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Best of 2020: Player Retirements

  • Posted: Dec 13, 2020

Continuing our Season In Review series, looks at the players who retired in 2020.

Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan (Retired: 26 August), Career-High No. 1
From their first professional tournament at the 1995 US Open, when, as 17-year-olds, they were mistaken by opponents for ball kids and not initially given accreditation badges, to winning 1,108 tour-level matches together, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan made their mark. The twins promoted doubles as a fun, social pursuit that taught key life skills, while demonstrating incredible skill.

The American brothers were the perfect ambassadors for doubles on and off the court and they increased the popularity of the discipline through their remarkable success. The Bryan Brothers captured an Open Era record 119 trophies as a team, including all four Grand Slams, all nine ATP Masters 1000s, the Nitto ATP Finals and the Olympic men’s doubles gold medal. The 10-time year-end No. 1s, known for their signature chest bump celebration, also finished their careers with the all-time team records for Grand Slam titles (16 from 30 finals) and ATP Masters 1000 crowns (39 from 59 finals).

The 14-time ATP Tour Fans’ Favourite Team award winners made their final ATP Tour appearance at the Delray Beach Open by in February. Rather fittingly, the Bryans ended the event with a tournament record sixth doubles crown. The American twins finished their careers with a 1,108-359 team record.

“We’re most proud of the way we devoted ourselves completely to the game and gave our full effort every day,” said Bob Bryan. “Our loyalty toward each other never wavered and we are leaving professional tennis with zero regrets. We’ll miss the competition and camaraderie amongst the players. We’ll also miss the excitement of gearing up for a big match and playing for the roar of the fans.”

“We feel it’s the right time to walk away,” said Mike Bryan. “We’ve given over 20 years to the tour, and we are now looking forward to the next chapter of our lives. With that said, we feel very blessed to have been able to play the game of doubles for so long. We are grateful to have had the opportunities in the beginning of the year to play and say our goodbyes to the fans. Winning our final event in Delray Beach and clinching the Davis Cup tie in Honolulu are moments we’ll forever remember and cherish.”

Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan have won at least one title in every ATP Tour season since 2001.

Santiago Giraldo (Retired: 6 October), Career-High No. 28
Across his 16-year professional career, Santiago Giraldo claimed 168 tour-level wins and reached ATP Tour finals at 2011 Vina del Mar (l. to Robredo) and 2014 Barcelona (l. to Nishikori). The Colombian, who rose to a career-high No. 28 in the FedEx ATP Rankings on 29 September 2014, also captured 10 ATP Challenger Tour trophies.

Giraldo finished seven consecutive seasons inside the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings (2010-16) and reached the third round at a Grand Slam on three occasions. The Pereira native met Andy Murray in the third round at Roland Garros in 2012 and made back-to-back third-round appearances at Wimbledon in 2014 (l. to Federer) and 2015 (l. to Kudla).

Giraldo earned two Top 10 victories during his career. In his most memorable ATP Masters 1000 run, the Colombian beat former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and then-No. 8 Murray in consecutive matches to reach the quarter-finals at the 2014 Mutua Madrid Open. Giraldo also defeated 2014 US Open champion and then-No. 10 Marin Cilic en route to the 2015 Geneva Open semi-finals.

“I started at 15 and now, at almost 33, I’ve decided to say thank you and put a full stop at the end of this journey,” said Giraldo. “I did the best I could, and I gave everything I had. I remember that curious, unique, explorative and rebellious boy who left his home at just 12 years of age, carrying only his racquets and his dreams, until he arrived here today. I don’t regret anything I did.”

Santiago Giraldo reached two ATP Tour championship matches during his career.

Steve Darcis (Retired: 15 January), Career-High No. 38
The 5’9” Belgian captured two ATP Tour crowns during his 17-year professional career. Darcis entered 2007 Amersfoort seeking his first tour-level victory, and he dropped just one set from qualifying to earn eight consecutive wins and his first ATP Tour title.

Darcis doubled his trophy count with a title run at 2008 Memphis and finished as runner-up in his second straight Amersfoort final appearance later in the year. The two-time ATP Tour titlist reached the third round at two Grand Slams — 2011 Roland Garros and 2017 Australian Open —but he will be remembered best for his first-round performance at Wimbledon in 2013.

