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#NextGenATP Stars Rune, Draper, Shelton Feature In Biggest ATP Upsets Of 2022

  • Posted: Nov 30, 2022

#NextGenATP Stars Rune, Draper, Shelton Feature In Biggest ATP Upsets Of 2022

Fritz, van Rijthoven also make the list

This week, begins its annual season-in-review series, looking back at 2022’s best matches, biggest upsets, most dramatic comebacks and more. In this installment, we look back at the biggest upsets on the ATP Tour this season (excluding the Grand Slams), featuring Holger Rune, Taylor Fritz and Jack Draper. On Thursday we will focus on the best Grand Slam upsets of the year.

5) Libema Open, van Rijthoven d. Fritz (R2), Auger-Aliassime (SF), Medvedev (Final)
Dutchman Tim van Rijthoven’s wild card run on the grass of ‘s-Hertogenbosch comes in at No. 5 on our list — but it could have been the biggest stunner, according to the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

The 25-year-old beat each of the top three seeds in the field — Taylor Fritz, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Daniil Medvedev — to become the lowest-ranked tour-level champion of the season at World No. 205.

In winning his first ATP Tour title, van Rijthoven battled back from a set down against Fritz in the second round, won a third-set tie-break against Auger-Aliassime in the semis and “destroyed” (Medvedev’s word) the World No. 2, 6-4, 6-1 in the final. 

“This is new for me, it’s going to take some time getting used to,” said the Dutchman, who had not won a tour-level match prior to his title run. “What a dream this week. I would like to thank my team for staying humble this week, doing the normal things, not making this thing any bigger than it was.”

Building off his trophy run, van Rijthoven went on to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon, taking a set off Novak Djokovic in defeat after cutting down seeds Reilly Opelka and Nikoloz Basilashvili. He reached a career-high Pepperstone ATP Ranking of World No. 101 in July behind his strong showings in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and London.

4) Western & Southern Open, R2, Shelton d. Ruud 6-3, 6-3
Not long after finishing his sophomore year at the University of Florida, then-19-year-old Ben Shelton proved he was ready to graduate to the professional level with a breakout showing in Cincinnati during his first ATP Masters 1000 event.

Facing World No. 5 Casper Ruud in the second round, the wild card made quick work of the Norwegian with a straight-sets victory. The American needed just over an hour to notch his fist Top 10 win.

“I think you’ve got to fake it till you make it, right?” Shelton said of his jump to the elite level. “If I’m not feeling completely comfortable at the beginning, I’m going to do my best to show that I am until I find myself in a place where I am settled in.”

The American’s victory has aged like a fine wine, as Miami finalist Ruud further proved his hard-court chops by advancing to the title matches at both the US Open and the Nitto ATP Finals later in the season.

Shelton, who officially turned pro just before making his Grand Slam debut in New York, used the momentum and the Pepperstone ATP Rankings points from his Cincinnati run to eventually break into the Top 100 following three straight ATP Challenger Tour titles in November.

3) National Bank Open Presented by Rogers, R2, Draper d. Tsitsipas 7-5, 7-6(4)
#NextGenATP Briton Jack Draper picked the perfect time to score his first Top 10 win, capping what was a day full of upsets in Montreal with the biggest shock of them all at the ATP Masters 1000.

The 20-year-old stunned then-World No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas under the lights for the biggest win of his young career. Draper took control of the baseline as he frustrated the Greek and broke three times on nine chances. While he was aggressive throughout from the backcourt, Draper’s superior consistency in the late stages of both sets proved decisive, with the Briton winning the last three points of the match from 4/4 in the second-set tie-break.

“This is why I put in all the hard work, for nights like this on stages like this,” he said after claiming the victory on centre court against a man 77 places higher than him in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

Draper went on the reach the quarter-finals in Montreal, and continued his strong play by reaching the third round at the US Open. A semi-finalist at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals to close his season, he will finish the year inside the Top 50.

2) BNP Paribas Open, Final, Fritz d. Nadal 6-3, 7-6(5)
While not seismic by the measure of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Taylor Fritz’s victory against Rafael Nadal in the Indian Wells final was remarkable for a number of reasons — none more so than the fact that the American nearly didn’t take the court.

