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Biggest Grand Slam Comebacks Of 2017

  • Posted: Dec 15, 2017

Biggest Grand Slam Comebacks Of 2017

ATP World Tour Season In Review: Biggest Grand Slam Comebacks

Continuing our Season In Review Series, revisits the biggest Grand Slam comebacks of 2017:

5. Andreas Seppi d. Nick Kyrgios 1-6, 6-7(1), 6-4, 6-2, 10-8 – Australian Open 2R

There seems to be a special connection between Andreas Seppi and the Australian Open. Three years ago, the Italian saved a match point to upset Lleyton Hewitt in a five-set thriller at the Australian Open. Then, in 2015, he would advance to the Round of 16 with a stunning four-set dismissal of Roger Federer – his first Top 10 win at a Grand Slam.

As Seppi began to battle back from a two-set deficit against home hope Nick Kyrgios in this year’s second round, another moment of magic was in the cards. In front of a packed crowd on Hisense Arena, Seppi took the third set 6-4 and the fourth set 6-2 and it quickly became apparent that the Italian would deliver even more heartbreak to the Aussie faithful. 

In 2015, Seppi had fallen to Kyrgios 8-6 in a decider after racing to a two-set lead. The 33-year-old was ready to repay the favour. He would deny a match point while serving at 8-7 in the fifth set with a rifled forehand winner and snatched the decisive break in the next game. Seppi’s 16th ace would seal the 1-6, 6-7(1), 6-4, 6-2, 10-8 victory after three hours and nine minutes.

“I remember the match from two years ago – it was pretty much the same,” said Seppi. “I knew what’s going to happen, what it was going to be like on the court. It’s always very, very tough to play in a crowd like this or stadium like this. But it was a great atmosphere.

“I just was focusing on my game. I served for the match before, lost my serve. I just tried to refocus, play like I did before. On match point, it was a big shot down the line. Maybe it was meant to be.”

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4. Janko Tipsarevic d. Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-7(5), 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(2), 6-3 – US Open 1R

For nearly two years, Janko Tipsarevic found himself outside of the Top 300 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. Recurring foot problems kept the Serbian on the sidelines for extended periods, but the former World No. 8 never gave up hope.

As Tipsarevic continued to fight towards a return to the Top 50 of the Emirates ATP Rankings at the US Open, that resilience was on full display. In a first-round marathon on Court 17, the Belgrade native clawed back from a two-set deficit to deny #NextGenATP Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-7(5), 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(2), 6-3 in four hours and 10 minutes.

Kokkinakis, who was in the midst of his own comeback quest following a multitude of injuries, did well to save 16 of 22 break points faced, but Tipsarevic’s experience guided him past the finish line. The 33-year-old was denied three match points with Kokkinakis serving at 5-2 in the decider, but would close it out on his fifth chance in the next game.

Tipsarevic, a nominee for the Comeback Player of the Year Award in the 2017 ATP World Tour Awards Presented by Moët & Chandon, was sitting outside the Top 250 one year prior. But a quartet of ATP Challenger Tour titles in 2017 – two in Thailand and two in China – saw the Serbian vault back inside the Top 60. He completed a perfect 20-0 campaign on the circuit. Moreover, the comeback victory over Kokkinakis was his first from two sets down in five years.

3. Ivo Karlovic d. Horacio Zeballos 6-7(6), 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 22-20 – Australian Open 1R

Ivo Karlovic said that, long after he retires, this is one match he will never forget. Neither will we.

Court 19 at Melbourne Park could barely contain the drama that was unfolding in its modest confines, as Karlovic and Horacio Zeballos battled for five hours and 14 minutes in a marathon first-round encounter. Karlovic rebounded after dropping the first two sets to claim a stunning 6-7(6), 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 22-20 victory. The 42-game deciding set alone lasted two hours and 41 minutes, with the Croatian saving a break point at 3-2 and the Argentine denying one at 11-11, before Karlovic finally closed the door with a break at 21-20 30/40.

The thriller spanned 84 games in total, breaking the Australian Open record since the introduction of the tie-break in 1972. It surpassed Andy Roddick and Younes El Aynaoui’s 2003 classic of 83 games. Only Novak Djokovic’s win over Rafael Nadal in the 2012 final was longer by time played, at five hours and 53 minutes.

“This match is what I will, after my career, remember,” said Karlovic. “If it was an easy match or I lost easily, I wouldn’t remember it. But this one I will definitely remember forever. 

