(Photo credit: REUTERS/Tony Gentile)
Mover of the Week
It was back to the top of the rankings for Rafael Nadal. His defeat in Madrid had handed Federer back a narrow lead at the top of the tree, much like how Nadal had come to return to the top himself after Federer lost early to Kokkinakis in Miami. This time, though, the Spaniard did his work on court himself, capping off another excellent week of clay court tennis with his third title of the year and an eighth overall in Rome. He will certainly feel it was the perfect preparation for Paris though he was guaranteed the #1 seeding with Federer’s non-participation confirmed.
All the more so because he certainly did not have an easy ride to the title. Though Damir Dzumhur and Denis Shapovalov were not, perhaps, the most serious threats to his title aspirations, thereafter things became rather more complicated for Nadal. His quarterfinal opponent Fabio Fognini enjoyed the support of the raucous, but deserving of praise for the respect they showed both players, Italian crowd. With their backing, Fognini took the first set off Nadal to threaten the upset.
It required some of Nadal’s best tennis to put Fognini away, although he ultimately did it in some style, losing just three games after dropping the first set in a 4-6 6-1 6-2 win. That earned him a match against his old foe, Novak Djokovic, with whom he has had some titanic clay court tussles. Their semifinal threatened to be another with the Serbian enjoying a resurgence of form, but he proved to be unable to match Nadal’s sustained quality, losing 6-7 3-6 despite some fine moments.
In the final Nadal won a seesawing match against Alexander Zverev, a victory he may well feel partly indebted to the weather for. After a fast start, Nadal won the first set 6-1 against the defending champion. But Zverev really began to unleash with his groundstrokes thereafter, levelling the match equally swiftly and taking an early lead in the decider before the heavens opened. When play resumed, Nadal broke back and broke again to take the win and the title.
Loser of the Week
It was, in fact, a week of many positives for the former world #1 Novak Djokovic. The Serbian’s search for form since his lengthy injury struggles had been almost entirely without success until he arrived in Rome. As a result, he found himself without a first round bye for the first time ever in Rome. But he also found some impressive play, with the rise in his level indebted, at least partly, to the outpouring of support he received from the Italian crowd.
Djokovic, who has rarely received the love of tennis spectators, was clearly moved and inspired. He was commanding in dismissing Alexandr Dolgopolov, Nikoloz Basilashvili and Albert Ramos Vinolas to reach a first quarterfinal since Wimbledon last year. There he overcame Kei Nishikori in a thriller in which he looked, after a slow start, very close to his best. Against Nadal he was outmatched, without the fitness to endure a toe-to-toe contest with his great rival, though it was a much closer contest than their last in Madrid last year.
But, last year Djokovic managed to reach the final in Rome, and that had left him defending 600 ranking points, which constituted a significant portion of his total. And though he came close to defending them all, he fell just short and as a result finds himself outside the top 20 for the first time since 2006. That will leave him a dangerous floater in the Roland Garros draw, but also at risk of facing one of the game’s top players as early as the third round.
Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman is enduring what is surely his worst clay court season for some time. At the three clay court Masters, he won just four matches. He also lost heavily in the first round in both Barcelona and Munich. What is usually the most productive time of the year for him, has been one of consistent disappointment. But his ranking has continued to rise, seemingly regardless of poor form. He now finds himself at a career-high of a #12.
After a first Rome quarterfinal, a notable achievement by itself, Fabio Fognini’s ranking is moving in the right direction. The Italian returned to the top 20 as a result of his efforts, at world #19. Kyle Edmund also looks to have earned himself a place amongst the top 16 seeds in Paris where he may well be Britain’s only representative. Though ranked 17th in the world, with the participation of a few players ranked above him uncertain, Edmund should have done enough.
- Rafael Nadal, 8770 points, moves up one place
- Alexander Zverev, 5615 points, no change
- Grigor Dimitrov, 4870 points, drops down one place
- Juan Martin del Potro, 4450 points, no change
- Kevin Anderson, 3665 points, no change
- Dominic Thiem, 3195 points, no change
- David Goffin, 3020 points, moves up one place
- Pablo Carreno Busta, 2415 points, moves up one place
- Sam Querrey, 2140 points, drops down one place
- Roberto Bautista Agut, 2120 points, drops down one place
- Jack Sock, 2110 points, drops down one place
- Lucas Pouille, 2030 points, no change
- Tomas Berdych, 1900 points, drops down one place
- Fabio Fognini, 1895 points, moves up two places
- Hyeon Chung, 1775 points, moves up one place
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