Beyond the Baseline

ATP rankings: Kei Nishikori becomes first Japanese player to crack top 10

Kei Nishikori Kei Nishikori is 27-5 this year with two titles. (Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Kei Nishikori this week became the first Japanese player to crack the top 10 in the ATP Tour rankings.

The 24-year-old moved up from No. 12 to No. 9 after reaching his first Masters 1000 final, at the Madrid Open, where he retired against Rafael Nadal in the third set because of a back injury. He leapfrogged Milos Raonic (who slipped from ninth to 10th) and John Isner (who fell from 10th to 11th).

"It was a big goal for me to get top 10, but it's only one week for now," Nishikori said. "So I have to keep playing better tennis and keep this ranking."

Nishikori began the year at No. 17. He's 27-5 in 2014, including titles in Memphis and Barcelona and a semifinal appearance at the Sony Open (where he withdrew with a groin injury). He's defeated Roger Federer, David Ferrer (twice), Raonic, Grigor Dimitrov, Ernests Gulbis and Marin Cilic (twice).

In other rankings news:

• Gulbis also hit a career high (No. 17) after advancing to the Madrid quarterfinals. The 25-year-old Latvian was ranked outside the top 100 as recently as February 2013.

• Madrid semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut climbed 17 spots to a career-high No. 28. The 26-year-old Spaniard has won 19 main-draw matches this year after entering this year with only 29 for his career.

• Santiago Giraldo, 26, continued his sudden surge after making the Madrid quarterfinals as a qualifier, his third consecutive tournament in the last eight or better. The Colombian jumped 10 spots to a career-high No. 36, up from No. 86 only six weeks ago.

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