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Best of 2017: Carreno Busta's Late But Good Decision

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 11:21am
ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot meets Pablo Carreno Busta, who is in the form of his career, but only decided to take tennis seriously when he was 16 years old.

Best Of 2017: Doubles Storylines Abound

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 9:31pm
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Continuing our Season In Review series, ATPWorldTour.com looks at the headlines that shaped 2017 on the doubles circuit

Year-Long Tussle For Top Team
It came down to the final week of the season. The battle for year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings was intense from start to finish in 2017, as two teams created plenty of drama on the doubles court. Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo edged Henri Kontinen and John Peers for the top honour during the Nitto ATP Finals, ending a year-long tussle for No. 1. Both teams began their respective reigns in the Top 2 on April 3 and neither would depart from their perches for the rest of the season.

Kubot and Melo concluded 2017 with a dominant 49-18 mark together, including a grass-court sweep in 's-Hertogenbosch, Halle and Wimbledon, as well as ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns in Miami, Madrid and Paris. They edged Kontinen and Peers 9-7 in a marathon fifth set in the Wimbledon semi-finals, before edging Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic 13-11 in the title match.

But while the Polish-Brazilian duo emerged on top, their chief rivals had the last laugh at The O2 in London. Kontinen and Peers successfully defended their Nitto ATP Finals crown with a final victory over Kubot and Melo, extending their lead in the FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry to 4-1. The Finnish-Aussie tandem were a perfect five-for-five in tour-level finals this year, also triumphing at the Australian Open, Shanghai Rolex Masters and ATP World Tour 500 events in Washington and Beijing.

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Parity Steals The Show In Race
Four different Grand Slam winners, five different ATP World Tour Masters 1000 champions and separate teams lifting the year-end No. 1 trophy and Nitto ATP Finals crown. Needless to say, it was a year of parity on the biggest stages on the ATP World Tour doubles circuit.

While Kubot/Melo and Kontinen/Peers quickly separated themselves from the pack, other teams earned signature wins throughout the year. Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut enjoyed an impressive run through the heart of the season, en route to punching their ticket at The O2 for a third straight year. The Frenchmen celebrated a 12-match win streak at the Masters 1000 level, reeling off consecutive titles in Rome, Montreal and Cincinnati. They have now won six of the nine Masters 1000 titles together.

Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram (Indian Wells) and Rohan Bopanna and Pablo Cuevas (Monte-Carlo) also prevailed at the elite level. Cuevas was a force in 2017, winning four doubles titles and singles crowns on both the ATP World Tour (Sao Paulo) and ATP Challenger Tour (Montevideo). On the doubles court, he was victorious at all three ATP World Tour levels with different partners, also prevailing in Rio de Janeiro with Pablo Carreno Busta and in Kitzbuhel with Guillermo Duran.

The parity on the doubles circuit was even more evident at the Grand Slam level, with Ryan Harrison and Michael Venus completing a dream run to the semi-finals at the Nitto ATP Finals after lifting their maiden Grand Slam trophy at Roland Garros. The longtime friends ran through a gauntlet on the terre battue of Paris, winning all six matches in deciding sets. And they would take advantage of their first appearance at the season finale in London, reaching the semis as the eighth seeds behind a 3-0 round robin campaign.

Meanwhile, Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau made their third appearance in four years at The O2, behind a title run at the US Open. It was their second Grand Slam crown together, having previously prevailed on the lawns of Wimbledon in 2015. They were a dominant force at Flushing Meadows, defeating four straight seeded opponents and dropping just two sets all fortnight. Posting a 4-0 mark in tour-level finals this year, they also won in Dubai, Geneva and Winston-Salem.

Trio Trades No. 1 Torch
Three players from three different teams traded the No. 1 torch in the individual Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings, with Marcelo Melo taking the year-end honour for the second time. The mantle exchanged hands on four occasions in 2017, with Nicolas Mahut handing it off to Henri Kontinen in early April, before Melo wrestled it away in July. Kontinen would once again surge to the top spot a month later, but the Brazilian snatched it for good at the Rolex Paris Masters.

Melo, also the year-end No. 1 in 2015, is the 10th player in the Open Era to conclude a season at the summit on multiple occasions. Kontinen, meanwhile, made history in becoming the first Finn to reach World No. 1 and the 50th player overall, since the establishment of the team rankings in March 1976.

Mike Bryan, Nestor Tied For All-Time Wins Lead
Despite failing to win a Grand Slam or ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title for the first time since 2004, the Bryan brothers continued to add milestones to their legendary resumes. Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals for a record 15th straight year - and 16th overall - behind titles in Atlanta and Eastbourne and a runner-up finish at the Australian Open.

But it was Mike alone who seized arguably the biggest accomplishment of the year. The 39-year-old became the all-time winningest player in doubles history on 5 September. A quarter-final win at the US Open momentarily moved him ahead of Daniel Nestor with 1052 victories.

Mike still stands at No. 1 on the all-time list, but he now has some company at the summit, with the American and the Canadian currently tied with 1056 wins apiece. Bob is in third place with 1042 victories. 

Nestor announced that 2018 will be his final season on the ATP World Tour, as he looks to compete in a 30th Rogers Cup in August. 

Open Era Doubles Match Wins List

Player

Doubles Match Wins

Mike Bryan

1,056

Daniel Nestor

1,056

Bob Bryan

1,042

Todd Woodbridge

782

Max Mirnyi

754

Mirnyi and Zimonjic Join Elite Company
Doubles legends Max Mirnyi and Nenad Zimonjic etched their names in the record books with milestone victories of their own. On 26 July in Hamburg, Zimonjic notched his 700th career win, becoming just the 10th player to do so. A longtime ambassador of doubles, the Serbian continues to grow the game as he builds his own legacy. In February, he won his first title since 2014, prevailing in Sofia.

