The ATP 2019 Scouting Report - UBITENNIS
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The ATP 2019 Scouting Report

With the new season already upon us, here’s a look at the prospects of the top ATP players.



Novak Djokovic at the 2018 Paris Masters - Photo by Gianni Ciaccia

Novak Djokovic

Ended 2018: Winning the last two Majors of the year, but losing his last two tournament finals to rising stars Karen Khackanov and Sascha Zverev.
Starting 2019: After playing the Abu Dhabi exhibition, he’ll be the top seed this week in Doha.
Prospects: With his mojo fully back, Djokovic will be the favorite to win his seventh Australian Open. Considering his level of play over the past six months, it’s hard to imagine anyone beating him on the hard courts of Melbourne in the best-of-five format. That would be his fifteenth Major title, putting him just two behind Nadal. And that would certainly make for a compelling clay court season, as he would chase his fourth consecutive Grand Slam title at Roland Garros. With little points to defend in the first half of the year, Novak should easily remain world No.1 for the foreseeable future.

Rafael Nadal

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Ended 2018: Did not play after retiring in the US Open semifinals as he dealt with knee, ankle, and abdominal injuries.
Starting 2019: After playing the Abu Dhabi exhibition, he’ll be the top seed this week in Brisbane.
Prospects: Coming off a four-month layoff, will Nadal be back to 100%? He’ll need to be to have any chance of prevailing in Melbourne, as he retired from both hard court Majors in 2018 due to injury. It’s more likely that Nadal will peak for the clay court season, where an in-form Djokovic would be Rafa’s biggest terra baute challenge since 2016.

Roger Federer

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Ended 2018: After winning his 99th career title at home in Basel, he lost in the semifinals of both Bercy and the ATP Finals.
Starting 2019: Playing the exhibition team event, the Hopman Cup. He’ll again team with Belinda Bencic, and will face Serena Williams and Francis Tiafoe on the first day of the year.
Prospects: Does the 37-year-old and 20-time Major champion have any Grand Slam triumphs left in him? With Djokovic back at the top of his game, the two-time defending champion in Melbourne will be hard-pressed to three-peat. The Australian Open and Wimbledon, with faster conditions than the other Majors, will remain his best chances to win his 21st Major. However, I fear another Grand Slam title may prove elusive for Federer in 2019.

Andy Murray

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Ended 2018: Shut down his season after Shenzhen in September to rest his body, after playing only 12 matches on the year.
Starting 2019: At the Brisbane Open along with Nadal and Kei Nishikori.
Prospects: Murray arrived in Brisbane a few days ago still citing pain in his ailing hip. The Brit will have some tough draws coming his way, as he’s currently ranked 256th in the world. The ongoing question for Andy in 2019 will be this: will his hip ever allow him to get back to the top of the sport?

Stan Wawrinka

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Ended 2018: Shut down his season after injuring his back during practice in October.
Starting 2019: In Doha alongside Djokovic and Dominic Thiem.
Prospects: Wawrinka’s situation is similar to that of Murray’s. Stan never fully got going in 2018, going just 17-17 coming back from knee surgery. Stan though did show signs of his old self during the summer, with victories over Grigor Dimitrov and Kei Nishikori, and strong showings in defeat against Nadal and Federer. Now ranked 66th in the world, can the 33-year-old get back to 100% and become a consistent performer in 2019? He’s much closer to doing so than Murray is, but a fourth Major title appears far from the reach of the Swiss veteran.

Juan Martin Del Potro

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Ended 2018: Did not play again after fracturing his patella in Shanghai in October.
Starting 2019: With his knee still not fully recovered, his start date for 2019 is questionable. Del Potro has said he’s hoping to play at the Australian Open, but he does not sound certain.
Prospects: Coming off one of the best seasons of his career, Del Potro will likely need some time to get back into form coming off this knee injury. Hopefully the oft-injured fan favorite will get back to full health and be a factor at the big tournaments later this year.

Marin Cilic

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Ended 2018: Winning his first Davis Cup title.
Starting 2019: As the second seed in Pune, behind top seed Kevin Anderson.
Prospects: After a very shaky second half of 2018, the Davis Cup was a welcome triumph for the 2014 US Open champion. Will that give Cilic the confidence he needs to stop giving away so many leads to his opponents? I’m not convinced the Davis Cup will immediately make Marin a different player in 2019. His well-documented woes of 2018 will likely require more of a cure than a win at a team event. And since he’s defending finalist points at the Australian Open, an early exit could see Cilic drop out of the top 10.

