Australian Open: the “lame leg” that decides who can go for the Grand Slam - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

ATP

Australian Open: the “lame leg” that decides who can go for the Grand Slam

Published

on

TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN – On Monday the Australian Open starts for the 103rd time. Since 1972 it’s home is Melbourne. Once snubbed by the pest players in the world, after 1988 the Aussie Major bridged the gap that separated them from the other three Slams. Now the tournament has the privilege to decide who can go for the Grand Slam. From Adrian Quist’s 13 titles to Federer’s 73 wins: history, records and past winners of the first Major of the year. By Remo Borgatti, translated by Lorenzo Dicandia

 

AO 2015: Interviews, Results, Order of Play, Draws

The Australian Open has often been considered, for quite a long time, the “lame leg” of Grand Slams. Indeed, the remoteness of Oceania from the usual routes has been, especially in the past, a kind of natural deterrent for most of overseas players, both Europeans and Americans. Until the mid eighties, Melbourne has often suffered the defections of many important players, both in the male and in the female draws, although the quality expressed by local players for several decades maintained the level of competition and of champions at pretty high standards. In fact, apart from few surprising cases (that anyways happened also in the other Slams), the list of past champions deserves major respect. From 1988 onwards, when the tournament changed location and surface and provided its main courts with removable roofs closed both in case of rain and of excessive heat, the Australian Open has finally closed the gap with the other Slams, reaching the same league of its “brothers” of France, England, and United States. Moreover, since the AO is the first Slam, it has the privilege of pointing out, every year, the names of the two players that could aim at the Grand Slam. In short: the ones who win Melbourne can keep dreaming, the others have to wake up and get back to reality.

The one beginning next Monday will be 103rd edition of the event; from 1905 to 1921 the tournament had only men’s singles and doubles draws, while from the following year on there was the add of women’s singles and doubles draws and of mixed doubles. This last one, however, was suspended between 1970 and 1986, while the tournament wasn’t played at all during the two world wars (1916-18 and 1941-45) and in 1987, in order to offset the two editions played in 1977, when the date of the event was moved from January to December.

Melbourne has become the official location of the AO since 1972 (in the legendary Kooyong Stadium, on grass, until 1986), while previously other four Australian cities (Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide) held the event; instead, in 1906 (Christchurch) and in 1912 (Hastings) the tournament was played in New Zealand.

The player with the most titles is the Australian Adrian Quist with thirteen (three in singles and ten in doubles), in front of Jack Crawford and John Bromwich with eleven each. On the women side, Margaret Smith Court (21) precedes her compatriots, also Australian, Nancy Wynne Bolton (20) and Thelma Coyne Long (18). Looking only at singles titles, men’s ranking sees Roy Emerson ahead with 6 titles, and then 5 players tied at the second place: Novak Djokovic, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer, Jack Crawford and Ken Rosewall all with 4 wins each. For the girls, Margaret Smith is out of reach having won it an amazing 11 times, 7 of which in a row from 1960 to 1966; following Ms. Smith Court there are Nancy Wynne Bolton (6), Daphne Akhurst and, more recently, Serena Williams with 5 titles. Ken Rosewall is the player with the longest timespan between his first and last title (20 years, from 1953 to 1972); Roger Federer is the one with the highest number of matches won in singles (73), and Andre Agassi the player with the highest winning percentage, always in singles, with 90.5% (actually Connors has a percentage of 91.6%, but on a total of 12 matches, against the 53 played by Agassi). Regarding women, Nancy Wynne won her last title 14 years after her first one (1937-1951), but Smith Court has a crazy record of 60 matches won and only 3 losses, for a winning percentage that is slightly above 95%; Monica Seles follows with a record of 43-4 (91.5%). Ken Rosewall is, simultaneously, the youngest and oldest winner in singles: he was 18 in 1953 and 37 in 1972. The oldest winner on the women side is Thelma Coyne Long, 35 in 1954, while the youngest is Martina Hingis, 16 in 1997, although Mirjana Lucic in 1998 won the doubles at the age of 15 and 10 months. The longest final in the men’s field was played in 1927, when Gerald Patterson defeated Jack Hawkes 3-6 6-4 3-6 18-16 6-3, for a grand total of 71 games. Since the introduction of the tiebreaker, the longest final has been the one between Djokovic and Nadal in 2012 with 55 games played. Among women, in 1930 Daphne Akhurst defeated Sylvia Harper by a score of 10-8 2-6 7-5, 38 games, three more than the 1981 match between Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, ended up with the win of Navratilova 6-7 6-4 7-5. Talking about the shortest finals by number of games played, there are three in the men’ s side and two in the women’s: 1923 O’Hara Wood-St.John 6-1/6-1/6-3; 1926 Hawkes-Willard 6-1/6-3/6-1 e 2003 Agassi-Schuettler 6-2/6-2/6-1; 1962 Smith Court-Lehane 6-0/6-2, 1994 Graf-Sanchez Vicario 6-0/6-2. Three are the players that have been able to get the title without being seeded: the Australians Mark Edmondson (1976) and Chris O’Neil (1978) and the American Serena Williams in 2007. Bob Giltinan (December 1977) and Christine Matison (1978) are, instead, the qualifiers who got further in the draws, both losing in the semifinals. Finally, it happened seven times in both the men’s and the women’s draws that the final winner had to save one or more match points before getting to the singles titles. Here in detail:

