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Updated: 19 min 16 sec ago

Stan's Trophy Worth Its Weight In… Chocolate!

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 9:45pm

World No. 4 Stan Wawrinka received a sweet surprise from tournament organisers at the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open: a replica US Open trophy handmade entirely of chocolate!

The full-size trophy, carefully crafted from several kilos of chocolate, took two full days to build and was presented to the 2016 US Open champion at a pre-tournament press conference Wednesday in Geneva. The World No. 4 also won his first title on home soil this past May in Geneva and will return to the ATP World Tour 250 tournament in 2017 to defend his crown.

“This is a lovely idea from the tournament,” said Wawrinka. “The trophy looks great, what a nice surprise! It’s good that I already started working on my fitness with Pierre Paganini.”

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The 31-year-old Swiss, who defeated Novak Djokovic at the US Open to claim his third Grand Slam title, asked how long he could keep the chocolate trophy and was told it would be edible for about a week. The tournament wrapped and delivered the trophy to Wawrinka following the presentation to ensure it would arrive intact.

Tickets for the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open will be on sale from 8 December. 

 

Tiafoe Takes In The Waterloo Tunnels, Talks 2017 Goals

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 7:22pm
NextGen player Frances Tiafoe of the U.S. marvels at the Waterloo Tunnels in London and talks about his 2017 goals with ATPWorldTour.com. Getty Images photo.

Rivalries Of 2016: del Potro vs. Murray & Wawrinka

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 3:32pm
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Continuing our Season In Review series, ATPWorldTour.com revisits the fiercest rivalries of 2016. Today we feature Juan Martin del Potro vs. Andy Murray & Stan Wawrinka:

Juan Martin del Potro was a man on a mission in 2016. The Comeback Player of the Year in the 2016 ATP World Tour Awards Presented by Moët & Chandon, del Potro turned in multiple watershed moments of magic in his return to action from wrist surgery. Indelible images of the emotional Argentine with tears of joy came early and often.

After reaching the semi-finals in his debut in Delray Beach, he would streak to the third round at Wimbledon with an upset of Stan Wawrinka, claim the silver medal at the Rio Olympics behind stunning wins over Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, reach the quarter-finals at the US Open with a victory over Dominic Thiem, notch his first ATP World Tour title in nearly three years at the If Stockholm Open and cap it off with a thrilling win over Marin Cilic to guide Argentina to its first Davis Cup crown.

The common theme? Inspired performances against the Top 10.

In his first full season back, del Potro was one of just six players to earn at least six Top 10 wins in 2016, joining Andy Murray, Milos Raonic, Nick Kyrgios, Djokovic and Cilic.

The spark immediately returned for the Argentine, rekindling old rivalries with a pair of pulsating match-ups against both Murray and Wawrinka. Murray led the FedEx ATP Head2Head 5-2 entering the season, but they hadn’t faced off for more than three years. Two of the more consistent performers throughout the season, the Scot and the Argentine battled for the gold medal at the Rio Olympics, followed by a five-set, five-hour affair in the Davis Cup semis.

With both players relying on their final reserves, Murray persevered past a dogged del Potro 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 in more than four hours to become the first man to win back-to-back singles gold medals at the Olympics. Coming into the match, del Potro had spent 11 hours and 36 minutes on court; Murray, eight hours, 10 minutes. It was a pure war of attrition. Murray saw his win streak extend to 18 straight, while del Potro capped a remarkable week that featured wins over Djokovic and Nadal en route to the silver medal.

“I know tonight's one of the hardest matches that I've had to play for a big, big title,” Murray said. “Emotionally it was tough... Physically, it was hard. There were so many ups and downs in the match. It was one of the toughest matches that I've played to win a big event.”

Murray's defence looked to neutralise del Potro’s firepower once again, as he took a two-sets-to-one lead in the Davis Cup semi-finals a month later. But this time the Argentine powered across the finish line with a furious finish. He prevailed 6-4, 5-7, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4 in five hours and seven minutes to open the tie against Great Britain. On his third break chance of the fifth set, del Potro chased down an apparent winning volley from Murray to strike a running forehand winner and secure the decisive advantage.

"It’s amazing. Amazing. I really enjoyed the match," del Potro said. "He is a ridiculous player, a fighter, a great champion. I was trying to find a way. I played good forehands and good serves. That was the key."

View FedEx ATP Head2Head (Murray Leads 6-3) 

Del Potro vs. Murray: 2016 Meetings

 Event  Surface  Round
 Winner
 Score  Davis Cup
 Hard  SF  del Potro
 6-4, 5-7, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4
 Rio Olympics
 Hard  F
 Murray
 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5

Arguably the greatest Grand Slam rivalry of the year was between del Potro and Wawrinka, with the Argentine’s forehand firepower clashing with the Swiss’ backhand prowess. Del Potro led the FedEx ATP Head2Head 3-2 entering the season and their first meeting in four years took place in the second round at Wimbledon. With the roof closed on Centre Court, the featured match of the first week did not disappoint.

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In just his second match at a major since the 2014 Australian Open, del Potro stormed back from a set down, advancing with a 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3), 6-3 victory over the fourth seed.