After tweaking his ankle in the semi-finals against Andrey Rublev, Fritz was in serious pain the day of the final and nearly pulled out before the match. But going against the advice of his team, he decided to step out onto centre court at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden for what was the biggest match of his career.

Once the action began, Fritz took the match to Nadal, powering to a 4-0 lead with aggressive play on serve and return. The Spaniard began to soak up his opponent’s pace in set two, but Fritz saved five break points and reasserted himself late in the set, ultimately closing the deal with a patented serve-forehand combo on match point.

“I can’t even begin to describe how ridiculous it is that I was able to play how I could play today,” said Fritz, choking back tears after fulfilling his childhood dream of winning the title in his native Southern California. “I’ve never experienced worse pain in my life before a match.”

Nadal was not in perfect health himself, struggling with a rib fracture which would sideline him six weeks following the final. The Spaniard reached the title match by winning a thrilling three-setter against Carlos Alcaraz in blustery conditions, having escaped a double-break deficit against Sebastian Korda in the third set of his opening match. 

The win earned Fritz his first ATP Masters 1000 trophy and his first win against Nadal in two tries. It also ended the Spaniard’s 20-match win streak to begin the season, the best start of his career. Fritz would again defeat Nadal at the Nitto ATP Finals, where he reached the semis on his debut.

1) Rolex Paris Masters, Rune d. Hurkacz (R2), Rublev (R3), Alcaraz (QF), Auger-Aliassime (SF), Djokovic (Final)
Holger Rune was already enjoying a strong indoor season before the Rolex Paris Masters, reaching three straight finals and winning the title in Stockholm. But in claiming the third and biggest title of his blossoming career, the 19-year-old Dane upset five Top 10 opponents in succession in Bercy.

That run only began after Rune saved three match points against former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka in the opening round. After his early escape, he beat Hubert Hurkacz, Andrey Rublev, Carlos Alcaraz and Felix Auger-Aliassime — all without dropping a set — to set up a final showdown with six-time champion Novak Djokovic.

Rune capped off his Cinderella run with a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 win against the defending champion and former World No. 1, winning a marathon service game to close out the victory. The fearless Dane was particularly effective against Djokovic when following his serve with a forehand approach, winning 89 per cent (16/18) of points that began with that pattern.

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“It means everything to me, a perfect way to finish the week,” Rune said after claiming the title.

After beating all those Top 10 players, the Norwegian ended the week in the Top 10 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings himself for the first time.

“I’m feeling lovely to be honest, it’s the best feeling,” Rune said of the achievement. “If you told me four weeks ago, I would be Top 10… I would be like ‘What, sorry?’ Now I’m here and I’m super proud.”

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The 2022 ATP Awards Nominees Are…

  • Posted: Nov 30, 2022

The 2022 ATP Awards Nominees Are…

Young stars Alcaraz, Rune, Draper nominated in two categories

World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz and coach Juan Carlos Ferrero have received a total of three nominations in the 2022 ATP Awards, with nominees revealed today for the four player-voted categories and for Coach of the Year.

Alcaraz and Ferrero pick up nods in the Most Improved and Coach categories, respectively, for a second straight year. The 19-year-old Alcaraz, who has already been honoured as the ATP No. 1 presented by Pepperstone, is also nominated for the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the first time, alongside Felix Auger-Aliassime, five-time winner Rafael Nadal, Casper Ruud and Frances Tiafoe.

Alcaraz will go up against two other young stars, Jack Draper and Holger Rune, and 25-year-old American Maxime Cressy for Most Improved Player of the Year. Draper, 20, and Rune, 19, are also among the five nominees for Newcomer of the Year, which includes #NextGenATP players who broke into the Top 100 for the first time in 2022.

Nominees for Comeback Player of the Year, Most Improved Player of the Year and the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award are determined by an International Tennis Writers’ Association (ITWA) vote. Coach of the Year nominees are selected through first-round voting by ATP coaches.

ATP Awards winners, including Fans’ Favourite, will be revealed during Awards week, starting December 12th. Fans can vote for their favourite singles player and doubles team through Friday, 2 December.

Who's Your Favourite? Vote Now In 2022 ATP Awards

View the complete list of 2022 ATP Awards nominees:


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.

