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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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Nick Kyrgios sets up Round of 16 match against Borna Coric

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Two-time Miami semifinalist and this year’s Acapulco champion Nick Kyrgios cruised past Dusan Lajovic 6-3 6-1 after 57 minutes. Kyrgios will face Borna Coric in the Round of 16. 

The Australian player hit 12 aces and fended off six of the seven break points he faced. Lajovic, who upset Kei Nishikori in the previous round, wasted three break points at the start of the match and dropped his serve at 1-2 after a backhand error. Kyrgios hit a forehand down the line winner to break serve for 5-1. Lajovic got one break back to claw his back to 3-5, but Kyrgios hit four winners to seal the opening set 6-3. Kyrgios broke three times in a row and sealed the win in the seventh game 6-1 on his first match point to secure his spot in the fourth round, where he will face Borna Coric, who came back from one set down to beat Jeremy Chardy 6-7 (2-7) 6-2 6-3 after 2 hours and 36 minutes.

Kyrgios leads 2-1 in his three head-to-head matches against Coric. The Australian player beat his Croatian rival in the Estoril quarter final in 2016 and in Cincinnati 2018. Coric edged Kyrgios in three sets in Cincinnati 2016.

“Borna is an unbelievable competitor and one of the best players in the world. He knows how to win matches and is an unbelievable player. He moves incredibly well and I know he won’t give me a single point. I am not going to think about it right now though. I have a day off tomorrow”, said Kyrgios.

Chardy came back from 2-4 down in the first set before winning the tie-break 7-2. Coric broke serve at the start of the second set to open up a 3-0 lead and saved four break points. The Croatian player sealed the second set 6-2 with a break at 15 in the 8th game. Coric reeled off three games in a row including 12 of the final 14 points from 3-3 to close out the third set 6-3.

 

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John Isner continues his title defence with straight-set win over Albert Ramos Vinolas

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Defending champion John Isner battled past Albert Ramos Vinolas 7-5 7-6 (8-6) to reach the fourth round at the Miami Open.

Seventh seed John Isner was broken in the opening game but he saved the next four break points he faced in the match and hit 16 aces. The US player broke back on his second opportunity in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Isner got another break in the 12th game to clinch the first set 7-5.

Isner saved two break points in the fifth game of the second set to hold serve for 3-2. Both players held on their service games to set up a tie-break. Isner rallied from 5-6 down by winning three consecutive games to take the tie-break 8-6.

“I did a lot of things well today. I played a good first set, event though I did not start it off well. In the secondi t was not quite as clean. I will talk to my coach and try to iron things out, but I am into the Round of 16 of a big tournament and I am happy”, said Isner.

Isner set up a fourth round match against Kyle Edmund, who beat Milos Raonic 6-4 6-4 after 1 hour and 34 minutes. The British player got a break in the fifth game of the first set and in the ninth game of the second set.

Roberto Bautista Agut beat Fabio Fognini 6-4 6-4. The Spanish player got an early break to build up a 3-0 lead. Fognini broke back in the ninth game to claw his way back to 4-5, but the Spaniard broke again in the 10th game to seal the opening set 6-4. Fognini earned an immediate break in the first game of the second set, but Bautista broke straight back. Fognini went un a break in the fifth game. The Italian player saved a break-back point chance in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead, but Bautista Agut fought back by winning the the final four games to seal the second set 6-4.

 

 

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‘You’re A F***ing Disgrace’ – Nick Kyrgios Erupts At The Miami Open

Another tournament, another on-court controversy involving the former top 20 player.

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Nick Kyrgios (photo by Chryslène Caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Australia’s Nick Kyrgios is in line for another hefty fine after blasting the umpire following his doubles match with partner Taylor Fritz.

Kyrgios, who is no stranger to either controversy or fines, completely lost his cool after being edged out of the doubles. Losing 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 8-10, to Guido Pella and Joao Sousa. Throughout the match there was a series of dubious line calls that infuriated the Kyrgios team. Something the racket-smashing 23-year-old complained to the umpire about seconds after the clash.

“What the f**k is wrong with you?” Kyrgios shouted at the umpire. “You’re a f**king disgrace. F**king disgrace.”

Continuing to unleash his rage on the court, Kyrgios interacted with the crowd. Asking them  ‘Do you think that’s alright, yes or no?’ The outburst was caught on camera by one fan, who uploaded in onto his Twitter account.

‘Just give me the answer. He’s a disgrace. ‘I come out and give 100% and I have to deal with idiots like him. Does he get fined for his mistakes? It’s rubbish, man.’ Kyrgios said.

It is not the first time the world No.33 has raised eyebrows for his actions. He previously served a brief ban from the sport in 2016 for unsportsmanlike conduct during the Shanghai Masters. Meanwhile, last June he was fined more than $17,000 for making a lewd gesture during the Fever-Tree Championships in London.

The controversy is a stark contrast to Kyrgios’ opening match in the singles. Taking on Alexander Bublik, he prevailed 7-5, 6-3, with the help of a fairly disciplined and mature performance. He is already a two-time semi-finalist in Miami and has won more matches (11) at the tournament than any other Masters 1000 event.

“I know he’s a player who tries to keep things on his own terms… kind of reminds me of me a little bit,” he said of Bublik. “He just needs to play those bigger points with a little more discipline. Strange me saying that…
“I thought he was going to put me on a couple of highlight reels. I knew he was trying to at some stage. I knew I had to be the disciplined one of the two today.”

Kyrgios will return to the Miami Court’s on Sunday when he play’s Dusan Lajovic in the third round.

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