Sascha Zverev

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Ended 2018: Winning the biggest title of his career at the ATP Finals, with consecutive victories over Federer and Djokovic.
Starting 2019: Teaming with Angelique Kerber at the Hopman Cup.
Prospects: Will 2019 be the year Zverev breaks through at a Major? The best-of-five format remains troubling for the 21-year-old. But coming off his ATP Finals victory, and with Ivan Lendl now in his corner, I think this will be the year Sascha advances to a Grand Slam final for the first time.

Davis Cup

EXCLUSIVE Interview With US Davis Cup Captain Mardy Fish: “If Davis Cup Fails, We All Fail”

Mardy Fish takes the reins of the US Davis Cup team and feels very strongly about the new format for the competition: “If you love Davis Cup you have to support it, even with this format”



After Jim Courier’s resignation from the role of US Davis Cup Captain last September after the defeat in the 2018 semifinal against Croatia, the USTA decided to take their time and make some changes to the duties required by the role. Following Courier’s suggestion that “the new captain should be someone closer in age to the players”, the United States Tennis Association decided to trust former world no.7 Mardy Fish with this important responsibility, also making him a key figure in the Player Development Program, expanding the role of captain into a year-round presence at tournaments around the world to provide a bigger support to players.

While we were covering the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Mardy found the time to talk to Ubitennis over the phone from his house in California and provided some insight into this new adventure for him.

What can you tell us about your first few months in your new role?

It’s been a fun few months, adjusting from the role of peer to the other players to that of captain. I have found a lot of respect towards me from the other players and this is obviously a great thing. I have always been a huge fan of Davis Cup, I have always said yes whenever I had the opportunity to play it, and it’s an honor to be in this role.

You retired a few years ago from professional tennis: how do you feel about getting back on the road now that your life is structured in a different way?

My life at home has been quite established, with my wife and my two kids, but I have been doing a bit of personal traveling for some exhibitions and for golfing. This role will not require a lot of traveling, I will just do what I need to create some camaraderie in the team: I have spent a few days in Indian Wells, from Tuesday to Saturday, I will be a few days in Miami, then I won’t be around much for the European season and I will travel again to tournaments in the summer. I just need the players to know that they have my support and the support of the USTA if it’s needed.

What do you think about the new formula for the Davis Cup?

I think it’s too early to tell right now, we will find out how it goes. On paper the formula sounds awesome, the time was right for a change, although I’m not sure if it was necessary to make it as drastic as this. I know there are some people that feel very strongly against this new formula, but this means that people are passionate about Davis Cup, they really care about it.
The date in the calendar for the Finals is quite tough though. But at the end of the day, if it’s Davis Cup the majority of players will find a way to participate and I’m convinced we will get an excellent field.
As far as the US Team is concerned, I don’t foresee any availability issue from our players, especially the younger ones: they are very excited about playing for the USA, the National Team is in a lot of conversations among our players. I can’s speak for other countries, I know some of them have pledged not to play with the new format, but what we need to remember is that we are all responsible for Davis Cup: if Davis Cup fails, we all fail, we are all together on the same boat. For example, the Australian players are all very passionate about Davis Cup, they love it, and that is fantastic. But if they don’t support it, it’s not going to work.

With the new formula, a team getting to the final will need to play six ties in seven days: how important do you think it will be to have a ‘long bench’?

I think it will be important to bring players who play only singles and other players who play only doubles. I believe that teams that only have one or two players, as it could be for Russia, and relying on them to play both singles and doubles could get into a bit of a situation should they get to the business end of the competition, because their players may get there quite tired. We are lucky in that sense because we can have someone like Jack Sock who could play doubles leaving the singles guys free to worry about the singles.

Tennis politics have recently made the headlines with Chris Kermode not being renewed as the ATP CEO. What is your take on this?

I have spoken to some of the guys who are in the Players’ Council and once again I need to stress that they do what they do because they act with passion. They are passionate about tennis, they act out of love for the game even if their ranking is not high. I know Kermode personally from when he was the Tournament Directors at the Queen’s Tournament and everything was perfect for me; I don’t have direct experience with him at the helm of the ATP, I had already retired when he took the reins of the organization.

A few weeks ago the ITF decided the composition of the Round Robin phase of the Davis Cup Final and the US team will be in the same group as Italy and Canada. Can you tell us about these teams?

