The 2018 ATP Season Review - UBITENNIS
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The 2018 ATP Season Review reviews a memorable 2018 ATP season highlighted by Novak Djokovic’s double Grand Slam triumphs at Wimbledon and the US Open, the eleventh Roland Garros trophy won by Rafael Nadal and the emergence of Greek Next Gen star Stefanos Tsitsipas.



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 The best player of the year: Novak Djokovic:

Novak Djokovic has ended the season at the top of the ATP Rankings after a remarkable comeback from an elbow injury which ruined the second half of 2017 and the first part of this year for him. He won two Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon and at the US Open last summer and claimed Masters 1000 titles in Cincinnati and Shanghai. Djokovic dropped to world number 22 last June and started the first six months of 2018 winning six out of 12 matches played.

Djokovic also finished runner-up in two more finals at Queen’s and Paris Bercy. The Belgrade-native star became the first player to be ranked outside the top 20 and climb to the top of the rankings in the same season. He finished the year as the world number 1 for the fifth time in his career after 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015. Only US legend Pete Sampras did better with six end-of season top rankings.

With the win in Cincinnati, Novak became the first player to clinch all nine Masters 1000 title at least once in his career completing the “Career Golden Masters.”

Djokovic entered the Rome Internazionali d’Italia with a record of six wins and six defeats in his first twelve matches. In the Italian capital the Serb reached the semifinal before losing against Rafael Nadal. He lost to Marco Cecchinato in the quarter final at Roland Garros in four sets. Djokovic then had a solid start to his grass season at Queen’s, where he scored his first win against a top 5 player in almost 18 months, beating Grigor Dimitrov in the second round. He then beat Adrian Mannarino and Jeremy Chardy to reach the final, where he lost to Marin Cilic after wasting a championship point.

The final at Queen’s marked a turning point in Djokovic’s season.

In the second half of 2018 Djokovic won 35 of his 38 matches, losing only to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round of the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Karen Khachanov in the Paris Bercy final and Alexander Zverev at the ATP Finals in London.

The matches of the year:

Among the most exciting matches of the year we pick the Wimbledon semi final between Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. The Serb won 10-8 in the fifth set after 5 hours and 17 minutes spread over two days. This match became the second longest semifinal match in Wimbledon history, second only to the other semifinal match of the 2018 edition of Wimbledon, where Kevin Anderson battled past John Isner 7-6 6-7 6-7 6-4 26-24 after 6 hours and 36 minutes. Wimbledon was once again the stage of epic clashes seven years after the 11-hour marathon match won by Isner over Nicolas Mahut by the score of 70-68. Djokovic went on to win his fourth Wimbledon crown by beating Anderson in a three-set final.

Djokovic was involved in another epic match in the Paris semifinal. Outlasting Roger Federer 7-6 5-7 7-6 in the tie-break of the third set after 3 hours and two minutes.

“We had epic matches throughout our rivalry, but this one ranks one of the best matches we played. Next to the match I played against Nadal in the semifinals of Wimbledon, this was definitely the most exciting I was playing this year, and probably the best high quality tennis match that I was part of,” said Djokovic after the Paris semifinal.

Djokovic’s return to his best shape started last April, when he reunited with his long-time coach Marian Vajda after a one-year split in 2017. Vajda, who was a former world number 34 player and won two ATP titles in the late 80s, was voted by the ATP as the Coach of the 2018 season.

Rafael Nadal is again the King of clay:

Rafael Nadal was once again the “King of Clay” with a record 11th title in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona and Roland Garros. The Mallorca player also won the Internazionali d’Italia in Rome for the 8th time in his career, beating Alexander Zverev in a three-set final clinching his 78th career title and his 32th Masters 1000 title. He dropped just one set en route to his 11th triumph at the French Open, where he beat Dominic Thiem in a three-set final.

During the summer Nadal showed good form on other surfaces by reaching the semi final at Wimbledon on grass and won his first Masters 1000 title on hard-court since 2013 at the Rogers Cup.

At the US Open he beat Dominic Thiem in an epic quarter final 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5) in a match which ended at 2 am local time. Unfortunately Nadal withdrew from his semifinal match against Juan Martin Del Potro due to a knee injury after losing the second set.

