TENNIS ATP REVIEW – In our traditional review of the 2014 season we look back to the best players of the year, the rising stars, the best matches, the major upsets of the season and the biggest rivalries of the ATP Tour. Diego Sampaolo
The best player of the year: Novak Djokovic
The Serbian star confirmed his status as World Number 1 player for the fourth consecutive year after winning seven titles from eleven finals, including a Grand Slam at Wimbledon, four Master 1000 Tournaments (the US hard-court double in Indian Wells and Miami, Rome, Paris Bercy) and the ATP Finals in London after Roger Federer withdrew before the final because of a back injury. He ended his season with 61 match wins and just 8 defeats. This memorable year was also marked by his marriage to Jelena Ristic just a few days after his second Wimbledon triumph against Federer. Jelena gave birth to their first child Stefan shortly before Paris Bercy. Djokovic has become the first player to win three ATP Finals/Master titles since Ivan Lendl who clinched the end-of-year tournament in 1985, 1986 and 1987. The only other star to clinch three straight was Ilie Nastase who lifted this trophy from 1971 to 1973
The Swiss Maestro did not win any Grand Slam titles in 2014 but he enjoyed a very consistent year in which he scored 72 match wins, including two Master 1000 titles in Cincinnati and Shanghai, two ATP 500 titles in Dubai, Basel and the ATP 250 in Halle. He qualified for 13th consecutive year and reached his ninth final. The relationship to his coach Stefan Edberg which started with the 2014 Australian Open has certainly contributed to his successful season. Since Edberg joined his coaching team at the start of 2014, Federer has played a more aggressive game attacking the net more frequently. He crowned his great year with his first ever Davis Cup triumph with Stan Wawrinka, Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer. He was narrowly beaten by Djokovic in a close and thrilling Wimbledon five-set final against Djokovic and lost the all-Swiss Monte-Carlo final against Stan Wawrinka. He withdrew from a match for just the third time in 1221 singles career matches when a back injury sidelined him before the ATP Finals title match against Djokovic. Federer enjoyed a great year in his private life. On 6th May Roger’s wife Mirka gave birth to their second set of twins. They named their boy twins Lenny and Leo. He has won the ATP Fans Favourite Award for the 12th consecutive year since 2003. He was voted by his fellow players for the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award a record ten times (from 2004 to 2009 and from 2011 to 2014) and for the fourth year in a row and received this Prize from his coach Stefan Edberg during the ATP Finals in London. He beat Marin Cilic, Grigor Dimitrov and Kei Nishikori who were also nominated in this category.
The king of the Roland Garros: Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal had a season of ups and downs compared to his extraordinary standards. The Majorcan legend did not dominate the clay season as in the previous years but he beat Novak Djokovic 3-6 7-5 6-3 6-4 in the Roland Garros final to lift his ninth title and his fifth consecutive win at the French Open. With his Roland Garros triumph he equalled Pete Sampras’ total of 14 Grand Slam wins for second place in the ranking of players with more singles Major titles. Nadal won just another title during the European clay season at the Mutua Open in Madrid against Kei Nishikori who was forced to withdraw due to a back injury. He lost in the Rome final in three sets against Djokovic and was stunned by David Ferrer in the quarter final in Monte-Carlo and by Nicholas Almagro in the quarter final in Barcelona. He won two more titles in Doha and Rio de Janeiro
After the Roland Garros Nadal was upset by Dustin Brown in the second round in Halle and by Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round at Wimbledon. After being sidelined from the US hard-court season by a wrist injury, Nadal was stunned by Martin Klizan in three sets in the quarter final at the China Open in Beijing He suffered further shock defeats against Feliciano Lopez in Shanghai in two sets and Croatian rising star Borna Coric in the quarter finals of the Swiss Indoor Open in Basel and ended his season to undergo appendicitis surgery on 3rd November
The best matches of the year:
Final Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer 6-7 6-4 7-6 5-7 6-4
Our best match of the year award goes to the memorable five set between Djokovic and Federer at Wimbledon. The Swiss Maestro was bidding to win his eighth Wimbledon title and his 18th Grand Slam but he had to settle to runner-up spot after a memorable final in which Djokovic came close to close out the match in four sets. He was leading 5-2 in the fourth set when he served for the set at 5-3. Federer, who was looking to win his first Major title since Wimbledon in 2012, bounced back by hitting an ace on Djokovic’s match point. Federer won five consecutive games to force the match to the fifth set. Djokovic missed three break point chances in the eighth game of the fifth set. The Serb clinched his second Wimbledon title on his second match point to claim his second triumph at Church Road after a 3-hour and 56-minute battle in front of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Semifinal ATP Finals London: Roger Federer beat Stan Wawrinka 4-6 7-5 7-6
The all-Swiss semifinal at the ATP Finals in London was the last match of the ATP Tour season, as winner Federer was then forced to withdraw before the final against Djokovic because of his back injury. The two Swiss friends tied 1-1 in their previous two head-to-head matches this year. Wawrinka beat Federer in the three- set final on the clay court in Monte-Carlo. Federer took a re-match by beating his fellow countryman in the Wimbledon quarter finals. In the O2 Arena Federer fought back from a set down to win a dramatic match with 4-6 7-5 7-6 after two hours and 48 minutes. Federer saved four match points (the first three opportunities at 5-4 in the third set and the fourth chance at 6-5 in the decisive set).
