Review Of The 2017 ATP Season: Part 1 - UBITENNIS
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Review Of The 2017 ATP Season: Part 1

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Ubitennis.net reviews a memorable 2017 ATP season, which was highlighted by the comeback of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, Grigor Dimitrov winning the ATP Finals and the breakthrough of 20-year-old German Alexander Zverev. We present the best players of the season, the best rivalries and the most thrilling matches, the best teams and the most exciting players of the future.

The best rivalry of the year: Federer vs Nadal:

Federer and Nadal came back from their 2016 injury ravaged seasons to provide the best rivalry of the season at last January’s Australian Open. They played for the Australian Open title for the first time since 2009, when Nadal won in five sets. This time it was Federer’s turn to lift the Australian Open Trophy at Melbourne Park after another thrilling five-set match. In one of the most exciting tennis matches of the year, Federer rallied from a 1-3 deficit in the fifth set to clinch his 18th Grand Slam title and his fifth title Down Under after a memorable 3-hour and 38-minute battle, winning 6-4 3-6 6-1 3-6 6-3.

The post-match interview provided one of the many examples of great friendship and sportsmanship between the two big rivals.

“I am out of words. I would like to congratulate Rafa on an amazing comeback. There are no draws in tennis, but I would have been very happy to accept one and share it with Rafa tonight”, said Federer.

Nadal led 23-11 in his head-to-head matches against Federer and won five of their previous six matches before the 2017 season, but the Swiss maestro scored four wins in all their clashes this year.

After their memorable Melbourne clash, Federer beat Nadal 6-2 6-3 in the fourth round at Indian Wells before lifting his fifth trophy in the Californian tournament. He completed the “Sunshine” double by beating Nadal 6-3 6-4 in straight sets in the Miami final. In October Federer completed the perfect 4-0 record against Nadal this season by winning his third Masters 1000 title of 2017 with a 6-4 6-3 victory in the Shanghai Rolex Masters final.

This year Federer has won more titles than anybody else on the ATP Tour, lifting a total of seven trophies. He dominated the grass season by winning his ninth trophy in his beloved Gerry Weber Open tournament in Halle and claimed his eighth Wimbledon title by beating Marin Cilic in the title match. He crowned his dream season with his eighth title in his home city Basel after beating Juan Martin Del Potro in a three-set final.

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Nadal lived up to his reputation as the “King of Clay” after winning tournaments in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid and Roland Garros for the tenth time in his career. By winning the so-called “La Decima” Nadal became the first male or female in the Open Era to win ten titles in a single Grand Slam tournament. With 16 Grand Slam trophies won during his career, he has climbed to second on the all-time Grand Slam titles list behind Federer, who added two more titles to his collection with his wins in Melbourne and at Wimbledon.

Nadal also completed an impressive hard-court season, including grand slam title No.16 at the US Open, by winning the China Open in Beijing and ended the year as the world number 1.

“Federer played a very high level of tennis during the whole season, so well done for him and I am happy to see him play well”, said Nadal.

Federer and Nadal teamed up in the doubles at the first edition of the Rod Laver Cup in Prague, helping Team Europe win against the World team.

The comeback of the year: Roger Federer

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Federer won the ATP Comeback, Sportsmanship and Fans Favourite Awards. He has been selected as the fans favourite player for the 15th consecutive year and was voted by fellow players as the winner of the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the 13th time and the seventh year in a row. He won the Comeback Award for the first time. He started the 2017 at world number 17 in the ATP Rankings after missing the second half of the 2016 season to recover from a knee injury and ended the year as the world number 2.

The Breakthrough of the season: Grigor Dimitrov

Grigor Dimitrov enjoyed a breakthrough season, winning the Brisbane ATP 250 Tournament, the Sofia title on home soil and his maiden Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati. He went on to celebrate the biggest title of his career at the ATP Finals at the O2 Arena in London after winning a three-set final against David Goffin. He fell down the ATP Rankings in 2016, dropping to World Number 40 but started his comeback in October that year, thanks to the advice of Venezuelan coach Dani Vallverdu, who guided to the best season of his career. He ended the year as the world number 3 behind Nadal and Federer with a career-best four ATP titles.

“We have a great connection. We see tennis in the same way. We have this bond and we really appreciate how the year has gone for us”, said Dimitrov about his relationship with Dani Vallverdu.