“My arm is good, but my knee, my back a little bit, is not so good,” said Karlovic. “I was just trying to hang in there, just point by point… [As the fifth set wore on], actually I was thinking about that other match: [John] Isner versus [Nicolas] Mahut (at 2010 Wimbledon, which Isner won 70-68 in the fifth set). I was hoping, a little bit, it could go that long so I could also have that record.”

Karlovic’s 75 aces is another Australian Open record, blasting Joachim Johansson’s previous single-match mark of 51, which was set in 2005.

In addition, it was just the third 0-2 comeback of the 38-year-old’s career. His two previous victories both came against James Blake, rallying in the 2009 Davis Cup quarter-finals and in the 2013 US Open first round.

2. Mischa Zverev d. John Isner 6-7(4), 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(7), 9-7 – Australian Open 2R

John Isner and Mischa Zverev had faced off on two previous occasions entering the season, and both proved to be one-way traffic in favour of the American. So when Isner grabbed a two-set lead in their Australian Open second round encounter, it looked like much of the same. 

But 2017 would bare witness to a much improved Zverev and the German’s impressive campaign kick-started with this riveting comeback at Melbourne Park. After dropping the first two sets in tie-breaks, Zverev extended the match to a fourth, where he would fight back from a break down at 4-2 and turned aside a pair of match points. The first was saved as he served to stay in the encounter at 5-4 and the second was denied at 7/6 in the ensuing tie-break.

The match would progress to a decider, where Isner saved three straight match points of his own at 6-5, but the big-serving American was unable to deny a fourth at 8-7. A rifled return at Isner’s feet pushed the German across the finish line after four hours and 10 minutes. The 30-year-old Zverev notched the first comeback from two sets down in his career and his first five-set victory in a decade (2007 Wimbledon qualifying). He would finish 2017 with a perfect 4-0 record in five-setters.

“It was definitely my biggest win, especially coming back from two sets down,” said Zverev. “Now being in the third round of the Australian Open, it was everything. I was emotional with my family being here and coming back from injury. It was big.”

The match proved to be the catalyst for Zverev’s strong season, which saw him stun World No. 1 Andy Murray just days later and included a first ATP World Tour final appearance in Geneva. He would go on to beat Isner on two other occasions, prevailing in the Geneva second round and US Open third round.

(1) Juan Martin del Potro d. Dominic Thiem 1-6, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(1), 6-4 – US Open 4R

This was as good as it gets. We might might never see another comeback with such drama, such emotion and such grit and determination than the display Juan Martin del Potro and Dominic Thiem exhibited at the US Open. It was one for the ages.

Known as one of the more passionate and exuberant players on the ATP World Tour, Del Potro left it all on Grandstand court on a Tuesday evening in Flushing Meadows. Fighting a flu and a fever, the Argentine was barely able to move as he entered the court and with little range and rhythm, Thiem took advantage, blasting to a quick 6-1, 6-2 lead.

But the heavily partisan Argentine crowd, draped in blue and white, carried the 2009 champion. They urged on the lethargic and fatigued Tandil native and despite being on the verge of tears, he would respond in grand fashion. Bolstered by the crowd, he rewrote the script, halting Thiem’s flood of momentum with a run of eight of the next 10 games.

Once again, the Austrian answered with a break in the fourth to take a 5-2 lead. He would serve for the match but Del Potro was far from finished, breaking back and eventually saving two match points – both with mammoth aces – while serving at 5-6. The drama boiled over to a fifth set, and as a rush of adrenaline surged through Del Potro, he would grab his second match point after three hours and 34 minutes.

“I don’t know how I was able to win that match,” del Potro said to ESPN in his post-match interview. “I was sick the last two days and I tried to play as best that I can. When I saw this crowd cheering for me, I was trying to feel better. I fought like this because of these guys.”

It marked the seventh five-set victory in Del Potro’s career and just the second comeback from two sets down. He would follow it up with a four-set upset of Roger Federer in the quarter-finals, reeling off 20 of 24 matches to finish the season and falling just short of qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals.

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Birds, Iguanas & Love Lead Best Quirks Of 2017

  • Posted: Dec 15, 2017

Birds, Iguanas & Love Lead Best Quirks Of 2017

ATP World Tour Season In Review: Quirks

Continuing our Season in Review series, reviews some of the year’s odd moments on the ATP World Tour. 

