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Challenger Dispatch: Pouille, Tsonga Descend On Bordeaux

  • Posted: May 04, 2019

Challenger Dispatch: Pouille, Tsonga Descend On Bordeaux

Veteran tennis writer Robert Davis provides an inside look at the ATP Challenger Tour through his series of dispatches. This week, he is in Bordeaux, France.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tommy Robredo are just finishing up their practice out on Court 1, while Lucas Pouille and Adrian Mannarino are waiting to go on. And I see that Nicolas Mahut and Jurgen Melzer are scheduled to follow them. From the looks of the players’ names in the draw you might have thought this is an ATP Tour event and not an ATP Challenger.

This week we are at the Club Villa Primrose in Bordeaux, France. The Villa Primrose first opened to tennis 122 years ago and is the oldest tennis club in France. The gathering spot of the club is the large outdoor deck overlooking Court 1. Members and guests are here milling around iron tables and wine casks stacked with plates of charcuterie, pate, fois gras and baskets of crusted bread.

Here in France, the men like to wear fancy scarves which they wrap, twist or tie around their necks while the women smoke skinny little cigarettes and discuss the latest in politics. Everyone seems to be sporting sunglasses and sipping glasses of champagne or Kir Royale. Back on Court 1, kids line the fences and call out- ‘Luca… Luca’ and ‘Manna… Manna’, hoping to get an autograph from Pouille or Mannarino.


Talking about nicknames, some Tour players are called by abbreviations of their name. Nicolas ‘Nico’ Mahut, Adrian ‘Manna’ Mannarino, Rafael ‘Rafa’ Nadal, and Jurgen ‘JoJo’ Melzer. While other players have nicknames based on their style of play. Like Fabrice ‘The Magician’ Santoro, Alexandr ‘The Dog’ Dolgopolov and Max ‘The Beast’ Mirnyi. But here in Bordeaux we have two players that might have the best nicknames of all time. Zhang ‘Flaming Dragon’ Ze, and Gong ‘The Dagger’ Mao Xin. And if that is not enough, when they play doubles together, the Chinese media dubs them ‘The Great Wall of Nanjing’, in reference to a 14th century wall built in their hometown.

The fact that the two Chinese players are here in Europe and not playing the ATP Challengers in Korea is interesting. It is no secret the Chinese love to gamble, and the Great Wall of Nanjing certainly rolled the dice this time deciding to stray far from home to play on clay and not on their native hard courts back in Asia.

“We just feel like to be one of the best doubles teams in the world, we need to play against the best,” says Zhang Ze. “I mean this week we get to practise with Mahut and Melzer. Unbelievable.”

Last year, Zhang Ze and Gong Mao Xin teamed up for seven ATP Challenger Tour doubles titles. This year, they became the first Chinese men to win a round in a grand slam main draw event when they made the second round of the Australian Open. With the Olympics looming, the Great Wall of Nanjing is going all in.

There is a French proverb that says, “One day you are drinking the wine and the next day you are picking the grapes.” That is a very appropriate for the life of a professional tennis player. Tennis is both kind and cruel to a player on any given day, and the pressure to win and defend has a way of humbling even the best players.

Viktor Troicki knows a bit about that. Back in 2006, Troicki reached a career-high ATP Ranking No. 12, but now he sits at No. 240. Today, I see a kinder, humbler Serbian tennis player in Troicki. Maybe it is getting married and having a child that has tempered his fire. There he is out on Court 8 with his long-time coach Jack Reader concentrating on lengthening his contact zone on his backhand drive, hitting balls tossed by Reader. Reader has been around for almost as long as the Club Villa Primrose and there is no denying the care factor coach and player have for each other.


