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Top Five #NextGenATP Moments From 2018

  • Posted: Dec 20, 2018

Top Five #NextGenATP Moments From 2018

ATP Tour Season In Review: Five Best #NextGenATP Moments In 2018

Continuing our Season In Review series, looks at the top five #NextGenATP moments from 2018.

5. Denis Shapovalov makes the Mutua Madrid Open semi-finals
By May, Canada’s top #NextGenATP star Denis Shapovalov was, without a doubt, a known commodity. In 2017, he became the youngest ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-finalist at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal, made the fourth round of the US Open and qualified for the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals.

And in 2018, his historic efforts didn’t slow down. In Madrid, Shapovalov, who had zero ATP World Tour clay-court wins before the tournament, beat countryman Milos Raonic and Brit Kyle Edmund, who had reached the Australian Open semi-finals months earlier.

Shapovalov, in reaching his second Masters 1000 semi-final, became the youngest semi-finalist in Mutua Madrid Open history. The 19-year-old left-hander finished 2018 by cutting his year-end ranking nearly in half, from No. 51 to No. 27.

Watch Hot Shot: Shapovalov Rips Backhand Winner Past Raonic In Madrid

4. Frances Tiafoe wins maiden tour-level title at the Delray Beach Open
Frances Tiafoe grew up idolising Juan Martin del Potro. The Argentine was the first player to sign a ball for Tiafoe when he was a boy attending the Citi Open in Washington, D.C.

But at the Delray Beach Open in February, Tiafoe blocked all of that aside and upset the second seed en route to the best week of his career. Tiafoe beat Aussie Matthew Ebden, Del Potro, 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hyeon Chung, Shapovalov and Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk to win his maiden ATP World Tour title.

And to think, the American almost didn’t even have a spot at the ATP World Tour 250-level event. Tiafoe forgot to sign up by the entry deadline, but the tournament gave him a wild card, and both parties were pleased they did. Tiafoe went onto make his debut at the Next Gen ATP Finals and finish at a personal year-end best No. 39 in the ATP Rankings.

Watch Highlights: Tiafoe Wins First Title In Delray Beach

3. Stefanos Tsitsipas wins the Next Gen ATP Finals on debut
At the start of the year, neither player was in the Top 90 of the ATP Rankings, hardly making them favourites to reach the title match of the Next Gen ATP Finals, where eight of the world’s best 21-and-under players finish their seasons in Milan. But Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece and Aussie Alex de Minaur were two of the most improved players on tour in 2018, and they showed their elevated games all week at the Fiera Milano.

Read More: Tsitsipas Named Most Improved Player Of The Year

Tsitsipas and De Minaur both reached the final bidding for a perfect 5-0 week. But Tsitsipas, behind some of his best serving all season, overpowered the 19-year-old Aussie in the highly-pressurised environment 2-4, 4-1, 4-3(3), 4-3(3). Tsitsipas won 72 per cent of his service points (54/72), and outhit the scrappy De Minaur, who saved seven of eight break points.

On match point, Tsitsipas fell to the ground, his hands shielding his eyes. It was almost as if the 20-year-old couldn’t believe the transformation he’d undergone in the past 12 months. At the 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals, Tsitsipas, then No. 87, was an alternate in the eight-man field. But this year, he was the champion.

Watch Highlights: Tsitsipas Beats De Minaur For Milan Title

2. Alex de Minaur starts strong Down Under
You could not have blamed tennis fans, even those living in Australia, for thinking it might be a couple years before Alex de Minaur made his march to the Top 50 of the ATP Rankings. In January, the 18-year-old was ranked No. 208, and, although he won his first tour-level matches in Australia in 2017, he had experienced little success away from his home continent. 

But mentor and former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt kept telling De Minaur to believe in himself, that he had the game to compete with the best. De Minaur made Hewitt look like a smart man during all of 2018, and it started with his win over former World No. 3 Milos Raonic at the Brisbane International in January.

De Minaur had been 0-2 against Top 40 opponents, but he routed Raonic 6-4, 6-4 in front of thousands of proud Aussies for back-to-back tour-level wins (d. No. 44 Steve Johnson in first round).

De Minaur would go onto make the Brisbane International semi-finals and the Sydney International final (l. to Medvedev). By the end of 2018, he’d make the biggest jump in the Top 50, finishing the 2018 season at No. 31 and as the top-ranked Aussie. The Sydney native was also voted by his peers as the ATP Newcomer of the Year in the 2018 ATP World Tour Awards Presented By Moët & Chandon.

