The ATP announces the nominees for the 2019 Awards - UBITENNIS
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The ATP announces the nominees for the 2019 Awards

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The ATP has announced the nominees for the player-voted categories Awards: Comeback Player of the Year, Most Improved Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award.

 

Comeback of the year:

The candidates for the Comeback Player of the Year Award are Andy Murray, Andrey Rublev, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Stan Wawrinka.

Murray underwent second right hip surgery on 28th January and missed five months and made his come-back at Queen’s, where he won the doubles title together with his partner Feliciano Lopez. He made his singles return at Cincinnati as wildcard losing to Richard Gasquet in the first round. He earned his first singles comeback win at Zhuhai before losing to eventual champion Alex De Minaur in the second round. He reached his first quarter final after his comeback at the China Open in Beijing beating Matteo Berrettini in the first round before losing to eventual champion Dominic Thiem. The Scotsman completed his comeback by winning the Antwerp title against Stan Wawrinka.

Rublev sustained a back injury at the Monte-Carlo Masters in 2018 and made his comeback during the 2019 summer season when he reached the final in Hamburg losing to Nikoloz Basilashvili. Last August Rublev scored the biggest win of his career so far in Cincinnati where he beat Roger Federer in the third round in straight sets. He went on to lose to eventual champion Danil Medvedev in the quarter finals. At the US Open Rublev beat Stefanos Tsitsipas and Nick Kyrgios before losing to Matteo Berrettini in the fourth round. Rublev advanced to his ATP Masters 1000 doubles final in Paris Bercy with his teammate Karen Khachanov losing to Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicholas Mahut.

Tsonga fell to world number 262 in ATP Rankings on 5th November 2019 (his lowest since number 284 on 25th September 2006). In 2019 he won two titles on French soil at Montpellier and Metz and reached the quarter final at Rotterdam, Lyon and Paris Bercy.

Wawrinka missed almost three months due to injury problems in 2018, but he started his comeback in 2019 when he reached his first tournament final in over 20 months, where he lost to Gael Monfils in three sets. He beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in the fourth round at Roland Garros in an epic five-set match that lasted 5 hours and 9 minutes, and he went on to advance to his first Grand Slam quarter final in two years. He went on to lose to his compatriot Roger Federer in four close sets. At the US Open Wawrinka advanced to the quarter final after defending champion Novak Djokovic pulled out after losing the first two sets. It was the first match between Djokovic and Wawrinka in the 2016 US Open final. Wawrinka went on to lose the quarter final to Danil Medvedev. Wawrinka reached the final at Rotterdam and Antwerp.

Most improved player of the year:

 The candidates for the Most Improved Player of the Year are Danil Medvedev, Felix Auger Aliassime, Matteo Berrettini and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Medvedev improved his best ranking from world number 16 on 15th January to world number 5 at the end of the year. The 23-year-old Russian player won four titles in Sofia, Cincinnati, St. Petersburg and Shanghai and reached five more finals in Brisbane, Barcelona, Washington, at the Rogers Cup in Montreal and at the US Open. He led the ATP Tour this season with 59 match wins to 21 defeats.

Tsitsipas was ranked world number 15 last January and ended the season ranked world number 6 with three titles at Marseille, Estoril and at the ATP Finals in London. He was the first Greek player to break into the top 5 and the first Greek to reach the Grand Slam semifinal at the Australian Open. He earned 54 wins this season. He became the youngest player to beat Nadal on clay. He scored the biggest win of his career over world number 1 Djokovic in Shanghai Masters 1000.

Berrettini improved his ranking moving up from world number 52 on 7th January 2019 to his career-high at number 8 at the  end of the year. The Italian player won two titles in Budapest and Stuttgart and reached the semifinal of the US Open. He became the first Italian player in history to win a match at the ATP Finals when he beat eventual finalist Dominic Thiem. He ended the season with a record of 43 wins to 25 defeats.

Auger Aliassime started the season as the world number 106 on 7th January 2019 to number 21 at the end of the season. The 19-year-old reached three finals in Rio de Janeiro, Lyon and Stuttgart and qualified for his first Masters 1000 semifinal in Miami.

Newcomer of the year:

The candidates for the Newcomer of the Year Award are Felix Auger Aliassime, Casper Ruud, Miomir Kecmanovic, Jannik Sinner, Mikael Ymer, Corentin Moutet, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Alexei Popyrin.

Jannik Sinner started the year ranked world number 553 and reached his career high as world number 78. The Italian 18-year-old player won three ATP Challenger titles in Bergamo, Lexington and Ortisei and qualified for his first ATP 250 semifinal in Antwerp. He lost to Stan Wawrinka in the first round in his debut Grand Slam tournament at the US Open.