MEN – Gerald Patterson saved 5 match points in the fourth set (four at 12-13 and one at 15-16) in the final of 1927 against Jack Hawkes: Dinny Pails prevented John Bromwich the joy of the title in the final of 1947; Rod Laver saved a match point down 4-5 in the fourth set of the final of 1960; John Newcombe saved three match-points in the fifth set of the semifinal won against his compatriot and doubles partner Tony Roche; Johan Kriek defeated Paul McNamee in the semifinals of 1982 surviving a match point in the fifth set; Stefan Edberg saved two of them down 4-5 in the third set of the last sixteen in 1985; his opponent, up two sets in that match, was the Australian Wally Masur. Finally, in 2005, Marat Safin had to save a match point down 5-6 in the tiebreak of the fourth set against Federer in the semifinals; the Russian player ended up winning 9-7 in the fifth set.

WOMEN – In 1923 Margaret Molesworth defeated Sylvia Lance in the semifinal 36 64 86 saving a match point in the third set; Mary Carter won the final of 1956 over Thelma Coyne Long 36 62 97, whom had a match point in the final set; in the semifinals of 1991 Monica Seles saved a match point to Mary Joe Fernandez in the semifinal; she went on to win 9-7 in the decisive; in the dramatic final of 2002 Martina Hingis found herself 4 times only one point away from the title, before collapsing to nerves and tiredness against the American Capriati: Jennifer survived a first time down 64 53 40-30 and Hingis on serve, twice down 6-5 for the Swiss (30-40 and Ad) and the last time down 7-6 in the tiebreak. Capriati won 9-7 that tiebreak and, after the pause, won the final set with a categorical 62. Serena Williams became twice the champion of the AO after being on the brink of defeat, always in the semifinals: in 2003 she saved two match points in the third set (down 5-2) against Kim Clijsters, before defeating her 7-5, and two years later Maria Sharapova blew three chances on serve (two of them consecutive, on 40-15) at 5-4 in the last set, and ended up losing 26 75 86. Finally, just last year, the Chinese Na Li managed to get past the third round against Lucie Safarova, defeating her 16 76 63 after saving a match point (a backhand out of few centimeters) down 61 65 30-40.

LAST YEAR – Two new faces have lifted the Australian Open trophies. Chronologically, the first was has been Na Li, already unfortunate finalist both in 2011 (when Clijsters came back down a set and a break), and in 2013 (when instead she lost in three against Vika Azarenka, after falling down a couple of times during the final). Dominika Cibulkova, unexpected finalist (20th seed), held for a set, the first one lost at the breaker, before giving up in the second (lost 60). The tournament had already lost two of its three main favorites in the last sixteen (Serena Williams defeated by Ivanovic and Sharapova by Cibulkova), while Victoria Azarenka (not in her best condition) managed to get only one round further, being then defeated by Radwanska with a resounding bagel in the final set. Impressive also the path of the young Canadian Bouchard, who got to the semifinals coming out from Errani and Vinci side of the draw (both out in the first round) and defeating Ana Ivanovic in the quarters.

