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Djokovic Sets Record, 3 Debutants in Top 10 Year-End FedEx ATP Rankings

  • Posted: Nov 22, 2021

The ATP Tour today published the 2021 year-end FedEx ATP Rankings on with Novak Djokovic headlining a season of breakthroughs and milestones.

Djokovic earned a record seventh year-end No. 1 finish, breaking a tie with Pete Sampras for the most in history. Rafael Nadal finished in the Top 10 for a record 17th consecutive year at No. 6, breaking the record he shared with Jimmy Connors.

Daniil Medvedev became the first player outside Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Nadal to finish year-end No. 2 since Andy Roddick in 2004. He also became the first Russian to finish No. 2 since Marat Safin in 2000.

There were three new faces in the Top 10: No. 8 Casper Ruud (22), No. 9 Hubert Hurkacz (24) and No. 10 Jannik Sinner (20), the youngest to finish in the Top 10 since No. 9 Juan Martin del Potro (20) in 2008.

There were eight players aged 25-and-under in the year-end Top 10 for the first time since 1995. Four of the Top 5 players were 25-and-under, the first year-end occurrence since 2009.

The average age of the Top 10 was less than 26 years old (at 25.6), the youngest since 2009 (25.0).

The Top 10 of 2021
1. Novak Djokovic (SRB) – Oldest year-end No. 1 at 34, record seventh time at year-end No. 1 and most overall weeks at No. 1 with 348. Back-to-back years at No. 1 for third time (2011-12, 2014-15, 2020-21).
2. Daniil Medvedev (RUS) – Third straight year-end Top 10 finish and first Russian to finish in Top 2 since No. 2 Marat Safin in 2000, third overall (No. 2 Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1999).
3. Alexander Zverev (GER) – First German to finish in Top 3 since No. 3 Boris Becker in 1994. Also fifth straight Top 10 season, most since Becker finished in elite group in eight straight years from 1985-92.
4. Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) – Greek native finishes in Top 10 for the third straight season with year-end best ranking (was No. 6 in 2019-20).
5. Andrey Rublev (RUS) – Finishes in Top 10 for second straight year. This is the second consecutive year with two Russians in Top 10 and first in year-end Top 5 since 2000 (Kafelnikov, Safin).
6. Rafael Nadal (ESP) – Oldest in year-end Top 10 at 35 and finishes a record 17th straight year in the Top 10. He has the second-most Top 10 year-end finishes in history (behind Federer with 18).
7. Matteo Berrettini (ITA) – First Italian to finish in the year-end Top 10 three times. It is the first time two Italians are in the year-end Top 10 in history of the FedEx ATP Rankings (since 1973).
8. Casper Ruud (NOR) – First Norwegian to finish in Top 10 in history of FedEx ATP Rankings after climbing from No. 27 last season.
9. Hubert Hurkacz (POL) – First Pole to finish in Top 10 in history of the FedEx ATP Rankings. The World No. 9 made second-biggest jump into the Top 10 from last year (No. 34).
10. Jannik Sinner (ITA) – Youngest player (20) to finish in the Top 10 since World No. 9 Juan Martin del Potro (20) in 2008. The Italian made biggest jump into Top 10 from 2020 (No. 37).

View Full 2021 Year-End FedEx ATP Rankings

2021 Year-End FedEx ATP Rankings Quick Facts

– There were no changes at No. 1 during the season for the first time since 2015, the only other time Djokovic held the top spot without any interruptions in the year.

– The United States led all countries with 12 players in the Top 100 (most since 1996), followed by Spain with 10, France with 9, Italy with eight and Argentina with 7. It was the third straight year eight Italians were in the year-end Top 100. Spain and the U.S. had the most players in the Top 50 with six followed by Italy with four. The six Americans in the year-end Top 50 was the most since seven in 2003.

– Roger Federer, 40, finished as the oldest player in the Top 100 at No. 16. It was the Swiss superstar’s record 21st consecutive year in the Top 20. There were 31 players 30 and older in the year-end Top 100.

– There were three Russians in the year-end Top 20 for the second straight year with No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, No. 5 Andrey Rublev and No. 18 Aslan Karatsev, who jumped from No. 112 last year.

– No. 23 Taylor Fritz finished as the top American for the first time while No. 24 John Isner finished in the Top 25 for the 12th straight year. No. 26 Reilly Opelka gave the Americans three players in the year-end Top 30 for the first time since 2017.

– There were 14 players 25 and younger in the year-end Top 30 for the second season in a row.

– Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion Carlos Alcaraz made the biggest jump in the Top 50, climbing 109 positions from No. 141 to No. 32. The 18-year-old Spaniard is the youngest player in the Top 100 and the top player in the year-end rankings at his age since 18-year-old Andrei Medvedev was No. 24 in 1992. Alcaraz was one of 10 first-time winners on the ATP Tour this season.

– #NextGenATP players Juan Manuel Cerundolo, 20, and Jenson Brooksby, 21, made the biggest jumps into the Top 100 from last year. Cerundolo climbed 252 spots from No. 341 to No. 89 and Brooksby improved 251 spots from No. 307 to No. 56. There were 10 #NextGenATP players (21 & under) in the Top 100 of the year-end FedEx ATP Rankings.

