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Rivalries Of 2019: Tsitsipas vs. Nadal

  • Posted: Nov 26, 2019

Rivalries Of 2019: Tsitsipas vs. Nadal

ATP Tour Season In Review: Best Rivalries

Continuing our Season In Review series, revisits the fiercest rivalries of 2019. Today we feature Rafael Nadal vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, following his second consecutive loss to Rafael Nadal last year, had a plan, or at least the makings of a plan, on how to beat the Spaniard.

At the Rogers Cup in Toronto, the 19-year-old Greek had become the youngest player to beat four Top 10 players at an event since the ATP Tour began in 1990. But his streak stopped against Nadal, who spoiled Tsitsipas’ 20th birthday by winning his 33rd ATP Masters 1000 title.

“Bust my ass more on the court. Work more hours and become stronger and a more solid baseliner. And withstand pressures, physical pressures on the court that, to him, just seem like nothing special. That’s the big difference between my game and his game,” Tsitsipas said.

In 2019, he wouldn’t have to wait long to see if the plan had worked.

Australian Open, SF, Nadal d. Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-4, 6-0
The two renewed their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry in the semi-finals of the Australian Open in Melbourne. Tsitsipas had beaten Roger Federer in the fourth round and persevered in five sets against Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in the quarter-finals to make his first Grand Slam semi-final.

Nadal, meanwhile, had revamped his serve in the off-season and had yet to drop a set en route to the last four at the season’s first Slam. The offensive onslaught continued against Tsitsipas as Nadal rolled into his 25th major championship final by winning 80 per cent (49/61) of his service points and hitting 28 winners. Nadal also won the final nine games.

“I have been playing well during the whole event. Every match, more or less, I think I did a lot of things well. Tonight was another one. I played solid – with my serve, playing aggressive. Probably the backhand was better today than the rest of the days,” Nadal said.

A devastated Tsitsipas struggled to find reasons for optimism in their rivalry. “Honestly, I have no idea what I can take from that match,” he said. “It’s not that I was even close to [getting] something. I only got six games from that match.”


Mutua Madrid Open, SF, Tsitsipas d. Nadal 6-4, 2-6, 6-3
But the Greek would have his moment to cherish against Nadal on the most unlikeliest of surfaces: clay, where Nadal has won more titles than anyone in history. In Madrid, the Spaniard was still working his way into top form on the red dirt. Nadal had fallen in the semi-finals in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona, both tournaments he has won 11 times.

Tsitsipas, however, was bloated with confidence, having won his third ATP Tour title – and first on clay – at the Millennium Estoril Open (d. Cuevas) the week earlier.

Nadal had held in 26 of his 27 service games to reach the Masters 1000 semi-final, but Tsitsipas broke three times in the opening set alone to grab the lead. Nadal increasingly ran around his backhand to see more forehands in the second set and rallied to force a decider.

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Tsitsipas Stuns Nadal To Reach Madrid Final

But in the third set, Tsitsipas continued to attack and step into the court, and he broke for the third time in the set to beat Nadal for the first time. Overall, Tsitsipas broke the Spaniard six times and saved 11 of 16 break points faced.

“You cannot imagine the relief. It’s unbelievable. I don’t want to say this, but it almost felt like I lost hope at some point. [I lost] three in a row [against him],” Tsitsipas said. “I felt in Toronto when I played him I was very close, and this match gave me a bit of confidence [that] I can do it in the future, but then it was too much. [I’m] really happy that I overcame this and dealt with it mentally. Beating him on clay makes it even more special.”

Watch Highlights: Tsitsipas Stuns Nadal In Madrid SF

Internazionali BNL d’Italia, SF, Nadal d. Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4
In Rome, the surface was the same, but Tsitsipas stared down a much different Nadal. The Spaniard, after much speculation from fans and pundits, had found his top level on the clay. Before meeting Tsitsipas in another Masters 1000 semi-final, Nadal had won his past six sets 6-0, 6-1, 6-1, 6-0, 6-4, 6-0.

The Greek would do better than Nadal’s prior opponents in the Italian capital, but he couldn’t replicate his Madrid magic. In slower conditions, Nadal broke twice and saved both break points to make the Rome final, where he beat Djokovic for his 34th Masters 1000 title.