In the men’s draw there was the exploit of Wawrinka, at his first triumph in a Major after a career lived almost entirely in the shadow of Federer. “Stan the Man” got quite easily to the quarters, where he scored the first upset, defeating the three times AO champion Novak Djokovic after five exciting sets (97 in the fifth). In the semifinals the Swiss ended in his favor the difficult match against Tomas Berdych, winning two of the three tie-breakers (63 67 76 76), and in the final he managed to defeat pressure when, up two sets on a Nadal in sorrow for his recurrent back problems, he stumbled towards the finish line letting the Spanish come back in the game, then closed 63 in the fourth. Wawrinka is the first player able to defeat both Nadal and Djokovic in the same Slam and he is also the first one since 1993 (when Bruguera won the Roland Garros defeating Sampras and Courier) to win a major by beating the first two seeds. For the rest, the tournament has been extremely regular until the quarters, reached by seven of the eight top seeds (except from Del Potro, defeated by Bautista Agut, in turn beaten by Dimitrov). In the semifinals Nadal improved his head-to-head record against Federer to 23-10, to whom the new tactical variants suggested by his new coach Stefan Edberg brought two nice wins against Tsonga and Murray.

SINGLES FINALS

Men

1905 Rodney Heath-Arthur Curtis 46 63 64 64

1906 Anthony Wilding-Francis Fisher 60 64 64

1907 Horrie Rice-Harry Parker 63 64 64

1908 Fred Alexander-Alfred Dunlop 36 36 60 62 63

1909 Anthony Wilding-Ernest Parker 61 75 62

1910 Rodney Heath-Horrie Rice 64 63 62

1911 Norman Brookes-Horrie Rice 61 62 63

1912 Jim Parke-Alfred Beamish 36 63 16 61 75

1913 Ernest Parker-Harry Parker 26 61 63 62

1914 Arthur O’Hara Wood-Gerald Patterson 64 63 57 61

1915 Gordon Lowe-Horrie Rice 46 61 61 64

1919 Algemon Kingscote-Eric Pockley 64 60 63

1920 Pat O’Hara Wood-Ron Thomas 63 46 68 61 63

1921 Rice Gemmell-Alf Hedemann 75 61 64

1922 James Anderson-Gerald Patterson 60 36 36 63 62

1923 Pat O’Hara Wood-Bert St.John 61 61 63

1924 James Anderson-Bob Schlesinger 63 64 36 57 63

1925 James Anderson-Gerald Patterson 119 26 62 63

1926 Jack Hawkes-Jim Willard 61 63 61

1927 Gerald Patterson-Jack Hawkes 36 64 36 1816 63

1928 Jean Borotra-Jack Cummings 64 61 46 57 63

1929 Colin Gregory-Bob Schlesinger 62 62 57 75

1930 Gar Moon-Harry Hopman 63 61 63

1931 Jack Crawford-Harry Hopman 64 62 26 61

1932 Jack Crawford-Harry Hopman 46 63 36 63 61

1933 Jack Crawford-Keith Gledhill 26 75 63 62

1934 Fred Perry-Jack Crawford 63 75 61

1935 Jack Crawford-Fred Perry 26 64 64 64

1936 Adrain Quist-Jack Crawford 62 63 46 36 97

1937 Viv McGrath-John Bromwich 63 16 60 26 61

1938 Donald Budge-John Bromwich 64 62 61

1939 John Bromwich-Adrian Quist 64 61 62

1940 Adrian Quist-Jack Crawford 63 61 62

1946 John Bromwich-Dinny Pails 57 63 75 36 62

1947 Dinny Pails-John Bromwich 46 64 36 75 86