– Overall there are 34 countries represented in the year-end Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings.

– Croatians Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic finished No. 1 in the year-end FedEx ATP Doubles Team Rankings. Pavic finished No. 1 last year (w/Soares) and in 2018 (w/Oliver Marach).

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Tom Barnes Completes Final Event As ATP Supervisor

  • Posted: Nov 22, 2021

When Alexander Zverev lifted the trophy on Sunday at the Pala Alpitour, it ended the Nitto ATP Finals, but it also signalled the close of ATP Director of Officiating Operations Tom Barnes’ career.

Barnes, who has been involved in the tennis officiating community for more than three decades, served as the ATP Supervisor for the final time in Turin.

“Before I came to work for the ATP, I never kept a job more than three years in my whole life,” Barnes said. “It’s been a fantastic journey. I’ve loved every bit of it.”

Barnes’ mother played tennis when he was a kid. She had an old wooden racquet from which they cut off the handle to allow Tom to hit against the garage door.

“I played a little bit as a junior,” Barnes said. “But I wasn’t very good.”

In California, juniors who lost in tournaments had to serve as umpires, so Barnes said he, “got more experience as an umpire than playing”. He served in the United States Marine Corps from 1960-64 and played tennis during his time there.

Later on, Barnes had a manufacturing company that built cabinets for hospitals and schools. When he sold the business, he worked on a couple of projects for the manager of his local club.

“The pro asked to help with a clinic. One thing led to another and the pro quit, so I became the club pro,” Barnes said. “While I was doing that, that’s when I entered a national tournament and that’s when my officiating career started.”

Gerry Armstrong, Tom Barnes
Tournament Referee Gerry Armstrong poses with ATP Supervisor Tom Barnes at the Nitto ATP Finals.
Barnes called to see when he was scheduled to play at the 30-and-over tournament. Officials told him Monday afternoon, and another tournament staffer confirmed that when he called back.

“I showed up a couple hours early to get a hit with somebody and checked in with the referee and he said, ‘Oh, Barnes! Where have you been? You were supposed to be here this morning,’” Barnes said. “They had defaulted me and put an alternate in my spot and I was out of luck.

“The referee challenged me and said, ‘If you think you’re so good go sit in that chair and call that baseline.’ So I did. It turned out I liked it and that started the whole process.”

Barnes received his international certification as a chair umpire in 1983 and would later serve as the US Open referee for two years. His first tournament as a supervisor for the ATP was an ATP Challenger Tour event in Guam in 1990.

“I get to do everything I like to do. I like to manage people, I get to do that. I like the rules structure, and so I administer the rules,” Barnes said. “I’m just very comfortable.”

Barnes will continue assisting on a contractual basis with officiating development. But he will be missed on Tour, and was enthusiastically greeted by ATP staff earlier in the week during a special ceremony at the entrance to centre court.

ATP SVP Rules and Competition Miro Bratoev said: “I’d like to thank Tom for his invaluable contributions to the ATP, officiating and the entire sport over the past several decades. His service to the tennis community has helped elevate the sport’s officiating standards and pushed all of us to constantly improve and evolve. His efforts will have a lasting effect that will carry down to officials for years to come, and I look forward to seeing him continue to mentor officials in the future.”

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After 5 Straight Losses, Zverev Brings New Playbook To Battle Medvedev

  • Posted: Nov 22, 2021

You can’t run through a brick wall. But you can walk around it with great success.

Alexander Zverev hit only 47 per cent forehand groundstrokes against Daniil Medvedev in their round-robin match at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin last week. Medvedev squeaked that one out 6-3, 6-7(3), 7-6(6).

Zverev updated his game plan to hit 57 per cent forehands in Sunday’s final against Medvedev, defeating the Russian 6-4, 6-4 to win his second crown at the season finale. The change of strategy was a “win-win” for Zverev, as he got to hit his more potent forehand weapon more often and he forced Medvedev to rely a lot less on his proverbial brick-wall backhand.

Zverev’s forehand started on shaky ground, missing four times in the opening game of the match with two forehand groundstroke errors and two forehand return errors. He actually missed five of the first six forehands he hit to start the match. But it was Medvedev’s forehand that would miss the mark four times in the second and third games of the match, as Zverev broke early for a 2-1 lead, and he never looked back. Not overplaying Medvedev’s rock-solid backhand was a key to the stunning victory.

Total Forehands / Backhands

Round-Robin Match
Zverev = 47% forehands (201 forehands / 227 backhands)
Medvedev = 56% forehands (240 forehands / 186 backhands)

Zverev = 57% forehands (94 forehands / 70 backhands)
Medvedev = 68% forehands (118 forehands / 56 backhands)

Zverev hit more backhands than forehands (53% backhands / 47% forehands) in their round robin match, but that flipped in the final, with the German dominating with 57 per cent forehands. That had a follow-on effect with Medvedev hitting 68 per cent forehands in the final – up from 56 per cent in their round-robin match.

