Challenger Season In Review: Storylines Abound In 2018
Sun, 09 Dec 2018 06:10:00 Z

Continuing our Season In Review series, ATPWorldTour.com reflects on the storylines that shaped the ATP Challenger Tour in 2018...

Youth Movement In Focus: 29 #NextGenATP Winners
The 2018 season was unlike anything we've seen from the stars of tomorrow. The #NextGenATP contingent accounted for a staggering 29 titles from 20 different players, with Felix Auger-Aliassime, Ugo Humbert, Reilly Opelka, Michael Mmoh, Jaume Munar, Lloyd Harris and Hubert Hurkacz all lifting multiple trophies.

A total of eight teenagers emerged victorious, with Germany's Rudolf Molleker becoming the youngest champion of the year, at 17 years and six months, on home soil in Heilbronn. Having concluded the 2017 season at No. 600 in the ATP Rankings, Molleker is now the youngest player in the Top 200 after finishing the year at No. 194.

While Molleker became the youngest German winner since a 17-year-old Alexander Zverev in 2014 (Braunschweig), Austrian teen Jurij Rodionov became the youngest from his country to lift a trophy since 1986. That year, an 18-year-old Thomas Muster and a 17-year-old Horst Skoff both prevailed.

Youngest Challenger Titlists In 2018

Player Age Tournament
Rudolf Molleker 17 years, 6 months Heilbronn, GER
Felix Auger-Aliassime 17 years, 10 months
Lyon, FRA
Felix Auger-Aliassime 18 years, 2 months Tashkent, UZB
Alexei Popyrin 19 years Jinan, CHN
Jurij Rodionov 19 years, 1 month Almaty, KAZ
Miomir Kecmanovic  19 years, 2 months  Shenzhen, CHN 
Alex de Minaur  19 years, 4 months  Nottingham, UK 
Corentin Moutet  19 years, 5 months  Istanbul, TUR 

Breaking Through With Top 100 Debuts
The ATP Rankings welcomed a new class of Top 100 debutants this year, with a total of 18 players breaking into the elite club. Sixteen of them won titles on the ATP Challenger Tour, kicking off their transitions to the next level.

Among all players to make their Top 100 debuts, Ugo Humbert (+290 spots), Christian Garin (+220), Alex de Minaur (+177) and Hubert Hurkacz (+150) enjoyed the biggest jumps. De Minaur's rise was arguably the most impressive, having soared from outside the Top 200 to a career-high No. 31, behind a maiden title in Nottingham. Humbert, Hurkacz and Garin finished in the Top 10 among Challenger win-loss percentage leaders.

Meanwhile, Garin and Reilly Opelka provided the late-season drama, with both cracking the Top 100 behind consecutive titles. Garin finished his season on a 15-0 run with victories in Campinas, Santo Domingo and Lima, peaking at No. 85 in the ATP Rankings. Opelka capped his campaign on a 10-0 run with indoor crowns in Knoxville and Champaign, rising to a year-end No. 100.

From Dallas To London: Kei's Comeback
It is quite improbable for a player to punch his ticket to the Nitto ATP Finals less than a year after sitting on the sidelines with a debilitating wrist injury. Considering that player opened his campaign on the ATP Challenger Tour, it makes the feat even more impressive. Kei Nishikori created quite the stir when he opened his season in Newport Beach and Dallas, giving fans the opportunity to see the Japanese star up close in an intimate setting.

In search of confidence and match play, Nishikori would kick off his run to the year-end Top 10 with a title at the RBC Tennis Championships of Dallas. Getting match experience and rediscovering his rhythm was essential for Nishikori in that moment, as he dropped just one set en route to lifting the trophy.

"There were two reasons behind playing the two Challenger events at the start of the year," Nishikori reflected. "It was to build my confidence and also identify how well my injury had recovered. I needed to play tournaments in my comeback from injury. When I look back to January and February, it's amazing that I was able to return to the Top 10."

In the past 20 years, only three players have qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals after winning an ATP Challenger Tour title during the season. Ivan Ljubicic did it in 2005, Robin Soderling in 2009 and this year it was Nishikori's turn to pull off the feat.

