İlhan at career-best 77th spot in rankings

İlhan at career-best 77th spot in rankings

İlhan at career-best 77th spot in rankings

Marsel İlhan of Turkey returns the ball to Novak Djokovic of Serbia during their quarterfinal match at the ATP Championships tournament in Dubai on Feb 26. AA Photo

Turkish tennis player Marsel İlhan has climbed to the top spot of his career in the new world rankings announced March 2, jumping 27 places to sit in the 77th spot.

The spot is also the top ranking a Turkish player has ever held.

The 27-year-old İlhan’s success came after he advanced to the quarterfinals at the Dubai Open last week, where he lost 6-1, 6-1 against Novak Djokovic.

İlhan’s previous highest world ranking was 87th on Jan. 17, 2011.

Record-breaking Japan superstar Kei Nishikori rose to fourth in the rankings, equaling Kimiko Date-Krumm as his country’s highest-ranked tennis player.

The 24-year-old, who is the top-ranked Asian-born man ever, tweeted: “Just saw the new rankings. Very proud of another step...#4 this week.”

Nishikori, last year’s U.S. Open runner-up, now trails only Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal after leapfrogging Britain’s Andy Murray, meaning he will avoid the top three until the semifinals at the major tournaments.

“He has the touch of a genius,” former Japan number one Shuzo Matsuoka told Agence France-Presse. “He has the imagination and shots you just can’t teach.”        Nishikori recently won his third successive Memphis Open, his eighth ATP Tour title. He is fast closing in on Nadal and trails the 14-time grand slam champion by just 260 ranking points.

“It’s an achievement that’s almost impossible to explain,” Matsuoka told Japan’s Sankei Sports, comparing the skinny Nishikori to a sumo grand champion. “He’s really playing ‘yokozuna’-grade tennis.”      

In the WTA rankings, the Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova is banging at the door of an otherwise unchanged Top 10 thanks to her win in the Doha Open.

The 28-year-old jumped four places after beating Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka in Qatar on Feb. 28. She is now placed at a career-best 11th.

The list continues to be dominated by Serena Williams, leading the pack in front of Russia’s Maria Sharapova and Romania’s Simona Halep.