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Rivalries of 2018: Cilic vs. Djokovic

  • Posted: Dec 07, 2018

Rivalries of 2018: Cilic vs. Djokovic

ATP World Tour Season In Review: Best Rivalries

Continuing our Season In Review series, ATPWorldTour.com revisits the fiercest rivalries of 2018. Today we feature Marin Cilic vs. Novak Djokovic.

Marin Cilic and Novak Djokovic were both aiming for big pushes in 2018 — one to break into the Top 2 for the first time, the other attempting to return to his peak performance days. Their four FedEx ATP Head2Head clashes — at the Fever-Tree Championships, the Western & Southern Open, the Rolex Paris Masters and the Nitto ATP Finals — showcased precisely what confidence and form can do to transform a match in a matter of points.

While Djokovic had won his first 14 matches against Cilic, the Croatian finally snapped the streak in November 2016 with a 6-4, 7-6(2) quarter-final victory at the Rolex Paris Masters. Fast forward 18 months and Cilic, back in the familiar surroundings of The Queen’s Club in west London, where he lifted the 2012 Fever-Tree Championships trophy, was hungry for success once more.

In the afterglow of a runner-up finish at the Australian Open in January, which saw him rise to a career-high No. 3 in the ATP Rankings, Cilic came face-to-face with Djokovic, whose form had flickered (a 6-6 start to June 2018) following his return from a long-time elbow injury.

In an encounter that lasted almost three hours, Cilic highlighted his grass-court pedigree and a resurgent Djokovic his shot-making ability in a thrilling high-quality final – one of the matches of the 2018 ATP Tour season. Cilic, on the brink of defeat at 4-5, 30/40 in the second set, landed a powerful serve out wide, then overcame a 1/4 deficit in the tie-break en route to a 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-3 victory at the Fever-Tree Championships. Read More & Watch Highlights 

“I was just trying to stay mentally in it,” said Cilic, after capturing his first ATP Tour title since May 2017 in Istanbul. “And definitely, it was an extremely tough match. No breaks for me until that last [return] game. I definitely feel relieved that I won it and what a great week.”

Djokovic, who had reached his maiden final at the grass-court event in 2008, falling to Rafael Nadal in a tight two-hour, 16-minute battle, admitted, “He deserved to win. It’s a tough loss for me today, obviously. But I have to see it from a positive side. I haven’t played a final at any event in almost a year, so this felt great.”

Having lost his serve just once en route to the title match, his performances at The Queen’s Club proved to be a springboard for Djokovic to a remarkable second half of the season.

On 18 August, Djokovic met Cilic once more at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. But the Serbian was transformed, a different proposition entirely, having won 13 of his past 14 matches that included his fourth trophy at Wimbledon. In yet another enthralling encounter, Djokovic gave himself a shot at history with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 semi-final victory over Cilic in two hours and 32 minutes. Read More & Watch Highlights

For all his recent success, Djokovic considered his serve “still a work in progress.” He won just eight return points in the first set, but broke twice for an early advantage, before Cilic took a 5-1 lead to gain the momentum.

Djokovic took control of the decider when he broke in the eighth game, then later explained, “There are days where I’m able to serve, consistently well throughout the match. There are days when it goes up and down.”

As a five-time runner-up in Cincinnati, Djokovic added, “Obviously this time I’m hoping that I can get my hands on the trophy. History is also on the line and I’m aware of that and that motivates me even more.”

One day later, Djokovic did just that, beating Roger Federer to become the first player to complete the Career Golden Masters of all nine ATP Masters 1000 crowns (since the tournament series was established in 1990).

In the final week of the regular ATP Tour season, Djokovic had Cilic’s number again in a hard-fought 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 quarter-final victory at the Rolex Paris Masters. Cilic capitalised on Djokovic’s service woes to take a 2-1 lead in the decider, however, after Djokovic broke his racquet in frustration in the next game, the momentum shifted.

Afterwards, Djokovic explained, “This was the hardest match for me. Cilic has a lot of skills. He’s powerful. He’s very efficient on his serve. It’s not easy to play such a player who is so aggressive. This match was a great challenge. It’s a great thing to have a win tonight. I’m getting confidence from this.”

