Rankings Winners And Losers: Novak Djokovic Returns To The Top, Sofia Kenin Breaks New Ground - UBITENNIS
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Rankings Winners And Losers: Novak Djokovic Returns To The Top, Sofia Kenin Breaks New Ground

Ubitennis looks at the biggest movers in the ATP and WTA rankings following the conclusion of the Australian Open.

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2020 Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic and Sofia Kenin (image via https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

The Australian Open has come to an end and there has been some noticeable moves in the world rankings by both veterans as well as rising stars of the game. On the other hand some players now face the prospect of battling to regain some footing on the tour following a series of disappointing losses.

 

Here is a breakdown of this week’s top movers and fallers.

Novak back on top

Novak Djokovic has once again returned to the world No.1 spot for the first time since November. Overtaking rival Rafael Nadal in the process. It is his 276th week in the position and he now has a 325-point lead over his nearest rival. Compared to two weeks ago, the same players are in the top five. However, Melbourne finalist Dominic Thiem overtakes Daniil Medvedev into fourth spot.

“Novak has had a faultless start to the season, leading Serbia to victory at the ATP Cup and capturing a record eighth Australian Open crown. He has proven yet again that he is the man to beat and his record in Australia is second to none. Many congratulations to Novak and his team on such impressive start to the year and his deserved return to World No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.”ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said in a statement.

Elsewhere, Nick Kyrgios has risen six places to 20th following his run to the fourth round of the Australian Open. Where he was knocked out by Nadal. It is the first time the Australian has been inside the top 20 since August 2018. He has been as high as 13th back in 2016.

Tennys Sandgren has achieved the biggest jump in the top 100 after rising 44 places from 100 to 56. The 28-year-old reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in what was his joint-best performance ever achieved at a grand slam. He also reached the quarter-final of the same tournament back in 2018. He was knocked out of the tournament by world No.3 Roger Federer.

Sandgren is one of only three players to rise 10 or more places in the top 100. The other two are Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics (67 to 53) and America’s Tommy Paul (80 to 70).

At the other end of the spectrum, Frances Tiafoe has fallen to his lowest position in over a year. Dropping 29 places to 79th in the world. The fall was due to his first round exit at the Australian Open where he was defending quarter-final points from the previous year. He is now the eighth highest ranked ATP player from America.

Tiafoe is one of five players to drop 10 or more places in the top 100:-

The top five fallers:-
No.62 Lucas Pouille FRA – down 38 places (currently injured)
No.79 Frances Tiafoe USA – down 29 places
No.85 Lloyd Harris RSA – down 13 places
No.69 Joao Sousa POR – down 10 places
No.95 Andreas Seppi ITA – down 10 places

Finally, Andrey Rublev is the most high-profile player to achieve a career-best ranking this week. The Russian has risen to 15th in the world as a result of an emphatic start to 2020. After winning titles in Doha and Auckland, he also reached the fourth round of the Australian Open. Another player to reach a new best is Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz at 28th.

Barty still leads the women, But Kenin is on the chase

As for the stars of the women’s game, Ash Barty is still comfortably in the world No.1 spot. The Australian currently has a lead of more than 2000 points against her nearest rival, which is Simona Halep. Both Barty and Halep reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

“It’s disappointing but it’s been a hell of a summer. If you’d have told me three weeks ago that we would have won a tournament in Adelaide and made the semi-final of the Australian Open, I’d take that every single day of the week.” The world No.1 told reporters last week.

Undoubtedly the biggest riser is newly crowned Melbourne champion Sofia Kenin. The 21-year-old has rocketed up the rankings to seventh in the world. Becoming the youngest American woman to crack the top 10 since Serena Williams back in 1999. Although she has already set her sights on one day claiming the No.1 honor.

“I hope so. I would love to; that’s my dream,” she said.
“I want to strive and get there. But baby steps and hopefully it will happen.”

Two-time grand slam champion Garbine Muguruza is another player to rise up the rankings. The Spaniard has risen 16 spots to world No.16. Making it the first time she has been in the top 20 since May. Coached by Conchita Martinez, Muguruza finished runner-up to Kenin in Melbourne.