Watch Feature: Hewitt Belief In De Minaur Paying Off

1. Stefanos Tsitsipas makes history in Toronto
Greece’s #NextGenATP star Stefanos Tsitsipas had enjoyed big wins before the Rogers Cup in August, including when he made the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell final in April. But never before had the right-hander turned in such a week like he did at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Canada.

His best week started by beating No. 8 Dominic Thiem and was followed by his three-set win against Novak Djokovic, who was fresh off his fourth Wimbledon – and 13th Grand Slam – title. Yet the Serbian was broken in the second game of the final set and never recovered, as Tsitsipas moved into his first Masters 1000 quarter-final.

Watch Highlights: Tsitsipas Surprises Djokovic With Dropper

The firsts would only keep coming. Next, Tsitsipas avenged his straight-sets loss to Alexander Zverev at the Citi Open only a week earlier by saving two match points and hitting 28 winners – 18 from his forehand – in their quarter-final. Zverev served for the match at 6-3, 5-3, but Tsitsipas broke and erased both match points in the tie-break and advanced 3-6, 7-6(11), 6-4.

In the semi-finals, Tsitsipas came back from a set down once more, beating Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(7) before falling to No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the final. Tsitsipas would finish the season No. 15 in the ATP Rankings and with the Nitto ATP Finals in mind as a 2019 goal.


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Andy Murray will head early to Brisbane for latest planned return to action

  • Posted: Dec 20, 2018

Andy Murray is preparing to travel to Australia with his first match in three months potentially 11 days away.

The Brisbane International starts the 2019 season on 31 December.

Murray only played six tournaments this year and wants plenty of time to acclimatise and prepare as he continues his recovery from hip surgery.

The former world number one said on social media: “I’m planning to get to Brisbane pretty early – probably a week before the start of the tournament.”

Murray was due to make his third appearance in Brisbane a year ago, having been sidelined with a hip injury since Wimbledon 2017.

But the 31-year-old Scot instead had surgery in January and his recovery subsequently curtailed his 2018 season as he stands at 257 in the world rankings.

  • Murray to use protected ranking in Melbourne

He could face the likes of world number two Rafael Nadal or home favourite Nick Kyrgios in the early stages at the Queensland Tennis Centre, where the first round will be played on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Fellow Briton Kyle Edmund is also poised to be in the field along with Grigor Dimitrov, Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Daniil Medvedev.

Double Wimbledon champion Murray ended his competitive season early in September, when he pulled out of the China Open, in order to prepare for the Australian Open in Melbourne, which gets under way in mid-January.

Murray has undergone several weeks of reconditioning work in Philadelphia with American fitness specialist Bill Knowles, whose previous list of past clients includes Tiger Woods and Jonny Wilkinson.

More recently, he has had a training block in Miami, where he was pictured with former top-10 player Fernando Verdasco, who was one of his hitting partners.

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Clutch Kei: Nishikori Did This Better Than Federer, Djokovic and Nadal

  • Posted: Dec 20, 2018

Clutch Kei: Nishikori Did This Better Than Federer, Djokovic and Nadal

Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers shows how NIshikori stepped up big when he needed to in 2018

When was the toughest time to break Kei Nishikori in the 2018 season? Right after he just broke serve.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of the year-end Top 10 identified that Nishikori led this elite group by improving his hold percentage the most right after breaking serve compared to his 2018 season average.

You May Also Like: Better All The Time: Isner’s Mind-Boggling Serve Stats

Nishikori held 81.4 per cent (638/784) of the time in 2018, which was actually the lowest hold percentage out of the Top 10. But his hold percentage jumped a substantial 5.9 percentage points, to 87.3 per cent (151/173), in the ensuing service game right after breaking. Nobody improved as much as Nishikori did.

Eight of the players inside year-end Top 10 also improved holding in this specific situation, with only Roger Federer and Kevin Anderson unable to hold more after breaking serve than their season average.

