Lukas Rosol knocks out Jo Wilfried Tsonga to reach the quarter finals in Vienna - UBITENNIS
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Lukas Rosol knocks out Jo Wilfried Tsonga to reach the quarter finals in Vienna

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Lukas Rosol knocked out last week’s Shanghai Masters 1000 finalist Jo Wilfried Tsonga by 6-4 3-6 6-1 to reach the quarter finals at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna. Rosol won for the first time after three defeats against Tsonga, who won the Austrian tournament in 2011. After this defeat Tsonga lost ground in the battle for one of the remaining two spots for the ATP Finals.

Tsonga dropped his serve to go down 4-5 in the first set. Rosol held his serve to win the first set on the next game. Tsonga won the second set by 6-3 to force the match to the third set. Rosol cruised to 6-1 with a series of winners.

“The surface was slow, but it’s not an excuse because you have to adapt to different conditions and to different surfaces. I won’t be playing until Paris Bercy. I now have time to rest. I will return home to prepare well for Paris Bercy. I hope to be more consistent in 2016. I didn’t play enough to win. I tried but things did not work for me. I am not sad for not qualifying for London. ”, said Tsonga

It was a day of mixed fortunes for French tennis as Gael Monfils beat Italian Paolo Lorenzi 6-4 6-4 to set up a quarter final against Rosol.

The match started with three consecutive breaks in the first three games. Monfils broke serve in the first game to 15 but Lorenzi broke back in the next game to 30. Lorenzi made a double fault on the break point to drop serve again to 15. Lorenzi missed two break points for 3-3. Monfils held his serve on the third chance and pulled away to 4-2 with an ace. Lorenzi won his service game with a winner and an ace for 4-5. Monfils served out for the set to love for 6-4.

Lorenzi made three double faults to drop his serve in the third game to trail 1-2. In the next game the Italian player broke back to draw level to 2-2 with a down the line backhand.

In the seventh game Monfils broke serve to 30 with a backhand passing shot to take the lead with 4-3. Monfils served out for the match at 5-4 and held his serve to love to clinch the win.

Spanish star David Ferrer, who is currently ranked eighth in the ATP Ranking and is top seed in Vienna, brushed aside his compatriot Guillermo Garcia Lopez with 6-1 6-1 to boost his chance to qualify for the ATP Finals in London. Ferrer broke serve five times and hit five aces. Thanks to his 49th win in 2015 Ferrer has reached his 12th quarter final this season. Ferrer won four titles this season but missed most of the summer season with an elbow injury

Ferrer fended off two break points at the start of the first set before converting five of his break point chances.

“I have pressure but I am in a good position. There is more pressure on the others”, said Ferrer

Ferrrer will face Italian Fabio Fognini who beat Radek Stepanek 6-1 6-4. Fognini held his first service game before breaking serve in the second game for 2-0. Fognini got a double break to cruise to 6-1 after Stepanek made four break points. Fognini broke serve in the ninth game to take the 5-4 edge before serving out for the match in the next game.

Ferrer has a 15-0 winning record against Fognini.

Kevin Anderson fought back from a set down to edge past Jiri Vesely with 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 7-5. Anderson earned two set points on Vesely’s serve but the Czech player forced it to the tie-break. Vesely took the first set with 7-4. Anderson bounced back winning the second set with 6-3 before saving break points at 5-5 in the decider. The South African player held his serve before breaking on the final point of the match to reach his third quarter final this season after a two-hour and 30-minute battle. Anderson hit 15 aces to bring his total to 980 this year.

Anderson will face Steve Johnson who battled past Jerzy Janowicz 6-4 6-7 (7-9) 6-4. Johnson fended off the two break points and fired 20 aces to Janowicz’s 23. Janowicz drew level by winning the tie-break in the second set with 9-7 but Johnson went up a break to win the third set.

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Rafael Nadal To Start Indian Wells Bid Against Former Top 10 Star

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Nadal RG 2022 by Night (foto @RolandGarros)

Rafael Nadal is set to take on Milos Raonic in his opening match at the BNP Paribas Open in what will only be his second tournament of the season. 