Today is Labor Day and it feels appropriate to be in France where the French celebrate a day off from work better than anyone in the world. In addition to the ATP players on the courts, there is a massive kid’s clinic organised, plus a wheelchair tennis session. An exhibition scheduled on Centre Court with Michael Llodra, Mahut, Fabrice Santoro and Julian Benneteau doing the honors. And I see that Yannick Noah and his magnetic smile have arrived to join in the celebration. Then there is Tsonga signing autographs beside a court filled with disabled tennis players.

The sky is powder blue with big white cumulus clouds hovering so low you wonder if a good defensive lob would get lost up there. The sap is rising in the old oak trees that shade the club with bright green leaves and, heck, even the birds chirping in branches seem happy.  This is how a professional tennis is meant to be played.

At times this week, the Villa Primrose felt more like a home than a tennis club. Oak hardwood floors with buckled planks and a staircase that creaks when you walk up to what may have been a gym a century ago. The walls are adorned with hundreds of photographs of French tennis legends and cabinets are full of dusty old trophies. One gets the feeling that everyone who can play tennis, no matter their age or ability, is honoured here at the Club Villa Primrose. And judging by the players who came, they must feel the same.

ATP Challenger Tour 

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Shapovalov v. Felix Headlines Opening Day At Mutua Madrid Open; Read Preview

  • Posted: May 04, 2019

Shapovalov v. Felix Headlines Opening Day At Mutua Madrid Open; Read Preview

Kyrgios to play Struff on Sunday

#NextGenATP Canadians Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime are close friends off the court, but they’ll take the court as opponents on Sunday at the Mutua Madrid Open. Aussie Nick Kyrgios also headlines Day 1 against Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany.

Shapovalov won their only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting at last year’s US Open, which ended with Auger-Aliassime retiring in the third set due to cramping. Both men have established their clay-court prowess early in their careers. Shapovalov was a semi-finalist last year in Madrid and Auger-Aliassime reached his first ATP Tour final this February at the Rio Open presented by Claro (l. to Djere).

Kyrgios starts his clay-court season in Madrid after missing last year’s event due to injury. The Aussie has scored high-profile wins before in Madrid, including a second-round upset over then World No. 1 Roger Federer in 2015. Struff arrives in top form after reaching the quarter-finals two weeks ago at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.

Dominic Thiem of Austria, Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria and Karen Khachanov of Russia are among the top singles players to hit the doubles court on opening day. All seven final-round qualifying matches will also take place.


Four WTA matches

Not Before 7:00 pm
Denis Shapovalov (CAN) vs [WC] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN)

Qualifying – [3] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) vs [WC] Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) Marcelo Melo (BRA) vs [3] Bob Bryan (USA) / Mike Bryan (USA)

Not Before 12:30 pm
Nick Kyrgios (AUS) vs Jan-Lennard Struff (GER)
Three WTA matches

STADIUM 3 start 11:00 am
Qualifying – [7] Taylor Fritz (USA) vs Marius Copil (ROU)
Two WTA matches

Not Before 4:00 pm
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) / Karen Khachanov (RUS) vs [4] Juan Sebastian Cabal (COL) / Robert Farah (COL)
[WC] David Marrero (ESP) / Fernando Verdasco (ESP) vs Diego Schwartzman (ARG) / Dominic Thiem (AUT)

COURT 4 start 11:00 am
Three WTA matches
Qualifying – [1] Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) vs [11] Robin Haase (NED)
WTA match

COURT 6 start 11:00 am
Two WTA matches
Qualifying – Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) vs [8] Reilly Opelka (USA)
Qualifying – [5] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) vs [9] Martin Klizan (SVK)
WTA match

COURT 7 start 11:00 am
Two WTA matches
Qualifying – Guido Andreozzi (ARG) vs Hugo Dellien (BOL)
Two WTA matches

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Nadal Visits Museo Del Prado For Madrid Opening Ceremony

  • Posted: May 04, 2019

Nadal Visits Museo Del Prado For Madrid Opening Ceremony

Second seed aiming to lift sixth title in Spanish capital

Rafael Nadal attended the official opening ceremony of the Mutua Madrid Open on Friday, held at the world-famous Museo del Prado art museum.