Casper Ruud improved his ranking from world number 111 to world number 54 and reached the final in Houston.

Miomir Kecmanovic improved his best ranking from world 126 to number 59 at the end of the year and finished runner-up to Lorenzo Sonego in the Antalya final.

Mikael Ymer improved from world number 196 to world number 74 and won four Challenger titles at Noumea, Tampere, Orleans and Mouilleron le Captif.

Corentin Moutet ended the season ranked 83 at the end of the year. He reached the third round at Roland Garros and won two Challenger titles at Chennai and Lyon.

World number 87 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina reached the semifinal at Estoril and won two finals in Seville and Liuzhou. He was ranked world number 241 last January.

Alexei Popyrin finished the year ranked 97 after reaching the third round at the Australian Open and at the US Open.

 

The candidates for the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award are Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Diego Schwartzman and Dominic Thiem. This award is given to the player, who conducted himself at the highest of professionalism and integrity, who competed with his fellow players with the utmost spirit of fairness and who promoted the game through his off -court activities.

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Injured Alcaraz Pulls Out of Rio Open After Two Games

A sprained ankle a couple of minutes into his debut at the Rio Open forced top seed Carlos Alcaraz to abandon his match against Thiago Monteiro

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Carlos Alcaraz after the injury - Rio 2024 (photo Tennis TV)

For world no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz, this year’s Rio Open lasted two games: the Spanish champion had to retire on the score of 1-1 in the first set during his first-round match against Brazilian Thiago Monteiro due to a sprained right ankle suffered in the second point of the match.

 

In an accident somewhat reminiscent of the terrible one suffered by Zverev in the semi-final of Roland Garros 2022, Alcaraz’s right foot “got stuck”  in the clay as he returned towards the center of the court after returning from the left, and he immediately flew to the ground dropping his racket. The Spaniard immediately asked for a medical time-out, but as soon as he took off his shoe it was immediately clear that his ankle had already swollen.

After having a tight bandage applied, Alcaraz tried to continue the match, but just two games later he understood that it was not possible to continue so he shook hands with his opponent, abandoning the Brazilian tournament.

The match was played on a very heavy court due to the rain that had fallen heavily during the day. The organizers had been forced to cancel the daytime session and play could only begin around 7.30 pm local time, after the courts had remained under pouring water all day.

Alcaraz told the press present in Rio: “I think these things happen, especially on clay. It wasn’t a problem with the court, I hurt myself in a change of direction and this happens on this type of surface. I went back into the match to see if I could continue or not. I spoke to the physiotherapist on the court and we decided, together, that I would continue to see if the ankle would improve. It didn’t happen, so we preferred to be cautious and withdraw as a precaution.”

Considering that Alcaraz left the court on his own two feet and managed to wobble through a couple of games after the injury, it is quite likely that the injury he suffered is much less serious than the one that kept Alexander Zverev away from tournaments for over seven months. However, it will be necessary to verify whether it is just a sprain or whether tendons or ligaments have been involved. If this were to be the case, the prognosis could turn out to be longer, and this is happening less than two weeks before the start of the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami.

The Spaniard is scheduled to play an exhibition in Las Vegas on 3rd March against Rafael Nadal: it will be decided in the next few days whether to withdraw as a precaution for the first Masters 1000 of the season in Indian Wells.

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Can Jannik Sinner dodge the morning-after syndrome?

Very few players have managed to follow up their first triumph in a Major. Hewitt is the last new Grand Slam champion to immediately win an ATP title. Nadal, Djokovic and Federer all misfired, can Jannik Sinner do better?

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Jannik Sinner - Australian Open 2024 (photo: X @federtennis)

By Roman Bongiorno

“The morning-after syndrome,” as they call it. The list of great champions who have suffered from it – Carlos Alcaraz, Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, is impressive.  Some of the most illustrious names in our sport, the most successful ever. Yet, even for those who are legends, the match immediately after their first Grand Slam triumph is often an insurmountable hurdle.

 

The very young Spanish phenomenon, born in 2003, was the latest striking example. After winning the 2022 US Open and becoming the new world No. 1, Alcaraz managed to win just one set in his next two matches: he lost 6-7 6-4 6-2 in the Davis Cup against Felix Auger Aliassime, who was definitely on fire in that period, and was inflicted a 7-5 6-3 defeat by veteran David Goffin in his first match at the ATP 500 in Astana.

Mentally, it’ not easy. The most important triumph of one’s life, immediately to be put aside.  And go back to work. The media are quick to pounce on any slip, headlines hinting at signs of a career already over: “it’s gone to his head”, “he has made his money” etc.