“As we all say, it's great for tennis to see him back. He's a great guy, a really good player, a big champion,” Wawrinka said. “He’s beaten some good guys. Today he was playing really well. I think he was serving really well and his forehand is there."

Wawrinka would avenge the defeat at the US Open, needing four sets to advance through their quarter-final encounter, en route to lifting the trophy. He prevailed 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 over the 2009 champion under the lights on Arthur Ashe Stadium. The match ended at 1:20 a.m. local time, with the Swiss firing 53 winners, including 10 aces.

"It was important to stay there, to stay tough," said Wawrinka. "I knew before the match that against del Potro it's a tough challenge. He's playing well. He's strong mentally. He doesn't give you much. It's going to be painful physically and mentally to stay there, so I had to adapt my game a little bit. It's not a player that I can really always play the way I want to against, because he's so aggressive"

View FedEx ATP Head2Head (del Potro Leads 4-3)

Del Potro vs. Wawrinka: 2016 Meetings

 Event  Surface  Round
 Winner
 Score  US Open
 Hard  QF  Wawrinka  7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
 Wimbledon
 Grass  2R  del Potro
 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3), 6-3

Raonic, Moya Will No Longer Work Together

Wed, 11/30/2016 - 9:48pm

Milos Raonic will try to improve upon his career-best 2016 without the guidance of coach Carlos Moya. The Canadian announced on Wednesday that the two will no longer be working together.

Raonic first partnered with the former World No. 1 in January, and he went on to experience his best season on the ATP World Tour. The 25 year old kicked off the year by winning his eighth ATP World Tour title in Brisbane (d. Federer). Raonic proceeded to reach the Australian Open semi-finals, the BNP Paribas Open final, The Queen's Club final and his first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon (l. to Murray).

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Raonic also earned a career-high 52 wins in 2016 and finished at a career-best year-end No. 3 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, up 11 spots from his 2015 year-end ranking of No. 14.

“Thank you to Carlos Moya for helping me tremendously this year, alongside my team, to get the best out of me. Under Carlos' direction and tutelage I have played my best yet to date,” Raonic posted on Instagram. “We will no longer be continuing our coaching relationship but remain close friends. I wish him all the best.”

Raonic also works with Riccardo Piatti on a full-time basis. The Canadian had also brought on John McEnroe for a stretch during the grass-court and U.S. hard-court swings. Before working with Moya, Raonic had worked with Croatian Ivan Ljubcic for more than two years.

Murray Soares Name The Tidiest Doubles Team In London

Wed, 11/30/2016 - 5:45pm
Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares take the fun doubles quiz, naming the tidiest doubles team at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals and the doubles player most likely to be late.

London Champs Share Who Spends The Most Time On His Hair

Wed, 11/30/2016 - 5:41pm
Barclays ATP World Tour Finals doubles champions Henri Kontinen and John Peers take the fun doubles quiz, answering who spends the most time on his pre-match hairstyle and which doubles player works the hardest.

Bryan Brothers Share Which Team Is Messiest In Locker Room

Wed, 11/30/2016 - 5:08pm
Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan take the doubles quiz and share which team is the messiest in the locker room and which player is the most adept at social media.

Rivalries Of 2016: Murray vs. Djokovic

Wed, 11/30/2016 - 3:36pm
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Continuing our Season In Review series, ATPWorldTour.com revisits the fiercest rivalries of 2016. Today we feature Andy Murray vs. Novak Djokovic:

It has been 10 years since Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic first faced off on the ATP World Tour. Ten years have passed since the Scot and the Serbian stepped on the indoor hard courts of Madrid for an unassuming third round meeting. Little did they know that a burgeoning rivalry that would span 35 encounters and feature a catalogue of heart-stopping moments was born on that day in the Spanish capital.

Close friends off the court and fierce rivals between the lines, Murray and Djokovic have had their share of memorable clashes over the years. They have met in all four Grand Slams, all nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events and twice at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

With two of the best backhands in the game and lightning-fast agility, they are mirror images from the back of the court: seemingly impenetrable elastic walls that can turn defence into offence in a flash, leaving opponents scratching their heads in disbelief. As the spotlight grows and drama builds, Murray and Djokovic raise their games to new heights and this was never more evident than in 2016, when the battle for Emirates ATP Rankings supremacy - World No. 1 - came down to the last match of the season at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

Murray dramatically dethroned Djokovic in straight sets in the season finale and it was a change of fortunes for the new World No. 1 against his longtime rival, having dropped 13 of their previous 15 encounters. Djokovic was an indomitable force in their first four meetings of 2016, opening the season with a straight-set win in the Australian Open final - his fifth victory over Murray at Melbourne Park - and following that with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 triumph for the Mutua Madrid Open crown.

"I'm very pleased that I have developed a great rivalry with somebody that I've known for a very long time and somebody that I have a very good and friendly relationship with on and off the court," Djokovic said after winning his 29th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title in Madrid. Following the tournament, he had opened a seemingly insurmountable 9,025-point advantage over Murray in the Emirates ATP Rankings and the year-end No. 1 spot was all but secured by May... or so it seemed.