There are plenty of things that happen during a tennis match. From winners and errors to overheads and tweeners, ATP World Tour players always entertain the crowd.

But there were also some quirky moments on the court in 2017.

At the Miami Open presented by Itau, Tommy Haas and Jiri Vesely got a special visitor after their second set.

An iguana was spotted on one of the court’s scoreboards, delaying play. Vesely had no interest in continuing play with the animal even near the court, while Haas walked right up to it for a selfie.

“Maybe the iguana got the note that this is most likely the last time playing here, and he wanted to say, ‘Hi’, and take a peek or something. I don’t know, but it was pretty cool. Of that size, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced that,” Haas said. “At one point the people were just trying to see if we can just get him off the scoreboard, but then he made an appearance and ran up and down the court as well back to the other scoreboard. So it was fun… It’s nice for him to stop by. Good-looking iguana.”

The iguana was not the only animal to interrupt play on the ATP World Tour this season. Just a couple of weeks later, a bird caused a stoppage in Monte Carlo. In the second round of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, eventual champion Rafael Nadal was serving to move within one game of victory in the third set against Kyle Edmund when a small bird landed on the net.

While a ballperson attempted to usher it away, the bird flew onto the court’s surface instead, much to the crowd’s enjoyment.

Eventually, thanks to coaxing from the ballperson and Nadal, the bird flew to the front row behind the Spaniard and watched as he won the final two games of the match to advance to the third round.

It was not only creatures that caused quirky moments this year, though.

Usually, the only danger in stepping on the tennis court is not performing well. But Marcelo Melo learned otherwise at the Internazionali BNL D’Italia.

When the Brazilian stepped to the net while partner Lukasz Kubot served early in the second set against Henri Kontinen and John Peers, he certainly did not expect to accidentally get drilled in the head.

Kontinen and Peers would eventually win the quarter-final, 6-4, 7-6(6). And while it was a double-whammy for Melo — losing and getting knocked in the head by his teammate — Kubot/Melo would finish the year at No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings.

But perhaps the most bizarre moment of the season came on the ATP Challenger Tour in April at the Elizabeth Moore Sarasota Open. 

It is not often that a player will crack into laughter after falling behind 0/15 in a game, but that is exactly what happened to Frances Tiafoe at 6-3, 3-2 in the second set of his first-round match against Mitchell Krueger. The cause was noise coming from an amorous couple in a nearby building, which broke Tiafoe’s concentration and interrupted play. Krueger grabbed a spare tennis ball and smacked it toward the building, drawing laughs from the crowd. 

A couple of points later, the noise was still audible. “It can’t be that good,” Tiafoe shouted in the building’s direction. He went on to win the match 6-3, 6-2.


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Bedene to switch from Britain back to Slovenia

  • Posted: Dec 15, 2017

Aljaz Bedene is to switch his allegiance back to Slovenia despite becoming a British citizen in 2015.

The world number 49 will play for the country of his birth again next year in order to compete at the 2020 Olympics.

New International Tennis Federation (ITF) rules mean he is not permitted to play for Britain in the Olympics or Davis Cup.

Bedene, 28, who was British number two, said he does not want to miss out on “two events that mean so much to me”.

His plans to represent Great Britain were thwarted by the ITF’s decision, with little notice, to prevent players representing more than one country from January 2015.

“I have proudly called Britain my home for the last nine years and so many people there have made me feel welcome both in the UK and abroad,” Bedene said in a statement on Friday.

“I am also particularly grateful for the support the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) have shown me in that time and in fighting my case for GB Davis Cup eligibility.

“It was a dream of mine to be able to compete for a country that has given me so much in the Davis Cup.”

The LTA, which has offered him extensive support throughout the legal effort to make him eligible to play for Britain, said it understood his decision.

“We have always been realistic with regard to the ITF’s eligibility appeals process and supported Aljaz’s battle to secure his Davis Cup eligibility for Great Britain,” a statement said.

“It is a shame that this case did not warrant an exception, but we absolutely respect Aljaz’s wish to fulfil his international ambitions at both Davis Cup and the Olympics.”

  • Bedene’s Davis Cup appeal is rejected
  • Federer voted BBC Overseas Sports Personality

There may be a feeling of relief within the LTA that this long saga is finally over, although it is understood there has been some frustration at Bedene’s lack of communication and his rather opaque answers about his future intentions.

The erstwhile British number two’s decision to return to live in Slovenia effectively ended any faint hope that the ITF might be persuaded of his case to represent GB in team competition.