Darcis earned the biggest win of his career on Centre Court at SW19, where he stunned two-time champion Rafael Nadal in straight sets. At No. 135 in the ATP Rankings, Darcis was the lowest-ranked player at the time to defeat Nadal at a Grand Slam event. The Belgian was known for his creative game. He used his one-handed backhand to great effect, especially his slice.

“I made a successful comeback in 2019, but after Wimbledon, I got problems again with my shoulder. Mentally and physically, I’m no longer at my best,” said Darcis in October 2019. “Plenty of strong career moments will stay with me forever.”

Steve Darcis defeated Rafael Nadal in straight sets in the first round at Wimbledon in 2013.

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#NextGenATP Stars Musetti & Alcaraz Top ATP Upsets Of 2020

  • Posted: Dec 12, 2020

Yesterday we looked at three of the top five upsets at ATP Tour events this season, with Diego Schwartzman’s impressive victory against Rafael Nadal in Rome ranking third.

Today, we complete the list with stunning upsets pulled off by two promising #NextGenATP talents. looks at how Carlos Alcaraz and Lorenzo Musetti made their biggest splash on the ATP Tour this year.

2) Carlos Alcaraz def. Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Rio Open presented by Claro, Rio de Janeiro, R1, 17 February 2020 (Match Stats)
When Albert Ramos-Vinolas earned his first FedEx ATP Ranking point, Carlos Alcaraz was barely a year old. But in the first round of this year’s Rio Open presented by Claro, it was the latter who sprung one of the biggest upsets of 2020.

Alcaraz, who was 16, walked onto the court late that evening at an hour one could argue was past his bedtime. But the teenager showed why he is one of the world’s most promising #NextGenATP talents against a tough opponent.

In 2017, Ramos-Vinolas reached his maiden ATP Masters 1000 final at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. His heavy-topspin baseline game makes for a physical match against any opponent, especially on clay. It had to have been a massive ask for a 16-year-old, right?

World No. 406 Alcaraz, making his ATP Tour debut, looked plenty comfortable grinding through tough rallies against the veteran. The #NextGenATP player hit heavy backhands to set up his forehand, tactically manoeuvring his way through points without giving second thought to the physicality of the challenge early on.

Alcaraz took the opener, but it appeared Ramos-Vinolas’ experience and physicality — especially with his lefty forehand — began to wear on his countryman as he forced a decider, in which he took a 3-0 lead and held three break points to make it 4-0. But the teen remained calm and summoned the tennis that helped him take the lead in the first place, playing aggressively to win five straight games.

Despite letting slip two match points at 5-3 on Ramos-Vinolas’ serve as his nerves showed in poor movement, Alcaraz played courageously in the tie-break to triumph 7-6(2), 4-6, 7-6(2) at 3:00am after three hours and 37 minutes.

“I will remember Rio forever,” Alcaraz said. “I am very happy to win my first ATP Tour match. This has been the longest and most intense match I’ve played so far. There were quite difficult conditions, but if you have the right attitude, the conditions don’t matter. You can achieve anything.”

Alcaraz went on to win three ATP Challenger Tour titles in 2020, climbing into the Top 150 of the FedEx ATP Rankings.

1) Lorenzo Musetti def. Stan Wawrinka, Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome, R1, 15 September 2020 (Match Stats)
One first-round clash at this year’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia produced the birth of a #NextGenATP star.

World No. 249 Lorenzo Musetti, who went through qualifying, had only previously played one tour-level match ahead of his battle against former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka. The Swiss had already earned 523 tour-level victories in his illustrious career. When Musetti was born, Wawrinka had already earned FedEx ATP Ranking points.

But fans watching from around the world got a glimpse of the future. Musetti played confident, aggressive tennis, using a big forehand and a picturesque one-handed backhand — which former World No. 1 Jim Courier called “incredible” on Tennis Channel’s broadcast — to not just hang in with the three-time Grand Slam champion, but control play.

You’d understand if Musetti was flustered by the occasion, competing at his home ATP Masters 1000 event. But it was Wawrinka who struggled to find the court in the first set-and-a-half, losing the first eight games as he battled to find his rhythm.

As Wawrinka began firing in the second set, significantly cutting his unforced errors, Musetti kept up his level. The teen showed no fear of the 16-time tour-level titlist, instead choosing to hold his ground on the baseline. Musetti refused to relinquish control of points on the Roman clay, and he even showed his feel on occasion by throwing in drop shots in key moments to wrong-foot the Swiss.

