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.


Jannik Sinner: “Rafa Nadal is superior in his head and knows exactly what to do and when to do it”




Jannik Sinner made a major breakthrough season in 2020 winning his maiden ATP title in Sofia becoming and reached his first Grand Slam quarter finals at Roland Garros in his debut at this tournament at the age of 19. He has become the youngest player to win an ATP Tour title. 


“After the final in Sofia I felt emotional. I am human, but I feel the emotions inside me. I was very happy but I know that I have to work very hard. Before the victory ceremony I was a bit angry as I was still trying to understand why I had lost the second set. It was a strange season. I would have liked to play more matches and learn more about the life on the Tour and how to train with the biggest players on the circuit. I am now feeling more comfortable than last year”, said Sinner.

The Italian player is the first debutant beat Alexander Zverev en route to reaching the Roland Garros quarter final since Rafael Nadal achieved this feat in 2005 en route to his first French Open title. 

He lost to Rafael Nadal in the quarter finals in Paris after playing at great level in the first two sets. En route to the quarter final in Paris Sinner beat David Goffin, Benjamin Bonzi, Federico Coria and Alexander Zverev. 

“Rafael Nadal is superior in his head. He pulls very hard but above all he understands the decisive moments. He knows exactly what to do and when to do it. It’s really something else a tennis player. What I am missing to get there ? Well, the blows and the body, as well as the body. Let’s say a little bit of everything. The doctor said I still have to finish growing and developing. The truth is that I have to improve myself in every aspect, both physically and mentally. It takes time to get there”, said Sinner in an interview to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. 

Sinner was disappointed about Zverev’s comments after their match at Roland Garros. 

“I respect Zverev a lot because he has got more experience on the circuit, and he is great player. However, I do not respect his statements after his defeat to me at Roland Garros. He contradicted himself a lot. He said he had fever, but in the third and fourth sets, he ran more than me”, commented Sinner. 

Sinner became the youngest quarter finalist at a Grand Slam tournament since Bernard Tomic at Wimbledon 2011 and at Roland Garros since Novak Djokovic in 2006. The player coached by Riccardo Piatti earned the biggest win in his career when he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to his his maiden third round at Masters 1000 level in Rome.

Jannik has reached his career best ranking at world number 37. 

In the interview Sinner talked about his passions outside tennis.  

“I like to go karting and play football every now and then. I cheer on AC Milan because my first roommate was an AC Milan fan and he also and he also made me passionate as the days went by. In general I also follow the chairs on Netflix and I believe that in Australia. ”, said Sinner. 

Sinner talked about his relationship with Riccardo Piatti. 

“Riccardo is my coach, but also a good friend. We talked about tennis all the time. During the lockdown we watched a lot of past tennis matches together”. 

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ATP Finals Day 8 Preview: Championship Sunday




Dominic Thiem earned his 300th career victory yesterday in London (Ella Ling/ATP Tour)

Today either Dominic Thiem or Daniil Medvedev will win this event for the first time.


A year ago, Dominic Thiem was just a few points from winning this tournament, going down in defeat to Stefanos Tsitsipas in a third set tiebreak of the championship match.  Thiem went on to reach his third Major final at January’s Australian Open, but couldn’t hold on to a two-sets-to-one-lead.  At the next Slam, he would finally win his first Major title, in a dramatic, nerve-wracking five-set final against Sascha Zverev.  For the second consecutive year, he’s reached the championship match of this event after beating two of “The Big Three.”  Thiem defeated Rafael Nadal in a high-quality affair during round-robin play, and overcame Novak Djokovic in yesterday’s semifinals despite blowing four match points in the second set tiebreak, and despite going down 0-4 in the final set tiebreak.

A year ago, Daniil Medvedev came into this event on a 29-4 run, a stretch that saw him win three titles and reach six consecutive finals.  But the fatigued Russian went 0-3 in his ATP Finals debut.  In this abbreviated 2020 season, he did not advance to a tournament final until just two weeks ago, when he won first title in over a year at the Paris Masters.  Now he’s on a nine-match winning streak, having gone undefeated in the round-robin stage.  And just yesterday, he earned his first victory over Rafael Nadal in comeback fashion, after Nadal served for the match in the second set.

Dominic Thiem (3) vs. Daniil Medvedev (4)

Thiem is 3-1 against Medvedev overall, 2-1 on hard courts, and 1-0 indoors.  Their first meeting was two years ago in Daniil’s home country, where Dominic survived 7-6 in the third.  Last summer in Canada, Medvedev easily prevailed, losing only four games.  And in this year’s US Open semifinals, Dominic was victorious in straight sets.  Neither man will be fully fresh today, coming off semifinal matches just 24 hours ago against the top two players in the world, each of which approached three hours in length.  Thiem’s encounter with Djokovic seemed slightly more draining, both physically and emotionally. 

