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Twitch Takes: Monfils And Murray Build The Perfect Player

  • Posted: Nov 25, 2020

Would you rather have Ivo Karlovic’s serve or Rafael Nadal’s forehand? When you think of the best return in the game, is it Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray whose name springs to mind? What would your perfect tennis player look like?

This was the topic that Gael Monfils and Murray tackled on Twitch during their Nitto ATP Finals coverage on Sunday, as the pair live-streamed their commentary and banter while watching Daniil Medvedev’s three-set championship clash with Dominic Thiem.

When it came to one of the most important shots in the game, Murray gave honourable mention to big servers John Isner and Ivo Karlovic, but ultimately opted for Nick Kyrgios’ powerful first delivery.

“Honestly, I would have picked the same, also Kyrgios,” Monfils replied. “For me because it’s definitely tough to read. It’s fast, accurate, he can do anything with it. It’s definitely one of the bigger serves I’ve ever seen on the tour.”

Novak Djokovic’s groundstrokes also received a lot of praise from Monfils and Murray, with both players unanimously picking the World No. 1’s return as the best on the tour. 

“He’s not an unbelievably aggressive returner, it’s not like he’s hitting lots of clean winners on the return. But he’s just got great depth,” Murray said. “He doesn’t miss many. He returns well on the first and second serve, I think overall he’s the best returner. And when he’s on with the return, you’re getting hardly any free points, which is big.”

“He builds a lot of pressure on your serve, to do something, to force a little bit sometimes or even to slow down a bit and mix up the speeds,” Monfils added. “But when he’s on, his return is unbelievable. I’ll go for Novak as well.”

The pair were split when it came time to choose a forehand, with the Frenchman naming Juan Martin del Potro’s shot as his top pick.


“The consistency, the power, the accuracy – for me it’s one of the biggest forehands we have on the tour,” he said. “He can hit forehands from, I feel like, anywhere on the court. It can be a winner with his forehand.”

“I’ll take Rafa’s forehand,” Murray countered. “I rarely see Rafa’s forehand being the reason he’s lost matches. And it’s never really let him down in very big matches and big moments. I feel like it’s extremely reliable.

“I think it’s been a huge reason for the 13 Roland Garros [titles] that he’s won. That’s 13, one-three.”

Check out Monfils’ Twitch channel to see the rest of their picks as Monfils and Murray built their perfect players – and find out which of their own shots and qualities they named to the list.

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Djokovic & Nadal Finish Inside Top 2 For Third Straight Year

  • Posted: Nov 25, 2020

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will finish 2020 as the Top 2 players in the FedEx ATP Rankings for the third consecutive year and the fifth time overall when the year-end Rankings are officially released on 7 December.

Djokovic will tie Pete Sampras’ record with a sixth year-end No. 1 finish. It is the ninth time in the past 10 seasons he has earned a Top 2 spot. Nadal now leads the ‘Big Three’ — Djokovic and Roger Federer — with 12 Top 2 finishes. It is the seventh time he has ended a season as World No. 2.


Year-End Top 2 Finishes As A Pair

 Federer & Nadal  7
 Djokovic & Nadal  5
 Djokovic & Federer  2

Federer did not compete after reaching this year’s Australian Open semi-finals due to injury, but he will be the year-end World No. 5. The Swiss, who has finished in that elite group 16 times, has previously finished inside the Top 2 on 11 occasions, including five year-end No. 1 finishes.


Djokovic, Federer and Nadal have made up the Top 2 in the year-end FedEx ATP Rankings in 14 of the past 16 seasons. The only player to break the trio’s streak was Andy Murray, who was year-end No. 1 in 2016 and No. 2 in 2015.

The official year-end FedEx ATP Rankings will be released on 7 December. Since there will only be ATP Challenger Tour events until then, there will be no changes near the top of the Rankings.

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Schwartzman, DelPo, Nadal Lead ATP Tributes To Maradona

  • Posted: Nov 25, 2020

Tributes are pouring in from around the tennis world after football legend Diego Maradona passed away on Wednesday at the age of 60. 

Current and former ATP Tour stars from Argentina and beyond took to social media to pay their respects to the World Cup winner’s legacy, led by his countryman and namesake Diego Schwartzman. 

“How could you not be named Diego? I love you forever D10S (‘god’),” Schwartzman posted.

“I feel like you’re returning to where you belong, to HEAVEN. For me you will never die,” said fellow Argentine Juan Martin del Potro. 

