Dominic Thiem won the biggest clay-court title of his career, Roger Federer climbed the ATP Race To London and the clay-court ATP Masters 1000 season kicked off at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, which brought plenty of surprises. ATPTour.com remembers five of the most-read stories from the month of April.
1. Thiem Hands Nadal First-Ever Barcelona SF, 27 April
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Dominic Thiem stuck to his aggressive game plan against Rafael Nadal to beat the 11-time Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell champion 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday and reach the ATP 500 final.
It’s the fourth time in as many years Thiem has beaten Nadal on clay, and the first time Nadal has lost in the semi-finals or finals of his home tournament. The Spaniard had been 22-0 in matches and 46-1 in sets during Barcelona semi-finals and finals.
But Thiem, who was the only player to beat Nadal on clay in 2017 and 2018, played fearlessly once more against the top seed, pinning the Spaniard behind the baseline and pounding inside-out forehands. He joined Novak Djokovic as the only players to have beaten Nadal on clay four times.
“I’m always super proud if I beat him because he’s the best player ever on this surface, and it’s always very special to beat him here on clay. We always had great matches in the past, and also today was very good and I was more lucky today and I got the win,” Thiem said.
2. Federer Passes Djokovic For Lead In ATP Race To London, 1 April
Age is just a number, right?
It certainly seems that way for 37-year-old Roger Federer. Thanks to his victory at the Miami Open presented by Itau, Federer now leads the ATP Race To London, taking a 55-point lead over second-placed Novak Djokovic.
Entering the ‘March Masters’ — the first two ATP Masters 1000 tournaments of the year in Indian Wells and Miami — Federer sat in ninth place in the Race with 680 points, having just moved up 39 spots thanks to his triumph at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, an ATP 500 event. The Swiss star has made a giant leap since, first earning 600 points for his runner-up showing in the California desert and then adding 1,000 points on Sunday after lifting his 28th Masters 1000 title in Miami.
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3. Fognini Beats Lajovic To Win Monte-Carlo Title, 21 April
Fabio Fognini became the first Italian to win an ATP Masters 1000 title on Sunday at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, defeating Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 38 minutes.
“I’m really, really happy. Nothing to say,” Fognini said. “I have to keep calm, maybe take a shower, relax, and think about this because it’s something incredible.”
The 13th seed converted four of five break points to become the lowest seeded player to lift the trophy since fellow No. 13 seed Gustavo Kuerten’s title run in 1999. Fognini will rise to a career-high No. 12 when the latest ATP Rankings are published on Monday.
“I just feel happy because I won a big tournament that was always my goal in my career,” Fognini said. “I think everybody, when you’re growing up and you start and you decide to play tennis, you are dreaming to win a big tournament. We are talking about a Masters .”
4. Djokovic, Nadal Face Challenging Monte-Carlo Draws, 12 April
The old adage of “one match at a time” couldn’t apply more heavily to this year’s Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters draw. While some fans may be looking ahead to a championship clash between top seed Novak Djokovic and second seed Rafael Nadal, their draws have plenty of obstacles to clear once main draw action starts on Sunday in the first clay-court ATP Masters 1000 event of the year.
“This has always been a very special place for me,” said Nadal during the draw ceremony. “I watched all of the great champions here as a kid, so it was always a dream for me to be here.”
5. Federer, Djokovic React To ATP Finals Moving To Turin, 24 April
The announcement that Turin, Italy, will host the ATP Finals from 2021-2025 has been met with excitement from the biggest names in tennis. Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Kevin Anderson, Borna Coric and Fabio Fognini all expressed their support for the year-end championships moving to Pala Altipour Stadium, Italy’s biggest indoor sporting arena.
“Exciting new chapter for the ATP Tour,” wrote Federer on Facebook. Djokovic, World No. 1 and President of the ATP Player Council, said in a statement that the ATP Finals is “a tournament that has historically moved around and so I’m very excited to see it move to Turin from 2021. It’s still a few years away but I know that the players will be very excited to compete there, and I also hope to be part of what will be a very special event.”