Murray in the third round before defeating Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals and 11th seed Lucas Pouille in the last four.
Though Nadal dismissed him 6-1 6-3 in the final, to reach the final of a Masters 1000 event was a hugely impressive achievement for a player of Albert Ramos Vinolas’ quality. It earned him a rise to a career high ranking of world #17. But this year things went rather less well for Ramos Vinolas. He began well with a 6-3 6-3 victory in the first round against Jared Donaldson, but was well beaten by Kohlschreiber in the second.
His early loss saw most of the 600 ranking points he earned in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin last year fall off, and his ranking has taken a heavy hit as a result. Ranked 24th in the world at the start of play last week, Ramos Vinolas now finds himself at world #40. With Roland Garros fast approaching, Ramos Vinolas will be eager to get his ranking moving back in the right direction, but he may well find himself unseeded in Paris.
It was a good week for Grigor Dimitrov who made his first semifinal since Rotterdam in February. The Bulgarian is not exactly at home on clay courts; he won just four matches on the surface last year. But he played well in Monte Carlo to defeat Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Philipp Kohlschreiber and David Goffin. In the last four, like the rest of the field, he found Rafael Nadal too hot to handle, although he came closer to taking a set off the Spaniard than anyone else.
Richard Gasquet earned his 500th Tour-level match win and a place in the top 30 thanks to his efforts in Monte Carlo. The Frenchman showed the sort of form that once took him to as high as world #7 as he scored wins over Jeremy Chardy, Diego Schwartzman and Mischa Zverev, before losing a tight quarterfinal to Alexander Zverev. Now at world #29, Gasquet will be eager to kick on and keep racking up the match wins.
- Rafael Nadal, 8770 points, no change
- Roger Federer, 8670 points, no change
- Alexander Zverev, 5125 points, moves up one place
- Marin Cilic, 4985 points, moves down one place
- Grigor Dimitrov, 4950 points, no change
- Juan Martin del Potro, 4470 points, no change
- Dominic Thiem, 3775 points, no change
- Kevin Anderson, 3390 points, no change
- John Isner, 3125 points, no change
- David Goffin, 2390 points, no change
- Pablo Carreno Busta, 2305 points, moves up one place
- Novak Djokovic, 2220 points, moves up one place
- Sam Querrey, 2220 points, moves up one place
- Lucas Pouille, 2200 points, drops down three places
- Roberto Bautista Agut, 2175 points, moves up one place
- Jack Sock, 2155 points, moves up one place
- Diego Schwartzman, 2130 points, drops down two placees
- Tomas Berdych, 2060 points, no change
- Hyeon Chung, 1897 points, no change
- Fabio Fognini, 1840 points, no change
Who was your Mover of the Week? Let us know in the comments below!