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Surprise! How To Hit A Second-Serve Ace Like Djokovic

  • Posted: Dec 16, 2019

Surprise! How To Hit A Second-Serve Ace Like Djokovic

Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers shows how the Serbian hits the most second-serve aces

Want to sneak in a second-serve ace against your next right-handed opponent? Down the T in the Ad court is your hot spot.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of 222 second-serve aces by the current Top 10 against right-handed opponents identifies that surprising to the forehand return is the most popular strategy used, with down the T in the Ad court attracting almost half of them.

The data set comes from ATP Masters 1000 events from 2011-2019 and the Nitto ATP Finals.

Second-Serve Ace Direction vs. Right-Handed Opponents

  • 47%: Ad court T – to the forehand return

  • 37%: Deuce court wide – to the forehand return

  • 10%: Deuce court T – to the backhand return

  • 6%: Ad court wide – to the backhand return

Overall, 84 per cent of second-serve aces were directed to the opponent’s forehand return side, with the majority of those occurring down the T in the Ad court.

Novak Djokovic led the pack, with both the total number of second-serve aces (58) and also the most down the T in the Ad court, with 40. The Ad court T aces accounted for 69 per cent (40/58) of the Serb’s second-serve ace total, and 100 per cent of his second-serve aces in the Ad court, with none coming out wide.

2019 Year-End Top 10: 2nd Serve Ace Total & Direction

 

Deuce T

Deuce Wide

Ad T

Ad Wide

TOTAL

R. Nadal

2

10

5

2

19

N. Djokovic

1

17

40

0

58

R. Federer

5

13

26

5

49

D. Thiem

2

9

2

1

14

D. Medvedev

7

8

8

2

25

S. Tsitsipas

0

3

2

0

5

A. Zverev

2

5

10

0

17

M. Berrettini

1

0

0

0

1

R. Bautista Agut

0

4

4

0

8

G. Monfils

3

13

7

3

26

TOTAL / %

23 (10%)

82 (37%)

104 (47%)

13 (6%)

222 (100%)

Roger Federer knows a thing or two about hitting aces, as he currently sits in third place overall with career total aces (first & second) at 11,299. Federer, like Djokovic, hit more than half (26/49) of his second-serve aces down the T in the Ad court, surprising his right-handed opponents, who would have been expecting the traditional kick serve into the backhand body-jam location.

Gael Monfils went against the grain (but still to the forehand), hitting most of his second-serve aces (13) out wide in the Deuce court. Rafael Nadal also hit the majority of his second-serve aces (10/19) there as well, which is understandable as a left-handed server dipping into his secondary pattern.

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Daniil Medvedev, who before 2018 had not won a Masters 1000 match, now has 25 second-serves aces to his credit at this level, with 16 coming against the forehand return, and nine against the backhand return.

Second-serve aces are part risk, part bravado and mostly about winning the all-important guessing game about serve direction.

Editor’s note: Craig O’Shannessy is a member of Novak Djokovic’s coaching team.

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Players Of The Decade: Novak Djokovic

  • Posted: Dec 16, 2019

Players Of The Decade: Novak Djokovic

ATPTour.com looks back on the Serbian’s dominating decade

To kick off our Decade In Review series, ATPTour.com highlights the best players of the decade. Today we feature Novak Djokovic.

If the 2000s was the decade when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal emerged as players with the potential to finish among the greatest of all-time, the ’10s might be remembered as the period of time in which Novak Djokovic flexed his muscles and made room for three at the top of the sport.

Djokovic broke through in 2007, winning his first two ATP Masters 1000 titles and reaching No. 3 in the ATP Rankings. The following year, he won his first Grand Slam title (Australian Open).

But in the two years that followed, Djokovic resembled someone who was coming up short in big matches. From 2008-09, he went 3-5 in Masters 1000 finals, and he reached only one major title match. In the ATP Rankings, he was stuck at No. 3.

The Serbian, like the rest of the field, had not yet learned how to consistently topple the best in the sport, particularly Federer or Nadal. But as the new decade began, Djokovic learned quicker than anyone and started one of the best decades in the history of tennis.

By February 2011, after winning his second Australian Open, Djokovic had nudged his way into the Top 2. The milestone was worth celebrating, but Djokovic’s climb was more about who he had beaten along the way.

Before 2010, he was 5-9 against Federer and 7-14 against Nadal in their respective FedEx ATP Head2Head series. But at the 2011 Australian Open, Djokovic dropped only one set all tournament and beat Federer in straight sets in the semi-finals.

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ATP Tour 2019 Season In Review

His domination against the best became a 2011 trend as he turned in one of the best seasons in recent memory. Djokovic started the year 41-0, winning Masters 1000 titles in Indian Wells and Miami for his first March Masters sweep, and in Madrid and Rome. His first loss of the season came in June against Federer in the Roland Garros semi-finals.

Djokovic would finish the year with 10 titles (three major championships), a 70-6 record and his first year-end No. 1 finish. Against Federer and Nadal, he went 10-1 (4-1 vs. Federer, 6-0 vs. Nadal).

Tipsarevic

Djokovic, with his world-class defence and supreme elasticity, had caught the Top 2. Armed with one of the greatest returns of all-time, the Serbian could neutralise any big server’s best weapon, and engaged in baseline rallies, he liked his chances every time.

At least one Slam and three Masters 1000 titles per season became the norm for the Belgrade native, whose steely determination and all-world mental fortitude were unmatched.

But in 2015, Djokovic, who had finished year-end No. 1 in three of the past four years, raised his game another notch and, by some measures, started outdoing Federer and Nadal.

Djokovic won six Masters 1000s, and he also captured three Slams to bring his overall major tally to 10. He became only the third man to play in all four major finals in a single year in the Open Era (Laver, 1969; Federer, 2006, ’07, ’09).

In 2015, Djokovic won 11 titles and 82 matches, both of which remain career bests, and to finish his most prolific season, Djokovic became the first player to win four consecutive Nitto ATP Finals titles.

This season definitely stands out. I can’t say I expected it, not at all. But I always gave my best, and I’m always asking from myself the most,” said Djokovic, who reached 15 finals from 16 tournaments played. “I’m convinced with this dedication to the sport, I can achieve more. How much, I don’t know.”

