The 2015 UbiTennis ATP Oscars - UBITENNIS
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The 2015 UbiTennis ATP Oscars

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left to right – Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Marin Cilic, Stan Wawrinka, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal (image via ausopen.com),

After another memorable year on the ATP Tour, we look back at the 2015 season giving our oscars to the best player, the best rivalry, the best rising star, the best match, the major upset, the greatest surprise, the best matches and the best team.

 

The best player: Novak Djokovic
The Serbian star enjoyed the best year of his career with a total of eleven titles and one of the greatest seasons in tennis history. He won three Grand Slam titles (Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open), the ATP World Tour Finals in London, six Masters 1000 (Indian Wells, Miami, Monte-Carlo, Rome, Shanghai, Paris Bercy) and his sixth China Open in Beijing. He scored a win-loss record of 82-6 and reached 15 ATP Finals (including all four Grand Slams and eight Masters 1000 Tournaments). It’s the first time in history that a player has won the ATP World Tour Finals for four consecutive years. He finished the year with nearly twice the number of points as World Number 2 Andy Murray. He has become the sixth player to clinch the year-end Number 1 Ranking for four or more years after Pete Sampras (six years), Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer (five years), Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe (four years).

The best rivalry of 2015: Novak Djokovic vs Roger Federer
Djokovic and Federer met eight times in 2015. Djokovic won five of their head-to-head matches, including two Grand Slam finals (Wimbledon and the US Open), the final of the ATP World Tour Finals in London and two Masters 1000 Finals at Indian Wells and Rome. Federer was able to beat Djokovic three times this year in the Dubai final, the Cincinnati Masters final and in the round robin of the ATP Finals in London. They are now tied 22-22 in their head-to-head matches.

“Against Roger it’s very specific. You need to adjust to the tactics because of his game. He plays very quickly. He likes things to happen fast. He takes away the time from his opponent. He has so much variety in his game with his slice, comes to the net. He has a great serve and his forehand is one of the best ever. He is a very complete player”, said Djokovic of his rivalry against Federer.

The 2015 Wimbledon final: Novak Djokovic Vs Roger Federer

The biggest surprise: Stan Wawrinka’s win over Novak Djokovic in the Roland Garros Final
Stan Wawrinka’s 4-6 6-4 6-3 6-4 win over Novak Djokovic dashed the Serb’s dream of winning his first French Open title and complete the career Grand Slam. Wawrinka clinched his second Grand Slam title one year after his triumph at the 2014 Australian Open. In the French Open Wawrinka also beat his compatriot Roger Federer in the quarter final and Jo Wilfried Tsonga in the semifinal. The Lausanne player received the Coupe des Mousquetaires (French Open trophy) from three-time Roland Garros champion Gustavo Kuerten.

The most popular player: Roger Federer
Roger Federer received the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, named in honour of his coach and childhood hero. Federer was voted by his fellow players as the winner of this Award for the 11th season and received the award from Edberg himself during the ATP Finals in London. King Roger also received the trophy as ATP Fans Favourite for the 13th consecutive year after receiving 65 percent of all votes casted online.

Thirty-four year-old Federer finished the season with a 63-11 win-loss record ending the season in the top-three of the ATP Ranking for the 12th time in the past 13 years. He claimed six titles (Brisbane, Dubai, Istanbul, Halle, Cincinnati and Basel). In Cincinnati he beat Andy Murray in the semifinal and Djokovic in the final. He has become the oldest player in the Top 10 since André Agassi in 2005.

The best doubles team: Jean Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau
The Dutch-Romanian doubles team completed a perfect season in which they won at Wimbledon (beating Jamie Murray and John Peers) and at the ATP Finals in London (beating Rohan Bopanna and Florin Mergea). Rojer and Tecau ended the year as the best doubles team in the ATP Ranking. They have become the first doubles team to win the doubles final at the ATP Finals without dropping a set since round robin play began in 1986.

The best Comeback: Benoit Paire
The Frenchman suffered from a knee injury in 2014 but was able to come back in 2015 when he beat Fabio Fognini en route to reaching the third round at the Roland Garros before winning his first ATP title in Bastad. He upset Kei Nishikori in the first round of the US Open to grab his third win against a top-10 player and his first against a top-5 opponent.

The best young player: Hyeon Chung
The 19-year-old South Korean player won the ATP Most Improved Player Award after a successful season in which he improved his Ranking from Number 173 to Number 51. He collected four ATP Challenger Tournaments in Burnie, Savannah, Busan and Kahosjung. He recorded his first Grand Slam match against James Duckworth before losing against Stan Wawrinka (7-6 7-6 7-6). Chung, who lost the 2013 Wimbledon Junior final against Italian Gianluigi Quinzi, reached the second round in Miami (where he lost against Tomas Berdych) and the quarter finals in Shenzhen.