The best matches of the year:

Rafa Nadal Def. Grigor Dimitrov 6-3 5-7 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (4-7) 6-4

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Dimitrov lost the Australian Open semifinal against Nadal in five sets after almost five hours in one of the most exciting matches of the season. Dimitrov did not convert a double break point in the eighth game of the fifth set as he was leading 4-3 before Nadal prevailed 6-3 5-7 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (4-7) 6-4. Nadal broke the Bulgarian player with a backhand winner down the line to serve for the match at 5-4. Dimitrov saved the first two match points, but Nadal converted his third opportunity.

Roger Federer Vs. Nick Kyrgios 7-6, 6-7, 7-6

Federer battled past Kyrgios 7-6 (11-9) 6-7 (9-11) 7-6 (7-5) in three tie-breaks in an epic semifinal in Miami. In their only previous head-to-head match Kyrgios beat Federer in three-set tussle in Madrid in 2015 after three tie-breaks.

In Miami Kyrgios saved a set point at 5-6 in the first set with an ace and two more in the tie-break at 5-6 and 6-7. Federer fended off two set points in the tie-break at 7-8 and at 8-9 before winning the opening set on his third set point at 11-9. In the tie-break of the second set Kyrgios fired an ace at 10-9 to seal the second set. Both players held serve to force the match to a sixth consecutive tie-break in their two head-to-head matches. Federer hit a big first serve to clinch the match after three hours and ten minutes.

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Daniil Medvedev ‘Happy To Play Wimbledon’ If Ban Is Lifted

The world No.2 says he is willing to speak with other players about the situation ahead of his return to action following surgery.

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Daniil Medvedev (RUS) in action against Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) in the first round of the Gentlemen's Singles on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 2 Tuesday 29/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Daniil Medvedev says he is still hopeful that he might be able to play at this year’s Wimbledon Championships should officials at The All England Club decide to change their stance.

 

At present the reigning US Open champion will not be allowed to play at the grass court major due to his nationality. Officials at the Grand Slam have confirmed that Russian and Belarussian players have been banned from the event due to the war in Ukraine. Ian Hewitt, who is the chairman of The AELTC, said the action was taken in order to prevent ‘the propaganda machine of the Russian regime’ from potentially benefiting from their players’ success.

The ban is a controversial move for the sport which until now had a united approach when it came to allowing those players participate in tournaments but only as neutral athletes. Former Wimbledon champions Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokopvic and Andy Murray have all expressed some degree of opposition to the decision. Meanwhile, the ATP and WTA are considering the possibility of removing the allocation of ranking points at the event.

Speaking about the ban ahead of this week’s Geneva Open, Medvedev acknowledges that it is a ‘tricky situation’ but is still hopeful that a u-turn could occur which would allow him to play. The 26-year-old has made four main draw appearances at Wimbledon with his best result being a run to the fourth round last year.

“There has been a lot of talk around it. I just tried to follow what’s happening because I don’t have any decisions to make. It’s right now about Wimbledon itself, the ATP, maybe the British government is involved,” news agency AFP quoted Medvedev as telling reporters in Switzerland.
“It’s a tricky situation and like every situation in life, you ask 100 players, everybody’s going to give a different opinion.
“I can play: I’m going to be happy to play in Wimbledon. I love this tournament.
“I cannot play: well, I’m going to try to play other tournaments and prepare well for next year if I have the chance to play.”

The former world No.1 has been among a group of Russian players who have previously called for peace in the region. Although none of them have gone as far as publicly condemning the actions of their government. Something which has drawn criticism from Ukraine’s Elina Svitoliva.

“I had some time to follow what is happening, yeah, it’s very upsetting,” Medvedev commented on the war.

Geneva will be the first event Medvedev has played in since reaching the quarter-finals of the Miami Open. He took time away from the Tour to undergo hernia surgery but has confirmed he intends to play at next week’s French Open despite his lack of match play on the clay.

During his time at those events, the tennis star says he is more than happy to speak with other players about the Wimbledon ban should they want to.

“Since I haven’t been on the tour, I haven’t talked to any of them face to face. It was the first time when I came here on Saturday when I can talk to players, and if they start talking about this, we can discuss,” he said.
“I don’t know exactly what’s happening, what’s going to happen, if there are going to be more decisions made.
“Same about Wimbledon. I don’t know if this decision is 100 percent, and it’s over.”

Granted a bye in the first round, Medvedev will start his Geneva campaign against either Richard Gasquet or John Millman.

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Denis Shapovalov gets revenge win over Nadal to reach quarterfinals in Rome

The Canadian avenged a loss he suffered last year by beating the king of clay in the eternal city.

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Image via Roberto Dell’Olivo

Denis Shapovalov booked his spot in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open after beating the world number four Rafael Nadal in three tight sets 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 in two hours and 36 minutes on Pista Centrale.