“It’s nice to play in Hamburg again, for the first time since 2012, and to achieve the 700th match win in a country of such rich tennis tradition,” Zimonjic told ATPWorldTour.com. “It means a lot to join this ‘Club’, it’s a lot of wins and I want to thank all my partners over the years.”

Meanwhile, Mirnyi became a member of an even more exclusive club on 26 September in Shenzhen, when 'The Beast' celebrated match win No. 750. The 40-year-old became just the fifth player to win 750 matches, joining the Bryans, Nestor and Todd Woodbridge. One month later in Moscow, he would hit another milestone in claiming his 50th title

“I am thrilled that I have come to this stage of my career," said Mirnyi. "It is something that I couldn't have imagined at the beginning of the road."

Other Highlights
- Qureshi Goes Five-For-Five: Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi won five titles with five different partners, teaming up with Marcin Matkowski on the hard courts of Auckland, Florin Mergea on the clay of Barcelona, Robert Lindstedt and Rajeev Ram on the grass of Antalya and Newport and finally with Jonathan Erlich at the Chengdu Open. The former World No. 8 also reached the final in Stockholm with Jean-Julien Rojer

Qureshi's biggest impact has come off the court, however, having started the 'Stop War Start Tennis' initiative in Africa. He hopes that the introduction of tennis will lead to a better life for those in need. Learn More

- Zverev's Double Dip: Alexander Zverev became the only player to win singles and doubles crowns in the same week, when he teamed up with brother Mischa Zverev at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier. It was the younger Zverev's first doubles title, joining Brisbane champions Thanasi Kokkinakis and Jordan Thompson, as well as Japanese duo Ben Mclachlan and Yasutaka Uchiyama as other notable first-time winners. The unseeded Japanese team prevailed on home soil in Tokyo with stunning upsets of top seeds Rojer/Tecau and second seeds Murray/Soares.

- Match Tie-break Marathon: Aussies Matt Reid and John-Patrick Smith won a 42-point Match Tie-break in their Newport opener - the longest of the year on the ATP World Tour. They defeated Taiwanese tandem Cheng-Peng Hsieh and Hsien-Yin Peng 4-6, 6-4, 22/20, needing 10 match points while saving five.

Bryan Brothers, Jack Nicklaus Raise More Than $1 Million With Tennis, Golf Event

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 11:33am

Doubles greats the Bryan brothers partnered with golf legend Jack Nicklaus to raise money for their children’s foundations. The Fore Love Tournament combined both golf and tennis pro-ams this past weekend in Palm Beach, Florida. ATP World Tour, WTA, and PGA tour professionals donated their time and charitable efforts to help raise $1.1 million for the Bryan Bros. Foundation and the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation.

The participants played tennis on Sunday with Andy Murray, the Bryan Brothers, and other ATP stars at Jack and Barbara Nicklaus’s house. On Monday they played a round of golf with Jack Nicklaus, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Jason Dufner, Lucas Glover and Daniel Berger.

The donors each paid $50,000 for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play and rub shoulders with sports royalty in a uniquely intimate environment.

“It was such a magical event. Everyone was so warm and friendly and we all left with memories to last a lifetime,” Bob Bryan told ‪ATPWorldTour.com‬. “It was really unlike anything we've ever done before and I think even some of the pros were blown away by the venue, atmosphere, and format.”

The three-day event started with a welcome party at The Bear's Club in Jupiter, Florida. Participants received leather gift bags highlighted by a Roger Federer autographed racquet.

‪The next morning, tennis got underway at the Nicklaus residence on its three grass courts. The courts, Mike Bryan said, “rival The Queen's Club and Wimbledon in quality. There wasn’t one bad bounce on those courts. They were flawless.”‬

The donors played doubles for more than four hours alongside current and former tour stars Murray, Serena Williams, Kevin Anderson, James Blake, Genie Bouchard, Jim Courier, Tommy Haas, Mark Knowles, Stefan Kozlov, Reilly Opelka, and Jack Sock.

“Everyone got a chance to play against or alongside the 13 pros,” Bob Bryan said.

After dinner at the Nicklaus' house, the Bryan Brothers Band, including ‪Counting Crows‬ drummer Jim Bogios, closed the evening.

Sunday was spent at The Bear's Club, as the donors played golf with the PGA luminaries and some ATP players. “I rode around with Jack Sock who surprised me with his game. He was killing the ball and definitely did the tennis players proud out there,” Mike Bryan said.

The Bryans met Jack and Barbara Nicklaus seven years ago through a mutual friend. The family and the brothers stay in touch regularly with Jack and Barbara often texting their support after the Bryans’ matches.

“We've become great friends with the family and have seen first hand how passionate they are with their philanthropy,” Bob Bryan said. “Jack and Barbara are two of the most humble and gracious people we’ve ever met and have mentored us and helped take our charitable efforts to the next level. We have raised money in the past but nothing like what we raised last weekend.”

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The Fore Love Tournament will receive more attention in March, when the Golf Channel show, Feherty, plans to air a segment on the event.

The Bryan brothers and the Nicklaus’s are excited about planning their second “Fore Love” next year. “We were elated with how it went in the first year and are looking forward to doing it even bigger and better in year two,” Bob Bryan said. “Hopefully a lot of the pros will be willing to help again because of how enjoyable and magical the whole experience was.”

Best of 2017: The Family Behind NextGenATP Tsitsipas

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 10:53am
ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot meets #NextGenATP player Stefanos Tsitsipas and his parents as the young Greek player qualifies at Roland Garros.

