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Pete’s Power Rankings: Pre-French Open edition (ATP Tour)

May 25, 2021
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal embrace while holding their trophies in Rome

Photo : Internazionali BNL d’Italia

Only one more week stands between us and the second major of the season, and time is running out for players on the ATP to find their form before the French Open.

The majority of players have finished their warm-up events and are focusing their full attention on Roland Garros after eight weeks of clay court tennis.

Once again, the same men are coming in hot, but there are a few new players who are in position to threat the King of Clay’s domination in the French capital.

Here are our pre-French Open ATP Tour power rankings:

PETE’S ATP TOUR POWER RANKINGS – Week of May 24, 2021

1.Rafael Nadal
2021 Record: 18-3 (2 Titles)Actual Rank: 3Last Week Result: DNP

It’s May. It’s clay. He won Rome for a tenth time, beating Djokovic in the final, and the next tournament is Roland Garros, which he’s only won a mere 13 times, including four straight. Nadal is the overwhelming favourite and just cannot not be number one right now.

2. Novak Djokovic
2021 Record: 16-3 (1 Title)Actual Rank: 1Last Week Result: DNP

He may not have dominated in Rome, but he did enough to reach the final, which in many ways is Djokovic in a nutshell. He also pushed Nadal to a third set in the final which is encouraging heading into the French Open.

Without a doubt he is second favourite behind Nadal. It will be interesting to see what happens with him playing the week before a slam this week in Belgrade, a rarity for the world number one.

3.Stefanos Tsitsipas
2021 Record: 33-8 (2 Titles)Actual Rank: 5Last Week Result: Lyon – W

After the top two, Tsitsipas firmly established himself as next in line during this clay swing by winning his first Masters 1000 event in Monte Carlo and reaching the Barcelona final, where he had championship point against Nadal. He also gave Djokovic all he could handle in Rome. Oh, and then bounced back to win the title in Lyon the very next week. He looks to be a legitimate threat at Roland Garros.

4. Alexander Zverev
2021 Record: 18-8 (2 Titles)Actual Rank: 6Last Week Result: DNP

His Madrid performance alone, combined with inconsistency by most of the other top players, puts Zverev near the top of the tour right now. He even scored a comprehensive win over Nadal in Madrid that shows he can bring his best against the best on this surface.

5. Matteo Berrettini
2021 Record: 18-5 (1 Title)Actual Rank: 9Last Week Result: DNP

Despite a third-round loss in Rome, Berrettini has had a fantastic clay court season, reaching a maiden Masters 1000 final in Madrid, and nearly winning it, while also grabbing a title in Belgrade. Oh, and that third-round loss in Rome was to Tsitsipas so it is pretty forgivable. He will bring good form into Roland Garros.

6. Andrey Rublev
2021 Record: 29-8 (1 Title)Actual Rank: 7Last Week Result: DNP

Despite not claiming a title during the clay court swing, Rublev was among the most consistent players on the tour, reaching the quarterfinals or better at three of his four events. In fact, Madrid was the only tournament in 2021 where Rublev has failed to reach the quarter-final.

The highlight was his finals run in Monte Carlo, his second consecutive Masters 1000 final, where he beat the 11-time champion Nadal in the quarter-finals. To say the Russian has been consistent since mid-2019 would be an understatement.

7.Casper Ruud
2021 Record: 20-6 (1 Title)Actual Rank: 16Last Week Result: Geneva – W

Speaking of consistency, Ruud reached the semifinals or better of every clay court event he has played in 2021, including Monte Carlo and Madrid, where he handed Tsitsipas his earliest loss of the clay court season. He then picked up a title last week in Geneva with a textbook clay-court performance. The Norwegian is proving to be one of the most threatening players on the surface.

8.Jannik Sinner
2021 Record: 21-10 (1 Title)Actual Rank: 19Last Week Result: Lyon – R2

The 19-year-old really feels like a “not-if, when” type of star and is putting together a great 2021 campaign. While his clay court swing lacked a big-time win, you can blame the draw gods for that, as he had second-round meetings with Djokovic and Nadal in Monte Carlo and Rome respectively.

He did knock off Rublev on his way to the Barcelona semis before losing to Tsitsipas. He also reached the Roland Garros quarters last year and proved to be Nadal’s toughest test at the event.

9.Aslan Karatsev
2021 Record: 21-8 (1 Title)Actual Rank: 26Last Week Result: Lyon – R1

Be honest, you had no idea who this guy was at the beginning of the season. But if you still don’t, you should be paying more attention.

Karatsev is already the overwhelming favourite for the “Most Improved Player of the Year” award and, after reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open, has had a respectable clay court campaign, reaching the final in Belgrade in April, which included an upset of Djokovic on the latter’s home court.

10.Dominic Thiem
2021 Record: 9-7Actual Rank: 4Last Week Result: Lyon – R2

As weird as it sounds, Thiem is only as high as he is on this list given the fact that he has reached two French Open finals and from 2017 to 2019 was arguably the only threat to Nadal on clay. But 2021 has been a big disappointment for the Austrian.

He started well with a semi-final in Madrid but followed that up with early losses in Rome and Madrid. He has been replaced by Tsitsipas as the biggest non-Djokovic threat to Nadal on clay and is almost being forgotten with the clay major next week.

11.David Goffin
2021 Record: 14-11 (1 Title)Actual Rank: 13Last Week Result: Lyon – R2

After a respectable hard court season and a good showing in Monte Carlo, Goffin has stumbled over recent weeks, with early losses in his last three events, including a retirement in Barcelona. The fact that he has a clay court win over Zverev though counts for a lot.

12.Pablo Carreno Busta
2021 Record: 14-6 (1 Title)Actual Rank: 12Last Week Result: DNP

Carreno Busta quietly has a title on clay in 2021, winning in Marbella back in early April. He also reached the semi-finals in Barcelona, but had to withdraw from Rome after a first-round win which raises concerns about his fitness, otherwise he would probably be ahead of Goffin.

13.Roberto Bautista Agut
2021 Record: 18-12Actual Rank: 11Last Week Result: DNP

Bautista Agut has been fine on the clay this spring. He won matches at every event he entered, but failed to reach a quarter-final at any of them. His best results in 2021 have come on hard court with a pair of finals. He has given little indication that he going to have a breakthrough this year at Roland Garros.  

14.Daniil Medvedev
2021 Record: 18-5 (1 Title)Actual Rank: 2Last Week Result: DNP

When was the last time the number two player in the world was so bad on a specific surface?

Medvedev threatens to wreak havoc at Roland Garros not because he is expected to do well, the man brings new meaning to the saying “allergic to clay,” but that fact that he is number two means Nadal will be seeded number three and could be drawn into Djokovic’s half which is a nightmare for everyone involved.

Medvedev, who has only played three matches on clay in 2021, losing two, and has never won a match at Roland Garros in four attempts, is singlehandedly making the argument for the French Open using a Wimbledon-style points system for their seedings.

15.Diego Schwartzman
2021 Record: 12-10 (1 Title)Actual Rank: 10Last Week Result: DNP

Schwartzman is in a similar boat as Thiem. He’s a proven clay-court threat and had fantastic results in 2020 on the surface, but has left a lot to be desired in 2021. He lost in the first round at four of five clay events this spring, although to cut him some slack he lost to top players (including three who are higher than him on this list) in almost all of them.

He also won a title on the Golden Swing at home in Buenos Aires, although he did not have to face a top-40 opponent in that tournament. The Argentinian has the potential to do damage in Paris, but he is coming in under the radar based on his form.

Main draw play gets underway at the French Open on Sunday, May 30.

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