1948 Adrian Quist-John Bromwich 64 36 63 26 63

1949 Frank Sedgman-John Bromwich 63 62 62

1950 Frank Sedgman-Ken McGregor 63 64 46 61

1951 Richard Savitt-Ken McGregor 63 26 63 61

1952 Ken McGregor-Frank Sedgman 75 1210 26 62

1953 Ken Rosewall-Merv Rose 60 63 64

1954 Merv Rose-Rex Hartwig 62 06 64 62

1955 Ken Rosewall-Lew Hoad 97 64 62

1956 Lew Hoad-Ken Rosewall 64 36 64 75

1957 Ashley Cooper-Neale Fraser 63 911 64 62

1958 Ashley Cooper-Mal Anderson 75 63 64

1959 Alex Olmedo-Neale Fraser 61 62 36 63

1960 Rod Laver-Neale Fraser 57 36 63 86 86

1961 Roy Emerson-Rod Laver 16 63 75 64

1962 Rod Laver-Roy Emerson 86 06 64 64

1963 Roy Emerson-Ken Fletcher 63 63 61

1964 Roy Emerson-Fred Stolle 63 64 62

1965 Roy Emerson-Fred Stolle 79 26 64 75 61

1966 Roy Emerson-Arthur Ashe 64 68 62 63

1967 Roy Emerson-Arthur Ashe 64 61 64

1968 Bill Bowrey-Juan Gisbert 75 26 97 64

1969 Rod Laver-Andres Gimeno 63 64 75

1970 Arthur Ashe-Dick Crealy 64 97 62

1971 Ken Rosewall-Arthur Ashe 61 75 63

1972 Ken Rosewall-Mal Anderson 76 63 75

1973 John Newcombe-Onny Parun 63 67 75 61

1974 Jimmy Connors-Phil Dent 76 64 46 63

1975 John Newcombe-Jimmy Connors 75 36 64 76

1976 Mark Edmondson-John Newcombe 67 63 76 61

1977(jan) Roscoe Tanner-Guillermo Vilas 63 63 63

1977(dec) Vitas Gerulaitis-John Lloyd 63 76 57 36 62

1978 Guillermo Vilas-John Marks 64 64 36 63

1979 Guillermo Vilas-John Sadri 76 63 62

1980 Brian Teacher-Kim Warwick 75 76 63

1981 Johan Kriek-Steve Denton 62 76 67 64

1982 Johan Kriek-Steve Denton 63 63 62

1983 Mats Wilander-Ivan Lendl 61 64 64

1984 Mats Wilander-Kevin Curren 67 64 76 62

1985 Stefan Edberg-Mats Wilander 64 63 63

1987 Stefan Edberg-Pat Cash 63 64 36 57 63

1988 Mats Wilander-Pat Cash 63 67 36 61 86

1989 Ivan Lendl-Miloslav Mecir 62 62 62

1990 Ivan Lendl-Stefan Edberg 46 76 52 ret.

1991 Boris Becker-Ivan Lendl 16 64 64 64

1992 Jim Courier-Stefan Edberg 63 36 64 62

1993 Jim Courier-Stefan Edberg 62 61 26 75

1994 Pete Sampras-Todd Martin 76 64 64

1995 Andre Agassi-Pete Sampras 46 61 76 64

1996 Boris Becker-Michael Chang 62 64 26 62

1997 Pete Sampras-Carlos Moya 62 63 63

1998 Petr Korda-Marcelo Rios 62 62 62

1999 Yevgeny Kafelnikov-Thomas Enqvist 46 60 63 76

2000 Andre Agassi-Yevgeny Kafelnikov 36 63 62 64

2001 Andre Agassi-Arnaud Clement 64 62 62

2002 Thomas Johansson-Marat Safin 36 64 64 76

2003 Andre Agassi-Rainer Schuettler 62 62 61

2004 Roger Federer-Marat Safin 76 64 62

2005 Marat Safin-Lleyton Hewitt 16 63 64 64

2006 Roger Federer-Marcos Baghdatis 57 75 60 62

2007 Roger Federer-Fernando Gonzalez 76 64 64

2008 Novak Djokovic-Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 46 64 63 76

2009 Rafael Nadal-Roger Federer 75 36 76 36 62

2010 Roger Federer-Andy Murray 63 64 76

2011 Novak Djokovic-Andy Murray 64 62 63

2012 Novak Djokovic-Rafael Nadal 57 64 62 67 75

2013 Novak Djokovic-Andy Murray 67 76 63 62