The home favourite was simply too good on the evening, becoming the first player born in 2002 to win an ATP Tour match with a 6-0, 7-6(2) triumph against Wawrinka.

“I think it’s a dream that came true,” Musetti said. “I’m still not believing what I did tonight, so I just accept that.”

Musetti, who broke Wawrinka’s serve four times, was cool as a cucumber when speaking to the media after his breakthrough moment. He wasn’t overcome by the occasion.

“I just enjoyed the match,” Musetti, who’d also upset former World No. 4 Kei Nishikori in the next round, said. “I had a lot of fun tonight and hope to keep the process and trust the process of my career and try to play better every point, every day.”

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Masterclass: Shapovalov's Leaping Backhand

  • Posted: Dec 12, 2020

Different players are known for different shots. Rafael Nadal is known for his ferocious forehand and Novak Djokovic his bullet-proof two-handed backhand. Denis Shapovalov, who was an alternate at this year’s Nitto ATP Finals, is known for his leaping one-handed backhand.

“I was hitting it as a junior a lot, so it really came naturally to me,” Shapovalov said.

The Canadian took the time to provide tips to fans on how to hit the entertaining-but-difficult shot, focussing on five important steps. One of those steps is recognition, about which the lefty said: Normally I’m looking for a slower, high ball. It might be a shank off an opponent’s racquet or just [a ball that is] slower, inside the court, so I can step in while I’m hitting the shot.”


Shapovalov believes his leaping one-hander is an important part of his repertoire.

“If I have the opportunity to go for that shot, I’m going to go for it. First of all, the crowd’s going to go wild. It’s a big momentum changer as well. If you hit that shot in an important point, you kind of put pressure on your opponent,” Shapovalov said. “We’re professional tennis players and also showmen. So for me, personally, if I have the opportunity to go for that shot, I go for it.”

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Felix Training At Nadal's Academy In Spain

  • Posted: Dec 11, 2020

Felix Auger-Aliassime is escaping the cold Canadian weather to train in Spain at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar with his coach, Fredric Fontang. 

On Friday, Auger-Aliassime hit with Academy player Aaron Cohen under the watchful eye of Toni Nadal. Felix later had a chat with the academy’s namesake: Rafael Nadal.

Felix Auger-Aliassime
Photo Credit: Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar
The #NextGenATP Canadian finished at year-end No. 21 in the FedEx ATP Rankings for the second consecutive season. The 20-year-old earned a 23-19 record in 2020.

Auger-Aliassime reached three ATP Tour finals this season, all of which came on indoor hard courts. He has made six tour-level championship matches in his career.

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Rivalry Reflections: How Federer & Djokovic Make Each Other Better

  • Posted: Dec 11, 2020

Despite having faced off 50 times in one of the sport’s most prolific rivalries, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic continue to find new ways to push each other to a higher level, and delight tennis fans in the process. On a recent episode of ATP Uncovered presented by Peugeot, Federer and Djokovic looked back on their rivalry, their most memorable clash and what makes their match-ups so special.

Having faced off so many times on the biggest stages over the past 14 years, it’s hard to find two players who know each other’s game inside and out like Djokovic and Federer. Their 50 matches make their ATP Head2Head rivalry the second-most prolific in the Open Era, only trailing Djokovic and Rafael Nadal’s 56 matches.

“I’ve played so many thrilling matches with him over the years,” Djokovic said. “Every time I step on court against him it’s thrilling, it’s very exciting because it kind of exceeds that match. It goes beyond the sport.”

Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic

Part of what makes a Djokovic-Federer clash so electrifying is that they’ve met at the semi-finals or final of Grand Slams, ATP Masters 1000 and the Nitto ATP Finals in 18 of their past 20 matches. With so much on the line each time they meet, every match forces the current and former World No. 1s to bring their best and push beyond their limits.

The two champions embody different playing styles, with Djokovic’s court coverage and clean hitting pitted against Federer’s attacking prowess. The contrast in styles plays out in their see-saw, marathon encounters, and proves to be equally electrifying across all surfaces.

“Novak, obviously he can play on all the surfaces extremely well,” Federer acknowledged. “He always brings a certain level of play, which is extremely high, so to beat him you have to be at your best.

“He’s a great mover, and I have great coordination, so we match up well against each other.”

Perhaps their most unforgettable clash in recent memory, Djokovic highlighted the Wimbledon 2019 final against Federer as not only one of the best matches in their rivalry, but one of the best of his storied career.

Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer

“It would probably be [in the] top two, top three matches I’ve ever played, this final against Roger,” Djokovic acknowledged at the time. “Probably the best, most exciting, and most demanding – both physically and mentally and in every aspect – matches that I ever played.”

The Serbian player had to save two match points on Centre Court to defend his title in an epic five-set battle, triumphing after a marathon 7-6(5), 1-6, 7-6(4), 4-6, 13-12(3) clash that lasted four hours and 54 minutes – the longest final in Wimbledon history.

“You do look back and you do appreciate the fight and the battle and the type of match,” Federer reflected after the final. “You can’t always be part of a match like this, so when they come around you have to appreciate them.”

Djokovic and Federer have met twice since that Wimbledon final, splitting their results with the Swiss claiming revenge at last year’s Nitto ATP Finals. The World No. 1 returned the favour in the 2020 Australian Open semi-finals to extend his FedEx ATP Head2Head lead to 27-23.

Neither 33-year-old Djokovic nor 39-year-old Federer show any signs of slowing down soon, with both players still ranked inside the Top 5 as their legendary rivalry continues to delight fans in its third decade.

“I think actually rivalries are super important in sports, I think it also makes the game more popular,” Federer said. “I think you always need somebody who you can have a good rivalry with. With me… and with Djokovic, thank god I had them… I think we get the best out of one another.”

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International Tennis Hall Of Fame Celebrates Black Tennis Pioneers

  • Posted: Dec 11, 2020

The International Tennis Hall of Fame has launched a new digital museum exhibit that offers a comprehensive look at the history of Black tennis in America.

Breaking The Barriers: The ATA and Black Tennis Pioneers features a multimedia timeline spanning more than 120 years of Black tennis history, as well as a concurrent timeline of African American history overall. The exhibit chronicles the struggles and evolution of Black tennis, and the lives and careers of Black tennis champions from the early 1900s through today.

Breaking The Barriers is largely focused on the history of Black tennis in America, and it is part of a multi-faceted initiative by the International Tennis Hall of Fame to educate fans and shine a spotlight on Black tennis history. Additional programs in development include a future exhibit looking at Black tennis history on a global scale, virtual programs with guest speakers in February 2021, and an Arthur Ashe virtual reality experience in the museum based on the 1968 US Open.

Through dynamic imagery and video interviews from the International Tennis Hall of Fame collection, Breaking The Barriers explores what was happening in Black tennis during five distinct time periods of African American history: Creative Survival (1874-1910); Entrée (1910-1938); Reform (1938-1955); Participation (1955-1965); and Liberation (1965-Present).

In addition to highlighting stories of celebrated African American Hall of Famers Arthur Ashe, Althea Gibson, and Dr. Robert Johnson, Breaking The Barriers also showcases some of the less widely known, but highly impactful, individuals and organizations who fought for opportunity and equality in tennis for Black people. 

This includes pioneers like Rev. W.W. Walker, who organized the first interstate Black tennis tournament in Philadelphia in 1898 and Mary Ann “Mother” Seames, who was offering tennis lessons to Black children as early as 1906. The exhibit also highlights early champions like Ora Washington, an eight-time American Tennis Association national champion in the 1920s who also had a successful basketball career, and Jimmie McDaniel, a four-time American Tennis Association national champion who famously battled Hall of Famer Don Budge in an historic interracial exhibition match in 1940.

Breaking the Barriers chronicles the evolution and impact of the American Tennis Association, which was founded in 1916 from a collaboration of Black tennis clubs, and remains active today as the longest continually operating African American sports organization in the nation.

Throughout the exhibit, visitors can watch video clips from trailblazers who were at the front lines of Black tennis evolution and detail the exclusion they faced, how they overcame, and what they hoped for the future of the sport. First-person narratives include Virginia Glass, the first female president of the ATA and the mother of two successful collegiate players; Art Carrington, an ATA competitor, tennis promoter, and historian; and Hall of Famer Althea Gibson, the first ever Black player to win a Major Championship.

The Breaking The Barriers timeline includes present-day stories as well, highlighting Serena and Venus Williams’ historic careers, from their first televised US Open prime-time battle against each other to their success and impact on and off the court, as well as stars like Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens, Coco Gauff, and Naomi Osaka.

The initial iteration of Breaking The Barriers: The ATA and Black Tennis Pioneers was developed by the International Tennis Hall of Fame in collaboration with historians Dale Caldwell and Art Carrington for a physical exhibit displayed at the 2007 US Open. To date the exhibit continues to be the most requested traveling exhibit in the International Tennis Hall of Fame collection.

