New year. New power rankings.
Now, it’s not so secret that the American men and women didn’t do so hot at the Australian Open, but all is not lost. Sebastian Korda thankfully plays under the American flag (unlike his Australian Open winning father) and took home the boys’ title.
Of course, it’s not just all about the Grand Slams. There were plenty of action on the lower level ATP, WTA and Challenger tours. The early results are…surprising to say the least. Some players have not kept their form going into the new year while others have suddenly rediscovered theirs.
Plenty of movement from where we left off last year. Sure, some of these takes may be far too scorching for this early in the year, but, hey, that’s why we all love power rankings.
Dropped out: Francesca Di Lorenzo, Ernesto Escobedo, Stefan Kozlov
Just Missed Out: Taylor Townsend, Francesca Di Lorenzo, Ernesto Escobedo, Kayla Day, Caroline Dolehide, Stefan Kozlov
Stay Tuned: Amanda Anisimova, Claire Liu
Ernesto Escobedo, Stefan Kozlov and Tommy Paul are basically all at that number 10 spot and The Committee basically threw its hands up in the air and selected Paul because he seems to still have the best total package for future success. We are going to keep a closer eye on some of the young women rising up through the ranks because they are poised to knock this inconsistent trio out of the rankings.
Taylor Townsend was the toughest omission. She has been around for quite some time now and her hype has seemingly disappeared. Yet, she has found her way into the top 100. (Take that, Patrick McEnroe.) We’re still a little unsure about her long-term potential, but we’re also ready to fling her up this list next month. Stay tuned.
On a related note, it should be underlined/highlighted again that these power rankings are a totally subjective ranking mix of potential and performance. They are made by The Committee…which is one person.
Oh and to qualify for this list, you have to be 21 or under. (Sorry, Mackie Macster!)
10. Tommy Paul (Prev. 10)
Newport Beach (Challenger): l. Garin
Playford (Challenger): d. Stakhovsky, l. Jasika
Australian Open (ATP) – Qualification: d. Rola, l. Tomic
Tommy Paul seems to be healthy again which means he could have his breakthrough year. We haven’t seen it quite yet in his early results. Even though he lost, his match with Tomic was terrific stuff. Like another fella down this list, he needs to bring it every match and not just when it’s a big-time opponent.
9. Sebastian Korda (Prev. Unranked)
Playford (Challenger) – Qualification: d. Barton, d. Dancevic, l. Banes
Canberra (Challenger) – Qualification: d. Nkomba, l. Beale
Australian Open (ATP) – Juniors: d. Tabur, d. Andreev, d. Henning, d. Ho, d. Miladinovic, d. Tseng
Winning a Grand Slam gets you into the Power Rankings even if it is at the junior level. We also loved that the 17-year-old challenged himself by playing the Challengers, nearly qualifying twice. Much like his his dad, Petr, Sebastian has a tall, lanky frame and is truly gifted shotmaker. Sure, we wish he were lefty and didn’t do the dorky scissor-kick celebration like pops, but there is a LOT to like here.
8. Reilly Opelka (Prev. Unranked)
Newport Beach (Challenger): d. Novikov, d. Bachringer, l. Fritz
Playford (Challenger): d. Berankis, d. Majchrzak, l. Kubler
Australian Open (ATP) – Qualification: l. C. Harrison
Look, Reilly Opelka isn’t sexy (sorry, buddy!) but his game simply allows him to win a lot of matches consistently. The Committee likes consistency. The loss to Christian Harrison in double tie-breakers at the Australian Open was a tough one.
7. Noah Rubin (Prev. Unranked)
Newport Beach (Challenger): d. Smyczek, d. Bublik, l. Fritz
Noumea (Challenger): d. Janvier, d. Piros, d. Moutet, d. Sakharov, d. Fritz
Australian Open (ATP) – Qualification: l. McDonald
Honestly, The Committee wasn’t even thinking about including Noah Rubin in these rankings until we did a little browsing on ATPWorldTour.com (#freead). He actually has had a solid start to his season despite the absolute beatdown Mackenzie McDonald put on him during Australian Open qualification. Much love to Rubin for knocking off Fritz to win his fourth ATP Challenger title.