The best matches in 2015
Roland Garros semifinal: Novak Djokovic beat Andy Murray 6-3 6-3 5-7 5-7 6-1
Djokovic and Murray battled for more than three hours before the match was interrupted by rain and bad light at 3-3 in the fourth set after Djokovic was leading two sets to one.
Djokovic, who ended Nadal’s streak of 39 consecutive wins in the French Open, broke Murray’s serve to win the first set before breaking twice in the second set to take a two set to love lead. Djokovic had break points in the third set, but Murray broke serve at 5-5 to clinch the third set on serve with 7-5. The match was suspended at 3-3 after two breaks of serve due to a thunderstorm. As the match was resumed on the following day Murray broke again at 5-5 before closing the fourth set on serve to force the match to the fifth set. Djokovic cruised to 6-1 in the final set, ending Murray’s winning streak on clay which included two back-to-back clay court titles in Munich and Madrid.

Wimbledon quarter final: Richard Gasquet beat Stan Wawrinka 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-4 11-9
Richard Gasquet beat Stan Wawrinka in five epic sets after three hours and a half to reach his first Wimbledon semifinal since 2007. Gasquet clinched the 20-game fifth set on his third match point when Wawrinka hit a forehand long after 83 minutes.
Gasquet saved a break point chance at the start of the fifth set before getting the break for 5-3. He failed to serve out for the match as Wawrinka broke back. Wawrinka earned a break point chance at 9-9 30-40. He made three errors to face three match points for Gasquet, who converted his third opportunity after three hours and 28 minutes.

The best team of the year: Great Britain
Great Britain won the Davis Cup for the tenth time in history and for the first time since 1936 with a 3-1 victory over Belgium in Ghent. Murray added the Davis Cup to his impressive collection of titles which features Wimbledon, the US Open and the Olympic gold medal on home soil at Wimbledon. The Dunblane star has joined John McEnroe and Mats Wilander as the only players to boast a 8-0 singles record in the same Davis Cup season. He is the fourth player to win 11 Davis Cup rubbers (eight singles and the three doubles with his elder brother Jamie) in a single year. Murray has become the first player since Pete Sampras in 1995 to win all three rubbers in a Davis Cup Final. The only British win, which did not involve the Murray family came from James Ward, who won an epic five-set match against John Isner in the first round against the USA in Glasgow. The British team also featured 20-year-old Kyle Edmund, who made his debut in the Davis Cup in the Ghent final against David Goffin, who won the inaugural match in the decider after losing the first two sets. Edmund became the sixth man in the history of the Davis Cup to make his debut in the final.

After the triumph in Ghent British Prime Minister David Cameron invited Andy and Jamie Murray, James Ward and Kyle Edmund to Downing Street.

“I imagine it will take a few days before it really sinks in. I probably haven’t been an emotional as that after a match that I have won. I have been pretty upset having lost matches before, but I would say that’s probably the most emotional I have been after a win”, said Murray.

 

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Dominic Thiem Rules Federer Out Of GOAT Debate

The Austrian puts forward his theory on who should be regarded as the best player in history.

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Dominic Thiem; e-motion/Bildagentur Zolles KG/Martin Steiger, 27.10.2022

The honour of which player deserves to be regarded as the greatest of all time (GOAT) should be decided based on one factor, according to Dominic Thiem. 

 

The former world No.3 has weighed in on the debate by suggesting that the argument should be settled by the number of Grand Slam titles a player has won as they are the most prestigious tournaments in the sport. In tennis, the four major tournaments are the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. 

Thiem’s GOAT criteria have therefore ruled Roger Federer out of contention. The Swiss maestro was at one stage the frontrunner due to the numerous records he has broken throughout his career. However, he retired from the sport last year with 20 Grand Slam trophies under his belt which is less than both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic who are currently on 22 each. 

“In my opinion, the Grand Slam titles should be the defining criteria when determining the best of all time, they are the four most important tournaments in tennis,” Eurosport quotes Thiem as saying. 
“Everything else is fine, but it’s not the same. The Slams are what counts, so the GOAT will probably be the one with the most Grand Slams.”

Others will argue that more factors should be taken into account in the subjective debate. For example, Federer has won 103 ATP titles which are more than his two rivals, Djokovic holds the record for most weeks as world No.1 and Nadal has won more tournaments on clay than any other player in history. Furthermore, there is the players’ win-loss rate on the Tour and their records against the top 10 players. 

Recently at the Australian Open Djokovic won the men’s title for a historic 10th time in his career. An achievement that has been hailed by Thiem who was runner-up to the Serbian at Melbourne Park in 2021. 

“I am not very surprised, Djokovic still looks young,” he said. “Physically and mentally, because of the way he moves on the court. It’s like he was 25 years old.
“We have to be honest, he is the best, so his victory was not very surprising.”

Thiem has won one Grand Slam title which was at the 2020 US Open when he became the first man in the Open Era to come back from two sets down to win in the final. He has also been runner-up at the French Open twice, as well as the Australian Open once. 

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Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open Injury ‘Hard To Believe’ In The Eyes Of His Opponent

Some details surrounding Djokovic’s battle with a hamstring issue ‘doesn’t make sense,’ according to Enzo Couacaud.

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Image via Adelaide International Twitter

The only man to take a set off Novak Djokovic during the Serbian’s run to a historic 10th Australian Open title believes there are unanswered questions over his injury. 