With Djokovic continuing to build momentum towards Roland Garros, where he would bid to complete the career Grand Slam, it was Murray who would stop him in his tracks at the Foro Italico in Rome. Meeting in back-to-back finals at the clay-court Masters 1000 events, the birthday boy notched his first victory over Djokovic on the dirt with a strong 6-3, 6-3 performance.

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"Each time I go up against him, I know I have to play a great match to win," Murray said after lifting the Rome trophy. "Sometimes you play great tennis and you don't win, because he's such a great player."

They would meet for a third time in the clay-court season less than a month later at Roland Garros. Murray burst out of the gates, taking the opener 6-3, but Djokovic would not be denied his place in history, claiming the elusive crown in four sets and thus completing the career Grand Slam. It was their seventh clash in a major final, one meeting shy of the record held by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Murray scratched and clawed at Djokovic's perch and the lead slowly began to evaporate. After squaring off three times in the span of five weeks, they would not meet again until the championship bout at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. An 9,025-point deficit suddenly became a near-1,000 point lead for Murray, as the Scot notched his first title at the season finale. He capped a stunning march to the pinnacle of the tennis world with his 24th consecutive match win and fifth straight title, cementing his place in the history books.

Touted as a match for the ages with so much on the line, it was Murray who grabbed the initiative. He had laboured on court for a marathon nine hours and 56 minutes entering the final, including the two longest best-of-three set matches in tournament history (since 1991), while Djokovic needed three hours less to reach the title match. But the top seed exhibited no signs of fatigue. Murray would emerge victorious on his third match point after one hour and 42 minutes, becoming the first British player to finish as year-end No. 1.

With the battle for No. 1 reaching its climax in the final weeks of the season, the two rivals are poised to continue fighting for the top spot as we turn the calendar to 2017.

View FedEx ATP Head2Head (Djokovic Leads 24-11)

Djokovic vs. Murray: 2016 Meetings

 Event  Surface  Round
 Winner
 Score  Barclays ATP World Tour Finals
 Hard  F  Murray  6-3, 6-4
 Roland Garros
 Clay  F  Djokovic  3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4
 Rome  Clay  F  Murray  6-3, 6-3
 Madrid  Clay  F  Djokovic  6-2, 3-6, 6-3
 Australian Open
 Hard
 F
 Djokovic  6-1, 7-5, 7-6(3)

Murray Leads Historic Season On ATP World Tour In Year-End Emirates ATP Rankings

Tue, 11/29/2016 - 10:14pm

The ATP World Tour this week published the 2016 year-end Emirates ATP Rankings on ATPWorldTour.com, after a memorable and exciting season that saw Andy Murray clinch the year-end No. 1 ranking on the final day of the season at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

For the first time in the history of the Emirates ATP Rankings (since 1973), there were 10 different countries represented in the year-end Top 10. There were four new players in the year-end Top 10 from last season (No. 3 Milos Raonic, No. 6 Marin Cilic, No. 7 Gael Monfils and No. 8 Dominic Thiem). Monfils and Thiem are first-time additions while Raonic and Cilic are in the year-end Top 10 for the second time.

1. Andy Murray (GBR) – First Brit and 17th different year-end No. 1 continues 13 years of Big 4 dominance at the top of Emirates ATP Rankings

2. Novak Djokovic (SRB) – Finishes in Top 2 for sixth straight year and in Top 3 for 10th consecutive year

3. Milos Raonic (CAN) – Made biggest jump to No. 3 from previous year (14) since Djokovic in 2007 (16 to 3)

4. Stan Wawrinka (SUI) – Finishes No. 4 for third straight year and in Top 10 for fourth season in a row

5. Kei Nishikori (JPN) – Second Top 5 finish in three years and third straight year in Top 10

6. Marin Cilic (CRO) - Second Top 10 finish in three years and best Croat year-end ranking since Ljubicic (5) in 2006

7. Gael Monfils (FRA) – First time finish in Top 10 and ninth Frenchman in year-end Top 10

8. Dominic Thiem (AUT) – The 23-year-old is youngest in Top 10 and first Austrian in year-end Top 10 since Muster (9) in 1997

9. Rafael Nadal (ESP) –  Top 10 for 12th year in a row and one of six players with 12-more Top 10 finishes

10. Tomas Berdych (CZE) – Seventh consecutive finish in the Top 10

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2016 Year-End Emirates ATP Rankings Quick Facts

* For the first time since 2007 France led all countries with 12 players in the Top 100 (including seven in the Top 50). Spain followed with 10 in the Top 100, including an ATP World Tour-high nine in the Top 50.

* Despite ‎losing year-end No. 1 ranking, Djokovic has been in the Top 2 every week since March 21, 2011. He has also finished 10 straight seasons in the Top 3. The only other players to finish in the Top 3 for 10-more consecutive years are Jimmy Connors (12), Ivan Lendl (10) and Federer (10).

* Six players in the Top 15 finished the season with career-high rankings: Murray (No. 1), Raonic (No. 3), Cilic (No. 6), David Goffin (No. 11), Nick Kyrgios (No. 13) and Lucas Pouille (No. 15). Wawrinka finishes at No. 4 for the third straight season.