Two weeks later at the Nitto ATP Finals, Djokovic ended Cilic’s season with a 7-6(7), 6-2 victory at The O2 in London, when the Serbian saved one set point at 5/6 in the tie-break of the one-hour and 35-minute encounter. Djokovic’s 14-match winning against Top 10 opponents came to an end against Alexander Zverev in the title match on 18 November, but since his runner-up finish to Cilic at the Fever-Tree Championships on 24 June, the 31-year-old won 35 of his 38 tour-level matches.

In addition to four big titles, his haul helped him to become the first player to be ranked outside the Top 20 to finish the same season at No. 1 in the history of the ATP Rankings.

Cilic vs. Djokovic: 2018 Meetings

 Event  Surface  Round  Winner  Score
 London/Queen’s Club  Grass  F  Cilic  5-7, 7-6(4), 6-3
 Cincinnati  Hard  SF  Djokovic  6-4, 3-6, 6-3
 Paris  Hard  QF  Djokovic  4-6, 6-2, 6-3
 Nitto ATP Finals  Hard  RR  Djokovic  7-6(7), 6-2

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Amelie Mauresmo withdraws as France Davis Cup captain to coach Lucas Pouille

  • Posted: Dec 06, 2018

Amelie Mauresmo has decided against taking over as captain of France’s Davis Cup team to instead coach compatriot Lucas Pouille.

The 39-year-old, who would have been France’s first female Davis Cup captain, had been appointed in June to replace Yannick Noah next year.

Mauresmo coached Andy Murray for two years and subsequently guided France’s women to the Fed Cup final in 2016.

Frenchman Pouille is currently ranked 32nd in the world.

The 24-year-old had reached number 10 in the world in March.

Two-time Grand Slam winner Mauresmo was the first woman to coach a leading male player when appointed by Britain’s Murray in 2014.

Noah led France to three Davis Cup victories during three spells as captain, with his latest tenure ending in November following defeat by Croatia in the final.

Pouille secured the third of those victories by beating Belgium’s Steve Darcis in the deciding singles match in 2017.

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Nadal Honoured By Peers With Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award

  • Posted: Dec 06, 2018

Nadal Honoured By Peers With Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award

Spaniard receives honour for second time

Fellow players voted Rafael Nadal as the winner of the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award in the 2018 ATP World Tour Awards presented by Moët & Chandon, recognising the Spaniard for his fair play, professionalism and integrity on and off the court. Nadal also received this honour in 2010.

This season, the 32-year-old spent 36 weeks atop the ATP Rankings and won five titles, including record 11th trophies at Roland Garros, the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. Off the court, Nadal supported flood relief efforts in Mallorca.

Nadal has won an ATP World Tour Award in each of the player-voted categories: Newcomer (2003), Most Improved (2005), Comeback (2013), Sportsmanship (2010, 2018). He has also been awarded the ATP World Tour No. 1 trophy on four occasions (2008, 2010, 2013, 2017) and was named Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year in 2011.

You May Also Like: Rafa Opens Academy To Mallorca Flood Victims

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Nadal Honoured By Peers With Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award

  • Posted: Dec 06, 2018

Nadal Honoured By Peers With Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award

Spaniard receives honour for second time

Fellow players voted Rafael Nadal as the winner of the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award in the 2018 ATP World Tour Awards presented by Moët & Chandon, recognising the Spaniard for his fair play, professionalism and integrity on and off the court. Nadal also received this honour in 2010.

This season, the 32-year-old Spaniard spent 36 weeks atop the ATP Rankings and won five titles, including record 11th trophies at Roland Garros, the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. Off the court, Nadal supported flood relief efforts in Mallorca.

Nadal has won an ATP World Tour Award in each of the player-voted categories: Newcomer (2003), Most Improved (2005), Comeback (2013), Sportsmanship (2010, 2018). He has also been awarded the ATP World Tour No. 1 trophy on four occasions (2008, 2010, 2013, 2017) and was named Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year in 2011.

You May Also Like: Rafa Opens Academy To Mallorca Flood Victims

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Rivalries Of 2018: Thiem vs. Tsitsipas

  • Posted: Dec 06, 2018

Rivalries Of 2018: Thiem vs. Tsitsipas

ATP World Tour Season In Review: Best Rivalries

Continuing our Season In Review series, ATPWorldTour.com revisits the fiercest rivalries of 2018. Today we feature Dominic Thiem vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas:

In 2018, no rivalry was more prevalent than Dominic Thiem vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas. A battle of two of the more potent one-handed backhands in today’s game, the attack-minded stars clashed a total of five times, leading all FedEx ATP Head2Head match-ups. 