 

France’s Enzo Couacaud took a set off the world No.1 before losing their encounter in the second round at Melbourne Park. At the tournament Djokovic was dealing with a hamstring problem which he picked up at the Adelaide International earlier this year. Throughout the tournament, he was wearing strapping on his leg and there was uncertainty about if he would be able to continue playing in the Grand Slam event. 

Despite the issue, Djokovic claimed a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title by disposing of Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets in the final. Afterwards his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, claimed that 97% of players would not have played if they were in a similar situation. The exact diagnosis of Djokovic’s injury hasn’t been addressed by his team but Australian Open director Craig Tiley said he suffered a 3mm tear. 

However, Couacaud has questioned the significance of the injury to begin with. During an interview with Tennis Actu, the world No.172 believes that some of the details appear to be ‘far-fetched’ as he draws parallels with Rafael Nadal, as well as footballer Kylian Mbappe.  

“Novak claimed he was playing with an injury, a big injury,” said Couacaud. “When athletes are injured in combat sports, they often can’t continue. When Rafael Nadal is injured, he can’t run. Kylian Mbappe, for example, is out for two weeks.
“And those are the greatest athletes, not those who don’t have access to top-notch care. It is therefore difficult to believe that only one man in the world can continue with an injury.
“When you take the examples of Nadal or Mbappe, but especially Rafa, with an injury to Wimbledon, he couldn’t even serve. When you see the greatest who can’t set foot on the pitch and another who wins a Grand Slam by playing every day for 15 days. It still seems a bit far-fetched.
“There are little things that don’t make sense to me. I was always told not to stretch with an injury. You saw Novak stretching all the time. You say to yourself, either they have a new method in Serbia, or it’s weird. Little things like that, he has his staff, but I’m too far to judge the authenticity of anything. It is true that it seems hard to believe.”

It is not the first time Djokovic has faced accusations that he has in some way exaggerated the significance of an injury. He encountered a similar situation during the 2021 Australian Open where he suffered an abdominal injury. After winning the tournament, he confirmed that he sustained a tear in the region. 

Speaking to journalists at Melbourne Park last month, the tennis star once again hit back at his critics and claimed that he was being singled out. 

“I leave the doubting to those people – let them doubt,” Tennis Majors quoted Djokovic as saying in Serbian following his fourth round win over Alex de Minaur. “Only my injuries are questioned. When some other players are injured, then they are the victims, but when it is me, I am faking it. It is very interesting… I don’t feel that I need to prove anything to anyone.
“I am not really interested at this point what people are thinking and saying. It is fun, it is interesting to see how the narrative surrounding me continues, narrative that is different compared to other players that have been going through similar situation. But I am used to it, and it just gives me extra strength and motivation. So I thank them for that.”

Djokovic has won 93 ATP titles during his career which is the fourth-highest tally in history. Only Ivan Lendl (94), Roger Federer (102) and Jimmy Connors (109) have won more. 

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Novak Djokovic ‘Hurt’ By Father’s Absence From Australian Open Final

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Novak Djokovic - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

Novak Djokovic said he mutually agreed with his father that he did not attend his latest Australian Open match but admits it was a bitter pill to swallow. 

 

Srdjan Djokovic had attended his son’s matches throughout the majority of the tournament but has recently been caught up in controversy. On Wednesday a video surfaced on social media of the 62-year-old posing for a photo with pro-Russian supporters with one of the fans waving a flag with the face of Vladimir Putin on it. Another fan was also wearing a t-shirt with the ‘Z’ symbol on it which is used to support the Russian army. 

The Russian and Belarussian flags were banned from the tournament this year following an incident in the first round. A Russian flag was shown during a match between Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl and Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova. Prompting anger from Ukraine with its ambassador to Australia calling for a ‘neutral flag’ policy to be implemented. 

Srdjan has since issued a statement saying the incident was ‘unintentional’ and said his family ‘only wish for peace in the world.’ He subsequently also missed Djokovic’s semi-final match to avoid any possible ‘disruption’ before doing the same for Sunday’s final.

“I thought things would calm down in terms of media and everything, but it didn’t. We both agreed it would probably be better that he is not there,” Djokovic said after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas to win a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title
“That hurts me and him (Srdjan) a lot because these are very special, unique moments. Who knows if they repeat again? So it was not easy for him.”

Whilst he was not in the stands, Djokovic was reunited with his father shortly afterwards. Although the tennis star said Srdjan ‘was not feeling his best’ due to the situation. 

“It is what it is. I think in the end also what he told me is that it’s important that I feel good on the court, I win the match, and he’s here for me,” Djokovic continued. 
“If it’s going to be better for me as the outcome of the match so that he’s not in the box, then so be it. That was the whole conversation.’
“In a way, I’m also sad that he was not there, present, in the stands. But he was throughout the entire tournament, so it’s fine. In the end, we have a happy ending.”

Djokovic has now won five out of the past seven Grand Slam tournaments he has played in. At the Australian Open alone he has won 28 matches in a row.

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