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Updated: 1 week 4 days ago

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.

Rivalries Of 2017: Dimitrov vs. Goffin

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 10:54pm
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Continuing our Season-In-Review series, ATPWorldTour.com revisits the fiercest rivalries of 2017. Today we feature Grigor Dimitrov vs. David Goffin

What makes a rivalry — is it the mix of playing styles or personalities, the intensity of each battle or something different? In 2017, two perennial grafters with great potential clashed on five occasions, improving both tactically and mentally for year-end Top 10 finishes in the Emirates ATP Rankings. While Grigor Dimitrov beat David Goffin in four of their five FedEx ATP Head2Head series meetings this year, the statistic as read is too simplistic to be dismissed as one-sided — a non-rivalry. For while Dimitrov and Goffin are never going to relentlessly overpower an opponent, the fluency of their games and the risks they take under pressure in their pursuit of victory made them leading players of the 2017 season.

Visit Best Of 2017 Series

When Dimitrov reached the 2014 Wimbledon semi-finals, to first break into the Top 10, the achievement was heralded. Here was a former junior World No. 1, finally making his mark, a disruptor to the established order. But the potential threat failed to materialise and he dropped outside of the Top 40. In 2017 and under the guidance of Dani Vallverdu, Dimitrov got off to a 16-1 start — the best record of any player. “There is no hiding from the Australian sun, and when the new season begins you see who has been working and who hasn’t when you come out of the garage,” said Dimitrov, who certainly justified his off-season statement.

In the space of four weeks, Dimitrov and Goffin — both 26 years of age — faced off three times. First there was the Australian Open quarter-finals, a nerve-wracking affair that Dimitrov won 6-3, 6-2, 6-4; then, two weeks later, the Garanti Koza Sofia Open final, when, under enormous pressure on home soil, the Bulgarian collapsed to his knees and burst into tears after a 7-5, 6-4 win. Goffin exacted revenge five days later 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 in the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament quarter-finals, playing throughout with great aggression.

Goffin, at 150lbs and one of the lightest players on the ATP World Tour, harking back to the weights of Michael Chang, Lleyton Hewitt and Gilles Simon in their playing primes, had finished 2016 at a year-end No. 11. So the calibre of the Belgian, the consistent threat he posed, was a known factor. But this year, upon overcoming an ankle injury in a freak accident at Roland Garros, his performances were laced with aggressive intent, a willingness to step into the court — particularly on his backhand wing – and hit his serve with greater power. The new approach, backed by his coach Thierry Van Cleemput, resulted in back-to-back ATP World Tour titles at the Shenzhen Open and his first 500-level event at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2017 in Tokyo. And, just like Dimitrov, who had won his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title at the Western & Southern Open in August, the reward for a career-best season was a much-deserved spot at the elite eight-player Nitto ATP Finals in London.

By the time of their fourth meeting of 2017, at the Nitto ATP Finals, Dimitrov had recorded a debut round-robin win against Dominic Thiem 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 at The O2, while Goffin had opened his season finale account with a first victory over World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, albeit hindered by a knee injury, 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-4. A semi-final berth at the Nitto ATP Finals was up for grabs and both players were full of confidence, yet Dimitrov blitzed Goffin in an eagerly-anticipated clash, 6-0, 6-2 in 74 minutes. “It’s a special win for me,” said Dimitrov, who won the first 10 games. “You get a few days out of the year that whatever you touch turns to gold, and that was the first set. My movement was great, I was reading the game really well and believing in my shots.”

It was a signal of intent for Dimitrov, who afterwards admitted, “I am not here just to participate”. Goffin soon recovered with victories over Dominic Thiem, then Roger Federer in the semi-finals. He had been 0-6 against the Swiss superstar, including a 6-1, 6-2 loss in the semi-finals of the Swiss Indoors Basel three weeks earlier and prior to the semi-final, Goffin had admitted, “Honestly, I don't know what to do tomorrow." The Belgian did some quick thinking and shocked Federer 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 to become only the sixth player to beat Nadal and Federer at the same tournament. What next? Dimitrov, four days on from that thumping loss.

The size of the prize and the opportunity to hold aloft the Nitto ATP Finals trophy guaranteed nerves aplenty in the final, but also terrific drama in front of a capacity crowd of 18,000 fans in east London. Dimitrov and Goffin were at their athletic and resilient best, yet once Dimitrov saved four break points in the first game of the deciding set, Goffin was visibly tired, but continued to fight. Dimitrov ultimately claimed the biggest title of his career 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 to follow in the footsteps of Spain's Alex Corretja, who won the title on his debut in 1998. The fifth and final match of their 2017 series was perhaps their finest, showing the desire and mental fortitude, potential and threat both World No. 3 Dimitrov and No. 7-ranked Goffin possess, and, importantly, can inflict at the top of the sport next season.

View FedEx ATP Head2Head (Dimitrov leads 5-1)

Dimitrov vs. Goffin: 2017 Meetings

Event Surface Round
Winner
Score Australian Open Hard QF Dimitrov 6-3, 6-2, 6-4
Garanti Koza Sofia Open Indoor Hard F Dimitrov 7-5, 6-4
ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament Indoor Hard QF Goffin 6-4, 1-6, 6-3
Nitto ATP Finals Indoor Hard RR Dimitrov 6-0, 6-2
Nitto ATP Finals Indoor Hard F Dimitrov 7-5, 4-6, 6-3

Stepanek Joins Djokovic’s Coaching Team

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 10:05pm

A couple weeks after announcing his retirement from professional tennis, Radek Stepanek already has a new gig: coach to Novak Djokovic. The pair broke the news Thursday on Instagram Live. 

“I’m ready to go,” said Stepanek to Djokovic on the split screen as they spoke to each other from their phones. “Where are you?” Djokovic asked, before opening a door to reveal the recently retired Czech on the other side. “All right guys, this is the new team, baby!” said Djokovic.

Stepanek joins Andre Agassi on the Serbian’s coaching team, and will be working with Djokovic in Monte Carlo as he prepares for the 2018 season. Djokovic is scheduled to return to the court at the season-opening Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha, where he is a two-time defending champion, after being sidelined since Wimbledon with a right elbow injury.  

“Radek is one of my very close friends on the tour and I was always impressed with his level of determination, passion and love for the sport,” Djokovic posted in a statement on his website. “He has lot of experience and knowledge, and he has played on a high level for many years. I am excited to join our forces together and cannot wait to compete again having a new team to back me up.