Djokovic

He’d achieve much more the very next season. Djokovic beat Murray for the elusive Roland Garros title, becoming only the eighth man to win all four Grand Slams during his career and just the third man to hold all four major titles at one time (Budge, 1938; Laver, 1962, 1969).

One of the most beautiful [moments] I have had in my career,” Djokovic said.

By midway through 2016, he was not only maintaining his top form; he was improving and setting new records while playing in the same era as Federer and Nadal, a feat that seemed unlikely when the new decade began. On defence or offence, there was no one better than Djokovic, who was seemingly never out of any point.

But from there, by Djokovic standards, he entered a funk. Early exits at 2016 Wimbledon and 2017 Australian Open, a tournament he had already won six times, signaled that something wasn’t right. A lack of fire after winning the career Grand Slam? A lingering injury?

The latter was discovered to be true as Djokovic ended his 2017 season five months early and eventually underwent his first surgery (right elbow). His comeback took time, and in June 2018, two years after winning the career Grand Slam, he fell to No. 22.

What followed, though, was one of the greatest comebacks in history. Djokovic won his fourth Wimbledon title (d. Anderson) and the next month, became the first player to win the Career Golden Masters at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati (d. Federer). Djokovic won each Masters 1000 event at least once this decade as well.

<a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/players/roger-federer/f324/overview'>Roger Federer</a> and <a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/players/novak-djokovic/d643/overview'>Novak Djokovic</a> faced off in the 2018 Cincinnati final.

He finished 2018 as year-end No. 1 for the fifth time, and his climb from No. 22 to No. 1 marked the lowest anyone had fallen before finishing the season on top.

In 2019, Djokovic added two more Slams (16 overall; 15 this decade) and two more Masters 1000s (34 overall; 29 this decade). His Wimbledon final against Federer, in which Djokovic saved two consecutive match points in the fifth set on Federer’s serve, will go down as one of the greatest matches of all-time.

Ten years after Djokovic was the man trying to tear down the wall around the Top 2 of Federer and Nadal, the Serbian spent much of the decade standing at the top of the mountain. The Serbian was ranked No. 1 for 275 weeks, only 35 off Federer’s all-time mark (310).

Djokovic also leads both FedEx ATP Head2Head series. The GOAT debate, however, is far from finished. All three are tied with five year-end No. 1 finishes, and Djokovic trails them both in Slam titles and is second to Nadal in Masters 1000s.

Will the Serbian finish as the greatest of all-time? We may be deep into this new decade before the answer is any clearer.

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Dazzling Decade: Best Players, Rivalries, Records & More

  • Posted: Dec 16, 2019

Dazzling Decade: Best Players, Rivalries, Records & More

ATPTour.com reflects on a historic decade of tennis in the 2010s

Another decade of thrilling tennis on the ATP Tour has come and gone, with points, matches, tournaments and moments that will remain fixed in fans’ memories throughout the world for years to come.

Entering the decade, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal had already cemented their status as two of the best players in the history of the sport. They were named two of ATPTour.com’s five best players of the 2000s, with the rest of the names on that list retiring.

Federer and Nadal continued to build upon their legacy, thriving and even improving parts of their game, but Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka joined them as the dominant forces in the tennis world throughout the 2010s.

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Those five men combined to win 198 tour-level titles over the past 10 years, including 39 of the decade’s 40 Grand Slam championships. The only player outside of this group to win a major trophy was former World No. 3 Marin Cilic at the 2014 US Open.

The quintet also won 72 of the decade’s 90 ATP Masters 1000 titles, and seven of the 10 Nitto ATP Finals crowns. Djokovic (275 weeks), Nadal (160), Federer (45) or Murray (41) held the No. 1 ATP Ranking for the entirety of the past 10 years. Any time these five players competed, all eyes were on them. Any time they stood across the net from one another was a special occasion, with anticipation levels ramped up.

Each day this week, ATPTour.com will look back on the past 10 years for Djokovic, Federer, Murray, Nadal and Wawrinka, examining why they are the players of the 2010s.

Also in the Best of the Decade series, we will examine the best doubles from the past 10 years as well as the best records, achievements, stats and rivalries.

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The Numbers Game: 2019 ATP Challenger Tour

  • Posted: Dec 15, 2019

The Numbers Game: 2019 ATP Challenger Tour

A deep dive into the ATP Challenger Tour facts and figures in 2019…

Win-Loss Percentage Leaders
For the second straight year, an Australian led the circuit in match wins. One year after Jordan Thompson posted a 50-win season, James Duckworth followed with an impressive 49-18 mark, dominating from start to finish. In the penultimate week of the season, the Aussie capped his campaign with a fourth title, returning to the Top 100 in style.

Meanwhile, Ricardas Berankis was the most consistent performer with a tour-leading .889 win percentage (min. 25 matches played). The Lithuanian was ruthless in his brief stay on the circuit, registering a 24-3 record from only seven tournaments played.

Berankis, Tommy Paul, Ugo Humbert and Jannik Sinner were the most consistent performers of the year, with each posting a win percentage of .800 or higher. For perspective, no players achieved that feat in 2018.

Player Wins-Losses Percentage
Ricardas Berankis 24-3 .889
Tommy Paul 30-5 .857
Ugo Humbert 21-5 .808
Jannik Sinner 28-7 .800
Mikael Ymer 39-10 .796
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 34-11 .756
Emil Ruusuvuori 36-12 .750

Singles Title Leaders
A total of 12 players won at least three titles this year, with Berankis, Duckworth and #NextGenATP stars Emil Ruusuvuori and Mikael Ymer leading the way with four apiece. Berankis lifted trophies on three different continents, prevailing in France, Canada and South Korea. The 20-year-old Ruusuvuori became the youngest to win as many titles since Hyeon Chung in 2015, while Ymer’s quartet of crowns propelled him to the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

Duckworth, Vasek Pospisil and Juan Pablo Varillas dominated the latter stages of the season, as the only players with multiple titles in October and November. The late-season charge was critical for Duckworth, who secured his place in the Australian Open main draw. Pospisil and Varillas also soared to the Top 150 of the ATP Rankings, with the former World No. 25 Canadian winning 16 of 18 matches to close the season, including back-to-back titles in Las Vegas and Charlottesville.

