The ATP Tour season is finally, definitively, well and truly over.
It ends with a look to the future, as 21-year-old Alexander Zverev takes the ATP Tour Finals title (and the 1,500 points that go with it).
He defeated Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic back to back, both in straight sets, to do it.
And with that victory, he blows by the injury-sidelined Juan Martin del Potro to finish the season at No. 4.
Notably, he’s just 35 points behind Roger Federer at No. 3.
Federer has to defend his Australian Open title two months from now (Yes, WAY too soon to even process the new season being so close). Zverev lost to Hyeon Chung in the third round in Melbourne this year.
So even though the top three in three in the ATP Tour rankings are the same as they were back in 2008 (if not in the same order), the stranglehold on those spots by the “old guard” whenever they’ve been healthy (and we include Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray in the old guard) could end as soon as then.
Zverev did stand at No. 3 for two weeks this time a year ago. And he was there from April through August of 2018. But it wouldn’t be controversial to claim that during that period, he was essentially holding a spot for the surging Djokovic, who had to rise up from No. 22 around the time of the French Open.
The next time the 21-year-old gets there, it’s going to be significantly more challenging to unseat him.
There are no changes at all from No. 6 through No. 32.
ON THE UPSWING
Alexander Zverev (GER): No. 5 ———–> No. 4 (The ATP Tour Finals champion ends up just 35 points behind Roger Federer as the season ends).
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN): No. 80 ———–> No. 76 (Down at No. 380 in April as he returned from knee surgery, the 23-year-old makes the semis at home in Kobe, Japan and finishes inside the top 80. Impressive comeback season.
Bradley Klahn (USA): No. 97 ———–> No. 77 (Ranked No. 220 at the Australian Open, the 28-year-old wins the Houston Challenger and completes an impressive season).
Pablo Andujar (ESP): No. 99 ———–> No. 83 (Andujar is another great comeback story. After three elbow surgeries, ranked No. 1821 in February, Andujar wins the Buenos Aires Challenger without dropping a set and sits at his highest ranking since 2016).
Reilly Opelka (USA): No. 116 ———–> No. 98 (The 6-foot-11 American’s progressed was slowed down by injury. But he leaps into the top 100 for the first time (and into a main-draw spot without needing the USTA wild card in Melbourne after winning the Knoxville and Champaign Challengers back to back).
Ivo Karlovic (CRO): No. 102 ———–> No. 99 (The big man efforted hard down on the Challenger circuit to get himself back into the top 100. And he did it).
Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND): No. 144 ———–> No. 110 (The 29-year-old wins the Bangalore Challenger and leaps to a career high. He’s the No. 4 seed at the Pune Challenger this week. If he makes the final, he’d have a real good shot at getting straight into the Australian Open).
Tommy Paul (USA): No. 215 ———–> No. 205
Ryan Shane (USA): No. 577 ———–> No. 394 (The 24-year-old former UVA star went from the qualifying to the final in Champaign, and leaped to a career high).
ON THE DOWNSWING
Juan Martin del Potro (ARG): No. 4 ———–> No. 5
Nicolas Jarry (CHI): No. 39 ———–> No. 43
Matthew Ebden (AUS): No. 41 ———–> No. 46
Lukas Lacko (SVK): No. 96 ———–> No. 115 (The 31-year-old didn’t play last week or this week, even though he was defending a Challenger title last week). So it looks like he was resigned to having to hit the qualies in Melbourne).
Yuki Bhambri (IND): No. 107 ———–> No. 128
Bjorn Fratangelo (USA): No. 125 ———–> No. 136
Tim Smyczek (USA): No. 143 ———–> No. 172
Brayden Schnur (CAN): No. 233 ———–> No. 189 (Schnur has had his ups and downs this year. But a good result last week (and he’s already through his first round this week in Pune) at least assures he’ll finish about where he started. Schnur’s career high of No. 183 came at the start of the Australian Open in January).
Doubles musical chairs
With all the points at stake in London, and with relative parity at the top, the results in London moved the doubles rankings around quite a bit.
And with the title, American Jack Sock jumps up to No. 2. It ties the career best he held for four weeks after winning the US Open.
The race to Melbourne
The deadline for entry into the Australian Open singles draw is Dec. 3.
So time’s running out, with the final two Challengers of the season taking place this week.
Here are the guys on the bubble. The top 104 get entry. But the number of players with injury-protected rankings who will enter won’t be clearer until it gets closer.
With the new rules, and the potential fines for playing when you’re not fit, even the big prize money for losing first round isn’t always enough any more for an injured player wanting a pay day. So you’d expect that number to decrease. But getting into the top 100 or awfully close is a decent guarantee.
Active this week: Radu Albot (No. 1 seed in Pune), Ugo Humbert (No. 1 seed in Andria), Prajnesh Gunneswaran (No. 4 seed in Pune), Lorenzo Sonego (No. 2 seed in Andria), Paolo Lorenzi (No. 3 seed in Andria).