Regardless of where they met – on clay or hard, in Europe or North America, the early rounds or latter stages – Thiem and Tsitsipas raised their levels for this budding rivalry. Starting with a season-opening encounter in Doha and concluding with a critical meeting in Toronto in August, they would clash at all three ATP World Tour levels (250, 500 and Masters 1000), as well as the second Grand Slam of the year at Roland Garros.

Coming into the season, the World No. 8 Austrian had never lost to a teenager at the tour-level, while a 19-year-old Tsitsipas had registered just one win over a Top 10 opponent. 

It was a breakthrough campaign for Tsitsipas, as the 20-year-old Greek made great strides en route to Most Improved Player of the Year honours in the ATP Awards presented by Moët & Chandon. And it all started at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open. There, he streaked to his second straight ATP World Tour quarter-final as a qualifier, carrying the momentum from a deep run in Antwerp just a few months prior.

Doha

Sitting at No. 91 in the ATP Rankings, Tsitsipas made an immediate statement in Doha, but he would encounter a reality check against a fifth-ranked Thiem. The top seed surged to a 7-5, 6-4 victory, turning in an efficient serving performance behind six of seven break points saved. But despite the loss, Tsitsipas made a strong impression on his counterpart.

“He’s already so good at a young age. I think he’s going to be for sure a top player in the near future,” Thiem said. “He’s playing very well, aggressive with a good service, nice one-handed backhand.” 

After taking their first encounter, Thiem would also emerge victorious at the BNP Paribas Open in March. The fireworks flew in an opening-round meeting at the first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event of the year. On a packed Court 1 in Indian Wells, the Austrian battled to a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 win in one hour and 51 minutes.

As he did in Doha, Tsitsipas put up a valiant fight under the searing Southern California sun. His charge towards the year-end Top 20 was well underway and his growth and maturation would benefit from every elite encounter. In search of his first Top 10 win of the season, he would meet Thiem once again just six weeks later at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.

The budding rivalry shifted to clay and the surface change would prove critical for Tsitsipas. The Greek found a second home in the Spanish metropolis, not dropping a set en route to his first ATP World Tour final. After blitzing Corentin Moutet, Diego Schwartzman and Albert Ramos-Vinolas, he would topple Thiem in the quarter-finals. 

The rout was on, as Tsitsipas breezed to a 6-3, 6-2 win in just 80 minutes. Thiem, who consistently played deep behind the baseline, was unable to secure a third straight win against his new rival. He suffered his first defeat to a teenager at the tour-level.

One day later, Tsitsipas would become the first Greek to reach an ATP World Tour final since Nicholas Kalogeropoulos in 1973, before falling to Rafael Nadal in the championship. His run in Barcelona would see him break into the Top 50 of the ATP Rankings for the first time.

If it seemed like Thiem and Tsitsipas were meeting nearly every month, that’s because they were. As the calendar flipped to May, the 25-year-old was finding his top form on the dirt. A runner-up finish at the Mutua Madrid Open (l. to Zverev) was followed by a 10th tour-level title in Lyon, and he would surge into Roland Garros with a bevy of momentum at his back.

The second Grand Slam of the year would become a revenge tour for Thiem, as he defeated Tsitsipas in the second round and Madrid champ Alexander Zverev in the quarter-finals. After suffering such a decisive defeat to the Greek teen in Barcelona, he would not endure the same fate in Paris. Thiem prevailed 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, en route to his maiden major final.

At first glance, it may appear to be a straightforward four-set affair, but the two-day encounter carried plenty of drama. Thiem would use his experience to stop the surge after Tsitsipas took the second set. And the Austrian would be forced to take a two-sets-to-one lead to sleep as the match was suspended due to darkness. The next day, Thiem dropped just one service point to close it out. His victory over Tsitsipas was followed by signature wins over Kei Nishikori, Zverev and a surging Marco Cecchinato before falling to Nadal in the title match.

The best tournament of Thiem’s career had him on the rise as he entered the summer hard-court season. But his transition from the clay wasn’t a swift one, especially with Tsitsipas standing on the other side of the net to open his Rogers Cup campaign.