Player Total Clay Grass  Hard  Carpet
Ricardas Berankis 4     4  
James Duckworth 4 1   3  
Emil Ruusuvuori 4   4  
Mikael Ymer 4 1   3  
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Teen Titlists
Four different teenagers accounted for a total of six Challenger titles this year, with Jannik Sinner the lone player with multiple crowns (Bergamo, Italy; Lexington, USA & Ortisei, Italy). At 17 years, 6 months, he became the youngest-ever Italian champion with his victory on home soil in Bergamo.

Sinner’s second title in Lexington put him in elite company as just the 11th player to win multiple titles at age 17 & under. He joined the likes of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro and most recently Felix Auger-Aliassime. And Sinner’s third victory made him the second-youngest to complete the trifecta, behind only Richard Gasquet.

Nicola Kuhn, Thiago Seyboth Wild and Corentin Moutet were the other teenage winners in 2019. Moutet became the first teen to win titles at the ages of 17, 18 and 19 since Evgeny Korolev from 2005-07. Seyboth Wild, meanwhile, became the first teen titlist from Brazil since Guilherme Clezar in 2012.

Player Title Age
Jannik Sinner Bergamo, ITA 17 yrs, 6 mos.
Jannik Sinner Lexington, USA 17 yrs, 11 mos.
Jannik Sinner Ortisei, ITA 18 yrs, 3 mos.
Nicola Kuhn Segovia, ESP 19 yrs, 4 mos.
Thiago Seyboth Wild Guayaquil, ECU 19 yrs, 7 mos.
Corentin Moutet Chennai, IND 19 yrs, 9 mos.

Biggest Movers To Top 100
The Top 7 movers to the year-end Top 100 all won Challenger titles this year. Sinner jumped 685 spots to a career-high No. 78 in the ATP Rankings. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga leapt 230 places and Mikael Ymer soared 207 spots.

Player Ranking Jump
Year-End 2018 – 2019
2019 Titles
Jannik Sinner +685 763 – 78 3
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga +230 259 – 29 1
Mikael Ymer +207 281 – 74 4
Soonwoo Kwon +165 253 – 88 2
Daniel Evans +157 199 – 42 2
James Duckworth +145 245 – 100 4

Title Leaders By Country
Players from 39 countries won titles this year. Juan Pablo Varillas became the first from Peru to lift a trophy since 2008, while Emilio Gomez was the first from Ecuador to do so since 2011 and Emil Ruusuvuori the first from Finland since Jarkko Nieminen in 2013.

Italy boasted a tour-leading 15 titles from 10 different players, followed by Spain and the United States (14 each). It marked the first time that the Italian contingent has led the tour in titles.

Country

Finals W-L

Winners

Italy

15-17

Mager-3, Sinner-3, Travaglia-2, Berrettini-1, Giannessi-1, Giustino-1, Gaio-1, Sonego-1, Seppi-1, Caruso-1

Spain

14-6

Andujar-3, Carballes Baena-2, Robredo-2, Davidovich Fokina-2, Granollers-1, Lopez Perez-1, Vilella Martinez-1, Kuhn-1, Munar-1

United States

14-11

Paul-3, Giron-2, Wolf-2, Fritz-1, Cressy-1, Krueger-1, Klahn-1, Escobedo-1, Johnson-1, Mmoh-1

Australia

10-15

Duckworth-4, O’Connell-2, Polmans-2, Kubler-1, Millman-1

France

9-9

Humbert-3, Barrere-2, Moutet-2, Pouille-1, Tsonga-1

Slovakia

8-6

Martin-3, Gombos-2, Kovalik-2, Lacko-1

Lowest-Ranked Winners
The slipper fit for five Cinderella stories, with a bevy of players ranked outside the Top 400 tasting success. At No. 612, Matias Franco Descotte was the lowest-ranked of the group, prevailing on the hard courts of Morelos, Mexico. At No. 546 and No. 528, respectively, Jannik Sinner and Maxime Cressy both tasted victory in February. It was Sinner’s fourth Challenger appearance and only Cressy’s second.

For No. 417 Steven Diez, his maiden title in Burnie comes six years after reaching his first final.

Player Tournament Won
ATP Ranking
Matias Franco Descotte Morelos, MEX No. 612
Jannik Sinner Bergamo, ITA No. 546
Maxime Cressy Cleveland, USA No. 528
Steven Diez Burnie, AUS No. 417
Emil Ruusuvuori Fergana, UZB No. 410

ATP Tour & ATP Challenger Tour Winners
Five players lifted trophies on both the ATP Tour and ATP Challenger Tour this year.

Matteo Berrettini followed his victory in Phoenix with his first tour-level crowns in Budapest and Stuttgart, en route to the year-end Top 10 in the ATP Rankings. The Italian became just the fourth player to win a Challenger title and qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals in a season since 1995.

Taylor Fritz and Lorenzo Sonego successfully defended their Challenger crowns in Newport Beach and Genova, respectively, while lifting their maiden ATP Tour trophies on the grass of Eastbourne and Antalya.

Player ATP Tour event ATP Challenger Tour event
Matteo Berrettini Budapest & Stuttgart Phoenix, USA
Taylor Fritz Eastbourne Newport Beach, USA
Hubert Hurkacz Winston-Salem Canberra, AUS
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Montpellier & Metz Cassis, FRA
Lorenzo Sonego Antalya Genova, ITA

Match Points Saved In Finals
One year ago, only two players saved a match point in a Challenger final. In 2019, that number soared to seven. Marcos Giron denied six championship points, rallying from 1/6 down in the deciding tie-break to topple Ivo Karlovic in Houston. It was the second-most match points saved in a final in Challenger history.

Yannick Hanfmann and Maxime Cressy also saved multiple match points, while Dominik Koepfer earned his maiden title and a Wimbledon wild card in dramatic fashion in Ilkley, turning aside one against Dennis Novak.