* Juan Martin del Potro, who jumped from No. 581 in 2015 to No. 38, made the biggest ranking jump in the Top 100 from last season (543 spots). On Feb. 8, he dropped to No. 1,045.

* Teenager Alexander Zverev finished a year-end best No. 24. The 19-year-old German is the first teenager to finish in the Top 25 since Djokovic (No. 16) and Murray (No. 17) in 2006. Zverev led a group of 15 #NextGen players in the Top 200 year-end rankings.

* Zverev and American Taylor Fritz, who finished as the youngest player in the Top 100 at No. 76, were the two teenagers in the year-end Top 100. The 19-year-old Fritz is one of six #NextGen players from the U.S.

* Ivo Karlovic, 37, finished the season in the Top 20 for the first time and he is the oldest player in the year-end Top 20 since Ken Rosewall (43), at No. 12 in 1977.

* Andy and Jamie Murray are the first brothers to finish No. 1 in the singles and doubles team rankings respectively. They are also only brothers to be No. 1 in singles and doubles at any time, with Jamie atop the individual doubles rankings for nine weeks earlier this season.

* Nicolas Mahut is first Frenchman to finish a season at No. 1 in singles or doubles.

* Jack Sock (No. 23 singles, No. 16 doubles) and Feliciano Lopez (No. 28 singles, No. 11 doubles) finished season with highest combined singles and doubles ranking. Mahut was one back (No. 39 singles, No. 1 doubles). Six players overall ended the year in Top 50 of both singles and doubles.

Watch NextGen Behind The Scenes Documentary Part I

Tue, 11/29/2016 - 6:33pm
ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot goes behind the scenes with NextGen ATP stars during the Asian swing.

Watch NextGen Uncovered

Tue, 11/29/2016 - 6:31pm

Watch the full #NextGen Uncovered documentary this week where you normally watch ATP World Tour Uncovered. Play the video above for an excerpt.

Staking a claim on the ATP World Tour has never been tougher. In an era dominated by Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, you are given nothing. You take only what you bleed for. But there are those bold enough and talented enough who will sacrifice everything to challenge the establishment… Kyrgios, Zverev, Edmund and Khachanov to name just a few.

Filmed over three weeks in Asia, this is their story, an insider’s look at opportunity, pressure, great wins, agonizing losses, gain, pain and the sparkling lights of fame. It’s a story about a few young men who’ve earned the chance of a lifetime – to compete among the tennis elite on the ATP World Tour.

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Over the past few years each of these men has given his all in a pursuit to be the best. We’ll go deeper than ever before to open a rarely seen window in tennis: one of aspiration and possibility.

What does this process look like from inside? What goes into creating a future champion? How do they deal with the pressure, expectation, the emotional rollercoaster, travel challenges and new cultures? Over the course of three weeks and five tournaments in China and Japan, these are the questions we will answer.

So join us on this intimate yet volatile journey to uncover what it takes to pursue your dreams.

This is #NextGen Uncovered.

Finals Club Celebrates Stars Of The 1980s

Tue, 11/29/2016 - 4:43pm
Stars of the 1980s Masters re-unite in London 2016 for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Photo: Peter Staples / ATP World Tour

Rivalries Of 2016: Thiem vs. Zverev

Tue, 11/29/2016 - 3:12pm
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Continuing our Season In Review series, ATPWorldTour.com revisits the fiercest rivalries of 2016. Today we feature Dominic Thiem vs. Alexander Zverev:

The future superstars of the ATP World Tour made their presence known with significant statements in 2016. Players aged 19-23 accounted for 11 titles in total and two of them wasted no time in kicking off a budding rivalry.

Longtime sporting adversaries Austria and Germany added Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev to the fray, with the pair meeting on four occasions this year. Each encounter proved to be an intense clash of exuberance and shotmaking, as 23-year-old Thiem and 19-year-old Zverev contested a trio of three-set clashes on the ATP World Tour, in addition to a four-set battle at Roland Garros.

With three meetings in a mere five-week span during the European clay-court swing, Thiem and Zverev got acquainted early and often this year. The Austrian would take all three encounters, prevailing in the Munich semi-finals, Nice final and Roland Garros third round, but it was far from straightforward.

Thiem rallied from a set down, saving eight of 11 break points for a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 win in Munich and was pushed the distance in retaining the Nice title. It was the first career final for #NextGen star Zverev, who fell to the reigning champ 6-4, 3-6, 6-0. With a combined age of 41, it represented the youngest final on the ATP World Tour this year.

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"Against a player like Dominic, who is one of the best clay-court players right now, you have to be at your best to beat him," said Zverev. "There's not a lot of chances."

With Thiem hurtling towards the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings and Zverev rapidly ascending to the Top 20, the pair carried the momentum from the Nice final into Roland Garros for the second Grand Slam of the year. Both would enjoy their best major results and a third round encounter brought their growing rivalry to one of the biggest stages in the game. Court Suzanne-Lenglen welcomed Thiem and Zverev, with a Round of 16 berth at stake, and they did not disappoint the French faithful.