Nitto ATP Finals, Group Andre Agassi, Nadal d. Tsitsipas 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-5
The two had one final meeting in store for fans, and it might have been their best of the year. At the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals, Nadal was fighting to have a chance at the semi-finals, and Tsitsipas was trying to end Group Andre Agassi play unbeaten.

Tsitsipas eked out a tight opening set by snagging a mini-break at 4/4 and closing out the set with an ace. But Nadal grew more comfortable in the second set and broke in the ninth game before serving it out. The Spaniard hit 11 winners to only six unforced errors and won 80 per cent of his service points (20/25) in the second set.

<a href=''>Rafael Nadal</a> celebrates his comeback win over <a href=''>Stefanos Tsitsipas</a>.

Tsitsipas ripped back momentum early in the third and would save four break points as The O2 crowd clamoured for more drama. But, serving at 6-5, he nudged a backhand volley wide, and Nadal broke for only the second time in the match.

The Spaniard didn’t face a single break point. Tsitsipas, however, would win Group Andre Agassi and go onto win the Nitto ATP Finals title, his biggest crown to date.

Nadal vs. Tsitsipas In 2019






Australian Open




6-2, 6-4, 6-0

Mutua Madrid Open




6-4, 2-6, 6-3

Internazionali BNL d’Italia




6-3, 6-4

Nitto ATP Finals


Group Play


6-7(4), 6-4, 7-5

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Nominees Revealed For 2019 ATP Awards

  • Posted: Nov 26, 2019

Nominees Revealed For 2019 ATP Awards

Nadal, Federer, Auger-Aliassime, Tsitsipas among nominees

Welcome to the 2019 ATP Awards, where we recognise outstanding players and tournaments. View the nominees for the player-voted categories: Comeback Player of the Year, Most Improved Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award.

ATP Awards winners, including Fans’ Favourite, will be revealed in December.

Voted By Players

Comeback Player of the Year: The player who has overcome serious injury in re-establishing himself as one of the top players on the ATP Tour.

Andy Murray
Andrey Rublev
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Stan Wawrinka

Most Improved Player of the Year: The player who reached a significantly higher ATP Ranking by year’s end and who demonstrated an increasingly improved level of performance through the year.

Felix Auger-Aliassime
Matteo Berrettini
Daniil Medvedev
Stefanos Tsitsipas

Newcomer of the Year: The #NextGenATP player who entered the Top 100 for the first time in 2019 and made the biggest impact on the ATP Tour this season.

Felix Auger-Aliassime
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina
Miomir Kecmanovic
Corentin Moutet
Alexei Popyrin
Casper Ruud
Jannik Sinner
Mikael Ymer

Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award: The player who, throughout the year, conducted himself at the highest level of professionalism and integrity, who competed with his fellow players with the utmost spirit of fairness and who promoted the game through his off-court activities.

Roger Federer
Rafael Nadal
Diego Schwartzman
Dominic Thiem

Tournaments of the Year: The tournament in its category that operated at the highest level of professionalism and integrity and which provided the best conditions and atmosphere for participating players.

ATP Masters 1000
ATP 500
ATP 250

Voted By Coaches

ATP Coach of the Year: Nominated and voted on by fellow ATP coach members, this award goes to the ATP coach who helped guide his players to a higher level of performance during the year.

Voted By Fans Fans’ Favourite (Singles, Doubles): The singles player and doubles team receiving the highest number of votes from fans (voting closed 18 November). 

Determined By ATP Rankings

ATP Tour No. 1: The player who ends the year as World No. 1 in the ATP Rankings.

ATP Tour No. 1 Doubles Team: The team that ends the year as World No. 1 in the ATP Doubles Team Rankings. 

Chosen By ATP

Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award: The person who has made outstanding humanitarian contributions. Previous winners include former South African President Nelson Mandela, Arthur Ashe, Federer, Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and 2018 recipient Tommy Robredo.

Ron Bookman Media Excellence Award: The journalist who has made significant contributions to the game of tennis.

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Rivalries Of 2019: Djokovic vs. Medvedev

  • Posted: Nov 26, 2019

Rivalries Of 2019: Djokovic vs. Medvedev

ATP Tour Season In Review: Best Rivalries

Continuing our Season In Review series, revisits the fiercest rivalries of 2019. Today we feature Novak Djokovic vs. Daniil Medvedev.