The former world No.1 is set to make a return to action in Indian Wells after being sidelined from action in recent weeks due to a minor muscle tear in his hip region. Nadal played an exhibition match against Carlos Alcaraz last Sunday, which he lost in three close sets. However, his last ATP event took place during the first week of January where he reached the quarter-finals of the Brisbane International. 

Nadal’s upcoming opponent has also endured his fair share of injury setbacks. Raonic, who is a former Indian Wells finalist, is currently ranked outside the top 200 and has retired from two out of five matches played so far this season. It will be the 11th Tour-level meeting between the two with the Spaniard winning eight of their previous matches. 

Should Nadal win his opening match, he will take on Danish seventh seed Holger Rune. Whoever wins that match has a tough path ahead of them. Their future opponents could be Taylor Fritz in the fourth round followed by Daniil Medvedev, Novak Djokovic and reigning champion Alcaraz. 

Top seed Novak Djokovic will start his campaign against either a qualifier or Aleksandar Vukic. The Serbian is playing in the event for the first time since 2019 and missing recent editions due to reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Djokovic’s projected route is Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the third round, Tommy Paul in the fourth and then Casper Ruud. Daniil Medvedev could be a semi-final opponent followed possibly by either Alcaraz or Jannik Sinner. 

Sinner and Alcaraz have been drawn in the same section with the No.2 ranking on the line. The Italian is defending 360 points which is more than half of half of what Alcaraz is defending (1000 points). 

Some notable first round matches to look out for include Stan Wawrinka taking on Tomas Machac, who is currently ranked 63rd in the world. Denis Shapovalov used his protected ranking to enter the tournament and will face former US Open quarter-finalist Botic van de Zandschulp. Finally, Andy Murray will start against a qualifier with the winner taking on Andrey Rublev. 

All 31 seeds in the draw have a bye in the first round. 

Should all go according to the seedings, the projected men’s quarter-finals are the following:-

  • No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs. No. 8 Hubert Hurkcacz
  • No. 4 Daniil Medvedev vs. No. 7 Holger Rune
  • No. 3 Jannik Sinner vs. No. 5 Andrey Rublev
  • No. 2 Carlos Alcaraz vs. No. 6 Alexander Zverev

This year’s champion will earn $1.1M in prize money. 

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Statistical Deep Dive: Sinner At Rotterdam One Year Later

Jannik Sinner’s Rotterdam title compared with his run to the final last year.

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(@InteBNLdItalia - Twitter)

By Federico Bertelli

Let’s delve into Jannik Sinner’s triumphant journey at the ABN Amro Open and compare it with his 2023 campaign. Service and down-the-line backhands were the keys to victory.

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. This is the version of Sinner that his opponents tasted, and it’s also the title of a Daft Punk song; the clip particularly reflects what the rest of the ATP circuit has been thinking about Jannik for some months now: an android emerging after a heavy upgrade. Jokes aside, as the sunshine double is about to start, we thought it wise to rewind and closely examine Sinner’s recent victories.

The focus of our analysis is the Rotterdam tournament: Sinner’s performance was spotless, a feat not seen since 2001 when Lleyton Hewitt, after his victory at Flushing Meadows over Pete Sampras, managed to repeat his success in Tokyo. If the Italian were to win next week under the California sun as well, he would be the first in ATP tennis history to win two consecutive ATP tournaments after the first Slam. But before we dive into the action of the Indian Wells, let’s scratch the surface of Sinner’s victory in the Netherlands a bit. The comparison is plausible as the Italian reached the final in both editions, playing 5 matches in each case.

Draw: The 2024 run was undoubtedly smoother compared to 2023, both on average and in absolute terms. In 2023, the average ranking of Sinner’s opponents increased significantly, from 50.6 in 2023 to 97 in 2024. This means that, in general, we can assume that the journey, at least on paper, was easier. Also, in absolute terms – considering the lowest ranking of an opponent faced – there was a notable difference. In 2023, the insurmountable obstacle was the Russian Medvedev, then the blue’s nemesis and number 3 in the rankings. In 2024, it was a more approachable De Minaur – number 11 in the ATP ranking – against whom the H2Hs have also always been in favour of Jannik.