Quarter Final Australian Open: Stan Wawrinka beat Novak Djokovic 2-6 6-4 6-2 3-6 9-7
Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic have always provided thrilling matches and this year was no exception. In January 2013 Djokovic edged Wawrinka 12-10 in the fifth set of a dramatic fourth round match of the 2013 Australian Open. Seven months later the Serb won another marathon five-set match in the 2013 US Open semifinal. At the 2014 Australian Open Wawrinka ended the three-year winning streak at Melbourne Park by recovering from a break-down in the fifth set. Stan saved break points in the fifth and seventh games before holding serve to clinch a dramatic win with 9-7. The Lausanne player went on to beat Rafael Nadal to lift his first Grand Slam title of his career. Later in the season Wawrinka also won his first Master 1000 in Monte-Carlo and his first Davis Cup with Switzerland in the Lille final against France.
Quarter final US Open: Kei Nishikori beat Stan Wawrinka 3-6 7-5 7-6 6-7 6-4
Kei Nishikori survived a dramatic fourth round match against Milos Raonic which ended at 2.26 am in the night but he found the strength to edge Stan Wawrinka in another five-set marathon match two days later in the quarter final of the US Open. Nishikori saved a break point in the 11th game before clinching the third set at the tie-break. The Japanese player recovered from a 0-4 deficit in the tie-break of the fourth set and came within two points from win at 5-5 but Wawrinka claimed the final two points to force the match to the decider. Nishikori got the decisive break in the 10th game to notch up the win after 4 hours and 15 minutes to become the first Asian player to qualify to a Grand Slam final. In the titles match Nishikori was beaten by Marin Cilic with 3-6 3-6 3-6. The US Open final featured a clash between two past Grand Slam champions Michael Chang and Goran Ivanisevic who now train respectively Nishikori and Cilic.
Quarter final US Open: Roger Federer beat Gael Monfils 4-6 3-6 6-4 7-5 6-2
Gael Monfils, a quarter finalist at the Roland Garros earlier this year, qualified for the US Open without dropping a set in the first four matches (including wins against Richard Gasquet and Grigor Dimitrov). The Frenchman claimed the first two sets against Federer in the quarter final. Federer broke serve at the start of the third set and at the start of the fourth set to force the match to the decider. Monfils broke back before earning two match points in the 10th game of the fourth set but Federer fought back to claim the set with 7-5 to force the match to the decider where he cruised to 6-2 in 27 minutes
Semifinal Madrid: Kei Nishikori beat David Ferrer 7-6 5-7 6-3
Kei Nishikori became the first Asian player to reach a Master 1000 Final in Madrid after winning a dramatic semifinal match against David Ferrer one week after claiming his first clay title in Barcelona. Six weeks after winning a dramatic match against Ferrer with 7-6 2-6 7-6 in Miami after saving four match points, Nishikori needed 10 break points to set up a final against Rafa Nadal. Nishikori qualified for the third of his six finals on the ATP Tour but he sadly retired in the third set of the final with a back injury after dominating Nadal for most of the match.
Final Valencia: Andy Murray beat Tommy Robredo 3-6 7-6 7-6
Andy Murray and Tommy Robredo met twice in one month in Shenzhen and Valencia and on both finals the Scotsman had to save five match points to claim two of his three titles of this year.
In Valencia Robredo fought back from a break down in the second set to force the tie-break. Murray saved two match points to win the second-set tie-break 9-7 drawing level to 1-1 and force the match to the decider. Murray fended off three match points in the tie-break before claiming a dramatic win in three hours and 20 minutes. Murray clinched the 31st title of his career and his second win in Valencia.
The Doubles team of the year:
Twin brothers Mike and Bob Brown claimed ten titles in 2014 including the US Open, the ATP Finals and six Master 1000 (Indian Wells, Miami, Monte-Carlo, Cincinnati, Shanghai and Paris Bercy) plus Houston and Delray Beach.