The five-time champion was joined by fellow Spanish No. 1 Garbine Muguruza and Tournament Director Feliciano Lopez for a special night at the museum, which celebrates its bicentenary this year. Accompanied by Miguel Falomir Faus, director of the Museo del Prado, Nadal enjoyed a guided tour of one of the world’s most visited collections of art and posed for photos with Spanish artist Diego Velázquez’s best-known masterpieces.

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Nadal will open his Mutua Madrid Open campaign against one of two #NextGenATP Canadians: Denis Shapovalov or Felix Auger-Aliassime. The Manacor native shares the bottom half of the draw with defending champion Alexander Zverev, with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and three-time winner Roger Federer occupying the top half.

Nadal owns a 49-11 record at the ATP Masters 1000 event. The 32-year-old has reached the final in Madrid on eight occasions (5-3), with his most recent final appearance coming in 2017 when he defeated Dominic Thiem to lift a record fifth title at the Caja Magica.

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Madrid Throwback: Relive Nadal v. Djokovic 2009 SF Classic

  • Posted: May 04, 2019

Madrid Throwback: Relive Nadal v. Djokovic 2009 SF Classic

Ten years later, both men are the top two seeds in Madrid

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have faced off 53 times in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry, but their 2009 Mutua Madrid Open semi-final remains one of their most memorable matches.

Nadal prevailed 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(9) in what was the longest three-set match in ATP Masters 1000 history at four hours and three minutes. Djokovic won more points on the day (125 to 120), but the Spaniard bravely saved three match points at 5/6, 6/7 and 8/9 in the final-set tie-break.

“In a game like that with so many match points I think you need luck to win,” said Nadal after the match. “But I played with great courage and I think everything went well for me.”

The pair are in opposite halves of this year’s draw in Madrid as the top two seeds. World No. 1 Djokovic starts Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov or a qualifier, while Nadal will face a Canadian #NextGenATP player in Felix Auger-Aliassime or 2018 semi-finalist Denis Shapovalov.

You May Also Like: Djokovic, Federer & Nadal Lead Packed Race Into ‘Moving Season’

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Tsitsipas Shows Toughness To Oust Goffin, Reach Estoril Final

  • Posted: May 04, 2019

Tsitsipas Shows Toughness To Oust Goffin, Reach Estoril Final

#NextGenATP Greek to face lucky loser Cuevas for the trophy

#NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas will try to win his third ATP Tour title on Sunday after defeating 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up David Goffin 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday to reach the final of the Millennium Estoril Open.

World No. 10 Tsitsipas, who was 44th in the ATP Rankings at this time last year, had to battle hard against the fourth-seeded wild card, breaking the Belgian’s serve five times to triumph after two hours and 18 minutes in what was a physical battle. 

“I fought very hard and gave my soul out on the court, which is the biggest pleasure in this sport,” Tsitsipas said. 

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Seven of the match’s 10 service breaks came in the second set. But Tsitsipas was in danger of going down a break early in the decider, serving at 1-2. The reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion faced a 0/40 deficit, but after hitting a big serve that elicited an error and two Goffin unforced forehand errors, he was able to hold onto his serve. And although Goffin saved two break points at 4-4 with strong aggressive play with his forehand, he missed another one to give Tsitsipas the decisive break.

“I was saying to myself while returning that I needed to stay aggressive, I needed to press as much as I could because otherwise I had no other option. I could not win this match by playing defensive tennis,” Tsitsipas said. “I had to turn the whole thing around and start playing aggressive, risking a little bit more and I think at the end it paid off.

Tsitsipas has 22 wins this season, which is second-most on the ATP Tour behind only Daniil Medvedev (25). He is the second No. 1 seed in this tournament’s history to reach the final, after Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta triumphed two years ago. It will be Tsitsipas’ second clay-court ATP Tour final, also making it to the championship match in Barcelona last year (l. to Nadal).