When they met two months ago in New York, Medvedev got off to a terrible start, losing the first set 6-2.  He struck almost twice as many errors as winners, winning only 65% of first serve points and a dismal 25% on his second serve.  But this week he’s served excellently, averaging 79% of first serve points won.  And some easy service games have enabled Daniil to apply more pressure to his opponents’ serve.  The result has been an average of over three breaks per match, Comparatively, Thiem has broken his opponent’s serve only once per match.  But an underrated aspect of the Austrian’s game is his ability to protect his own serve.  Outside of his dead rubber against Andrey Rublev, Dominic has only been broken two times in three matches.  And that includes clashes with two of the sport’s all-time great returners: Nadal and Djokovic. 

Thiem should be slightly favored based on their head-to-head, as well as his considerable edge in experience.  Regardless of the winner, let’s hope these two men provide us with an extended, enthralling encounter.  With the Australian tennis summer in doubt, it may be quite awhile before we see professional tennis of this caliber.

Doubles on Day 8:

In the doubles championship, it’s Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic (5) vs. Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin (7).  Yesterday in the semifinals, Melzer and Roger-Vasselin came back from 1-7 down in the match tiebreak and saved a match point to advance.  Koolhof and Mektic prevailed on Saturday in straight sets.

Full order of play is here.

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ATP Finals Day 6 Preview: Novak Djokovic and Sascha Zverev Play for the Final Qualifying Spot




Novak Djokovic hasn't won this event since 2015 (Ella Ling/ATP Tour)

The winner will join Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, and Daniil Medvedev in Saturday’s semifinals.


Djokovic is a five-time champion of this event, yet is looking to avoid failing to advance out of the round-robin stage for the second straight year.  Zverev was the champion here two years ago, and is vying for his third consecutive semifinal.  Friday’s other singles match has no implications on the semifinals, as Daniil Medvedev has already advanced, while Diego Schwartzman cannot.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Sascha Zverev (5)

Zverev has a chance today to achieve what very few top players have: an even or better head-to-head record against Novak Djokovic.  Sascha is currently 2-3 against Novak, and 1-2 on hard courts.  They played twice at this event in 2018, with Djokovic easily prevailing in the round-robin stage, and Zverev avenging that loss a few days later in the final to win the biggest title of his career.  Their most recent encounter came last year at Roland Garros, with Novak winning in straight sets.  Notably, all five of their matches have been straight-set encounters, with none of the 11 sets even reaching a tiebreak.  So based on their history, grabbing the first set today will be extremely crucial.  Djokovic appeared unwilling to play long rallies on Wednesday against Medvedev, and admitted during his post-match press conference that he wasn’t feeling 100%.  Zverev hasn’t played his best this week either, but was able to tough out a three-set victory over Schwartzman two days ago to keep his advancement hopes alive.  If Djokovic is feeling fresher today, his 40-4 record on the year makes him a clear favorite.  If not, and if Zverev can limit his double faults, Sascha’s indoor hard court prowess makes him fully capable of eliminating the world No.1 from this tournament.

Daniil Medvedev (4) vs. Diego Schwartzman (8)

On Thursday, having already qualified for the semifinals, Dominic Thiem seemed rather uninterested in supplying resistance to Andrey Rublev.  In today’s dead rubber, which comes just 24 hours prior to the semifinals, will Medvedev fight to defeat Schwartzman?  Daniil knows he has an appointment on Saturday with Rafael Nadal, which he can safely assume will be a grueling task.  So I’m sure he’ll be looking to avoid an extended battle today.  And Schwartzman will be keen to not go 0-3 in his ATP Finals debut.  Medvedev is 4-0 against the Argentine, having won eight of nine sets played, which includes a straight-set win just two weeks ago at the Paris Masters.  Under normal circumstances, Daniil would be a strong favorite. But we’ll see how motivated the Russian is today, especially if Diego gains an early advantage.  These two men have a contentious history, going back to their intense battle in January at the ATP Cup where Schwartzman felt Medvedev was taunting him.  Diego would surely enjoy gaining his first win against Daniil.  And despite their lopsided head-to-head, that’s entirely plausible.

Doubles Matches on Day 6:

Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares (1) vs. John Peers and Michael Venus (6).  The winning team will secure the last remaining semifinal birth.

Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos (4) vs. Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin (7).  This is a dead rubber, as Granollers and Zeballos have already advanced, while Melzer and Roger-Vasselin have been eliminated.

Full order of play is here.

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