Zverev was skillfully doing all he could to avoid, or walk around, the Medvedev backhand that has traditionally given him so many problems. Medvedev had won the past five matches against Zverev, with the Russian getting the better of the backhand-to-backhand exchanges.

Medvedev was broken early in both sets in Sunday’s final, dropping serve at 1-1 in the opening set and in the very first game of the second set. In the opening set, Medvedev started his service game with two forehand errors to drop into a 0-30 hole. He was broken three points later. With Medvedev serving at 0-0, 30-40 in the first game of second set, he missed a forehand wide to gift the break to the German.

The biggest shot from the back of the court in the final was Zverev’s forehand, which averaged 76 mph to Medvedev’s 73 mph. Both backhands were slower, averaging in the 60 mph range.

In their robin-robin match, Zverev only directed 42 per cent of his shots wide to the Deuce court to Medvedev’s forehand. That total rose to 52 per cent in the final, as Zverev far preferred to trade blows with forehands rather than trying his luck against Medvedev’s impenetrable backhand.

After a shaky start with his forehand, Zverev settled down to collect seven forehand winners while committing 14 forehand rally errors. Medvedev’s numbers were similar (eight winners / 15 errors), as the Russian tried to “red-line” with his forehand in the second set to get back in the match.

Zverev relies heavily on a strong backhand cross court as the foundation of his baseline game. But five straight losses to Medvedev meant that something strategically had to change. Zverev had to ask himself the age-old question in our sport: Is it more important to hit the ball where you want to hit it, or more important to hit it where your opponent does not want it?

Zverev’s successful adjustment to not keep banging his head against the brick wall shows he finally figured that one out.

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Zverev Is Flying As High As Ever; Is World No. 1 Next?

  • Posted: Nov 22, 2021

Alexander Zverev finished his 2021 season in the best way possible Sunday evening when he claimed his second Nitto ATP Finals trophy, signalling what could be an even bigger 2022 for the German star.

The 24-year-old is flying high after defeating Daniil Medvedev in the Turin final. Zverev could now be poised to chase Novak Djokovic’s No. 1 spot in the FedEx ATP Rankings alongside Medvedev next year.

“[Things] couldn’t be much better, to be honest. I’m obviously happy with how the season went. I’m happy with the finish of the season,” Zverev said. “It was obviously a great year. To capture the title here has been incredible. Give me the trophy!”

Djokovic on Monday will have a lead of nearly 3,000 points over Medvedev and nearly 4,000 points over Zverev. But with three major titles to defend in 2022 and two rising stars in top form, the Serbian will have his hands full next year.

Since the start of the Tokyo Olympics, Zverev has played the best tennis of his career, winning 32 of his 36 matches to close his season. He earned the singles gold medal in Tokyo, his fifth ATP Masters 1000 crown in Cincinnati and his second Nitto ATP Finals trophy. Of his four losses during that stretch, three have come against Djokovic (1) and Medvedev (2).

The past two days have shown that when the German is firing, there are no holes in his game. Zverev outplayed Djokovic from the baseline in Saturday’s semi-finals and out served Medvedev in Sunday’s championship clash.

The bugaboos that have caught up to Zverev in the past seem just that — a thing of the past. Over the past few years, double faults have often crept into the right-hander’s game in abundance during pressure moments.

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But at this year’s Nitto ATP Finals, he played fearless tennis and won 61 per cent of his second-serve points against the best players in the world. Entering the week, he had only won 50 per cent of points behind his second delivery on the year. Zverev knew he had to play aggressively and when he did, the results showed there is little anyone could do about it.

“You go into the match knowing that you’re playing one of the two best players in the world. I knew that I had to play my best tennis to beat him,” Zverev said after defeating Medvedev. “I did that today. I think I played a very good match. I’m happy with my level. I’m happy with the performance I had.”

Zverev lost a match in Turin this week, but that was in a final-set tie-break against Medvedev, who pushed Djokovic for year-end No. 1 this year before the 34-year-old clinched a record seventh year-end No. 1 finish during the Rolex Paris Masters.

But there is reason to believe next year could be an even tighter race for top spot. Medvedev lifted his first major trophy at the US Open, defeating Djokovic in the final, and Zverev has also proven fit for the biggest matches.

In the semi-finals of the Tokyo Olympics, he halted Djokovic’s dreams of a Golden Slam. In Turin, he faced the daunting task of playing Djokovic and Medvedev in back-to-back matches, and he passed the test with flying colours to become the fourth player in tournament history to earn semi-final and final wins over the world’s top two players. He is the first to do so since 1990.

Sunday’s victory also gave Zverev the most titles of anyone this year with six, and his 59 tour-level victories are currently best on Tour. The only thing the German has not accomplished is major glory, and the 2020 US Open finalist has his sights set on changing that next year.

“I have succeeded on every single level, and there’s one thing missing,” Zverev said. “I hope I can do that next year.”

Only time will tell if Zverev or Medvedev can hunt down Djokovic for World No. 1. But their chances are looking better than ever.

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