Challenger Stars Translate Success To ATP World Tour
The ATP Challenger Tour is the launching pad for the stars of tomorrow of the ATP World Tour. Regardless of age, players are plotting their ascent at the Challenger level and the 2018 season saw a bevy of success stories.

A 19-year-old Alex de Minaur reached a trio of finals before streaking to the Citi Open title match and finishing runner-up at the Next Gen ATP Finals. A 26-year-old Marco Cecchinato won his fifth Challenger title in Santiago, Chile, before claiming his maiden ATP World Tour titles in Budapest and Umag and blasting to the semi-finals at Roland Garros. And a 29-year-old John Millman advanced to his first ATP World Tour final in Budapest and first Grand Slam quarter-final at the US Open after competing for a decade on the Challenger circuit. 

De Minaur, Cecchinato and Millman are just a few of the fascinating stories of the season. Eight players won titles on both the ATP World Tour and ATP Challenger Tour this year, including Pablo Andujar, who went back-to-back at the Alicante Challenger and Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakech. And 22-year-old Matteo Berrettini and 23-year-old Yoshihito Nishioka blasted to their maiden tour-level titles after enjoying breakout Challenger campaigns.

Felix Makes More History
Felix Auger-Aliassime continued his record-breaking charge up the ATP Rankings in 2018. A year ago, he became the eighth-youngest player to win a Challenger title when he prevailed in Lyon, France. And this year, the Canadian became the youngest ever to successfully defend a title with yet another victory in Lyon. 

In October, Auger-Aliassime added a fourth trophy to his career haul, joining elite company as just the sixth player aged 18 & under to claim as many titles. Richard Gasquet, Tomas Berdych, Hyeon Chung, Mario Ancic and Guillermo Coria are the only others. Up to a career-high No. 108 last month, he is poised for a Top 100 breakthrough in 2019.

Felix

Ivo Blasts Into The Record Books
While the #NextGenATP contingent stole the majority of the headlines, the old guard made quite the statement as well. Ivo Karlovic claimed a historic title on the indoor hard courts of Calgary, Canada, becoming the oldest ATP Challenger Tour champion ever. Seeking a late-career resurgence, the former World No. 14 and 'ace king' etched his name in the record books at the age of 39 years and seven months. Dick Norman previously held the honour for nearly a decade, having prevailed in Mexico City in 2009 at the age of 38 years and one month.

Just two weeks prior, Karlovic and David Ferrer created another slice of history with their final match-up in Monterrey, Mexico. At 76 years and one month, it was the oldest combined final on the Challenger circuit.

Demon, Thommo Lead Aussie Assault
The Aussies dominated on the ATP Challenger Tour throughout the 2018 season, with 12 different players accounting for a total of 17 titles. 

Jordan Thompson won 52 matches, second-most in a single season in Challenger history, while lifting a trio of trophies. Alex de Minaur, Alexei Popyrin and Marc Polmans led the #NextGenATP contingent in claiming their maiden titles, while 26-year-old Maverick Banes also notched his first crown.

There were plenty of feel-good comeback stories to go around as well. Jason Kubler (shoulder, knee), Thanasi Kokkinakis (knee, groin), John Millman (shoulder, groin), James Duckworth (foot, shoulder, elbow) and Matthew Ebden (knee) all led the resurgence. Kubler made his Top 100 debut in August after sitting outside the Top 900 one year prior, completing a magical rise up the ATP Rankings. Kokkinakis won his first title in three years, while Duckworth prevailed in Cary after undergoing five surgeries since early 2017.

American Ascent
Australia wasn't the only country to boast 12 different titlists. Players from the United States achieved the same feat, with Reilly Opelka leading the way with three crowns and Noah Rubin, Michael Mmoh and Bradley Klahn also claiming multiple victories.

