With two 500-level events last week, No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 2 Rafael Nadal split up, and each took one.
Djokovic won Dubai, while Nadal won Acapulco.
And in doing so, Djokovic’s lead over his Spanish rival for the No. 1 spot stands at 170 points.
At Indian Wells, things could get interesting. Nadal was a semifinalist a year ago, defending 360 points.
Djokovic, who is undefeated so far this season (18-0!) has just 45 points to defend, from a third-round loss to Philipp Kohlschreiber a year ago.
Meanwhile, Roger Federer’s absence after knee surgery had its first concrete effect on the rankings.
He dropped the 500 points from his ranking earned with his triumph in Dubai a year ago.
And as a result, the idle (for a change) Dominic Thiem jumps over him and into a career-high ranking of No. 3.
The next player who could pass Federer would be Daniil Medvedev.
But he is 740 points behind him. Medvedev defends only 45 points at Indian Wells. If he could win the whole thing …
Stefanos Tsitsipas, entrenched in the No. 6 spot, remains nearly 2,000 spots behind Federer. And Djokovic has more than twice as many points as Tsitsipas does.
ON THE UPSWING
Karen Khachanov (RUS): No. 17 ========= No. 15 (A step in the right direction after a quarterfinal finish in Dubai. But still a ways from his career high of No. 8).
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL): No. 22 ========= No. 19 (Back into the top 20 after getting to the Acapulco semis).
Taylor Fritz (USA): No. 35 ========= No. 24 (The 22-year-old reaches a career high after making the Acapulco final, losing to Rafael Nadal).
Daniel Evans (GBR): No. 37 ========= No. 28 (Into the top 30 for the first time, at age 29, and a career high for Dubai semifinalist Dan Evans).
Milos Raonic (CAN): No. 32 ========= No. 30 (Back into the top 30 without having to swing a racket. He’ll look for a big result at Indian Wells, where he has traditionally done pretty well).
Casper Ruud (NOR): No. 38 ========= No. 36 (The 21-year-old reached the Santiago final to complete a solid South American swing. He came into it ranked No. 46.
Richard Gasquet (FRA): No. 56 ========= No. 50 (The French veteran eases back into the top 50 after a quarterfinal in Dubai. It’s been a rough six months with a groin injury).
Tommy Paul (USA): No. 66 ========= No. 57 (The appealing American’s rise has been slow but steady – and he hits another career high after going from the qualifying to the quarters in Acapulco).
Soonwoo Kwon (KOR): No. 76 ========= No. 69 (The obscure Korean has had a good swing through the US and Acapulco – and reaches a career high after making the quarters in Mexico. He began the season at No. 88)
Dennis Novak (AUT): No. 96 ========= No. 85 (The tattooed Austrian, at 26, reaches a career high after his effort in Dubai).
Thiago Seyboth Wild (BRA): No. 182 ========= No. 113 (Similarly to fellow teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez in Acapulco, the 19-year-old from Brazil reaches a career high and makes a big leap in the rankings. But in his case, he won – taking the title in Santiago to earn his first career ATP Tour title. And as a wild card, too).
The youngest player to win a title on the 'Golden Swing' since Rafael Nadal in 2005!
Well played, 🇧🇷 @thiagoswild 🏆
— ATP Tour (@atptour) March 1, 2020
J.J. Wolf (USA): No. 163 ========= No. 144 (A carer high for the 21-year-old American, who put aside his collegiate career for the pros, and won the Columbus Challenger Sunday).
Arthur Rinderknech (FRA): No. 206 ========= No. 160 (A Challenger final in Drummondville and a title in Calgary Sunday hoisted the 24-year-old Frenchman to a career high. Yay, Canada. The late starter on Tour – he spent four years at Texas A&M – was at No. 416 a year ago, and No. 1,065 two years ago).
Ernests Gulbis (LAT): No. 220 ========= No. 161 (The 31-year-old’s ranking is bobbing up and down like an apple so far in 2020. But winning the Pau Challenger helps on the upswing).
Maxime Cressy (USA): No. 191 ========= No. 164 (A title in Drummondville, and the final in Calgary help the French-born American to a career high).
Renzo Olivo (ARG): No. 297 ========= No. 206 (A nice move for the former world No. 78).
ON THE DOWNSWING
Borna Coric (CRO): No. 28 ========= No. 33
Nick Kyrgios (AUS): No. 23 ========= No. 39 (The 2019 Acapulco champion tried to make it to Acapulco to defend, after withdrawing from New York and Delray Beach the previous two weeks. He got there. But he couldn’t get out of the first round, and so his ranking drops quite a bit).
Ricardas Berankis (LTU): No. 62 ========= No. 72
Cameron Norrie (GBR): No. 58 ========= No. 77 (As high as No. 41 just before last year’s French Open, Norrie drops after losing in the first round in Acapulco. He was a semifinalist there a year ago).
Laslo Djere (SRB): No. 67 ========= No. 80 (What goes up on the South American swing, can also go down the following year. Djere is emblematic of that as he earned 590 points a year ago with a title and a final. This year, 110 points).
Mackenzie McDonald (USA): No. 196 ========= No. 272 (The American, who is back from injury on a protected ranking, loses the quarterfinal points he earned in Acapulco – he lost in the first round this year).
Acapulco champions Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo both move up three spots, and are in a tie for No. 5 in the rankings.
Michael Venus (who won Dubai with John Peers), goes from No. 14 to No. 11.
Australian Open champions Ram and Salisbury, and finalists Purcell and Saville, remain the top two teams in the race to London. ‘
That leader board will morph considerably in the next eight months. But one team that might well be there is the new tandem of Henri Kontinen and Jan-Lennard Struff.
The pair has had to get through qualifying at a couple events over the last month. But they are already No. 4 in the race after just five tournaments together as a team. If there were any betting in tennis, we’d put a nickel on them being among the top eight teams by October.
Race to London
Roger Federer is probably well beyond worrying about whether he’ll make London again this year.
But you can see that the young guns are all around him. And the next one who could pass him on the list is Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime.
Meanwhile, Nadal’s win in Acapulco moves him up to No. 4 – but more than 2,000 points behind Novak Djokovic in the points tally for the 2020 season so far.