Briton Joe Salisbury and American Rajeev Ram are beaten in their second match in the doubles event at the ATP Finals in London on Tuesday.
Briton Joe Salisbury and American Rajeev Ram are beaten in their second match in the doubles event at the ATP Finals in London on Tuesday.
Watch the best shots as Dominic Thiem beats Rafael Nadal at the ATP Finals 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (7-4) for his second victory of the season-ending event at the in London.
World No. 3 Dominic Thiem came away with a statement victory in a nail-biting straight-sets clash against Rafael Nadal to top Group London 2020 at the Nitto ATP Finals.
The reigning US Open champion had to save two set points in a marathon 72-minute set opening set, and held his nerve as Nadal saved four match points in the second set. But if Thiem’s level throughout the 7-6(7), 7-6(4) thriller didn’t send enough of a message for the rest of the Nitto ATP Finals field, then his cool self-assessment afterward might have a few players on high alert.
“Honestly, I think that today I played a little bit [of a] higher level than at the US Open,” Thiem told reporters in his post-match press conference. “It was maybe the best match for me since the restart of the Tour, and that makes me super happy.”
It’s a daunting prospect for his Nitto ATP Finals opponents, as Thiem came into the season finale under a cloud of doubts around his form after recently fighting blisters in his home tournament in Vienna and questions about his mentality as he struggled to back up his Grand Slam success.
Now, he sits undefeated at the top of Group London 2020 after starting his campaign in London with another thriller, winning in three sets to take down defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas.
“Obviously it was not easy to come back after the US Open and French Open, I was like in an unbelievable emotional state,” Thiem reflected. “And then also the home tournament in Vienna, a little injury… it wasn’t easy but now I’m 100 per cent recovered. I had a great preparation, and I’m super happy with the way I’m playing here.”
“It was a great match which I will remember for a long time,” he added.[WATCH LIVE 2]
Thiem’s win narrowed his gap with Nadal in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series as he trails 9-6, though he now leads the Spaniard 2-1 on hard courts.
But as much as Thiem would love to linger on 37 winners and six aces against Nadal, there’s one match left to go as he seeks to advance into the semi-finals undefeated, and it’s against the red-hot Andrey Rublev. The Russian has claimed the most recent two victories of their 2-2 FedEx ATP Head2Head series – including a heartbreaker in Vienna to oust him in straight sets at home.
“Indoors and hard courts, [today’s match] was probably one of the better matches I have ever played,” Thiem said. “Now the goal is to enjoy this victory and to maintain that level until Thursday.”
Dominic Thiem beats Rafael Nadal by winning two tie-breaks in a superb match at the ATP Finals in London.
After a narrow loss in their opening match, Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies earned an impressive 6-2, 7-6(5) victory on Tuesday against Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo at the Nitto ATP Finals.
The two-time Roland Garros champions converted three of their four break points to claim their first victory of the tournament. Krawietz and Mies improved to 1-1 in Group Mike Bryan. The Germans, who ended their tournament debut at The O2 last year with a 1-2 record, are attempting to qualify for the semi-finals in London for the first time.
“It was huge to win in two sets,” said Mies in an on-court interview. “We didn’t get off to a great start [in the] first match, two days ago… It was important to come back strong today and play much better. That happened and I am very proud of us, that we came back, bounced back and played a great match today. Winning in two sets in the round robin system is always very big.”
Krawietz and Mies gain revenge for a recent semi-final loss to Kubot and Melo at last month’s Erste Bank Open and level their ATP Head2Head series against the eighth seeds at 1-1. Kubot and Melo recovered from a set down in that match and eventually claimed the ATP 500 trophy in Vienna.
“In the round robin system we always have a chance, even if we lose the first match… We have nothing to lose,” said Krawietz. “We had to go for it, we had to be pumped and I think we played really well today.”[WATCH LIVE 2]
Krawietz and Mies began the match in top form, as they anticipated well and struck multiple return winners to break in two of their opening three return games. After dropping serve at 4-1, the third seeds struck another return winner to claim their third break before serving out the set after 30 minutes.
In the second set, both teams dominated behind their first serves to reach a tie-break. Krawietz closed the net well to earn two mini-breaks and the win after one hour and 23 minutes.
“It was a big advantage to get off to a good start today, because it was pretty painful to lose that match two days ago from a good position,” said Mies. “We had it in our hands and we let it slip because we didn’t go for it in the end. We were hoping for them to make errors and that was a big mistake. The key today was to come out, go for it, get the win ourselves and not wait for errors. That was very good and the start helped, for sure.”