“On Andre’s suggestion I pursued Radek, therefore I am sure the two of them will work well together. The new season is about to start and there is a long way to go back to where I left off. We are aware that I need to go step by step, not hurrying anything. I feel much better now, and I can’t wait to play matches again.”

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The 38-year-old Stepanek had stated upon his retirement that he planned to stay in tennis, and he looked ahead to his new collaboration with Djokovic.

“I’m honoured to be a new member of Novak’s team,” said Stepanek, who ranked in the Top 10 of both the singles and doubles Emirates ATP Rankings. “It is a new and exciting challenge for me, which I’m looking forward to and I believe that as a team we can help Nole to reach his goals. As longtime friends off the tennis court, I believe that our friendship and similar views will translate onto the court as well, and we will share some memorable moments together.”

Rivalries of 2017: Nadal vs. Dimitrov

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 11:15pm
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Continuing our Season In Review series, ATPWorldTour.com revisits the fiercest rivalries of 2017. Today we feature Rafael Nadal vs. Grigor Dimitrov.

They are two of the most exciting players to watch on the ATP World Tour. No one fights harder and for longer than Rafael Nadal, who always engages the crowd with his patented “¡Vamos!” shouts and left-handed upper cuts. It's as if Nadal, the master of the mental game, is seeking a body blow to his opponent when he delivers the fan-favourite celebration.

But few players leave you in awe when they're in the zone as Grigor Dimitrov does. The Bulgarian's one-handed backhand will have you writing “Did you see that?” texts to friends, and his do-everything game gives him the chance to compete for “Big Titles”, as he first did in 2014, reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals and beating defending champion Andy Murray along the way.

But when Nadal and Dimitrov faced off in the first of their three 2017 FedEx ATP Head2Head matchups, all of which went the distance, it was a surprise meeting of sorts, considering the stage – the Australian Open semi-finals – and what both had been through during the past year.

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Just three months before the season's first Grand Slam tournament, Nadal couldn't even comfortably rally on court. In what seems unbelievable now, in mid-October 2016, when Roger Federer helped the Spaniard open his academy in Mallorca, Spain, neither was in good enough shape to play. Nadal was still recovering from his left wrist injury, and Federer was still recuperating from knee surgery that had made him end his season after Wimbledon.

Dimitrov, meanwhile, had also endured a frustrating 2016. His Emirates ATP Ranking had dropped to No. 40 in July, his lowest spot in more than three years, and he had fallen in all three of his title matches.

Yet here they both were, in the semi-finals of the first Grand Slam tournament of the year, reigniting their careers to kick off 2017. Nadal had prevailed in five sets against German Alexander Zverev, and rolled into the semi-finals by beating sixth seed Gael Monfils and third seed Milos Raonic. His wrist injury seemed well in the past.

Watch Dimitrov's Intense Off-Season Training In Monte-Carlo:

Dimitrov, after a productive off-season in Monte-Carlo, had started 10-0, including three Top 10 wins (Thiem, Raonic, Nishikori) en route to the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp title. The Bulgarian had another reason to be confident in his second Grand Slam semi-final: He had gained his first win against Nadal the last time they had played, in October during the China Open quarter-finals.

“I feel like I have all the tools to go further, and my job isn't over yet,” Dimitrov said before facing Nadal. “I'm looking forward to my match on Friday. I think I'm prepared. I think I'm ready to go the distance.”

Nadal started quicker in their semi-final, though, taking the opener in only 35 minutes with a steady supply of looping crosscourt forehands to Dimitrov's one-handed backhand. The tactic that had helped Nadal for years against Federer was also working against Dimitrov.

But the Bulgarian, who had struggled with consistency in big matches in the past, stayed in the semi-final, encouraging himself with frequent “Come ons” and fist pumps. He smacked a forehand to lead 4-1 in the second set and later evened the match.

Nadal's backhand, not his forehand, helped him clinch the 70-minute third set, as he crushed back-to-back shots from that wing on set point. It looked as if he would take over and wrap up the semi-final in four sets. But Dimitrov refused to fade, staying aggressive, attacking the net and matching Nadal's level.

Midway through the fifth set, however, Nadal snapped a run of 26 consecutive holds and later served out the match. He overcame a staggering 79 winners, including 22 aces, from Dimitrov, who, according to John McEnroe, played the “match of his life”.

Read & Watch: Nadal Edges Dimitrov In A Thriller

Nadal would fall to Federer in the final, the Spaniard's first Grand Slam title match since 2014 Roland Garros. But it was the start of another banner year for Nadal in Grand Slams. He would go on to win a record 10th Roland Garros crown and his third US Open title.

Read & Watch: Federer Tops Nadal In Epic To Win 18th Grand Slam Title

“I feel very happy to be part of this match,” Nadal said after the Melbourne semi-final. “There was a moment in the fifth set that for sure I wanted to win. I said to myself, 'I am giving my best, I am playing very well. If I lose, that's it. Grigor deserves it, too.' I think both of us deserved to be in that final.”

The two wouldn't meet again until the final stretch of the season, and the circumstances had drastically changed since Melbourne. At the China Open in Beijing, top-seeded Nadal was closing in on his first year-end No. 1 finish in the Emirates ATP Rankings since 2013. Dimitrov had cracked the Top 10 for the first time since February 2015 and was looking to secure his debut at the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals in London.

A year ago, Dimitrov had upset Nadal in the Chinese capital, and the Spaniard was eager to earn revenge for that lone blemish on his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against the Bulgarian. He blitzed Dimitrov to start, leading by a set and a break. But Dimitrov, the 2016 finalist, broke twice in the second set and evened the match with a stunning backhand winner.

In the third, however, Dimitrov's level slightly dipped, and Nadal seized his moment, breaking three times to prevail 6-3, 4-6, 6-1. Nadal earned his 60th match win of the season and sprinted into the Beijing final, the 110th of his career. He would beat Nick Kyrgios in the final to celebrate his sixth title of the season.

He and Dimitrov wouldn't have to wait long for their third and final contest of the season. A week later, on the quick hard courts of the Shanghai Rolex Masters, they again met late in a tournament, this time in the quarter-finals of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament.

And it was another treat for fans as both players showed off their world-class athleticism and array of hot shots. Nadal took the first set but Dimitrov roared back, overcoming a 2/4 deficit in the second-set tie-break to force a third set. It marked the seventh time in their 11 FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings that they were going the distance. Nadal was again too good in the third set, though, and he served out the match with a service winner to advance 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-3.

