Photo : Hamburg European Open
Welcome to the ATP Awards of the Week. Every week from now until the National Bank Open, we will be highlighting the best and worst from the previous week on the ATP Tour.
The week after Wimbledon is the most unique week on that ATP calendar.
Because, in a normal year, it is the only week of the season where tournaments are played on clay and grass simultaneously.
Ok, I know this year there were two because Stuttgart crossed over the with the French Open, but that was a COVID thing. This week was always going to feature both surfaces.
But I digress.
So tennis fans, who were not burnt out after two amazing weeks at the All-England Club, were treated to the extremes of the game with some quick-strike grass action in Newport and some grinding clay battles in Hamburg and Bastad.
To celebrate this weirdness, here are our ATP Awards of the Week.
Performance of the Week: Pablo Carreno Busta
After another first-round loss at Wimbledon, the Spanish No. 2 bounced back quickly this week by winning the biggest title of his career to date at the ATP 500 event in Hamburg.
It was the sixth title of his career, but the first above the 250 level. In fact, it was only his second 500 final.
But this week belonged to Carreno Busta, who did not drop a set on his way to the title, which included wins over some strong clay-court players in Dusan Lajovic, Frederico Delbonis, and Filip Krajinovic.
That bodes well as he heads towards his best major. The Spaniard has reached the US Open semi-finals twice, including last year.
Match of the Week: Newport SF – Kevin Anderson d. Alexander Bublik 4-6, 7-6(3), 7-5
Kevin Anderson’s run to the title in Newport included multiple tough wins, but probably the most impressive came in the semi-finals where he took town the top seed Alexander Bublik in a tight three-setter.
The South African has not been the same since a knee surgery in early 2020 and was the underdog against Bublik, who has quietly been one of the breakout players of 2021 with a pair of finals and two Masters 1000 quarter-finals to his name.
On this day on the lawns of Rhode Island, it looked early on like Bublik, the top seed in Newport, was going to have it his way when he broke in Anderson’s first service game in each of the first two sets to hold a set and a break lead.
But in the second set, Anderson broke right back and the pair settled into a rhythm. There would not be another break until the end of the third, after the South African won a second-set tiebreak to stay alive and force a decider.
After two and three-quarter hours on court, Anderson grabbed a late break at 5-all in the third set, nearly two hours since the last break of serve, and hung on to serve his way into his first final since January 2019.
He went on to beat Jenson Brooksby to win the title, his first in two and a half years, but the semi-final win over Bublik was probably the more impressive victory.
Speaking of Brooksby….
Surprise of the Week: Jenson Brooksby
Listen, I am a huge tennis fan. So when I don’t know who a player is, that is really saying something.
The 20-year-old American was competing in his first ATP Tour main draw, although he had played in three Grand Slam main draws including this year’s French Open, and had won a grand total of one match in his career, that coming at the 2019 US Open.
He quintupled his career win total this week in Newport, winning four matches to reach his first tour-level final in his ATP Tour debut.
He got a bit lucky with his draw, not having to face a seed until the semi-finals and the two seeded opponents he faced were numbers seven and eight, but that does not demean the fact that he seized his opportunity, only dropping one set on his way to the title match, including a straight-sets win over seventh seed Jordan Thompson in the semis.
Despite falling to Anderson in straight sets in the final, Brooksby’s ranking jumped 26 places up to No. 126 and should be setting himself up well for wildcards and appearances at more upcoming events in his home country.
Unforced Error of the Week: The Olympics
If Novak Djokovic does not win the Olympic gold, it will be one of the biggest shocks in recent memory.
That would probably be the case no matter the field in Tokyo, but it is even more true given the number of withdrawals from the Olympics over the past week.
Only five of the world’s Top 10 and nine of the Top 20 will be competing in Tokyo. There have been so many withdrawals (or players deemed ineligible like Grigor Dimitrov, who did not hit the Davis Cup requirements to compete at the Olympics) that the last direct entry spot, of which there are 56, went to the 146th-ranked player in the world, Liam Broady of Great Britain.
The most recent casualties were two big ones, with Roger Federer and Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini both announcing their withdrawals this week.
There has also been an issue with COVID outbreaks. The biggest name so far was on the women’s side with Coco Cauff testing positive, but this has been a problem on the men’s side too. British number one Dan Evans announced last week that he has tested positive for the virus and is therefore out of the games.
And while most players withdrew citing injuries, there is a level of skepticism there. Just look at Canada’s Vasek Pospisil, who withdrew last Thursday citing a shoulder injury, but did not pull of Newport where he was competing and actually reached the doubles final.
The Olympics are supposed to be one of the biggest events on the planet, arguably on par with the Grand Slams (hence the Golden Slam is such a big deal). But this year’s event is looking like a glorified ATP 500 event at best.
Upset of the Week: Maxime Cressy d. Sam Querrey – Newport R2
Sam Querrey may be a while removed from his glory days where he could blow almost any opponent of the court on a good day and was a regular threat at Wimbledon, but even now at the small event in Newport on grass, he should still be expected to make a charge.
The American’s last two finals came on grass and he has reached five on the surface overall. He was even seeded second this week on home soil in Newport and given the relatively thin field, was arguably the favourite for the title.
Instead, he lost his opening match to a player outside the Top 150.
His conqueror was countryman Maxime Cressy, who was competing in his first main draw on grass. The 24-year-old old had won his first ever grass court match in the first round but, up against a really good player on the surface in the form of Querrey in round two, was a massive underdog.
And yet Cressy pulled out a surprising three-set win 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 over the former Wimbledon semi-finalist to reach his first ever ATP Tour quarter-final.
Canadian Performance of the Week: Brayden Schnur
There was not a lot of Canadian action this week on the ATP Tour, at least on the singles side, but of the two men in action, Schnur was the more impressive, reaching the main draw in Newport with a pair of qualifying wins.
He did lose his first-round match in the main draw, but it was one of the matches of the week as he was edged out 7-5, 6-7(1), 7-6(4) by Jason Jung so the Canadian still acquitted himself well.