Mover of the Week
Over half a decade after he made his first appearance in the final of a Masters 1000 event, John Isner finally claimed a title at the second-highest level in the game. The giant American had come into the Miami Open on the back of one of the worst starts to a season in his professional career which had seen him win just two of his first eight matches. Indeed, it will have been a source of some concern to Isner that he had only played eight matches by March.
But on the slow, gritty hard courts of Miami that are so well-suited to his game Isner always had the chance to have a good tournament. Those chances got even better when a succession of big names crashed out early. Federer’s second round loss to Kokkinakis was the big news, but the draw was shedding seeds with every passing round and Isner’s opportunity was getting bigger and bigger. And the man from Greensboro, North Carolina, took it with both hands.
After escaping a three-set dogfight with Jiri Vesely in the second round, Isner battered his way through the draw, reaching the final without dropping a set. That included two hugely impressive wins, first against Hyeon Chung in the quarterfinals and then against Indian Wells champion del Potro in the semifinals. His victory over the Argentine was perhaps the finest performance of Isner’s long career. He then conquered Alexander Zverev in the final, rebounding from dropping the first set.
Isner, who was unbroken in the final, was hugely impressive throughout in Miami, and will surely go into the clay court season with real confidence. Though he has not much enjoyed his time in Europe, his game is better suited to the clay than many appreciate. As for now, Isner returns to the top ten, equalling his career-high ranking of world #9. But with the game seemingly in a state of flux, Isner may well be setting his sights even higher still.
Loser of the Week
Whilst his early season performances may not have set the world alight, they did at least suggest that Grigor Dimitrov had injected some much-needed consistency into his game. A quarterfinal showing at the Australian Open and reaching the final in Rotterdam gave Dimitrov a platform from which he could have built a good first half of the season. But what consistency the Bulgarian managed to find has evaporated as he is now forced to endure a period of wretched form.
The 26-year-old has won just one match at his last three tournaments. A disappointing defeat to Jaziri in Dubai, where a weak draw had given Dimitrov a real chance at putting together a title-winning run, was followed by an early exit in Indian Wells at the hands of Verdasco. In Dimitrov’s defence, Verdasco is never an easy opponent to face, but Dimitrov will still have been disappointed. He did manage to win one match in Miami, against Marterer, but was then dismissed by Chardy.
That defeat saw Dimitrov fall another place to world #5, down from #3 at the start of the season. And it is likely to get worse before it gets better for Dimitrov with the European clay court season fast approaching. The slow, heavy conditions of the ‘terre battue’ have never suited Dimitrov’s free-flowing attacking game and he is rarely able to pick up more than a few wins until the grass court season. With the chasing pack close behind, expect Dimitrov to tumble further.
Though he hasn’t played since the Australian Open, where he retired from his quarterfinal, Rafael Nadal returned to the top of the ATP Rankings. That he did so was due to Federer’s shock loss to Kokkinakis with the young Australian coming back from a set down to win in three. But whilst Nadal can rest easy at the top of the rankings for now, he has an awful lot of points to defend between now and Wimbledon. It’s hard to see him reaching the grass court season still at the top of the tree.
It was another encouraging week for Borna Coric. Though he was ultimately well-beaten by Zverev in the quarterfinals, reaching the semifinals in Indian Wells and the last eight in Miami is no mean feat for the Croatian. His reward is to break into the world’s top 30 for the first time at #28, a career-high for the 21-year-old. Considering he was ranked 50th at the end of February, it’s been an impressive rise indeed for the former junior #1.
Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta put together a much-needed run in Miami, reaching the semifinals before falling to Zverev. After a rankings slide that left him at #19, he is back heading in the right direction as he climbed seven spots to #12. Hyeon Chung broke new ground by reaching the top 20 for the first time. The Korean has been one of the most consistent players so far this year and will be desperate to take his good form forward.
- Rafael Nadal, 8770 points, moves up one place
- Roger Federer, 8670 points, drops down one place
- Marin Cilic, 4985 points, no change
- Alexander Zverev, 4925 points, moves up one place
- Grigor Dimitrov, 4635 points, drops down one place
- Juan Martin del Potro, 4470 points, no change
- Dominic Thiem, 3665 points, no change
- Kevin Anderson, 3390 points, no change
- John Isner, 3125 points, moves up eight places
- David Goffin, 3110 points, drops down one place
- Lucas Pouille, 2410 points, down one place
- Pablo Carreno Busta, 2395 points, moves up seven places
- Novak Djokovic, 2310 points, drops up one place
- Sam Querrey, 2265 points, moves up seven places
- Diego Schwartzman, 2220 points, moves up one place
- Jack Sock, 2200 points, drops down five places
- Roberto Bautista Agut, 2175 points, drops two places
- Tomas Berdych, 2140 points, drops down five places
- Hyeon Chung, 1897 points, moves up four places
- Fabio Fognini, 1840 points, drops down two places
Who was your Mover of the Week? Let us know in the comments below!