Dominic Thiem has climbed to world No. 3 in the ATP rankings, leapfrogging the injured Roger Federer, despite not playing a match this week, while Novak Djokovic extended his lead at the top over Rafael Nadal.
Federer, who underwent knee surgery earlier this month, was unable to defend the 500 points he gained from winning in Dubai in 2019 meaning Thiem, the 26-year-old Austrian with a one-handed backhand, jumped up a spot to reach a career-high ranking.
Thiem has made a strong case to be considered as the best player behind top-ranked Djokovic and Nadal over the past 12 months.
He’s finished runner-up in two of the last four Grand Slams – most recently suffering a five-set defeat to world No. 1 Djokovic at the Australian Open – adding greater consistency to his results, most notably on hard courts.
Current ATP top-10
Dubbed by some as the ‘Prince of Clay’ – the successor to the throne so long occupied by Nadal – Thiem may well be Federer’s best hope of keeping his nose in front in the all-time men’s Grand Slams won leaderboard.
Federer, who will be absent from the tour until the grass-court season after undergoing knee surgery, sits one major title ahead of great rival Nadal. Nadal will enter the next Slam, the French Open – where he’s won 12 times before, as the heavy favourite.
But Thiem, whose game has always been ready-made for clay, may yet throw a spanner in the works for Nadal’s career-long pursuit of Federer’s Grand Slams haul.
Second only to Djokovic in the Race To London – the rankings system that only takes into account results in a calendar year – Thiem represents the biggest threat to the established dominance of the ‘Big Three’ and he and Djokovic are Federer’s best hopes of Nadal being stopped at Roland Garros.
Federer would no doubt prefer to see the title held aloft by Thiem in June, with 17-time major winner Djokovic also perilously close to his 20-Slam record. Djokovic, to most observer’s eyes, is the most likely to end his career with the most Grand Slam titles.
Djokovic, who won the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships this week – beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final, extended his lead over Nadal, the Mexican Open champion – who beat Taylor Fritz to win the title, at the top of the ATP rankings to 370 points.
It was a good week for British players, with Dan Evans and Heather Watson climbing up the rankings.
Evans, a beaten semi-finalist in Dubai, climbed inside the top-30 for the first time in his career, with Watson also moving up the leaderboard to world No. 49 after her impressive run to the title in Acapulco.
Most Grand Slam titles (ATP)
20 – Federer
19 – Nadal
17 – Djokovic
14 – Sampras
Her win over Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez means there are now four British players in the top-50 of the WTA and the ATP rankings.
Watson and Johanna Konta, who will face the recently returned four-time Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters in Monterrey in her next match, are both top-50 WTA players, while Kyle Edmund joins Evans in the ATP top-50.
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