The 32-year-old Mallorcan was voted by his fellow players as the winner of the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the second time in his legendary career after receiving this honour in 2010. Outside the court, Nadal assisted in the cleanup operation after a devastating flood hit his native island of Mallorca.

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Kei Nishikori completes his third came-back win to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open



Kei Nishikori won his third five-set match at this year’s edition of the Australian Open by completing his third come-back from two sets down with a 6-7 (8-10) 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 7-6 (10-8) win over Pablo Carreno Busta after a 5-hour and 5-minute battle.

Kei Nishikori lived up to his reputation as a marathon man, when he completed his third come-from-behind win at the 2019 Australian Open following up his previous two five-set wins over Kamil Majchrzak and Ivo Karlovic.

Carreno Busta went down a break twice in the early stages of the opening set, but he managed to pull back both breaks in the fourth and sixth games to draw level to 3-3. Nishikori got an early mini-break to take a 2-0 lead, but Carreno Busta won three consecutive points for 3-2 after three errors from Nishikori. The Spaniard did not convert three set points at 6-5, 7-6 and 8-7, but he converted his fourth chance for 10-8 with a forehand winner.

Carreno Busta went up a set and a break with two forehand winners in the third game before saving two break points at 2-1. The Spanish player did not convert two set points at 5-3, when he made two forehand errors as Nishikori was serving at 15-40, but he closed out the second set at love in the 10th game.

Nishikori went down a break in the fifth game of the third set, but he broke straight back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Nishikori won the tie-break 7-4 to keep his hopes alive Nishikori broke serve in the first game of the fourth set at 30, but Carreno Busta broke straight back to draw level to 2-2. Nishikori broke for the second time in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead and earned three break points for 5-2 in the seventh game, but Carreno Busta held his serve. Nishikori held his next three service games at love to seal the fourth set 6-4.

Nishikori converted his third break point chance in the third game of the fifth set to take a 2-1 lead. The Japanese player came back from 15-40 down in the sixth game to hold his serve at deuce for 4-2, but he dropped his serve while he was serving for the match in the 10th game at 5-4. Carreno Busta built up a 8-5 lead in the decisive super tie-break, but Nishikori reeled off the final five points to seal a thrilling five-set match.

“I don’t know what to say. That was the toughest match. I have no idea how I broke back and I fough my way through. It was a great match. I feel like I have not played enough. It hasn’t been easy of course, especially not today. It was hard against Karlovic with a super tie-break, but today had longer rallies”, said Nishikori.

The Japanese star will face Novak Djokovic, who beat Danil Medvedev 6-4 6-7 6-3 6-2 in his fourth round match. Djokovic leads 15-2 in his 17 head-to-head matches against Nishikori.

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Lucas Pouille beats Borna Coric in four sets to set up a quarter final against Milos Raonic in Melbourne



Lucas Pouille upset Borna Coric in four sets by the scoreline of 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 7-5 7-6 (7-2) after 3 hours and 15 minutes to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Pouille set up a quarter final against Canadian player Milos Raonic, who beat Alexander Zverev 6-1 6-1 7-6 (7-5). The Frenchman has not won a single set in his three head-to-head matches against Raonic.

Coric broke serve in the first game of the opening set, but Pouille pulled back the break in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Both players held serve in the next games to set up a tie-break. Coric converted the first of his two set points at 6-4 in the tie-break with his ninth ace to close out the first set.

Pouille got the only break in the seventh game of the second set to draw level to 1 set apiece after Coric made his fourth double fault the match and a forehand error.

Both players held their serve in the first ten games of the third set. Coric went down 0-40 on serve in the 11th game, but he managed to saved the first two break points. Pouille converted his third opportunity with a forehand winner to seal the third set 7-5.

Pouille got an immediate break in the first game of the fourth set. Coric converted his fourth break-back point chance at deuce to draw level to 4-4 setting up a second tie-break. Pouille sealed the win on his first match point, when Coric made his 55th unforced error of the match.

Pouille fired 57 winners and won 66 % of his second serve points.

Lucas Pouille has become the 13th French player to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open and the first since Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2017. The Frenchman reached the third quarter final at Grand Slam level in his career after Wimbledon and the US Open in 2016.