The Top 2 Grand Slam Matches Of 2017

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 11:26pm
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Continuing our Season In Review series, ATPWorldTour.com looks at the best two Grand Slam matches of the 2017 season.

2. Del Potro d. Thiem, US Open, Round of 16 - 4 September 2017 (Match Stats)

Juan Martin del Potro appeared far closer to a plane ride back to Argentina than he did to a spot in the quarter-finals in Flushing Meadows when he faced the up-and-coming sixth seed, Dominic Thiem, on Grandstand in the fourth round at the US Open.

Thiem dominated the first two sets in just over an hour, and it seemed a lethargic Del Potro was wilting away — and quickly — due to a flu-like illness. There was no second wind in sight for the ‘Tower of Tandil’.

A thrilling 1-6, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(1), 6-4 victory to set up a rematch of the 2009 US Open final against third-seeded Roger Federer seemed completely unrealistic. But that is exactly what the New York crowd got. (Read Match Report)

Thiem played a sloppy second game in the third set out of nowhere to concede a break, allowing the raucous crowd into the match and shifting its momentum.

“I saw the crowd waiting for more tennis, waiting for my good forehands, good serves. I took all that energy to change in a good way and think about fighting and not retiring,” Del Potro said. “I started to enjoy little bit more about the fans. I think I did everything well after the third set. The crowd enjoyed with me all points. It was [an] unbelievable atmosphere.”

All around him, the same cry rang through the air.

“Ole! Ole Ole Ole! Delpo! Delpo!”

It was as if the fans chanting acted as a resurrection song for the 2009 US Open champion. All of a sudden, the shotmaking Thiem was getting caught far behind the baseline as if he were playing on his favoured clay. On the other side of the net, Del Potro was tap-dancing around his backhand to instead push Thiem around with monstrous forehands.

“I knew that it's not going to go all the way like this because if he felt really bad, he would have retired for sure,” Thiem said of his mindset after the easy start to the match. “I knew that I have to maintain my level. Of course, the third set was bad. I mean, I played some really bad minutes. It was a great match I think, sets four and set five.”

The fourth set was especially entertaining. Del Potro broke, but Thiem won four games in a row to surge to a 5-2 lead, and he would serve for the match at 5-3. But after failing to convert on a 30/0 advantage in the game, Thiem sailed a sitting forehand well long to hand the break back. And from there, the match only got crazier.

The Austrian somehow halted the momentum to earn two match points on Del Potro’s serve at 6-5. But two aces quickly saw off the opportunity, and Thiem would never recover.

After a one-sided tie-break for Del Potro, the first nine games in the fifth set went to the server. But facing his second match point, Thiem double-faulted to lose one of the matches of the year.

In the next round, Del Potro would shock Federer and advance to the semi-finals, denying the first Federer-Rafael Nadal match at the US Open and keeping the Swiss from having a shot at leaving New York with the No. 1 Emirates ATP Ranking. 

“I played one of the epic matches of my career here in the US Open,” Del Potro said. “I'm so glad to go through.”

1. Federer d. Nadal, Australian Open, Final - 29 January 2017 (Match Stats)

Whenever Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal meet on the tennis court, great things tend to happen. Make it a five-setter in a Grand Slam final and great is an understatement.

But it had been nearly six years since the longtime rivals met in a major final. And after both dealt with injuries toward the end of 2016, nobody believed they would face off in the final at Melbourne Park.

So when they battled their way to the championship match, that was a victory in itself. In fact, Federer, who before Melbourne had not played a tournament since 2016 Wimbledon, said after the match that he “would have been happy again to [just] be in the final”.

And it looked like that was as far as Federer would get when he sprayed a forehand wide to go down an immediate break in the fifth set. But he would storm back, winning the final five games to claim a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 victory in the Grand Slam match of the year. (Read & Watch Highlights)

In the moment, it seemed highly improbable that even Federer could come back from 1-3 down in a decider against Nadal. But after Federer failed to convert on five break points in the left-hander’s first three service games of the set, he finally found a way to even affairs at 3-3, Nadal barely missing an inside-out forehand wide to give the break back.

“I had the chance to keep holding serve,” Nadal said. “If I hold that one, you never know. You are [then] two games, just two games away.”

But Nadal would not win another game in the match. Federer swept the final five games to close out perhaps his unlikeliest victory ever, lifting an 18th Grand Slam trophy, which was his first win at a major against his greatest rival since the Wimbledon final in 2007.

“I told myself to play free,” Federer said. “ I didn't want to go down just making shots, seeing forehands rain down on me from Rafa… I kept on fighting. I kept on believing, like I did all match long today, that there was a possibility I could win this match.”

At one point between the fourth and fifth sets, Nadal won seven of nine games. And when the Spaniard gains momentum, it is usually like trying to stop a freight train that has no brakes. But Federer stepped into the court and played even more aggressively than normal, attacking with his one-handed backhand to keep Nadal from going on the offensive first.

And although the victory took confirmation — Nadal challenged a Federer forehand approach shot on match point that clipped the line — the oldest Grand Slam champion (35 years, 174 days) since Ken Rosewall (1971) seemingly burst into tears of joy after claiming the win against all odds, becoming just the second player (Mats Wilander, 1982 Roland Garros) to defeat four Top 10 opponents en route to a major title.

“It's a great draw because I'm in the draw,” said Federer before the event.

Little did he know that a fortnight later, he would be raising the trophy after a classic match in one of tennis’ most storied rivalries.