The Spaniard would finish the season at year-end No. 1 for the fourth time (also 2008, 2010 and 2013). But Dimitrov would end the year on a career-high note as well. In his debut, the 26-year-old went unbeaten to win the Nitto ATP Finals, becoming the first debutant to capture the title since Spain's Alex Corretja in 1998. The last player to go undefeated and win the season-ending crown on debut was John McEnroe in 1978.

The title, Dimitrov's fourth of the year, pushed him to a career-high No. 3 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

Should Dimitrov and Nadal meet once more in Melbourne, in January 2018, it could again be in a semi-final. But this time around, no one should be surprised.

View FedEx ATP Head2Head series (Nadal leads 10-1)

Nadal vs. Dimitrov: 2017 Meetings

Event

Surface

Round

Winner

Score

Australian Open

Hard

SF

Nadal

6-3, 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-4

China Open

Hard

SF

Nadal

6-3, 4-6, 6-1

Shanghai Rolex Masters

Hard

QF

Nadal

6-4, 6-7(4), 6-3

Best of 2017: Bublik Interviews Murray, Federer and More

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 11:50am
Alex Bublik takes on the role of #NextGenATP reporter as he puts Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and more on the spot with his tricky questions.

Qureshi Inspires On 'Stop War Start Tennis' Tour In Africa

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 10:41am

The school kids circled Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, waving their hands with rapid quivering gestures – the traditional Ugandan greeting for the hearing impaired. The interpreter introduced Qureshi as a professional tennis player and explained that he had arrived in Uganda to offer help.

Suddenly, smiles shined bright as the kids grunted their joy while climbing all over Qureshi. Some reached for his hands, others hugged his legs and the littlest ones asked to be picked up and held.

Qureshi would soon learn that the hard, baked dirt field full of pebbles, ruts and patches of grass he was standing on was about to become a tennis playground. There were more kids than there were racquets and balls but that did not stop the kids from playing.

During the next six days, Qureshi would share his tennis testimony to variety of disadvantaged groups: barefoot kids and amputee adults, kids with special needs and displaced refugees, orphans diagnosed with AIDS and able-bodied adults looking to rise above the poverty line by teaching tennis to upper-class expatriates. Each stop of Qureshi’s “Stop War Start Tennis” tour had a different story to tell, but they all had one thing in common – a hope that tennis would lead to a better life.

Kigali, Rwanda

Qureshi kicked off his “Stop War Start Tennis” tour in Kigali, Rwanda. Qureshi’s mission on this tour, which also included a visit to Kampala, Uganda, was three-pronged: spotlight existing projects, assess the needs of the local partners and verify that donations are being used transparently.

“I felt like it was important to get my feet on the ground and eyes and ears on the people involved,” Qureshi says. “I aim to be more involved with 'Stop War Start Tennis' and not just by raising more funds, but by getting to know and develop relationships with the key people who are making things happen.”

Prior to Qureshi’s arrival in Kigali, he donated five tennis specific wheelchairs from foundation partner Motivation (https://www.motivation.org.uk/) to the newly-formed Rwanda wheelchair program run by the Rwanda Tennis Federation with Kenya’s Lawrence Karanja as expert coach.

In #StopWarStartTennis we believe Sports & Education are the most powerful weapons to promote Peace and end with Wars.

Down The T or Out Wide? Depends What You Want

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 12:33am

Where should your primary first serve location be? Straight down the T, or out wide to initially pull your opponent off the court?

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals clearly shows that players who won their matches at The O2 utilised the first serve out wide more than down the T in their quest for victory.

It begs the question: when players are behind in a match, does the scoreboard pressure them to go down the T more often to try and secure quick points to get back into the match?

Serving wide is a higher percentage serve than down the T, offering a bigger target area to aim at, but down the T is the quickest way home, and where more aces were hit in London. Out wide in the both the deuce and Ad court accounted for 69 aces, while straight down the T in both service boxes yielded 111 aces.

So if the T delivers instant results, why did the match winners opt for out wide so much? Because right around 70 per cent of all serves are returned back in play, and if you begin with the returner wide off the court, you initially enjoy more advantageous angles to exploit.

Grigor Dimitrov was the only player to win all his matches in London, and the location where he hit the most aces was deuce court out wide, with eight.

Dimitrov First Serve Ace Location

Deuce Court

  • 8 wide

  • 3 T

Ad Court

  • 5 wide

  • 3 T

Overall, Dimitrov hit 55 per cent (127/230) of his first serves out wide in both the deuce court and Ad court for the tournament.

Roger Federer and David Goffin hit the most aces in London, with 35 each. Goffin, in particular, had a favourite serve location of down the T in the deuce court any time he was under pressure and needed the point. He switched out wide as a secondary option to surprise opponents.

Dominic Thiem led the field with first serve points won, at 81 per cent, but lost twice in Group Pete Sampras play to David Goffin and Grigor Dimitrov, while narrowly defeating Pablo Carreno Busta 6-4 in the third set.

First Serve Points Won

  1. Dominic Thiem 81%

  2. Roger Federer 80%

  3. Grigor Dimitrov 75%

  4. Marin Cilic 73%

  5. David Goffin 73%

  6. Alexander Zverev 73%

  7. Jack Sock 69%

  8. Rafael Nadal 65%

  9. Pablo Carreno Busta 56%

Match winners at The O2 collected more first serve points out wide in the deuce court and Ad court than they did down the T. It’s a good lesson for players at all levels of the game.

Editor's Note: Serve direction metrics from the Goffin vs. Thiem Group Pete Sampras match were unavailable. 

Best of 2017: Me Or You With Thiem & Goffin

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 2:19am
Dominic Thiem and David Goffin decide who has the better backhand and who is the better dresser in this fun game of Me or You on ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot as part of ATPWorldTour.com's Best of 2017 series.

Rivalries Of 2017: Kyrgios Vs. Zverev

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 10:53pm
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Continuing our Season In Review series, ATPWorldTour.com revisits the fiercest rivalries of 2017. Today we feature Nick Kyrgios vs. Alexander Zverev:

One of the great rivalries in ATP World Tour history was thrust into the spotlight once again in 2017, with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal sweeping the Grand Slams and returning to the Top 2 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. But that wasn't the only matchup that attracted attention. The curtains opened in what might be one of the next great FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalries.