The Rising stars of tomorrow: Borna Coric and Dominic Thiem
Croatian 17-year-old rising star Borna Coric received the ATP Star of Tomorrow after an outstanding year in which he finished the year as the youngest player in the top 100 of the ATP Ranking. Coric started the season ranked outside the top 300 and reached a career high number 92 at the end of the season. Coric reached the quarter final in the Umag ATP 250 where he lost against Fabio Fognini. He reached the second round at the US Open where he lost to Estrella Burgos in his debut in a Grand Slam tournament. Coric upset Rafa Nadal to reach the semifinals at the Basel Swiss Indoor Open
Another outstanding rising star was Austrian 20-year-old Dominic Thiem, who upset Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka in three sets in the second round of the Madrid Mutua Open. He was defeated by David Goffin in the Kitzbuhel ATP 250 final in three sets. At the US Open Thiem beat Ernests Gulbis and Feliciano Lopez before losing against Tomas Berdych in the fourth round. During his junior career Thiem lost a close final at the 2011 Roland Garros.
Among the other names to watch for the future we pick up Aleksander Zverev and Jiri Vesely. Zverev, a 17-year-old German player of Russian origin, became the youngest player to win a Challenger Tournament in Braunschweig since 2009 when Bernard Tomic won the Maccabi Challenger. Zverev won his first ATP Tour level match at the German Open in Hamburg again Tomas Kamke before losing in the semifinal against David Ferrer.
Vesely, Australian Open Junior champion in 2011, became the youngest player in the top-100 in 2013 at the age of 20. The Czech player lost against Andy Murray in three sets at the Indian Wells BNP Paribas Master 1000. At Wimbledon he beat Gael Monfils in five sets in the second round before losing against Nick Kyrgios in the third round.
The Most Improved player of the year: Roberto Bautista Agut, Marin Cilic, Nick Kyrgios, Kei Nishikori
The Spanish player moved up from World Number 59 at the end of 2013 to a career high Number 14 at the end of the 2014 season. This year Bautista Agut claimed two ATP titles in s’Hertogenbosch on grass and in Stuttgart on clay before reaching the final at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. He reached the fourth round in a Grand Slam Tournament for the first time in his career at the Australian Open after beating Juan Martin Del Potro in five sets in the second round and qualified for his first Master 1000 semifinal in Madrid before losing to Rafa Nadal. He claimed 45 match wins this season. Bautista Agut beat US Open champion Marin Cilic, Kei Nishikori and Nick Kyrgios who were also nominated in this category.
Cilic, who ended the 2013 year ranked 50 in the ATP Ranking, won in Zagreb and Delray Beach and reached the final in Rotterdam last February. He lost a five-set quarter final against Djokovic at Wimbledon before lifting his first Grand Slam title at the US Open and secured his spot for his first ever ATP Finals by clinching the Kremlin Cup title in Moscow.
Australian 18-year-old rising star Nick Kyrgios grabbed the headlines when he beat Rafa Nadal in the fourth round at Wimbledon. In the previous match the young Aussie saved nine match points to come back from two sets down to edge former Wimbledon semifinalist Richard Gasquet with 3-6 6-7 6-4 7-5 10-8. This season he clinched his third ATP Challenger title in Nottingham and won on his main draw debut in a Grand Slam at the Australian Open.
Nishikori made the breakthrough in 2014 finishing the year in fifth place in the ATP Ranking after winning four titles in Memphis, Barcelona, Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo and reaching his first Master 1000 final in Madrid and his first Grand Slam final at Flushing Meadows. He was the first Asian player to qualify for the ATP Finals.
The Come-back of the year: David Goffin:
The Belgian player started the 2014 season at Number 110 in the ATP Ranking after breaking the wrist in September 2013. Goffin recorded a match winning record of 44-4 since the start of July and claimed three straight ATP Challengers titles and won his first ATP title in Kitzbuhel. He reached the Winston Salem quarter final to extend his winning streak to 25 consecutive matches. He lost in the third round against Grigor Dimitrov at the US Open before claiming the ATP 250 title in Metz and the ATP Challenger in Mons. He finished the year finishing runner-up to his idol Federer in Basel to end the year in a career high 22nd place in the ATP Ranking.
The humanitarian player of the year: Andy Murray:
Andy Murray was honoured with the ATP Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award as he raised awareness for Wildlife and Malaria No More and his Rally against Cancer charity exhibitions to support his friends Elena Baltacha, who was diagnosed with liver cancer and died this year at the age of 30, and Ross Hutchins, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in December 2012 and announced he was in remission the following July.
