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50 Most Popular Players Of 2016: 50-41

Sun, 12/04/2016 - 8:13pm
This week wtatennis.com is counting down the 50 most clicked-on players, starting with No.50 to No.41. Find out who made the cut...

The Tennis Lover’s Ultimate Christmas Shopping Guide

Sun, 12/04/2016 - 8:12pm
Looking for a nice Christmas gift for your tennis-loving friend or a treat for yourself? Marija Zivlak of Women's Tennis Blog will help you pick the best presents.

Raonic Reaps Rewards On Return

Sat, 12/03/2016 - 9:47pm

In 2015, Milos Raonic lost serve only 39 times in 49 matches. Not enough.

In 2016, the 6’5” Canadian was broken 86 times in 69 matches. Now we are talking.

Raonic ended 2015 ranked 14 in the world in the Emirates ATP Rankings, and just completed the 2016 season with his career best ranking of No. 3. On the surface, getting broken more than twice as much in 2016 than 2015 seems counter-intuitive to such dramatic improvement. It’s not.

In fact, basically everything from a serving standpoint slightly declined in 2016 compared to 2015 for Raonic, but to focus only on his service games would be the same as not being able to see the forest for the trees.

What’s the point of being an exceptional server, if you can’t break enough to win? Raonic greatly improved his return game this season, evolving from a player too reliant on serving, to creating a more potent, balanced attack. He got the mix right.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of Raonic’s ascension uncovers a player who got a little worse at serving and whole lot better overall as a player, and hey presto - No. 3 in the world.

Raonic Serving
Across the board, the numbers were not as impressive in 2016 as 2015. What we must keep in mind is that Raonic went from peerless metrics to still very solid numbers compared to the rest of the tour.

Milos Raonic: 10 Focus Points Serving 2015-2016

Serving Analytics

2015
2016
+/-
Double Faults
142
228
+56
1st Serve Percentage
64% 64%
0
1st Serve Points Won
81%
80%
-1%
2nd Serve Points Won
58%
55%
-3%
Break Points Saved
78%
69%
-9%
Service Games Won
94%
91%
-3%
Total Service Games Won
73%
71%
-2%
Holding Serve With New Balls
97% 91%
-6%
Holding Serve From 0/30
63%
52%
-9%
Holding Serve From 30/40
80%
53%
-27%

Raonic Returning
This is the beating heart of Raonic’s improvement.

In 2015, Raonic broke 77 times in 629 return games, which equals once every 8.2 service games. In 2016, he blew the doors off those numbers, breaking 164 times in 893 return games, breaking once every 5.5 games.

Instead of putting all his eggs in the serve basket, Raonic become more complete, bolstered the return side of the equation, and increased his prize money from $1.4M in 2015 to $4.6M this season.

Milos Raonic: 10 Focus Points Returning 2015-2016

Returning Analytics

2015
2016
+/-
1st Return Points Won
24%
28%
+4%
2nd Return Points Won
44%
49%
+5%
Break Points Converted
33%
36%
+3%
Return Games Won
12%
18%
+6%
Return Points Won
31%
36%
+5%
Breaking With New Balls
14%
21%
+7%
Breaking After Losing Serve
6% 14%
+8%
Breaking From 15/15
15%
20%
+5%
Breaking From 0/30
16%
40%
+24%
Breaking From 30/40
29%
47%
+18%

At the 2016 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, Raonic held a match point against eventual champion Andy Murray in the semi-finals, losing 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-6(9). In an ominous warning to opponents in the upcoming season, Raonic won the longer points of 9+ shots 16-14 against the Brit. Who would have thought…

In 2016, Raonic rounded out his game, improved his returns, believed in his backhand, and pressed a little less from the baseline at the start of the point. He now has all the ingredients to impose his will all over the court, and make his own legitimate run at World No. 1 in 2017.

Vote: Best Tennis Fashion Moment Of 2016

Fri, 12/02/2016 - 8:13pm
The 2016 WTA season gave us everything in terms of on-court fashion. Our fashion contributor Marija Zivlak of Women's Tennis Blog gives us her Top 8 looks - vote your favorite right here!

Rivalries Of 2016: Murray vs. Nishikori

Fri, 12/02/2016 - 3:10pm
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Continuing our Season In Review series, ATPWorldTour.com revisits the fiercest rivalries of 2016. Today we feature Andy Murray vs. Kei Nishikori:

With many high-pressure matches, pulsating moments and thrilling finishes, Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori met on four occasions in 2016 and their encounters had it all. Battling in a Grand Slam quarter-final, Davis Cup five-setter, Olympic semi-final and one of the best matches of the year at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, the pair provided arguably the most compelling rivalry and the drama between the lines did not disappoint.

Entering the year, Murray had dominated the rivalry, taking five of six meetings and refusing to relinquish a set in all his victories. He was ruthless in dispatching Nishikori 6-3, 6-0 in the 2015 Rogers Cup semis, but as the calendar flipped to 2016, so did the Japanese’s fortunes.