Alexander Zverev and Nick Kyrgios, 20 and 22 years old, respectively, are the two youngest players near the top of the Emirates ATP Rankings. They each were at one point the top-ranked junior in the world, and have been widely considered two of the best young talents on the ATP World Tour.

It was only a matter of time before Zverev, armed with his all-around powerful game, met the enigmatic shotmaker, Kyrgios. And the tennis world got its first look at the matchup this year.

Kyrgios, the No. 15 seed, and Zverev, the No. 18 seed, each defeated Argentines in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells to set up the first of what was expected to be many meetings between the friends. But it wasn't close, with the Australian cruising 6-3, 6-4 in a 73-minute third-round match without facing a break point. He played aggressively, but under control to dismiss the German.

“He's young and will have a great career,” Kyrgios said after the victory. “We will play each other many more times.”

Kyrgios would then go on to defeat second-seeded Novak Djokovic for the second time in 2017 before withdrawing from a quarter-final against Federer due to illness.

It was clear from Zverev's comments after the match that he was highly disappointed with his performance, calling it the “worst match I played all year”. But in the very next tournament, another ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event, he’d get another crack at his fellow rising star.

But again, at the Miami Open presented by Itau, it was Kyrgios who got the better of Zverev 6-4, 6-7(9), 6-3 in the quarter-finals without facing a break point. This match, however, was far more intense. Emotions ran high under the lights in a high-quality affair, but Kyrgios seized his sixth match point to claim the victory.

“I respect his game. He's beaten some of the best players in the world,” Kyrgios said. “We're going to play a lot more times. And he's only going to get better. He's 19 years old… He's going to continually make me better.”

At the moment, it seemed like Kyrgios was not only ahead in the rivalry, but that he was playing his way to the top of the game. After beating Zverev, the Australian competed in just his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final, and pushed Roger Federer — who would win the tournament — to the brink, holding the match on his racquet serving up 5/4 in a final-set tie-break. It was arguably the most impressive performance of his career given the circumstances.

Yet it was the German who was making a charge into the upper echelon of the ATP World Tour by the time they next met. In fact, Zverev soared up the rankings from 24th at the end of 2016 to as high as No. 3 this year, earning his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy in Rome.

So when the duo was set to face off in the Round of 16 at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal, there was even more hype than before. Zverev had just earned his fourth title of the season at the Citi Open and broke into the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings. Just days after saving three match points against Richard Gasquet — including one with a 49-shot rally — everything seemed to be going his way.

And that did not change against Kyrgios, with Zverev cruising 6-4, 6-3 in 73 minutes.

“Against him, it's not easy because he's one of the biggest servers that we have,” said Zverev, who would go on to claim his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title in Montreal. “He plays with not a lot of rhythm.”

But Zverev found his rhythm in the match and the tournament, becoming the first player outside of the ‘Big Four’ (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray) to win two Masters 1000 titles in a season since David Nalbandian in 2007, and only the second active player (Jo-Wilfried Tsonga) outside of the quartet to own two of the elite trophies.

While Kyrgios can take the racquet out of his opponents' hands, smacking forehand winners from anywhere on the court and serving his way out of trouble on both first and second serves, Zverev brings more of a consistency and will be in virtually every match with his steadier aggression from the baseline, which is especially potent on his two-handed backhand wing. It is an unpredictable matchup in which either player can win on any surface on any day.

That is why it wasn’t entirely surprising to see Kyrgios blast through Zverev in the semi-finals of the China Open, winning the last of the pair’s meetings this year, 6-3, 7-5.

While Zverev and Kyrgios are still working to reach their potential, they are inching ever closer to the very best in the sport. Zverev proved it this year by finishing fourth in the Emirates ATP Rankings and earning a berth at his first season finale. Kyrgios on the other hand did not win a title this season, but triumphed in four of six matches against the Top 5, including two wins against Novak Djokovic.

Both players have the talent to continue improving and if they do so, they will challenge each other in the process.

“He's going to beat me plenty of times in his career,” said Kyrgios at Indian Wells. “I'm going to beat him [too].”

View FedEx ATP Head2Head (Kyrgios leads 3-1)

Kyrgios vs. Zverev: 2017 Meetings

 Event  Surface  Round
 Winner
 Score BNP Paribas Open  Hard  R32  Kyrgios  6-3, 6-4
Miami Open presented by Itaú  Hard  QF  Kyrgios 6-4, 6-7(9), 6-3 Coupe Rogers  Hard  R16  Zverev 6-4, 6-3
China Open  Hard  SF  Kyrgios  6-3, 7-5

Challenger #NextGenATP First-Time Winner: Sumit Nagal

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 9:32pm

It was well worth the wait. As the book began to close on the ATP Challenger Tour season, Sumit Nagal had one final chapter to write.

The 20-year-old Indian captured his maiden Challenger crown on Saturday, prevailing in front of a raucous home crowd in Bengaluru. Nagal, the youngest player from his country in the Top 500 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, defeated fellow budding #NextGenATP Jay Clarke of Great Britain 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in the final.

With one day remaining in the 2017 Challenger season, Nagal claimed his moment of glory. Hailing from a nation of 1.3 billion people, pressure is an unavoidable part of life in the sporting-rich culture of India. But for Nagal, it was nonexistent as he marched to the title behind signature wins over top seed Blaz Kavcic and countryman Yuki Bhambri. The victory marks consecutive weeks with Indian titlists on the ATP Challenger Tour, following Bhambri's crown in Pune.

For Nagal, the win has added significance, not only as he hopes to inspire the next generation of players from his country, but in his own comeback from a torn labrum in his shoulder. Having been sidelined until May for a period of rest and rehabilitation, Nagal steadily mounted his climb up the Emirates ATP Rankings upon return and is now up to a career-high No. 235 at season's end. With no points to defend for the first four months of 2018, the sky is the limit for the aspiring #NextGenATP.

It's a first #ATPChallenger title for @nagalsumit! The

Nadal, Federer In Top 2 Year-End Emirates ATP Rankings For First Time Since 2010

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 12:50pm

The ATP World Tour today published the 2017 year-end Emirates ATP Rankings on ATPWorldTour.com, after a memorable and exciting season that saw Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer finish in the Top 2 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the seventh time, the first since 2010.