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Medvedev’s Returning Is Literally Off The Charts!

  • Posted: Dec 11, 2020

Daniil Medvedev is off the charts completing the 2020 season, both figuratively and literally.

First, the figurative. He finished the season on a 10-match win streak in winning the Rolex Paris Masters and the Nitto ATP Finals. Seven of the 10 victories were against Top 10 opponents, including defeating the World’s No.1, No. 2 and No. 3 players to win in London.

Now for the literal part.

Medvedev’s first-serve return contact point at the 2020 Nitto ATP Finals against Alexander Zverev averaged a staggering 5.51 metres behind the baseline. Hawk-Eye court position graphics only extend back to a five-metre mark, resulting in several of Medvedev’s hit points being recorded literally in a blank space… off the chart.

An Infosys ATP Insights deep dive into return position at the Nitto ATP Finals from 2018-2020 identifies an overall backwards trend in return position. It’s not backwards in performance, but backwards in a real-estate sense.

The picture below highlights Medvedev’s extreme return position against Zverev from their round-robin match last month in London.

2020 Nitto ATP Finals: Medvedev First-Serve Return Location vs Alexander Zverev

Medvedev Return Position

Learn More With Infosys Second Screen

This was the deepest a player has stood to return first serves in the past three years at the Nitto ATP Finals. Of the 44 Hawk-Eye recorded matches, which yields first-serve return position 88 times, Medvedev owns the five deepest locations, averaging between 4.51 metres and 5.51 metres behind the baseline.

The overall contact point average for first-serve returns during the past three years is 1.9 metres behind the baseline. No player has averaged making contact inside the baseline against first serves, but Roger Federer came the closest, averaging making contact just 22 centimetres behind the baseline against Kei Nishikori in 2018.

2018 Nitto ATP Finals: Federer First-Serve Return Location vs Nishikori

Roger Federer Return Position

The difference between Medvedev’s average and Federer’s average is an astonishing five metres and 29 centimetres. To provide context, the distance from the service line to the baseline is almost identical, at five metres and 49 centimetres. That’s how far apart they really are.

The average contact point against both first serves and second serves has been drifting further back in London over the past three years.

First-Serve Return Contact Point Behind The Baseline
• 2018 = 1.41 metres
• 2019 = 1.73 metres
• 2020 = 2.55 metres

Second-Serve Return Contact Point Behind The Baseline
• 2018 = 0.23 metres
• 2019 = 1.25 metres
• 2020 = 1.43 metres

Tennis’ traditional mantra has always focussed on standing further back behind the baseline to return first serves and stepping up inside the baseline to attack slower second serves. That line of thinking is getting thrown out the window at The O2.

In 2018, exactly half of the time (15/30) a player averaged making contact with his second-serve return inside the baseline. The 2018 total of 15 dropped to only eight in 2019 and dropped even further to six this year.

What’s stunning is that players are now employing a strategy that is completely the opposite, which is to move back, not forward, to return the second serve. For example, when Medvedev played Nadal in the semi-finals of the 2020 event, both players averaged making contact with their second-serve return deeper compared to their first-serve return.

2020 Semi-Final: Medvedev vs. Nadal – Average Contact Point Behind The Baseline
• vs Nadal’s first serve = 3.15 metres
• vs. Nadal’s second serve = 3.85 metres

• vs Medvedev’s first serve = 3.58 metres
• vs Medvedev’s second serve = 4.13 metres

Medvedev’s preference for standing way back against first serves also washes over to second serves, where his name sits beside four of the deepest seven second-serve return positions. What’s fascinating is that Dominic Thiem owns both ends of the second-serve return spectrum, averaging returning from 1.19 metres inside the baseline in 2018 against Federer and 5.33 metres behind the baseline in 2019 against Zverev.

Moving up to return serve is all about blocking and quickly rebounding to rush the Serve +1 groundstroke. Standing way back is all about hitting an atypical return. When standing deep in the court to return, Medvedev can take full-blooded cuts at the ball as it significantly slows down and drops into his hitting zone. It’s essentially just another groundstroke.

We may have to start redrawing our graphics as Medvedev continues to write his own history.

