In two late-season 250 events, there were a couple of somewhat out-of-the-box champions in fields where, for the most part, they were anyone’s titles.
In Zhuhai, in the first year of the event at that location, No. 7 seed Alex de Minaur of Australia overcame unseeded Adrian Mannarino to win his third tournament of 2019.
In Chengdu, unseeded Pablo Carreño Busta defeated unseeded Alexander Bublik of Kazakstan in a crazy final – 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-6 (3) that put a bow on the Spaniard’s return this year from back woes suffered early on, during the South American clay-court swing.
Carreño Busta, who dipped into the top 10 just two years ago, wins his first title of the season and the fourth of his career. And he does his ranking a whole lot of good.
For de Minaur, still just 20, it’s been a season in three acts.
He began beautiful Down Under, winning the title in Sydney. He then missed about six weeks after an early exit at Indian Wells, and didn’t win a match until the French Open.
The grass-court season was pedestrian. Then he returned in Atlanta and won the title there. He made the second week at the US Open as well. And he’s back in the top 25.
There were no changes in the top 10.
ON THE UPSWING
Alex de Minaur (AUS): No. 31 ==========> No. 26 (De Minaur made the semis in Shenzhen last year – which was where Zhuhai was before it relocated). So he doesn’t move as much as he might have in the rankings).
Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP): No. 63 ==========> No. 39 (A nice boost for the 28-year-old Spaniard after winning Chengdu).
Adrian Mannarino (FRA): No. 61 ==========> No. 43 (He doesn’t make a lot of noise, but another good result from the 31-year-old Frenchman helps make his number nicer).
Alexander Bublik (KAZ): No. 71 ==========> No. 57 (This 22-year-old is a fun one to watch. He was at No. 162 to start the season).
Tommy Paul (USA): No. 87 ==========> No. 81 (Paul was at No. 343 a year ago when he played Tiburon. This year, he wins it and moves his ranking to a career-high No. 81).
Mikael Ymer (SWE): No. 105 ==========> No. 83 (First Swede to even hit the top 100 since Robin Soderling seven years ago, the 21-year-old is only 4-4 on the season at the ATP level, but wins the top-level Challenger in Orléans to make the leap).
Lloyd Harris (RSA): No. 111 ==========> No. 99
Sumit Nagal (IND): No. 161 ==========> No. 135 (The 22-year-old from India hits a career high by winning the Buenos Aires Challenger).
Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS): No. 183 ==========> No. 161 (Kokkinakis reached the final of the Tiburon Challenger on Sunday – only to be overcome by Tommy Paul and a situation we may well end up calling “Pee-Gate).
Marco Trungelliti (ARG): No. 205 ==========> No. 167 (The Argentine opted for Florence Italy over his native Argentina last week, as he lives in Andorra and because of the treatment he has suffered at home in the wake of being a match-fixing whistleblower. He wins the Firenze Tennis Cup).
Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (USA): No. 214==========> No. 188 (The 24-year-old American out of the college ranks busts into the top 200 with a semifinal effort in Tiburon).
ON THE DOWNSWING
Milos Raonic (CAN): No. 25 ==========> No. 27 (After Laver Cup, the Canadian pulled out of the Asian swing. He’s due back in Vienna).
Sam Querrey (USA): No. 45 ==========> No. 55 (Querrey seems to sort of be in a bit of limbo in the mid section of the top 100, neither falling too far down or jumping too far up).
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA): No. 56==========> No. 66 (Reportedly out for a few weeks).
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN): No. 60 ==========> No. 77
Brayden Schnur (CAN): No. 95 ==========> No. 100 (When the Canadian looks back on his career, he’s going to make sure he forgets the pair of bagels Pablo Andujar laid on him in the first round of qualifying in Tokyo over the weekend).
Matthew Ebden (AUS): No. 123 ==========> No. 140 (The Aussie has hardly played since the Citi Open at the end of July).
Bernard Tomic (AUS): No. 109 ==========> No. 191 (The ranking chickens come home to roost for Tomic. A year ago, he went from the qualifying to the title in Chengdu – beating Fabio Fognini in a third-set tiebreak in the final (and winning two other matches in third-set tiebreaks along the way). This year? Tomic retires down 1-6, 1-3 in the first round of Chengdu qualifying. And then on Saturday in Beijing, he gets a walkover in the first round of qualifying – then retires at 2-2 in the first set to Jérémy Chardy in the final round. He’s been good at keeping his ranking around or inside the top 100 all season. But this one means Qualies City in Melbourne.
Vasek Pospisil (CAN): No. 223 ==========> No. 245 (Pospisil had a nice win over Andreas Seppi in the Beijing qualies, but couldn’t follow it up despite winning the first against Dan Evans).
Michael Mmoh (USA): No. 208 ==========> No. 288 (Last year’s Tiburon champion went out in the first round this year to Brandon Nakashima).
Andy Murray: (USA): No. 413 ==========> No. 503 (A decent win streak will fix this number, and Murray plans to play a lot to try to get it. With a protected of No. 2, he’s good. But a year ago he reached the Shenzhen (now Zhuhai) quarterfinals. The doubles ranking is hanging in at No. 91).