Kevin Anderson not only won the ATP Tour 500 event in Vienna, he also qualified for the Tour Finals in London for the very first time in his career, at age 32.
As well, he moved up to No. 6 in the rankings – one short of his career high, reached after reaching the Wimbledon final in July.
All in all, a very productive week.
Vienna finalist Kei Nishikori didn’t budge even though he had no points to defend. He is, however just 125 points away from the top 10. And he’s still in position grab a spot in London.
Meanwhile, American Jack Sock finally dropped out of the top 20, to No. 23.
But this week is the definer for he 26-year-old American, after a brutal season on the singles side.
Still seeded (he squeezed in at No. 16) at the Paris Masters, Sock awaits the winner of a match between Richard Gasquet and Canadian Denis Shapovalov.
Sock defends 1,000 points from his surprise title in Paris a year ago (which vaulted him to a career-high No. 8). He also drops the 400 points he earned at the Tour Finals (which he cannot defend).
So his stark reality is this: If Sock loses his first match in Paris, he’ll drop out of the top 140. Even he if somehow manages to reach the quarterfinals (a road that runs through Rafael Nadal in the third round), he sill would be forced to qualify at the Australian Open – although he’d only be a few spots out of the main draw.
It’s a lot of pressure. But in another sense, it’s almost no pressure. Because at least it’s finally arrived, after weighing on his shoulders for most of the past few months.
ON THE UPSWING
Kevin Anderson (RSA): No. 8 ————–> No. 6
Daniil Medvedev (RUS): No. 20 ————–> No. 17 (Despite putting up a stinker vs. Federer in the Basel semifinals, he hits a career high as does countryman Karen Khachanov, who checks in one spot behind him).
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO): No. 24 ————–> No. 22 (Another career high for the 26-year-old).
Fernando Verdasco (ESP): No. 30 ————–> No. 27
Gael Monfils (FRA): No. 33 ————–> No. 30 (He’s skipping Paris. But he can hope for a seed in Paris and, notably, becomes the French No. 1 again)
Andreas Seppi (ITA): No. 43 ————–> No. 37 (At 34, Seppi is still just always around).
Taylor Fritz (USA): No. 57 ————–> No. 49 (He turned 21 Sunday, is going to Milan, and reaches a career best and hits the top 50. Good week).
Sam Querrey (USA): No. 56 ————–> No. 51
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ): No. 71 ————–> No. 54
Marius Copil (ROU): No. 93 ————–> No. 60 (The best week of his career, beating No. 5, No. 6 and reaching the Basel final from the qualifying. Not only did he acquit himself well against Roger Federer (and the Hawkeye gods), he won over a ton of new fans with his humor and command of German. It’s a career high, at age 28).
Hubert Hurkacz (POL): No. 91 ————–> No. 79 (The 21-year-old reaches a career high after winning the Brest Challenger)
Jordan Thompson (AUS): No. 101 ————–> No. 87 (Traralgon Challenger champion)
Christian Garin (CHI): No. 102 ————–> No. 89 (The Lima Challenger winner gets to a career best at age 24, after a couple of years stalled in the 150-200 range. It’s his third consecutive Challenger title – 15 straight wins. After qualifying for his first two Grand Slam main draws this year at Wimbledon (12-10 in the fifth set in the final round against John-Patrick Smith) and the US Open, he’ll be straight into Melbourne
Alexei Popyrin (AUS): No. 174 ————–> No. 150 (The 19-year-old reaches a career high after qualifying and defeating top-40 countryman Matthew Ebden in the first round of Basel).
Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS): No. 192 ————–> No. 154 (It feels as though his comeback has been achingly slow. But the Las Vegas Challenger winner, still only 22, didn’t drop a set this week after losing in the first round of his two previous fall Challengers.
ON THE DOWNSWING
Diego Schwartzman (ARG): No. 17 ————–> No. 19
Jack Sock (USA): No. 18 ————–> No. 23 (Sock’s final week of 2018 is a determining one in terms of how and where he begins 2019).
Lucas Pouille (FRA): No. 23 ————–> No. 32 (It’s a far more low-key struggle than Sock. But Pouille has also had a testing season).
Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER): No. 34 ————–> No. 43
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA): No. 50 ————–> No. 57
Ryan Harrison (USA): No. 59 ————–> No. 64
Julien Benneteau (FRA): No. 63 ————–> No. 72 (Benneteau has still been playing singles, because of the Davis Cup final coming up. But he’s calling it a career after that – and already has a job as the new French Fed Cup captain).
Jozef Kovalik (SVK): No. 80————-> No. 93
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA): No. 113 ————–> No. 256 (It looks worse than it is, because he can count on a protected ranking and some wild cards. But the 33-year-old has work to do).
The Race to London