2014 Stan Wawrinka-Rafael Nadal 63 62 36 63

Women

1922 Margaret Molesworth-Esna Boyd 63 108

1923 Margaret Molesworth-Esna Boyd 61 75

1924 Sylvia Lance-Esna Boyd 63 36 64

1925 Daphne Akhurst-Esna Boyd 16 86 64

1926 Daphne Akhurst-Esna Boyd 61 63

1927 Esna Boyd-Sylvia Lance Harper 57 61 62

1928 Daphne Akhurst-Esna Boyd 75 62

1929 Daphne Akhurst-Louie Bickerton 61 57 62

1930 Daphne Akhurst-Sylvia Lance Harper 108 26 75

1931 Coral Buttsworth-Marjorie Crawford 16 63 64

1932 Coral Buttsworth-Kathrine Le Mesurier 97 64

1933 Joan Hartigan-Coral Buttsworth 64 63

1934 Joan Hartigan-Margareth Molesworth 61 64

1935 Dorothy Round-Nancy Lyle 16 61 63

1936 Joan Hartigan-Nancye Wynne 64 64

1937 Nancye Wynne-Emily Westacott 63 57 64

1938 Dorothy Bundy-Dorothy Stevenson 63 62

1939 Emily Westacott-Nell Hall Hopman 61 62

1940 Nancye Wynne-Thelma Long 57 64 60

1946 Nancye Wynne-Joyce Fitch 64 64

1947 Nancye Wynne-Nell Hall Hopman 63 62

1948 Nancye Wynne-Marie Toomey 63 61

1949 Doris Hart-Nancye Wynne 63 64

1950 Louise Brough-Doris Hart 64 36 64

1951 Nancye Wynne-Thelma Long 61 75

1952 Thelma Long-Helen Angwin 62 63

1953 Maureen Connolly-Julia Sampson 63 62

1954 Thelma Long-Jenny Staley 63 64

1955 Beryl Penrose-Thelma Long 64 63

1956 Mary Carter-Thelma Long 36 62 97

1957 Shirley Fry-Althea Gibson 63 64

1958 Angela Mortimer-Lorraine Coghlan 63 64

1959 Mary Carter-Renee Schuurman 62 63

1960 Margaret Court-Jan Lehane 75 62

1961 Margaret Court-Jan Lehane 61 64

1962 Margaret Court-Jan Lehane 60 62

1963 Margaret Court-Jan Lehane 62 62

1964 Margaret Court-Lesley Turner 63 62

1965 Margaret Court-Maria Bueno 57 63 52 ret.

1966 Margaret Court-Nancy Richey wo

1967 Nancy Richey-Lesley Turner 61 64

1968 Billie jean King-Margaret Court 61 62

1969 Margaret Court-Billie Jean King 64 61

1970 Margaret Court-Kerry Reid 61 63

1971 Margaret Court-Evonne Goolagong 26 76 75

1972 Virginia Wade-Evonne Goolagong 64 64

1973 Margaret Court-Evonne Goolagong 64 75

1974 Evonne Goolagong-Chris Evert 76 46 60

1975 Evonne Goolagong-Martina Navratilova 63 62

1976 Evonne Goolagong-Renata Tomanova 62 62

1977(jan) Kerry Reid-Dianne Fromholtz 75 62

1977(dec) Evonne Goolagong-Helen Gourlay 63 60

1978 Chris O’Neill-Betsy Nagelsen 63 76

1979 Barbara Jordan-Sharon Walsh 63 63

1980 Hana Mandlikova-Wendy Turnbull 60 75

1981 Martina Navratilova-Chris Evert 67 64 75

1982 Chris Evert-Martina Navratilova 63 26 63

1983 Martina Navratilova-Kathy Jordan 62 76

1984 Chris Evert-Helena Sukova 67 61 62

1985 Martina Navratilova-Chris Evert 62 46 62

1986 Hana Mandlikova-Martina Navratilova 75 76

1988 Steffi Graf-Chris Evert 61 76

1989 Steffi Graf-Helena Sukova 64 64

1990 Steffi Graf-Mary Joe Fernandez 63 64

1991 Monica Seles-Jana Novotna 57 63 61

1992 Monica Seles-Mary Joe Fernandez 62 63

1993 Monica Seles-Steffi Graf 46 63 62

1994 Steffi Graf-Arantxa Sanchez Vicario 60 62

1995 Mary Pierce-Arantxa Sanchez Vicario 63 62

