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The Highlights Of The 2020 ATP Season

UbiTennis looks back on the stand out achievements that have taken place on the ATP Tour throughout 2020.

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This season has been a year like no other with the ATP Tour being heavily disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have managed to keep the dominance of the Big Three continuing in the men’s game. Although some of their peers are starting to rapidly catch up with them.

 

Here is everything you need to know about men’s tennis this year.

The Grand Slam stars

The top three players in the ATP year-end rankings won all three Grand Slam tournaments between them, which took place this year.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic won the eighth Australian Open title of his career after beating Roger Federer in the semifinal and Dominic Thiem in the final in January. The Serbian star became the third man in history to claim eight titles at a Grand Slam event after Rafael Nadal (13 wins at Roland Garros) and Roger Federer (8 wins at Wimbledon).

In August Djokovic made history when he won the Western and Southern Open in New York to complete his second career Golden Masters. He became the only player in history to win all nine ATP Masters 1000 titles.

Djokovic also claimed his 36th Masters 1000 title when he beat Diego Schwartzman in the final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. Surpassing Rafael Nadal’s record of most ATP Masters 1000 trophies.

He sealed the year-end men’s world number one ranking for the sixth time in the past ten years to go level with Pete Sampras, who ended as Number 1 for six straight years between 1993 and 1998. During the Nitto ATP Finals in London Djokovic received the ATP Number 1 trophy from ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi.

Novak Djokovic: “Pete was somebody I looked up to when I was growing up, so to match his record is a dream come true. I will keep striving to be a better player, hopefully have more success and break more records in a sport I love with all my heart”.

Rafael Nadal

The Spanish “King of Clay” clinched the 13th Roland Garros title and the 20th Grand Slam title of his career, equaling Federer for the most major men’s singles titles won. He didn’t drop a set en route to the Roland Garros title for the fourth time in his career. It was the 86th title of his career and his 60th clay court trophy.

Rafael Nadal: “Winning in Paris means everything to me. The most important moments of my career have been here. I love this city and this court. I played at an amazing level of tennis. For two sets and a half I played great. I can’t say another thing. It’s impossible to have this score against Djokovic without playing great. I played at my highest level when I needed, so it’s something I am very proud of”.

Nadal also won his third title in Acapulco. He advanced to his 12th Australian Open quarter-final and his 15th Rome quarter final, his fifth Paris Bercy semifinal and his first semifinal at the ATP Finals since 2015.

Djokovic and Nadal finished the 2020 season as the top 2 players for the third consecutive year and the fifth time overall. On 9 November 2020 Nadal passed Jimmy Connors for the most consecutive weeks in the top 10 on the ATP Ranking as he has spent a total of 790 consecutive weeks in the tennis elite.

Dominic Thiem

Thiem achieved his best results at Grand Slam tournaments. At the Australian Open he defeated Nadal in four sets to reach the semifinals. He then beat seventh seed Alexander Zverev in four sets to qualify for his first Grand Slam final on a hard court. In the final, Thiem lost to Novak Djokovic in five sets.

Thiem lifted his first Grand Slam title in his fourth career Major final at the US Open after beating Alexander Zverev in four hours and two minutes. He became the first player to win the US Open in a five-set tie-break. He joined 1995 Roland Garros champion Thomas Muster as the second Austrian Grand Slam champion.

At the French Open The player from Wiener Neustadt reached the quarter final where he was beaten by Diego Schwartzman in a five-set match.

Thiem qualified for the ATP Finals for the fifth year in a row. He beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in a re-match of the 2019 final before defeating Nadal in two tie-break in one of the best matches of this year’s edition of the ATP Finals to secure his spot in the semifinals. He defeated Novak Djokovic in three sets but he lost to Daniil Medvedev in the final.

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Andy Murray Skips French Open To Focus On The Grass

The decision has been made after the Brit experienced some ‘discomfort’ during his time in Rome.

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Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has delayed his return to competitive tennis after deciding to not play any more tournaments on the clay this year.

 

The former world No.1 has confirmed that he will not be playing at the French Open, according to multiple British media sources. Murray’s decision comes less than a week after he was in Rome training with some of the Tour’s top players. During one of his practice sessions in the Italian capital, he had a hit with world No.1 Novak Djokovic who said afterwards he was impressed by the current form of the Brit.

“I was very happy to see him. I haven’t seen him in a while, and it was great to hit with him. I thought he played very well on the court,” Djokovic told reporters last week.
“He moves well considering it’s clay which is not the best surface for his hips. But considering what he has been through lately, I think it seems like he’s been feeling well on the court. That’s what he’s saying, and that’s what it appears on the court itself.”

It is understood that Murray experienced some discomfort in Rome where he participated in the doubles tournament with Liam Broady after receiving a last-minute entry. It is unclear as to where the pain is located and how serious it is. Although it has been deemed significant enough for him to decline a wildcard into next week’s Geneva Open and pass on the French Open where he would have possibly had to play in the qualifying draw.

Murray will now switch his focus to the grass ahead of Wimbledon. He is currently scheduled to next play at The Queen’s Club where he has a contract to play there for the rest of his career. The tournament will start on June 14th with Murray saying he is looking forward to playing in front of a British crowd again. Under current restrictions, Queen’s will welcome 25% of its 9000-spectator capacity.

“It’s been such a difficult time for everyone and it will be great to play in front of home fans in Britain again,” said five-time champion Murray. “The tournament at Queen’s has always meant a lot to me – it’s where I won my first ATP match, I’ve won the singles at Queen’s more than any other in my career, and I’ll never forget our doubles title in 2019. I can’t wait to get back out there.”

