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Medvedev's Career-Best & Ruud On A Roll: Stats Of 2021

  • Posted: Dec 22, 2021

The ATP Tour season saw stars including World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev and Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev continue to shine, while others like Casper Ruud and Jannik Sinner broke through. 

In the first of a two-part story, looks at the stats to remember from 2021.

ATP Tour Match Wins Leaders

 Player  2021 W/L Record  2021 Titles
 1) Daniil Medvedev  63-13  4
 2) Alexander Zverev  59-15  6
 3) Casper Ruud  57-17  5
 T4) Novak Djokovic  55-7  5
 T4) Stefanos Tsitsipas  55-19  2

Medvedev earned a career-high 63 tour-level wins in 2021 to lead all players on the ATP Tour. The Russian’s previous best was 59 in 2019. Although Djokovic finished fourth on the list with 55 victories, he had the highest winning percentage by a healthy margin at 88.7 per cent. Medvedev was closest at 82.9 per cent.

2021 Hard Court Leaders

 Player  2021 W/L Record (Hard)  2021 Titles (Hard)
 1) Daniil Medvedev  51-8  3
 2) Alexander Zverev  41-9  5
 3) Jannik Sinner  39-14  4
 4) Andrey Rublev  37-16  1
 5) Stefanos Tsitsipas  32-13  0

Jannik Sinner began the year with 30 tour-level wins, and he exceeded that mark in 2021 on hard courts alone. The Italian, who broke into the Top 10 for the first time in November, won four of his five ATP Tour titles in 2021. All of them came on hard courts, in Melbourne (ATP 250), Washington, Sofia and Antwerp.

2021 Clay Court Leaders

 Player  2021 W/L Record (Clay)  2021 Titles (Clay)
 1) Casper Ruud  28-5  4
 T2) Stefanos Tsitsipas  23-5  2
 T2) Federico Delbonis  23-13  0
 T4) Rafael Nadal  19-3  2
 T4) Albert Ramos-Vinola  19-11  1

It is no surprise to see Casper Ruud atop the 2021 clay-court wins list. The Norwegian has long been a standout on that surface, and this year he claimed 28 victories on clay. Stefanos Tsitsipas also surged on the dirt this year with 23 wins. Before the season, the Greek star had won less than 70 per cent of his clay-court matches, but this year he won more than 82 per cent of them (23-5). He claimed his first ATP Masters 1000 title at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and advanced to his maiden major final at Roland Garros.

2021 Indoors Leaders

 Player  2021 W/L Record (Indoors)  2021 Titles (Indoors)
 1) Daniil Medvedev  18-3  1
 2) Jannik Sinner  17-6  2
 T3) Alexander Zverev  13-3  1
 T3) Marin Cilic  13-7  1
 5) Andrey Rublev  12-6  1

Two of Medvedev’s three indoor losses in 2021 (18-3) came against two of the top three players in the world. The Russian lost against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the Rolex Paris Masters final and World No. 3 Alexander Zverev in the championship match at the Nitto ATP Finals. He also earned an indoor title in Marseille, where he dropped just one set.

Tie-Break Wins

 Player  Tie-Break Wins
 1) Alexander Zverev  25-12
 2) Alexei Popyrin  23-13
 T3) John Isner  22-12
 T3) Jannik Sinner  22-14
 T3) Reilly Opelka  22-17

Australian Alexei Popyrin had only won 17 tour-level tie-breaks entering the year, but he showed his prowess under pressure by triumphing in 23 of them this season. Popyrin went 5-0 in tie-breaks at the Singapore Tennis Open, where he lifted his first ATP Tour trophy. He also climbed to a career-best World No. 59 in the FedEx ATP Rankings in November.

Top 10 Wins

 Player  Top 10 Wins
 1) Novak Djokovic  14-4
 2) Alexander Zverev  12-8
 3) Daniil Medvedev  10-5
 T4) Aslan Karatsev  5-4
 T5) Stefanos Tsitsipas  5-8

Not only did Djokovic have the best winning percentage of anyone on Tour in 2021, but he also was most efficient against the very best. The Serbian won 77.8 per cent of his matches against Top 10 opponents (14-4). Nobody had more Top 10 victories than Djokovic this year. Only five players had an even or winning record against the elite group (at least five matches vs. Top 10): Djokovic, Medvedev (10-5), Zverev (12-8), Aslan Karatsev (5-4) and Rafael Nadal (4-4).

ATP Masters 1000 Wins

 Player  ATP Masters 1000 Wins  Titles
 1) Stefanos Tsitsipas  20-7  1
 2) Alexander Zverev  19-5  2
 3) Daniil Medvedev  18-6  1
 4) Andrey Rublev  17-8  0
 T5)  Casper Ruud   16-6  0
 T5) Hubert Hurkacz  16-7  1

Zverev was the only player who earned multiple Masters 1000 crowns this year. The German was victorious at the Mutua Madrid Open and the Western & Southern Open. Tsitsipas led the Tour with 20 Masters 1000 match wins.