Novak Djokovic was unbeaten in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Russian Daniil Medvedev before the 2019 season, dropping only one set in their two matches. The 6’6” Medvedev was a player, who, at times, could challenge Djokovic in rallies, but never for more than one set at a time.

All of that changed in 2019, however, as Medvedev became one of the breakout players of the season and learned how to win against the best in the sport, including the ultra-consistent Djokovic.

Australian Open, Round of 16, Djokovic d. Medvedev 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-3
In Melbourne to start the year, Medvedev previewed in fits and spurts what was to come of his 2019. Against Djokovic in the Round of 16, Medvedev was trying to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final, and he pushed the Serbian like he never had in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry.

The two bludgeoned balls back and forth, tallying rallies of 40-plus shots. But Medvedev, after evening the match by winning the second set, faded.

The Russian had a 2-1 lead in the third and three consecutive break points as Djokovic served at 0/40. The World No. 1, though, snapped into action. Djokovic erased all three break points, broke in the very next game and won 12 of the next 15 points en route to winning the third and fourth sets.

It was hard to go through him,” Djokovic said. “It was kind of a cat-and-a-mouse game for most of the match. That’s why it was so lengthy. We had rallies of 40, 45 exchanges. That’s why I think it was physically exhausting because of the fact that we didn’t really allow each other to think that we [could] make a lot of unforced errors and give away points. His backhand is very, very solid. He didn’t give me much from that side, but you can’t always play on the forehand. You have to open up the court and try to be patient and construct the point.”

The Serbian would continue his dominance in Melbourne against everyone, beating Rafael Nadal to win a record seventh Australian Open title.


Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, QF, Medvedev d. Djokovic 6-3, 4-6, 6-2
Few would have predicted clay would be the surface where Medvedev would earn his maiden win against the all-time great.

The Russian entered the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters with a 2-9 tour-level record on clay and a 1-11 mark against the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings. But he beat No. 8 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece and then upset Djokovic – his first win against a World No. 1 – for back-to-back Top 10 wins on clay and a place in the Monte-Carlo semi-finals.

It’s definitely the best match of my career. Not in terms of level of tennis, but definitely by the result. [It’s my] first [ATP] Masters 1000 semi-final, beating No. 1 for the first time in my life,” Medvedev said.

The Russian won the opening set, but Djokovic rallied to force a decider. In the third, however, Medvedev showed how much he had already improved since Australia. He failed to serve out the match in his first attempt but broke again, for the fifth time, for the win.

Djokovic said, “He improved his movement a lot since last year. He definitely deserves to be where he is.”

Watch Highlights: Medvedev Stuns Djokovic In Monte-Carlo

Western & Southern Open, SF, Medvedev d. Djokovic 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
Djokovic was playing in his first tournament since saving two match points against Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final for his 16th Grand Slam title.

Medvedev, however, was putting together a run of his own on the North American hard courts. Already he had reached two consecutive finals at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., (l. to Kyrgios) and the Coupe Rogers in Montreal (l. to Nadal). And he continued his hard-court final streak against Djokovic, who, just last year, had won the Career Golden Masters in Cincinnati.

Medvedev fell behind 3-6, 2-3, 30/40, but erased the break point to begin the comeback. From there, on serve, Medvedev varied his pace and angles to prevent Djokovic from establishing any rhythm.

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Medvedev Rallies To Stun Djokovic, Reach Cincinnati Final

For much of the match, Medvedev essentially hit two first serves, and it worked. Djokovic hadn’t lost an ATP Masters 1000 semi-final after winning the first set in more than six years, since March 2013 against Juan Martin del Potro in Indian Wells.

“To be honest, I don’t know how I did it,” Medvedev told Brad Gilbert of ESPN. “I was so tired in the first set and playing Novak, I thought I wasn’t able to keep the intensity. Then, the one momentum change in the second set was the difference. The crowd gave me so much energy.

“Usually I’ll go bigger on my second serve when it’s not working, and Novak was just destroying me in the first set. At one moment, I said to myself, ‘Why do a normal second serve if I’m going to lose the point?’ I started to win much more after that.”