“Clay is one of my favourite surfaces. It would be lovely to have a title on this surface,” Tsitsipas said. “Estoril is just an amazing place, so it would mean even more owning something here.”

Goffin falls just short of reaching his first final since the championship match at The O2 two years ago, but he will take confidence from pushing the reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion in a back-and-forth match. The 28-year-old has lost both of his ATP Tour semi-finals this year against Tsitsipas, with his first defeat coming on an indoor hard court in Marseille.

In the final Tsitsipas will face Uruguayan veteran Pablo Cuevas, who ousted #NextGenATP Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

“It’s a special week. I finished in Budapest last Friday, took a flight early Saturday, played [here] in the afternoon. I lost on Sunday [in qualies], but had a chance to get in as a lucky loser,” Cuevas said. “I’ve had a good experience, and I’m happy to be in the final.”

Cuevas fell in the final round of qualifying to Italian Salvatore Caruso. But the six-time ATP Tour titlist avenged that defeat in the first round of the main draw and has not looked back since, reaching his first final since 2017 Sao Paulo.

It was not easy against Davidovich Fokina, though. The #NextGenATP Spaniard, who began the week without a tour-level win, pulled out his full bag of tricks, with plenty of drop shots and lobs, to take the lead. But Cuevas’ physical play began to wear the teenager down, and the Uruguayan showed his hot shot capabilities as well, hitting a behind-the-back lob in the second set to stay in a point that he eventually won to break serve.

“He’s a good player. He’s so talented and so fast. But I think he was a little bit tired,” Cuevas said. “He’s dangerous. He hits good winners with the forehand, with the backhand, the drop shot and everything. I just stayed in the match, ran a lot and in the last set I took the opportunity.”

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Roger Federer's 10 Memorable Moments On Clay

  • Posted: May 04, 2019

Roger Federer’s 10 Memorable Moments On Clay remembers Federer’s key clay-court moments as he returns to the surface for the first time in three years at the Mutua Madrid Open

Some fans thought it would never happen again, but next week, Roger Federer will make his return to the European clay courts at the Mutua Madrid Open.

The 37-year-old skipped the past two clay-court seasons to give his body more time to rest and to prepare for the grass-court swing. But the Swiss will play at least two clay-court events this year, Madrid and Roland Garros, returning to the surface where, despite his lack of recent match play, he has been one of his generation’s best performers.

You May Also Like: Mutua Madrid Open: When Is The Draw & More

I’m at a moment where I think it would be nice to do it,” Federer said in January when he announced his decision. “I can say I have missed it. I did the right thing skipping it last year, the year before as well, and the year before that I was injured. So I felt I wanted to do it again.”

Federer last played on clay on 12 May 2016 at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, where he lost in straight sets to then No. 15 Dominic Thiem. But Federer missed Roland Garros that year due to injury after 65 consecutive Grand Slam appearances.

To mark Federer’s return to the red dirt, takes a look back and remembers 10 of his key clay-court moments.

10. 2015 TEB BNP Paribas Open final, Federer d. Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 7-6(11)
The inaugural TEB BNP Paribas Open in Istanbul had the dream top seed and the dream champion. Federer swept the ATP 250 event, surviving two three-set battles with Spain’s Daniel Gimeno-Traver and Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman before beating Pablo Cuevas in the final.

His Istanbul title on 3 May 2015 remains his most recent triumph on clay. Federer has 11 clay-court titles (11-15 in finals), good enough for fourth among active players, and only two behind World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Spanish legend David Ferrer, who is retiring after Madrid.

Active Clay-Court Title Leaders



Rafael Nadal


Novak Djokovic


David Ferrer


Roger Federer


Tommy Robredo


9. 2002 Hamburg European Open final, Federer d. Marat Safin 6-1, 6-3, 6-4
Before Federer won Wimbledon or any grass-court title, he triumphed on clay and at the ATP Masters 1000 level. Federer won the Hamburg tournament when it was still a Masters 1000 event for only his third tour-level title.