This time, it was the Greek’s turn to defeat his rival en route to a breakthrough week. He ousted Thiem 6-3, 7-6(6) in a Toronto tussle, needing one hour and 21 minutes to triumph. The win would continue Tsitsipas’ stunning run to the final, his first at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level. In addition, it was his first of four straight Top 10 victories, having followed that up with wins over Novak Djokovic, Zverev and Kevin Anderson. He became the youngest player to defeat four Top 10 players in a single tournament since the ATP World Tour was established in 1990.

Both players would go on to finish inside the Top 20 of the year-end ATP Rankings, with Thiem peaking at No. 8 after appearing in the Nitto ATP Finals and Tsitsipas at No. 15 following a title at the Next Gen ATP Finals. The #NextGenATP star also raised his maiden ATP World Tour trophy in Stockholm. After five pivotal clashes in 2018, expect the pair to take their new rivalry to the next level in 2019.

Thiem vs. Tsitsipas: 2018 Meetings

Event Surface Round Winner Score 
Doha Hard QF Thiem  7-5, 6-4
Indian Wells Hard 2R Thiem  6-2, 3-6, 6-3 
Barcelona Clay QF Tsitsipas  6-3, 6-2 
Roland Garros Clay 2R Thiem  6-2, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 
Toronto Hard 2R Tsitsipas  6-3, 7-6(6) 

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Rivalries Of 2018: Thiem vs. Tsitsipas

  • Posted: Dec 06, 2018

Rivalries Of 2018: Thiem vs. Tsitsipas

ATP World Tour Season In Review: Best Rivalries

Continuing our Season In Review series, ATPWorldTour.com revisits the fiercest rivalries of 2018. Today we feature Dominic Thiem vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas:

In 2018, no rivalry was more prevalent than Dominic Thiem vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas. A battle of two of the more potent one-handed backhands in today’s game, the attack-minded stars clashed a total of five times, leading all FedEx ATP Head2Head match-ups. 

Regardless of where they met – on clay or hard, in Europe or North America, the early rounds or latter stages – Thiem and Tsitsipas raised their levels for this budding rivalry. Starting with a season-opening encounter in Doha and concluding with a critical meeting in Toronto in August, they would clash at all three ATP World Tour levels (250, 500 and Masters 1000), as well as the second Grand Slam of the year at Roland Garros.

Coming into the season, the World No. 8 Austrian had never lost to a teenager at the tour-level, while a 19-year-old Tsitsipas had registered just one win over a Top 10 opponent. 

It was a breakthrough campaign for Tsitsipas, as the 20-year-old Greek made great strides en route to Most Improved Player of the Year honours in the ATP Awards presented by Moët & Chandon. And it all started at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open. There, he streaked to his second straight ATP World Tour quarter-final as a qualifier, carrying the momentum from a deep run in Antwerp just a few months prior.

Doha

Sitting at No. 91 in the ATP Rankings, Tsitsipas made an immediate statement in Doha, but he would encounter a reality check against a fifth-ranked Thiem. The top seed surged to a 7-5, 6-4 victory, turning in an efficient serving performance behind six of seven break points saved. But despite the loss, Tsitsipas made a strong impression on his counterpart.

“He’s already so good at a young age. I think he’s going to be for sure a top player in the near future,” Thiem said. “He’s playing very well, aggressive with a good service, nice one-handed backhand.” 

After taking their first encounter, Thiem would also emerge victorious at the BNP Paribas Open in March. The fireworks flew in an opening-round meeting at the first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event of the year. On a packed Court 1 in Indian Wells, the Austrian battled to a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 win in one hour and 51 minutes.

As he did in Doha, Tsitsipas put up a valiant fight under the searing Southern California sun. His charge towards the year-end Top 20 was well underway and his growth and maturation would benefit from every elite encounter. In search of his first Top 10 win of the season, he would meet Thiem once again just six weeks later at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.

The budding rivalry shifted to clay and the surface change would prove critical for Tsitsipas. The Greek found a second home in the Spanish metropolis, not dropping a set en route to his first ATP World Tour final. After blitzing Corentin Moutet, Diego Schwartzman and Albert Ramos-Vinolas, he would topple Thiem in the quarter-finals. 

The rout was on, as Tsitsipas breezed to a 6-3, 6-2 win in just 80 minutes. Thiem, who consistently played deep behind the baseline, was unable to secure a third straight win against his new rival. He suffered his first defeat to a teenager at the tour-level.