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Schwartzman's Stunner Against Nadal Among Best ATP Upsets Of 2020

  • Posted: Dec 11, 2020

This week we have looked at the best ATP Tour matches and comebacks of 2020. Now, we turn our attention to the biggest upsets of the season, looking at three of the five most notable stunners of the year.

The Best Grand Slam Upsets Of 2020

5) Tommy Paul def. Alexander Zverev, Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC, Acapulco, R2, 26 February 2020 (Match Stats)
Tommy Paul made a splash at the Australian Open, defeating 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov in a four-hour, 19-minute second-round thriller. But perhaps his biggest upset of the season came weeks later at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC.

The American entered his clash against second seed Alexander Zverev winless against Top 10 opposition. On the other hand, Zverev was in form, fresh off reaching his first Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open (l. to Thiem).

The German came out of the gates firing, threatening a break in the first game of the match. But Paul settled in and played tremendous all-court tennis to stymie Zverev. He cracked his heavy inside-out forehand at every opportunity, but also showed great racquet skills to carve acute angles with his backhand, while also rushing to net to win points with his touch.

Zverev raised his level in the second set and began to play more aggressively. That wasn’t surprising, as the German has the 23rd-best winning percentage (33.8%) in the Open Era after losing the first set.

But Paul weathered the storm to stun Zverev 6-3, 6-4 and reach his second ATP 500 quarter-final (2017 Citi Open).

”It meant a lot,” Paul said. “I was really excited to get out there and play. He put me under pressure in the first game and then from there, I played well for the rest of the match.”

Paul lost in a tough three-setter in the last eight against big-serving American John Isner, but he had proven his mettle against one of the world’s best. He carried the confidence from that match throughout the best season of his career, climbing to a career-high World No. 54.

Gianluca Mager

4) Gianluca Mager def. Dominic Thiem, Rio Open presented by Claro, Rio de Janeiro, QF, 22 February 2020 (Match Stats)
Gianluca Mager entered qualifying at the Rio Open presented by Claro with two tour-level wins. He departed Brazil with by far the best result of his career, including an upset he’ll be able to hang his hat on forever.

The Italian showed great form by dropping only five games in his two qualifying matches and upsetting clay-court stalwart Casper Ruud in the first round of the main draw. After beating Joao Domingues in the second round, he faced the toughest test of his career against recent Australian Open finalist Dominic Thiem. “For me, it was a dream only to play with him,” Mager said.

The 26-year-old showed no fear, saving three early break points with aggressive play. Thiem is one of the biggest hitters on the ATP Tour, but the Italian showed early he had no intentions of allowing the Austrian to blow right through him. When Thiem threw a jab, he was going to throw one right back.

The problem is that Mager couldn’t close out the win on the first day of play. He had to sleep on a 7-6(4), 2-1 due to Friday night rain.

But instead of panicking, the World No. 128 maintained his high level on Saturday to finish off the stunner, earning a 7-6(4), 7-5 upset of Thiem to reach his first ATP Tour semi-final.

Thiem didn’t hand the Italian the match. Mager took it from the superstar, hitting two groundstroke winners and an ace in the final game to advance.

“It’s unbelievable,” Mager said. “Now that I beat him, for me, it is a dream. He is a great, unbelievable player… I am very emotional.”

3) Diego Schwartzman def. Rafael Nadal, Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome, QF, 19 September 2020 (Match Stats)
It was tennis’ version of David versus Goliath in the quarter-finals of this year’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

Rafael Nadal had won his first nine ATP Head2Head clashes against Diego Schwartzman with the loss of just two sets. The Argentine knew he’d need to deliver a Herculean effort to oust the nine-time champion. That’s exactly what Schwartzman did at the Foro Italico.

“For sure it’s my best match ever,” Schwartzman said. “I played a few times against the three big champions in tennis. I never beat them until today. I’m very happy.”

Like Goliath, Nadal is a giant on the court. That is especially the case on clay, where the Spaniard bullies opponents with his heavy topspin forehand

But David (in this case, Diego) stood up to the giant. Schwartzman held his ground on the baseline and traded blow-for-blow with the legendary lefty in heavy conditions. Instead of Nadal pushing the righty back, he was the one being moved off the baseline. The Ad-court to Ad-court rallies — pitting Nadal’s forehand against Schwartzman’s backhand — were reminiscent of some of Rafa’s clashes against Novak Djokovic.

Whenever Nadal tried to change things up and play cat-and-mouse points, Diego had an answer.

