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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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils

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Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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Matteo Berrettini wins in Marrakech displaying quality tennis

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Matteo Berrettini - Marrakech 2024 (photo X @ATPTour_ES)

Matteo Berrettini defeats Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 75 62, and proves that his comeback is well grounded  

If life is often considered a continuous narrative, it may be no coincidence that today Matteo Berrettini’s comeback journey intersescted Carballes Baena, a player he had faced twice in straight tournaments, Florence and Naples in October 2022, shortly before plunging into his annus horribilis, an injury-plagued 2023.

Just like resuming the story from where it was left.

Carballes Baena, the defending champion, got off to a sharper start, holding serve with ease and earning a first break point in the second game. Berrettini averted the threat by hammering down three serves but lost his service two games later.

Doubts on the Italian’s recovery from his energy-draining semifinal may have been starting to come afloat. However Berrettini broke back immediately, unsettling the Spaniard’s consistency with changes of pace and alternating lifted and sliced backhands.

The next six games neatly followed serve. Figures witness how close the match was. After 45 minutes the scoreboard read 5 games all, and stats reported 27 points apiece.

The eleventh game was to be crucial. Carballes Baena netted two forehands, while trying to hit through the Italian’s skidding spins and conceded a break point. Berrettini followed up two massive forehands with a delicate, unreachable drop shot and secured the break.

Carballes Baena was far from discouraged, and fired two forehand winners dashing to 0 40  with the Italian serving for the set.

Berrettini was lucky to save the first break point with a forehand that pinched the top of the net, and trickled over. Then he hit two winning first serves to draw even. Then again two first serves paired with their loyal forehand winner: Berrettini’s copyright gamepattern sealed a 59 minute first set.

The match seemed about to swing round at the very start of the second set when Carballes Baena had three break points and was winning all the longer rallies. Once more Berrettini got out of trouble thanks to his serve. Carballes Baena’s disappointment turned into frustration after he failed to put away two quite comfortable smashes and lost his service immediately after.  

Unforced errors were seeping into the Spaniard’s game and when Berrettini won a 16-shot rally with a stunning crosscourt forehand on the stretch and went on to grab a two-break lead, the match appeared to have taken its final twist.

Berrettini did not falter when serving for the match at 5 2, despite an unforced error on the first point. Three first serves chauffeured him to two match points.

Carballes Baena only succeeded in bravely saving the first, well steering the rally. But the 2021 Wimbledon finalist produced a massive serve out wide and joyfully lifted his arms to the sky, for a most emotional victory. It means so much to a player whose talent and career have been incessantly diminished by injuries.

It’s been a tough last couple of years” Matteo Berrettini said, holding the trophy. “Thanks to my team I was able to overcome all the tough moments my body didn’t allow me to play. I thank you and all the people that made my comeback possible: all my friends and my family, the people that were with me all the time when I was sad, injured and I didn’t think I could make it.”

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