Who's smashing it? Our guide to risers and fallers in tennis rankings - Rafa Nadal wins Le Decima and Benoit Paire's unsportsmanlike behaviour

Vicki Hodges
The Telegraph
Rafa Nadal clinches Le Decima at Monte Carlo, while Benoit Paire shows his unsportsman side
Rafa Nadal clinches Le Decima at Monte Carlo, while Benoit Paire shows his unsportsman side

Our regular series continues to look at the players causing a storm on the circuit and those who have been blown away with a rundown of the top 20 world rankings in the men and women's game.

On the up...

Serena Williams

"From the oldest world No 1 to the youngest world No 1..." was the touching sign off to a message Serena Williams wrote to her unborn child this week as she finally confirmed news of her pregnancy to the world.

Her announcement coincided with her return to the top of the standings for her 317th week without even hitting a ball - due to a change in the 2017 WTA calendar.

The last time she did strike a competitive ball will now go down in folklore and cement her legend.

At eight weeks pregnant she clinched her 23rd major at the Australian Open without dropping a set and fans were quick to wonder whether this would signal the end of her playing career.

Yesterday's Instagram post, however, went a long way to dispelling those fears as her note to her unborn child said that she "can't wait for you to join the players box next year".

Serena continues to rewrite the manual for women's tennis and her reaction to the comments made by Ilie Nastase at Great Britain's tarnished Fed Cup tie with Romanian demonstrate how the American transcends the sport.

With the dark shadow of Maria Sharapova's return causing friction and distaste in the game among the players, Serena remains a constant source of resilience, positivity and inspiration for her fellow pros and followers.

Old ranking: 2 New ranking: 1

Rafael Nadal

If it wasn't for the fairytale return of Roger Federer then Rafa Nadal would be stealing the headlines this season.

The Spaniard had clocked up three runners-up spots in Melbourne, Mexico and Miami in the opening three months since his own return from a lengthy lay-off before going one step further by clinching Le Decima in Monte Carlo at the weekend.

His straight sets win over Albert Ramos-Vinolas also ticked off a few more career milestones in the process as he became the first man in the Open Era to win 10 titles at a tournament and the first man to win 50 clay-court titles (surpassing Guillermo Vilas at 49). 


— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) April 23, 2017

Nadal destroyed up and coming Alexander Zverev for the loss of two games in the third round. The only player, in fact, to take a set off the Spaniard during another week of dominance in the Principality was Briton Kyle Edmund who recovered from being bagelled in the opening set to take Nadal to a decider.

Zverev opted to play in Barcelona this week in the hope of avenging his humiliating loss. The 20-year-old, who has been tipped for the top by Nadal among others, could face his rival in the quarter-finals. Zverev should be mindful, though, that Nadal is gunning for another record-breaking 10th title in the capital of Catalonia.

Old ranking: 7 New ranking: 5

Frances Tiafoe

The 19-year-old American surges up the rankings courtesy of a third Challenger Tour title on hometurf in Sarasota.

His best achievement to date, the 100 points accumulated sees him shoot up 15 places to a high of 72 and is closing in on the top 50 fast. His days of plodding around the Challenger Tour could soon be a thing of the past with the hope of becoming a regular grand slam competitor now a realistic proposition.

Tiafoe, a child of Sierra Leonean immigrants, showed nerves of steel to see off a former top 10 player in Jurgen Melzer in a third set tie-break to reach the final in Sarastoa, Florida.

And in front of the watchful gaze of his father Tiafoe Snr, he defeated compatriot Tennys Sandgren in straight sets.

It can be that good. @FTiafoe is the champion at the @SarasotaOpen, taking his third #ATPChallenger title 63 64 over #Sandgren. #NextGenATPpic.twitter.com/ba6bIcd14j

— ATP Challenger Tour (@ATPChallenger) April 23, 2017

The teenager is a lively presence on and off the court and his dad, who has dreadlocks almost down to his waist, wants his son to entertain first before winning.

Tiafoe Snr said: "It's not as much about winning. Winning will come, but it's entertaining. You've got to entertain people. Sometimes you don't even have to be No 1 in the world, but the whole crowd wants to see you play, which is amazing."

Old ranking: 87 New ranking: 72

Qiang Wang

The 25-year-old from China climbs to a career-high 56th in the world off the back of her first WTA tour title in Zhengzhou.

