The biggest jump in the ATP top 50 rankings this week was 26-year-old Grega Zemlja. After making the finals at last week’s ATP event in Vienna, Austria, the surging Slovenian has vaulted himself 23 spots in the rankings to a career high ranking of #50. Grega had the best tournament of his career, gaining wins over Xavier Malisse, Tommy Haas and Janko Tipsarevic before losing in the finals to Juan Martin Del Potro.
However, even though this might be the first time you’ve heard of him, Zemlja’s recent success hasn’t come from out of the blue. His final’s appearance in Vienna has been a manifestation of the career year he’s been having in 2012. Going into the US Open, Grega won 10 of 11 matches and two ATP Challenger events (the equivalent of the “minor leagues” of the ATP). He followed that up by winning 5 matches at the US Open (three in the qualifying and two in the main draw), firmly placing him in the top 100 for the first time in his career. A little over a month later, he won 6 matches, two over players in the top 20, and has gotten himself into the top 50. Let’s keep an eye on the surging Slovenian in the weeks to come!
In other news…
–Novak Djokovic saved 5 match points in the Shanghai Masters 1000 final against rival Andy Murray and won his 5th title of the year. Don’t look now, but Novak has only lost two matches since the Olympics and has a firm lead over Roger Federer to end the year as the world’s top ranked player for the second year in a row.
–Tomas Berdych has continued his strong play, winning the title in Stockholm last week over fellow top-10er Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. That’s the second time in as many weeks that the lanky Czech has beaten Tsonga, putting him in a great position to qualify for the year end championship in London in which the top 8 ranked players compete.
-Andreas Seppi won his second title of the year, taking the Kremlin Cup over Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci. The 28-year-old Italian has now won a title on every surface (hard, clay, and grass), and reaches a career high ranking this week of #22.
-This week, the ATP has two stops in Valencia, Spain and Basel, Switzerland before heading to Paris for the final Masters 1000 event of the year. Most of the top 20 will be in action jostling for the final positions in the ATP World Tour Finals in London in two weeks. With world #4 Rafael Nadal out, there are four spots up for grabs (with Djokovic, Murray, Federer, and Ferrer already in). Look for the action to heat up as the season comes to an end!
Thanks for reading!
It’s been a historic month of July on the men’s tour! Wimbledon was epic, and set the stage of Roger Federer to climb back to the top of the men’s game. We’ve seen a couple players reach personal milestones this month, and others climbing the rankings again trying to resurrect their careers. And to top it off, the Olympics are underway at the hallowed grounds of the All-England Club. Let’s take a look at the top storylines from July 2012.
On the ATP side…
-This month, King Fed has reclaimed his throne as the top ranked player in the world after winning his 7th Wimbledon singles title and record 17th major singles title. He then proceeded to break Pete Sampras‘ record of 286 total weeks as the top ranked player in the world. Just another historic month for the Swiss all-time great. As the #1 player in the world and the defending champion of Wimbledon, he has to be the favorite going into the Olympics.
-We’ve seen yet another incredible resurgence from the 34 year old Tommy Haas. Once again, he’s recovered from injury and come back as strong as ever! In June of 2011, his ranking had plummeted into the 800s. A little more than a year later, he’s back up to #35 in the world. He’s had 2 top 5 wins this year, including a win over Federer in the finals of Halle for his first title since 2009. This month, he had two top 20 wins and reached the final in Hamburg before losing to red hot Juan Monaco. Can the veteran German continue his climb or will he get bit by the injury bug once again??
-Two guys reached personal milestones in their careers this month. Juan Monaco has had a career year, and after winning the ATP 500 title in Hamburg he’s climbed into the top 10 for the first time. Hot on his heels is German Philipp Kohlschreiber, who has climbed into the top 20 for the first time after reaching the final in Kitzbuhel last week and reaching the quarterfinals of Wimbledon. He’s currently at a career high ranking of #16. And, do you know who had the most aces in the men’s draw at Wimbledon? That’s right…5’10” Philipp Kohlschreiber, with 98 aces in five matches.
-Watch out for Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci! He’s only lost two matches this month, and both to top 10 players (Tipsarevic and Tsonga). However, he avenged his loss to Tipsarevic the very next week in the final of Gstaad to take the title, and his first round match against Tsonga at the Olympics might have been the best match of the first round. Tsonga served unbelievable and proved why he’s one of the best grass court players in the world, but Bellucci gave him a run for his money, losing 6-7 6-4 6-4. The lanky lefty clay-courter got a rough draw this week, but in the last month he’s gone from #80 in the world to #42. Look for the big hitting Brazilian to continue his hot play into the summer.
With only three weeks to recover between Wimbledon and the Olympic Games, the grass at the All-England Club is playing more like a classic grass court than the slower courts seen at Wimbledon in the past few years. The courts are playing lightning fast, balls are staying low and taking strange bounces, and footing is a struggle. Look for the veterans to handle the adversity the best over the next couple weeks, and look for some of the top players to get driven crazy with the tough conditions and get upset. My predictions? I expect to see a Roger Federer / Andy Murray rematch in the final.
Stay tuned for more pro blogs in the coming weeks! Thanks for reading!