Borna Coric
Dominic Thiem
Stan Wawrinka
Wu Yibing

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

Carlos Alcaraz
Maxime Cressy
Jack Draper
Holger Rune

Newcomer of the Year: The #NextGenATP player who broke into the Top 100 for the first time in 2022 and made the biggest impact on the ATP Tour this season.

Jack Draper
Jiri Lehecka
Ben Shelton
Chun-Hsin Tseng
Holger Rune

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.

Carlos Alcaraz
Felix Auger-Aliassime
Rafael Nadal
Casper Ruud
Frances Tiafoe


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.

Juan Carlos Ferrero (Carlos Alcaraz)
Frederic Fontang (Felix Auger-Aliassime)
Goran Ivanisevic (Novak Djokovic)
Michael Russell (Taylor Fritz)
Christian Ruud (Casper Ruud)

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TopCourt: #NextGenATP Champ Nakashima’s Razor-Sharp Returns

  • Posted: Nov 30, 2022

TopCourt: #NextGenATP Champ Nakashima’s Razor-Sharp Returns

Few young stars on the ATP Tour made greater strides in 2022 than Brandon Nakashima.

The 21-year-old lifted his maiden ATP Tour title in his hometown of San Diego in September before going unbeaten in Milan to become the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion in November. Now inside the Top 50 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Nakashima has established himself as one of the most consistent young players on Tour with his hard-hitting, versatile game.

Luckily, Nakashima is now an ambassador for TopCourt, giving fans the chance to find out more about the secrets behind his meteoric rise. They include not only his physical and technical approaches, but also the keys to his calm on-court demeanour that belies his tender age. Nakashima reveals how his mental discipline was honed during his time as a college player in the United States, and dives deeper into how it helped prepare him for his ATP Tour breakthrough.

Instruction: Nakashima’s dominant returning was key to his recent triumph in Milan, and the #NextGenATP American teams up with Serbian coach Dusan Vemic to dissect the fundamentals of ‘Ad Side’ returning. Nakashima and Vemic demonstrate good technique while also flagging some common mistakes to avoid when stepping into your shot.

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Drills: The element of surprise should never be underestimated, and Nakashima shares the perfect drill for developing a good kick serve to catch your opponent off guard on the ad side. The service strategy Nakashima demonstrates can manoeuvre opponents off the court, giving you the chance to take charge of rallies as well as helping to increase your all-important first-serve percentage.

Follow Nakashima’s Tutorials at

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Alcaraz & Sinner’s US Open Epic Among Best Grand Slam Matches Of 2022

  • Posted: Nov 29, 2022

Alcaraz & Sinner’s US Open Epic Among Best Grand Slam Matches Of 2022

Nadal’s Australian Open turnaround against Medvedev also features’s annual season-in-review series looks back at 2022’s best matches, biggest upsets, most dramatic comebacks and more. Today we reflect on five of the most memorable Grand Slam battles of the year, featuring World No. 1 and US Open winner Carlos Alcaraz, and Australian Open and Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal.

5. Roland Garros, QF, Cilic d. Rublev 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(10-2)
As two of the most fearsome forehands on Tour clashed at the beginning of June on the Roland Garros clay, an extraordinary sequence of clean hitting from Marin Cilic in the deciding-set tie-break clinched a thrilling quarter-final against Andrey Rublev.

Cilic came into the match in a confident mood — he had described his fourth-round triumph in Paris against World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev as “one of the best matches of my career from start to finish” — and the Croatian’s confidence was clearly demonstrated in the way he took the deciding tie-break out of Rublev’s hands at the tail-end of an almighty tussle with a sequence of searing winners.

<a href=''>Marin Cilic</a>

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images.

“It comes from being me,” said Cilic when asked about his aggressive approach to the tie-break, in which he won nine straight points from 1/2. “I played that kind of tennis the whole match, and especially the fifth set was an incredible battle… A lot of heart, and one had to go down. Today was my day, but Andrey also played an incredible match.”

Cilic had to dig deep after a fast start from Rublev on Court Philippe Chatrier, where the Croatian opted to meet the seventh seed’s forceful groundstrokes with plenty of power-hitting of his own. He finished the match having struck a remarkable 88 winners, including 33 aces, in an epic four-hour, 10-minute triumph.