Ons Jabeur’s impressive run in the Australian Open he enabled her to rise to a ranking high of 45th. The Tunisian recently became the first Arab woman in history to reach the last eight of a grand slam tournament. Jabeur was the last player Caroline Wozniacki played before retiring from the sport.

As for the fallers, Naomi Osaka is on the verge of exiting the top 10 for the first time since August 2018. After failing to defend her title in Melbourne following a second round loss to Coco Gauff (who is now ranked 51st), she has dropped from fourth to 10th in the world. A big contrast to this time 12 months ago where she became the first Asian player in history to become world No.1 in the sport.

The biggest casualty in the top 100 is Danielle Collins, who has gone from 25th to 50th. The American was defending a heavy amount of points in Australia following her semi-final run in 2019. This year she lost in the second round.

Finally, Venus Williams has fallen a further 11 places to 66th. Her lowest position since 2012.

The WTA top 10

  1. Ashleigh Barty (8367 points)
  2. Simona Halep (6101)
  3. Karolina Pliskova (5290)
  4. Elina Svitolina (4775)
  5. Belinda Bencic (4675)
  6. Bianca Andreescu (4665)
  7. Sofia Kenin (4495)
  8. Kiki Bertens (3965)
  9. Serena Williams (3915)
  10. Naomi Osaka (3626)

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Sebastian Korda sets up quarter final clash against Ugo Humbert in Halle

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Sebastian Korda came back from one set down to beat Kei Nishikori 2-6 6-3 7-5 at the NOVENTI Open in Halle setting up a quarter final match against Ugo Humbert, who upset Alexander Zverev 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 6-3 in 1 hour and 53 minutes 

 

Both players went on serve with no breaks of serve. Zverev won 84% of his first serve points. Humbert won the first set tie-break when Zverev netted a forehand. 

Zverev converted his first break point at the start of the second set to take a 2-0 lead, when Humbert sent his backhand long. Zverev held on his next service games to claim the second set 6-3. Humbert earned the break in the fourth game of the third set to close out the third set 6-3. 

“I don’t particularly know what I could have done differently. Ugo was serving incredibly well in the first set. We both barely won points on each other’s serve. Then in the third set, I think he found his rhythm from the baseline. He was outplaying me. It is not a great result for me, but I don’t know what I could have done differently”, said Zverev. 

Korda reached the first ATP Tour final of his first career at Delray Beach, the quarter final in Miami and won his firts ATP Tour title on clay at the Emilia Romagna Open in Parma. 

Nishikori broke twice in the first set to open up a 4-1 lead. The Japanese player won 67% of his second serve points and saved two break points in the eighth game to close out the first set 6-2 in 31 minutes. Korda broke serve in the sixth game after seven deuces and held serve in another hard-fought game to race out to a 5-2 lead. The US player served out the second set 6-3 to force the match to the third set. 

Nishikori saved three break points in a nine-minute first game. The decider went on serve until the 11th game, when Korda broke Nishikori with a lob. Korda fended off a break point as he served out the match at deuce in the 12th game. “I would say it was good level from both of us. I think I played almost too good in the first set. He then started making more balls and changed his position. He started playing better in the second set.I think the third set could go both ways. I had many chances, but he played good points and he deserved to win as he took risks”, said Korda. 

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Matteo Berrettini beats Andy Murray to reach the quarter finals in his debut at the Queen’s

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Top seed Matteo Berrettini beat former Wimbledon champion Andy Murray 6-3 6-3 after 1 hour and 25 minutes at the cinch Championships to reach the quarter final at the Queen’s Club in London without dropping a set in his debut at this event. 

 

Berrettini won his fourth ATP Tour at the Serbian Open in Belgrade, reaached the final at the Madrid Mutua Open and the quarter final at Roland Garros. 

Murray, who won the Queen’s title five times in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016, has made his come-back from a groin injury with a wild-card in his first ATP Tour level tournament since March. He was seeking his seventh quarter final at the Queen’s tournament and his first since lifting this title in 2016.