Vote For Masters 1000 Golden Hot Shot

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 1:50pm

What's your pick for the 2017 Masters 1000 Golden Hot Shot? Re-live nine great hot shots from the season's ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments and help crown the best.

Watch the clips, selected based on views, and cast your vote before the poll closes at 6pm GMT/1pm ET on Tuesday, 12 December. Here are the candidates from each of the nine Masters 1000 events:

BNP Paribas Open (Indian Wells): Del Potro Tweener
Miami Open presented by Itau: Kyrgios Tweener
Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters: Nadal Impossible Angle
Mutua Madrid Open: Cuevas No-Look Winner
Internazionali BNL d'Italia (Rome): Thiem Backhand Blast
Coupe Rogers (Montreal): Zverev 49-Shot Rally
Western & Southern Open (Cincinnati): Dimitrov Dive Volley
Rolex Shanghai Masters: Nadal & Dimitrov Athleticism
Rolex Paris Masters: Schwartzman Behind-The-Back Shot

Watch & Vote Now!

Subscribe to our Hot Shot playlist, and watch match replays on TennisTV.

Best of 2017: Seven Questions With NextGenATP Khachanov & Medvedev

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 10:07am
ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot asks seven tough questions to NextGenATP players Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev.

Best Grand Slam Matches Of 2017: 5 To 3

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 11:13pm
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Continuing our Season In Review series, ATPWorldTour.com looks at the third through fifth best Grand Slam matches of the 2017 season.

5. Wawrinka def. Murray, Roland Garros, Semi-finals - 9 June 2017 (Match Stats)

Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka have been top contenders at the Grand Slams for years, and you'd expect the same knowing they were the first and third seeds, respectively, at Roland Garros. But neither star was in top form when they arrived on Paris’ terre battue this season.

The Scot was just 5-4 on clay heading into the second major of the year, and he was also trying to find his game after dealing with an elbow injury. “I came in playing garbage,” Murray joked after his quarter-final victory.

On the other side of the court, the 2015 champion arrived having won at the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open. But he was 2-3 on clay in 2017 before that title.

So in a way, advancing to the semi-finals was a strong result for both players. But after Murray somehow snuck ahead with a two sets to one lead despite Wawrinka holding leads in each of the first three sets, it was the Swiss who reached his second Roland Garros final in three years with a 6-7(6), 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-1 victory. (Read Match Report)

In the first few sets, Murray played jaw-dropping defense to stay in points against Wawrinka, using neutralising depth to turn defense into offense, especially in key moments. But as the four-hour, 34-minute clash wore on, Wawrinka’s power was overwhelming, and he fittingly ended it with a lasered one-handed backhand winner.

“I think it was mentally a tough battle today, especially in five sets against Andy,” Wawrinka said. “I'm happy with what I did on the court, the way I was fighting, even if I was down. The way I was trying to keep my line, trying to keep being aggressive, keep going even if I lost a lot of points by some incredible defense from him. But you know what's happening when you play in a semi. You have to accept it. You just need to keep fighting and keep going for it.”

Wawrinka served for the first set at 5-3 and held a set point at 6-5 in the tie-break before losing it, and also led by a break on two separate occasions (2-0 and 4-2) in the third set before dropping five of the final six games to fall into a hole. But in the fourth set, neither player broke and all it took was one strong tie-break from Wawrinka to even the score and gain all the momentum and confidence he needed to run away with the match.

“I was one tie-break away from getting to the final when I came in really struggling. So I have to be proud of that,” Murray said. “Maybe the lack of matches hurt me a little bit in the end today. That was a very high intensity match. A lot of long points. When you haven't been playing loads, you know, over four, four-and-a-half hours, that can catch up to you a little bit. So, I only have myself to blame for that, for the way I played coming into the tournament.”

4. Muller def. Nadal, Wimbledon, Round of 16 - 10 July 2017 (Match Stats)

Beating Rafael Nadal at a Grand Slam is never easy. Doing it at the same major twice in a career is even harder, especially right after the Spaniard won his 10th Roland Garros trophy and his third without dropping a set.

So it was no surprise that Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller did not cruise past the fourth-seeded Nadal after capturing the first two sets in the Round of 16 at Wimbledon this year. But it was a shock that in a marathon fifth set, it was Muller who prevailed to clinch this fourth-round battle 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 15-13, his second win at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club against Nadal (2005). (Read Match Report)

In the first two sets, the crafty server dropped just six total points on his first delivery, and saved all three break points he faced. The 34-year-old took advantage of two of the three break opportunities he earned, and that was all he needed to take a commanding lead.

But Nadal, who had come back from two sets down on three previous occasions and at one point in his career won 13 of 14 five-setters, stormed back and won the third and fourth sets in a combined 80 minutes to force a decider. The Spaniard lost just eight points during that time and appeared back on track.

Yet after more than two hours and 18 games, it was Muller who came out victorious in the fifth set, advancing to his second Grand Slam quarter-final.

“It's definitely one of the biggest, if not the biggest,” said Muller of the importance of the win in his career.

Inevitably, as you would expect from a 15-13 fifth set, both players had their chances in the decider, which was longer than the second through fourth sets combined.

Muller earned his first two match points on Nadal’s serve at 5-4. Little did he know that the set was not yet halfway over.

“I just told myself, Look, I mean, I'm doing the best I can. I'm playing well. Just hang in there and you're going to get your chances,” Muller said. “Got a few of them. Didn't take the first ones. But still kept believing. Yeah, somehow in the end I made it.”

After saving one break point at 6-6 and four more at 9-9, Muller would not face break point again. He converted on his fifth match point.

