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.
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
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
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.
Anett Kontaveit beats Petra Martic to reach the final in Palermo
World number 22 Anett Kontaveit from Estonia upset number 1 seed Petra Martic 6-2 6-4 to reach the final at the Ladies Open in Palermo.
Martic has scored her third win in her seven matches against top 20 players after beating Belinda Bencic and Elina Svitolina.
Kontaveit avenged her defeat against Martic in their only previous match played in Dubai last February before the lockdown.
Kontaveit had to fight to hold her serve in the first game of the opening set at deuce and took control of the match by breaking in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead.
Martic won only 56% on her first serve in the opening set. Kontaveit came back from 0-30 down to hold serve in the seventh game before breaking for the second time in the eighth game to win the first set 6-2.
Martic earned an early break in the first game of the second set at deuce, but Kontaveit broke straight back to draw level to 1-1. The Estonian player saved a break point before holding serve to take a 2-1 lead. Kontaveit saved five of the six break points she faced. Kontaveit broke for the second time in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead. Martic held serve at 2-5 down before breaking serve at 15 in the ninth game to claw her way back to 4-5. The Croatian player received a medical time-out before Kontaveit for the third time in the tenth game at love to close out the second set 6-4.
Kontaveit will chase her second title in tomorrow’s final three years after winning in S’Hertogenbosch in 2017.
“I felt like I played a very good match today. I was quite aggressive, consistent, and I served especially well in the first set. It got a bit close in the end, but I played a good game at 5-4 and I am happy to be in the final”, said Kontaveit.
Petra Martic comes back from one set down to beat Ludmila Samsonova in Palermo
Top seed Petra Martic from Croatia came back from one set down to beat qualifier and world number 117 Ludmila Samsonova 5-7 6-4 6-2.
Martic saved six break points in the 10th game of the opening set, but Samsonova converted her third break point in the 12th game to win the first set 7-5.
Martic earned an early break in the first game to open up a 2-0 lead. Samsonova broke back at love in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Martic broke for the second time in the ninth game to win the second set 6-4. The Croatian player broke twice in the third and seventh games to close out the third set 6-2.
Martic will face world number 50 Aliaksandra Sasnovich from Belarus in the quarter finals. Sasnovich came through the qualifying round before beating Jasmine Paolini in straight sets.
Former top 30 Camila Giorgi rallied from losing the first set to beat Slovenian teenager Kaja Juvan 3-6 6-2 6-4 after 2 hours reaching her second WTA quarter final of the season. Before the outbreak of the Covid-19 outbreak Giorgi reached the top 8 in Lyon. Juvan qualified for the Main Draw at the Australian Open and beat five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams in three sets at the Abierto Mexicano in Acapulco.
Giorgi started with an early break at deuce at the start of the first set and opened a 2-0 lead. Juvan broke twice to take a 4-3 lead. Giorgi dropped serve for the third time after a double fault on the set point.
Giorgi came back from 1-2 down by winning five consecutive games with two consecutive breaks in the fifth and seventh games.
Giorgi broke twice to race out to a 3-0 lead at the start of the third set. Juvan pulled one break back at love in the fourth game but Giorgi got another break to race out to a 5-1 lead. Juvan broke at 30, when Giorgi was serving for the match at 5-2. The Italian player earned two match points and sealed the win on her second chance.
“I think I was more solid in playing my game. I was moving more forward, so it was much for me. At the start of the match, I was making too many tactical mistakes because I was trying to finish points for no reason. I started to adopt better tactics in the second set and that’s when things started working for me”, said Giorgi.
Number 4 seed Anett Kontaveit from Estonia came back from one set down to beat Laura Siegemund 3-6 6-2 6-2 after 2 hours and 20 minutes booking her spot in the quarter finals at the Palermo Ladies Open.
The Estonian player has reached her third quarter final this year after the Australian Open and Dubai.
Kontaveit set up a quarter final against Elisabetta Cocciaretto, who became the youngest Italian player to reach the quarter final of a tournament since Sara Errani in 2006.
“I am quite happy about the way I was handling close situations, playing the close games and turning the close games around. I thought I actually handled that sort of pressure, that I didn’t think I would be used to, quite well”, said Kontaveit.
Andrea Gaudenzi recognizes the contribution of the Italian Tennis Federation in staging the Internazionali d’Italia
ATP President and former Italian tennis player Andrea Gaudenzi spoke in an interview to Italian TV channel Supertennis about staging the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome before the French Open and recognised the contribution of the Italian tennis Federation (FIT) in staging the tournament in the Italian capital.
The Rome ATP Masters 1000 and WTA Premier 5 tournaments will be held from 20th to 27th September one week before the French Open (27th September to 11th October).
“We are grateful to everyone, holding an event this year is difficult from an organizational and financial point of view. We thank the Italian Federation and those who organize the Challengers. Italy is making a great contribution. I think the players are waiting for the BNL Internazionali d’Italia. The Foro Italico is among the most beautiful venues in the world. Rome is splendid in September”, said Gaudenzi.
During his tennis career Gaudenzi scored wins over Roger Federer in Rome 2002, Pete Sampras in the first round of the 2002 French Open, Jim Courier in the 1994 US Open, Goran Ivanisevic, Thomas Muster, Michael Stich and Yevgeny Kafelnikov. Gaudenzi claimed three ATP titles in Casablanca in 1998, St. Poelten and Bastad in 2002. He graduated in law at the Bologna University and obtained a MBA with Honours at IUM.
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