Player M.P. Saved Tournament
Marcos Giron 6 Houston, USA
Yannick Hanfmann 3 Augsburg, GER
Maxime Cressy 2 Cleveland, USA
Matteo Berrettini 1 Phoenix, USA
Pablo Andujar 1 Marbella, ESP
Dominik Koepfer 1 Ilkley, UK
J.J. Wolf 1 Champaign, USA

Oldest Winners
Tommy Robredo earned his first trophy at any level in six years, dominating the month of June with victories in both Poznan, Poland and Parma, Italy. At the age of 37, the former World No. 5 was the oldest winner of the year.

One year after becoming the oldest Challenger champion with his victory in Calgary, Ivo Karlovic became the first 40-year-old finalist. The big-hitting Croatian finished runner-up in Houston last month, adding another slice of history to his growing resume.

Player Title Age
Tommy Robredo Parma, ITA 37 yrs, 1 mo.
Tommy Robredo Poznan, POL 37 yrs, 1 mo.
Andreas Seppi Cary, USA 35 yrs, 6 mos.
Rogerio Dutra Silva Playford, AUS 34 yrs, 11 mos.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Cassis, FRA 34 yrs, 4 mos.

Doubles Title Leaders
Playford, Launceston, Zhangjiagang, Anning, Seoul, Binghamton and Traralgon. Seven titles, three continents, one impressive team.

Max Purcell and Luke Saville dominated the doubles circuit in 2019, securing seven trophies and a whopping 41 match wins together. The Aussie pair also appeared in three ATP Tour events together, earning their first match victory on the circuit in Antalya.

Uruguay’s Ariel Behar and Ecuador’s Gonzalo Escobar won the second-most titles of any team, lifting six trophies together. They streaked to the finish line with four crowns in the final three months of the season. 

Fast Facts

  • At the age of 15 years, 11 months, Carlos Alcaraz  was the youngest player to win a match in 2019. The Spaniard made a winning Challenger debut, stunning Jannik Sinner in Alicante, Spain. Alcaraz became the first player born in the year 2003 to win a match, a day after 17-year-old Lorenzo Musetti became the first born in the year 2002 to claim his first victory, in Sophia Antipolis, France.
  • A total of 32 different players enjoyed their maiden moments of glory this year. Jannik Sinner was the youngest of the group at the age of 17, while 27-year-old countryman Lorenzo Giustino was the oldest.
  • Qualifiers claimed one title, with Maxime Cressy winning seven matches in seven days in Cleveland.
  • Four players successfully defended titles: Taylor Fritz (Newport Beach, USA), Gregoire Barrere (Lille, France), Pablo Andujar (Alicante, Spain) and Lorenzo Sonego (Genova, Italy).
  • Three unseeded wild cards won titles: J.J. Wolf, Jannik Sinner and Zhang Zhizhen, all on home soil in Columbus, Bergamo and Jinan, respectively.
  • Longest final: The longest final registered at three hours and 15 minutes, with Tommy Robredo beating Federico Gaio 7-6(10), 5-7, 7-6(6) in Parma, Italy.
  • Shortest completed final: Shortest completed final: At 43 minutes, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga downed Dudi Sela 6-1, 6-0 in Cassis, France. It is the shortest final in Challenger history.
  • A total of four Top 40 players entered a Challenger in 2019. World No. 27 Kyle Edmund won the title in Indian Wells, while 32nd-ranked Lucas Pouille lifted the trophy in Bordeaux. Meanwhile, World No. 21 David Goffin reached the quarter-finals in Phoenix and No. 39 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga reached the semis in Orleans.
  • Daniel Evans went back-to-back on home soil in Surbiton and Nottingham, joining Yen-Hsun Lu as the only players to win consecutive Challenger titles on grass in the past 20 years.
  • Aljaz Bedene improved to 16-2 in Challenger finals with his title on home soil in Portoroz. It is the highest win percentage (.889) among all players with at least 15 finals reached.
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s victory in Cassis, France, came 12 years and two months after his most recent triumph in Surbiton 2007. It is the fourth-largest gap between titles in Challenger history.
  • Paolo Lorenzi became the second player to earn 400 wins on the Challenger circuit. He reached the milestone on 7 August in Manerbio, Italy.

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Eight #NextGenATP Stars Nominated For Newcomer Of The Year In 2019 Awards

  • Posted: Dec 15, 2019

Eight #NextGenATP Stars Nominated For Newcomer Of The Year In 2019 Awards

Auger-Aliassime, Davidovich Fokina, Kecmanovic, Moutet, Popyrin, Ruud, Sinner and Ymer broke into Top 100 for the first time in 2019

The Newcomer of the Year in the 2019 ATP Awards goes to the #NextGenATP player who entered the Top 100 for the first time in 2019 and made the biggest impact on the ATP Tour this season. There are eight nominees this season: Felix Auger-Aliassime, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Miomir Kecmanovic, Corentin Moutet, Alexei Popyrin, Casper Ruud, Jannik Sinner and Mikael Ymer.

ATP Awards winners will be revealed in mid-December.

Player  Age Career-High (Date)
Felix Auger-Aliassime 19 No. 17 (October 14)
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 20 No. 82 (October 28)
Miomir Kecmanovic 20 No. 47 (September 9)
Corentin Moutet 20 No. 80 (July 22)
Alexei Popyrin 20 No. 87 (July 29)
Casper Ruud 20 No. 54 (August 12)
Jannik Sinner 18 No. 78 (November 18)
Mikael Ymer 21 No. 73 (October 28)

Take a look through the season highlights of the fast-rising, 21-and-under stars.

Felix Auger-Aliassime (Canada)
Began playing tennis at age 5 with his dad.

> Achieved career-high ranking 13 times in 2019, peaking at No. 17 on 14 October. At age 18 on 27 May 2019, became youngest player in Top 25 since Lleyton Hewitt, 18, on 13 December 1999.
> Advanced to first ATP Tour SF and final at the Rio Open presented by Claro as 104th-ranked wild card, making him the youngest ATP 500 finalist in series history (since 2009). Also reached the finals in Lyon and Stuttgart, becoming the youngest three-time ATP Tour finalist since Rafael Nadal in 2004-05.
> Qualified and won seven matches at the Miami Open presented by Itau to become the youngest semi-finalist in tournament history, and the third-youngest semi-finalist in ATP Masters 1000 history (Denis Shapovalov at 2017 Montreal, Michael Chang at 1990 Toronto).

