Every monday i The last seven days of tennis, who needs a win, and who needs a win, and who is in the best shape ahead of you.
No 1 at lengthy stint for swiatek set
Iga Swiatek Officially the world No 1. There was a small chance she could do with her hand in a runners-up trophy, which would not have been diminished by the achievement but taken off the edge. As it is, she has done what she has done this year; she won.
Swiatek is now unbeaten in 17 matches, the last nine of which come in straight sets. Only one of those nine opponents has managed to force a tie-break, and that was a two-time grand slam champion. Simona Halep in Indian Wells. Swiatek dismissed the Miami Heat during a five-game losing streak in the sweeping Florida heat, averaging less than five games per game.
There were hopes that the final might be a classic. Naomi Osaka That is, on her day, the surface of her grand slam titles of all four won with the best hard-court player in the women’s game (most likely Barring Swiatek). Her psychological struggles have been painfully public but for at least seven games on Saturday, her tennis ability was clear to see.
Swiatek’s game plan was to keep the ball away from Osaka’s forehand and initially test the Japanese player’s backhand. But Swiatek served imperiously – she didn’t face a break point all match – and eventually Osaka’s game began to break down. A close set gave way to a one-sided second, Swiatek needing 27 minutes to seal it rather than the 53 she needed.
The question now is how long Swiatek can remain in the No 1 spot. She will be up there for at least a month with more than 1,600 points. She is also helped by the fact that world No 2 Barbora Krejcikova An elbow injury, and the Czech player will have 2,000 points to defend Roland Garros in just seven weeks’ time. Swiftk has some clay-court points to defenders from last year Ashleigh Barty In the second round of Madrid so should make some points.
But if she keeps winning every match, it doesn’t matter what points she’s defending: she’ll be in the world until 1 can someone stop her.
When it was somewhat disingenuous, the commentator on duty stated that Naomi Osaka Miami was the lowest-ranked player ever. She is hardly your average world No 77.
However, she is now back in the Top 40 and could well be seeded at the French Open by the time Roland Garros swings around at the end of May. Just a few weeks ago, that was an impossibility, like when Osaka was in Tears in Indian Wells.
Psychological challenges like the ones she faces, the ones that forced her away from tennis last year, are clearly not fixed overnight. But she’s found a Miami therapist, and she’s found it helpful.
There was a different timbre to the way she talked about the game too. Rather than talking about how she wanted to play as few tournaments as possible, she said: “I’m having a lot of fun out here. I hope that I can keep working hard and get more opportunities.”
She smiled, she laughed, she joked with her friend Swiatek, who told her “this court is better with you”. The Pole is right. Tennis is better with Osaka. And hopefully she’s better with tennis.
(Current ranking, name, change in ranking from last week)
- 36. Naomi Osaka (+41)
- 49. Sara Sorribes Tormo (-14)
- 61. Mayar Sherif (+12)
- 62. Ana Konjuh (-10)
- 82. Lauren Davis (+12)
- 85. Lucia Bronzetti (+17)
- 99. Vera Zvonareva (+18)
Champions: Swiatek (Miami 1000), Sherif (Marbella 125)
Tournaments starting this week: Charleston (500), Bogota (250)
- Iga Swiatek (+1)
- Barbora Krejcikova (+2)
- Paula Badosa (+3)
- Maria Sakkari (-1)
- Aryna Sabalenka
- Anett Kontaveit (+1)
- Karolina Pliskova (+1)
- Danielle Collins (+3)
- Garbine Muguruza
- Ons Jabeur
- Jelena Ostapenko (+1)
- Emma Raducanu (+1)
- Jessica Pegula (+8)
- Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
- Coco Gauff (+2)
- Angelique Kerber (-1)
- Victoria Azarenka (-1)
- Elena Rybakina
- Simona Halep
- Leylah Fernandez (+2)
No escape from Alcaraz
Carlos Alcaraz Big things, ever since he beat Albert Ramos Vinolas in Rio two years ago, just a month before the tour shut down.