Well, Canada has the right mix of experience and youth: Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger Aliassime are going to be there for a long time, and Milos [Raonic] will be able to give them all the support they need. Similarly, Italy has an established core of players such as Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi that will be supplemented by Marco Cecchinato, whom I know him anyway because he is was my opponent in my last match ever at the US Open.
I am very confident about our chances in this group: we have three top 60 players who are still 21 years old or younger, who are Tiafoe, Fritz and Opelka. Tiafoe has just reached the Quarterfinals of the Australian Open, and that’s not a result that you can improvise, you need to beat good players to get there. They will be the core of our team for the years to come, and they will be helped by more established veterans like John [Isner] or Sam [Querrey].


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David Ferrer rallies from one set down to stun Alexander Zverev in Miami



Former world number 3 David Ferrer fought back from one set down to upset 2018 Nitto ATP Finals Alexander Zverev 2-6 7-5 6-3 at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.

David Ferrer, who reached the final in Miami in 2013, has scored his first win against a top 5 player since 2015, when he beat Kei Nishikori in the Acapulco final.

Ferrer has announced that he will end his glorious career next May at the Madrid Mutua Open. The Spaniard has won 27 ATP titles in his career and reached the quarter final in each of the four Grand Slam tournaments.

Ferrer lost his last four head-to-head matches against Zverev, who won their previous clash in Acapulco in straight sets a few weeks ago.

Zverev drew the first blood breeaking serve at love in the fourth game after a double fault from Ferrer. The Spaniard broke straight back on his third break point chance in the fifth game. Zverev broke twice in the sixth and eighth games to clinch the first set 6-2.

Ferrer bounced back breaking in the first game of the second set and held on his service games to open up a 4-2 lead. Zverev broke straight back in the eighth game and held serve on the second deuce in the fifth game to come within a game of the win at 6-2 5-4, but Ferrer bounced back by winning three consecutive games with two breaks of serve to win the second set 7-5 sending the match to the third set.

Ferrer saved a break point chance in the fourth game before earning a crucial break at love in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Ferrer held his next two service games and sealed the win with a double break at 30.

“It means a lot. It’s a special day because it’s the last year of professional tennis for me. Winning these types against a top 10 player like Sasha is a gift. I am very happy and I am trying to enjoy every point and every moment”, said Ferrer.

Ferrer will face Frances Tiafoe in the third round in their first head-to-head match. The 22-year-old player battled past Miomir Kecmanovic 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-5) after two hours and 4 minutes. Kecmanovic went up a double break to open up a 4-1 lead, but Tiafoe won four consecutive games with two breaks in a row to take a 5-4 lead. Kecmanovic saved two break points to hold his serve in the 10th game. Tiafoe came back from 2-4 to win the tie-break 8-6. Tiafoe got an early break at the start of the second set to take a 1-0 lead. Kecmanovic broke back in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Kecmanovic saved five break points in the seventh and ninth games to hold his service games. Tiafoe took the 7-5 edge to take the second tie-break despite cramps in his left leg.







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Roger Federer digs deep to edge Radu Albot in Miami



Three-time Miami Open champion Roger Federer had to dig deep to defeat Moldova’s Radu Albot 4-6 7-5 6-3 after 2 hours and 10 minutes in a hard-fought second round match at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.

Radu Albot, who won his maiden ATP title in Delray Beach last February and arrived in Miami with a career high of world number 46, came very close to pull off the upset, but Federer fought hard to achieve his first come-back from a set down since Miami 2012.

Albot saved six of the eight break points he faced, including four in his first service game. Federer hit 14 aces and fended off three of the four break points he faced.

Albot earned an immediate break in the opening game, when Federer netted a forehand. Albot saved four break points in the second game to back up his break and held on his next service games. Albot hit three consecutive winners at 15 in the tenth game to clinch the first set 6-4 after 35 minutes.

Both players held their serve in the first six games of the second set. Federer saved a break point in the seventh game and earned a break point chance in the eighth game, but Albot fended it off. As the second set looked to be nearing a tie-break Federer finally clinched his first break in the 12th game with a backhand volley winner to close out the second set 7-5.

In the third set Albot earned a break point at 3-3 when Federer made a double fault. The 20-time Grand Slam champion saved it with three consecutive service winners. The Swiss legend earned his only break of the third set, when Albot sent a forehand long. Federer held serve at 15 with a service winner to secure his spot in the third round. Federer avoided his second consecutive second round defeat in Miami after losing to Thanasi Kokkinakis last year.

Federer will take on Filip Krajnovic, who beat Stan Wawrinka preventing the second all-Swiss third round match this month.

“I definitely think that Radu played a great match. It was really tough and I struggled early on. I am very relieved and happy to make it through. It was a great atmosphere”, said Federer.

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