“Today the world of sports in general and football in particular has a void,” said Spain’s Rafael Nadal. “One of the greatest sportsmen in history, Diego Maradona, has left us. What he did in football will remain. My deepest and most heartfelt condolences to his family, the world of football, and to all of Argentina.”

“You’ve made us all very happy here, rest in peace Diego,” added retired Argentine player Juan Monaco.

See more social media tributes as the tennis world mourns the passing of Diego Maradona:


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Medvedev Reveals Tennis' New Game Style: Assassin

  • Posted: Nov 25, 2020

Tennis has a new game style. Assassin.

It’s easy to identify a serve-and-volleyer, an aggressive baseliner, a counter-puncher, or a pusher. Creating a game plan against them is relatively straightforward.

And then there is Daniil Medvedev – a mercurial master of them all. Take your eye off him at your own peril. There is a much better chance he has you in his sights than the other way around.

His cunning mix of strategies often ends with a surprise attack you didn’t see coming. He obfuscates his game plan by launching attacks from every inch of the court. One moment he is returning serve six metres behind the baseline. The next, he is successfully serving and volleying behind an 84mph second serve facing break point. He spectacularly blurs the lines between traditional game styles to baffle and bamboozle opponents.

The Russian assassin has taken #NextGenATP to next level.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of Medvedev’s five victories at the Nitto ATP Finals uncovers five ways that he built control of the point, oftentimes without his opponent being aware that is was happening.

The five matches in the data set are:
Round Robin:
def. Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-4
Round Robin: def. Novak Djokovic 6-3, 6-3
Round Robin: def. Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-3
Semi-Final: def. Rafael Nadal 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-3
Final: def. Dominic Thiem 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4

1. Backhands Hit Inside The Baseline
Five Opponents: 12%

Medvedev loves to lean on his backhand and hit it flat as a pancake. In theory, opponents should be able to step forward and attack the spin-less ball at will. The exact opposite happened at The O2. Overall, Medvedev made contact with his backhand inside the baseline 26 per cent of the time. His five opponents combined to hit only 12 per cent of their backhands inside the baseline, less than half of the Russian’s total. In the final, Medvedev made contact with 35 per cent of his backhands inside the baseline. Thiem only managed 12 per cent. Medvedev’s average backhand speed was 67 mph, with his five opponents a few notches lower at 64 mph.

Medvedev’s Backhand Hit Point vs. Thiem

Medvedev Hawkeye

Thiem’s Backhand Hit Point vs. Medvedev

Thiem Hawkeye

2. Aces
Five Opponents: 14

Medvedev completely out-performed his five opponents in this area, hitting more than triple the total of aces. In the semi-final against Nadal and the final against Thiem, Medvedev clubbed 25 aces. His opponents only managed eight.

3. Groundstrokes = Lower, Deeper, Harder

Medvedev’s average net height was 67cm above the net, while opponents were up higher at 74cm. You would think the higher ball over the net would travel deeper, but it wasn’t the case. Medvedev hit 86 per cent of his groundstrokes past the service line, while opponents were at 83 per cent. One explanation for that is that Medvedev played with superior velocity, averaging 72 mph on his groundstrokes to 70 mph for his five opponents.

4. Second-Serve Points Won
48% (63/132)
Five Opponents: 42% (60/144)

Winning the second serve battle is always critical. Medvedev impressively won this match metric by six percentage points. Rafael Nadal led the ATP Tour in 2020 in second-serve points won at 57.8 per cent (527/912). In the semi-final, Nadal only won 37 per cent (19/51) against Medvedev, who countered by winning 48 per cent (12/25) of points behind his second delivery. The fact Nadal struck 51 second serves to Medvedev’s 25 is yet another small battle won by the Russian.

5. First-Serve Return Points Won
Medvedev: 29%
Five Opponents: 22.5%

Medvedev eclipsed his five opponents in this key area, who on paper should be superior to the Russian in this specific statistic. In 2020, Nadal was rated No. 1, Djokovic No. 3, Schwartzman No. 4, Zverev No. 9, and Thiem No. 11. Medvedev punched in at 16th-best, but he cut all five opponents down to size at the year-end event, winning 29 per cent to 22.5 per cent. Medvedev’s average first-serve return speed for the tournament was 68mph, while his five opponents were significantly in arrears at 57 mph. That’s a testament to how much blocking, chipping and defending they had to do against Medvedev’s lethal first serve.

Medvedev’s match metrics were overwhelmingly superior to his five opponents at the 2020 Nitto ATP Finals. Sometimes it requires a spreadsheet to uncover just how the person on the other side of the net is taken down.

– Hawkeye graphics courtesy ATP Media

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