Like he did in Munich, Thiem was forced to battle back from an early deficit. He missed six break chances late in the first set as Zverev went on to snatch the opener and grab a quick break in the second. But Thiem struck back, reeling off five straight games and eventually putting the match out of reach with a 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 victory after nearly three hours.

"I knew already before the match that it was going to be a very tough one against such a great player like Sascha," said Thiem. "I think the little difference today was probably the three years' age difference."

The pair would wait five months before capping their season series with a first-round meeting at the ATP World Tour 500 event in Beijing. Fresh off claiming his first tour-level trophy at the St. Petersburg Open, stunning Tomas Berdych and Stan Wawrinka in the semis and final, Zverev scored his third Top 10 win in four days with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 win over Thiem.

With both players continuing to plot their ascent up the Emirates ATP Rankings, look for many more encounters in the years to come.

View FedEx ATP Head2Head (Thiem Leads 3-1)

Thiem vs. Zverev: 2016 Meetings

 Event  Surface  Round
 Winner
 Score  Beijing
 Hard  1R  Zverev  4-6, 6-1, 6-3
 Roland Garros
 Clay  3R  Thiem  6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3, 6-3
 Nice  Clay  F  Thiem  6-4, 3-6, 6-0
 Munich  Clay  SF  Thiem  4-6, 6-2, 6-3

Del Potro, Other Top Players Find Success Behind Second Serves

Mon, 11/28/2016 - 10:23pm

Twenty years ago was the golden age of the big server.

Players such as Goran Ivanisevic, Pete Sampras, Richard Krajicek and Boris Becker dominated during an unprecedented period of first-serve dominance, the mid- to late 1990s. Today, it’s superiority behind the second serve that has risen to prominence as players look to climb the Emirates ATP Rankings.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of first- and second-serve win percentages beginning in 1991, when such statistics were first kept in tennis, to the 2016 season, shows a clear and dramatic transition of where players are excelling to begin the point.

Performance categories were created with the following criteria:

  • First-serve points won at 80 per cent or higher;

  • Second-serve points won at 55 per cent or higher.

1996 = Best Year For First-Serve Performance

The evolution of sport is not always linear. We think today’s players should be better than yesterday’s, but that’s simply not the case. You have to go back 20 years, to 1996, to find the last season in which at least eight players won 80 per cent of their first-serve points.

  1. Goran Ivanisevic (85.5%)

  2. Pete Sampras (82.9%)

  3. Richard Krajicek (82.7%)

  4. Boris Becker (82%)

  5. Mark Philippoussis (80.9%)

  6. Greg Rusedski (80.7%)

  7. Marc Rosset (80.7%)

  8. Michael Stich (80.3%)

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2011 = Best Year For Second-Serve Performance

The year 2011 saw the most players (11) win 55 per cent or better of their second-serve points. That same year also had the greatest disparity in favour of second-serve performance, with only two players (Ivo Karlovic, 80.3%, and Gilles Muller, 80%) at or above the 80 per cent mark on first-serve points won. The 11 players who won at least 55 per cent of their second-serve points in 2011:

  1. Juan Carlos Ferrero (57.3%)

  2. Roger Federer (57.1%)

  3. Federico Delbonis (56.9%)

  4. Rafael Nadal (56.7%)

  5. Andy Roddick (55.7%)

  6. Novak Djokovic (55.6%)

  7. John Isner (55.4%)

  8. Juan Martin del Potro (55.4%)

  9. Janko Tipsarevic (55.4%)

  10. David Ferrer (55.4%)

  11. Tommy Robredo (55%)

Tipping Point = 2001

In the 10 years from 1991 to 2000, there was only one year (1991) where the total number of players who won 55 per cent of their second-serve points was more than the total number of players who won 80 per cent of their first-serve points. Then in 2001, players' second-serve performances surged ahead, and it has stayed that way since.

The last two seasons (2015 and 2016) have seen four players each year win at least 80 per cent of their first-serve points, which is the best since 2000. It is definitely a resurgence, but interestingly it has not been at the expense of second-serve performance, which has stayed solid, with 10 players winning 55 per cent plus in 2015, and nine in 2016.

Summary

The cyclical nature of tennis is influenced by new technology as well as the strategic chess moves and counter-moves that players make to find a critical edge. There is no denying that proficiency behind your second serve is our sport’s current global phenomenon.

How First Serve Dominance Has Changed From 1991-2016

Year

First-Serve Points Won: Number of players at 80 per cent or higher

Second-Serve Points Won: Number of players at
55 per cent or higher

2016

4

9

2015

4

10

2014

2

8

2013

2

8

2012

2

9

2011

2

11

2010

2

8

2009

2

5

2008

1

7

2007

2

6

2006

1

4

2005

3

6

2004

3

6

2003

3

7

2002

2

2

2001

2

3

2000

4

1

1999

4

1

1998

6

1

1997

6

0

1996

8

0

1995

5

1

1994

3

0

1993

3

3

1992

3

1

1991

0

1

Del Potro Plays Through Broken Finger Against Cilic

Mon, 11/28/2016 - 10:10pm

Juan Martin del Potro has endured more pain than most tennis players during his injury-stinted career, including four wrist surgeries during the past seven years. So of course he wasn't going to let a broken left pinky finger stop him during his final match of the season on Sunday.

