As with the women, the top men mostly took the week off this week (with the notable exception of Alexander Zverev in Marrakech) as they rev it up this week at the Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo.
Well, most of them, anyway.
In the meantime, there was another first-time winner as 22-year-old Cristian Garin of Chile hosted an ATP-level trophy for the first time in Houston.
Garin defeated Pablo Cuevas, Jérémy Chardy and Sam Querrey on his way to the title, which he won over young Norwegian Casper Ruud.
The Chilean reached the final at the tournament in Sao Paulo, Brazil over the winter, losing to Guido Pella in the final.
In Marrakech, Benoit Paire and Pablo Andujar battled in a final for the second time in three weeks. At a Challenger in Marbella, Spain at the end of March, Andujar defeated Paire 6-4 in the third set.
After losing in the first round in four of his previous five ATP Tour level events, it was a nice turnaround for Paire.
Both Garin and Paire jump into the top 50 (for Paire, more familiar territory) with their titles.
There are no changes in the top 20.
ON THE UPSWING
Benoit Paire (FRA): No. 69 ————> No. 43
Cristian Garin (CHI): No. 73 ————> No. 47 (The 22-year-old Chilean won his first career ATP Tour title on the red clay in Houston, and leaps into the top 50. After the Australian Open, he stood at No. 95).
Sam Querrey (USA): No. 71 ————> No. 66
Casper Ruud (NOR): No. 95 ————> No. 68 (A career high for the 20-year-old from Norway, whose father Christian was a fine player).
Bernard Tomic (AUS): No. 79 ————> No. 73
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA): No. 116 ————> No. 102 (It appears Tsonga can play Paris on own comeback ranking, or the French federation can save the wild card for someone else. Either way, it has to feel good).
Dennis Novak (AUT): No. 156 ————> No. 122 (The 25-year-old is at a career high after beating Sergiy Stakhovsky to win the Taiwan Challenger).
ON THE DOWNSWING
Richard Gasquet (FRA): No. 26 ————> No. 30
Joao Sousa (POR): No. 43 ————> No. 51
Steve Johnson (USA): No. 39 ————> No. 59 (The American, No. 1 seed in Houston, lost his first match to qualifier Daniel Elahi Galan of Colombia. Johnson had beaten five Americans (four of them in three sets) to win the title a year ago).
Taylor Fritz (USA): No. 58 ————> No. 65
Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG): No. 66 ————> No. 79 (Londero is going to start to encounter that purgatory for players who have gotten their rankings high enough to get off the Challenger tour. The Argentine went from the qualifying to the title at a $100,000 event in Mexico City a year ago, earning 105 points. His second-round defeat in Marrakech earned him only 20).
Pablo Andujar (ESP): No. 70 ————> No. 86 (Andujar reached the Marrakech final – but he won it last year).
Ivo Karlovic (CRO): No. 77 ————> No. 97 (The big Croat was a semifinalist in Houston a year ago, but lost to Ryan Harrison in the first round this year).
Tomas Berdych (CZE): No. 97 ————> No. 98 (Berdych, who entered Monte Carlo with a protected ranking of No. 57, withdrew from the event in the week before the draw).
Tennys Sandgren (USA): No. 81 ————> No. 111 (The American was a Houston finalist a year ago. But he was beaten in the first round by Janko Tipsarevic this year. A direct entry into Monte Carlo last year, he’ll be the No. 2 seed at the Sarasota Open instead).
Marco Trungelliti (ARG): No. 127 ————> No. 139 (Worse, he withdrew from the Monte Carlo qualifying before his final-round match).
Jack Sock (USA): No. 137 ————> No. 149 (Still no word on when Sock will return. From the video he posted a month ago, he was impressively hitting – with his left hand. And very clearly protecting his right. So it’s hard to tell. In the meantime, he seems to have a new girlfriend – 22-year-old Laura Little, a model and cheerleader for the NBA’s Charlotte franchise. He lost his beloved grandmother and made a bucket-list trip to the Masters with his family. So otherwise, life seems pretty good).
THE ROAD TO ROLAND
Depending on how many protected rankings are used, it’s unclear how much the main-draw cutoff will deviate from the “standard” No. 104.
And we still don’t know if Juan Martin del Potro is anywhere close to returning in time for Paris.
But a few players helped their causes last week, while Tennys Sandgren put himself out of contention to get straight into Paris.
(Screenshots from TennisTV. For the complete ATP Tour rankings picture, click here).