Their first meeting came in the Davis Cup first round in March. The Scot needed a win to send defending champion Great Britain into the quarter-finals and it looked to be another straight-set victory. He battled to a two-set lead, but Nishikori would find a second gear, breaking Murray in the third and fourth sets to force a decider in front of a raucous crowd in Birmingham. The home hope would secure the win in the decider, 7-5, 7-6(6), 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, but Nishikori gave him all he could handle in a near-five hour thriller.

Armed with newfound belief against Murray, the Japanese would finally turn the tables at the US Open. Despite falling in straight sets in the semis of the Rio Olympics, he entered their third encounter of the year poised to stem the tide.

In a back-and-forth contest that featured 17 breaks of serve, Nishikori was ultimately the more settled player during the match's tightest moments. He took the three-hour and 57-minute contest 1-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5, upsetting Murray to reach his second Grand Slam semi-final and first since the 2014 US Open.

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“I saw some opportunities to come in today so I tried to be aggressive,” said Nishikori. “I saw that's what I had to do, especially against Andy. He has great defense. I don't know why I served and volleyed a lot today... but it was working. I think it was a great mix, serving and volleying and coming to the net."

At no point was Nishikori more clutch than deep in the fifth set. With Murray serving at 5-all in the decider, Nishikori attacked a second serve and approached the net, lunging at Murray's passing shot and connecting on a forehand volley that dropped in for an uncontested winner. He served it out a game later, claiming his fourth of five Top 10 wins in 2016.

Following two five-set battles, Nishikori entered the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals full of confidence against Murray. They would meet in the round-robin stage and with Murray’s year-end No. 1 quest hanging in the balance, an instant classic would ensue. The competitors produced the then-longest match in tournament history at three hours and 21 minutes, before Murray and Milos Raonic broke the record days later.

Nishikori was clutch in the opening tie-break and Murray was left to rue missed opportunities with the set on the line. The Japanese would take it 11-9 after 85 minutes, but the Scot regrouped immediately to secure a break to 30 to open the second set and eventually drew level to force a decider. Each game in the deciding set was competitive, but it was Murray who found a way to break Nishikori in the third and fifth games. He remained in control to prevail 6-7(9), 6-4, 6-4, extending his winning streak to 21 straight matches and exacting revenge after the US Open defeat.

"Until this year, we hadn't really played many marathons," Murray said. "It just turned out that this year we played three extremely long matches. The ones in the Davis Cup and the US Open were very tough, long five-setters. But we've played each other 10 or 11 times. It's only really been this year that I remember that we played really, really long matches."

View FedEx ATP Head2Head (Murray Leads 8-2)

Murray vs. Nishikori: 2016 Meetings

 Event  Surface  Round
 Winner
 Score  Barclays ATP World Tour Finals
 Hard  RR  Murray  6-7(9), 6-4, 6-4
 US Open
 Hard  QF  Nishikori  1-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5
 Rio Olympics
 Hard  SF  Murray  6-1, 6-4
 Davis Cup
 Hard  1R  Murray  7-5, 7-6(6), 3-6, 4-6, 6-3

Noah to remain France's Davis Cup captain

Fri, 12/02/2016 - 8:33am
Noah to remain France's Davis Cup captain

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. 

 

Biggest Upsets Of 2016: Puig Vs Kerber

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 8:14pm
Each day this week we're counting down the biggest upsets of 2016; last up is Monica Puig's improbable run to Olympic Gold in Rio de Janeiro over top seed Angelique Kerber.

Watch out, Big Four; here comes Delpo

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 8:00pm
Watch out, Big Four; here comes Delpo

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

34 Spaniards detained in match-fixing inquiry

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 8:16am
34 Spaniards detained in match-fixing inquiry

Konta splits from coach after career-best year

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 8:15am
Konta splits from coach after career-best year

Raonic ends partnership with assistant coach

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 7:58am
Raonic ends partnership with assistant coach

Top-15 players Kvitova, Pliskova swap coaches

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 6:48am
Top-15 players Kvitova, Pliskova swap coaches

Top players set for Sydney International

Wed, 11/30/2016 - 10:15pm
Top players set for Sydney International

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.

Kyrgios can win over Aussie public - Hewitt

Wed, 11/30/2016 - 9:06pm
Kyrgios can win over Aussie public - Hewitt

Biggest Upsets Of 2016: Kerber vs Serena

Wed, 11/30/2016 - 8:15pm
Each day this week we're counting down the biggest upsets of 2016; next up is Angelique Kerber's breakthrough victory over then-World No.1 Serena Williams at the Australian Open.

Kerber To Headline Star-Studded Sydney Field Story of The Tournament: WTA Sydney

Wed, 11/30/2016 - 8:13pm
WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen | World No.1 Angelique Kerber leads a stacked field at the Apia International Sydney that also features WTA Finals winner Dominika Cibulkova; check out the full entry list here on wtatennis.com.