That was the point of the 16-year-old’s career in the biggest win, and it was an epic one: three hours and 36 minutes in the final, finishing 3am local time in Brazil. Even then, it was clear he had something special.
There are those who still question his adaptability and his level but they are silent now. The first three months of this year have been Alcaraz’s, and he can’t be ignored.
In Indian Wells, he took a set off his childhood hero Rafael Nadal. In Miami he was no plucky loser. In a city where 65 per cent of the people speak Spanish, he was the youngest ever champion in the city to join a top victor knocking out three top-10 players.
What is so scary about Alcaraz is his game of completeness. When i Interviewed by Juan Carlos Ferrero, the former world No 1 who helped produce this sensation, in September 2020, he asked when he was chuckled to improve his teenage charge. The backhand, the forehand, the serve and the physicality were all mentioned in some way, an illustration of the hard work engendered at his academy somewhere in the foothills outside Alicante.
“Definitely his age for playing insane,” he said Hubert Hurkacz After their semi-final clash. “It’s really incredible how he plays, how he competes. It’s something special the way he plays at this age. Really, he has an amazing career ahead of him. It’s crazy how good he plays. ”
Alcaraz will be the only name on anyone’s lips in Miami on Monday morning but Hurricanez himself for a word too. Not only did the defending champion reach the semi-finals again this year, he also picked up the doubles title John Isnerbeating Wesley Koolhof and Britain’s Neal Skupski in the final.
They had a decent run too, knocking out the most recent grand slam champions Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis as well as new doubles world No 1 Joe Salisbury and his partner Rajeev Ram. And Koolhof and Skupski are second in the ATP Points Race this year. Overall, a pretty good set of scalps for Hurkacz and Isner.
There are probably a fair few observers, this correspondent included, who are serially underrated Casper Ruud. An unassuming enough looking chap, just over six feet tall and a solid all-round game but nothing more standout, he was easy to underrate.
Many high-profile victories: As of November last year he had just three wins over the top 10 players and one of them was Diego Schwartzman (sorry, Diego) whose foray into the top 10 was brief and unexpected. .
However, he snuck into the ATP World Finals, beat Cameron Norrie and Andrey Rublev, and cemented a spot in the top 10.
Now he has a cast-off of Kyrgios accusation of “stealing points” playing clay-court tournaments when everyone else is playing hard in the finals in Miami, beating Norrie and most likely Alexander Zverev along the way.
He also beat Francisco Cerundoloa man who halved his ranking by making it to the last four in Miami.
Cerundolo arrived there on a three-match losing streak, having lost his last match in the first round of a Challenger in Phoenix. The 23-year-old Argentine went on a five-match winning streak, beating four seeded players (albeit Reilly Opelka and Jannik Sinner both retired).
(You may recognize his surname: His younger brother Juan Manual (world No 117) went on a few years ago when he won the title of Cordoba last February. The top-50 players claim his first ATP title, a deciding set of going to his last four matches.
(Current ranking, name, change in ranking from last week)
- 38. Miomir Kecmanovic (+10)
- 44. Roger Federer (-18)
- 51. Francisco Cerundolo (+52)
- 78. Jaume Munar (+11)
- 85. Thanasi Kokkinakis (+12)
- 93. Facundo Bagnis (+11)
Champions: Alcaraz (Miami 1000), Munar (Marbella 125)
Tournaments starting this week: Houston (250) and Marrakech (250)
- Novak Djokovic (+1)
- Daniil Medvedev (-1)
- Alexander Zverev (+1)
- Rafael Nadal (-1)
- Stefanos Tsitsipas
- Matteo Berrettini
- Casper Ruud (+1)
- Andrey Rublev (-1)
- Felix Auger-Aliassime
- Cameron Norrie (+2)
- Carlos Alcaraz (+5)
- Jannik Sinner (-1)
- Taylor Fritz
- Hubert Hurkacz (-4)
- Denis Shapovalov (-1)
- Diego Schwartzman (-1)
- Pablo Carreno Busta (+2)
- Reilly Opelka
- Roberto Bautista Agut (-2)
- Nikoloz Basilashvili