Less than a year later, Carlos Alcaraz was once more a Grand Slam champion, beating Novak Djokovic in the final at Wimbledon.

Just think of tennis legends such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who fell victims to this serious syndrome. The former, after his triumph at Roland Garros 2005, stepped back on court on the green grass of Halle, losing in 3 sets to the world number 147 German Alexander Waske: 4-6 7-5 6-3. For many, that was a disastrous defeat foreshadowing a future that would not be as bright as it had seemed. Rafa told another story, by winning another 21 Grand Slam titles, on every surface.

The Serbian, on the other hand, thrived on the hard courts of Melbourne, just like Jannik Sinner. In 2008, after winning the title, he was engaged in Davis Cup against Russia. He did not finish his rubber against Nikolay Davydenko and retired at the beginning of the fourth set while trailing 2 sets to 1. In his first ATP tour appearance, in Marseille, after brushing aside Ivan Dodig, he was ousted in three sets by Gilles Simon. Over the following 15 years Novak Djokovic went on to become the has become the most successful player ever.

What about Roger Federer? After lifting the trophy won at Wimbledon in 2003, he moved to the home clay of Gstaad.  He survived the morning-after syndrome  after a fierce but victorious struggle in the first round with the Spaniard Marc Lopez, ranked No.190. Then he cruised till the final, but was defeated in a five set hustle 5-7 6-3 6-3 1-6 6-3 by Jiri Novak.

The morning-after did not spare Juan Martin del Potro. After his stunning victory over Federer at the 2009 US Open, he set foot on an ATP tennis court three weeks later in Tokyo. It was Edouard Roger Vassellin, 189th in the world, who spoiled the party, neatly defeating the Argentinian in two sets, 64 64.

Even “Ice man” Bjorn Borg, the man without (apparent) emotions, focused only on tennis and winning, lost the first match after his success at Roland Garros 1974. He was defeated in the first round in Nottingham by world No. 71 Milan Holecek from Czechoslovakia. Over the next years he definitely made up for that impasse on English lawns.

A rare bird at last, and not by chance does it come from Australia, a land which is ever so rich in unique species. Lleyton Hewitt, who in 2001 after steamrolling Pete Sampras in the US Open final, immediately won his next matches, two singles rubbers in the Davis Cup against Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson, and then went on to win in Tokyo by beating Michel Kratochvil in the final.

Jannik Sinner has been building up his success on gruelling feats. Sure he’s eager to be back on the Dutch indoor courts of Rotterdam where he enjoyed a brilliant run last year, only surrendering to Danil Medvedev in the final. Just one year ago the Russian seemed an impossible opponent to defeat. Now, in the last 4 challenges, Jannik has beaten him 4 times. The last one, in the final of the Australian Open.

Rotterdam could have been the stage for a rematch, but Medvedev has pulled out of the tournament. Jannik Sinner appears as a favourite, and is vying to close in on that third place of the rankings currently held by Daniil.

Jannik has set out on his mission. But even if he were to be defeated in the first round by an opponent ranked beyond the top 200, no one should dare cry failure. Italy at last has a Grand Slam winner, and he is not to be downplay him in case of first defeats.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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Matteo Berrettini Looks To Draw Inspiration From Jannik Sinner

Matteo Berrettini is looking to draw inspiration from Jannik Sinner ahead of his comeback to the ATP tour.

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(@TheTennisLetter - Twitter)

Matteo Berrettini is looking to draw inspiration from Jannik Sinner as Berrettini is continuing his recovery from his injury.

 

The former Wimbledon finalist has had a horrible run of injuries which has seen the Italian fall down the rankings as he is now at 124 in the world.

After suffering a horrible injury at the US Open during his match with Arthur Rinderknech, Berrettini was looking to make his return at the Australian Open as he was set to face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the opening round.

However just before the match, Berrettini withdrew as he decided to delay his comeback to the tour as he will aim to return to the court as soon as possible.

If Berrettini needed any inspiration then Jannik Sinner’s triumph at the Australian Open could be that much needed spark as the Italian beat Novak Djokovic on his way to capturing a first Grand Slam title.

Speaking an interview Berrettini explained that he is still not 100% and admits he is looking to draw inspiration from Sinner’s form, “I’m better, but I’m not yet 100%,” Berrettini was quoted by Tennis Infinity as saying.

“The goal is to play the whole season, and without these setbacks which are destroying my body and my head. Sinner did a miracle. I will also use this energy for my tennis. I was happy with what Jannik said.

“We have a good relationship, which has strengthened in recent months. We are different but similar. We are pursuing the same dream.”

Berrettini will hope Sinner’s success will have a positive influence on his recovery and quicken his return to the tour as the former world number six aims for a successful return to the tour.

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