Opelka and Mmoh were joined by fellow #NextGenATP stars Taylor Fritz, Tommy Paul and Ulises Blanch in lifting trophies. Paul and Blanch were the lone lucky loser winners of the year on the ATP Challenger Tour. Meanwhile, 22-year-old Christopher Eubanks and 23-year-old Mackenzie McDonald were victorious, as were Bjorn Fratangelo, Denis Kudla and Dennis Novikov.

Bolivian Blur: Dellien Puts Bolivia On The Map
Hugo Dellien hopes that his achievements in 2018 will inspire his native Bolivia and signal a shift in its sporting culture. In April, Dellien became the first from his country to win a Challenger title since 1983, when he triumphed in Sarasota. He would add a second crown two weeks later in Savannah and eventually a third in Vicenza, Italy. And in July, he joined Mario Martinez as the only Bolivians to crack the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings. Exactly 34 years after Martinez first put the nation on the tennis map, Dellien is following in his countryman's footsteps.

All Eyes On South America
We've revisited the rise of Chile's Christian Garin, who marched to the Top 100 behind three straight titles to conclude the season. And we've looked back on the ascent of Bolivia's Hugo Dellien, who also lifted a trio of trophies en route to the Top 100. But Garin and Dellien weren't the only players from South American making great strides on the ATP Challenger Tour.

In Argentina, Guido Andreozzi and Juan Ignacio Londero added their names to the list of emerging stars. Andreozzi won a tour-leading four titles this year, all on clay, while boasting a 38-15 record. He rose to a career-high No. 78 in the ATP Rankings last month. Londero, meanwhile, is breaking through at the age of 25. He posted a 40-win season (40-17) with titles in Mexico City and Marburg, Germany.

Pablo Andujar: Comeback Story Of The Year
In 2018, there was arguably no storyline more captivating than that of the 32-year-old Andujar. The Spanish veteran was sitting at No. 1,701 in the ATP Rankings one year ago and he would take the ATP Challenger Tour by storm behind three titles and a 21-8 record. After undergoing three elbow surgeries, Andujar never imagined that such a successful comeback was possible. He would rise 1,619 spots to a year-end World No. 82, also lifting an ATP World Tour trophy in Marrakech.

Andujar

Global Game
With singles titlists from 38 different countries, including a first winner from Bolivia in nearly 35 years (Hugo Dellien), players from all corners of the globe tasted success on the ATP Challenger Tour. 

The 2018 season also featured a total of 159 tournaments in 40 countries and territories, including the return of Challenger tennis to Tunisia. After a four-year absence, the African nation hosted the Tunis Open. With the goal of bringing exposure to the game in various locales throughout the world, the circuit continues to expand and grow.

New Challenger Era Announced
In July, the ATP announced that the ATP Challenger Tour will undergo wholesale changes from 2019 that will further professionalise the sport, unlock significant investment and growth in prize money at the lower levels of men’s professional tennis, and lead to a greatly enhanced player pathway. 

Some notable changes include the singles main draw sizes increasing from 32 to 48 players, hotel accommodations provided to all main draw players, wholesale prize money increases, as well as increased on-site serviced offered. From 2020, ATP Ranking points will begin at the ATP Challenger Tour only.

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Trio Of Tournaments Take Top Honours
In February, the ATP announced the 2017 ATP Challenger Tournaments of the Year, with players voting German events in Braunschweig and Heilbronn, as well as Vancouver, Canada, as the top events. 

Braunschweig’s 24-year-old Sparkassen Open has won the award every year since 2014 and has long been a player favourite. The Neckarcup, staged in Heilbronn, Germany, for the last four years, and Vancouver’s Odlum Brown VanOpen, relaunched in 2017, have also been rewarded with the player vote after ambitious improvements each year.

Nadal, Ferrero Host New Tournaments
Former World No. 1s and Spanish legends Rafael Nadal and Juan Carlos Ferrero hosted new Challengers at their academies this year, as they hope to continute growing the game in their home country. In April, the JC Ferrero Challenger Open featured home hope Pablo Andujar as its winner. In August, the Rafa Nadal Open Banc Sabadell celebrated Bernard Tomic as its inaugural champion.