Decisive Set Wins

 Player  Decisive Set Wins
 T1) Casper Ruud  15-3
 T1) Stefanos Tsitsipas  15-12
 T3) Daniil Medvedev  14-5
 T3) Kei Nishikori  14-8
 T3) Cameron Norrie  14-10
 T3) Marin Cilic  14-11
 T3) Andrey Rublev  14-11

A big part of Ruud’s breakthrough season came in his performance during deciding sets. After losing his first match of the season against Jiri Vesely in a deciding set, the Norwegian went 15-2 for the rest of 2021. His two other defeats came at majors, falling in fifth sets against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina at Roland Garros and against Jordan Thompson at Wimbledon.

Read More From Our Best Of 2021 Series

– Research contributed by Greg Sharko

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Ruusuvuori, Brooksby Wins Among Biggest ATP Tour Upsets Of 2021

  • Posted: Dec 22, 2021

Continuing our review of the 2021 season, today looks at three of the top five upsets of the year at ATP Tour events. We’ll review the top two tomorrow. On Friday and Saturday, we’ll look at the biggest upsets at majors in 2021.

5) Miami Open presented by Itau, Second Round, Emil Ruusuvuori d. Alexander Zverev 1-6, 6-3, 6-1
As tournament debuts go, they don’t get much better than Emil Ruusuvuori’s at the Miami Open presented by Itau.

The Finn had edged past #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in his first-round match to set up a clash against the in-form Alexander Zverev, who had just won the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC title.

Prior to the match, World No. 83 Ruusuvuori had earned just one Top 10 victory in his career, with that coming against Dominic Thiem in Davis Cup play in 2019. The task of facing then-World No. 7 Alexander Zverev looked to be a daunting one, and it proved that way in the opening stages.

Zverev made a fast start, racing ahead to clinch the opener as his powerful ball striking forced Ruusuvuori into errors. However, with the pressure off, the 22-year-old remained calm and changed up tactics to impose himself on the match.

In the second set, Ruusuvuori varied his game plan and took the ball early, increasingly moving forward to finish points at the net when given the opportunity. Ruusuvuori broke Zverev four times in the set to level, before he maintained this tactic in the decider to shock the 19-time tour-level titlist after two hours and five minutes for his biggest career win.

“I don’t even know myself [how I turned this match around],” Ruusuvuori said in his on-court interview. “I wasn’t feeling very comfortable in the first set and I was making a lot of unforced errors. But slowly in the second I was starting to feel a bit better…

“Of course, it’s one of the biggest wins in my career, so it feels good.”

It was the first time Ruusuvuori reached the third round at a tour-level event this season and just the second time he had made the third round at an ATP Masters 1000 tournament. The 22-year-old would go on to overcome Swede Mikael Ymer in the third round, before falling to Jannik Sinner.

4) MercedesCup, Second Round, Dominik Stricker d. Hubert Hurkacz 7-6(5), 7-6(5)
Dominic Stricker began the season No. 1,168 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. Following his triumph at an ATP Challenger Tour event and a run to the quarter-finals at the Gonet Geneva Open on his tour-level debut, the 18-year-old was up to No. 335 when the MercedesCup rolled around in June.

Stricker had received a wild card for the grass-court ATP 250 event and made the most of it with a tight victory against Radu Albot in the first round. The reward for the Swiss youngster was a second-round match against Miami champion Hubert Hurkacz, who would go on to to reach the semi-finals at Wimbledon and play at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin in 2021.

For Stricker, this was where his journey was supposed to end, with Hurkacz the second seed and the World No. 20. However, the 18-year-old clearly didn’t read the script as he produced the best performance of his season to shock the Pole.

Stricker was strong on serve, hitting eight aces and winning 81 per cent (46/57) of his first-serve points to frustrate Hurkacz, with both sets going to tie-breaks.

The more experienced Hurkacz was unable to find a way through as Stricker raised his level in both tie-breaks to upset the 24-year-old and reach the quarter-finals in emphatic style.

3) Citi Open, Third Round, Jenson Brooksby d. Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 6-4
Jenson Brooksby was voted the Newcomer of the Year in the 2021 ATP Awards last week, and it was down to his stunning performances this season such as his victory against Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Citi Open.

The 21-year-old was making his ATP 500 tournament debut in Washington and was looking to build on his run to his first tour-level final in Newport the previous month. But he knew the challenge would be difficult, with a strong field packed with Top 20 stars.

While Brooksby’s run to the final in Newport was impressive, the American did not beat anyone inside the Top 50 of the FedEx ATP Rankings and was playing on slick grass, a surface that suits his unorthodox game.

The challenge facing the World No. 130 in Washington was seemingly far greater, with Auger-Aliassime No. 15 and in strong form, having recently reached his first major quarter-final at Wimbledon.

However, it was hard to tell who was the rookie was and who was the eight-time tour-level finalist. Brooksby produced a fearless display in front of a lively home crowd to shock the Canadian and earn the biggest win of his career.

The wild card had already scored impressive victories over former World No. 5 Kevin Anderson and countryman Frances Tiafoe en route to the third round, but he upped his level again, causing Auger-Aliassime problems with his variety and solid baseline tennis.