The Swiss, then No. 14 in the ATP Rankings, beat No. 5 Marat Safin of Russia in the final, but in the quarter-finals, Federer gained one of his biggest clay-court wins, upsetting No. 7 Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil. It would be Federer’s only FedEx ATP Head2Head win against ‘Guga’ (1-2, all on clay), a former No. 1 and three-time Roland Garros champion.

Federer has since added 27 more Masters 1000 crowns, including his most recent at the Miami Open presented by Itau in March (d. Isner).

8. 2006 Internazionali BNL d’Italia final, Rafael Nadal d. Federer 6-7(0), 7-6(5), 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(5)
Federer and Nadal have played 32 matches since they met in the 2006 Rome final. Yet the five-set contest that lasted more than five hours remains one of their greatest clashes.

Nadal had beaten Federer three weeks earlier at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, but Federer took an early lead by blanking the Spaniard in the first-set tie-break. Three sets of back-and-forth tennis followed, but Federer appeared on the rise as he led by a break, 4-1, in the fifth set. Nadal broke back but Federer still had two championship points on Nadal’s serve at 5-6, 15/40.

Read More: Rafa v. Roger: The Match That Cemented Their Rivalry

Two missed forehands, however, would help Nadal force a tie-break, where he beat Federer for the third time in 2006 and for the fifth time in six FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings.

I had a couple of match points. I pulled the trigger too early and ended up losing the match,” Federer said in 2011. “But I think the crowds were fantastic. I definitely played some of the best attacking tennis on clay I could play. He defends so well and makes you doubt.”

Watch Highlights From The 2006 Rome Classic

7. 2009 Mutua Madrid Open final, Federer d. Nadal 6-4, 6-4
Rafael Nadal was nearly unbeatable on clay. The Spaniard had won 33 consecutive clay-court matches, and had been 150-4 during his past 154 matches on the surface.

But Federer picked up more confidence against the Spaniard on clay by winning his first title of the season and his 15th Masters 1000 crown, tying Nadal’s tally. The Swiss broke Nadal once in each set, and more than doubled Nadal’s winner count (25 to 12). The Spaniard fought well despite having played a four-hour semi-final with Djokovic the day prior.

Federer and Nadal’s rivalry was still in its early stages, yet it was already the 16th time they had met in a final. Nadal led their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 13-7.

The confidence boost Federer gained in Madrid would prove vital weeks later at Roland Garros. Nadal, a four-time defending champion, fell to Swede Robin Soderling in the fourth round, and Federer, in his fourth final, won his first Roland Garros, completing the Career Grand Slam.

6. Federer’s Overall Success On Clay: Third-Best Win Percentage Among Active Players
Federer’s time on clay has been dominated by his rivalry with Nadal – and the Spaniard’s success in that FedEx ATP Head2Head series. But Nadal’s record against Federer on clay (13-2) has overshadowed the Swiss’ own impressive marks on the red dirt.

Federer has won 76 per cent of his matches on clay, third-best among active players.

Best Clay-Court Win Percentage Among Active Players


Win Percentage

Win/Loss Record

Rafael Nadal



Novak Djokovic



Roger Federer



5. Federer’s Best Years On Clay: 2005-09
Federer is 214-68 lifetime on clay, but he played his best tennis on clay from 2005-09, going 86-14, which includes his 2-9 record against Nadal. If you remove those 11 matches against the all-time great, the Swiss was 84-5 (.944) against everyone else.