Mexico Surging Into Spotlight
With a total of seven tournaments, Mexico is steadily expanding its footprint on the ATP Challenger Tour. New events in Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta sparkled in their debuts and the country's commitment to growing the game at the Challenger level has not gone unnoticed by the players.

Organised by the same group that runs the popular ATP World Tour 500 event in Acapulco and sharing the same tournament director, Raul Zurutuza, the CDMX Open in Mexico City received rave reviews. It is held at the Centro Deportivo Chapultepec, the oldest tennis facility in the country.

Better All The Time: Isner's Mind-Bogging Serve Stats
Fri, 07 Dec 2018 20:11:00 Z

John Isner has averaged north of 1,000 aces per season for the past 10 years and just posted his second highest ace total to finish 2018.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of Isner’s prodigious serving identifies that he hit 1,213 aces this year, which is second only to the 1,260 he crushed in 2015. He has averaged 1,024 aces per season during the past decade, which firmly cements his place as one of the biggest servers our sport has ever seen.

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Isner led the tour in most aces hit for the third straight season, and has now finished first in the category in six of the past 10 seasons. If anything, his serve is getting better, as he has not dipped below 1,000 aces in the past four seasons, after being under that mark in the previous three years.

Isner won the biggest title of his career earlier this season at the Miami Open presented by Itau, hitting 78 aces while committing just eight double faults in 70 service games to win his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title.

Isner

Isner narrowly finished second this season to Ivo Karlovic on the ATP Serve LEADERBOARD, powered by Infosys Nia Data, with the average amount of aces hit per match.

2018: Average Aces Per Match
Ivo Karlovic = 22.7
John Isner = 22.5
Nick Kyrgios = 19.8
Milos Raonic = 17.5
Kevin Anderson =16.4

Isner’s 2018 average aces per match total was his second highest in the past 10 years, and was a major driving force for the 33-year-old American qualifying for his first Nitto ATP Finals in London last month, and enjoying a career-high ranking of No. 8 in July.

Read & Watch: Isner Surges To Historic Miami Title

Isner’s average aces per match has steadily climbed during the past decade.

John Isner - Average Aces Per Match
2018 = 22.5
2017 = 19.7
2016 = 23.2
2015 = 18.5
2014 = 17.4
2013 = 16.3
2012 = 16.8
2011 = 14.7
2010 = 17.5
2009 = 14.5

Isner now sits in second place on the all-time ace list with 10,937 aces from 609 matches. The only man ahead of him is 39-year-old Karlovic, who has 12,936 aces from 657 matches. Two quality seasons from Isner, and that 1,999 ace gap could quickly vanish.

Better All The Time: Isner's Mind-Bogging Serve Stats
Fri, 07 Dec 2018 17:25:16 Z
Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers shows how American John Isner just keeps getting better on serve.
Surprise! Goffin Celebrates 28th Birthday In Monte-Carlo
Fri, 07 Dec 2018 16:40:00 Z

David Goffin is hard at work in Monte-Carlo, preparing for the 2019 season. But on Friday, the Belgian got a special surprise after practice.

ATP and the Monte-Carlo Country Club celebrated Goffin’s 28th birthday during the ATP Training Camp at the facility, as chefs from the club prepared racquet and tennis ball-shaped cakes to be presented by various staff including Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters Tournament Director Zeljko Franulovic.

Van Cleemput Goffin

Stan Wawrinka, Tomas Berdych and Monaco’s Romain Arneodo paused training to join in the celebration. Goffin was also given a Moet & Chandon Magnum to commemorate the day.

Now, it will be back to work for the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up. Goffin is well into his offseason training, posting videos on his social media accounts showing him rock climbing in the local mountains, stretching while suspended in midair, ziplining, and doing conditioning work at Club 39 and Stade Louis II.

In 2019, Goffin will try to finish inside the Top 25 of the ATP Rankings for the sixth consecutive year. The World No. 22 last competed in Shenzhen due to a bone edema.