Del Potro and Marin Cilic were tied two sets a piece during their Davis Cup match when the Argentine broke his smallest left finger while trying to catch a missed Cilic serve off the bounce.

Del Potro played through the injury, though, and improved upon his already impressive 2016 by coming back from two-sets down for the first time in his career to beat Cilic 6-7(4), 2-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-3 in four hours and 53 minutes. Del Potro's win forced a fifth rubber in the Davis Cup final between Argentina and Croatia, and his teammate Federico Delbonis completed the turnaround by beating Croatia's Ivo Karlovic to give Argentina its first Davis Cup title.

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“My finger is broken but I won’t mind one bit if we win the Davis Cup,” del Potro told reporters after his win, while Delbonis was still on court. “This was an emotionally exhausting match and one of the biggest wins of my career. Thanks to all those who prevented me from retiring. I was very close to never playing again and, well, here I am.”

The 28 year old has said he thought about giving up tennis during his latest comeback. But he didn't, and tennis fans were the beneficiaries this season.

Del Potro, No. 38 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, has climbed 1,007 spots since February. He beat Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal this season. Del Potro also became a titlist again this year, hoisting his first ATP World Tour trophy since January 2014 by winning the If Stockholm Open in October (d. Sock).

All of his accomplishments earned him his second Comeback Player of the Year honour in the 2016 ATP World Tour Awards presented by Moët & Chandon. Del Potro also received the award in 2011 after coming back from right-wrist surgery that he underwent in May 2010. The Tandil native also had three surgeries on his left wrist in 2014 and 2015.

Celebrating The Best Of 2016

Mon, 11/28/2016 - 8:39pm

Join us in coming weeks as we re-live the drama and excitement of 2016 in our annual review of the ATP World Tour season.

We begin this week with the five most intriguing rivalries of 2016. We'll also look at the best matches, biggest comebacks, most stunning upsets, statistics, hot shots, off-court fun and more.

Look for new content each day as we reflect on a great year and count down to the start of the 2017 season, which begins Jan. 1 in Brisbane (and Jan. 2 in Doha and Chennai).

The Rivalries
Andy Murray v Milos Raonic
Dominic Thiem v Alexander Zverev
Andy Murray v Novak Djokovic
Juan Martin del Potro v Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka
Andy Murray v Kei Nishikori

Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers
Opportunity Breeds Success For Zverev
Raonic Reaps Rewards On Return

Best ATP Matches
Part 1: Nos. 5-3

More to come...

Rivalries Of 2016: Murray vs. Raonic

Mon, 11/28/2016 - 4:11pm
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To kick off our Season In Review Series, ATPWorldTour.com revisits the fiercest rivalries of 2016. Today we feature Andy Murray vs. Milos Raonic:

Two players have capped stellar seasons on the ATP World Tour with career-highs in the Top 5 of the Emirates ATP Rankings. Year-end World No. 1 Andy Murray leads the pack, with a surging Milos Raonic finishing at No. 3 after a semi-final run at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

Raonic nearly went one step further at the season finale, but a clutch Murray stopped him in his tracks in arguably the match of the year - a three-hour and 38-minute instant classic. With both competitors turning in career years, it’s no surprise that they faced off in multiple thrilling encounters throughout the season.

The budding rivalry had it all in 2016, with meetings on hard, clay and grass and at multiple Grand Slams and ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events. It found a home in London, with final encounters on the lawns of Queen's Club and Wimbledon, in addition to their epic under the lights at The O2. On paper, it was completely one-sided, with Murray winning all six affairs, but the drama and intensity of each encounter made it one of the best rivalries of the year.

It all started in January, with Murray and Raonic dueling in the semi-finals of the Australian Open. The Scot would prevail in a five-set, four-hour thriller, rallying from the brink of elimination to move into the final 4-6, 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2. Raonic was impeded by an adductor injury as the match progressed and Murray, sensing blood in the water, would break once in the fourth set and twice more in the decider to reach his fifth title match at Melbourne Park.

After capturing their lone clay-court encounter 6-2, 6-0 in the quarter-finals of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, the rivalry would shift to grass. Their contrast in styles was on full display in the finals of both the Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club and the third Grand Slam of the year at Wimbledon. Murray had the partisan British crowd behind him, but Raonic was buoyed by his big serve on the slick courts and surging confidence in reaching his first major final. Sparks flew as Murray battled from a set and a break down to lift his fifth Queen’s Club crown and denied the Canadian’s bid for history three weeks later at the All England Club in a tight 6-4, 7-6(3), 7-6(2) final.

"Milos has had a great few weeks on the grass and had some unbelievable wins," said Murray after winning his second Wimbledon title. "His match against Roger in the semis was a great, great match. He is one of the hardest workers out there, always trying to improve and get better."