It was the fourth time that Muller, who would lose to eventual finalist Marin Cilic, had beaten a Top 5 player in the Emirates ATP Rankings. And all four of those victories came at a Grand Slam event, with both of his triumphs over Nadal occurring at Wimbledon (2005).

And while the result was a surprise, it was not like Muller came out of nowhere. Luxembourg’s star claimed a title on grass just weeks earlier at the Ricoh Open, and advanced to the semi-finals at The Queen’s Club in the Aegon Championships. Muller also won his first career trophy on the ATP World Tour at the Sydney International in January.

3. Nadal def. Dimitrov, Australian Open, Semi-finals -  27 January 2017 (Match Stats)

Only one player can win a tennis match. But in this Grand Slam semi-final, both competitors walked off the court with heads held high.

After a titanic four-hour, 56-minute battle, Rafael Nadal advanced to the Australian Open final with a 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-4 victory against an impressive Grigor Dimitrov. (Read Match Report)

There was not much to separate the two players. There was even a span of 26 consecutive games without a break of serve. But throughout, both competitors were unafraid to step in and take a rip at the ball.

The pair split intense tie-breaks in the third (Nadal) and fourth (Dimitrov) sets, meaning they would play one set to reach the final, which would have been Dimitrov’s first at a Grand Slam.

After the 26-year-old escaped a 15/40 hole in the finale’s opening game, he regained his rhythm, being aggressive on the backhand side to help set up his forehand. And at 4-3, 15/40 on Nadal’s serve, the Bulgarian hit a solid return to push the left-hander back. But the Spaniard found some of his best tennis, hitting a backhand winner down the line later in the rally before saving his second break point with a forehand volley.

In the very next game, at 4-4, Nadal was at his stunning best. He claimed the decisive break with a backhand winner and that was the only advantage he would need to close out the classic.

“I think Grigor played great. I played great. So [it] was a great quality of tennis tonight,” Nadal said. “I think both of us deserve to be in that final. [It] was a great fight.”

And while the Bulgarian lost the match, he gained the confidence that would lead him to his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati and later in the year the Nitto ATP Finals trophy in his debut at The O2. Dimitrov went shot-for-shot with Nadal for nearly five hours, and if he would have found a way to claim one of his two break opportunities while up 4-3 in the fifth set, the match might have ended differently.

“It's never easy to lose a match like that,” Dimitrov said. “For sure Rafa deserves pretty much all the credit right now since he's such a fighter, such a competitor. At the same time it was an honour for me to play a match like that against him. It also shows me that I'm in a good way, I'm on the right path.”

Nadal would go on to lose another epic against Roger Federer in the final, their first Grand Slam championship match against one another since 2011 Roland Garros.

Come back on Thursday for the Top 2 Grand Slam matches of 2017

Down The T or Out Wide? Depends What You Want

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 6:02pm
Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers investigates where successful players at the Nitto ATP Finals preferred to deliver their first serve. Getty Images photo.

The Top 2 ATP World Tour Matches Of 2017

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 11:39pm
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Continuing our Season In Review series, ATPWorldTour.com looks at the best two ATP World Tour matches of the 2017 season.

2) Thiem d. Dimitrov, Mutua Madrid Open, Third Round - 11 May 2017 (Match Stats)
For power hitting, intensity and momentum shifts, Dominic Thiem and Grigor Dimitrov’s epic third-round clash in Madrid was both thrilling and cruel. Thiem, on his favourite surface, competed with great heart and conviction in saving five match points to edge past Dimitrov, who also owns a devastating single-handed backhand, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(9) over two hours and 34 minutes of intense tennis. Thiem rallied from a 1-3 deficit in the second set, from 2-4 in the third set, then held off match points at 3/6, 6/7 and 8/9 in the tie-break before converting his second opportunity on a Dimitrov backhand error. Read & Watch Highlights

“I think it was a very good match from both of us,” said Thiem. “The tie-break in the third set was amazing. That’s the bad thing about tennis, only one guy can win. I don’t always play good in the important points, but today yes. I saved five match points. I don’t know if I ever saved that many match points in one match, so it’s a really good feeling.”

With the crowd swelling in numbers, as the third-set tie-break drew closer, it was a case of which player wanted it more. Thiem appeared comfortable in returning deep behind the baseline — standing alongside the line judges — and allowed Dimitrov control of the baseline. At 3/6 in the tie-break, Thiem proved to be confident, highlighting just why he has become one of the sport’s leading clay-courters over the past two years. Dimitrov served for the match at 6/5, but struck a forehand wide, and at 6/7 on Thiem’s serve, doubt began to invade the Bulgarian’s game.

Although Dimitrov saved one match point at 7/8, Thiem held his nerve, wrestling control away from his opponent with clarity of thought and stroke. The margin of victory was slim in a terrific duel (Thiem won 112 points to 111, with Dimitrov winning 18 of his 21 net points), but it was Thiem who exacted revenge for Dimitrov’s Brisbane International presented by Suncorp quarter-final win in January. The Austrian went on to reach his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final (l. to Nadal).

Watch Full Match Replay At TennisTV

1) Federer d. Kyrgios, Miami Open presented by Itau, Semi-finals - 31 March 2017 (Match Stats)
Opposites in temperament and playing styles, but both exciting and undeniably box office. A standing-room only crowd turned out for Roger Federer and Nick Kyrgios in an eagerly anticipated and electrifying semi-final clash. In three tie-break sets of high energy, brilliant shot making and pulsating drama, Federer saved set points and Kyrgios saved match points, before the Swiss superstar came out on top over Kyrgios 7-6(9), 6-7(9), 7-6(5) in the Key Biscayne night. The epic had come two weeks on from their aborted BNP Paribas Open quarter-final, when Kyrgios withdrew prior to the match due to illness. Read & Watch Highlights

“It did feel very good, because you don't very often play three breakers in a match,” said Federer. “It's nice to win those and winning breakers is always such a thrill. It's great winning this way, especially because I remember the loss against him a few years ago. It was rough.”