In addition, there were three players finishing in the Top 5 for the first time since 2003. The new trio were No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov, who closed the season by capturing the Nitto ATP Finals in London, No. 4 Alexander Zverev and No. 5 Dominic Thiem. Dimitrov, Zverev, No. 7 David Goffin, No. 8 Jack Sock and No. 10 Pablo Carreno Busta finished in the year-end Top 10 for the first time. The five first-time additions in the year-end Top 10 is the most since 1997.

The Top 10 of 2017
1. Rafael Nadal (ESP) – No. 1 for fourth time (2008, 2010, 2013, 2017) and oldest (31) year-end No. 1 continuing 14 years of ‘Big 4’ dominance at the top of Emirates ATP Rankings (2004-17)
2. Roger Federer (SUI) – Oldest (36) to finish No. 2 and record 11th time in year-end Top 2 (five times at No. 1, six times at No. 2)
3. Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) – Jumps from No. 17 in 2016 and first player with maiden Top 10 finish at No. 3 since Djokovic in 2007
4. Alexander Zverev (GER) – Youngest (20) in year-end Top 4 since Djokovic at No. 3 in 2007 and first German in year-end Top 10 since No. 6 Rainer Schuettler in 2003
5. Dominic Thiem (AUT) – Second straight year in Top 10 and first Austrian in year-end Top 5 since No. 5 Thomas Muster in 1996
6. Marin Cilic (CRO) – No. 6 for second straight year and third Top 10 finish in four years
7. David Goffin (BEL) – First Belgian in Top 10 with career-best 59 match wins (second-most in 2017 behind Nadal with 67)
8. Jack Sock (USA) – First American to finish in Top 10 since No. 8 Mardy Fish in 2011 and improved from No. 23 in 2016
9. Stan Wawrinka (SUI) – Finishes in Top 10 for fifth year in a row and second-oldest (32) of three players 30 & over in Top 10
10. Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) – Improves from No. 30 in 2016, biggest jump in Top 10 (20 places) like Zverev

View Full 2017 Year-End Emirates ATP Rankings

2017 Year-End Emirates ATP Rankings Quick Facts

* For the second year in a row France leads all countries with 10 players in the Top 100 (including six in the Top 50), followed by the United States with nine (the most since 2011) and Germany and Spain both with eight. Spain has the most in the Top 50 with seven).

* For a record seventh time Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer finish in the Top 2, the most by any duo in the history of the Emirates ATP Rankings (since 1973). Prior to this season they finished in the Top 2 from 2005-2010.

* Nadal, who ended last year No. 9, becomes the first player since Andy Roddick in 2003, to finish No. 1 from outside the Top 5 the previous season. Roddick was No. 10 in 2002 before finishing No. 1 the following season.

* Federer, who climbs from No. 16 last year to No. 2, finishes in the Top 10 for the 15th time in 16 years. Federer becomes the first player since Nadal to jump from outside the Top 10 to No. 2 the following year. Nadal went from No. 51 in 2004 to No. 2 in 2005. Federer trails Andre Agassi and Jimmy Connors, who both have a record 16 year-end Top 10 finishes.

* Serbian Filip Krajinovic makes the biggest jump (203 spots) in the Top 50 from No. 237 at the end of 2016 to a year-end ranking of No. 34.

* #NextGenATP teenager Denis Shapovalov finishes a year-end best No. 51. The 18-year-old Canadian is the youngest of three teenagers to finish in the Top 100 along with and No. 79 Frances Tiafoe (19) of the U.S and No. 91 Stefanos Tsitsipas (19) of Greece. Tsitsipas is the first Greek man to finish in the Top 100. Overall 10 #NextGen players (21 & under) are in the Top 100 year-end rankings, the most since 12 in 2008.

* Ivo Karlovic, 38, is the oldest in the Top 100 at No. 80 and one of a record 43 players aged 30 & over in the year-end Top 100.

* No. 4 Alexander Zverev and No. 33 Mischa Zverev are the first brothers in the year-end Top 35 in singles since 1991 with No. 14 Emilio Sanchez and No. 32 Javier Sanchez.

* Brazilian Marcelo Melo finishes No. 1 in doubles for the second time in three years. He and partner Lukasz Kubot of Poland are No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings in their first season together.

* Sock (No. 8 singles, No. 39 doubles), Carreno Busta (No. 10 singles, No. 44 doubles), Pablo Cuevas (No. 32 singles, No. 21 doubles), Feliciano Lopez (No. 36 singles, No. 24 doubles) and Ryan Harrison (No. 47 singles, No.16 doubles) are the only five players who ended the year in Top 50 of both singles and doubles.

The 2018 ATP World Tour season begins Sunday 31 December in Brisbane (Monday 1 January in Doha and Pune).

ATP World Tour: Best of 2017

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 10:37am

The 2017 ATP World Tour season was full of thrilling moments, classic matches, and plenty of memories that nobody will forget anytime soon. Over the course of the next month, ATPWorldTour.com will take fans through the very best of those moments.

We will recap the premier rivalries of 2017, the best matches from the ATP World Tour, the greatest matches from the Grand Slams, the most stunning upsets, retirements and more. Look for new content each day as we reflect on a great year and count down to the start of the 2018 season, which begins 31 December in Brisbane (and 1 January in Doha and Pune).

RIVALRIES

Roger Federer vs. Juan Martin del Potro
Nick Kyrgios vs. Alexander Zverev
Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal vs. Grigor Dimitrov
Grigor Dimitrov vs. David Goffin

Best of 2017: Kids Grill Federer

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 10:07am
In this Best of 2017 moment, ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot takes you back to one of Roger Federer's toughest ever press conferences, which was conducted by local school children at the BNP Paribas Open.

Millman Marches To Hua Hin Title In Final Week Of Season

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 12:13am

A LOOK BACK
EA Hua Hin Open Challenger (Hua Hin, Thailand): One of the biggest storylines of the year has been the success of players returning from injury. Filip Krajinovic, Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, Matthew Ebden and Nicolas Jarry all stole the headlines with impressive ATP Challenger Tour campaigns. Add John Millman to that list. The Aussie claimed his first Challenger crown in two years, and ninth of his career, with a ruthless run to the title in Hua Hin. Millman did not drop a set all week, including a 6-2, 6-2 victory in the final over countryman Andrew Whittington.

Former World No. 60 Millman is on the rise after returning to the circuit in May, following groin surgery at the start of the season. The Tecnifibre player would fall out of the Top 200 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, but is surging in his comeback. He finishes the 2017 season at No. 128, up 37 spots with the title on Thai soil. The 28-year-old Aussie was also a finalist in Lexington, U.S.A. and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, in addition to a run to the third round at the US Open in early September.