The American made few unforced errors, and by altering the pace of rallies with his deadly drop shot and surprise direction changes, Brooksby prevented the powerful Canadian from controlling play to claim victory after 85 minutes.

“I have definitely gotten mentally tougher this year, and it’s only kept improving. I just really love, truly love playing on these stages,” Brooksby said. “No opponent will faze me. I can compete with anyone. This was definitely a very good match today for me.

“I stayed really focussed throughout. I didn’t really have any lapses in my strategy or mentally. I’m happy with that match.”

Brooksby would go on to defeat John Millman in the quarter-finals, before he lost to eventual champion Jannik Sinner in the last four. The American’s victory against Auger-Aliassime fuelled him with further belief as he went on to reach the fourth round at the US Open in September.

Read more of the Best Of 2021

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Christensen On Rune's Rise, His Match vs. Djokovic & More

  • Posted: Dec 22, 2021

Holger Rune had a breakout season on the ATP Tour. As a 17-year-old in March, he qualified in Santiago and became the youngest tour-level quarter-finalist since 17-year-old Borna Coric in Umag in 2014. The Danish teen maintained his climb, ascending from outside the Top 450 in the FedEx ATP Rankings to the fringe of the Top 100.

Rune competed in the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. The 18-year-old has been coached since he was young by Lars Christensen, who spoke to about his charge’s rise, personality, facing Novak Djokovic and more.

You’ve been working with Holger since he was young. How did your relationship come about?
I was head coach in a club in Denmark. I was in charge of everything, coaching all the kids. He came when he was six-and-a-half because his big sister was playing tennis. She was playing quite well and I think he started in the summer season. 

In the winter season, I started coaching all the small kids as well. I noticed him very fast. He progressed so fast and was totally dedicated to becoming a good tennis player, so that’s how I got his eyes on him in the first place.

What stuck out to you about him?
He is very emotional, very competitive as well and very, very fast. He was totally dedicated to tennis. In the beginning, he was playing a bit of soccer as well and he was doing all kinds of leisure things. But very [quickly], he just wanted to be a tennis player. One week he was Rafa with the headband and all the gear. He wanted to be like Rafa. The next week he would be Federer and he was totally dedicated to it. He really loved playing tennis. 

There is usually a bump in the road. Did he have one and if so, what was it? 
My main focus in the beginning, like all the kids that I coach, is to give them sound technique. He was so eager to learn and he practised so much at home. In Denmark, he was two, three years ahead of his time. When he was eight he would beat the guys who were 11 or 12 years old and he would do that with good technique and understanding of the game because he was watching so much tennis. 

When we started competing internationally, under 12, he was just not physically good enough at that time. He was technically better than most players. If he played half court, he would win every time, but on a full court, he was not moving well enough. I decided we needed to develop his physique and agility much more. 

He really hated that because he was lazy [as a kid], so we had some tough times at that moment, making him understand and work hard in practice and do things without the racquet, coordination drills and stuff like that. When he came through it, he started beating the guys at under-12 events and became the best player in his age group. Everything paid off in the end.  

Holger Rune
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Can you recall examples of sending him to go for a run or something like that? 
There were a lot of times he was screaming like crazy and crying because he was refusing to do what I wanted him to do. His mother would be on the side forcing him to do the drills I wanted him to do. But we are best friends. 

How nice is it on a personal level to watch him grow up from being a boy with a dream to being on centre stage? 
It is an amazing journey. It has not always been easy. When the relationship is so close, it is hard to be professional and not personal. That separation between the personal and professional relationship can be hard to separate. I have to be really hard on him sometimes, but then I have to treat him like my son. 

How much has he matured as a person? 
It has been a tough transition from the juniors to the seniors. He is really working hard to get that dimension and maturity of his personality and his game — to stay in there when it gets tough. We are really working hard on that. 

For me, that is one of the major issues that should be developed in the next year or two if he really wants to succeed. For me, he has the game and everything to succeed, but he needs to grow in his mentality. All these matches at this level, it is about building blocks and we are climbing up slowly. We had some goals and we managed to achieve our goals all the way through, so I am sure we are doing the right thing. He wants it so much. 

Before he played Novak Djokovic at the US Open and won a set in that match, he said he wanted to go and beat him. How nice is it that he has that belief in himself? 
He has always been like that. When he was 10, he was 100 per cent sure he could beat the senior guys in Denmark and that was not possible. But in his mind, it was possible and that is such a strong view for a player to have, because if you don’t believe 100 per cent in yourself, it is not going to happen. 

I am more realistic. I knew playing Djokovic at the US Open in his first Slam [would be tough]. If he played some good tennis and showed his potential, I would have been really happy. That is what he did and that was fantastic. But for him, it was winning or losing and that is fuel for a player and that is very good. I don’t want to take that away from him. 

But my job is setting realistic goals, trying to tell him everything is possible and in my opinion, there is one step at a time. Taking one set against Djokovic is something, but going the distance with Djokovic is another story. 

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