Source, ATP data, ATP 500 Tournament Rotterdam: Comparison of Opposing Players’ Rankings

Break Points: One aspect frequently discussed about Sinner in the last 12 months is his overall growth in all areas: technical, physical, and mental. However, it’s not news that Jannik is mentally tough. Surely, Sinner will continue to tirelessly work on this aspect, as he has always stated, but his starting base has always been enviable. And the results are there for everyone to see. Despite facing a number of break points in the tournament equal to 20 in both 2023 and 2024 – which perhaps was unexpected given the more modest caliber of opponents – the Italian’s response was undeniable. An 80% break point save rate, compared to 65% in 2023 and against an ATP tour average of 61%. (Note: The tour average refers to the average of the last 52 weeks of players who have competed in ATP level tournaments). This figure, among other things, underscores Jannik’s solidity, already above average in 2023.

Source, ATP data, ATP 500 Tournament Rotterdam: Comparison of Break Points Saves, Years 2023-2024

Service – Overall Statistics: Another aspect that has been frequently discussed is Jannik’s improvement in his service game; indeed, the data speaks for itself. Both in terms of the percentage of first serves in play and in terms of effectiveness in converting such a play situation into a point, Sinner has significantly elevated his game. Working on the percentage of first serves in play was the number one priority to improve the Italian’s game performance, and the efforts of Vagnozzi, Cahill & co. have paid off handsomely. In 2023 in Rotterdam, the percentage of first serves in play was 57%, in line with the general performances recorded by Sinner up to that point. Considering that the ATP tour average was 62%, it’s clear this was an aspect still needing improvement until last year. However, the conversion rate from good became excellent. In 2023 in Rotterdam, the conversion rate of points on the first serve stood at 74%, a figure above the tour average, which is at 72%. In 2024, however, we witnessed a further leap forward, reaching the 80% threshold.

Source, ATP Data, ATP 500 Tournament Rotterdam: Service Performance Comparison

To understand how high this figure is, just look at the leaderboard rankings of the last 52 weeks. In terms of first serves converted into points, 80% is the threshold of absolute excellence. Consider that the two most impressive serving machines ever seen on a tennis court, Karlovic and Isner, had career averages of 83% and 80%, respectively.

ATP Leaderboard

Finally, a somewhat surprising data point is the success performance on the second serve. The Italian won 60% of the points on his second serve in 2023, while in 2024, “only” 56%. This rate is evidently more than sufficient to win matches and tournaments, but in 2023, it was not a problem at all, on the contrary.

Delving further into detail and referring to more detailed analyses (for the metrics used, we also refer to the general description found here), the analysis is further enriched. The data reported are the result of TennisViz processing, on data owned by Tennis Data Innovations (TDI).

Service – Detailed Data: The service performance, in terms of precision and reliability of the shot under pressure, has improved from all perspectives. Among the various metrics available, there are some of interest. Starting with the accuracy on the first serve, i.e., the distance with which the serve is placed from the service lines, measured in cm. Referencing a post from the X Tennis Insights account, we have an overview.

Source: TennisViz on TDI Data

In Rotterdam in 2023, Sinner executed this shot with an accuracy of 57 cm, better than what was measured over the course of the year. But in 2024, this figure impressively dropped to a notable 52 cm, in line with that of Hurkacz. We’ll spare you the statistical details, but the result (highly debatable, given the small sample size) is as follows.

Of course, there are many other variables that explain the yield on the first serve, but the inverse correlation between serve speed and precision is not bad, and generally leads us to say that serving at 125 mph with an accuracy of 52 cm, combined with an average quality in return shots, guarantees an untouchable performance of 80% of points won on the first serve. If the quality is that of Sinner’s serving machine, even less will suffice.