Kubot and Melo drop to 0-2 in Group Mike Bryan. The 2017 finalists, who fell in three sets to Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury on Sunday, will face Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic in their final round robin match.
Did You Know?
If Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic defeat Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury in the evening session, they will become the first team to qualify for the semi-finals. Ram and Salisbury can also qualify for the last four if they beat Koolhof and Mektic in straight sets.
Do we place too much importance on aces? Are double faults really that toxic? Is there a better metric that correlates to winning matches on the big stage at the Nitto ATP Finals?
The most aces hit in a Nitto ATP Finals match from 1991 to 2019 was Goran Ivanisevic against Pete Sampras in 1996. He crushed 35 and lost. Tied for second most aces is Boris Becker, who bombed 30 aces against Pete Sampras in 1994 and 1996. He lost both matches.
The most double faults in in a Nitto ATP Finals match is 14. Ivanisevic came close to that mark in 1996, committing 13 against Richard Krajicek. The Croatian won the match. Also in 1996, Becker hit 12 double faults against Krajicek and also won. Both match totals were a breath away from the tournament double fault record, but Ivanisevic and Becker both triumphed over Krajicek.[WATCH LIVE 3]
What gives with these counter-intuitive results at the year-end championships?
An Infosys ATP Beyond the Numbers analysis of the Nitto ATP Finals dating back to 1991, when statistics in tennis were first recorded, identifies that aces and double faults are two match markers have been a staple on a tennis statistics page since day one. The problem is we have traditionally thought they were ideal markers for indicating who won and lost the match.
It turns out not so much.
When you look at the top of the tree for ace totals at the season finale, the leading three totals were all losses for the player hitting ace after ace after ace.
In fact, the 14 highest ace totals in the history of the tournament, which range from 22 to 35 aces, found the server winning just seven of those matches and losing the other seven. It’s a head-turning statistic, but prodigious ace hauls from the best players in the world only produce a 50-50 win/loss record.
The following list outlines the five players who have struck the most aces in Nitto ATP Finals history since 1991.
1. 510 – Roger Federer
2. 484 – Pete Sampras
3. 373 – Boris Becker
4. 290 – Goran Ivanisevic
5. 217 – Novak Djokovic
Daniil Medvedev leads the 2020 Nitto ATP Finals field with the most aces in a match at the year-end event with 21 against Rafael Nadal last year at The O2. Medvedev lost. Accumulating massive ace totals is clearly not a key performance indicator for winning matches.
Which brings the conversation to the antithesis of the ace – the dreaded double fault.[WATCH LIVE 2]
Of the 14 matches where a player committed the most double faults in the tournament’s history, they still managed to win seven of those matches.
To be clear, the most aces in tournament history has the server winning seven of 14 matches. The most double faults in tournament history also has the server winning seven of 14 matches.
The five players with the most double faults in Nitto ATP Finals history since 1991 are:
1. 167 – Pete Sampras
2. 133 – Roger Federer
3. 128 – Boris Becker
4. 112 – Yevgeny Kafelnikov
5. 102 – Goran Ivanisevic
When Ivanisevic crushed 35 aces against Sampras in the 1996 semi-finals, he won an astounding 54 of 57 first-serve points. The problem for the Croatian was when the first serve did not land in the box. Ivanisevic only made 52 per cent (57/109) of first serves, so he also had to play 52 second-serve points, where he won 52 per cent (27/52). Sampras won 61 per cent (19/31).
That’s where the rubber met the road.
As it turns out, performance around second serves is a far better indicator of winning and losing matches than aces and double faults. Of the 14 best second serve performances in Nitto ATP Finals history since 1991, the player won 13 of the 14 encounters. The only loss was Fernando Verdasco, who won 78 per cent (21/27) second serve points against Juan Martin del Potro in 2009, but lost 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(1) in the round robin stage.
Crushing aces makes you feel good. Committing double faults leaves you feeling disheartened. Winning points behind second serves will put a smile on your face when you are shaking hands at the end of the match.
The ATP has announced a long-term extension to its partnership with Rolex. The new agreement begins in 2021 and will see Rolex continue as the Official Timekeeper of the ATP Tour as well as the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin, Italy. In addition, Rolex will also become the Official Timekeeper of the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, Italy.