The win made 33-year-old Cilic the fifth then-active player to reach the semi-finals of all four Grand Slams, alongside Roger Federer (now retired), Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

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4. Roland Garros, SF, Nadal d. Zverev 7-6(8), 6-6 (RET)
It may seem unusual to declare a match that potentially wasn’t even halfway done when halted by injury as one of the best of the season, but such was the quality of tennis that Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev produced in their Roland Garros semi-final clash that it remains a must inclusion.

“I’m 25. I am at the stage where I want to win,” Zverev had said prior to his meeting with the then-13-time champion Nadal on Court Philippe Chatrier. ”I’m at the stage where I’m supposed to win, as well.”

There was a steely determination to those pre-match comments from the German. Just two victories from claiming a maiden Grand Slam crown which would also have lifted him to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time, he seemed set on taking the match to the Spaniard.

For the best part of two sets, Zverev did just that, as his fearless approach played a major role in some of the most scintillating Grand Slam tennis of the year. The World No. 3 went toe-to-toe with Nadal from the baseline early on, before the Spaniard showcased his resilience by rallying from 2/6 in the first-set tie-break to claim an epic one-hour, 31-minute opener.

Despite that disappointment, Zverev’s determination to stay on the front foot helped him open a 5-3 lead in the second set. After Nadal had again rallied to reclaim the break and take an absorbing encounter to the brink of a second-set tie-break, however, a match already set to become a bona fide classic was cruelly cut short.

<a href=''>Alexander Zverev</a> is forced to retire from the <a href=''>Roland Garros</a> semi-finals with an ankle injury.
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Chasing a Nadal forehand out wide to his right on the final point of the 12th game, Zverev badly rolled his right ankle. The ligament damage he suffered immediately put a painful end to both his Roland Garros campaign and his bid to become World No. 1, as well as bringing to a halt one of the best matches of the season after a breathtaking three hours and 13 minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier.

“Very tough and very sad for him,” Nadal said after the match. “Honestly, he was playing an unbelievable tournament. He’s a very good colleague on the Tour. I know how much he’s fighting to win a Grand Slam, but for the moment he was very unlucky. The only thing I’m sure is that he is going to win not one — more than one.”

3. Australian Open, Third Round, Berrettini d. Alcaraz 6-2, 7-6(3), 4-6, 2-6, 7-6(10-5)
There were some early signs of what was to come from Carlos Alcaraz in 2022 in this third-round epic at January’s Australian Open, but a fired-up Matteo Berrettini prevailed over the Spaniard across a topsy-turvy five sets in the Melbourne heat.

The seventh-seeded Italian appeared in control after surging to a two-sets-to-love lead on Rod Laver Arena, before the 18-year-old Alcaraz roared back to force a deciding-set tie-break. Having rolled his ankle in the second game of the fifth set, it was to Berrettini’s credit that he held firm to clinch a four-hour, 10-minute battle.

“I felt confident, and that momentum was on my side in the third set but then I got broken,” said the Italian afterwards. “My energy wasn’t right in the fourth set and in the fifth I just started to think about fighting for every point. In every match something happens [like the ankle injury] but I fought through it.”

<a href=''>Matteo Berrettini</a>
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Alcaraz saved a match point at 5-6, 30/40 in the fifth set to take the pair’s first Grand Slam encounter to a deciding tie-break. Although a series of missed forehands subsequently cost the then-World No. 31 a statement victory, Berrettini was full of praise for his young opponent.

“At his age I didn’t have an ATP point and he will only improve,” said the Italian. “He showed everyone his potential today.”

“I’m very proud of the performance today,” reflected Alcaraz. “It was my first time two sets down and then to be able to come back the way I did… I gave everything on the court.”

2. Australian Open, Final, Nadal d. Medvedev 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5
At two sets-to-love-down and trailing 2-3, 0/40 on his own serve, Rafael Nadal’s hopes for a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title at January’s Australian Open appeared lost. Daniil Medvedev’s red-hot start to the championship match in Melbourne had left the Spaniard struggling to keep up.

Cue what Nadal later described as “probably the biggest comeback of my tennis career”, as the 35-year-old roared to a stunning five-set victory to become the first male player to win 21 major crowns. Nadal began to out-hit Medvedev, one of the most powerful ballstrikers in the game, as he broke the second seed five times across the third, fourth and fifth sets on Rod Laver Arena.