“It’s been a solid year!” Auger-Aliassime posted on Instagram. “Truly blessed and thankful to be nominated among these other great players of our sport 🙏🏽 Much love to all of you fans for supporting me throughout the past 11 months♥️ #ATPAwards”

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Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (Spain)
Began playing tennis at age 2.5 with his father.

> Achieved career-high No. 82 on 28 October after winning the Liuzhou Challenger title. Broke into Top 200 and Top 100 in 2019. At age 20, became the youngest Spaniard in Top 100 since Nadal, 20, was No. 2 in 2006.
> Competed at 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals.
> Defeated Taylor Fritz, Jeremy Chardy and Gael Monfils in second ATP Tour main draw to reach Millennium Estoril Open semi-finals as a qualifier. At age 19, became the youngest Spaniard to reach an ATP Tour SF since a 19-year-old Nadal won the 2006 Barcelona title.
> Went 34-11 on ATP Challenger Tour in 2019, winning titles in Seville and Liuzhou. Also reached two other Challenger finals.

Miomir Kecmanovic (Serbia)
Began playing tennis at age 6

> Achieved new career-high ranking 15 times in 2019, peaking at No. 47 on 9 September. Broke into Top 100 on 18 March 2019 after reaching his first tour-level quarter-final at the BNP Paribas Open, an ATP Masters 1000 tournament, as a lucky loser
> Defeated Ruud and Davidovich Fokina to reach the semi-finals at the Next Gen ATP Finals. Lost to eventual champion Sinner.
> Earned all 24 of his career tour-level wins in 2019, highlighted by his first ATP Tour semi-final and final at the Turkish Airlines Open Antalya. Qualified and defeated No. 6 Alexander Zverev for the biggest win of career at the Western & Southern Open Posted his first tour-level win at the Brisbane International as a qualifier (d. Mayer).

Corentin Moutet (France)
Began playing tennis at age 3 with his parents.

> Achieved career-high No. 80 on 22 July, soon after qualifying at Wimbledon. Broke into Top 100 on 17 June 2019 following Lyon Challenger title.
> Earned biggest win of career over World No. 23 Guido Pella to reach Roland Garros third round as a wild card. Qualified and rallied from two sets down to defeat Grigor Dimitrov and reach the Wimbledon second round.
> Won ATP Challenger Tour titles in Chennai and Lyon.

Alexei Popyrin (Australia)
Began playing tennis as 5-year-old at Kim Warwick Tennis Academy.

> Achieved career-high ranking 13 times in 2019, breaking into Top 100 on 24 June and peaking at No. 87 on 29 July.
> Qualified 10 times on ATP Tour in 2019, tying the record set by Mischa Zverev in 2016. Among tournaments where he qualified were the BNP Paribas Open, Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and Wimbledon.
> Won a main draw match at all four Grand Slams in 2019. As a wild card, upset then-No. 8 Dominic en route to becoming one of three teenagers (Alex de Minaur, Shapovalov) to reach the Australian Open third round. Also reached the third round of the US Open.
> Reached first ATP Tour quarter-final in Atlanta.

Popyrin posted on Instagram: “Good way to finish the year, hard work paying off 💪🏽 honoured to be nominated 🙌🏽 only the beginning #PopOnTop”

Casper Ruud (Norway)
Started playing tennis at age 4 with his dad.

> Broke into Top 100 on 4 March and achieved career-high No. 54 on 12 August. Highest-ranked Norwegian since his father, Christian Ruud, was No. 51 on 27 September 1999 (career-high No. 39).
> Competed at 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals.
> Runner-up in Houston, joining his father at 1995 Bastad as only two Norwegians to reach an ATP Tour final. Also advanced to semi-finals in Saol Paulo and Kitzbuhel.
> Reached Grand Slam third for first time at Roland Garros, where he beat No. 31 Matteo Berrettini in the second round for the biggest win of career. Qualified at ATP Masters 1000 events in Miami, Rome, Cincinnati and Paris.

“Honored to be nominated as one of the newcomers of the year😊 thanks @atptour !!🎾” Ruud posted on Instagram.

Jannik Sinner (Italy)
Started playing tennis at age 7 because his dad really liked the sport.

> Ended 2019 as youngest player in the Top 300 at age 18 and career-high No. 78. Youngest player in year-end Top 80 since 17-year-old Nadal finished 2003 at No. 47. Broke into Top 500, 400, 300, 200 and 100 in 2019.
> Went 4-1 en route to 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals title (d. de Minaur). Earned $372,000 in Milan — more than entire career entering that event.
> Defeated World No. 13 Monfils for biggest win of career en route to 2019 Antwerp semi-finals as a wild card. Became the youngest ATP Tour semi-finalist since Borna Coric, 17, at 2014 Basel.
> Made winning ATP Tour debut in April at the Hungarian Open as a lucky loser (d. Valkusz). Saved one match point against Steve Johnson in his ATP Masters 1000 debut at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia as a wild card. Made Grand Slam debut at the US Open as a qualifier and fell to 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka.
> Captured ATP Challenger Tour titles in Bergamo, Lexington and Ortisei, becoming the second-youngest player to win three Challenger titles in a season behind Richard Gasquet in 2003.

Mikael Ymer (Sweden)
Began playing tennis at age 3 because of his older brother Elias, who is also an ATP pro.

> Achieved career-high No. 73 on 28 October after breaking into Top 100 on 30 September. Became the first Swede in Top 100 since No. 67 Robin Soderling on 4 June 2012.
> Competed at 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals. Made Grand Slam qualifying and main draw debut at Roland Garros.
> Posted 39-10 singles record on ATP Challenger Tour in 2019 with four titles in six finals. Won 13 straight matches overall from 13 September through 16 October (2 Davis Cup, 10 Challenger, 1 ATP Tour).