The Team of the year: Switzerland wins the Davis Cup
Roger Federer finally fulfilled his lifetime dream to lift the Davis Cup Trophy in the 3-1 win of the Red-Crossed team against France in Lille. Federer bounced back from a defeat against Gael Monfils in the first day with a win in the doubles with Stan Wawrinka and sealed the Swiss triumph with a three-set win over Richard Gasquet. Wawrinka deserves a special mention as he claimed an important win over Jo Wilfred Tsonga in the opening match before helping the Swiss team score the crucial 2-1 point in the doubles. Switzerland could celebrate the first Davis Cup in history 22 years after losing their first final against the USA with 3-1.
Stefanos Tsitsipas ‘Happy’ To Follow In Grandfather’s Footsteps At Olympics
The Greek speaks out about carrying his family’s legacy at the Games.
Stefanos Tsitsipas never met his grandfather but the two of them do have something in common – they are both Olympians.
The world No.4 has already created history in Tokyo by winning his first round match against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber on Sunday to become the first male player from his country to win a singles match since 1924. Greece has won two medals at the Games but both of them were during its inaugural edition back in 1896.
Tsitsipas’ debut in Tokyo enables him to continue his family legacy of playing in the sporting extravaganza. His grandfather was Sergei Salnikov who played football for the Soviet Union during the 1950s. In 1956 Salnikov was part of the team who won Olympic gold in Melbourne. After retiring from the sport, he went on to manage the FC Spartak Moscow and the Afghanistan national team before passing away in 1984 aged 58.
“I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him. But my mom told me stories of his career and how he got it…. He kind of inspires me in a way,” said Tsitsipas. “I know what kind of athlete he was, with all the achievements and all the trophies. I’m proud of him.
“It’s something good, a legacy that is being carried on in the family. I’m happy to be the next in the family to be competing at the Olympics.”
It isn’t just a medal in the singles Tsitsipas has his eyes on, he will also be bidding for success in the mixed doubles alongside Maria Sakkari. The two previously paired up at the 2019 Hopman Cup where they finished second in their group.
“We have already played once (together), and we had great success,” Sakkari told reporters on Monday. “We know each other really well, and we are much better players two-and-a-half years later, and we are both really pumped to play together. Of course, I cannot predict that we will get a medal. We will try our best and I think we give ourselves the best chance we can.”
Tsitsipas will return to action tomorrow in the men’s singles where he will play Frances Tiafoe in the second round.
Carlos Alcaraz reaches his first ATP Tour final in Umag
Spanish Next Gen star Carlos Alcaraz secured a spot in his first ATP tour-level final with a 6-2 7-6 (7-3) at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open in Umag.
Alcaraz has become the youngest ATP Tour finalist since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori won the Delray Beach title in 2008.
Alcaraz broke twice to open up a 4-0 lead and held his next service games to close out the first set 6-2.
Ramos Vinolas came back from a break down three times in the second set, when Alcaraz served for the match. Alcaraz battled through the second-set tie-break to clinch the win after two hours.
Alcaraz set up a final against Richard Gasquet, who battled past German qualifier Daniel Altmeier 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-3 after three hours and 11 minutes.
Gasquet has become the second oldest finalist in tournament history. The 35-year-old saved seven of hi sten break points, but he converted just just 3 of his 17 break points.
Gasquet rallied from a break down twice to draw level to 4-4 before winning the tie-break 7-2. Altmeier converted his third break point in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3. Altmeier saved three break points in the second game, before Gasquet converted his second break point in the sixth game to win the second set 6-3.
Novak Djokovic Cruises Past Dellien In Olympics Opener
Novak Djokovic’s bid for a historic golden slam continued in Tokyo.
Novak Djokovic cruised past Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-2 to open his bid for a gold medal at the Olympics.
The world number one’s bid to achieve the golden slam is on after thrashing the Bolivian in humid conditions.
A perfect start for the Serbian who is looking to achieve the one thing he is yet to achieve and that’s win a gold medal.
Next for Djokovic will be Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.
In 32C temperatures, Djokovic was looking to start his campaign off against Bolivian veteran Hugo Dellien.
The slow paced courts would suit Dellien as he engaged in some long rallies with the world number one early on.
Despite creating three break points in the fourth game, Djokovic would fail to break early on.
However Djokovic increased his level mixing up the pace and depth of his shots to create angles for simple winners.
On his fifth break point Djokovic would break for a 4-2 lead and the top seed would break for a second time as Dellien had no answers for the Serb’s defensive skills. First set to Djokovic in 33 minutes.
A similar pattern evolved in the second set only this time Djokovic did get a break in the fourth game, breaking to love.
Accurate serving and construction of points gave Djokovic an easy first round match as another break secured the match and sealed his spot into the second round.
A fine performance in tough conditions gave Djokovic’s bid for history the best possible start.
Next for Djokovic will be Jan-Lennard Struff who beat Thiago Monteiro 6-3 6-4.
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