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Ranking Reaction: Medvedev passes Nadal for No. 2, Sabalenka now No. 4
Daniil Medvedev bumped Rafael Nadal to No. 3 again this week, putting the Spaniard in danger of not getting a Top 2 seed at Roland Garros. Meanwhile, Aryna Sabalenka cracked the WTA's Top 5 for the first time.
Published May 10, 2021
With just three weeks to go until Roland Garros, the tension is building about who will be seeded where at the second Grand Slam of the year. And this week, there is another major development near the top of the ATP rankings, as Daniil Medvedev passed Rafael Nadal for No. 2 again.
If Medvedev holds onto that No. 2 ranking until the seeds are made in two weeks, it would mean Nadal would be the No. 3 seed in Paris. He would then potentially be on the same half of the draw as No. 1 Novak Djokovic, and maybe even the other member of the Big 3, current No. 8 Roger Federer.
It’s still technically possible for Nadal to wrestle No. 2 back from Medvedev over the next two weeks. Another Masters 1000 event kicked off its main draw Sunday in Rome, where the Spaniard is a nine-time champion, and he could also enter one of the two ATP 250s next week, in Geneva or Lyon.
Both Nadal and Medvedev had earlier-than-expected losses in Madrid this past week. Medvedev lost third round to Cristian Garin, while Nadal lost to eventual winner Alexander Zverev in the quarters.
“I’ve been able to reach quarterfinals in Monte Carlo, win in Barcelona and reach quarterfinals here, and I feel like I’ve been moving forward. We’ll see what happens in Rome,” Nadal told ATPTour.com.
“For me, the objective before Roland Garros is to go to Rome and win it. That’s the truth."
Towards the other end of the Top 10, Matteo Berrettini finally broke out of a 29-week stall at No. 10, moving up to No. 9 after reaching the biggest final of his career in Madrid. The Italian has been ranked as high as No. 8 before, but had been stuck at No. 10 since the week of October 29, 2020.
After withdrawing mid-tournament at the Australian Open due to an abdominal injury, Berrettini was out for almost two months, and he lost his first match back in Monte Carlo. But since then, he’s been on a tear, winning the ATP 250 in Belgrade ahead of his first Masters 1000 final at the Caja Magica.
“It’s definitely an unbelievable feeling, especially coming from Monte Carlo, where I wasn’t feeling that good,” the Italian said during his run to the Madrid final. “It’s a really good moment for me.”
It’s also a really good moment for the man Berrettini beat in the semifinals in Madrid, Casper Ruud. The 22-year-old rose from No. 22 to No. 16 this week after reaching his third semifinal in the last four Masters 1000s. He was also a semifinalist in Rome last fall and in Monte Carlo three weeks ago.
Ruud is the first Norwegian player to break into the Top 20 on either the ATP or WTA rankings.
Elsewhere, Alexander Bublik made his Top 40 debut, rising from No. 44 to No. 40 after advancing to his second Masters 1000 quarterfinal of the year in Madrid, having also done it in Miami; and Dominik Koepfer made his Top 50 debut, rising from No. 53 to No. 50 after a second-round showing in Madrid.
Meanwhile, there was a big breakthrough on the WTA rankings. Aryna Sabalenka rose from her previous career-high of No. 7 up to No. 4 after winning the fourth WTA 1000 title of her career in Madrid, adding to previous triumphs at Wuhan in 2018 and 2019 and Doha in 2020.
“That’s unbelievable. That’s crazy. I’m really happy with this improvement,” the Belarusian said when told of her new career-high ranking. “There are still a lot of things to improve, too. Yeah, of course, I’m really happy, but I’m also not really focusing on the ranking. I’m more focusing on my game.
“No. 4, this is not No. 1. There are still a lot of things to work on and to improve.”
Sabalenka is now the second-highest-ranked Belarusian player in WTA rankings history, passing Natasha Zvereva, who got to a career-high of No. 5. Victoria Azarenka is the highest, getting to No. 1.
And a bit further down on the WTA rankings, Paula Badosa made her Top 50 debut, jumping from No. 62 to No. 42 after reaching her biggest semifinal to date in Madrid. The wild card entrant was the first Spanish woman to make the final four at the WTA 1000 event since it debuted on the calendar in 2009.