1996 Monica Seles-Anke Huber 64 61

1997 Martina Hingis-Mary Pierce 62 62

1998 Martina Hingis-Conchita Martinez 63 63

1999 Martina Hingis-Amelie Mauresmo 62 63

2000 Lindsay Davenport-Martina Hingis 61 75

2001 Jennifer Capriati-Martina Hingis 64 63

2002 Jennifer Capriati-Martina Hingis 46 76 62

2003 Serena Williams-Venus Williams 76 36 64

2004 Justine henin-Kim Clijsters 63 46 63

2005 Serena Williams-Lindsay Davenport 26 63 60

2006 Amelie mauresmo-Justine Henin 61 20 ret.

2007 Serena Williams-Maria Sharapova 61 62

2008 Maria Sharapova-Ana Ivanovic 75 63

2009 Serena Williams-Dinara Safina 60 63

2010 Serena Williams-Justine Henin 63 36 62

2011 Kim Clijsters-Na Li 36 63 63

2012 Victoria Azarenka-Maria Sharapova 63 60

2013 Victoria Azarenka-Na Li 46 64 63

2014 Na Li-Dominika Cibulkova 76 60

ATP

The Year-End Rankings: The Rise Of Alcaraz And The Eternals, Djokovic and Nadal

Image via ATP Twitter

Published

on

By Roberto Ferri

Let’s start our last article on the ATP rankings by quoting the words which are said to be the last of emperor Augustus: “The play is over, applaud”.

 

We cannot but applaud Novak Djokovic, six-time ATP Finals winner just like Roger Federer. And we applaud the season, which, for good or ill, has been unique. Just consider the most striking events: Carlos Alcaraz rising to No. 1, Roger Federer’s retirement, all the issues involving Djokovic and the Wimbledon affair.  

The top positions of the ranking have been significantly impacted by Djokovic’s absence from two Majors (Australian Open and US Open), four Masters 1000 (Indian Wells, Miami Open, Canadian Open, Cincinnati) and by ATP’s decision to not award points for Wimbledon.

If we compare the ATP rankings published after the ATP Finals in 2021 and 2022, this fact is clearly noticeable. 

22 NOVEMBER 2021

PositionPlayerCountryPts 
1DjokovicSerbia11540
2MedvedevRussia8640
3ZverevGermany7840
4TsitsipasGreece6540
5RublevRussia5150
6NadalSpain4875
7BerrettiniItaly4568
8RuudNorway4160
9HurkaczPoland3706
10SinnerItaly3350
11Auger-AliassimeCanada3308
12NorrieGB2945
13SchwartzmanArgentina2625
14ShapovalovCanada2475
15ThiemAustria2425
16FedererSwitzerland2385
17GarinChile2353
18KaratsevRussia2351
19Bautista AgutSpain2260
20Carreno BustaSpain2230

14 NOVEMBER 2022:

PositionPlayerCountryPts
1AlcarazSpain6820
2NadalSpain6020
3RuudNorway5820
4TsitsipasGreece5550
5DjokovicSerbia4820
6Auger-AliassimeCanada4195
7MedvedevRussia4065
8RublevRussia3930
9FritzUSA3355
10HurkaczPoland2905
11RuneDenmark2888
12ZverevGermany2700
13Carreno BustaSpain2495
14NorrieGB2445
15SinnerItaly2410
16BerrettiniItaly2375
17ShapovalovCanada2105
18CilicCroatia2075
19TiafoeUSA2000
20KhachanovRussia1990

Novak Djokovic ended 2021 with 4720 points more than Carlos Alcaraz; also Medvedev and Tsitsipas earned more points than the Spaniard, who would not have reached 7000 points even counting the 135 points he wasn’t awarded at Wimbledon.

