AO2015: Who failed and who passed Down Under - UBITENNIS
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AO2015: Who failed and who passed Down Under



TENNIS AO2015 – The first Grand Slam of the season is already behind us. The Australian Open has traditionally thrown up more surprises and upsets than the other Slams as a result of it being right at the start of the season, when players still haven’t got a groove going. This season that hasn’t been the case. Except for Roger Federer, all of the top eight seeds reached the quarter finals and not many conclusions can be drawn from Melbourne. Bruno Bergareche Sans



Novk Djokovic

What is clear is that Novak Djokovic is still the man to beat. Although the Serb wasn’t as brilliant as he has been in the past, he seemed to do just enough to coast to the trophy, without having to switch too much through the gears. When you’re winning slams in that manner then you’re in a class of your own, and with an outstanding fifth Australian Open, Djokovic now takes his overall tally to 8, with there being no clear indication of where his limit could be.

Melbourne also signalled the return of Andy Murray to the top four, a status he had struggled to regain after his back problems. For Murray the Australian Open was like going back in time to his pre-Lendl days. The man from Dunblane played aggressive tennis which helped him to impressive wins over Dimitrov and Berdych but it was his temperament and attitude which let him down in the final, as it had done on so many occasions previously to his first Grand Slam triumphs. The Briton has now lost six of his eight Grand Slam finals which is a very poor record and Amelie Mauresmo has her work cut out trying to ensure that the Scot keeps his focus in important matches because it has proven to be his downfall time and time again.

Stan Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka

As for the semi finalists, Stan Wawrinka did his job on paper which was to reach the semi finals and bow out to Djokovic in five sets, but in reality his performance in those semis were a bit of a worry for fans of the Swiss star. Wawrinka was extremely erratic and later admitted that he was mentally drained; a very concerning fact when we’re just a couple of weeks into the new season. That semi final defeat also means that Wawrinka drops to number 9 in the world which means he could face the top four as early as in the last sixteen of tournaments. The other semi finalist leaves Melbourne with a slightly bitter taste feeling. Berdych will be radiant about his straight sets win over Rafa Nadal after a 17-match losing streak against the Spaniard but he really didn’t back it up against Murray in the semi finals. The gulf between the Scot and the Czech player was far too big for what Berdych’s aspirations are. With Vallverdu now in his corner, the man from Prague will look to definitively get himself up amongst the big boys but it always seems he’s just one step below.

Rafael nadal

Rafael Nadal

With regards to Nadal, not much was expected from the Mallorcan and even more so after just about surviving against Smyczek in the second round. But if there is one thing you’re always going to get from the Spaniard its grit and determination and he put in a solid run to the quarter finals with a good win against Anderson in the fourth round. The match against Berdych however was a true measuring tool to gauge where Nadal was exactly and it went to prove that the 14-time Grand Slam champion has quite a way to go in terms of getting rid of the rust.

Andreas Seppi and Roger Federer

Andreas Seppi and Roger Federer

The one surprise of the tournament which is mentioned briefly at the top of the article was Roger Federer’s exit at the hands of Andreas Seppi. A curiosity about Federer’s draw at the Australian Open is that he played players ranked 47 (Lu), 48 (Bolelli) and 47 (Seppi) in the opening three rounds. The difference in results only going to show how beautifully unpredictable this sport is. Roger will be bitterly disappointed with such an early exit from a Slam and will be raring to get back on the courts but the sensation is that it will be very difficult for the Swiss maestro to add any more Slams to that incredible record of 17.

Nick Kyrgios

Nick Kyrgios

One of the positive stories from the Australian Open was the awakening of Australian tennis. One of the greatest powerhouses, if not the greatest, in the history of tennis, Australia has experienced a void since Lleyton Hewitt which appears to be coming to an end on the evidence of the opening Slam of the season. Huge hope Nick Kyrgios made the most of Federer’s absence to rampage through to the quarter finals with box office big hitting tennis and with a less flashy yet equally efficient game, Bernard Tomic had his typical good run in Melbourne which was only ended by Berdych in the fourth round. Kokkinakis also got the fans going with a tremendous first round win against Sam Groth. Now these players have to show they can also do it without their home crowd behind them.

So to wrap it all up, what we can conclude from the Australian Open is that Djokovic will take some beating, Murray has to cut down his moaning, Nadal needs some court time and Australia is putting its name back on the map. Let the tennis continue.


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

Image via ATP Twitter



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

19Bautista AgutSpain2260
20Carreno BustaSpain2230

14 NOVEMBER 2022:

13Carreno BustaSpain2495

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?


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

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



Novak Djokovic on Saturday in Turin (

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.

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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



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.

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