Here is your VAVEL USA ATP Weekly Update. Every Monday, we will be posting results and analysis from the previous week’s singles action on the ATP World Tour, along with a preview to the upcoming week. Keep coming back to VAVEL USA every Monday for your ATP Weekly Update.
The back-and-forth between the favourites and the underdogs continued this week on the ATP World Tour with all the crowns going to title-starved men. It was not the best week to be a seeded player, opening the door for some surprises to break through and claim their first titles in several years, with one first-time champion getting his hands on a trophy. Here is your ATP Weekly Update for week eight of the 2018 season.
Last Week’s Results
After a slow start to 2018 after a career-year in 2017, Diego Schwartzman found his groove at the Rio Open this week, claiming the second title of his career in dominant fashion. The Argentinian did not drop a set this week in Brazil, cruising through the first four rounds before crushing Fernando Verdasco 6-2, 6-3 in the final for his first title in nearly two years. The Spaniard had been on a giant-killer run, taking out two higher-seeded opponents on his way to his first final in nearly a year. But his run fell short, as he was no match for Schwartzman in the final.
Defending champion Dominic Thiem’s hot start to the golden swing came to an abrupt end at the hands of Verdasco in the quarterfinals, with the Spaniard bagelling the second seed in the second set to claim a straight-sets victory. Top seed Marin Cilic fared no better, falling in the quarterfinals to Gael Monfils. The big surprise of the tournament was world number 73 Nicolas Jarry, who upset Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Pablo Cuevas on his way to the semifinals before falling to Schwartzman.
Young gun Karen Khachanov joined the winners' circle in 2018 with a surprising run at the Open 13 Provence. Nearly 18 months after his first title, the 21-year-old put on a show, not dropping a set on his way to the final, booking his spot with a 6-3, 6-2 upset of fourth seed Tomas Berdych. In the final, Khachanov broke the hearts of the Marseille fans, edging Frenchman Lucas Pouille in a tight three-set final to claim the second title of his young career. Check out the full final recap here.
Stan Wawrinka’s disastrous 2018 continued in Marseille, as the former world number three was ousted in the second round by 147th-ranked qualifier Ilya Ivashka. Ivashka would go on a run in Marseille, reaching the first tour-level semifinal of his career before falling to Pouille. The other major upset of the tournament saw fifth seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who was at the top of the draw thanks to David Goffin’s withdrawal, fall to Julien Benneteau in the second round in two tiebreaks.
When the dust settled on the insanity that rained at the Delray Beach Open, Frances Tiafoe was the last man standing, holding the first title of his career. Tiafoe came into the event unseeded before winning three straight three-setters to reach the first semifinal of his career, upsetting second seed Juan Martin del Potro in the second round and eighth seed Hyeon Chung in a rain-delayed quarterfinal. In the semis, he ended the run of fellow young gun Denis Shapovalov before powering past Peter Gojowczyk in straight sets in the final.
Gojowczyk reached the second final of his career on the heels of an epic second-round upset of John Isner, which he won in three tiebreaks. The defending finalists both suffered second-round upsets. 2017 champion Jack Sock was upset in the second round by countryman Rielly Opelka, while last year’s runner-up Milos Raonic was sent packing by eventual semifinalist Steve Johnson, also in straight sets. Both Sock and Raonic won their first matches of 2018 in the first round before falling in the second. Fourth seed Sam Querrey was upset in the first round by countryman Taylor Fritz, who went on to reach the quarterfinals.
Mover of the Week: Diego Schwartzman
The Rio Open champion may not have had the largest rankings jump, but his climb of five spots moved the Argentine into the top twenty for the first time in his career. By winning the title, he jumped from his career high of number 23 up to a new career high of 18.
Marseille champion Karen Khachanov only hopped up six spots to 41st. Courtesy of the first title of his career in Delray Beach, Frances Tiafoe climbed 30 spots to number 61, one spot shy of his career-high of number 60. Rio runner-up Fernando Verdasco climbed 13 spots up to number 27. Despite only reaching the quarterfinals in Delray Beach, Hyeon Chung matched his career high ranking of number 29. Delray Beach runner-up Peter Gojowczyk moved up 13 spots to a new career-high of number 51.