Ymer posted on Instagram: “Thanks @atptour 🙏🏽 definitely celebrating this on Saturday🥳😉😄🥳” 

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Best Of 2019: ATP Heritage Review

  • Posted: Dec 15, 2019

Best Of 2019: ATP Heritage Review

ATPTour.com marked a number of milestones and historic anniversaries throughout 2019

Federer’s 100 Titles & 1,200th Match Win
Roger Federer became the second man in the Open Era to capture 100 singles title on 2 March with victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final. “It’s been a long, wonderful journey… I have loved every minute,” Federer said on court after his victory. “It’s been tough, but the sacrifice has been very, very worthwhile and we’ll see how much more I’ve got left in the tank. Reaching 100 is an absolute dream come true for me.”

Two months later, on 9 May, the Swiss superstar recorded his 1,200th match win over Gael Monfils in the Mutua Madrid Open third round and immediately set his sights on the 1,274 match wins record of American Jimmy Connors, who is also the all-time titles leader with 109 crowns.

Federer added to his silverware haul in 2019 at the Miami Open presented by Itau (d. Isner) in March, the Grass Court Open Halle (d. Goffin) in June and the Swiss Indoors Basel (d. De Minaur) in October for 103 titles overall. He is also on 1,237 match wins – 37 victories behind Connors.

50th Anniversary of Laver’s Second Grand Slam
The tennis world celebrated the 50th anniversary of Rod Laver’s second Grand Slam of the Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open titles. The Australian, who won 18 of the 32 tournaments he entered in 1969, compiling a 106-16 match record, spoke exclusively to ATPTour.com on the eve of each major championship in 2019, reflecting on his memories of his historic run half a century ago. Laver first completed the calendar year Grand Slam as an amateur in 1962, following in the footsteps of Don Budge, who first achieved the feat in 1938.

Exclusives: Laver Talks About His 1969 Grand Slam
Australian Open Feature: Wet Cabbage Leaves Keep Laver & Roche Cool
Roland Garros Feature: ‘It All Worked For Me Against Rosewall’
Wimbledon Feature: ‘I Never Looked At Draws, It Was In My Corner’ 
US Open Feature: ‘Unless You Played Your Best Tennis You’d Get In Trouble’

Fognini, Berrettini, Medvedev Make Top 10 Breakthroughs
Two Italians — Fabio Fognini and Matteo Berrettini — and a Russian, Daniil Medvedev, broke into the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings for the first time this year.

Fognini, aged 32, became the third Italian in rankings history (since 1973) to crack the elite group (after Adriano Panatta and Corrado Barazzutti) on 10 June, and he was also the oldest first-time member in the Top 10 since 1973. Shortly prior to his debut at the Nitto ATP Finals, on 28 October, Berrettini entered the Top 10.

“It is crazy, because we had to wait a lot,” said Berrettini. “Fabio won a crazy tournament [in Monte-Carlo], he was playing so good. He was looking for this achievement a bit longer than me. He [has had] a really great career. After winning an ATP Masters 1000 Best Of 2019: ATP Heritage Review, the Top 10 is the next step, so I was happy for him and now I am super proud of myself.”

On 15 July, Medvedev entered the fray, 12 months on from being ranked No. 61. “I am very proud to reach this step in my career,” said Medvedev. “Some years ago, I changed my life and really dedicated myself to this sport and the results have shown this. This is hopefully the first step of many more goals.”

Cilic, Dimitrov, Melo Record Milestone Match Wins
Thirteen years after recording his first ATP Tour match win, Marin Cilic became one of 10 active players to hit the 500 match wins milestone after he beat Ivo Karlovic at the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow on 17 October. Just four days later, on 21 October, Grigor Dimitrov earned his 300th match win by defeating Damir Dzumhur at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna. The Bulgarian’s first tour-level victory at Rotterdam in 2009 against Tomas Berdych.

Former doubles World No. 1 Marcelo Melo became the 35th player to record 500 tour-level doubles wins when he partnered Lukasz Kubot to victory over Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury in the Citi Open first round in Washington, D.C. “It means a lot. It means I’ve been playing good for a long time,” said Melo, who did not know he was on the verge of the milestone before the match. “I’m very happy and the many people [who have been] with me all the way, for sure they’re going to be happy as well.”

Herbert/Mahut Complete Career Grand Slam
Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert became the eighth men’s doubles team in the sport’s history to complete the career doubles Grand Slam of all four major championship crowns on 27 January to clinch their first Australian Open trophy. The Frenchmen defeated 2017 champions Henri Kontinen and John Peers to add to their 2015 US Open, 2016 Wimbledon and 2018 Roland Garros titles.

“We knew when we won Roland Garros that it was the one missing, so for sure it added maybe a special motivation when entering this tournament,” said Herbert. “I think we wanted it, but we also wanted to be good on court in each match and we focused on the game, and that’s why maybe today we could achieve what we achieved here at the Australian Open.”

“Today, I didn’t have it in mind, because I thought I was sure it would have been really difficult to play if I was just focused on just to win this tournament, because it was the one missing,” said Mahut. “I was just focussed on the game, just focused on what I have to do on court to be good, because in front of us we had a really good team to beat.”

Herbert and Mahut became the first team to complete the Career Grand Slam since Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan secured their set of major titles at Wimbledon in July 2006. Herbert and Mahut reunited later in 2019 to compile an 11-match winning streak, including titles at the Rolex Paris Masters (d. Khachanov/Rublev) and the Nitto ATP Finals (d. Klaasen/Venus).

Mike Bryan Celebrates 500 Weeks As Doubles No. 1
Mike Bryan, who returned for his 13th stint at No. 1 in the ATP Doubles Rankings on 16 July 2018, celebrated his 500th week in the top spot on 26 May at 41 years and 28 days. Mike was quick to praise his brother, Bob Bryan, who’d missed eight months of the 2018 season due to a hip injury, telling ATPTour.com, “It seems like yesterday that we won Roland Garros [in 2003] and reached No. 1.

“It’s a dream to hit No. 1, but to be No. 1 for so long I owe it to this guy. We’ve been pushing each other and never really taken the foot off the gas as long as we’ve been playing. We’ve always reached for more and never been satisfied when we’ve won a tournament and set our sights on the next one. There has been sacrifice, but we love what we do.”

Mike Bryan spent his final day at No. 1 on 14 July 2019, completing his 506th week. Together, with his twin brother, Bob, the Americans will retire from professional tennis after the 2020 US Open.