Federer From 2005-09
2005: 15-2 (0-1 vs. Nadal)
2006: 16-3 (0-3 vs. Nadal)
2007: 16-3 (1-2 vs. Nadal)
2008: 21-4 (0-3 vs. Nadal)
2009: 18-2 (1-0 vs. Nadal)

4. 2007 Hamburg European Open final, Federer d. Nadal 2-6, 6-2, 6-0
The odds were stacked against Federer winning his fourth Hamburg title. The 20-year-old Nadal had won 81 consecutive matches on clay, was 5-0 against Federer on the red dirt and had already celebrated four tour-level titles in 2007. Nadal also had won 13 straight clay-court crowns.

The Spaniard raced to a 6-2 lead, putting him within a set of more perfection. Nadal was pouncing on short balls and broke Federer twice. But the Swiss regained momentum by breaking early in the second, and he raced through the third to win his 13th Masters 1000 title (fourth on clay). It was Federer’s first title in five tournaments, snapping his worst slump since becoming No. 1 in February 2004.

If I had to lose to anyone, Roger is the man,” said Nadal said, who avenged the loss in the Roland Garros final, beating Federer in four sets for the second consecutive year.

3. 2011 Roland Garros Semi-final, Federer d. Novak Djokovic 7-6(5), 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5)
Novak Djokovic was having one of the best starts to a season in history. The Serbian had won 43 consecutive matches, including title runs at the Australian Open (his second) and four Masters 1000 events – Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Rome – to bring his title tally at the elite level to nine. Wins against Federer accounted for three of his 43 victories.

Djokovic also had beaten Federer in their past two Grand Slam semi-finals. But at Roland Garros, Federer, who hadn’t reached a clay-court final yet that season, ended Djokovic’s reign to reach his fifth Roland Garros championship.

Federer faced Nadal in the final for the fourth time in six years, but the Swiss fell short of his second Paris title, losing in four. The Spaniard beat Federer for the sixth time in eight Grand Slam finals and matched Bjorn Borg’s all-time Roland Garros title haul with six.

2. Federer’s Four Consecutive Roland Garros Finals
Federer fell short in three of them, but the consistency he showed by reaching four consecutive Roland Garros finals puts him in select company. Only four other players since 1924 have reached four or more consecutive Roland Garros title matches.

Consecutive Roland Garros Final Appearances

Final Appearances




Rene Lacoste



Rafael Nadal



Bjorn Borg



Roger Federer



Ivan Lendl



Rafael Nadal


1. 2009 Roland Garros final, Federer d. Robin Soderling 6-1, 7-6(1), 6-4
The external pressure was growing, and the questions seemed louder every year: When would Roger Federer complete the Career Grand Slam by winning Roland Garros?

The 2009 season hardly seemed like the year. Federer was moved to tears after his Australian Open final loss to Nadal, and the Swiss didn’t win a title until the Mutua Madrid Open in May, beating Nadal for the Masters 1000 crown.

Roland Garros started rough as well. Federer fell behind two sets to none against German Tommy Haas in the fourth round, but recovered in a sprint to the finish 6-7(4), 5-7, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2. In the semi-finals, Federer faced more trouble, going down two sets to one against Juan Martin del Potro before again finding his way out of danger.

Federer had reached his fourth consecutive Roland Garros final. But for the first time, someone other than Rafael Nadal was waiting, and Federer seized his moment. The Swiss beat Nadal’s conqueror, Sweden’s Robin Soderling, becoming at the time only the sixth player to complete the Career Grand Slam, joining Fred Perry (1935), Don Budge (1938), Rod Laver (1962), Roy Emerson (1964) and Andre Agassi (1999).

The missing hardware in his trophy case was no more, and the questions about when or if Federer would win Roland Garros ended.

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Konta beaten in first clay-court final despite leading by set & break

  • Posted: May 04, 2019

British number one Johanna Konta missed out on her first WTA clay-court title after Greece’s Maria Sakkari fought back to win the Morocco Open.

Konta led by a set and a break before Sakkari won 10 of the final 11 games to seal a 2-6 6-4 6-1 victory in Rabat.

Britain’s two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist served strongly in the opening set before unforced errors crept in.