Berrettini fended off all three break points and his 28 winners to just seven unforced errors. The Italian top 10 player broke twic in the fifth and ninth games to close out the first set 6-3. He earned an early break in the second game of the second set and held his next service games to close out the second set 6-3. 

“This was really hard. We all know who Andy is, he is a great player and he was always there even until the last point. I am really happy for my performance. I know how tough it is to come back from an injury, so I wish him the best of luck. I played better. I am just happy that he is back. I have worked really hard on my serve in my career since I was a kid. I grew up on clay, so I waas serving more kick serves, but we figured that I had to hit hard like this. Today it worked really well”, said Berrettini. 

Murray is unlikely to play in Eastbourne next week because of the logistics around the tournament bubble. 

“I made some good moves on court but my tennis was not very good. That’s the thing I will need most rather than the movement. There are some slight niggles in the groin and I will have to try and get rid of between now and Wimbledon. I need matches and I need to practise with top players over the next ten days”, said Murray. 

Berrettini set up a quarter final match against British player Daniel Evans, who beat Adrian Mannarino 6-4 7-6 (9-7) in 1 hour and 43 minutes. Evans won 81% of his first serve points and fended off five of the six break points. 

“I am just pleased to come through. I knew that he was good on grass. I knew that it was going to be a difficult match, but I didn’t envision it being that tight and obviously I did not want it that tight either. It was a tough match, mentally more than anything, trying to hold my serve when I was a set down”, said Evans. 

Denis Shapovalov cruised past Feliciano Lopez 6-2 6-3 with two breaks in the sixth and eighth games of the first set and in the fourth game of the second set. 

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Dominic Thiem Signs Up To New Athlete Management Agency Launched By Kosmos

The world No.5 has become the first athlete to ever be represented by Kosmos.

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Dominic Thiem says he is ‘proud’ to be joining a new agency that has been launched by Kosmos which specialises in athlete management.

 

Kosmos, which was founded by Barcelona F.C star Gerard Pique, says their venture is aimed at supporting those in the world of sport. In a statement issued on Thursday, their objective is to provide ‘comprehensive service to athletes where, in addition to representation, commercial and public relations, it will also provide sports, legal and financial advice.’ The new division will be headed by Galo Blanco who is a former player and coach. Blanco previously served as the Competition Director of Kosmos.

“We are very excited about this project. Many people who have been linked to sport for many years and specialise in different key areas in the development of an athlete’s career work at Kosmos. We know what is important for the active player and for their future, because many of us are or have been professional players,” says Gerard Piqué, President of Kosmos.

27-year-old Thiem is the first athlete to have signed up to the agency. Coincidentally the Austrian was co-coached by Blanco on the Tour between 2017-2018. Blanco ended their collaboration in order to focus on the redevelopment of the Davis Cup. Thiem is now coached on the Tour by Nicolas Massu, as well as his father Wolfgang.

“I am very happy that Galo is part of the team again. He has been very close to me and my family, even when he stopped being my coach,” said Thiem.
“The season has not started as I would have liked, I am working very hard to get back to the level of the end of 2020, and adding Galo and the rest of the Kosmos team can bring a lot of positive things.”

Kosmos has become a growingly influential business in tennis since its launch. The company are the financial masterminds behind transforming the Davis Cup and have pledged to invest $3bn into the competition over a 25-year period.

This year’s Davis Cup finals have been spread across three cities in Madrid, Innsbruck and Turin over 11 days. Pique said the decision to use multiple cities is to prevent late-night finishes in the competition which was a problem back in 2019. Two year’s ago, Italy’s clash with the USA concluded at 4am.

“Some of the matches ended very late, so we made the decision to go to other cities and to play in 11 days instead of seven,” he said at the event’s official launch earlier this year. “The event has been evolving, maturing.”

Albert Costa, who is currently the Davis Cup Finals Director, will also take on the role of Competition Director for Kosmos.

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