Bursts of emotion from 21-year-old Kyrgios in reaction to Federer’s clean striking almost dented his chances in the first set, yet the Australian remained calm when it mattered most, saving a set point at 5-6 with an ace and two more in the tie-break at 5/6 and 6/7 with some big hitting. Federer also showed off his trademark steely nerves in the tie-break, saving a set point at 7/8 and again at 8/9 with a backhand winner down the line. However, the Aussie’s penchant for going for broke at crucial moments cost him the opening set. He rolled the dice on a big second serve at 9/9 and missed badly, handing Federer a third set point opportunity. The 35-year-old Swiss star made good on his chance, wrapping up the set as Kyrgios sent a backhand into the doubles alley.

The drama remained at maximum levels in the second-set tie-break, with a slice backhand from Federer on match point at 6/5 floating just long as Kyrgios could only stand at the net and watch. On his second match point at 8/7, Federer dumped an 88 mile per hour second serve into the bottom of the net as the crowd groaned in unison. Kyrgios wouldn’t allow Federer another opportunity, firing an ace at 10/9 and looking to his box in celebration at levelling the match.

The third set, which lasted one hour, fittingly resulted in a sixth straight tie-break for Federer and Kyrgios, with the crowd on their feet to applaud the efforts of both players. Their previous clash at the Mutua Madrid Open in May 2015 also produced a similar scoreline, with Kyrgios saving two match points to take a 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 7-6(12) victory. However, Kyrgios didn’t learn his lesson from the first set of the Miami brawl with Federer, gambling with a 128 mph second serve at 5/5 and ultimately hitting a double fault for his most costly shot of the night. Kyrgios’ risk proved to be Federer’s reward, with the fourth seed hitting a big first serve to wrap up the match in three hours and 10 minutes. At the net, they shared a warm exchange.

“I feel like my level of tennis has always been high, but mentally I'm competing for every point now,” said Kyrgios. “That's making the difference. I showed a lot of fight. Obviously, I'm an emotional guy. I had some ups and downs, a bit of a roller coaster, but ultimately I think I put in a good performance. I think I've made an effort to try and put in [the work] every day. I've got a great team with me. Every day we're on the practice court trying to have fun.”

Watch Full Match Replay At TennisTV

Best of 2017: Monte-Carlo Player Party Uncovered

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 11:24am
In this installation of ATPWorldTour.com's Best of 2017 series, ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot goes behind the scenes at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, where the biggest names in tennis hit the stage for the annual players party.

Best ATP World Tour Matches Of 2017: 5 To 3

Sun, 12/03/2017 - 11:51pm
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Continuing our Season In Review series, ATPWorldTour.com looks at the best ATP World Tour matches in 2017, starting with Nos. 5 to 3.

5) Nadal d. Pouille, China Open, Beijing First Round, 3 October 2017 (Match Stats)
Rafael Nadal was on a roll, seven matches unbeaten and at his indomitable best. Against Lucas Pouille, in his first competitive match since lifting his third US Open crown, Nadal found a way to win as he and other great champions so often do when they aren’t quite at their best. The Spanish star avoided an early exit in Beijing by fighting off two match points to beat Pouille 4-6, 7-6(6), 7-5. Read & Watch Highlights

“He played well, I think, very aggressive. He’s serving well,” said Nadal, who at one point lost his shoe in a rally. “For me it was a little bit difficult at the beginning, then I started to play better. But still, I didn’t have the control of the match for almost all the time. I am very, very happy to be through.”

Pouille dictated the early exchanges with his forehand and it wasn’t until the second set that Nadal began to attack the net, to end long drawn-out points. Nadal was down 4/6 in the second-set tie-break, when Pouille struck a short forehand approach into the net. Nadal gained the impetus to win four consecutive points to even the match at one set-all. In the decider, Pouille kept attacking with a number of excellent low volley winners, but Nadal earned his lone break of the match in the 11th game and served out the contest a game later to 15.

Pouille, who had beaten Nadal at the 2016 US Open, struck 46 winners to 47 unforced errors in the encounter that lasted two hours and 31 minutes. “He had two match points, one of them with an easy forehand more or less,” said Nadal. “But it's like this. I remember the match against him in the US Open that I had 6-all in the tie-break, an easy forehand I missed at the net, too. That time was for him, today was for me.”

Watch Full Match Replay At TennisTV

4) Djokovic d. Murray, Qatar ExxonMobil Open, Doha Final, 6 January 2017 (Match Stats)
Remember the dramatic end to the 2016 season? Just six days into the new year, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic clashed once again for the Qatar ExxonMobil Open title. Murray appeared to have broken Djokovic’s psychological hold over him when he won their November 2016 meeting at the Nitto ATP Finals in London, when not only the prestigious title, but also the year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings was on the line.

Djokovic, who saved five match points against Fernando Verdasco in the Doha semi-final, was hugely impressive in the title match — the 36th match of their FedEx ATP Head2Head series — out-hitting Murray for a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory over two hours and 54 minutes. It ended Murray’s 28-match winning streak. Read & Watch Highlights

“[It was] definitely one of the best ways to start a year,” said Djokovic. “When Andy turned it around I thought, ‘I hope this is not payback time’ [for the Verdasco comeback]. All the way to the last shot, you never know with Andy. It’s no strange occurrence for both of us to play three sets for three hours. It’s a very physical battle.”