Rolex has a long-standing relationship with tennis that goes back over 40 years, promoting precision, excellence and innovation, all hallmarks of men’s professional tennis. In addition to the Nitto ATP Finals and the Next Gen ATP Finals, the Swiss watch brand is also proud to be a partner of the four Grand Slam® tournaments, all nine ATP Masters 1000 tournaments, as well as the ATP Cup, and to count ATP stars among its Brand Testimonees including Roger Federer, Dominic Thiem, and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
“We are delighted to extend our successful long-term relationship with Rolex, an iconic brand with such a long tradition in sport,” said Massimo Calvelli, ATP CEO. “The partnership with the ATP extends back to 2005 when Rolex first became a valued partner at the season-ending finals and we highly value the commitment Rolex makes to our sport.”
This week, ATPTour.com is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Nitto ATP Finals. Today we remember Alex Corretja’s coming of age in Hanover.
Alex Corretja was a persevering talent. With a superior range of shots that set him apart, he epitomised a tennis style drawn from tactics. His one-handed backhand, the crowning shot of a versatile and cultured player, enjoyed its finest moment in the 1998 ATP Tpur World Championships. Under the roof of the Expo 2000 Tennis Dome in Hanover, he produced one of the most epic chapters in the tournament’s history. In an all-Spanish clash, Corretja beat Carlos Moyà in five epic sets, producing an electrifying 3-6, 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 battle to claim what is still the last Spanish victory at the ATP’s season-ending event.
The player from Barcelona shared with ATPTour.com some of his experiences from those days and the tension of seeking an historic win.
“All the players who reach the tournament are playing at a very high level,” said Corretja, who played the year-end championship for the first time in 1998. “They’re the eight best of the year; you arrive with a lot of matches throughout the whole season and so you have a lot of faith in yourself. If memory serves, I’d won four tournaments and reached the final at Roland Garros, Hamburg… To me, Lyon was important because I won it three weeks before the Masters and that gave me the necessary confidence to believe that I wasn’t inferior to anyone. Of course, I knew that the groups were very difficult and maybe there were players in better form than me on that surface, but I felt that I was very well prepared, both physically and mentally.”
The young 24-year-old arrived on the streets of Hanover already among the best players in the world and determined to show off his ability on the big stage. Months earlier, he had reached his first Grand Slam final at the French Open – he had earned his right to a place among the strongest on tour despite the youthful label of debutant.[WATCH LIVE 3]
“Before starting the tournament, I felt incredible. I had so much hope. I had really been wanting a big win for a long time,” the Spaniard remembered. “In 1997 I won my first Masters 1000 in Rome, the final at Roland Garros helped me so much at the big events to believe that I was ready and, honestly, I could tell that I was feeling the ball very well.
“I think that the fact that it was the last week of November meant that the players were very tired and I had worked very hard physically so that when an important moment came along I was able to cope with it,” acknowledged Corretja, who had survived the longest match in the history of the French Open (5h31m against Gumy) that very year. “I believed that if I had the chance, I was going to be a difficult opponent. Although the surface was indoor, it wasn’t too fast, and the ball was bouncing quite high, which was very important for my game.”
Playing on a wooden base covered with synthetic material, a surface that allowed for a tactical approach, the Spaniard found his ally for deploying a versatile game from the baseline. Corretja faced a relentless group of death; he was on the verge of a comeback against Andre Agassi when the American withdrew, he lost to British player Tim Henman and his survival came down to the last match of the group stage, where he defeated his compatriot Albert Costa in two sets.
“The thing I remember most is that ‘Dudu’ drilled it into me that I was ready to search for a big title,” remembered Corretja, following the advice of longtime coach Javier Duarte. “When I lost the second group match against Henman I went to the locker room feeling pretty desperate. I told him, ‘So much for doing something big in this tournament.’ Then he said to me, ‘There’s still time, you can get to the semis if you win the next match.’ I answered that it would be Pete Sampras in the semis, and he told me to take it one step at a time.”
After advancing past the group stage, Corretja found himself struggling to believe. A day before meeting Sampras, the American had claimed the Year-End No. 1 FedEx ATP Ranking for the sixth consecutive season, coming through the group stage unscathed and doing what he did best: setting himself apart on indoor hard-court.