In The Gym With John Millman

Bengaluru Open (Bangalore, India): It was a fight to the finish for 20-year-old Sumit Nagal, who edged British teen Jay Clarke 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 for his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title in Bengaluru. India's #NextGenATP star is well on his way to breaking into the Top 200 after soaring 96 spots to a career-high No. 225 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. The sky's the limit for Nagal, who has no points to defend until May. His victory marks the second in as many weeks for the surging Indian contingent, following Yuki Bhambri's title in nearby Pune.

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Rio Tennis Classic (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil): Fourth seed Carlos Berlocq heads into the offseason on a high, after clinching his first title of the season. Berlocq lifted the trophy in Rio de Janeiro after Spain's Jaume Munar retired down 6-3, 2-6, 3-0 in Sunday's final. It was Berlocq's 18th crown on the Challenger circuit, drawing level with Go Soeda for fourth on the all-time list. Only Yen-Hsun Lu (29), Dudi Sela (22) and Paolo Lorenzi (19) have more triumphs. 

.@charlyberlocq rolls in Rio, lifting his first #ATPChallenger

Rivalries Of 2017: Federer Vs. Del Potro

Sun, 11/26/2017 - 10:07pm
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Beginning our Season In Review series, ATPWorldTour.com revisits the fiercest rivalries of 2017. Today we feature Roger Federer vs. Juan Martin del Potro:

Roger Federer's rivalries with his 'Big Four' brethren Rafael Nadal (15-23), Novak Djokovic (22-23) and Andy Murray (14-11) are celebrated as some of the best in the game's history. Somewhat less appreciated is his compelling FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Juan Martin Del Potro. The Argentine is one of a handful of players who, when at his best, has the firepower to overcome Federer's genius and it's must-see TV when Del Potro uncorks his forehand and plays go-for-broke tennis against the man many argue is the greatest player of all time.

Despite a lopsided 18-6 record in the Swiss' favour, nine of their past 11 meetings have gone the distance, with a 10th (this year's US Open quarter-final) going to four sets. In 2017, the pair met four times, with Federer claiming three victories. Yet it was Del Potro's lone victory at the US Open that proved most consequential of all.

Having not played since late 2013, due in no small measure to Del Potro's horror run with wrist injuries, the Swiss and Argentine resumed their rivalry after a 3 1/2 year hiatus in the heat and humidity of the Miami Open presented by Itaú in late March. Federer won his 15th match of 16 played to start the season by a relatively straightforward 6-3, 6-4 margin, saving all five break points he faced. That gave him what was at the time a 16-5 career advantage over the ‘Tower of Tandil’.

The Swiss didn't stop there, though. Two matches later, he'd save two match points against Tomas Berdych, before sneaking by a game Nick Kyrgios in an intense third-set tie-break in the semi-finals. And after taking out Rafael Nadal in straight sets to claim the title, Federer seemed an unstoppable force. He swept the year's first three 'Big Titles' — a Grand Slam (Australian Open) and two ATP World Tour Masters 1000s (Indian Wells, Miami) — for just the second time in his career (2006). All of a sudden, after starting the season at No. 16 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, a return to the top spot for the first time since 2012 was realistic.

Five months would go by without Federer taking on Del Potro, but this year’s US Open was just another example of why their rivalry is one of the most interesting matchups of this generation.

At first, it looked like they wouldn’t play in Flushing Meadows at all. The visibly ill Del Potro was down two quick sets against sixth-seeded Dominic Thiem in the US Open’s fourth round, and it was the Austrian who appeared destined to confront Federer in the final eight. But somehow with a raucous crowd behind him, Del Potro found new life, saved two match points in the fourth set, and battled back for the victory.

He couldn’t possibly have anything left for the Swiss in the quarter-finals, could he?

Federer had too much going for him. The second seed was 40-3 on the season going into the match, with titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. Looming in the next round was Rafael Nadal, whom he had never played at the US Open, and fans were begging for the matchup.

Del Potro was still ill, and had just played a grueling five-setter — forget that he trailed Federer 5-16 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry at the time.

But Del Potro has always found his best on the big stage against Federer. That is how he came back from two sets to one down against the five-time champion to win his lone Grand Slam in 2009 at the US Open on the very same court. That is how he led Federer 3-1 in finals at the time. That is also how he had won two of the pair’s three meetings at the Nitto ATP Finals.

"After eight years again in the central court of this tournament. I know how to play if I want to win," Del Potro said, remembering his victory in 2009. "But I will see how physically I feel after this battle. But always it's a pleasure to play the greatest guy in history."

Del Potro found his top level again in September, lashing out at his trademark forehand against Federer, who was not in peak form, to win the match 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(8), 6-4.

On paper, it was Del Potro’s fourth Grand Slam semi-final. But it meant so much more than that as it was a loss of great consequence for the third seed. If Federer had advanced to the final four against Nadal, the winner of that match would have left New York with the No. 1 spot in the Emirates ATP Rankings — the Swiss hadn’t stood atop tennis’ mountain since 2012.

And given that Federer would go on to win all four of his matches against Nadal this year — dropping just two sets — the No. 1 ranking and a possible third Grand Slam in 2017 was not out of the question.

Instead, Del Potro soared from 47th in the Emirates ATP Race To London before the tournament right into the heat of the battle, despite losing to Nadal in the next round.

And while Federer’s US Open loss was a brutal blow to his No. 1 hopes, the 36-year-old would get chances to pay back the Argentine.

They would meet again in the penultimate ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event of the season at the Shanghai Rolex Masters. At stake was another Federer-Nadal clash — this time in the final — while Del Potro was desperate to maintain his momentum as he pursued a return to The O2. But a scary fall on his wrist against Viktor Troicki made it unclear if he would play at all.

Del Potro would take the court and he showed few ill effects early in the semi-finals against Federer, taking the first set in commanding fashion.

But Federer would win 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 and go on to triumph at the event, once again beating Nadal. He also captured his third Masters 1000 trophy of the year, just the second time he had done that since 2007. 

"[It's] very painful now after the match, after the big effort it's the worst moment for my wrist," Del Potro said. "But they say I don't have any risk playing this match, so that's why I played."

Yet Del Potro's wrist did not keep him from staying in the Race hunt.