Djokovic served for the match at 5-4 in the second set against Murray, and held three championship points but could not find a way through his opponent’s defences. Murray maintained his record of breaking an opponent’s serve in 112 consecutive matches since losing to Roger Federer in August 2015 at the Western & Southern Open, and at one point reeled off five straight games to force a deciding set. Having stayed in touch for 30 minutes, Djokovic sensed his chance and pounced at 3-3.

“It means a lot to me,” said Djokovic. “Because the last three months of 2016 I haven’t felt that confident on the court and I didn’t play so consistent. To start off the year with a win over the World No. 1 and the biggest rival, it’s a dream start, so I am hoping I can get the best out of it.”

After this epic match, the tennis world thought that the No. 1 battle in 2017 would again be a two-man race. It turned out so different...

Watch Final Highlights

3) Monfils d. Nishikori, Coupe Rogers, Montreal Second Round, 9 August 2017 (Match Stats)
Gael Monfils’ 6-7(4), 7-5, 7-6(6) win over Kei Nishikori — particularly the final 14 points — showcased the very best of tennis as a sport. The match featured shifts of momentum and intensity to a player’s psychology and how the crowd reacted and felt. It was the kind of never-say-die comeback you’d long hoped for from the talented Monfils, who recovered from a set down against a Top 10 opponent for the first time in seven years and only the third time in his career (3-62). Read & Watch Highlights

Monfils appeared out for the count and staring at his fourth straight defeat to Nishikori, but at 2/6 down in the deciding-set tie-break, the enigmatic and athletic Frenchmen fended off four match points — two of which came on Nishikori’s serve — in a superb fightback.

"It's a good victory for many reasons," said Monfils. "It's a big revenge, because last year around this time I had the same thing actually against Kei. I was up 6/2 in the tie-break in the [Rio] Olympics quarter-finals and I lost the tie-break. So I know exactly how he feels. Also, last year, a bit before, I played him in Miami. I also had five match points and I lost it 7-6 in the third. I'm more than happy because I fought through the toughness, because it was tough for me. It was a bit like a rollercoaster. I was a break down in each set."

Monfils had trailed 2-5 in the second set, 3-5 in the third set and was 2/6 in the deciding tie-break. At 3/6, Monfils cleaned the line with a backhand winner to end a lung-busting rally, almost collapsing in exhaustion and disbelief. At 5/6 he sent a powerful forehand into the corner that drew another standing ovation and at 7/6 he snared a forehand winner — his 28th of the two-hour and 41-minute encounter — before letting out a celebratory scream. Nishikori had won more points (116-108), but it was the Frenchman who was clutch in the big moments.

Watch Full Match Replay At TennisTV

Come back on Tuesday for the Top 2 ATP World Tour matches of 2017

Ebden, Stebe Among Biggest Challenger Movers Of 2017

Sun, 12/03/2017 - 10:13pm

Five years ago, Matthew Ebden and Cedrik-Marcel Stebe were playing the best tennis of their careers. Both the Aussie and German had made the leap to the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time and were on the ascent as they continued to realize their dreams on the ATP World Tour.

But no path to stardom is identical and everyone takes a different route to the top. Ebden and Stebe would see their thriving careers cut down due to serious injury setbacks and after many years on the sidelines, both players would make triumphant comebacks in 2017 as the top performers on the ATP Challenger Tour.

Ebden and Stebe were the biggest movers to the year-end Top 100 this year, with the Aussie rising a staggering 619 spots to No. 76 in the Emirates ATP Rankings and the German soaring 381 positions to No. 82. Looking to translate their Challenger success to the ATP World Tour in 2018, both find themselves within just 15 spots of their career-highs attained in 2012.

On the comeback trail following knee surgery, Ebden not only enjoyed great success on the Challenger circuit as a two-time titlist in Canberra and Toyota, but the 30-year-old reached his first ATP World Tour final on the grass of Newport in July (l. to Isner). At age 27, Stebe, who underwent hip impingement surgery and pelvic surgery, won titles in Poprad Tatry, Slovakia, as well as Vancouver, Canada and Sibiu, Romania, in addition to reaching the second round at the US Open as a qualifier. He was a finalist for Comeback Player of the Year in the 2017 ATP Awards Presented By Moët & Chandon.

Ebden and Stebe were two of nine players to make leaps of 100+ spots to the Top 100 this year. Nicolas Jarry was the only other player to soar at least 300 places, while Rolex Paris Masters finalist Filip Krajinovic and #NextGenATP stars Denis Shapovalov, Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas also enjoyed breakthrough campaigns.

Biggest Jumps To Top 100 Of Emirates ATP Rankings

Player Jump Year-End 2016 Year-End 2017 Matthew Ebden +619 No. 695 No. 76 Cedrik-Marcel Stebe +381  No. 463 No. 82 Nicolas Jarry
+300  No. 400 No. 100
Filip Krajinovic +203  No. 237
No. 34
Denis Shapovalov +199  No. 250 No. 51 Peter Gojowczyk +130  No. 190 No. 60 Blaz Kavcic +123  No. 220 No. 97 Stefanos Tsitsipas  +118  No. 209  No. 91  Andrey Rublev +117 No. 156  No. 39 

In his return from a broken wrist, 22-year-old Jarry is wasting no time in picking up where he left off two years ago. On the heels of a trio of clay-court Challenger crowns, including one in his hometown of Santiago, Chile, he made his Top 100 debut after rising 300 spots. Meanwhile, Krajinovic, who led the ATP Challenger Tour with five titles, moved up 203 spots to No. 34, capping his campaign with a stunning runner-up finish at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Paris.

