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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‘He Did Everything I did, Only Better’ – Pat Rafter Names The Toughest Rival Of His Career

The two-time grand slam champion opens up about his toughest rivalry as he predicts a bleak outlook for the 2020 tennis season.

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Former world No.1 Pat Rafter has named an American tennis legend as the player who he struggled the most against throughout his professional career.

 

The 47-year-old was a star of Australian tennis during his playing days after achieving a series of milestones. His accolades include becoming the first player from his country in 28 years to reach the top of the ATP rankings in 1999 and becoming the first man to win the Rogers Cup, Cincinnati Masters and US Open within the same year. Rafter is also the last player outside of the Big Three to have won back-to-back US Open titles after triumphing in 1997 and 1998.

Despite his successes, there was one player that caused him difficulty. Rafter played Pete Sampras 16 times on the ATP Tour, but could only win four of those encounters. At one stage he lost to the 14-time grand slam champion eight times in a row.

“The toughest player I played against was definitely Pete Sampras – he did everything I did, only better.” Rafter told Eurosport.
“His record was the best so there’s no doubt about it Sampras the stand-out. I enjoyed playing Andre Agassi the most – I thought we had a really good battle, I really enjoyed playing him.”

The rivalry between the two was tense at times. Highlighted best by their encounter in the 1998 US Open semifinals. Sampras complained of a quadriceps injury following his loss to the Australian. Prompting Rafter to famously say ‘he’s becoming a bit of a crybaby.’ A few months before that comment, he admitted that his relationship with the American wasn’t solid by saying ‘We’re not the best of mates. I wouldn’t go out for a beer with him, put it that way.’

22 years on from the verbal exchange between the two, Rafter now describes it as a thing of the past. Insisting that his rival never took what he said to him ‘personally.’

“I can’t remember the exact words, but we had a run-in in Cincinnati one year – I probably told him to grow up.” He recounted.
“He cracked it when I beat him one time. But that was back in the old days, emotions were running high and don’t take it personally. It’s all good.”

No tennis in 2020

Besides reminiscing about his playing career with Eurosport, Rafter has also predicted a bleak outlook for this year’s tour. All professional tournaments have been suspended until July 13th due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For the first time since 1945 Wimbledon has been cancelled due to the situation.

Many are now speculating as to when it will be possible for the tour to resume. The US Open is still optimistic that they can hold their tournament as scheduled later this summer. Meanwhile, the French Open is set to be played during the later part of September. However, Rafter doubts that either of those tournaments will happen.

“No, I think this (the virus) is going to be around for a long time.” Rafter commented on the chances of the 2020 season resuming. “Until they get a vaccine I can’t see how anyone is going to be playing.’
“Personally, I think it’ll be like the flu and we’ll have to get used to it.”

Potentially one solution for the tournaments would be to host matches without spectators. In order to minimise the risk of the virus spreading. An approach that has already been taken by other sports such as football. However, Wimbledon refused to consider that option this year.

“I think they could. No spectators. Sure. No ball-boys – I’d love to see the players pick up the balls themselves!” he concluded.

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‘Don’t Be Afraid’ – Nick Kyrgios Offers Support To Those Struggling During Covid-19 Pandemic

The bad boy of tennis says he will support those in need by delivering essential supplies.

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Former top 20 player Nick Kyrgios has urged members of the public to reach out to him if they require any help during the covid-19 pandemic in a social media post.

 

The two-time grand slam quarter-finalist has offered to deliver food to those who are struggling during the current crises, which has suspended the ATP and WTA Tours until at least July. It is estimated by economists that more than 500,000 people in Kyrgios’ home country of Australia will lose their jobs due to the outbreak. There have been more than one million cases of the coronavirus worldwide with many countries currently placed in a lockdown in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.

‘If ANYONE is not working/not getting an income and runs out of food, or times are just tough… please don’t go to sleep with an empty stomach,’ Kyrgios wrote on Instagram.
‘Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to send me a private message. I will be more than happy to share whatever I have.
‘Even just for a box of noodles, a loaf of bread or some milk. I will drop it off at your doorstep, no questions asked.’

In Australia there have been 5687 cases of Coronavirus as of Sunday which has resulted in 34 deaths. This is according to figures provided by chief medical officer Professor Brendan Murphy.

It is not the first time Kyrgios has offered to support those in need. Earlier this year he was an instrumental figure in helping raising money for the Australian bushfire appeal. Donating AUS$200 for every ace produced during the first month of the season and participating in a series of exhibition matches. According to 7 News, Kyrgios raised in the region of AUS$100,000 for the bushfire fund.

Kyrgios is currently ranked 40th in the world and has won six out of his nine matches played earlier this season. At the Australian Open he reached the fourth round before falling in four sets to Rafael Nadal.

 

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Diego Schwartzman On Playing The Big Three And Who He Believes Is The Best

The top-20 player pays tribute to the three tennis legends as he cast his vote in the greatest of all time debate.

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When it comes to taking on the Big Three in tennis, Diego Schwartzman is perhaps one of the best players to provide an insight into how frustrating it can be.

 

The Argentine world No.13 has played a member of the illustrious trio no less than 18 times in his career, but is yet to gain a single victory to his name. Consisting of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, the big three have dominated men’s tennis in recent years. Between them, they have won the last 13 grand slams and at least one of them has featured in 58 out of the past 60 major finals. Since February 2004, Andy Murray is the only player outside of the group to have held the No.1 position.

Schwzrtman’s record against the big guns has seen him lose to Nadal nine times as well as succumbing to both Djokovic and Federer on four occasions. Nevertheless, the three-time grand slam quarter-finalist isn’t bitter as he hails their achievements in the sport.

“Against Nadal you always come in hope of giving him a fight on any day and on any surface, but you quickly realize that it is almost impossible to defeat him.” Schwartzman said during an Instagram live chat with journalist Danny Miche.
“Djokovic makes me feel that in the second game of service I no longer have lungs. It’s unbelievable.’
“Federer gives you more air (time), but you don’t seem to know how to play tennis. It’s amazing how he hits the ball.’
“The three are unbelievable, in different ways.”

There is also the ongoing debate as to who should be named the greatest of all time. Each player has their own credentials. Federer currently has the all-time lead for most grand slam titles at 20. Nadal has won more ATP tournaments on the clay than any other player in history. Meanwhile, current world No.1 Djokovic has won more prize money in the sport than any other player – male or female.

Weighing on the debate, Schwartzman has given the edge to Djokovic. Prior to the suspension of the tour due to covid-19, Djokovic started 2020 by winning 18 matches in a row. Claiming titles at the ATP Cup, Australian Open and Dubai Tennis Championships.

“At his best, Djokovic has beaten Rafael Nadal many times on the clay and Roger Federer many times on the grass. So maybe I would say that he is slightly above the other two.” He explained.
“Let’s see if you can reach the records, now it was packed and saw that pace being broken. But Djokovic knows that he has to keep the level, because if he doesn’t win he will win the other two.”

Schwartzman started the year by winning nine out of 14 matches played. His best performance of the season so far took place on home territory when he reached the final of the Cordoba Open before losing to Christian Garin.

The Big Three head-to-head

Djokovic

Nadal

Federer

Djokovic

N/A

29-26

27-23

Nadal

26-29

N/A

24-16

Federer

23-27

16-26

N/A

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