Sakkari sealed her first WTA title with a forehand winner on her second championship point.

The 23-year-old fell on her back on the red clay before kissing the surface in celebration after being congratulated at the net by Konta.

More to follow.

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Djokovic, Federer & Nadal Lead Packed Race Into 'Moving Season'

  • Posted: May 04, 2019

Djokovic, Federer & Nadal Lead Packed Race Into ‘Moving Season’

Only 850 points separate No. 1 Djokovic and sixth-placed Medvedev in the Race

It is still early in 2019, but with the top of the ATP Race To London as tight as ever at this point of the year, ‘moving season’ will be even more important.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who is trying to finish year-end No. 1 in the ATP Rankings for a record-tying sixth time (also Pete Sampras), currently leads the Race with 2,405 points, mostly thanks to his victory at the Australian Open (2,000 points). But with a maximum of 6,000 points available at four tournaments alone from the Mutua Madrid Open through Wimbledon (Madrid, Rome, Roland Garros, Wimbledon), there will be plenty of opportunities for players to stake their claim for the top spot or make a move to position themselves to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals.

The gap between first-placed Djokovic (2,405) and sixth-placed Daniil Medvedev (1,555) is just 850 points. In recent years, it has not been nearly that close.

ATP Race To London Standings

 Player  Points
 1. Novak Djokovic  2,405
 2. Roger Federer  2,280
 3. Rafael Nadal  2,145
 4. Dominic Thiem  1,735
 5. Stefanos Tsitsipas  1,595
 6. Daniil Medvedev  1,555

*Standings as of 29 April 2019
Last year before Madrid, Race leader Roger Federer led second-placed Juan Martin del Potro by 990 points. In 2017, first-placed Federer led No. 2 Nadal by 2,455 points. In 2015 and 2016 the gap between the first two players in the Race was 2,715 and 2,690 points, respectively. So whereas there is typically a bigger gap at the top of the Race, one big tournament can make a major difference for a number of the ATP Tour’s stars.

Closely following current Race leader Djokovic are Miami champion Federer (2,280), Monte-Carlo and Barcelona semi-finalist Nadal (2,145), Indian Wells titlist Dominic Thiem (1,735), reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas (1,595) and Medvedev (1,555).

A year ago, three of those players made a significant charge during ‘moving season’ from Madrid through Wimbledon. Nadal added 3,900 points to climb from third place to top spot in the Race. Djokovic, who entered Madrid 76th in the Race, earned 3,065 points to ascend to fifth place. Thiem, who made the final at Madrid and Roland Garros, added 1,980 points to charge from 11th to sixth.

Notable Points Earned From Madrid Through Wimbledon (2018)

 Player  Points
 Novak Djokovic  3,065
 Rafael Nadal  3,900
 Alexander Zverev  2,050
 Roger Federer  990
 Dominic Thiem  1,980

What will give some of the Race’s leaders confidence is that not only are there a lot of points up for grabs over the next two months, but they are already significantly ahead of where they were last year.

Djokovic might not have advanced past the quarter-finals in his past three tournaments, but he still has 2,405 points in the Race, which is 2,115 points more than he had at this point last season. Thiem has 720 more points compared to last year and Tsitsipas has 914 more points.

Federer will also have a big chance to make a move as he gets set to compete on clay for the first time since 2016. The Swiss is scheduled to play clay-court events at Madrid and Roland Garros instead of just competing on grass ahead of the North American hard-court swing.

This stretch will also give players who are off to a slower start this season a chance to claw their way back into Race contention. Reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev, after losing in the Munich quarter-finals, has just 690 points this year. But in 2018 he claimed 2,050 points from Madrid through Wimbledon. Marin Cilic is trying to reach London for the fifth time, but he is currently 82nd in the Race with 245 points.

The top of the Race may be open now. But after ‘moving season’, the charge for year-end No. 1 should become clearer.

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