Pouille lost in the first round for the fifth consecutive year at the 2018 edition of the Australian Open and won his fifth title in Montpellier against his compatriot Richard Gasquet after saving two match points in the semifinal against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Pouille reached a career-high of world number 10 after advancing to his third ATP Tour level final in Dubai, where he lost against Roberto Bautista Agut. After a difficult second half of the season Pouille hired Amelie Mauresmo as his new coach.

“It feels great. It has been a tough match against Borna. He is one of the best players in the world. The last time we played I lost 6-4 in the third set, so I knew what to expect. A few points here and there. In the first tie-break I had 5-4 and made two lets and the ball went out. It was just a few details that made the difference. I am now very happy to be in the quarter final. The atmosphere is great here. In the previous round I played against Popyrin, an Australian guy, and the atmosphere was just electric”,said Pouille.

Pouille has not won a set in his three head-to-head matches against his next rival Milos Raonic and lost in straight sets against the Canadian player in their previous head-to-head match at the 2016 Australian Open.

“He is playing well. I watched the match against Alexander Zverev. I am going to be ready for it and try to reach my first semifinal”,said Pouille.

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Racket-Smashing Alexander Zverev Unfazed By Shock Australian Open Exit

The world No.4 reacts to his disappointing loss at Melbourne Park.



‘I’m not happy, but I’m not depressed’ was Alexander Zverev’s response to his surprise defeat to Milos Raonic at the Australian Open.

The German fourth seed produced an erratic performance during his 6-1, 6-1, 7-6(5), loss to the world No.17 as he failed to hold serve in six out of his first seven service games. Zverev’s lacklustre performance saw him make more unforced errors than winners (23-21) and produced 10 double faults. At one stage of the match, Zverev let his own emotions get the better of him. Trailing 1-6, 1-4, he decided to destroy one of his rackets on the court. An act that unsurprisingly earned him a code violation.

“It made me feel better. I was very angry, so I let my anger out.” Zverev said during his press conference.
“I played bad. The first two sets, especially, I played horrible. I mean, it’s just tough to name one thing. I didn’t serve well, didn’t play well from the baseline. Against a quality player like him, it’s tough to come back from that.”

Monday’s loss continues Zverev’s patchy record in grand slam tournaments. Tipped by many as a future world No.1 in the sport, he has only managed to reach the quarter-finals of a major in one out of 15 attempts. His sole success was at the French Open last year. On the other hand, his run to the last 16 in Melbourne was his best run yet at the tournament.

“I’m not happy, but I’m not depressed, either. It’s fine. It’s a tennis match.” He reflected.
“I have learned to take tennis matches as tennis matches and not the end of the world. If I would think it’s the end of the world every time I lose a tennis match, I would be very depressed about 15 to 20 times a year. So I’m not going to do that.”

Heading into the Australian Open, there were concerns about Zverev’s fitness. The week prior he was dealing with issues concerning his hamstring and foot. However, the 21-year-old ruled out that any kind of injury had an impact of his match against Raonic.

Trying to pinpoint the cause of his display, the world No.4 admitted that he would have liked a longer off-season. Zverev ended 2018 by winning the ATP Finals on November 19th and returned to action on December 30th to play in the Hopman Cup alongside Angelique Kerber.

“For sure, I didn’t have a very long off-season, didn’t have a lot of rest. But, you know, this is us as tennis players. I’m happy how the season ended. I wouldn’t want it the other way.” Zverev stated.
“It’s always a give and take. If the season is 11 months long, it’s always that kind of give and take in what you do, how you rest, and how much work you put in. That’s just how it is for us tennis players.” He added.

Zverev’s conqueror Raonic will play either Lucas Pouille or Borna Coric in the next round.

Zverev’s grand slam record

Tournament 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 W–L Win %
Australian Open A Q1 1R 3R 3R 4R 7–4 64%
French Open A Q2 3R 1R QF 6–3 67%
Wimbledon A 2R 3R 4R 3R 8–4 67%
US Open Q2 1R 2R 2R 3R 4–4 50%
Win–Loss 0–0 1–2 5–4 6–4 10–4 3–1 25–15 62%

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