The first step in Rafael Nadal’s defense of the massive amount of ranking points he accumulated during the 2017 clay-court campaign was accomplished.
He remains just 100 points ahead of the idle Roger Federer – on a razor’s edge in terms of keeping his No. 1 ranking.
Anything but a defense of his Barcelona title this week means that Federer will return to the top spot next Monday.
And Nadal has Kei Nishikori as a potential third-round opponent and Novak Djokovic as a potential quarter-final opponent. So if he is to do it, he will have done it the hard way.
Meanwhile, his semifinal effort means young German Alexander Zverev rises one spot to match his career-high No. 3 ranking.
On the Upswing
Kei Nishikori (JPN): No. 36 ———–> No. 22 (A few more good results at all the upcoming high-level tournaments, and it won’t be long until Nishikori is back where he should be).
Richard Gasquet (FRA): No. 34 ———–> No. 29
Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER): No. 40 ———–> No. 35
Denis Shapovalov (CAN): No. 45 ———–> No. 43 (He lost first round in Monte Carlo, but still moves up two spots to a career high)
Andreas Seppi (ITA): No. 62 ———–> No. 55
Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE): No. 71 ———–> No. 63 (career high for the 19-year-old)
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA): No. 82 ———–> No. 73
Marcelo Arevalo (ESA): No. 181———–> No. 142 (The 27-year-old, a rare player out of El Salvador and a top-10 junior in the world exactly a decade ago because of great results on the South American clay, reaches a career high after winning the Guadalajara Challenger – on hard courts).
Hugo Dellien (BOL: No. 231 ———–> No. 172 (The 24-year-old wins the Sarasota Challenger beating Mmoh and Kozlov along the way and hits a career high. In 2011, he was the No. 2 junior in the world, and a frequent doubles partner of Dominic Thiem’s).
Reilly Opelka (USA): No. 211 ———–> No. 192
On the Downswing
Lucas Pouille (FRA): No. 11 ———–> No. 14
Diego Schwartzman (ARG): No. 15 ———–> No. 17
Stan Wawrinka (SUI): No. 21 ———–> No. 25
Andy Murray (GBR): No. 29 ———–> No. 34
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA): No. 35 ———–> No. 39
Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP): No. 24 ———–> No. 40 (Last year’s Monte Carlo finalist doesn’t repeat, leaving him in a tougher position to remain among the seeds at the French Open).
Pablo Cuevas (URU): No. 41 ———–> No. 46
Frances Tiafoe (USA): No. 56 ———–> No. 62
Vasek Pospisil (CAN): No. 77 ———–> No.82
Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE): No. 98 ———–> No. 114
Jerzy Janowicz (POL): No. 178 ———–> No. 180 (Where are you, JJ?)
Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN): No. 175 ———–> No. 186 (The danger of getting Masters 1000 wild cards at a young age is that it’s tough to defend points earned the previous year at a lower level – in this case, on the Chinese clay-court circuit).