Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic finally return to the court this week in Shanghai, for the first time since the US Open.
(That’s not counting the Laver Cup, of course).
And in the interim, other players have been making their mark on Tour in the 250 and 500-level events that have made up the Asian swing so far.
Notably, on Sunday, a qualifier and an unseeded player won big titles.
Daniil Medvedev, a Russian with a French coach who had to qualify for the main draw, knocked off Canadians Milos Raonic and Denis Shapovalov before routining home-country idol Kei Nishikori in the Tokyo final.
And Nikoloz Basilashvili, who has been having an under-the-radar career season at age 26 in his 11th year as a pro, won Beijing over an ailing Juan Martin del Potro.
However del Potro was feeling on the day, though, Basilashvili was the in-form player through the week. He defeated Jack Sock, Fernando Verdasco and Kyle Edmund along the way, and didn’t lose a set after dropping the first set in his first-round match against Sock in a tiebreak.
ON THE UPSWING
Kevin Anderson (RSA): No. 9 ———> No. 8 (The South African slips past Grigor Dimitrov by 20 points, and into the top eight.
Kyle Edmund (GBR): No. 16 ———> No. 14
Daniil Medvedev (RUS): No. 32 ———> No. 22 (The Tokyo champ jumps 10 spots to a career high with his third title of the season).
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO): No. 34 ———> No. 23 (The Georgian stood at No. 89 before Miami. Now, he’s at a career high and should surpass $2 million in earnings this season).
Denis Shapovalov (CAN): No. 31 ———> No. 29
Alex de Minaur (AUS): No. 38 ———> No. 33 (The undersized Aussie with the huge heart hits a career high and can think about being seeded at his home Slam. He gets Canadian Vasek Pospisil in the first round in Shanghai).
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER): No. 56 ———> No. 49 (With an impressive week in both singles and doubles in Tokyo, he’s at a career No. 23 in doubles, too).
Stan Wawrinka (SUI): No. 74 ———> No. 69
Federico Delbonis (ARG): No. 91 ———> No. 81 (The Argentine celebrated his 28th birthday by reaching the final of a Challenger in Brazil).
Denis Istomin (UZB): No. 103 ———> No. 87 (The hard-working man from Uzbekistan should have nailed down a main draw spot in Melbourne after winning a Challenger in … Uzbekistan).
Pablo Andujar (ESP): No. 117 ———> No. 103
David Ferrer (ESP): No. 147 ———> No. 110 (The winner of the Monterrey Challenger is looking for one last Australian Open main draw?
Ivo Karlovic (CRO): No. 137 ———> No. 117 (Ditto Karlovic, who lost to Ferrer in the Monterrey final and continues on the Challenger circuit this fall – even heading to Calgary, Alberta).
Ernesto Escobedo (USA): No. 220 ———> No. 187
ON THE DOWNSWING
Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP): No. 21 ———> No. 24
Hyeon Chung (KOR): No. 23 ———> No. 26
Nick Kyrgios (AUS): No. 27 ———> No. 38 (Kygios needs to finish strongly to get an Aussie Open seed. Otherwise, he could be that guy NOBODY wants to face in the first round. His ranking hasn’t been this low since Feb. 2016).
Adrian Mannarino (FRA): No. 33 ———> No. 46
Ryan Harrison (USA): No. 49 ———> No. 58 (A back injury is keeping him on the shelf in Asia).
Bernard Tomic (AUS): No. 76 ———> No. 85
Cameron Norrie (GBR): No. 78 ———> No. 89
Evgeny Donskoy (RUS): No. 87 ———> No. 102
Peter Polansky (CAN): No. 122 ———> No. 126
Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN): No. 124 ———> No. 128
Yuichi Sugita (JPN): No. 110 ———> No. 139
Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR): No. 173 ———> No.200
The Road to London
Lots to be decided before the final eight get to London.
The first four spots (Nadal, Djokovic, Federer, del Potro) are sewn up. But four remain.
The Road to Milan
Assuming No. 1 Alexander Zverev takes a pass, as he did a year ago, the rest of these young guns are fighting for the eight spots.