“Pete had come out of the group winning all his matches very easily, and I don’t know if that made him relax. He had already won many Masters, and I had the experience of our US Open match two years earlier, where I had a match point,” said Àlex, recalling their epic five-set duel in the quarter-finals in New York, where Pistol Pete vomited on court. “I left the court believing that I could do it. Even though it was indoor and it felt very complicated, and I could see that he was a very complicated player with an almost unbreakable serve.
“But I also believed that I could handle all of his shots well from the baseline. I went out really psyched up and convinced it was possible,” he said. “It’s true that in the end it was almost miraculous. He had three match points and some of them were very long points that I ended up winning. The experience in 1996 was fundamental for my belief that I could do it.”
The mind of a champion is never satisfied with the victory, but with the hope of winning again. And Corretja was very clear about which mistakes he didn’t want to repeat, of course, he would not allow himself to make them against Moyà. The memory of his defeat in the Paris final and the way he had prepared for his first Grand Slam final were learning experiences that the Catalan studied hard.
“I remember that the day when I won the semi-finals, I threw out my brothers and friends who had come to watch me play in the Masters. They were celebrating that I had reached the final and I chucked them out of the locker room. I told them that at Roland Garros, my mindset before the final had been a bit too passive and that I didn’t want to have the same feeling before the final against Carlos,” revealed Corretja. “I remember that in the press conference a Mallorcan journalist said to me, ‘I think you look very tense for tomorrow’s match.’ And I told him, ‘I’m not tense, I’m focused. I don’t want to waste a drop of energy, so I’m serious and conserving what little energy I have left in what has been a very long year.” I don’t know if I would have won or lost, but the way I approached that final was very different to the way I did in Paris.”
If that final demanded one thing, it was to have all five senses totally focused on the match. In a stadium that was packed to the rafters, Corretja was facing a player who was firing on all cylinders. Moyà had not lost a single set to him all year. He had beaten him in three sets at the French Open, two sets in Monte Carlo and three sets were enough once again at the US Open.
“Carlos was a very tough player that year, he had a very powerful forehand, a spectacular serve, he moved well, didn’t make many mistakes on his backhand… He neutralised all my shots,” explained Corretja, who soon found himself two sets down. “But I had a kind of internal faith, a hope and a desire to win that was so huge that I believed I could turn it around. My experience at Roland Garros helped me to not stay satisfied with what I had already achieved. In my semi-final against Sampras, when I won, I barely celebrated. I lifted my arms a little, because I knew that I had to use what little energy I had left to play against Carlos. That was fundamental.
“It’s not that I was convinced I’d win but deep down inside I believed that the match could be levelled. I felt very good, but I also struggled to get going after the tension of the previous day, from 7-6 in the third,” he remembered. “Carlos started with a very high pace, and as soon as I won the third set I had the feeling that it was going to be very difficult for him to win. Then I found myself 3-1 up in the fifth. Then I was serving for the match and I couldn’t finish it off… I had always dreamt of winning a very big title. I had won Rome, at Roland Garros I had played in the final, but I felt that the time had come.”
After over four hours of graft, Corretja became the second Spanish player to win the season-ending Masters. The Catalan followed in the footsteps of Manuel Orantes 22 years earlier in Houston 1976 to produce one of Spanish tennis’ greatest stories of the 90s. It was a legendary win that would take time to sink in for Corretja.
“I was exhausted after the final. I remember we celebrated outside the hotel where there was a bar. But I went to my room with my girlfriend pretty early. I celebrated it later when I got home with friends, with family… That night I was very emotional, it was a big dream. It was more amazement than a release of euphoria,” admitted Corretja. “I saw the news and the thing that impacted me the most, because I can’t remember if we had the internet at the time, was when I got to the airport the next day. When you travel there aren’t many papers on the plane, maybe El País, the ABC or La Razón. And I was on the front page of all of them! I was there down on my knees, and that’s when I realised the magnitude of the win. The following days I had a lot of interviews, reports, television programmes that wanted me. I started to realise that I’d done something historic.”[DATA DIVE]
Now, over two decades since that magical day, Corretja still treasures some wonderful memories. The Spaniard considers that trophy to be the most special of his entire career alongside the Davis Cup win of 2000, the first in the history of Spanish tennis.
“It’s the trophy that I have the most affection for, of course. It is a very special moment, when you become the champion of the world. The feeling that you have beaten the eight best players of the year is very unique and special. It makes it historical,” he recognised with emotion. “For me it’s spectacular, together with the Davis Cup, because it had so much history behind it. We had lived a whole lifetime in which nobody had done it. It’s like a confirmation that you have been the champion of the world in singles and with a team. That’s why I feel that way about it. The tournament is so tough because you play 11 months of the season to reach the end of the year to see who is the best out of all the players. I think it’s a very special thing.”
