Mover of the Week
Who else could it be but the newly crowned #1 Roger Federer? Although to describe the Swiss star as ‘newly crowned’ might be a slight overstatement considering he has already logged 310 weeks at the top of the world rankings, more than any other player. This is also the third time this season he has ascended to the top of the rankings, doing so first after winning Rotterdam until he lost in the second round in Miami, and then again for a week after Nadal’s quarterfinal loss in Madrid.
He did it for the third time by claiming the title in Stuttgart, his first at the event and 98th overall. It marked a significant improvement on his performance in Baden-Wurttemberg last year when he lost first-time out against Tommy Haas despite holding match point. It looked like he might be facing a similarly early exit when he dropped the first set in his first match this year against Mischa Zverev, who he once beat 6-0 6-0, but Federer turned the match around to win 3-6 6-4 6-2.
That seemed to inspire Federer somewhat, although his path to the final barely got smoother, with his 6-4 6-4 victory in the quarterfinals over clay courter Guido Pella not entirely convincing. He was again taken the distance in the last four, where the talented but inconsistent Australian Nick Kyrgios threatened the upset before eventually falling 7-6 2-6 6-7. That victory was enough to return Federer to the top of the rankings, but he capped his week off with a title by beating Milos Raonic 6-4 7-6.
Whether he can stay atop the mountain is another matter entirely, and it certainly won’t be easy for the great man with Nadal just 150 points behind. An early exit for Federer in Halle, where he won the title last year, would likely be sufficient for Nadal to once again reclaim the top spot just a week after he lost it. Fortunately for Federer, it remains in his hands this week with Nadal having withdrawn from Queen’s. But at Wimbledon, where Nadal lost fourth round last year, it won’t be.
Loser of the Week
Last year was surely a dream for Gilles Muller, with the veteran ending the year at a career-best 25th in the world and reaching the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the first time in his career, upsetting Nadal along the way. Unfortunately, this year has not gone quite so smoothly for the 34-year-old who has won just seven matches this year and none of his past four. That poor run of form precipitated a slide down the rankings that has worsened for him of late.
The reason was that he failed to defend the title he won last year at the Rosmalen Grass Court Championships in Holland. In fact, not only did he fail to defend the title, he lost in his first match to Matthew Ebden in the round of 16. As a result, his ranking fell by 14 places to outside the top 40 at #46. With quarterfinal points to defend at Wimbledon and without the protection of a seeding, a further fall in the rankings might be on the horizon for Muller.
It was an excellent week in Rosmalen for Richard Gasquet, however, with the Frenchman picking up a 15th Tour-level title by defeating Jeremy Chardy in the final. It was also his first tournament victory since winning in Antwerp at the back-end of the 2016 season and will surely give Gasquet a real lift ahead of Wimbledon where he has twice been a semifinalist. It would be unrealistic to expect a repeat of that, but Gasquet’s ranking, at #25, is five places higher than it was and he can’t be feeling too bad.
He has had his fair share of injury problems, but it was a fine week for Matthew Ebden who has gotten his ranking moving in the right direction again, and fast. In fact, the 30-year-old is now at a career-high of world #60 after reaching the last four in Rosmalen. Jeremy Chardy, the man who beat him in that semifinal, improved his ranking by 11 places to sit just one spot behind Ebden at 61st in the world, a substantial improvement for a man ranked #100 as recently as March.
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