“At the end history is about the victory, but the way that you win the match in terms of personal feelings is different,” Nadal said after the five-hour, 24-minute epic. “The way that I achieved this trophy tonight was just unforgettable, one of the most emotional matches of my tennis career, without a doubt. [It] means a lot to me.”

<a href=''>Rafael Nadal</a>

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Nadal’s ability to stay the course was all the more remarkable considering his relatively recent return to the Tour after missing the second half of the 2021 season with a left-foot injury. Medvedev later admitted his disbelief at his 35-year-old’s physical prowess during the pair’s marathon battle.

“[It’s] tough to talk after five hours, 30 minutes and losing, but I want to congratulate Rafa because what he did today, I was amazed,” said the second seed. “I tried during the match just to play tennis, but after the match I asked him, ‘Are you tired?’, because it was insane.”

1. US Open, QF, Alcaraz d. Sinner 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-7(0), 7-5, 6-3
Two of the biggest young talents in the game battling it out until the early hours in New York City, September’s US Open quarter-final between Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner was one for the history books.

It was a demonstration of power, athleticism, skill and sheer mental resilience from two players who look set to be at the top of the game for years to come. In what may well be the first of many classic Grand Slam battles between the two, Alcaraz ultimately prevailed having saved match point at 4-5 in the fourth set en route to a remarkable five-hour, 15-minute win.

“”Honestly, I still don’t know how I did it,” said the Spaniard after sealing victory in the second-longest match in tournament history. “You have to believe in yourself. I believed in my game. It was really difficult to close out the match. I tried to stay calm, but it is difficult in the moment.”

<a href=''>Jannik Sinner</a>/<a href=''>Carlos Alcaraz</a>

Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin/AFP via Getty Images

The 19-year-old Alcaraz and 20-year-old Sinner both hit the ball with relentless force throughout. The combination of power and consistency kept an enraptured Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd on the edge of their seats all the way through to 2:50 a.m., when Alcaraz finally clinched a New York classic that broke the record for the latest finish in tournament history.

“The energy I received in this court at 3 a.m., it was unbelievable,” Alcaraz later acknowledged. “I mean, probably in other tournaments, everybody [would go] to their house to rest. But they [stayed] in the court, supporting me. It was unbelievable.”

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Riedi, Watanuki Capture Back-To-Back Challenger Titles

  • Posted: Nov 28, 2022

Riedi, Watanuki Capture Back-To-Back Challenger Titles

Andreozzi adds to Argentina’s record-setting 23 Challenger titles this season

Swiss Leandro Riedi and Japan’s Yosuke Watanuki are making a late season surge on the ATP Challenger Tour. Riedi and Watanuki, who are among four Challenger champions this week, have each claimed two Challenger titles in as many weeks and are at a career-high mark in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

Riedi, 20, was crowned champion this week at the Andria Challenger. The #NextGenATP youngster, who defeated Mikhail Kukushkin 7-6(4), 6-3 in the final, didn’t drop a set all week en route to winning the Castel Del Monte Open – Andria.

The Frauenfeld native joins Marc-Andrea Huesler and Dominic Stricker as two-time Challenger titlists this season from Switzerland. After winning 12 straight matches, including advancing through qualifying to win the Helsinki Challenger, Riedi rises to a career-high 161 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

“I feel unbelievable,” Riedi said. “It’s been an absolutely crazy two weeks. I loved it, it was so much fun. It’s been the best two weeks of my career and I hope it’s just the beginning.”

ATP Challenger Tour 

The 2020 Roland Garros boys’ singles finalist (l. Stricker) has been making a sudden impact on the Challenger Tour since finishing a standout junior career, including winning the 2020 Australian Open boys’ doubles title (Nicholas David Ionel).

In Andria doubles action, British duo Julian Cash and Henry Patten captured a record-setting ninth Challenger title this season. The previous record, eight Challenger doubles titles in a season, was set in 2012 by twin brothers from Thailand, Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana.

Watanuki, seeded third, didn’t drop a set all week to triumph at the Yokkaichi Challenger. In a rematch of the previous week’s Kobe Challenger final, Watanuki defeated Portugal’s Frederico Ferreria Silva 6-2, 6-2 in the championship match.

