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The 2018 ATP Season Review

Ubitennis.net 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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Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev reach the second round in Hamburg

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Dominic Thiem beat 2016 finalist Pablo Cuevas 6-3 7-6 (7-3) after 1 hour and 40 minutes in the first round of the Hamburg European Open to score his 24th win of the season and the 250th win of his career.

 

Thiem beat Cuevas for the fifth time in his seventh head-to-head clash against Cuevas and for the third time this year after his previous wins in Buenos Aires and at Roland Garros.

Thiem broke serve in the second game of the opening set after a lucky net cord return and hit a service winner in the ninth game to seal the first set 6-3. Both players traded breaks at the start of the start of the second set. Cuevas fended off a break point chance in the fifth game. Both players stayed neck and neck in the next game setting up a second set.

Thiem earned a mini-break at 2-1 after two mini-breaks from Cuevas. The Austrian player got a double mini-break with a backhand down the line winner on the ninth point. He closed out the match with a service winner on the next point.

“I wish that the grass court season would have been longer. I love this surface, but it was only one match unfortunately. I hope that I can do it better next year. I am back on clay for two weeks and the last two weeks of the year, so I will try to enjoy the mas much as possible”, said Thiem.

Last year’s ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev made a winning start to his campaign in his home tournament with a 6-4 6-2 victory over last week’s Bastad winner Nicolas Jarry in 71 minutes. Zverev converted four of his six break point chances and saved four of the five chances he faced. Zverev broke serve in the third game to build up a 5-2 lead, when Jarry netted a backhand.

Zverev did not convert three set points, as he was serving for the set. He dropped five consecutive points before serving out the set at 5-4. Both players went on serve in the first four games before Zverev broke at 15 in the fifth game, when Jarry netted a backhand. The German player held serve at love before earning a break to build up a 5-2 after a forehand error from Jarry. The Chilean player earned two break points in the eighth game, as Zverev was serving for the win. Zverev saved them before sealing the second set 6-2 with an ace.

Nikoloz Basilashvili beat Bolivian qualifier Hugo Dellien 6-4 6-3 after 67 minutes. This year’s Monte-Carlo champion Fabio Fognini came back from one set down to beat Julian Lenz 6-4 6-4 setting up a match against Rudolf Molleker. Former Hamburg finalist Richard Gasquet beat Indian qualifier Sumit Nagal 6-2 7-6 (7-3) setting up a match against his compatriot Jeremy Chardy. Federico Delbonis saved three match points to beat Marco Cecchinato 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-3) 6-2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rudolf Molleker knocks out two-time champion Leonardo Mayer in Hamburg

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German 18-year-old Next Gen player Rudolf Molleker knocked out 2014 and 2017 Hamburg champion Leonardo Mayer 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 after 1 hour and 39 minutes at the Hamburg European Open.

 

Molleker beat Mayer in 2017 in the Hamburg qualifying round, but Mayer got a spot in the main draw as a lucky loser and went on to win the title.

Molleker fended off all three break points in two consecutive games of the first set, before saving two set points in the tie-break. He sealed the second set with a single break.

The German teenager saved two break points in the seventh game with two service games with two service winners and one more chance in the ninth game to set up a tie-break. Mayer took the lead twice at 6-5 and 8-7, but Molleker saved both chances with two winners and sealed the tie-break on the 18th point after a double fault from Mayer.

Molleker earned an early break at the start of the second set and held his service games in the next games before sealing the win with a service winner at 5-4 to secure his spot in the round of 16.

Marton Fucsovics cruised past Phillip Kohlschreiber 6-3 6-0 dropping just 16 points on serve. Fucsovics got an early break in the fourth game to clinch the opening set 6-3. The Hungarian player broke three times in a one-sided second set and sealed the win with a service winner.

Andrey Rublev, who lost in the second round at Wimbledon and Umag, edged this year’s Munich and Houston champion Christian Garin 6-4 7-6 (7-5) after 1 hour and 39 minutes to score his second win over the Chilean player this year. Rublev broke three times to seal the opening set 6-4. The Russian player got the break back at 4-5 in the second set to set up a tie-break, which he sealed 7-5.

Jeremy Chardy came back from losing the first set to beat Jeremy Chardy 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-3 after 2 hours and 34 minutes. Paire fended off a set point at 4-5 in the opening set to clinch the tie-break 7-4. Paire got a late break in the second set, but Chardy won two games at 5-5 to force the match to the third set. Chardy went up a double break to seal the third set 6-3.

Martin Klizan converted all five break points to cruise past Daniel Altmaier 6-2 6-2.

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Nicolas Jarry Breaks New Ground To Win The Swedish Open

The 23-year-old has become the latest player to win their first ATP title in 2019.

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Nicolas Jarry (@FOXSport_Chile - Twitter)

Chilean fifth seed Nicolas Jarry has won his first ATP title at the Swedish Open after prevailing in straight sets on Sunday.

 

The world No.64 held his nerve to edge his way past Argentina’s Juan Inacio Londero 7-6(3), 6-4. Playing in only his third ATP final, Jarry dropped serve once as he blasted 10 aces and won 76% of the points behind his first serve. Becoming the first person his country to win the tournament since Luis Ayala back in 1960.

“I’m very happy to be able to have this (the title). I know it is not very easy to get the first one in anything that you do. I’m really happy.” Jarry said during the trophy presentation.
“I want to say thank you to my team. I have a big team back home and we are very united. This is for all of them and all of my family who has been there since I was born.”

Jarry achieved his career milestone without dropping a set during the entire tournament. Earlier in the week he also scored wins over Jeremy Chardy and Frederico Delbonis. Londero was the only seeded player he faced in Sweden this year. Overall, he was broken eight times in six matches played.

The 23-year-old isn’t the first member of his family to win a title on the men’s tour. His grandfather is Jaime Fillol, who is a former top 20 player that reached the quarter-finals of the 1975 US Open. During his career, Fillol claimed eight trophies and was the former president of the ATP.

“He is one of the best Chilean tennis players. He taught me the sport since I was little,” Jarry told atptour.com earlier this week. “He took me to great tournaments. I remember Wimbledon when I was 12 and I remember going to the US Open a couple of times. There used to be an ATP [tournament] in Santiago, so I was always involved in the tennis.”

The new Swedish Open champion is the second player from Chile to win a title in 2019. Christian Garin claimed his maiden title back in April at the US Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston. He then went on to win the Munich Open, which is also a clay-court event.

Jarry exits Sweden with 250 ranking points and €90,390 in prize money earnings. He will next travel to Germany to play in the Hamburg Open.

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