While Roger Federer is living the life of Riley in Dubai, preparing for the grass-court season as the rest of the Tour toils on the dirt, he got a rankings gift on Monday.
The 36-year-old is back in the No. 1 spot.
It was always likely to happen during the clay-court season, as rival Rafael Nadal had such a high standard to defend from a year ago.
And so when Nadal was beaten by Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals of Madrid – after winning the tournament in 2017 – the deed was done.
Federer is now 720 points ahead.
Nadal, the top seed in Rome, was a quarterfinalist there last year, out of gas after Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid.
He’s dropping 180 points. To get the No. 1 spot back, he would have to win Rome and earn those 1,000 points. He would then squeeze past Federer and back into the No. 1 spot in the rankings by 100 points going into Paris.
ON THE UPSWING
Kevin Anderson (RSA): No. 8 ———-> No. 7 (Career high for the 31-year-old transplanted South African).
Lucas Pouille (FRA): No. 18———-> No. 16 (The French No. 1 has hardly won a match for awhile, but he moves up two because of the struggles of Djokovic and Berdych).
Kyle Edmund (GBR): No. 22 ———-> No. 19 (The British No. 1 joins the top 20 after his Madrid semifinal).
Denis Shapovalov (CAN): No. 43———> No. 29 (Welcome to the top 30, and a seeded spot in Paris).
Steve Johnson (USA): No. 55 ———-> No. 48 (Back into the top 50 without doing a single thing).
John Millman (AUS): No. 70———-> No. 58 (The unsung Aussie is at a career high after beating more highly-touted countryman Bernard Tomic in the Aix-en-Provence final).
Dusan Lajovic (SRB): No. 95 ———-> No. 66 (The 27-year-old Serb is close to a career high reached 3 1/2 years ago, after going from the qualifying to the quarters in Madrid and beating the likes of Richard Gasquet and Juan Martin del Potro along the way).
Vasek Pospisil (CAN): No. 88 ———> No. 78 (The Canadian is holding his own, working for points on the Asian Challenger circuit).
Bernard Tomic (AUS): No. 243 ———-> No. 191 (Has the resurrection begun? Tomic reaches the Aix-en-Provence Challenger final).
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN): No. 362——–> No. 262 (From the qualifying to the title at the Gimcheon Challenger, the 22-year-old lefty was ranked No. 58 a year ago before tearing his ACL and is on the comeback trail).
ON THE DOWNSWING
Novak Djokovic (SRB): No. 12 ———-> No. 18 (The drop is going to hurt Djokovic’s seeding in Paris, although if he can raise his level somewhere close to its best, that won’t matter).
Kei Nishikori (JPN): No. 20 ———-> No. 24
Borna Coric (CRO): No. 35———-> No. 40
Andy Murray (GBR): No. 39———-> No. 45 (When’s he coming back? Still a question mark).
Frances Tiafoe (USA): No. 56 ———-> No. 63
Pablo Cuevas (URU): No. 57 ———-> No. 71 (The 32-year-old was a semifinalist in Madrid a year ago).
Jeremy Chardy (FRA): No. 74———> No. 89
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA): No. 76 ———-> No. 90
Ernesto Escobedo (USA): No. 151 ———-> No. 162
Reilly Opelka (USA): No. 169 ———-> No. 206
Thomaz Bellucci (BRA): No. 221 ———> No. 249
For the full ATP Tour rankings picture, including the race to London, click here).