“It was crazy. Tennis is crazy. Our performance is always crazy. The past three weeks were really bad for me,” Schwartzman said on court after his victory. “Today I played my best tennis.

There were five consecutive service breaks in the second set, and Schwartzman was broken at love when serving for the match at 5-4, when Nadal buckled down and reduced his error count. But Diego persevered, hitting a passing shot out of Rafa’s reach to earn another chance at closing out the match. This time, he hit a forehand drop volley to finish the job, triumphing 6-2, 7-5.

“Yeah!” Schwartzman shouted.

David had slayed Goliath.

It was arguably the biggest win of Schwartzman’s career-best season. He’d reach his first Grand Slam semi-final at Roland Garros — where he lost against Nadal — to crack the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings and earn his maiden berth at the Nitto ATP Finals in November.

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Six #NextGenATP Stars Nominated For Newcomer Of The Year In 2020 Awards

  • Posted: Dec 10, 2020

The Newcomer of the Year in the 2020 ATP Awards goes to the #NextGenATP player who entered the Top 100 or Top 150 for the first time in 2020 and made the biggest impact on the ATP Tour this season. There are six nominees this season: Carlos Alcaraz, Sebastian Korda, Lorenzo Musetti, Jurij Rodionov, Emil Ruusuvuori and Thiago Seyboth Wild.

ATP Awards winners will be revealed later this month.

Player Age Career-High (Date)
 Carlos Alcaraz  17  No. 136 (October 19)
 Sebastian Korda  20 No. 116 (November 9)
 Lorenzo Musetti  18  No. 123 (October 19)
 Jurij Rodionov  21 No. 141 (November 9)
 Emil Ruusuvuori  21  No. 84 (November 2)
 Thiago Seyboth Wild  20  No. 106 (September 14)

Carlos Alcaraz, 17 (Spain)
Alcaraz started the year barely inside the Top 500 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, sitting at No. 492. But the Spanish teen would soon take off on a meteoric rise that would rocket him up to a career-high No. 136.

Coached by former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, Alcaraz signalled his intent early on as the started the season by putting together a 14-match winning streak to win two ITF 15K events and reach the final at another. He went on to win his first ATP main draw match in emphatic fashion, outlasting No. 41 Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the first round of Rio de Janeiro.

Alcaraz lifted his first ATP Challenger Series trophy in Trieste, and backed it up a week later by reaching the final again at Cordenons. But the Spaniard’s best was yet to come: on home soil, Alcaraz lifted back-to-back Challenger trophies in Barcelona and Alicante – the latter sealed with his second Top 100 victory of the year in the final. As a result, Alcaraz joined an exclusive club of players who have won at least three Challenger titles before turning 18, including Richard Gasquet, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro and Felix Auger-Aliassime.


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Sebastian Korda, 20 (USA)
20-year-old Sebastian Korda’s strong late-season results – highlighted by an electric Roland Garros main draw debut – sent the American soaring up the FedEx ATP Rankings and have him knocking on the door of the Top 100.

Korda started the year ranked No. 242, and steadily chipped away at his ranking on the back of solid results at the ATP Challenger and ITF circuits, including third rounds at Indian Wells and Newport Beach. But he saved his best for the fall, and after making his Grand Slam at the US Open he went on to stun the field in Paris, reaching the fourth round at Roland Garros from qualifying.

The American closed out the season with his first Challenger trophy in Eckental. It was a long time coming for Korda, who had dropped his first eight finals as a professional.


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Lorenzo Musetti, 18 (ITA)
There’s no place like home for Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti. The 18-year-old fought his way into the main draw at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, and once there he turned heads with some big-name upsets over former Top 5 stars Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori to reach the third round.

Musetti used his Masters 1000 success as a springboard and he continued the momentum a week later in Forli, where the Italian claimed his first ATP Challenger Tour title. He closed out the season with some more success at home, reaching his first ATP Tour semi-final in Sardinia.

“I’m playing really good tennis, my best tennis and I’m confident. I think I have the weapons… to compete at this level,” Musetti said. “The ball is a tennis ball and the other guy is a human being, so everything can happen on the court. I’m just playing and trying to do my best.”

“I’m taking a lot of emotions and wins. I’m very proud.”


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Jurij Rodionov, 21 (AUT)
Jurij Rodionov cut his FedEx ATP Ranking by more than half to finish the year inside the Top 150 after a breakthrough season saw him check off a lot of milestones. The Austrian claimed his second Challenger title early on in Dallas, defeating Andreas Seppi and Denis Kudla – two Top 100 players – along the way. He reeled off eight match wins in a row to claim the title in Moreles and reach the semi-finals in Columbus.