One day later, Tsitsipas would become the first Greek to reach an ATP World Tour final since Nicholas Kalogeropoulos in 1973, before falling to Rafael Nadal in the championship. His run in Barcelona would see him break into the Top 50 of the ATP Rankings for the first time.

If it seemed like Thiem and Tsitsipas were meeting nearly every month, that’s because they were. As the calendar flipped to May, the 25-year-old was finding his top form on the dirt. A runner-up finish at the Mutua Madrid Open (l. to Zverev) was followed by a 10th tour-level title in Lyon, and he would surge into Roland Garros with a bevy of momentum at his back.

The second Grand Slam of the year would become a revenge tour for Thiem, as he defeated Tsitsipas in the second round and Madrid champ Alexander Zverev in the quarter-finals. After suffering such a decisive defeat to the Greek teen in Barcelona, he would not endure the same fate in Paris. Thiem prevailed 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, en route to his maiden major final.

At first glance, it may appear to be a straightforward four-set affair, but the two-day encounter carried plenty of drama. Thiem would use his experience to stop the surge after Tsitsipas took the second set. And the Austrian would be forced to take a two-sets-to-one lead to sleep as the match was suspended due to darkness. The next day, Thiem dropped just one service point to close it out. His victory over Tsitsipas was followed by signature wins over Kei Nishikori, Zverev and a surging Marco Cecchinato before falling to Nadal in the title match.

The best tournament of Thiem’s career had him on the rise as he entered the summer hard-court season. But his transition from the clay wasn’t a swift one, especially with Tsitsipas standing on the other side of the net to open his Rogers Cup campaign.

This time, it was the Greek’s turn to defeat his rival en route to a breakthrough week. He ousted Thiem 6-3, 7-6(6) in a Toronto tussle, needing one hour and 21 minutes to triumph. The win would continue Tsitsipas’ stunning run to the final, his first at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level. In addition, it was his first of four straight Top 10 victories, having followed that up with wins over Novak Djokovic, Zverev and Kevin Anderson. He became the youngest player to defeat four Top 10 players in a single tournament since the ATP World Tour was established in 1990.

Both players would go on to finish inside the Top 20 of the year-end ATP Rankings, with Thiem peaking at No. 8 after appearing in the Nitto ATP Finals and Tsitsipas at No. 15 following a title at the Next Gen ATP Finals. The #NextGenATP star also raised his maiden ATP World Tour trophy in Stockholm. After five pivotal clashes in 2018, expect the pair to take their new rivalry to the next level in 2019.

Thiem vs. Tsitsipas: 2018 Meetings

Event Surface Round Winner Score 
Doha Hard QF Thiem  7-5, 6-4
Indian Wells Hard 2R Thiem  6-2, 3-6, 6-3 
Barcelona Clay QF Tsitsipas  6-3, 6-2 
Roland Garros Clay 2R Thiem  6-2, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 
Toronto Hard 2R Tsitsipas  6-3, 7-6(6) 

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Bryan Brothers, Jack Nicklaus Host 'Fore Love', Raise More Than $1 Million For Charity

  • Posted: Dec 05, 2018

Bryan Brothers, Jack Nicklaus Host ‘Fore Love’, Raise More Than $1 Million For Charity

Charitable event features some of the world’s best tennis players and golfers

The Bryan brothers and golf legend Jack Nicklaus again brought together some of the world’s best golfers and tennis players to raise money for their children’s foundations.

The “Fore Love” tournament, which combines golf and tennis pro-ams and was held for the first time in 2017, was hosted again last weekend in North Palm Beach and Jupiter, Florida, and raised $1.1 million for the Bryan Bros. Foundation and the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation.

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We’ve done hundreds of pro-ams and exos and I can honestly say ‘Fore Love’ is unlike any other,” Bob Bryan said. “The venue, intimacy, and star power makes this event really special. The Nicklauses are so gracious to let the donors and pros play tennis at their beautiful home and to play golf at their private golf club. It would be difficult to find two people more humble and warm than Jack and Barbara. They’ve been so supportive of our careers on the court and with ‘Fore Love’ are helping us greatly expand our charitable efforts.”

The tennis players who participated: Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan, Milos Raonic, Andy Roddick, Kevin Anderson, Frances Tiafoe, Mardy Fish, Gaston Gaudio, Fabio Fognini, Guillermo Canas, Jean-Julien Rojer, Reilly Opelka, along with WTA star Sloane Stephens and retired WTA player Flavia Pennetta, who is married to Fognini.

