Are two former French Open champions about to tumble down the rankings? Could the King of Clay be dethroned?
Rafael Nadal enjoyed a sensational clay-court season in 2017, building a 24-1 win-loss record as he swept to an unprecedented 10th French Open crown. Earning 4680 ranking points during this period, it played a pivotal part in the Spaniard’s return to world No.1. But can he hold onto the coveted top spot?
World No.2 Roger Federer has announced he will skip the ATP’s clay-court swing for a second consecutive year, but the 36-year-old will return to No.1 if Nadal fails to defend his Monte Carlo title.
As Nadal is also the defending champion in both Barcelona and Madrid, he can’t actually gain any ranking points until Rome. This means there is a possibility that, despite not entering the second Grand Slam of the season, Federer could be the No.1-ranked man at the start of the French Open for the first time since 2010.
The pressure is also on Novak Djokovic, who has 1500 ranking points to defend. A finalist in Rome and French Open quarterfinalist last year, if the Serb doesn’t quickly return to form he could fall out of the world’s top 20 for the first time since October 2006.
However, nobody carries more pressure on their ranking into the claycourt season than last year’s French Open finalist and Geneva champion, Stan Wawrinka.
|Rank||Player||Points to defend||% of ranking total|
|6||Juan Martin del Potro||310||6%|
|12||Pablo Carreno Busta||800||33%|
|17||Roberto Bautista Agut||460||21%|
One to watch: Grigor Dimitrov only managed four wins on clay last year. It might not be his favourite surface, but he has won an ATP title on clay in the past. With few points to defend, the reigning ATP Finals champion has a great chance to further solidify his top-five spot.
In trouble: Stan Wawrinka’s ranking will freefall if last year’s French Open finalist does not have a good clay swing. After missing six months following knee surgery and struggling in his return, Wawrinka’s 2017 clay points make up 91 per cent of his current ranking total.
Beware: Diego Schwartzman. The clay-loving Argentinean is one of the most improved players on tour and could verge on a top 10 debut with strong performances over the next few weeks.
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