Jack Sock’s failure to defend his Delray Beach title saw him fall two spots to number ten, allowing the inactive Kevin Anderson to move up to a career-high of number eight. Despite falling in the first round of Delray Beach, Sam Querrey managed to move up to a career-high of number 11 thanks to Roberto Bautista Agut falling three spots to number 14. Nicolas Jarry’s semifinal run in Rio allowed him to shatter his previous career-high by 20 spots as he reached moved up to number 73. Lastly, Denis Shapovalov reached yet another career-high thanks to his semifinal run in Delray Beach, crawling up to number 45.
Race to London
Diego Schwartzman’s big win in Rio vaulted the Argentinian into contention in the race to qualify for the ATP Finals. He jumped 28 spots up to number six in the race, knocking Dominic Thiem down a spot. Schwartzman, Tomas Berdych, and Gael Monfils all had strong results that knocked Andreas Seppi out of a qualifying spot down to number ten.
Rio semifinalist Fabio Fognini climbed 11 spots to within striking distance at 11th. After spending the first few weeks of the season near the top of the race, Nick Kyrgios’ slide continued as the Aussie slipped three more spots down to 12th.
This Week’s Action
Three more titles are up for grabs, including two at the 500-level. Seven members of the top ten, including three of the top five, will be going for titles this coming week.
All eyes will be on world number two Rafael Nadal returning to the court after hobbling out of the Australian Open with an injury as he bids to reclaim the Abierto Mexicano Telcel title in Acapulco, Mexico. Things will not be easy for the two-time champion, as he could meet the defending champion and the man who bested him in last year’s final Sam Querrey in the quarterfinals.
Nadal leads a loaded field into Acapulco, with six of the top ten in action. Alexander Zverev will be seeded second, followed by Dominic Thiem, Jack Sock, Kevin Anderson, and Juan Martin del Potro. 2016 champion Thiem has a particularly tricky draw, as he could have to face either former world number four Kei Nishikori or teen sensation Denis Shapovalov in the second round. Also lurking in Sock’s part of the draw is Australian Open runner-up Hyeon Chung. Four-time champion David Ferrer is a potential second-round opponent for del Potro.
The Dubai Tennis Championship holds the distinction of being the only tournament below the Masters 1000 level that each member of the big four have won at least once. Dubai has generally been dominated by the big four, with them combining to win 13 of the last 15 titles. However, none of the big four will be in attendance this year, including defending champion Andy Murray. Instead, Grigor Dimitrov will be the headliner and top seed.
Joining Dimitrov at one of the most prestigious 500-level tournaments is Marseille runner-up Lucas Pouille, as well as Roberto Bautista Agut and Damir Dzumhur. Veterans Richard Gasquet and Philipp Kohlschreiber will also make the trip to the UAE, with Filip Krajnovic and Yuichi Sugita rounding out the seeds. 2016 runner-up Marcos Baghdatis and surprise Marseille semi-finalists Ilya Ivashka also received bonus direct entry to the draw.
The lone clay court and 250-level event of the week sees the Golden Swing and its usual suspects head west along the Atlantic coast from Rio to Sao Paulo for the Brasil Open. After struggling to get his hands on a trophy through the first few events of the swing, 2017 Brasil Open runner-up Albert Ramos-Vinolas leads the field as the top seed. Three-time defending champion Pablo Cuevas will look to add a fourth straight crown. The Uruguayan is seeded third.
Joining the 2017 finalists are Fabio Fognini and Gael Monfils, seeded second and fourth respectively. The only other former champion in the draw is the last man to win before Cuevas’ reign began, 2014 champion Frederico Delbonis, the eighth seed. Leonardo Mayer, Guido Pella, and Tenny Sandgren are the remaining seeds.