A few comments on the 2022 rankings:

  • Casper Ruud, the ATP Finals finalist, concludes his excellent year in third place, overtaking Stefanos Tsitsipas with an impressive final rush.
  • Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are the only top 10 players born in the 80s; the other 8 were born in the second half of the 90s.
  • Cameron Norrie and Pablo Carreno Busta are the survivors of the lost generation, born between 1990 and 1995 and that was most overpowered by the Big Four dominance. 
  • Only North America, beyond Europe, is represented at the very highest: Auger Aliassime, Fritz, Shapovalov and Tiafoe.
  • Holger Rune has gained 92 positions since the start of the year. Carlos Alcaraz “just” 31.
  • A final note: Kei Nishikori ends 2022 without a ranking. Does this suggest he’s going to retire?

BEST RANKING

Owing to earned and dropped points, as well as results in the Challenger events, five players in the top 100 have achieved their career highest this week:

Emil Ruusuvuori – 40

Quentin Halys – 64

Christopher O’Connell – 79

Roman Safiullin – 89

Nuno Borges – 91

A special applause for the 20-year old Ben Shelton, a bright prospect for USA tennis, who has made his debut in the top 100. Thanks to his victory in the Champaign-Urbana Challenger he’s now ranked 97.

Is that all? Not yet! Just a quiz for everybody: which was the last year which saw the first two places in the rankings occupied at the end of the season by two players of the same nationality?

That’s really all for now. We’ll be back in 2023.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

Continue Reading

ATP

ATP Finals Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Faces Casper Ruud in the Championship Match

Published

on

Novak Djokovic on Saturday in Turin (twitter.com/atptour)

The biggest ATP non-Major final of 2022 takes place on Sunday in Turin, Italy.

 

2022 has been a bizarre year in the career of Novak Djokovic.  It started with his deportation from Australia, forcing the unvaccinated Djokovic to miss the first Major of the year.  That would be one of six prominent events that Novak would miss this season due to COVID-19 entry rules (Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami, Montreal, Cincinnati, US Open).  Yet Djokovic was still able to accumulate a record of 41-7, and win his 21st Slam at Wimbledon.  He is now 17-1 at indoor ATP events this fall, and will end the year as the World No.5  With a win on Sunday, he would tie Roger Federer for most all-time ATP Finals titles.

2022 has been a groundbreaking year in the career of Casper Ruud.  He had already established himself as a top 10 player, but prior to this season, was predominantly thought of as a clay court specialist, with five of his six ATP titles coming on that surface.  Yet that all changed this season, starting in Miami when he reached his first Masters 1000 finals.  Casper would go on to also reach his first two Major finals, in Paris in New York.  He is now 51-21, and into his fourth big final of the year.


Sunday’s action in Turin starts at 4:00pm local time with the doubles championship match, featuring Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (4) vs. Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury (2).  Both teams are an undefeated 4-0 this past week.  This is Ram and Salisbury’s second consecutive year in the final, having lost a year ago to Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.  Mektic won this title two years ago alongside Wesley Koolhof, while this is Pavic’s first appearance in the final of this event.  These teams have not met since the semifinals of this tournament last year, when Ram and Salisbury prevailed.


Casper Ruud (3) Novak Djokovic (7) – Not Before 7:00pm

Ruud is 3-1 this past week, with his only loss coming in a dead rubber against Rafael Nadal.  Prior to his three top 10 victories across the last seven days, Casper only had two all season (Zverev, Auger-Aliassime).  And he is yet to win a title above 250-level in his career, with the aforementioned three losses this year in big finals.  Ruud was a semifinalist here a year ago in his ATP Finals debut.