"There are guys that are always sort of trying to push those barriers down that these guys try to set up," Raonic added. "Everybody wants to win. The guy across the net from you wants to take what you're trying to get. I did the best I could. I tried to put the things together. I tried coming forward, putting pressure on him. He was playing much better than me off the baseline. He was more effective there."

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Murray would add a 6-3, 6-3 victory in the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati, before squaring off one last time with a spot in the final of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on the line. Murray stormed back from another set and a break deficit to triumph after a tournament record three hours and 38 minutes, saving one match point in a pulsating 20-point deciding tie-break. Raonic had Murray’s bid for year-end No. 1 in his hands, but the Scot wrestled free, neutralising his biggest weapons and stretching the Canadian from side to side on the baseline. Raonic demonstrated why he’s one of the elite players in the world, while Murray exhibited his growing affinity for the big moment, emerging 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-6(9).

“It was one of the tougher matches I played this year,” Murray said. “It was not easy... obviously with it being very long, but also mentally tiring as well.”

“I really tried to, in the best way possible, leave it all out there,” Raonic said. “I turned it around for myself twice there at the end of the third... I just did everything I could, everything that was within me, at least, to really try to win.”

View FedEx ATP Head2Head (Murray Leads 9-3)

Murray vs. Raonic: 2016 Meetings

 Event  Surface  Round
 Winner
 Score  Barclays ATP World Tour Finals
 Hard  SF  Murray  5-7, 7-6(5), 7-6(9)
 Cincinnati
 Hard  SF  Murray  6-3, 6-3
 Wimbledon  Grass  F  Murray  6-4, 7-6(3), 7-6(2)
 London / Queen's Club
 Grass  F  Murray  6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3
 Monte-Carlo  Clay
 QF  Murray  6-2, 6-0
 Australian Open
 Hard
 SF
 Murray
 4-6, 7-6, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2

#NextGen Kozlov Wins Maiden Challenger In Columbus

Mon, 11/28/2016 - 1:23am

A LOOK BACK

Columbus Challenger (Columbus, Ohio): Fourth seed and #NextGen star Stefan Kozlov picked up his first Challenger title by defeating sixth seed and fellow American Tennys Sandgren, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2. The 18-year-old’s victory marks the third time in the past four weeks that an American teenager has won their maiden Challenger title, with Reilly Opelka prevailing in Charlottesville and Michael Mmoh winning in Knoxville. This is the 13th time a teenager has won a Challenger this year and Kozlov is now the 17th #NextGen winner overall. Kozlov rises 30 spots to a career-high Emirates ATP Ranking of No. 116.

American Teen Finalists In 2016

Player

Age
Tournament
Result
Taylor Fritz
18 yrs, 2 mos
Happy Valley (AUS)
Won title
Stefan Kozlov
18 yrs, 2 mos
Le Gosier (GP)
Runner-up
Frances Tiafoe
18 yrs, 3 mos
Tallahassee (USA)
Runner-up
Frances Tiafoe
18 yrs, 5 mos
Winnetka (USA)
Runner-up
Frances Tiafoe 18 yrs, 6 mos
Lexington (USA)
Runner-up
Frances Tiafoe
18 yrs, 6 mos
Granby (CAN)
Won title
Frances Tiafoe
18 yrs, 8 mos
Stockton (USA)
Won title
Michael Mmoh
18 yrs, 8 mos
Tiburon (USA)
Runner-up
Stefan Kozlov
18 yrs, 9 mos
Suzhou (CHN)
Runner-up
Stefan Kozlov
18 yrs, 9 mos
Columbus (USA)
Won title
Michael Mmoh
18 yrs, 10 mos
Knoxville (USA)
Won title
Reilly Opelka
19 yrs, 2 mos
Charlottesville (USA)
Won title
Jared Donaldson
19 yrs, 6 mos
Savannah (USA)
Runner-up
Ernesto Escobedo*
19 yrs, 10 mos
Sao Paulo (BRA)
Runner-up

*Escobedo won first Challenger title less than a month after turning 20 in July, in Lexington (USA)

Sandgren’s best two Challenger results this year have come in Columbus, with the 25-year-old reaching the semi-finals at the $50,000 event here in September.

Astana Challenger Capital Cup (Astana, Kazakhstan): Top seed and #NextGen star Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan won his second Challenger title of 2016 in a marathon final over second seed Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, 6-4, 6-7(4), 7-6(3). The win also marks the first time two #NextGen stars have won Challenger tournaments in the same week. The 21-year-old Nishioka clinched his maiden Challenger title in July in Winnetka, Illinois. His win also ensures he will finish the year inside the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings.

Andria E Castel Del Monte Challenger (Andria, Italy): Fourth seed Luca Vanni won back-to-back Challenger titles in Italy by defeating fellow Italian and wild card Matteo Berrettini, 5-7, 6-0, 6-3. Vanni also prevailed last week on home soil in Brescia.

Despite the loss, the week was a career breakthrough for Berrettini, who had never reached a Challenger quarter-final prior to this week. The 20-year-old Italian jumped from No. 680 to No. 433 in the Emirates ATP Rankings with his performance in Andria.