Medvedev continued winning much more after Cincinnati as well. He would win three titles (Cincinnati, St. Petersburg, Shanghai) from six consecutive finals, a run that included his first Grand Slam final at the US Open (l. to Nadal). In November, Medvedev made his debut at the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals in London and secured his best year-end ATP Ranking of No. 5.

Djokovic vs. Medvedev In 2019






Australian Open


Round of 16


6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-3

Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters




6-3, 4-6, 6-2

Western & Southern Open




3-6, 6-3, 6-3

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Andy Murray documentary: Eight things we learned from Resurfacing

  • Posted: Nov 26, 2019

Andy Murray’s journey from a tearful admission that his career was likely to end after a major hip surgery to winning an ATP title less than a year later is one of 2019’s greatest sporting stories.

Now the British former world number one’s emotional journey over the past two years has been laid bare in a behind-the-scenes documentary, Andy Murray: Resurfacing, which is being aired on Amazon Prime from Friday.

Here are eight things we’ve learned from it:

His childhood experiences in Dunblane led to anxiety

Murray, 32, grew up in the Scottish town of Dunblane and was a pupil of the local primary school when Thomas Hamilton killed 16 children and their teacher in March 1996. He hid in the headmaster’s study when the tragedy happened.

Murray knew the gunman and opens up about the traumatic experiences of that day, along with other emotional family experiences which have shaped his life.

After previously being asked by director Olivia Cappuccini why tennis is important to him, the three-time Grand Slam champion finally responds in a powerful late-night voice message.

“Obviously I had the thing that happened at Dunblane, when I was around nine,” he tells Cappuccini, who is the partner of Murray’s brother-in-law, in December 2018.

“I am sure for all the kids there it would be difficult for different reasons. The fact we knew the guy, we went to his kids’ club, he had been in our car, we had driven and dropped him off at train stations and things.

“And within 12 months of that, our parents got divorced. It is a difficult time for kids, to see that and not quite understand what is going on.

“And then six to 12 months after that, my brother Jamie also moved away from home. He went away to train to play tennis. We obviously used to do everything together. When he moved away that was also quite hard for me.

“Around that time and after that, for a year or so, I had lots of anxiety that came out when I was playing tennis. When I was competing I would get really bad breathing problems.

“Tennis is an escape for me in some ways because all of these things are bottled up and we don’t talk about these things.

“Tennis allows me to be that child. That’s why it is important to me.”

  • Listen: Andy Murray – injuries, recovery and return

The tears in Washington came because he thought his career was coming to an end

Following a first hip surgery in January 2018 and a tentative return later that year, Murray had the more serious resurfacing operation in January this year in a bid to rid himself of the chronic pain he was still suffering.

One of the most striking moments of the first comeback was the scene where, after he had beaten Romanian Marius Copil in the Washington Open third round at 3:02am local time, the Scot sat down in his chair, draped a towel over his head and sobbed uncontrollably for several minutes on court.

Now we are told the full extent of his mental state. That was the moment when he felt his career was coming to an end.

In a video message filmed at 5:09am in the American capital, he says: “I was really, really emotional at the end of the match because I feel this is the end for me.

“My body just doesn’t want to do it any more and my mind doesn’t want to push through the pain barrier any more.

“I was just hoping I was gonna feel better than this after 16, 17 months.

“It’s just an emotional night because I felt I’m coming to an end. I’m really sad about that because I want to keep going but my body is telling me ‘no’.

“It hurts and I’m sorry, I can’t keep going.”

Wife Kim told him to quit after ‘bleak’ Christmas phone call

After another tough training block in Miami towards the end of 2018, Murray said he was getting “zero enjoyment” from being on court.

He calls his wife Kim, who was back home in London, in a phone conversation which she describes as “pretty bleak”.

“He always wanted someone to tell him to stop and I’d tried to explain nobody could because it was nobody’s decision to make other than his,” she says.

“I knew that is what he wanted and I knew what he was calling me for.

“I told him ‘you’re clearly not happy, you said you’d give it until Christmas – I was putting the Christmas tree up – call it a day’.”

He almost changed his mind about emotional Australian Open announcement

Although Murray had privately been thinking he was approaching the end, he had given few clues publicly and that meant a tearful announcement in a pre-tournament news conference at the Australian Open surprised the world.

Murray said he thought he could get through the pain until Wimbledon and then stop playing, although he also conceded the Grand Slam in Melbourne might be his last tournament.