“Honestly, before these four weeks (Japanese Challenger swing) started, I didn’t expect such good results,” Watanuki said.

“I really can’t believe I’m ranked 145. I want to play on the ATP Tour as much as possible in the future. Whenever I had a chance, I always tried to play on the ATP Tour this year. I definitely have a better outlook playing with high level players. I want to challenge myself more and more.”

The 24-year-old, who is coached by his older brother Yusuke, reached his first Tour-level quarter-final earlier this season at the ATP 250 event in Lyon (l. de Minaur).

Watanuki has built upon his season’s success, including winning 14 of his past 15 matches and reaching the final at each of the past three Challenger tournaments he’s competed in (Yokohama, Kobe, Yokkaichi). The Saitama native is the only Japanese player to claim multiple challenger titles this season.

Despite coming into the week ranked No. 901, Argentine Guido Andreozzi advanced through qualifying at the Temuco Challenger en route to capturing his first Challenger title since October 2018 (Guayaquil).

<a href=''>Guido Andreozzi</a> breathes a sigh of relief after winning the Temuco Challenger.
Guido Andreozzi breathes a sigh of relief after winning the Temuco Challenger. Credit: Bastien Vidal

Andreozzi, former World No. 70, rallied from a set down in the final to defeat countryman Nicolas Kicker 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. After needing deciding sets in four of his five main draw matches this week, the Buenos Aires native prevailed to win the Challenger Dove Men+Care Temuco.

The 31-year-old adds to Argentina’s record-setting 23 Challenger titles this season. Andreozzi is the 16th different Argentine champion of this year, marking a Challenger Tour record for the most different winners from a single country in a season.

Andreozzi also paired with Guillermo Duran to win their seventh team title this year at the Challenger 100 event in Chile.

At the Copa Faulcombridge in Valencia, Spain, Ukraine’s Oleksii Krutykh defeated French teenager Luca Van Assche 6-2, 6-0 in the final to collect his second Challenger title of the season.

<a href=''>Oleksii Krutykh</a> in action at the 2022 Valencia Challenger.
Oleksii Krutykh in action at the 2022 Valencia Challenger. Credit: Raul Piles

The 22-year-old, who also won the Prague Challenger in August, is the only Ukrainian to claim a Challenger title this season. This week in Valencia, Krutykh rallied from a set down in his quarter-final and semi-final matches to keep his title run alive.

The Kyiv native, who also won the doubles title in Spain (w/ Oriol Roca Batalla) rises to a career-high 190 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.


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Alcaraz, Djokovic & Nadal Thrillers Feature In Best ATP Matches Of 2022

  • Posted: Nov 28, 2022

Alcaraz, Djokovic & Nadal Thrillers Feature In Best ATP Matches Of 2022

Alcaraz and Djokovic’s semi-final clash in Madrid tops list

This week, begins its annual season-in-review series, looking back at 2022’s best matches, biggest upsets, most dramatic comebacks and more. We start by looking back at the best matches on the ATP Tour this season (excluding the Grand Slams), featuring World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. On Tuesday we will focus on the best Grand Slam matches of the year.

5) Miami Open presented by Itau, QF, Alcaraz d. Kecmanovic 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(5)
In a standout season, Carlos Alcaraz frequently lit up the ATP Tour with his all-court, expansive game. One of his best performances of the year came en route to his maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown in Miami, where he clawed past Miomir Kecmanovic in a thrilling quarter-final clash.

The 19-year-old Alcaraz was two points from defeat at 4-5, 15/30 in the third set and again at 3/5 in the third-set tie-break, where he twice trailed by a mini-break. But he was brave and bold at the crucial moments, combining explosive power with the effective use of the drop shot. Alcaraz’s imprint on the match was highlighted by his 52/40 winners-to-unforced-errors count as he looked for every opportunity to attack. Kecmanovic, who did his best to keep his opponent on the back foot, registered a 19/16 mark.

“I’m trying to hit the ball hard to push the opponent off the baseline,” Alcaraz said of his tactics. “The drop shot is good for me. I have confidence with that shot. In the tough moments, you have to hit the best shots that you have.”