WHAT'S AHEAD

That’s a wrap for the 2016 ATP Challenger Tour season. The circuit will be on a five-week hiatus before resuming with events in Australia, Thailand and New Caledonia in January.

Argentina Rallies For First Davis Cup Title

Sun, 11/27/2016 - 7:35pm

CROATIA 2, ARGENTINA 3
Arena Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia
Davis Cup Final 

Argentina completed an improbable comeback to claim its first Davis Cup title, storming back from the brink of elimination to defeat Croatia on Sunday.

The South American nation was one set from defeat in the fourth rubber, with Marin Cilic leading Juan Martin del Potro two sets to love, and they would mount a historic rally to lift the trophy. Del Potro turned in his first career two-set comeback 6-7(4), 2-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-3, followed by a clutch 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win for Federico Delbonis over Ivo Karlovic.

Argentina is the eighth nation to rally from 1-2 down and first since Serbia completed the comeback in 2010. Having captured road ties against Poland, Italy, Great Britain and now Croatia, they are just the second country to win the title with four wins away from home.

"We played with our heart and tried to do the best," said Delbonis. "This is amazing."

Led by captain Daniel Orsanic, Argentina silenced a partisan Arena Zagreb crowd. Del Potro, the Comeback Player of the Year in the 2016 ATP World Tour Awards Presented by Moët & Chandon, joined Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Milos Raonic, Nick Kyrgios and Cilic as the only players with at least six Top 10 wins this year.

"We did what we had to do," said Orsanic. "We could have lost, but the guys were amazing today. Juan Martin won an incredible match and Federico played the best match of his life. I dreamed for this so many times. I think tennis is very traditional at home and we deserve it."

Cilic struck first blood in Sunday's fourth rubber, breaking to love in the second game and reeling off 12 of the first 14 points to surge ahead 3-0. Del Potro would later break back for 4-4, but his Croatian opponent was too strong in the eventual tie-break, taking it 7-4.

Cilic looked to be in cruise control after snatching the second set 6-2 and denying a pair of break chances early in the third with consecutive clutch aces. The shot of the match came in the opening game of the third set, when Del Potro struck an improbable baseline-to-baseline tweener lob. They would remain on serve until the 12th game, when Del Potro surged to a 0/40 lead. Cilic turned aside the first two set points, but a lunging backhand volley winner would give the Argentine the third.

Another clutch late break leveled the match at two sets apiece, as Del Potro grabbed the fourth 6-4 and he would overcome a quick break to open the decider, reeling off six of the last eight games to complete the improbable comeback. He sealed the win on his first match point when Cilic netted a backhand return, extending his FedEx ATP Head2Head lead to 9-2.

"It's tough for me to speak, but I did my best and this is amazing," said an emotional Del Potro, who overcame 34 aces to prevail after four hours and 53 minutes.

While it was the first two-set comeback in Del Potro's career, it marked the third time Cilic had relinquished a two-set lead in 2016 alone. He had fallen to Jack Sock in Davis Cup play and to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

Delbonis, meanwhile, overturned an 3-9 record in tour-level matches on indoor hard courts. In stunning fashion, he broke Karlovic's serve four times, limiting the big-serving Croatian to 14 aces and just 67 per cent first serve points won. He captured the first live fifth rubber in the Davis Cup Final since 2012 and '13, when Radek Stepanek won consecutive live deciders against Spain and Serbia, respectively.

Following four final defeats - in 1981, 2006, 2008 and 2011 - it was a dramatic first title for Argentina. Croatia was bidding for its second crown after prevailing in 2005.

Dodig/Cilic Put Croatia Ahead 2-1

Sat, 11/26/2016 - 6:06pm

CROATIA 2, ARGENTINA 1
Arena Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia
Davis Cup Final

Croatia is one win from claiming their second Davis Cup crown after Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig provided the heroics in Saturday's doubles rubber. In front of a sold out Arena Zagreb in the Croatian capital, Cilic and Dodig defeated Juan Martin del Potro and Leonardo Mayer 7-6(2), 7-6(4), 6-3 to put the host nation ahead 2-1 after Day 2 of competition.

Dodig, No. 13 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings, led the charge in claiming his fifth straight Davis Cup doubles rubber since 2015. He has won three in a row this year with Cilic.

“This is a once in a lifetime experience and I have to thank the fans for creating a fantastic atmosphere,” Dodig said. “We will be rooting for Marin to finish the job tomorrow.” 

The Croatian duo prevailed after two hours and 42 minutes when a Mayer backhand return sailed long. They fired 33 total winners, including six aces, while taking 85 per cent of first serve points.

In Sunday's reverse singles, Cilic and Del Potro will return to the court for a critical fourth rubber. The Argentine leads the FedEx ATP Head2Head 8-2, having claimed their previous five encounters, including a 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 rout in the 2012 Davis Cup quarter-finals. This will be their first meeting in three years.

Croatia is eyeing its second Davis Cup trophy after emerging victorious in 2005. Argentina, a four-time finalist, is seeking to rally for its first title, having finished runners-up in 1981, 2006, 2008 and 2011.