Shapovalov (+199 to No. 51), Rublev (+117 to No. 39) and Tsitsipas (+118 to No. 91), meanwhile, carried the teenage torch with their own Top 100 breakthroughs. Shapovalov thrust himself into the spotlight at the Rogers Cup, but the Canadian had already began plotting his ascent with Challenger titles on home soil in Drummondville and Gatineau. Tsitsipas also notched his maiden crown, prevailing on the clay of Genova, Italy, in September.

Peter Gojowczyk and Blaz Kavcic are the only other players to rise at least 100 spots to the Top 100, with the German becoming one of six to win on both the ATP World Tour (Metz) and ATP Challenger Tour (Happy Valley, Australia) this year. Slovenia's Kavcic led the Challenger circuit with 50 match wins, lifting trophies on Canadian soil in Winnipeg and Granby.

Significant Emirates ATP Rankings boosts weren't exclusive to the aforementioned group, however, with many others making great strides on the ATP Challenger Tour. After five years of battling on the circuit, Tennys Sandgren finally made his mark in 2017. The American enjoyed a jump of 97 spots to year-end No. 96, behind titles on home soil in Tempe and Savannah. Germany's Maximilian Marterer, aged 22, is contributing to his nation's youth movement with an increase of 87 spots to a career-high No. 90. He capped his campaign with a 21-3 run and titles on clay, hard and carpet.

Notable movers poised to break into the Top 100 following impressive seasons include 22-year-old Cameron Norrie, who vaulted 164 spots to No. 114 behind a trio of titles, and #NextGenATP stars Sebastian Ofner and Matteo Berrettini. Ofner and Berrettini broke onto the scene in 2017 with moves of over 200 spots to the Top 150.

In addition to Marterer and Stebe, other Germans celebrating standout seasons were Yannick Hanfmann, titlist on home soil in Ismaning and runner-up at the ATP World Tour 250 in Gstaad, and Oscar Otte, who lifted his maiden trophy in Lisbon. Both players will look to complete their stunning climbs to the Top 100 next year, having combined to post just a 3-16 record in Challenger main draws entering the year. Hanfmann rose 195 spots to No. 119, while Otte vaulted 379 positions to No. 131.

Germans On The Rise

Player Jump Year-End 2016 Year-End 2017 Cedrik-Marcel Stebe +381  No. 463 No. 82 Oscar Otte
+379 No. 510 No. 131
Yannick Hanfmann +195  No. 314
No. 119
Peter Gojowczyk +130  No. 190 No. 60 Maximilian Marterer +87 No. 177 No. 90 Alexander Zverev +20  No. 24  No. 4 

Best of 2017: The Backhand Behind Federer's Success

Sun, 12/03/2017 - 10:25am

In this installation of ATPWorldTour.com's Best of 2017 series, ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot talks to Roger Federer about his phenomenal start to the 2017 season and the importance of his backhand.

Best of 2017: Andy & Mischa Chat Fatherhood And Brothers

Sat, 12/02/2017 - 10:07am

In this installation of ATPWorldTour.com's Best of 2017 series, Mischa Zverev chats to World No. 1 Andy Murray about fatherhood and having brothers on tour while hosting ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot.

St. Petersburg Open 2017 Tournament Highlights

Sat, 12/02/2017 - 3:31am
Take a look back at the 2017 St. Petersburg Open tournament highlights.

Best Of 2017: Elias Ymer Visits Ethiopia

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 2:23pm
In this installation of ATPWorldTour.com's Best of 2017 series, ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot joins Elias Ymer and his father on a special visit to Ethiopia, where Elias explored his heritage and where his family came from.

Wawrinka Speaks For 1st Time Since Ending Season

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 12:38pm

Stan Wawrinka is looking forward to returning to the ATP World Tour in 2018, but admitted to media at the Geneva Country Club that he is still working hard to overcome his knee cartilage injury, which required two surgeries.

“The last five months were the most difficult ones of my career,” Wawrinka said. “Even today I’m not 100 per cent yet physically and with my tennis. I’m working hard each day to improve. But at least it’s going in the right direction and I’m very satisfied with that.”

The 32-year-old advanced to the final at Roland Garros and the BNP Paribas Open, the semi-finals at the Australian Open and also won the title in Geneva, but did not play the rest of the season after losing his opener at Wimbledon due to his knee injury.

“The first surgery was arthroscopy to have a look at the problem and the second one was to reconstruct the cartilage,” Wawrinka said. “It was very difficult and tough, a big surgery. I needed crutches for eight weeks and lost a lot of muscles because of that.”

Nevertheless, Wawrinka still aims to play in the 2018 Australian Open, and has been working with longtime fitness trainer Pierre Paganini, who also trains Roger Federer, to prepare for the Australian summer. He is also seeking a new coach to work alongside Yannick Fattebert after Magnus Norman’s departure in October.

“I still have many weeks to work on what is still missing. Everything went well during the last few weeks, there were no delays,” Wawrinka said. “I was very lucky to have Pierre Paganini in my entourage. Without him I would have stopped. I really needed someone who knows me inside out and who knows what I need to be fit again.”

Best of 2017: Brown And Tiafoe Put Houston Partygoers In Hot Seat

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 5:16am

In this installation of ATPWorldTour.com's best of 2017 series, Dustin Brown and Frances Tiafoe caught up with their fellow stars, such as Juan Monaco, Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco, at the players' party in Houston!

Fun In London With Felix Auger-Aliassime

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 3:27am
Get to know 17-year-old Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, who is looking to follow in the footsteps of his good friend Denis Shapovalov after winning two ATP Challenger Tour titles in 2017.