A return to the Slovenian fold has also been made possible by the recent departure of the country’s long-term Davis Cup captain Blaz Trupej.

Bedene’s switch to Britain caused a lot of ill feeling within Slovenian tennis, but Trupej has now been replaced by Miha Mlakar, a good friend who attended the player’s wedding in August.

Tennis Slovenia has been working very hard to tempt Bedene back into the fold, and it can surely be no coincidence that Aljaz’s twin brother Andraz has just been appointed Mlakar’s assistant.

Bedene has also moved from Hertfordshire, his home of the past six years, after his new wife Kimalie did not settle well in the UK and was keen to return to Slovenia to advance her singing career.

Bedene has spent most of the last two months training with his British coach Nick Cavaday in Ljubljana, although notably was seen practising at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton last week.

‘A worthy candidate for exemption’

The LTA had been given some reason for optimism in the Bedene legal case earlier this year.

Although an arbitration hearing upheld the ITF’s new rule, Charles Hollander QC expressed the “greatest sympathy” for the player’s predicament.

“Bedene cannot be characterised as one of those players who desire to adopt a ‘flag of convenience’. I hope that the passage of time will be sufficient to persuade the ITF that Mr Bedene is a worthy candidate for an exemption,” he stated in his ruling.

The LTA had been hoping Bedene would boost the options available to Davis Cup captain Leon Smith – especially on clay, where he won 16 matches in a row at Challenger and ATP Tour level this spring.

Ultimately, though, they got nothing for their investment other than Bedene’s appearance in the third round of Wimbledon this summer, and the third round of the French Open the year before.

Bedene did not receive any direct funding, but the LTA bore the costs of the appeal to the ITF and February’s arbitration hearing. A lot of time was also invested in him by Smith and, especially, by the LTA’s legal director Stephen Farrow.

One or two noses have also been put out of joint. Dan Evans has always been riled by the LTA’s support for Bedene and told BBC Sport at May’s Madrid Masters: “I don’t think he really believes he’s British, either.”

Evans now has problems of his own, as his ranking has dropped sharply after a 12-month ban for a positive cocaine test.

As a result of today’s announcement by Bedene, Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund will be the only British men in the top 100 when the new season dawns in just over a fortnight.

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Isner Rides Roller Coaster Into 2018 Season

  • Posted: Dec 15, 2017

Isner Rides Roller Coaster Into 2018 Season

The American speaks to about a disappointing end to 2017 and an event that helped him bounce back from it

Before John Isner settles in for his final push ahead of the new ATP World Tour campaign, he spent time on Thursday in New York — the home of the inaugural New York Open from 11-18 February — where he participated in two clinics for more than 100 local kids and attended the Brooklyn Nets game against the New York Knicks.

“It’s one of the most important things us professional players can do as pros, to give back,” said Isner, who will be playing in the New York tournament. “I want to see tennis in a healthier spot 10 years from now when I’m done playing than it is now. You want to give back as much as you can.”

However, Isner is still very much a contender on the ATP World Tour. And for a moment, his 2017 season appeared destined for a dream ending. But suddenly it came to a halt. 

The 6’10” American saved a match point in the Round of 16 at the Rolex Paris Masters to upset eventual Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov before beating arguably the hottest player on the ATP World Tour, Juan Martin del Potro, in the quarter-finals. Isner was just two wins away from clinching his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title and with that his first berth in the season finale at The O2. But despite winning six more points than his opponent, his year came to an end in a stunning semi-final defeat at the hands of world No. 77 Filip Krajinovic in a third-set tie-break.

“I did finish the year well but I also finished on a very, very tough loss, so that was tough to get over,” Isner admitted. “It took some time, but I did know I had some more important things in my life to look forward to outside of tennis so [I was] very happy to put that behind me.”

In fact, he had one of the highlights of his life to look forward to: Isner got married to Madison McKinley on 2 December.

“Standing up there and saying our vows was pretty surreal,” Isner said. “When we got engaged, you picture that moment but you can’t put yourself in that situation. It’s sort of like practising for tennis. You can practise, practise, practise. But when it comes time to play a big match, you can’t really replicate that at all.”

It was a spectacular moment for the No. 17 player in the Emirates ATP Rankings, who was thrilled to have friends and family — many from his tennis ‘family’ including Sam Querrey, Steve Johnson and others — attend in South Carolina. “The wedding was amazing; it was honestly the most amazing wedding I’ve ever been to and will probably ever go to,” Querrey said.