Djokovic Moves Up Weeks At No. 1 Ladder
Novak Djokovic, who began his fourth stint at the summit of men’s professional tennis on 5 November 2018, moved passed Jimmy Connors (268 weeks) for 269 weeks at No. 1 in the ATP Rankings on 16 September 2019, and rose to third place for the most weeks in the top spot on 271 weeks, beyond Ivan Lendl (270 weeks), on 30 September. He completed his 275th week at World No. 1, before Rafael Nadal returned to the top spot on 4 November. Djokovic is now behind only Pete Sampras (286 weeks) and all-time leader Roger Federer (310 weeks).

Farewell To Former Stars
The tennis world also bid farewell to former players, who passed away during the 2019 season, including Britons Graham Stilwell (13 January) and Paul Hutchins (14 March), Australia’s Peter McNamara (20 July), 1972 Roland Garros champion Andres Gimeno of Spain (9 October) and Russia’s Alexander Volkov (19 October). See Obituaries Section

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Seppi Tests Hockey Skills With Grubauer Of NHL's Colorado Avalanche

  • Posted: Dec 15, 2019

Seppi Tests Hockey Skills With Grubauer Of NHL’s Colorado Avalanche

Italian spending off-season in Colorado

The stars of the ATP Tour spend much of their off-season training on and off the court to prepare for the campaign ahead. But Italian Andreas Seppi, who recently finished inside the Top 100 of the year-end ATP Rankings for the 15th straight year, also threw in some slapshots and one-timers with members of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche on Thursday afternoon.

Seppi is spending his third consecutive off-season in Boulder, Colorado, where he bought a house in December 2017. Former ATP Tour doubles player Christopher Kas, who is friends with Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer, introduced Seppi to the hockey star. They hit it off, sometimes going to dinner and even joining one another for a hike. And on Thursday, Seppi got an inside look at Avalanche practice before stepping on the ice himself to test his skills with Grubauer and fellow Avalanche player Vladislav Kamenev

“First of all, I want to thank the Colorado Avalanche for letting me see the practice and play a little bit with Philipp, who I know for a couple of years. It was really nice to be out here,” Seppi said. “My father was playing [hockey] in Italy, so he taught me how to skate and to play a little bit with a stick, but I never played with a team. I preferred tennis and I was skiing also, but I still like being on the ice and skating. It feels good.”

Seppi Grubauer
Photo Credit: Colorado Avalanche
It had been more than seven years since Seppi had ice skated, and about 15 years since he held a hockey stick. But the Italian was excited to get a chance to share the ice with professional hockey players.

“It was a little bit strange, but it was really fun. I should go more often on ice, I think,” said Seppi before explaining how Grubauer gave him some pointers. “[He showed me] how to hold the stick a little bit, a little bit higher and everything. So maybe I could give him some tips how to hold the tennis racquet after.”

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Andreas Seppi: From Italy To… Colorado?

While Seppi promised to take Grubauer onto a tennis court one day, he brought tennis to the hockey rink, smacking some tennis balls on goal before swapping spots with Grubauer to see if he could stop the goalie from scoring on him.

“It’s pretty good in the net, seeing the balls coming to you. I can’t imagine how it is to see a puck coming to you, so it must be really dangerous. It must feel uncomfortable to be in the goal,” Seppi said.

Grubauer, the Avalanche’s starting goaltender, is currently in season. But the German would play tennis when he was younger, and he also uses it as part as his off-season workout. Something he had never done before Thursday was combining hockey with tennis like he did with Seppi.

“The ice, the court, the speed of the ball is similar to the puck, actually, so it’s not that different the way he shoots it. But it was really hard to see. It’s really hard to see and it was fun. I’ve never done that before,” Grubauer said. “It was really fun out here to switch the sport a little bit and try out something new.”

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Laver: De Minaur, Kyrgios Contrast Makes Aussies ATP Cup Danger Team

  • Posted: Dec 14, 2019

Laver: De Minaur, Kyrgios Contrast Makes Aussies ATP Cup Danger Team

Team Australia will play in Brisbane to start the ATP Cup

One is as hard-working as they come, a relentless professional who, in the words of all-time great Rod Laver, “won’t ever let a match die.”

The other admits to lacking the discipline of an Alex de Minaur, but is as powerful as they come, a talented player who, when playing in the right environment, can beat anyone. “He’s probably got the best serve in the game,” Laver said of Nick Kyrgios.

You will struggle to find two more contrasting players on the ATP Tour than De Minaur, who lacks an overpowering weapon but makes up for it with speed and grit, and Kyrgios, who has one of the biggest serves and forehands in tennis but self-admittedly lacks the drive that has pushed De Minaur to a career-high of No. 18.

But tennis has room for all characters, and both of them will lead Team Australia during the inaugural ATP Cup, to be held 3-12 January in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney. De Minaur and Kyrgios, alongside John Millman, John Peers and Chris Guccione, will play in Brisbane in Group F against Germany, Greece and Canada.

Tennis is great to have the both of them playing as well as they are now,” Laver told ATPTour.com. “That’s a good team.”

The only man to win the calendar Grand Slam in the Open Era (1969) has things he likes about both De Minaur and Kyrgios. About De Minaur, for instance, Laver especially appreciates the #NextGenATP Aussie’s work ethic. The 20-year-old, like Laver in his day, never concedes a point.

“I was always pretty aggressive. I said, ‘You are not going to beat me.’ You put that out there, and I think a lot of people think, ‘Holy s*#!,’” Laver said.

“Love/40 point, and you work to try to win that point, and if you do win it, the next one is possible. And so you’re putting something in the other guy’s brain that says, ‘I better be careful,’ and with that, you get more opportunities.”

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Isner & Fritz Seek More Team Success In ATP Cup

Laver recalls watching De Minaur a couple of years ago for the first time. The teenager hadn’t grown into his 6′ frame, but Laver saw an “unbelievable talent”.

Since then, De Minaur’s peers have learned the scope of his talent and work ethic. The Aussie was No. 208 at the start of the 2018 season but finished this season at a career-high year-end ATP Ranking of No. 18. The two-time Next Gen ATP Finals runner-up (2018, 2019) won three titles this year, including his first at the Sydney International, where he became the youngest champion since mentor Lleyton Hewitt, 19, in 2001. De Minaur will target the Top 10 in 2020.