Yet on the morning of his planned admission he still had doubts whether he should reveal all.

“I’m going to say something today, I know I’ll get emotional,” he says, two hours before facing the media.

“But I change my mind all the time. I need to say something. Or I don’t.”

Murray describes how he is feeling nervous, anxious and has butterflies in his stomach, while walking around that morning without much pain in his hip.

“When making a decision like that I want my leg to feel really sore,” he says.

That led to doubts. So he calls his physio Shane Annun. “I’m thinking I’m making a mistake,” Murray says.

His surgeon warned him of the dangers of making a tennis comeback

Murray eventually chose to have the resurfacing operation with renowned surgeon Sarah Muirhead-Allwood, who had previously operated on the Queen Mother, at the London Hip Unit.

At a post-surgery meeting, Murray speaks of how he is worried about damaging his hip again and needing further surgery if he goes back to playing tennis.

“What if I said, if you went back to playing first-class tennis, I think you’ve got a 15% chance that in the first seven years you could destroy the hip,” she tells him.

Murray laughs nervously.

“That is what it is like, it’s not it will or it won’t. It is chances. For seven years of tennis would you take that risk?”

Murray initially doubted whether he would return to the court because he said he was happy with being pain free and given a new lease of life.

But his mum Judy correctly predicts that will change.

“My gut is telling me he has unfinished business. He’s not fooling me,” she says.

He watched a gruesome video of the hip surgery

No holds are barred when it comes to seeing the footage from Murray’s two hip surgeries.

Early in the film, we see graphic images of his operation with Australian surgeon John O’Donnell in January 2018 and Murray assessing his post-op scar which he concludes looks “pretty neat”.

Later, after deciding in January this year he wanted to have the hip resurfaced, we see him watching a gory video of someone else having that operation.

“I find that funny, that they’re literally using a hammer,” he says.

Shortly after, he is having the operation for real. Everything from the moment he lies down on the surgical bed – including graphic images of bloody instruments working on the joint inside gaping flesh – is captured by the camera.

“It’s not a good idea to be running around a tennis court,” Murray says dryly as he comes around from the operation.

Wife Kim, along with fitness coach Matt Little and physio Annun, joke that the remark must be captured by the filmmaker because they know he will change his mind – again.

He has a bromance with his physio

Murray’s ‘bromance’ with Annun provides the lighter, and funniest, moments of the film.

“I’d love to marry Shane, I’d have so much fun,” says Murray.

Annun says Murray likes to tap into his weakness – being “gullible” – with his other physio Mark Bender saying he views the pair as an “old couple that know exactly what buttons to push”.

The pair’s relationship is again captured while they are starting Murray’s rehabilitation work after the second hip operation, a warm and funny scene where Murray shows his affection for the physio.

“The brilliant thing about having a sore hip is I can hug Shane and he can’t get away from me because otherwise he will hurt my hip. He can’t force his way out of my hug,” he laughs.

These exchanges show Murray’s sharp sense of humour and how he like to “wind up” his team. Bender also bears the brunt of Murray’s cheeky humour as we learn his nickname is ‘Slender’.

“It’s ironic because he’s not particularly slender,” giggles Murray.

He used to feel there was animosity towards him

Murray’s announcement at the Australian Open that an illustrious career seemed to be heading towards the end brought a universal showing of affection and respect towards him.

But it has not been until recent years – following Wimbledon, Olympic and Davis Cup triumphs which endeared him further to the British public – that he has felt it.

“He did used to feel there was a certain amount of animosity towards him,” his wife Kim says.

“I think he would accept now there is a lot of love out there. What he has done, I have to pinch myself sometimes. I can’t believe I’ve watched it happen.”

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ATP Tour 2019 Season In Review

  • Posted: Nov 26, 2019

ATP Tour 2019 Season In Review

A look back at a memorable 2019 season

It’s that time of the year again when we look back on the story makers and events of 2019 that made this year’s ATP Tour season one to remember.

We’re starting this week with a look at five of the best rivalries of the year. In Week 2 of the series we’ll focus on the best matches, biggest upsets and stunning comebacks.

We’ll also celebrate the first-time title winners of 2019, salute the champions who announced their retirements and look at the season’s most revealing statistics.


Federer & Tsitsipas

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