Isner believes that entering the new season as a married man will only help his performance on the court.

“I’m a lot happier now being married than I was even being engaged,” Isner said. “I think that’s a good thing so I try to keep that in perspective — that I’m a happily married man and just enjoying that aspect of my life. It’s a very big step, so I think for my tennis career it’s going to be a boon for sure.”

And while the newlyweds spent a week in Mustique — a small island that is part of the Grenadines — for their honeymoon, it is back to work for Isner as he prepares for 2018.

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“I do feel like I’m a little bit behind, but obviously I’ve had some more important things to take care of,” Isner said. “I haven’t been on the court as much as I would like but I don’t feel like I’m too rusty and I’ve stayed in good shape. That’s the most important thing for me every offseason — to keep getting stronger, get my body feeling better and I think I’ve done that very well so far, so I’ve just got to focus on the tennis.”

And despite a devastating season-ending loss for Isner, he did accomplish one major goal: the right-hander finished the season inside the Top 20 for the eighth consecutive year. The American also led the ATP World Tour in aces (1,123) for the fifth time since 2010.

“I think that [finishing in the Top 20] is something that can motivate me for 2018 as well. To really keep putting together these consistent results is pretty impressive in my opinion,” Isner said. “I want to keep doing that, but I do believe I can do even better than that as well.”

The 32-year-old, who made three Masters 1000 semi-finals this year, can do that by getting off to a fast start — he did not win back-to-back matches until May in 2017. But Isner is not putting extra pressure on himself to rocket up the Emirates ATP Rankings immediately. 

“If I have some good results, yeah, my ranking could go up,” Isner said. “But I need to be consistent throughout the whole year.”

Isner will be able to make strides toward that with a strong performance early in the year at the new ATP World Tour 250 event on Long Island: the New York Open.

“I think it’s very cool. It’s going to be a very unique venue. It’s going to be much more intimate in February versus September in Flushing Meadows,” Isner said. “I think the players love coming to the city. I do as well. So I think this event is going to be awesome and can’t wait to get it going in February.”

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Roger Federer wins 2017 BBC Overseas Sports Personality award for record fourth time

  • Posted: Dec 15, 2017
BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2017
Date: Sunday, 17 December Time: 18:45 GMT Venue: Echo Arena, Liverpool Coverage: BBC One, Radio 5 live, BBC Sport website

Tennis star Roger Federer has won the BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year for a record fourth time after a public vote.

The 36-year-old Swiss topped the poll ahead of five other shortlisted nominees.

Federer became the first man to win Wimbledon eight times and extended his record to 19 Grand Slam titles in 2017.

Boxer Muhammad Ali and athlete Usain Bolt are the only other people to have won the BBC award three times.

Federer said: “It makes me incredibly proud that the UK public have chosen me as the BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year.

“The support that the UK crowds give me whenever I’m here is amazing, and to be recognised on the shortlist alongside some of the greatest sportspeople of all time is extremely humbling.”

He was shortlisted by an expert panel this year alongside Tom Brady (American football), Katie Ledecky (swimming), Tatyana McFadden (Para-athletics), Sally Pearson (athletics) and Michael van Gerwen (darts).

  • Voting terms and conditions

At 35, victory over Croatia’s Marin Cilic made Federer the oldest man in the Open era to claim the Wimbledon singles title.

Earlier in the year, he returned from six months off to recover from a knee injury and won the Australian Open with a five-sets victory in the Melbourne final over old rival Rafael Nadal.

The overseas award will be part of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony which takes place at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on Sunday and is broadcast live on BBC One from 18:45 GMT.

A year in stats

  • Titles: 7
  • Grand Slams: 2
  • Aces served: 550
  • Service games won: 91%
  • First serve points won: 80%
Recent Overseas Personality winners
2017: Roger Federer (tennis) 2010: Rafael Nadal (tennis)
2016: Simone Biles (gymnastics) 2009: Usain Bolt (athletics)
2015: Dan Carter (rugby union) 2008: Usain Bolt (athletics)
2014: Cristiano Ronaldo (football) 2007: Roger Federer (tennis)
2013: Sebastian Vettel (Formula 1) 2006: Roger Federer (tennis)
2012: Usain Bolt (athletics) 2005: Shane Warne (cricket)
2011: Novak Djokovic (tennis) 2004: Roger Federer (tennis)

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