 

The Canadian fired 35 winners and served 13 aces while the Spaniard hit 34 unforced errors in a match that went back and forth.

“It’s definitely incredible to me to beat him. Having match points against him last year was kind of a hurtful feeling,” said Shapovalov who lost to the Spaniard at the same tournament 12 months ago. “Coming back here this year, I definitely remember that match. Obviously great tennis, but that one really hurt. Happy to get the win this time around”.

It was the Spaniard with the better start to the match, putting pressure right away on the world number 16 in the second game of the match and it took Shapovalov almost 10 minutes to save three breakpoints and hold serve.

At 2-1 Nadal kept pushing and struck setting up two breakpoints with his ferocious forehand and then broke the Toronto native with a solid backhand down the line winner.

After consolidating the break the world number four was hungry for more and again with his powerful forehand set up more break opportunities and broke again to take a 5-1 lead and served out the first set.

Shapovalov once again faced three breakpoints in the opening game of the second set but managed to save all of them and was able to hold serve. In the following game he broke Nadal to love for the early 2-0 lead.

He was able to consolidate the break but at 4-3 the Spaniard fought back and managed to break back to go back on serve. However, the Canadian at 6-5 was able to get the crucial break to take the second set and send the match to a third.

Nadal responded right away breaking the Canadian in the first game of the third set but the following game Shapovalov set up three breakpoints with a perfectly timed forehand winner.

He broke back the following point and at 3-2 Nadal struggled with his serve and double faulted to give the world number 16 a 4-2 lead as it seemed he was struggling with an injury.

After running down a ball he was seen hunched over at the towel box and was almost limping after points and wincing before serving or returning serve.

At 5-2 with the Spaniard serving to stay in the match and in pain, Shapovalov had three chances to seal the win and it was third time lucky as Nadal last shot went out.

I was trying to change something, he was completely outplaying me and I was hanging in there and I was really happy to turn it around,” said Shapovalov.

Shapovalov will next face Casper Ruud in the quarterfinals on Friday. In their last meeting the Norweigan was able to come out with the win when they played in the Geneva Open final last summer.

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After Multiple Surgeries, Comeback Kid Stan Wawrinka Books Djokovic Showdown In Rome

In only his third tournament of the year, 37-year-old Wawrinka admits the upcoming clash will be ‘really difficult’ but he is willing to give it his best shot.

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Until now 15 months have passed since Stan Wawrinka last experienced the feeling of recording back-to-back wins in a tournament of any sort.

 

The three-time Grand Slam champion was sidelined from the sport for a year due a foot injury which ended up requiring two surgeries. The first was done in March last year before he underwent another procedure in June. The surgeries occurred just four years after he underwent two other operations on his left knee. Despite the physical problems and frustration, the Swiss isn’t giving up on his career just yet and is proving why at this week’s Italian Open.

A day after knocking out 14th seed Reilly Opelka, Wawrinka battled on court for almost three hours to oust Laslo Djere 7-6(8), 3-6, 6-4, in front of a highly animated crowd. The rollercoaster battle saw him fight back from a 1-3 deficit in the deciding set. Then four match points came and went before he finally prevailed. Booking his place in the last 16 of a Masters 1000 event for the first time since Paris 2020.

“It’s helping me to keep doing what I love. Tennis is a passion. The crowd, the support, the atmosphere, these courts is the reason why after two surgeries and one year out (of the Tour) I’m still playing tennis at 37. To live those moments as much as I can and I’m enjoying it a lot,” Wawrinka told atptour.com following his win over Djere.

At 361st in the world, Wawrinka has become the lowest-ranked player to reach the third round of a Masters event since Taylor Dent at the 2009 Miami Open. In Rome specifically, he is the lowest-ranked third round player since Carrado Borroni in 1995.

The reward is a clash with world No.1 Novak Djokovic in what will be a true test for Wawrinka. The two have an extensive rivalry after playing each other on the Tour 25 times before, including the finals of the 2015 French Open and the 2016 US Open. Djokovic currently leads their head-to-head 19-6 with their last meeting taking place in 2019.

“It’s always special to play against him,” Wawrinka said of the 20-time Grand Slam winner. “As I’ve said many times I’m not where I want to be yet with my game and fitness level. I need those matches.’
“To have a chance to play against the best player (in the ATP rankings) it’s going to be really difficult for me because I think I’m not ready to compete at that level. (But) it’s what I need. I need those challenges and push myself as much as I can to keep improving.”

Wawrinka’s win over Djere is his 535th on the ATP Tour and his 24th at the Italian Masters.

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