6. Sofia “Sonya” Kenin (Prev. 6)
Auckland (WTA): d. Fett, d. Lepchenko, l. Wozniacki
Newport Beach (Challenger): l. Jang
Australian Open (WTA): l. Gourges
OK, so Sonya Kenin hasn’t picked up a lot of big results yet this year, but take a little closer look at the losses. She pushed the Australian Open champ to three sets in Auckland and she went stroke for stroke with the 12 seed at the Australian Open. Those aren’t bad losses.
5. Frances Tiafoe (Prev. 2)
Brisbane (ATP): l. Ebden
Newport Beach (Challenger): l. Kecmanovic
Australian Open (ATP): l. Del Potro
Look, we have all been bullish on Tiafoe for a while. He has that infectious moxie that screams “FUTURE STAR!” It just isn’t clicking right now. Between the end of last year and the beginning of this year, it’s safe to say this a bit of a mini-slump for Tiafoe. Now, of course, his Grand Slam draws have sucked and he can lean on Ryan Harrison’s shoulder to cry on for that, buuut some of these other results are troubling. Still waiting for the breakthrough. Just less patiently.
4. Michael Mmoh (Prev. 7)
Newport Beach (Challenger): d. Norrie, l. D. King
Brisbane (ATP): d. Delbonis, d. M. Zverev, l. De Minaur (Qualification: d. Halys, d. Ofner)
Australian Open (ATP) – Qualification: l. Whittington
It feels weird to put someone this high up on this list who had a poor Australian Open showing, but F IT, we’re doing it anyway. Consider it a reward for not qualifying for an ATP level tournament but also beating two solid tour vets. Mmoh has a lot going for him. He’s still only 19 and has the build, athleticism and speed to compete at the highest level.
P.S. We love the hair.
3. Catherine “CiCi” Bellis (Prev. 4)
Brisbane (WTA): d. Bondarenko, l. Pliskova
Sydney (WTA): d. Rybarikova, l. Radwanska (Qualfication: d. Brady, d. Kucova, d. Alexandrova)
Australian Open (WTA): l. Bertens
Like Kenin, Bellis hasn’t set the WTA tour on fire yet this year, but she doesn’t have any results to be ashamed of. We’re still predicting big things ahead in 2018 for the 18-year-old.
2. Jared Donaldson (Prev. 3)
Sydney (ATP): d. Simon, l. Medvedev
Brisbane (ATP): d. Thompson, l. Istomin
Australian Open (ATP): l. Ramos-Vinolas
The Committee has been driving the Jared Donaldson bandwagon for some time now, but we have to admit that doubt is still trickling in. Yes, we still have him at number two on this list, but we are beginning to wonder whether Donaldson has the “next-level” stuff. He’s sort of like a reverse Tiafoe/Paul. He beats the people he should but hasn’t been able to elevate his game against stiffer competition of late. Still, though, Donaldson keeps on winning ATP matches at a fairly consistent rate. No one else on this list can say that.
1. Taylor Fritz (Prev. 1)
Newport Beach (Challenger): d. Olaso, d. Kwiatowski, d. Rubin, d. Opelka, d. Klahn
Noumea (Challenger): d. Novak, d. K. King, d. Puetz, d. de Schepper, l. Rubin
Australian Open (ATP) – Qualification: d. Groth, l. Bourge
Taylor Fritz picked off where he left off last year, crushing folks on the ATP Challenger Tour. His loss as the #1 seed in Australian Open qualifying was a tough pill to swallow…especially for his checkbook, but it’s not that big a deal here because just about everyone else had a terrible Australian Open too.