The Spaniard’s aggressive strategy paid off in the third-set tie-break as he won the final four points of the match, sealing the deal spectacularly with a pushed passing shot on the dead run.

Kecmanovic arrived in Miami off the back of a quarter-final run in Indian Wells. Despite his defeat, Kecmanovic demonstrated his high confidence levels against Alcaraz, firing the ball off both wings to push the Spaniard all the way.

4) Rolex Paris Masters, SF, Djokovic d. Tsitsipas a 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(4)
Novak Djokovic entered his semi-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Rolex Paris Masters having won his past 12 matches, lifting trophies in Tel Aviv and Astana in October. With a spot in the final on the line, the Serbian made it 13 straight wins, but only just.

Aiming to keep alive his hopes of capturing a record-extending 39th ATP Masters crown, Djokovic produced a high-quality performance to improve to 9-2 in his ATP Head2Head series against Tsitsipas at the time.

Djokovic fired 36 winners and 12 unforced errors and won 84 per cent (41/49) of his first-serve points, not facing a break point in the first or third set.

In a 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(4) victory, the Serbian won the final four points of the match after falling behind by a mini-break in the decisive tie-break. Serving at 5/4 in the third-set tie-break, Djokovic scrambled from corner to corner to survive a point Tsitsipas seemed to have won twice over. Djokovic then fired down a serve to seal his victory after two hours and 22 minutes.

Tsitsipas was aiming to gain revenge against Djokovic, having lost to the Serbian in the Astana final. However, the 24-year-old, who was seeking his third ATP Masters 1000 title, was unable to handle the pressure moments and earn his first victory against Djokovic since Shanghai in 2019.

“It’s very sweet when you win matches like this against one of the best players in the world,” Djokovic said after the victory.

With a record seventh Paris title on the line, there was to be no fairytale end for Djokovic, though, with the former World No. 1 losing to #NextGenATP Dane Holger Rune in the championship match.

3) Hamburg European Open, Final, Musetti d. Alcaraz 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-4
In a battle between two #NextGenATP stars, Lorenzo Musetti produced a performance full of quality and fight to claw past Carlos Alcaraz and capture his first ATP Tour title at the Hamburg European Open. The Italian arrived in Germany having lost six consecutive tour-level matches and was on the brink of a seventh straight defeat in his opening match at the ATP 500 event against Dusan Lajovic. However, Musetti stayed alive, saving two match points against Lajovic in a victory that changed his fortunes.

Boosted by his win, the 20-year-old then overcame Emil Ruusuvuori, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Francisco Cerundolo to set a final meeting against Alcaraz. 

In a match that swung one way and then the other, the Italian let slip two championship points while serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set and then another three in the ensuing tie-break as Alcaraz battled hard to level.

However, rather than letting his missed chance deflate him, the 20-year-old continued to push. Musetti played aggressively from the baseline, moved into the net when given the opportunity and kept the now-six-time ATP Tour titlist off balance with plenty of variety in spin and pace.

Alcaraz was not at his flying best in the championship clash, making uncharacteristic errors. But that was in part because his opponent kept him guessing and he was unable to find rhythm, with Musetti sealing his memorable win when the 19-year-old Alcaraz missed a backhand long. The Italian sank to the clay in celebration following his two-hour, 47-minute win.

“Of course I was really upset, but I tried to not show my opponent my reaction. I tried to forgive [myself for] all the match points and all the points [when] I couldn’t do it,” Musetti said. “I think that was the most [important] thing, even for me, because I didn’t expect the win after all this roller-coaster, so I’m super happy to be here and to be the champion.”

2) Mutua Madrid Open, Third Round, Nadal d. Goffin 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(9)
Rafael Nadal has often produced his best level at Mutua Madrid Open, winning the ATP Masters 1000 title four times since the event transitioned from hard courts to clay in 2009. However, the Spaniard was forced to dig deeper than ever during his third-round meeting against David Goffin in the Spanish capital.

After coming through a tight first set, Nadal looked on course for a routine victory when he led 5-3 in the second, attacking with more pop and precision on his groundstrokes to move clear. But as the Spaniard’s game slightly dipped at closing time, Goffin played some of his best tennis of the match to extend the contest, winning 53 per cent (8/15) of points on Nadal’s second service in the set as he saved two match points, claiming four straight games to level.

