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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Playing Clay Events After Wimbledon Was A Mistake, Says Diego Schwartzman

The former French Open semi-finalist is seeking to win his first title since March 2021 at the Tel Aviv Open this week.

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Diego Schwartzman (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Diego Schwartzman will likely reevaluate his schedule for next year after admitting that part of his plans for this summer backfired. 

 

The world No.17 enters into the final quarter of the season with 31 wins against 22 losses on the Tour but is yet to win a title. Although he did reach back-to-back finals back in February in Argentina and Brazil. He has won two out of eight matches against top 10 opposition, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup and Felix Auger-Aliassime in Barcelona. 

Reflecting on his performance, Schwartzman admits that his decision to return to European clay after playing at Wimbledon was a mistake. He lost his second match in Gstaad to Pablo Carreno Busta and then his first in Hamburg to Emil Ruusuvori. 

“It’s difficult to play at the same level every tournament, I’ve made a bad decision playing clay tournaments after Wimbledon, I didn’t have time to rest,” he said during his pre-tournament press conference at the Tel Aviv Open. “I paid the price and had some bad losses. But I started to feel much better in USA hard court season, lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas who reached the final in Cincinnati and to Frances Tiafoe at the US Open. Now I am feeling very good, I really love playing indoor tournaments.”

The 30-year-old has headed straight to Tel Aviv from the Laver Cup where Roger Federer played the last match of his career. Despite Schwartzman’s Team World winning the title for the first time, his only contribution to the tie saw him lose 6-1, 6-2, to Tsitsipas. 

Retirement was very much the topic of conversation during the Laver Cup with others such as Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic questioned by reporters about their plans in the sport. As for Schwartzman, he stayed coy about how much longer he would continue playing after saying in the past he might stop at the age of 33. 

“33 — is a good age to retire, isn’t it? South Americans are in different situations compared to European players. We travel too much, and sometimes we are not coming back home for 2-3 months, while Europeans can fly home every week. It’s tough,” he said. 
“As for Roger — he’s a special player, I think he is just the greatest in our sport.”

The Argentine is seeded third this week in Israel and will begin his campaign against Arthur Rinderknech who defeated qualifier Marius Copil in his opening match. 

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Team Europe Goes for a Fifth Straight Laver Cup

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The lineup for Day 3 (twitter.com/lavercup)

Heading into Day 3, the 2022 Laver Cup is feeling extremely familiar.  Team Europe has an 8-4 advantage, and only needs two wins on Sunday to secure their fifth consecutive Laver Cup.  Team World needs to win three matches to pull off the upset and obtain their first. 

 

Sunday’s play gets underway in London at 12:00pm local time.  And each match on Sunday is worth three points.


Matteo Berrettini and Andy Murray (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jack Sock (Team World) – 12:00pm

Berrettini was victorious in both singles and doubles on Saturday, defeating Auger-Aliassime in singles, and teaming with Djokovic to overcome Sock and de Minaur in doubles.  So Matteo gained victories over both of his Sunday opponents on Saturday.  Murray lost to de Minaur in singles on Friday.  Andy and Jack are the most accomplished doubles players in this match, as Sock is pretty much Team World’s doubles specialist.  If he and Felix cannot pull of the victory on Sunday, it could be a pretty short day.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World)

Like Berrettini, Djokovic won in singles and doubles on Saturday, comfortably dispatching of Tiafoe in singles.  While it was his first match in over two months, Novak showed no rust whatsoever.  Auger-Aliassime’s loss to Berrettini on Saturday will not help his confidence against the 21-time Major champion.

Novak and Felix have only played once before, and that occurred four months ago in Rome on clay.  It was a pretty tight affair, but Djokovic prevailed 7-5, 7-6(1).  And there’s not much evidence to support a different outcome on Sunday.  Novak is surely eager to re-assert his authority after missing so much of this season due to his vaccination status.


Stefanos Tsitsipas (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – If Necessary

Tsitsipas easily beat Diego Schwartzman on Friday, dropping just three games.  He is 3-2 against Tiafoe, and 3-1 on hard courts.  However, Frances claimed their most recent encounter, last fall in Vienna, which was also on an indoor hard court.


Casper Ruud (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – If Necessary

Ruud defeated Sock on Friday, while Fritz defeated Norrie on Saturday.  If this match takes place, it will be their first career meeting.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic to Play Singles and Doubles on Saturday

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The lineup for Day 2 (twitter.com/lavercup)

In the wake of Roger Federer’s incredibly emotional retirement on Day 1, the focus of this event shifts to the rest of the competitors on Day 2.  And for the first time in the five-year history of the Laver Cup, Team World goes into Day 2 without a deficit.  With both Federer and Rafael Nadal replaced by alternates for Day 2 and Day 3, is this Team World’s opportunity to capture their first Laver Cup? 

 

Each day, this preview will look at all four scheduled matches, while taking an extended look at the most notable match of the day.  Saturday’s day session gets underway in London at 1:00pm local time, and the night session at 7:00pm.  And each match on Saturday is worth two points.


Matteo Berrettini (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World) – 1:00pm

These two good friends have played four times, with Berrettini winning on three of those occasions.  Matteo’s wins came three years ago in the final of Stuttgart on grass, in the quarterfinals of last year’s Wimbledon, and a year ago in this event.  Auger-Aliassime’s only win occurred last summer in Cincinnati.  Matteo is coming off a quarterfinal run in New York, as well as three victories last week in Davis Cup.  Felix was upset in the second round of the US Open by Jack Draper, and went 2-1 in Davis Cup.


Cameron Norrie (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – Second in the Day Session

Norrie was also an alternate in last year’s Laver Cup, but did not play.  Fritz was a part of Team World in 2019, when he went 1-1 in singles, defeating Dominic Thiem during Sunday’s play in a must-win match to keep his team alive.  Cam is now 45-22 on the year, while Fritz is 36-17.  Both men achieved their best-ever Major performances two months ago at Wimbledon.  They played each other just last week in Davis Cup, with Norrie prevailing after three tight sets.  Overall they have split 10 previous meetings.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – 7:00pm

Is Tiafoe ready to upset another member of “The Big Three” on Saturday?  He earned the biggest win of his career by taking out Rafael Nadal at the US Open, and defeated Nadal and Federer in doubles on Day 1 alongside Jack Sock.  Meanwhile, this will be the first match for Djokovic in over two months, since he won the Wimbledon final over Nick Kyrgios.  The unvaccinated Novak was unable to travel to North America for the hard court summer season.

Djokovic has only played seven tournaments this year, amassing a record of 23-5.  Tiafoe is 26-19, and is coming off his exciting semifinal run in New York.  Their only previous matchup was at the 2021 Australian Open, when Novak defeated Frances in four sets.  Frances is certainly the much more match-tough player on this day.  But despite his recent inactivity, Djokovic should still be considered the favorite.


Matteo Berrettini and Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Alex de Minaur and Jack Sock (Team World) – Second in the Night Session

Novak will have only a few minutes of rest ahead of this doubles match, so the length of his match with Tiafoe could impact the result here.  This will be Novak’s first time playing doubles since last year’s Davis Cup finals.  Berrettini played three doubles matches this past January at the ATP Cup, going 1-2.  De Minaur overcame Andy Murray in singles on Friday in what was a grueling contest, while Sock was defeated in singles and victorious in doubles.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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