Wang was seeded second for the event but nearly suffered a second round exit at the hands of Valentini Grammatikopoulou, a player just inside the world top 200 before recovering to win in three.

In the final, Wang faced top seed Shuai Peng and bounced back from losing the first to win the second. Unfortunately, Peng was forced to retire early in the third to hand Wang victory and a $125,000 cheque to boot.

Old ranking: 68 New ranking: 56

On the slide....

Sorana Cirstea

Away from Tour action, the Fed Cup tie between Great Britain and Romanian certainly threw up a major story - one which even made the main news bulletins.

While Romanian team captain Ilie Nastase was making racist and sexist comments, Cirstea added to the drama by accusing her opponent Jo Konta of gamesmanship. 

Konta was leading Cirstea 6-2, 1-2 when an outburst from Nastase led to a tearful Konta needing to take time away from the court and play being suspended for 20 minutes.

Cirstea did not have any sympathy for her rival and revealed distasteful behaviour she too has been suffered at the hands of during past matches.

"I've played all over the world, they called me from gypsy to bitch to a***hole to idiot. They were doing like (mimes slitting throat) to me. I never cried and left the court, I stay there and I play.

"Afterwards I go to the umpire and I ask him what do I do? I stay on the court, I go out? He said, 'I don't know'. I went to the supervisor, I said, 'What do I do, how long is the break?' He said, 'I don't know'.

"We did not exist any more, it was only the (British) team. And then when she (Konta) comes back on court she says, 'I'm sorry', so she knew she exaggerated.

"You don't do this, you stay and play. And the public was okay. They didn't do anything. And now they say they feel threatened.

"Next time I'm in trouble I will cry, maybe I can go off the court. As Romanians we get double insulted because of our nation, but it's okay, we are tough. Tougher than (British) people apparently."

Konta ended up having the last word by rattling off the final five games to level the tie for GB. Cirstea's weekend was compounded by her further drop in the rankings.

Old ranking: 62 New ranking 66

Benoit Paire

The Frenchman epitomised the meaning of bad sportsman when he dwelled on his early defeat to Tommy Haas in Monte Carlo last week.

Paire suffered a straight sets loss to 39-year-old Tommy Haas, the oldest active player on the men's tour, but wasn't able to offer a word of support to the veteran.

"He is null, if I play for two seconds I win 6-2, 6-2," he said.

Paire didn't stop there. "Today age didn't matter. Even against a player of 70 years I would have lost today because I wasn't able to play at all."

It's the second time the pair have met this season with Paire winning their clash at the Australian Open - albeit after Haas had to retire.

After Paire's outburst at Monte Carlo, however, Haas' wife Sara Foster felt compelled to hit back at the 27-year-old on Twitter.

No word yet on Paire's response. This argument could run and run...

Old ranking: 40 New ranking: 49

Tsvetana Pironkova

The Bulgarian No 1 has had a torrid run of results in recent weeks losing in the first round of her last three straight tournaments.

Defeat to Elise Mertens in Dubai started the decline and the 29-year-old has not been able to climb out of the hole since.

A straight sets defeat to Belinda Bencic at Indian Wells further dampened her spirts and when she rocked up in Miami last month her confidence was at an all-time low.

This time she managed to take a set off opponent Vikorija Golubic but from that moment onwards her game crumpled and she only won two more games.

<span>Pironkova reached the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2010</span>
Pironkova reached the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2010

On this display it's easy to forget she was a semi-finalist at Wimbledon back in 2010 and saw off Venus Williams for the loss of five games en route to her best ever showing at a slam.

Old ranking: 70 New ranking: 74

Fernando Verdasco

Not long after celebrating his 200th victory on clay in ATP World Tour matches, the Spaniard was brought back down to earth in Houston earlier this month.

Verdasco was riding a confidence wave when he dispatched Nicolas Kicker to bring up his career milestone. The 33-year-old became the eighth active player to reach the 200 win mark only to suffer defeat in the next round to eventual winner Steve Johnson.

Verdasco missed the Monte Carlo Masters last week, a tournament he claimed 45 points at last year with a second-round loss to David Goffin. His absence means he drops a further five points in the overall standings.

Old ranking: 31 New ranking: 36

Men and women's rankings

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