“Countless kids are going to benefit from these funds and that is why we do it. I’m so grateful to my friends who took time away from their busy pre-season training to help out. Kevin Anderson and Reilly Opelka have now participated both years. Sloane Stephens and Mardy Fish came all the way from the west coast. Fabio Fognini and Flavia Pennetta brought their adorable new baby with them. Frances Tiafoe flew from Washington D.C., Andy Roddick from North Carolina, Milos Raonic from the Bahamas, and Jules Rojer, ‘Willy’ Canas, and Gaston Gaudio drove up from Miami,” Bob Bryan said.

Nicklaus, along with PGA players Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger, Kevin Tway and Jason Duffner led the golf pro-am. Donors, who participated in the pro-ams and enjoyed dinner at the Nicklaus’ home, among other perks, each paid $50,000 for the opportunity.

The Bryans met Jack and Barbara Nicklaus eight years ago through a mutual friend and share a passion for philanthropy.

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Bryan Brothers, Jack Nicklaus Host 'Fore Love', Raise More Than $1 Million For Charity

  • Posted: Dec 05, 2018

Bryan Brothers, Jack Nicklaus Host ‘Fore Love’, Raise More Than $1 Million For Charity

Charitable event features some of the best tennis players and golfers in the world

The Bryan brothers and golf legend Jack Nicklaus again brought together some of the world’s best golfers and tennis players to raise money for their children’s foundations.

The “Fore Love” tournament, which combines golf and tennis pro-ams and was held for the first time in 2017, was hosted again last weekend in North Palm Beach and Jupiter, Florida, and raised $1.1 million for the Bryan Bros. Foundation and the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation.

You May Also Like: Roddick, Haas Help NBA’s Nowitzki Raise Money For Good Cause

The tennis players who participated: Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan, Milos Raonic, Andy Roddick, Kevin Anderson, Frances Tiafoe, Mardy Fish, Gaston Gaudio, Fabio Fognini, Guillermo Canas, Jean-Julien Rojer, Reilly Opelka, along with WTA star Sloane Stephens and retired WTA player Flavia Pennetta, who is married to Fognini.

Nicklaus, along with PGA players Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger, Kevin Tway and Jason Duffner led the golf pro-am. Donors, who participated in the pro-ams and enjoyed dinner at the Nicklaus’ home, among other perks, each paid $50,000 for the opportunity.

The Bryans met Jack and Barbara Nicklaus eight years ago through a mutual friend and share a passion for philanthropy.

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Against Nadal, Do Not Fall Behind On Serve

  • Posted: Dec 05, 2018

Against Nadal, Do Not Fall Behind On Serve

Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers shows how the Spaniard can run away with a lead while returning

Imagine losing the opening point of your service game and consequently not being favoured to hold serve. You must be playing Rafael Nadal.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of the 2018 year-end Top 25 of the ATP Rankings identifies that there is just one player who statistically becomes the favourite when returning if he wins the opening point of the game.

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The data set is from the past four seasons and uncovers that Nadal has won 50.4 per cent (649/1288) of his return games when he wins the opening point.

The average for the current Top 25 is breaking 39.5 per cent (9543/23,682) of the time when they win the opening point of the game, which highlights Nadal’s superiority in this specific area.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic comes in second best breaking serve when he wins the opening point of the game when returning, at 49.2 per cent (673/1367).

Current Top 25 Over Past Four Seasons: Breaking Serve When Leading 0/15

Ranking

Player

% Breaking Serve When Leading 0/15

Return Games W/L From 0/15

1

R. Nadal

50.4%

649/1288

2

N. Djokovic

49.2%

673/1367

3

D. Schwartzman

49.1%

439/895

4

F. Fognini

47.1%

511/1086

5

D. Goffin

45.7%

557/1220

Diego Schwartzman moved to a career-high ranking of No. 11 in June, and was the No. 1 returner on the ATP Stats Return LEADERBOARD, powered by Infosys Nia Data, in 2017.

Fabio Fognini was the fourth best returner on tour in 2018, and finished this season with his career-best ranking of No. 13. David Goffin finished second to Nadal in the Infosys Return Ratings in 2018.

Winning the opening point when serving against these return giants is crucial. Otherwise, the game may be over before it’s really started.

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

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