“Lendl was my idol and I had seen him win the tournament thousands of times. Seeing yourself on that list of winners that included Sampras, Becker, Edberg, Lendl, Agassi… people that I had always watched on TV, was spectacular.”
Roger Federer and Pete Sampras never competed at the Nitto ATP Finals in the same season, but according to the Infosys 50 Year Data Dive, the two legends show similarities in their success at the event.
Federer owns a record six titles at the season finale and Sampras claimed five crowns at the year-end championships. But what is notable is that both players won all their trophies within an eight-year span. Federer, who is still active, triumphed six times between 2003 and 2011, while Sampras was victorious on five occasions between 1991 and 1999.
View Infosys 50 Year Data Dive
The Data Dive also illustrates an impressive stat that both men share. Federer and Sampras only failed to reach the semi-final at the Nitto ATP Finals once each. Federer has advanced to the last four in 16 of his 17 appearances and Sampras did so 10 of the 11 times he competed.
Sampras’ Tournament History:
Federer’s Tournament History:
The Infosys 50 Year Data Dive also allows fans to learn about their favourite player’s performance history at the Nitto ATP Finals through an interactive search tool. You can also browse the tournament’s history in a chronology section and learn about where the event has travelled during its half-century in existence.
The 2020 Nitto ATP Finals is being played in London at The O2 for the final time this week before the season finale moves to Turin from next year.
Daniil Medvedev doesn’t often use the underarm serve in matches. But on Monday, the Russian utilised it at a critical stage of his Nitto ATP Finals match against Alexander Zverev and the surprise paid dividends, helping him out of a service jam en route to a straight-sets victory.
For the Rolex Paris Masters titlist, it was not meant as anything but a strategic play.
“I did [not do it] at 40-Love on my serve just to laugh and to mock him. I did it at 30-All to win the point, to win the match,” Medvedev said. “That was the case, and that worked. I see nothing disrespectful [about] it. Of course if 100 other players will say that I did something wrong, maybe I’m going to think not to do it next time, but I don’t think [that is] the case.”[WATCH LIVE 2]
Medvedev was serving at 4-3, 30/30 in the second set when Zverev was camped out far behind the baseline to make sure he put his return in play. The Russian took advantage, using the underarm serve to rush the German. Medvedev eventually won the point with a passing shot.
“No, [I was] not planning it at all. I can do it sometimes, let’s say, once a week, twice, once in two weeks in practice, just maybe a first serve to start, to laugh with my opponent or something like this,” Medvedev said. “I did it once on clay at Roland Garros, because on clay it’s tougher to serve aces… Guys are far back, and it worked.
“Here it was just in the moment. I saw him really far [back]. I was thinking, ‘Okay, where do I go?’ And I felt like, ‘Okay, at this moment I don’t see an obvious choice’, and I had the ball really close to my racquet. I [was] like, ‘He’s so far. He’s going to have trouble [handling] it]. And he had trouble. He actually made a good shot to bring it back, but I managed to win the point, and that’s the most important. I won’t be doing this often, I think.”[WATCH LIVE 3]
The underarm serve was not the only surprise on Monday. Medvedev and Zverev both stand 6’6” tall, but they engaged in plenty of lengthy baseline rallies.
“It’s very strange, because when we were practising on Centre Court, I was practising with Dominic [Thiem], with [Andrey] Rublev, it felt really fast and the serve was going fast, so there were not so many rallies,” Medvedev said. “Today I felt like even many, many of my good shots or his good shots, they were like so easy to reach. That’s why I was good on defence. I was all over the court just because I had the opportunity.”
Medvedev, who went winless in his debut at the Nitto ATP Finals last year (0-3), will try to remain undefeated at The O2 this year when he continues Group Tokyo 1970 action against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic on Wednesday. The top seed leads their ATP Head2Head 4-2, but the Russian has won two of their past three meetings. None of their four matches since the start of last season have ended in straight sets.
“I’m looking forward to [the] match with Novak, because I think in these conditions we have here we can have a lot of long rallies,” Medvedev said. “We are both going to run well. I like to play against Novak. We have tough matches… [I’m] looking forward to it.”