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.
With most of the tour’s biggest stars taking the week off after Wimbledon, there was still plenty of action of the ATP World Tour with three titles up for grabs. It was an opening for some of the mid-tier players to take advantage and claim titles, which a pair of Italians did. Here is your ATP Weekly Update for week 29 of the 2018 season.
Last Week’s Results
Another year, another grass court season in the books with American Steve Johnson taking home the final trophy at the Hall of Fame Championships in Newport, USA. Johnson completed the sweep of the American non-hard-court titles after winning the US Men’s Clay Court Championships earlier this year in dominating fashion, never losing more than three games in a set until the final, where he put away Ramkumar Ramanathan in three-sets.
Ramanathan reached the first final of his career by taking advantage of a draw that fell apart around him. The 23-year-old only dropped one set on his way to the final, that being in the second round against eighth seed Denis Kudla, the only seed he faced on his way to the final. He acquitted himself well in his first title match, putting up a massive fight before folding in the final set against Johnson.
Despite Johnson taking home the title, it was a poor week for the seeds. Only Johnson and top seed Adrian Mannarino reached the quarterfinals, with only the eventual champion reaching the final four.
Marco Cecchinato must have been pretty happy to transition back from grass to clay as his dream clay court season continued with a second crown of the year. The French Open semifinalist overcame an early test but never looked back to claim the Croatia Open. Cecchinato got into trouble in his opening match against Jiri Vesely, dropping the opening set 6-2. But after battling through to win the next two sets 7-5, 7-5, he would not face much more of a challenge, not dropping another set on his way to the title.
In the final, Cecchinato put an end of Guido Pella’s gritty run. Unlike the champion, Pella had to battle from start to finish throughout the week winning three three-setters, twice coming back from a set down, just to reach the final. He may have been out of gas against the Italian in the final, though, as he faded after a tight first set. Andrey Rublev was the defending champion, but the NextGen star saw his first title defense come crashing down in the quarterfinals, where he lost to sixth seed Robin Haase.
The occasionally brilliant clay-courter Fabio Fognini turned in one of his great runs at the Swedish Open this week. The erratic Italian battled through a tough draw, needing to win three three-set matches to claim the seventh title of his career in Bastad. After opening with a three-set win over local hope Mikael Ymer, he took out fifth seed Fernando Verdasco and fourth seed Richard Gasquet in back-to-back three-setters in the semis and final to claim his second title of 2018.
Top seed Diego Schwartzman did not have a great week, losing his opening match to qualifier Simone Bolleli. Second seed Pablo Carreno Busta fared slightly better, reaching the quarterfinals before falling to Verdasco. The surprise of the week came in the form of lucky loser Henri Laaksonen, who took full advantage of his second chance by reaching the semifinals before falling to Gasquet.
Mover of the Week: March Cecchinato
The Umag champion continued his climb up the ATP rankings this week with his second title in the last three months. As a result, he climbed five spots from his old career-high of number 27 to a new high of 22nd in the world.
Newport champion Steve Johnson had the largest jump of the week inside the top 100, climbing 14 spots up to number 34 in the world. Bastad champion Fabio Fognini moved up one spot to number 14. After reaching the first final of his career in Newport, Ramkumar Ramanathan jumped up 46 spots to match his career-high ranking of 115 in the world.
Race to London
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This week’s action had no influence on the players in qualification spots for the Race to London. However, thanks to their titles in Umag and Bastad, Marco Cecchinato and Fabio Fognini made up some ground in the chase pack.
Cecchinato moved up five spots to number ten, while Fognini moved up six spots to number twelve. However, both men are still around 1200 points behind Kevin Anderson for the eighth and final spot.
This Week’s Action
The last 500-level clay court tournament of the season takes place as the tour starts to make its shift towards the summer hard courts with the US Open Series getting underway.
Despite there being a couple more minor tournaments on the red clay of Europe, that last big crown is up for grabs this week in Hamburg, Germany at the 500-level German Open Tennis Championships. French Open runner-up Dominic Thiem returns to his favourite surface after hobbling off the grass at Wimbledon and will be the top seed. Thiem is the only top-ten player in action this week on the tour.
The deep field includes defending champion Leonardo Mayer along with two finalists from last week: Bastad runner-up Richard Gasquet and Umag champion Marco Cecchinato. The top two seeds from Bastad, Diego Schwartzman, and Pablo Carreno Busta, will be looking to improve on their results, this week seeded second and third respectively. 2011 champion Gilles Simon, the only other former champion along with two-time champion Mayer, is unseeded.
The long march towards the US Open begins this week in Atlanta at the first event of the US Open Series, the BB&T Atlanta Open. Wimbledon semifinalist John Isner returns to his most successful event looking to add a fifth title. Isner is the top seed and defending champion, having reached five straight finals and won four of the last five titles. Isner has reached seven finals of the eight after the tournament moved from Indianapolis to Atlanta in 2010.
The man Isner beat in the final last year, countryman Ryan Harrison, joins the American-heavy field as the eighth seed. American young-gun Frances Tiafoe is seeded fifth. Seven Americans received either direct entry into the draw or a wildcard. It would have been more had Jack Sock and Jared Donaldson not withdrawn. The only person to break up Isner’s dominance in Atlanta, Nick Kyrgios, is the second seed. He beat Isner in the 2016 final. Hyeon Chung, Matthew Ebden, Jeremy Chardy and Mischa Zverev round out the seeds.
While most of the big clay guns will be going for the big crown in Hamburg, Bastad champion Fabio Fognini will be looking to go back-to-back with a second title in as many weeks at the Swiss Open Gstaad. The Italian is the top seed and defending champion. He is one of three former champions in the draw along with 2016 champion Feliciano Lopez, seeded eighth, and 2010 champion Nicolas Almagro, who is a wildcard.
Roberto Bautista Agut is the second seed and leads a large Spanish contingent into Switzerland, with seven men in the 28-man field hailing from Spain. Halle champion Borna Coric will look for some success on clay as he is seeded third, while young gun Andrey Rublev will hope to bounce back after disappointing title defense fell short last week in Umag. Robin Haase, Joao Sousa, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez round out the seeds.