Dominic Thiem and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga were top players that were able to claim titles on the ATP Tour over the last week. Thiem did a number on the Rio draw in Brazil while Tsonga won a home-soil tournament in France. For Thiem, the victory added another clay-court title to his growing total while Tsonga won his second tournament in as many weeks.
Entering Rio, Kei Nishikori was the No. 1 seed in the event. However, the Japanese player fell in the very first round for what was his second straight loss following a loss last week to Alexandr Dolgopolov. As Nishikori fell out of the draw, so went the only player that was ranked higher than 2nd-seeded Thiem. However, based on the Austrian’s form in Rio, it may not have made a difference even if Nishikori was playing well.
Thiem rampaged through the 32-player 500-level tournament with the exact kind of form that we’ve come to expect from him on the clay-court surface. Not only did he win the entire Rio event in straight sets, but he never gave one of his opponents in Rio a look at a tiebreaker. The quality of the competition certainly wasn’t top notch, but Thiem did whip French Open quarterfinalist Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-1, 6-4 in the semifinals.
The title marked the first of Thiem’s 2017 season and 8th of his career to date. If he improves on the hard-court surface over the years ahead then Thiem will clearly develop some major World No. 1 potential, especially as the players ranked above him age out of their prime tennis years.
Tsonga had a very impressive week in his own right. The Frenchman won Rotterdam last week to end a lengthy title drought and he wasn’t too keen on starting another. He won the Marseille draw, dropping just one set all week, and beat Lucas Pouille in the men’s final – yet another case of an #OldGen player beating a much younger opponent. Tsonga also enjoyed a victory over Nick Kyrgios in the semifinals, the two players playing to a 6-4 deciding set.
Winning back-to-back titles in back-to-back weeks is one of the more difficult things for players to do on tour. Tsonga outlasted the Marseille field despite the fact that he should have been far less rested in the tournament following his Rotterdam title. The Frenchman looks dangerous heading into both Indian Wells and Miami. Tsonga will be up to the World No. 7 position on Monday as he leaps over four players.
The other titlist this weekend was Jack Sock of the United States. The American was in the Delray Beach draw where he claimed the 2nd title of this young season. Sock had previously won ATP Auckland ahead of the Australian Open. Multiple titles in any one season is precedent setting for Sock and certainly that he has two 2017 titles before the end of February is a surprising development. Sock, in winning his 3rd career title overall, did not lose a set in Delray Beach this passed week.
However, the final did go uncontested as Milos Raonic was not able to play in the championship match. He withdrew ahead of the final, handing the victory to Sock, with the official score sheet listing a right leg problem.
Looking ahead at this upcoming week, there’s tons going on. Andy Murray and Roger Federer are the headliners in Dubai (500-series/hard). Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Thiem are in the Acapulco draw (500-series/hard). Meanwhile Ramos-Vinolas will aim for a title as the top seed in Sau Paulo (250-series/clay).