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Ranking Reaction: Andy Murray at highest ranking in five years after victory in Aix-en-Provence
Also: Jan-Lennard Struff soars to a new career-high, the battle for No. 1 heats up on both the ATP and WTA rankings, and American Taylor Townsend breaks into the Top 10 in doubles.
Published May 08, 2023
There are a number of notable movers on both the ATP and WTA rankings today after the Mutua Madrid Open—a Masters 1000 for the men and a WTA 1000 for the women—but one of the most meaningful ranking jumps came out of one of last week's Challenger events.
While most eyes were on Madrid, Andy Murray was battling his way to the Challenger 175 title in Aix-en-Provence, France, rallying from a set down to defeat No. 17-ranked Tommy Paul in the final, 2-6, 6-1, 6-2.
It was Murray’s first title at any level since he won the ATP 250 event in Antwerp in 2019, his first clay-court title at any level since he won the Masters 1000 event in Rome in 2016, and his first Challenger title since 2005, which is the longest gap between Challenger titles in history.
And his reward for his triumph in Aix-en-Provence? The former No. 1 rises from No. 52 to No. 42 on the new ATP rankings, which is actually his highest ranking in five years, since he was No. 39 the week of May 7th, 2018. At that time he was still off the tour after undergoing his first hip surgery in January 2018—he returned to action in June 2018 ranked No. 156, so this is his highest ranking since he returned to the tour following that first hip surgery. He would have a second hip surgery in 2019, too.
Murray didn’t play Rome or Roland Garros last year, so he has a good chance to add even more points over the next several weeks.
Madrid produced some major shake-ups on the ATP rankings, too: Jan-Lennard Struff, who had previously gone as high as No. 29 in 2020, soars from No. 65 to a new career-high of No. 28 after becoming the first lucky loser ever to reach a Masters 1000 final; Aslan Karatsev, a former No. 14, rises from No. 121 to No. 53 after coming through qualifying to reach his first Masters 1000 semifinal; and Zhang Zhizhen moves up from No. 99 to No. 69, shattering his previous career-high of No. 91, after becoming the first Chinese player ever to reach a Masters 1000 quarterfinal.
Over on the WTA rankings, Elena Rybakina rises from No. 7 to a new high of No. 6 despite falling in her opening match in Madrid, after Ons Jabeur dips from No. 4 to No. 7 after being unable to defend her title due to injury—Caroline Garcia and Coco Gauff rise back to No. 4 and No. 5, too.
Also: American Emma Navarro breaks into the Top 100, rising from No. 101 to No. 83 after a two-week period that saw her win a $60,000 ITF event in Charlottesville, Virginia and then reach the quarterfinals at the WTA 125K event in Saint Malo, France; and former No. 3 Elina Svitolina more than halves her ranking from No. 1,088 to No. 540 after reaching the semis in Saint Malo in her fifth tournament back as a mom-on-tour.
And a special shout-out to two women who make their Top 10 debuts on the WTA doubles rankings this week: American Taylor Townsend jumps from No. 14 to No. 6 after reaching the semifinals of Madrid with Leylah Fernandez; and Beatriz Haddad Maia goes from No. 20 to No. 10 after winning the WTA 1000 event alongside Victoria Azarenka.
Since returning to the tour last spring as a mom-on-tour, Townsend's doubles highlights include reaching the Roland Garros semifinals (with Madison Keys) and the US Open final (with Caty McNally) last year, winning two WTA 500 titles in Adelaide earlier this year (with different partners) and another final in Miami six weeks ago (with Fernandez).
And finally, the battles for No. 1 heat up this week, too.
Novak Djokovic will spend his record-extending 386th and 387th career weeks at No. 1 on the ATP rankings during the two weeks of Rome, but if Carlos Alcaraz just plays his first match in Rome—not even needing to win it—he will return to the top spot after the tournament on May 22nd.
The two are currently separated by just five ranking points (6,775 to 6,770). Djokovic is defending 1,000 points in Rome for winning the title a year ago, while Alcaraz missed the event due to injury so is defending zero points—and an opening-round loss would still give him 10 points.
Iga Swiatek will keep her No. 1 ranking after Rome no matter what happens during the WTA 1000 event, but No. 2-ranked Aryna Sabalenka could keep closing the gap. Going into the tournament that gap is 1,744 points (9,625 to 7,881). Swiatek is defending 900 points for winning the title last year, while Sabalenka is defending 350 points for reaching the semis (where she lost to Swiatek). The points distribution this year has changed slightly as it’s now a 96-draw, but even in the most extreme scenario where Swiatek falls in her opening match and Sabalenka wins the title, Swiatek would still hold onto the top spot (by 204 points).