The 21-year-old didn’t slow down despite the ATP Tour’s suspension, and Rodionov qualified for his first Grand Slam main draw at Roland Garros. He made an epic debut as he ousted French player Jeremy Chardy, No. 65, in the first round after coming back from two sets down and having to save match point, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-4, 10-8.

Rodionov closed out the season by scoring one of the biggest victories of his career: playing against a Top 20 player for the first time and on home soil in Vienna, the Austrian defeated Denis Shapovalov in straight sets to claim a statement first ATP Tour win.


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Emil Ruusuvuori, 21 (FIN)
Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori broke the ATP Top 100 as he continued his slow and steady rise to the top of the game. The 21-year-old made a strong start of the year with a run to the final at the Canberra (Bendigo 1) Challenger, defeating Jannik Sinner along the way.

Ruusuvuori continued to chip away at his FedEx ATP Ranking as the season resumed, he reached his biggest main draw after qualifying for the Western & Southern Open in New York. He made his Grand Slam debut at the US Open, claiming his first major win against Aljaz Bedene in a roller-coaster five-set clash, but was forced to retire in the second round due to injury.

The 21-year-old saved his best tennis for the end of the season, reaching his first ATP Tour semi-final in Nur-Sultan, tearing through the main draw from the qualifying rounds. 


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Thiago Seyboth Wild, 20 (BRA)
Thiago Seyboth Wild lifted his FedEx ATP Ranking by almost 100 spots to reach a new career-high in 2020 by claiming some big-name upsets and checking off a lot of ‘firsts’.

Even though the Brazilian had won just his second ATP Tour main draw match at the Rio Open, his home tournament, Seyboth Wild played like a veteran the next week to lift his first ATP Tour trophy in Santiago. The 20-year-old took a set off home favorite Cristian Garin in the quarter-finals to claim his first Top 20 win (Garin retired in the second set).

Seyboth Wild continued his steady progress as he made his Grand Slam main draw debut at the US Open, and went on to reach the final at the Aix de Provence Challenger – taking down No. 80 Gianluca Mager in the opening round. 


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The Last Time… Dusan Lajovic

  • Posted: Dec 10, 2020

In the latest installment of our popular series, World No. 26 Dusan Lajovic reveals the last time…

I missed a flight?
The last time I missed a flight was five years ago. I was flying from Barcelona to Belgrade via Zurich. I missed the flight in Zurich and then we took a flight through Munich and missed the flight from Munich. We then took a flight to Frankfurt and finally, after 26 hours, got home. The first flight was late and then everything else [went wrong].

I lost something important?
I lost an iPad and headphones in 2013 on a flight to Kenya to do pre-season. It is my fault because I left them in the seat pocket on the plane. As soon as I got into the car to drive to the house, I realised I was missing them. Trying to get something back in Kenya was very difficult.

I cooked for myself and others?
In August, I made my famous chia pudding for breakfast for my team, my coaches and myself. It was a Michelin star meal.

Being famous helped me?
A couple of free meals in Serbian restaurants, when they recognise us, is always a good thing. We used Novak’s image in LA to get into a restaurant. It helped knowing Nole.

I went to a music concert?
After Wimbledon last year, I went to a festival in Serbia, in Novi Sad. It is called Exit. It is one of the most famous in Europe and I had a blast. I liked it because it was in a fortress and you had all different kinds of music. I went to [visit] electronical [acts], a couple of DJs. DJ Solomun was one of them, he is one of the best in Europe right now. It was really fun because I stayed up late and stayed there [until] the sunrise. It is really magical place.

I paid to rent a tennis court?
It was in Uzbekistan, ages ago. I remember we paid three dollars for one hour.

I paid to buy tennis balls?
Last December. I bought a box of tennis balls. It was €90 for a box of 72 balls, I think.

I strung a tennis racquet?
I did in Kenya six years ago. [I took me] two hours for one racquet. I am very bad. 

I watched a new TV series?
[I recently was watching] Dark, it is a German show about time travel. I recommend it. 

I shared a hotel room with another player?
I did a couple of times this year with my doubles partner and friend Nikola Cacic, just because we were not getting into some tournaments and then it would be tough for him to pay for an extra room. Since we are childhood friends, for us it is like we are brothers.

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