Soon after, they would meet again at Federer’s hometown event in Basel, where Del Potro was the only person to beat Federer since 2009, doing so in 2012 and 2013. Federer would win another three-set thriller 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3 in the final, to claim his eighth title at the Swiss Indoors Basel. It was the continuation of an incredible year for Federer and a resurgent close to the season for Del Potro.

"You've been on a great run since the US Open and before," Federer said. "I'm very happy to see you playing so well again."

Del Potro had a chance in Paris to clinch an unlikely London qualification. But he would fall one victory short of the Nitto ATP Finals at the Rolex Paris Masters, losing in the quarter-finals against John Isner in what was a 'win-and-in' match. However, his magical run from the start of the US Open through the end of the season showed that the Argentine is closing in on top form once again. Now ranked No. 11 in the world with no ranking points to defend until the end of February, Del Potro is primed for a return to the Top 10.

Sure, Federer may have beaten Del Potro in three of their four meetings this year to add to his already lopsided margin over the 29-year-old. But Del Potro's one victory at the US Open had the biggest impact, proving a key obstacle in Federer's chase for the No. 1 ranking while propelling Del Potro to a fantastic close to his season.

View FedEx ATP Head2Head (Federer leads 18-6)

Federer vs. Del Potro: 2017 Meetings

 Event  Surface  Round
 Winner
 Score Miami Open presented by Itaú  Hard  3R  Federer  6-3, 6-4
US Open  Hard  QF  Del Potro  7-5, 3-6, 7-6(8), 6-4
Shanghai Rolex Masters  Hard  SF  Federer  3-6, 6-3, 6-3
Swiss Indoors Basel  Hard  F  Federer  6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3

Coming Tuesday: Nick Kyrgios vs. Alexander Zverev

Rivalries Of 2017: Federer vs. Nadal

Sun, 11/26/2017 - 10:02pm
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Continuing our Season In Review series, ATPWorldTour.com revisits the fiercest rivalries of 2017. Today we feature Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal:

Roger Federer versus Rafael Nadal... Five words that evoke memories of some of the most thrilling matches and jaw-dropping moments in ATP World Tour history.

It is one of the greatest rivalries of all time, but, with both players recovering from injury as the curtain drew on the 2016 season, there were doubts of its renewal going forward. Their streak of 12 consecutive seasons with at least one encounter had come to a halt, and it was looking improbable that the drama would be rekindled with the same gripping intensity.

Would a new chapter be written in 2017? Not even Federer and Nadal could have predicted such a dramatic flip of the script. As the calendar turned to the new year, both players rediscovered their vintage form behind resurgent campaigns. Fans across the sporting world would not be disappointed as the rivalry was renewed in earnest. Not just once or twice, but on four occasions and with a trophy at stake in three of them.

View FedEx ATP Head2Head

A catalogue of pulsating clashes had marked their FedEx ATP Head2Head series over the years and they wasted no time in January, kicking off the season with a five-set classic in the Australian Open final. Eight years after they last squared off for the title at Melbourne Park - won by Nadal in five sets - Federer would exact his revenge. The Swiss recovered from a 1-3 deficit in the decider to capture his 18th Grand Slam championship and fifth Down Under. The two gladiators left the left the capacity crowd on Rod Laver Arena on the edge of their seats for three hours and 38 minutes.

The drama could not have been more palpable, with Federer trailing their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 23-11 to enter the year, including five losses in their previous six encounters. But a seismic shift would ensue in 2017 and their Melbourne meeting would set the tone for the year to come. Federer put an authoritative stamp on the rivalry with a significant change in tactics. The Swiss soared behind an offensive assault, predicated on his serve and a fearless backhand barrage, while Nadal was unable to effectively adjust his own gameplan.

Traditionally, Nadal had owned Federer's backhand with his curling lefty serve and forehand, but the Swiss turned that vulnerability into a weapon. With new coach Ivan Ljubicic, he refused to press or hesitate from the baseline, rather swinging through his backhand for stunning winners. Federer had accumulated six backhand winners in the first four sets of the Aussie Open final, but he crushed eight in the decider.

“I’m out of words,” said Federer, a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 winner. “I'd like to congratulate Rafa on an amazing comeback. There are no draws in tennis, but I would have been very happy to accept one and share it with Rafa tonight.”

With a bigger frame and fewer shanks, the 2017 version of Federer's backhand proved to be like nothing Nadal had ever seen. He refused to be bullied by Nadal's fearsome forehand and took every opportunity to step inside the baseline and go on offense, hitting a steady stream of clean winners to all corners of the court.

Federer and Nadal would jockey for position atop the Emirates ATP Race To London throughout the season and it was the Swiss who continued to make an immediate statement in the first quarter. A pair of straight-set victories at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami would see Federer take command of the rivarly, en route to securing the Sunshine Double.

Federer defeated Nadal 6-2, 6-3 in the fourth round at the BNP Paribas Open, before eventually clinching his fifth trophy at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. It marked the first time he had taken three straight meetings in their rivalry. And another clash would ensue just two weeks later, as Federer and Nadal battled for the Miami Open presented by Itau title. Same match-up and same result. The Basel native extended his run of dominance with a 6-3, 6-4 victory, cementing a 19-1 start to the season.

Federer would complete a perfect 4-0 season against his longtime rival, also adding a 6-4, 6-3 victory in the Shanghai Rolex Masters final - his 27th at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level. One glance at the stat sheet tells the whole story. Federer broke down Nadal's vaunted return game throughout the year with precision strikes on serve, claiming a combined 80 per cent of first serve points to Nadal's 62 per cent. Quick service games put constant pressure on Nadal's delivery and the Spaniard would concede 15 breaks, saving just 63 per cent of break points. Federer, meanwhile, turned aside 82 per cent of Nadal's break chances.

But while Federer started stronger in 2017, it was Nadal who had the last laugh. The Spaniard is known for his relentless work ethic on the court and that was on full display throughout the remainder of the season, en route to claiming year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. The 31-year-old denied Federer the top spot, despite the Swiss lifting a tour-leading seven trophies. A ruthless clay-court campaign in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid and Roland Garros, in addition to an impressive hard-court run at the US Open and China Open in Beijing, vaulted Nadal to No. 1. 

"The year played out the way it did and Rafa was better," Federer added. "He deserves to be there. I'm really happy for him because he had a rough season as well in 2016. It's great for him."

As the spotlight grew and the drama built to a gripping crescendo in 2017, both stars raised their games to new heights. Grigor Dimitrov, Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev may have staked their claim for a changing of the guard atop the ATP World Tour, but Federer and Nadal have refused to concede their mantles just yet.