Continuing with the quality of the service shown by Sinner, another data point that deserves further exploration is that of unreturned serves, where the opponent fails to return the serve back into play. Here too, Jannik performed exceptionally well, with aces and opponents’ missed returns bringing home an impressive 40% in 2023 and an exceptional 42% in 2024. Remember, in tennis, variations of 1% can make the difference between a solid top ten player and a Grand Slam title winner. To put it in perspective, the ATP average is 38%.

Source: @Tennisinsight

Finally, to conclude the chapter on the serve, one last piece of data, which we’ve kept in reserve for the most deserving who have persisted in reading up to this point; do you know what the percentage of first serve balls on break points was in 2023? And in 2024? Well, we’ll present it to you in a table, and we’ll add nothing more:

Source: TenniViz on TDI Data

In 2023, when serving on break points, the first serve landed much less than usual in crucial moments. In 2024, however, the Italian did not lose his composure at all, serving as if it were any other point… not bad at all.

Performance in rallies: in this case, we rely on [metrics developed by TDI and TennisViz, which obviously carry the ATP brand](https://www.atptour.com/en/news/insights-introduction); (bonus: if you happen to watch a match on ATP TV, these advanced metrics are just a click away, in the stats section of the App).

Source: TenniViz on TDIData

It’s notable how Jannik has leveled up both in his ability to convert points where he had the advantage (conversion score) and in managing to seize the initiative from opponents when they were in a favorable position during the rally (steal score). Lastly, the final data point: from the baseline, with the current form of Jannik, it’s tough to come out on top, and if we consider his aptitude for turning defense into offense, the puzzle for his opponents is almost unsolvable. Indeed, this explains the overwhelming 56% of points won from the baseline, significantly above the ATP average. This data also finds an explanation in a significant tactical adjustment, the more pronounced use of the down-the-line backhand variation. The backhand crosscourt is already a comfort zone for Sinner, which he can comfortably use to extract points, like a boxer working his opponent with jabs; if we add that now Sinner is also able to find the down-the-line solution at the right moment, again, it spells trouble for his opponents. In 2023, Sinner hit 19.5% of his backhands down the line, while in 2024 this percentage rose to 31.4% in the Rotterdam tournament. A change that helped him tip the scale further in his favor in baseline battles.

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Andrey Rublev Reclaims Prize Money, Points After Appealing Against Dubai Disqualification

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Andrey Rublev will receive ranking points and prize money from the Dubai Tennis Championships despite being disqualified from the event for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The Russian world No.5 has won an appeal against the sanction he received last week at the ATP 500 event. Rublev screamed in the face of a lines judge during the third set of his semi-final match against Alexander Bublik. A Russian-speaking official told supervisor Roland Herfel that the tennis star had sworn in his native language, which he denied doing. As a consequence, he was defaulted from the match which usually carries an automatic penalty of that player losing all their points and prize money earned at the tournament.

However, the ATP appeals committee has concluded that those penalties are ‘disproportionate ‘ in this case. Regulating in Rublev winning back more than $150,000 and 200 ranking points. However, a fine of nearly $30,000 has been upheld. 

“The ATP has reviewed an appeal from Andrey Rublev, following the player’s default from the semi-finals of the ATP 500 tournament in Dubai,” the I Newspaper quoted an ATP official as saying
“The appeal process took into consideration testimonies from the player, officials, as well as a review of all available video and audio materials.
“The appeals committee concluded that, beyond forfeiting the match, customary penalties associated with a default – namely loss of rankings points and prize money for the entire tournament – would be disproportionate in this case.
“As such, Rublev retains semi-final points and prize money for the tournament.”

The initial penalty issues against Rublev caused criticism from some players with Daria Kasatkina saying it was a ‘joke’ that no video replay system was in place. The ATP plans to implement electronic line-calling at all of its events by next year. Meanwhile, Bublik said shortly after the incident that he had doubts that Rublev ‘said something crazy.

Rublev will return to action in Indian Wells later this week where he will be seeded sixth in the draw. 

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