Goffin then fended off danger at the start of the third set, saving two break points as Nadal’s patience was tested. With both strong on serve, the set moved to a tie-break, when Nadal erased four match points himself, saving two with drop shots, and a third when the Belgian netted a short forehand from an attacking position. The former World No. 1 eventually advanced by the finest of margins, 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(9), in three hours and nine minutes.

“Three hours and nine [minutes] on court, that helps to increase my physical performance,” Nadal said. “A very important victory, saving match points. That [gives me] confidence.”

1) Mutua Madrid Open, SF, Alcaraz d. Djokovic 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(5)
After defeating Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals, Alcaraz made it consecutive victories over ATP Tour legends when he overcame World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in his only meeting to date with the Serbian.

Alcaraz struck 51 winners to Djokovic’s 24 as his aggressive style and consistent use of drop shots caused Djokovic constant problems in the pair’s maiden ATP Head2Head meeting. The Spaniard won 72 per cent of points from an offensive position and 41 per cent of points from defensive ones, outscoring Djokovic in both departments. Alcaraz also proved steely under pressure in saving five of six break points he faced, with Djokovic saving eight out of 10 as both players frequently found big serves to dig themselves out of trouble.

Alcaraz raced out of the blocks at the start of the match, pinning Djokovic back with a barrage of forehands to earn a break in the opening game. The Serbian’s response was emphatic, though. From 40/15 in the third game, Djokovic won 21 successive points on serve and reclaimed the break in the eighth game. He carried that momentum into the first-set tie-break, opening up a 5/1 lead that proved unassailable.

Alcaraz remained in touch with Djokovic in the second set and used his drop shot to increasingly good effect, using the tactic on set point as he angled a perfectly placed winner past the Serb after dragging the former World No. 1 forward. He then sealed his statement win in a third-set tie-break, triumphing 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(5).

“I don’t know what the difference [between us] was,” said Alcaraz after his three-hour, 35-minute win. “It was so close. He had the chances to break my serve at the end of the second set. In the first set as well it was so close in the tie-break.”

Alcaraz would go onto follow in the footsteps of Djokovic at the end of the 2022 season when he became the youngest year-end ATP No. 1 presented by Pepperstone in history (since 1973). Djokovic secured the year-end No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for a record seventh time in 2021.

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Canada Captures Davis Cup Finals Crown

  • Posted: Nov 27, 2022

Canada Captures Davis Cup Finals Crown

Felix & Shapovalov guide Canada to victory against Australia

Felix Auger-Aliassime fired Canada to its first Davis Cup Finals title on Sunday when he defeated Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4 to give his nation an unassailable 2-0 lead against Australia in Malaga.

The World No. 6 won his singles and doubles match to secure Canada a place in the final and he backed that up with a dominant display against de Minaur. Auger-Aliassime fired 22 winners and held his nerve at crucial moments, saving all eight break points he faced to triumph after one hour and 42 minutes.

“The emotions are tough to describe,” Auger-Aliassime said according to “Denis [Shapovalov] and I grew up together, dreaming of these types of stage, dreaming of winning the Davis Cup. It’s a great moment for myself and for the country.”

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It is the first time Canada has won the Davis Cup Finals after it reached the championship match for the first time in 2019. On that occasion, Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov were beaten by Roberto Bautista Agut and Rafael Nadal, respectively, to fall agonisingly short of winning a first Davis Cup crown for their country.

However, they ensured history didn’t repeat itself this week, with Shapovalov downing Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-2, 6-4 in the opening match of the tie to move Canada ahead.

“It helped me being in the final before [against Spain in 2019],” Shapovalov said according to “Last time it was all kind of new, we were relieved just to be there, but today we’re very much going for the trophy.”

In a dominant display, Shapovalov was strong on return. He read Kokkinakis’ serve throughout, breaking four times as he quickly established himself in rallies to pressurise the World No. 95 into errors, sealing victory after 90 minutes.

In a dream week, Canada also defeated Germany and Italy. Australia overcame Croatia in the semi-finals to reach its first Davis Cup final since 2003.

Auger-Aliassime ends his career-best season holding a 60-27 record. In a standout year, the 22-year-old won four tour-level titles and helped guide Canada to the ATP Cup trophy.

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