"He won two Grand Slams, a few Masters 1000s and is second in the Race with a lot of points, so he played well for the whole season," Nadal said about Federer. "He played very high level of tennis during the whole season, so well done for him and I'm happy to see him play well."

Federer vs. Nadal: 2017 Meetings

 Event  Surface  Round
 Winner
 Score  Shanghai
 Hard  F  Federer  6-4, 6-3
 Miami
 Hard  F  Federer  6-3, 6-4
 Indian Wells  Hard  4R  Federer  6-2, 6-3
 Australian Open
 Hard
 F
 Federer  6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3

Top 5 Challenger Hot Shots November 2017

Sun, 11/26/2017 - 12:39pm
Watch the five best Hot Shots from the ATP Challenger Tour in the month of November, featuring Pablo Cuevas, Cam Norrie, Dustin Brown, Ruan Ruolefse and Hubert Hurkacz.

Pouille Clinches France's 10th Davis Cup Trophy

Sun, 11/26/2017 - 10:36am

FRANCE 3, BELGIUM 2
Lille, France (Indoor Hard)

If Lucas Pouille was nervous competing in a live Davis Cup fifth rubber for the first time, he certainly didn’t show it.

Pouille clinched France’s 10th Davis Cup title with a 6-3, 6-1, 6-0 victory over Belgium’s Steve Darcis in Lille, France, giving his country a 3-2 win in the tie.

"There are no words needed," Pouille said. "Just look at the atmosphere and the emotion... I'm just so proud of my team. We really wanted this trophy and finally we got it after 16 years. I'm very happy."

The Frenchman entered the match having lost his past two Davis Cup matches, including a one-hour, 59-minute defeat at the hands of David Goffin on Friday. His opponent, Darcis, had previously been 5-0 in live fifth rubbers, including clinching Belgium’s spot in the final this year as well as in 2015.

But the decisive rubber at Stade Pierre Mauroy was all Pouille from the beginning. The 23-year-old overwhelmed Darcis with power from the baseline that the veteran had no answer for.

Pouille won 79 per cent of his service points in the match, and never faced a break point. He broke Darcis seven times, closing out the triumph when a forehand from the Belgian sailed long.

"[I'm] just so emotional right now," Pouille said. "I'm very happy and to play in front of this crowd, my family and my friends, I'm feeling from another world."

The win capped another strong season for Pouille, who will finish inside the Top 20 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the second year in a row. He was also the only player on the ATP World Tour to win titles on all three surfaces this season. The World No. 18 entered the tie on the heels of capturing his third title of the season in Vienna, after winning on clay (Budapest) and grass (Stuttgart) earlier in 2017. 

It was the second year in a row that the Davis Cup Final came down to a live fifth rubber, with Argentina defeating Croatia 3-2 last year.

Goffin evened the tie for Belgium at 2-2 earlier on Sunday, beating France’s top-ranked player, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-2.

"I played my best tennis on Sunday," Goffin said. "It's always special to play the Davis Cup on Sunday. It's the best day with the crowd and the atmosphere on the court so it was something unbelievable to play my best tennis."

The Belgian put his country within one match of winning its first Davis Cup title.

Tsonga dominated the first set, cruising on serve while earning opportunities in almost all of Goffin’s service games. The Frenchman held six break points across three different games in the opening set, but the Belgian found his best tennis while under pressure, especially on his two-handed backhand wing.

And once Goffin sneaked out the first set in a tie-break, all the momentum was on his side. Tsonga's first-serve percentage dropped from 75 to 53 in the second set, allowing the Belgian to return more aggressively. That gave Goffin his first break point opportunities in the match, one of which he converted to claim a two-set lead.

Tsonga loosened up late in the third set once he was down two breaks, but it was too late. Goffin saved two break points at 4-1 and that was the last hurdle he would face ahead of the finish line, closing out his second win of the weekend with a serve that the Frenchman could not handle.

Goffin, who also helped his country to the Davis Cup Final in 2015, did not lose serve against Tsonga or in his first match of the tie against Lucas Pouille.

The last time that France had won the Davis Cup, in 2001 (d. Australia), the tie was also decided in a fifth rubber. The French took a 2-1 lead into Sunday's play before Lleyton Hewitt forced a decisive fifth rubber, which Nicolas Escude won to claim his country's ninth trophy in the event.

France Earns 2-1 Lead In Davis Cup Final

Sat, 11/25/2017 - 10:25am

FRANCE 2, BELGIUM 1
Lille, France (Indoor Hard)

For a while, it appeared that Belgium was ready to shock the fans inside Stade Pierre Mauroy, as Joris De Loore and Ruben Bemelmans served for a two sets to one lead in Saturday's doubles rubber in Lille, France. But Richard Gasquet and Pierre-Hugues Herbert battled the whole way in front of their home crowd to defeat the Belgians 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 and move France within one match of capturing its 10th Davis Cup title.

Belgium, which is in its second Davis Cup Final in three years and third overall, now must win both reverse singles rubbers to triumph in the tie and claim their first victory at the event.

Yannick Noah's charges sprinted to a 5-0 lead in the first set, even though Herbert — a Nitto ATP Finals qualifier with Nicolas Mahut — was playing with a new partner in Gasquet. But the Belgians did not go quietly, earning the second set and later serving for the third. But once the French broke back for 5-5, momentum was on their side, and they would win the first six points of the ensuing tie-break to help gain a lead of their own.

And when a De Loore forehand sailed long on match point, French fans erupted knowing their nation had earned a 2-1 lead in the tie.

The doubles rubber proved key the last time France was in the Davis Cup Final, in 2014. After entering Saturday knotted at 1-1 three years ago, a straight-sets loss gave Switzerland a 2-1 lead, which Roger Federer would use to clinch the title in Sunday's first match against Gasquet.

This time around, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will have an opportunity to clinch the title for France when he plays David Goffin in the tie's fourth rubber on Sunday. The top-ranked player from each nation will clash for the seventh time, with Tsonga leading their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 4-2. Three of their matches on the ATP World Tour have gone three sets, and the pair has split their two meetings on indoor hard courts. In their only match this season, Tsonga defeated Goffin in the Rotterdam final to claim the trophy at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.

If Goffin manages to extend the final to a live fifth rubber, his compatriot Steve Darcis is scheduled to play Lucas Pouille