Djokovic is an undefeated 4-0 this week, which includes an arduous effort to defeat Daniil Medvedev on Friday in a dead rubber.  Novak is now 10-3 against top 10 opposition in 2022, having taken nine of his last 10 against the top 10.  He is 4-2 in finals this year, though he lost his most recent one, two weeks in Bercy, to Holger Rune.  Djokovic is an eight-time finalist here, though he hasn’t won this title since 2015.

Djokovic has played a lot more tennis across the last two days than Ruud.  On Friday, Novak spent over three hours on court, while Ruud had the day off.  But Djokovic still looked plenty fresh for his semifinal on Saturday against Taylor Fritz, and was able to prevent the American from extending that tight contest to a third set.  Novak is 3-0 against Casper, which includes a straight-set victory at this same event a year ago.  And considering Ruud’s poor record in significant finals, Djokovic is a considerable favorite to win his sixth title at the ATP Finals on Sunday.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

Continue Reading

ATP

ATP Finals: Fritz Close But No… Final, Djokovic Advances

Novak Djokovic beats Taylor Fritz in two tie-breaks and is just one win away from his sixth title at Nitto ATP Finals

Published

on

Novak Djokovic - 2022 Nitto ATP Finals Turin (photo Twitter @atptour)

[7] N. Djokovic b. [8] T. Fritz 7-6(5) 7-6(5)

 

Even when physically not at his best, Novak Djokovic can still count on his incredible ability to play the most effective tennis in the most important moment. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if the opponent misses an easy shot while attempting to close out the set, but the pressure Djokovic puts on whomever is on the other side of the net makes even the easiest shot look a little bit harder.

The former world no. 1 has put together a clinical display of efficiency during the first semifinal of the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin edging Taylor Fritz by two points in the tie-breaker of each set to reach his eighth finals in the end-of-year Championship.

It was not the best Djokovic, and it was not the best match: lots of errors on both sides, and a huge opportunity for Fritz to take the match to the distance when he served at 5-4 in the second set and then missed an easy backhand sitter to go a set-point up at 40-30, blaming an idiot spectator who indeed shouted in the middle of the point, when he really should have been able to put away that point blindfolded.

Fritz did not start the match in the best possible way: 10 unforced errors during the first five games, a break conceded at love at 2-2 and Djokovic appeared destined for a relatively quiet afternoon. But it was not going to be that easy: errors started flowing also on the Serbian side, and Fritz was able to equalize at 3-3. A tie-break was then needed to decide the winner of the first set, and the deciding point was a laser forehand down the line by Djokovic who swept point and set at 6-5 and headed off to the toilet for a comfort break after taking a one-set advantage.

But the break did not do him much good: unforced errors kept coming from the baseline, and Fritz blitzed 2-0 up with a break. At 4-3, the American wowed the Italian crowd with a magical backhand stop-volley to recover a service game where he found himself down 0-30, but when it was time to serve out the set, he missed that easy backhand we described earlier to give Djokovic another chance to close out a match in two sets.

And another chance is the last thing Djokovic should be gifted, although on a day like today, with Christmas time upon us, gift trading became the thing of the match. Two great points at 4-4 in the tie-break warmed the 12,000-strong crowd at Pala Alpitour to what could have possibly been a great end of the set, but Djokovic first earned a match point to be played on his serve with a good action from the baseline closed by a volley and then squandered it all with a very unusual unforced error on a routine backhand. But on his second match point, just a minute later, Fritz badly missed an inside-out forehand putting an end to the match and gifting Djokovic a chance to win his sixth title at the Nitto ATP Finals, the first in Turin.

On Sunday he will face either Casper Ruud or Andrey Rublev: he has never lost to Ruud in three previous matches (3-0) and the only time he did not beat Rublev (2-1) was last spring in Belgrade in the final of the tournament organized by his family.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending