When last week started on the ATP World Tour, it was hard to imagine three events on three continents each ending with a similar conclusion. But that’s exactly what happened. Call it the week of resurgence.
Rotterdam proved to be a fantastic week for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The 31-year-old Frenchman was seeking his first singles title since 2015. But he’d started off the year well, reaching the quarterfinals at the Australian Open and a pair of quarters at events in Doha and Montpelier. Seeded sixth in Rotterdam, Tsonga knocked off three seeds – number one Marin Cilic, fourth-seeded Tomas Berdych and, in the finals, fighting from a set down to beat David Goffin 46, 64, 61. There is something rather breathtaking about watching Tsonga in full flight.
Head across the Atlantic to Buenos Aires. Alexandr Dolgopolov – like Tsonga, a bold, slashing shotmaker – hadn’t won a title since 2012. Unlike Tsonga, though, Dolgopolov began 2017 poorly, arriving in Buenos Aires with a 1-4 match record. But to borrow from Forrest Gump, when it comes to Dolgopolov, streaky is as streaky does. His title run featured wins over three top 25 players, capped by a 7-6, 6-4 win over fifth-ranked Kei Nishikori in the finals.
Rounding out this week’s troika is the remarkable resurgence of American Ryan Harrison. Five years ago, at the age of 20, Harrison had reached a career-high ranking of 43 in the world. Then the bottom fell out. Though his erect posture, sharply trimmed hair and crisp walk had always given Harrison the look of an ascending cadet, by last spring he was in descent, Harrison’s ranking having slumped to 168. Working with a new coach, Peter Lucassen, Harrison slowly began to rebuild his confidence – perhaps most of all by trusting in such weapons as his powerful forehand. He began ’17 ranked 90 in the world. Just after losing in the second round of the Australian Open (having beaten 41st-ranked Nicolas Mahut), Harrison won a Challenger event in Dallas, taking out promising American Taylor Fritz in the finals. And then all the pieces came together in Memphis. Failing to lose a set all week, Harrison took out such veterans as Sam Querrey and Donald Young to reach the finals. There he beat Nikoloz Basilashvili, 6-1, 6-4 – Harrison’s first ATP World Tour singles title. He’s now back to where he was five years ago, ranked 43 in the world
Tsonga, Dolgopolov, Harrison – each versatile, powerful and now, at least on this day, confident. Now the question is if each can sustain his high quality tennis as such higher stakes as Indian Wells and Miami near.