“If he gets a few breaks here and there he could be mentioned with the top players,” Laver said. “To me, he’s going to be a real force on the circuit and give the top guys all they can handle.”

Kyrgios has already beaten all of the top guys. The 6’4” Aussie has won three of seven FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings with Rafael Nadal, one of seven against Roger Federer and both times he played Novak Djokovic.

The 24-year-old Kyrgios thrives under the bright lights, but he especially cherishes playing with a team and representing more than himself on court.

I think the way Laver Cup is, the way ATP Cup is going to be, I think that’s what tennis needs moving forward,” Kyrgios said. “I think it’s unbelievable, that concept to play in a team, and I think it’s way more exciting for the fans to watch. I think it’s easier to follow a team, as well.”

The right-hander had match point on Federer at the inaugural Laver Cup in Prague in 2017 and has gone 3-0 in doubles matches at the team event.

“Maybe when he’s at the ATP Cup, he’s going to really enjoy it,” Laver said of his countryman. “I think the camaraderie with the team concept he seems to like and enjoy. Because at the Laver Cup, he just showed it; he didn’t mess around when he was playing.”

A locked-in Kyrgios and a well-rested De Minaur next month could go a long ways towards keeping the inaugural ATP Cup title on home soil.

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Best Of 2019: Player Retirements (Part Two)

  • Posted: Dec 14, 2019

Best Of 2019: Player Retirements (Part Two)

ATPTour.com looks at more of the biggest names who called time on their playing careers this year

Tomas Berdych (Retired: 16 November), career-high No. 4
For the best part of 30 years, Berdych dedicated his life to tennis, leaving no stone unturned in his pursuit of excellence, impressive consistency and a beautiful game. Hard work off the court paid dividends on court with 13 ATP Tour titles, including a career-best performance aged 20 at the 2005 Rolex Paris Masters, where, as World No. 50, he became the lowest-ranked ATP Masters 1000 champion since No. 57-ranked Chris Woodruff at the 1997 Coupe Rogers in Montreal.

Perhaps his finest achievement came in defeat, when he beat Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic en route to the 2010 Wimbledon final, but Rafael Nadal kept Berdych dreaming of Grand Slam championship glory. He played 52 straight Grand Slams — reaching seven semi-finals (or better) — before withdrawing from the 2016 US Open (appendicitis), and 64 straight Masters 1000 events (four finals) before withdrawing from 2017 Montreal (rib). Berdych broke into the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings for the first time in October 2006 and rose to a career-high No. 4 on 18 May 2015. He finished seven straight seasons in the Top 10 (2010-2016), earned 50+ wins in five straight years (2011-2015) and recorded 640 tour-level match victories. With Radek Stepanek, he led the Czech Republic to the 2012 and 2013 Davis Cup titles.

When a back injury began to hamper his peak-performances days in 2018, forcing him outside of the Top 50, the Czech’s time on court was numbered. In making the Qatar ExxonMobil Open final and Australian Open fourth round in January 2019, there was hope, however fleeting. Aged 34, Berdych ended his career in an on-court ceremony at the Nitto ATP Finals in London, the scene of his six straight season finale appearances. Read Tribute

Tipsarevic

Janko Tipsarevic (Retired: 18 October), career-high No. 8
As a big fish in a small pool, Tipsarevic was the world’s best junior with a 33-match winning streak. But as the Serbian freely admitted, his transition through to the upper echelons of pro ranks was a little more complex. By the time the astute and Dostojevski-reading intellectual Tipsarevic broke into the Top 10 in 2011, largely inspired by the performances of Stan Wawrinka, he was on borrowed time.

For two years, Tipsarevic’s star burned bright, taking his aggressive, counter-punching game to the world’s best to earn two 50+ match wins years and a career-high No. 8 in the ATP Rankings in April 2012. He helped Serbia clinch the 2010 Davis Cup and beat his good friend Novak Djokovic, then ranked World No. 1, at the 2011 Nitto ATP Finals and 2012 Mutua Madrid Open — among 15 Top 10 victories. Tipsarevic also reached the 2011-12 US Open quarter-finals.

For five years, Tipsarevic’s career was in limbo as he underwent seven different lower body surgeries. Would he retire? No, he fought back and recorded his first tour-leve match win in 570 days this March at the Miami Open presented by Itau. As a long-time role model for a generation of Serbian players, including Djokovic, Tipsarevic played his final ATP Tour event at the Stockholm Open in October, ending his career with four ATP Tour titles and 286 tour-level match wins. He has already begun work on franchising his tennis academy internationally. Read Tribute

Estrella Burgos

Victor Estrella Burgos (Retired: 9 October), career-high No. 43
It could all been very different for the ‘King of Quito’. Seven years ago, he was nursing an elbow injury and contemplating retirement with 28 tour-level match wins to his name — all from Davis Cup Group II play for the Dominican Republic. Estrella Burgos never could believe his luck, forever playing with a smile on his ATP tournament debut aged 29; when he broke into the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings aged 33 or when he won three straight ATP Tour titles on the clay of Quito between 2015, the year he rose to a career-high No. 43 (13 July), and 2017. He earned the respect of his peers and, aged 39, retired at an ATP Challenger Tour event on home soil in October. Read Tribute

Matkowski

Marcin Matkowski (Retired: 31 July), career-high doubles No. 7
As one-half of the world-class ‘Polish Power’, Matkowski partnered Mariusz Fyrstenberg (who retired in 2017) to become one of ATP Tour’s most marketable doubles teams, winning 15 titles — including the 2008 and 2012 Mutua Madrid Opens. The pair also finished runner-up in 2011 at the US Open (l. to Melzer-Petzschner) and the Nitto ATP Finals (l. to Mirnyi-Nestor). Rising to a career-high No. 7 in the ATP Doubles Rankings on 9 July 2012, Matkowski won 472 match wins and lifted 17 trophies. He retired aged 38 at the BNP Paribas Sopot Open in August.

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Best of 2019: Player Retirements (Part One)

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