34-year-old Murray has played just 11 Tour matches since winning the European Open in Antwerp back in 2019. He is currently ranked 123rd in the world.

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Novak Djokovic Outlasts Tsitsipas To Reach Rome Semis

Novak Djokovic survived a brutal test from Stefanos Tsitsipas to reach the semi-finals in Rome.

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Novak Djokovic (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic survived Stefanos Tsitsipas over two days as a 4-6 7-5 7-5 win ensured his place in the last four of Rome.

 

The world number one came back from a set and a break down to ensure his place in the semi-finals in Rome.

It’s the second time in the space of a few weeks that Tsitsipas has lost to Djokovic and Nadal in three hour epic matches.

Next for Djokovic will be Lorenzo Sonego who beat Andrey Rublev 3-6 6-4 6-3 in his delayed quarter-final.

It was a bright start from Tsitsipas who was aggressive from the first ball and took the match to the world number one.

An early break helped settle the Greek down who was producing tennis of the highest from the baseline and at the net as he rushed Djokovic into errors.

That became a double break as the Serb was distracted by the rainy conditions as he couldn’t hit through Tsitsipas’s consistent defence.

After breaking back and consolidating after some nice combinational patterns of play, rain halted play for a few hours.

Once they came back it was Tsitsipas who continued to dictate the points to his favour and with accurate serving was able to close out the first set in in 51 minutes.

The start of the second set was no different, after both players held serve to love Tsitsipas grinded out a crucial break taking advantage of a lack of concentration from Djokovic.

However once again rain halted play and Djokovic had a whole night to figure out how to turn the match around as play was abandoned for the day.

As play resumed the next morning, Tsitsipas continued where he left off from yesterday as he was the aggressor dictating points and putting Djokovic under pressure.

That was until the eighth game as Djokovic raised his level and managed to make a lot of deep returns to cause Tsitsipas trouble.

Tsitsipas managed to save four break points with some clutch tactical serving and bold high-margin play.

On the fifth break point Djokovic finally punched a hole through Tsitsipas’ defence to level the set at 4-4 as he let out a huge roar.

The Greek remained valiant and produced a higher level of base play throughout the rest of the set as he earned two opportunities to break back.

However this time it was Djokovic’s turn to produce clutch serves and unlike Tsitsipas, the Serb held for 5-4.

Big moments were meant for big players and you can always rely on the world number one to produce those. A big final return game from Djokovic sealed with clever tactical played allowed him to break and let out another huge roar as he levelled this match at one set all.

In the final set, there was ball-striking of the highest quality as both players looked to out manoeuvre and out-hit each other.

The first break of the set went to Tsitsipas as Djokovic’s shot failed to reach the other side of the net as the Serb smashed his racket into the side barrier of the court.

After holding for a 3-1 lead, Tsitsipas looked to finish the match out as he had four opportunities for a double break lead.

A combination of erratic decisions and clutch serving from the world number one saw them saved as the Serb would hold on.

In typical Djokovic fashion he would break in the next game comfortably as this was turning out to be one of the best final sets of the season.

Tsitsipas would have the chance to close out the match after breaking for a 5-4 lead but the Serb’s court coverage was too good and he continued to hit insane returns for 5-5.

After 3 hours and 15 minutes of play over two days, Djokovic produced a near-perfect final game to deny Tsitsipas the win as he made his way into the semi-finals.

Next for the world number one will be Lorenzo Sonego on Saturday evening for a place in the final.

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French Open Chief: Roger Federer Would have Won Multiple French Open Titles If It Wasn’t For Nadal

Guy Forget also predicts how far the 39-year-old could go in the draw this year.

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The decision by Roger Federer to play at the French Open is the most logical step ahead of Wimbledon, according to tournament director Guy Forget.

 

The 20-time Grand Slam champion hasn’t played a competitive match on the surface since June 2019. Last year he missed most the season due to a right knee injury which required two surgical procedures, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. So far this year he has only played in one tournament which was at the Qatar Open where he reached the semi-finals.

Federer will return to the court next week at the Geneva Open in his native Switzerland. It is the only event he will play before heading to Roland Garros. An event he had only played in once out of the past five editions. Forget, who is a former top 10 player himself, believes the match play is exactly what Federer needs.

“That Roger comes to play Roland Garros seems logical to me. This will allow him to play, and especially to test himself. Clay is a surface that requires you to be precise in your movements. The better Federer is at Roland Garros, the better he will be at Wimbledon,” he told reporters earlier this week.

The Swiss Maestro has only won the French Open once in his career which was back in 2009. Although he has reached the final on four other occasions. It was at the 1999 French Open where he made his main draw debut in a major at the age of 17. Overall, 11 out of Federer’s 103 ATP titles have been won on the clay.

However, Forget believes Federer would have won many more French Open titles if it wasn’t for the formidable Rafael Nadal. A player who has won more ATP trophies on the dirt than any other player in history, including 13 at the French Open alone.

“If Rafael Nadal hadn’t existed Federer would have had at least 5 or 6 titles at Roland, I’m sure of that.” Forget commented.
“Regarding this edition, I think it can happen that he could go into the second week.” He added.

Federer has lost to Nadal in all six of their meetings at the French Open – four times in the final and twice in the semi-finals. He trails their overall head-to-head 16-24.

The French Open will get underway on May 30th.

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