Top 10: 2018 Season Average Holding Serve vs Right After Breaking Serve

ATP Ranking


Holding After Breaking Serve

Season Average Holding Serve

+/- Difference


Kei Nishikori





Alexander Zverev





Novak Djokovic





Rafael Nadal





Dominic Thiem





John Isner





Marin Cilic





Juan Martin del Potro





Roger Federer





Kevin Anderson




The player with the second highest improvement holding serve after breaking compared to his season average was Alexander Zverev, who had a 3.6 percentage-point jump. Zverev won the biggest title of his career at the Nitto ATP Finals in London last month, impressively holding serve seven out of eight times (88%) at The O2 right after breaking serve.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was in third place with a 3.3 percentage-point jump. Djokovic’s last title of 2018, a victory at the Rolex Shanghai Masters, saw the Serbian hold 100 per cent (13/13) of the time after breaking serve for the tournament.

Holding after breaking is all about cementing an advantage and building momentum as the match unfolds.

Editor’s Note: Craig O’Shannessy is a member of Novak Djokovic’s coaching team.

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Best Of 2018: ATP Heritage Review

  • Posted: Dec 20, 2018

Best Of 2018: ATP Heritage Review marked a number of milestones and historic anniversaries throughout 2018

Celebrating 50 Years Of Open Tennis
Fifty years ago, tennis was a non-commercial enterprise with amateur players receiving tournament expenses, often better than the living wage, and were still able to compete in the world’s leading tennis tournaments. Across the great divide, ever since the first pro tour in 1926, were a small band of former amateurs turned contract pros, who had been banished from the public spotlight and criss-crossed the globe in search of a pay cheque.

Over the course of one eventful decade, starting in the late 1950s, a handful of leading powerbrokers began to effect a change in the way the sport was promoted, for a free, shared market that led to the modern professional game of superstar athletes. On Monday, 22 April 1968, that all changed. Read Exclusive Feature

A Shared Dream: 50 Years Of Tennis In Washington, D.C.
The Citi Open celebrated its 50th edition this year with one of the best fields in the history of the ATP World Tour 500 tournament. While the muggy heat of Washington, D.C., which tests out every players’ physical conditioning, endures, back in 1969, in the infancy of Open tennis, when doors were — in some cases, reluctantly opened to amateur, contract and professional players — a small group of dedicated individuals took tennis out of the traditional country clubs to a racially integrated district of the city. The original tournament team was small in number and facilities at Rock Creek Park were far from world-class, as they are today. Read & Watch Exclusive Tribute


45 Years Of The ATP Rankings
The ATP Rankings were born on 23 August 1973. After quickly earning legitimacy and credibility, the Rankings have become an indispensable part of tennis accepted universally by players, tournaments and fans. Read Exclusive Feature

30 Years Of The Tour Born In A Parking Lot
Few tennis media conferences have resonated like ‘The Parking Lot Press Conference’, held 30 years ago on 30 August 1988, a seminal moment in ATP history. Read Exclusive Feature

Djokovic Completes Career Golden Masters & Match Wins Milestones

It took more than five years, but victory never tasted so sweet for Novak Djokovic. The Serbian etched his name in the history books on 19 August, clinching his first Western & Southern Open title. Five years after securing his eighth different ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown in Monte-Carlo, Djokovic completed the full set in Cincinnati, capturing the Career Golden Masters with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Roger Federer. Read & Watch Tribute

Djokovic also played the 1,000th tour-level match of his career on 13 October when he beat Alexander Zverev for a place in the Rolex Shanghai Masters final.

Federer & Mike Bryan Return To No. 1
By overtaking Nadal on 19 February at 36 years old, Federer became the oldest player to capture the No. 1 ATP Ranking since the Rankings were created in 1973. It had been five years and 106 days since the Swiss had previously held top spot, a record for longest time between stints atop tennis’ mountain.

At 40 years and 78 days old, Mike Bryan also became the oldest player to top the ATP Doubles Rankings on 16 July. While the American already owned the record for the most weeks atop those standings, Bryan has not let go of the spot since, and he has now spent 475 weeks as World No. 1.

More Milestones
Rafael Nadal (900), Djokovic (800) and Richard Gasquet and Fernando Verdasco (both 500) recorded match wins milestones in 2018, while 45-year-old Leander Paes notches 750 doubles victories.

John Isner struck his historic 10,000th ace in the fourth game of the deciding set in his quarter-final in Houston against compatriot Steve Johnson. The American became just the fourth player to join the elite group, which includes Ivo Karlovic, Roger Federer and Goran Ivanisevic.

You May Also Like: Novak, Rafa & Roger Lead 2018 Milestone Achievers

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