Guga Named One Of GQ Brasil's Men Of The Year
Fri, 07 Dec 2018 15:44:00 Z

Gustavo Kuerten accomplished a lot on the ATP World Tour, from lifting 20 tour-level titles and ascending to No. 1 in the ATP Rankings to collecting nearly $15 million in prize money and endearing himself to countless fans around the world. But now, the 42-year-old can call himself one of GQ Brasil’s Men of The Year for the second time.

In 2015, the three-time Roland Garros winner was named Man of the Year in the social responsibility category. But this year, Kuerten was honoured in the GQ Icon category.

It’s important to note that Kuerten has long been respected for his efforts on the court — after his 2001 victory in Paris, Brazil issued a postage stamp of him with the Eiffel Tower in the background. But Kuerten has taken even more pride in his character. In 2000, the star founded the Gustavo Kuerten Institute to support children and the disabled.

“I am convinced that I was privileged, had conditions that few have without having to do much more than dedicate myself to my mission,” Kuerten told GQ Brasil. “It gives me the certainty that the least I can do is to serve these 700 children at the Institute better and better.”

While Kuerten knows he will be remembered for his triumphs on the court, he is focused on creating even more of a legacy off of it.

"The relation of the Brazilian is with the result, not with the sport. This is cruel, dehumanises the athlete. If he wins, he is deified, if he loses, he is execrated,” Kuerten said. “The athlete needs to return to a more normal cycle of existence. Otherwise, life moves you to a fictitious, superficial and finite path."

Magic Moments From 2018
Fri, 07 Dec 2018 14:48:00 Z
It was a magical ATP World Tour season. Watch the best of the best. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.
Rivalries of 2018: Cilic vs. Djokovic
Fri, 07 Dec 2018 12:15:00 Z

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
Nadal Honoured By Peers With Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award
Thu, 06 Dec 2018 09:55:00 Z

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.

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Rivalries Of 2018: Thiem vs. Tsitsipas
Thu, 06 Dec 2018 03:03:00 Z

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) 
Bryan Brothers, Jack Nicklaus Host 'Fore Love', Raise More Than $1 Million For Charity
Wed, 05 Dec 2018 21:25:00 Z

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.

Against Nadal, Do Not Fall Behind On Serve
Wed, 05 Dec 2018 20:21:00 Z

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.

Against Nadal, Do Not Fall Behind On Serve
Wed, 05 Dec 2018 17:21:19 Z
Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers shows how players can't afford to waste even one point when serving against Rafael Nadal.
Rivalries Of 2018: Federer vs. Coric
Wed, 05 Dec 2018 14:28:00 Z

Prior to 2018, Borna Coric and Roger Federer had met just once on the ATP World Tour. On that occasion, at the 2015 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, Federer cruised past the Croatian in just 56 minutes to reach the championship match in the Middle East.

This year, none of their three FedEx ATP Head2Head clashes showed any resemblance to that meeting. With three years of learning experience under his belt, Coric's three milestone moments in 2018 were all highlighted by clashes against Federer. With two semi-final encounters and one championship match meeting in 2018, Coric and Federer only met in the latter stages of events as the stakes and both players' form reached peak levels.

After defeating Kevin Anderson in a final-set tie-break to reach his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Coric was handed the challenge of trying to end Federer's personal record-tying 16-match unbeaten streak to start the season. (Federer began 2018 in top form, claiming his 20th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open before returning to No. 1 in the ATP Rankings after winning the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in February.)

Coric made a dream start against Federer in the Californian desert, snatching a late break in the opening set before earning an immediate second-set advantage after firing a forehand winner. With Pete Sampras and Rod Laver in attendance, it appeared as though the young Croatian might be able to earn a surprise win over the World No. 1 on one of the grandest stages in the sport. But, as Coric neared the finish line, nerves settled into the 21-year-old's game.

Federer struck just four unforced errors in the last four games of the second set as Coric's serve began to fall short and the Swiss took full advantage. Coric once again led by a break in the decider, but Federer clawed his way back into contention before eventually breaking to love to claim a 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 victory and set a personal record 17-0 start to an ATP World Tour season.

“I should have lost [the] match," said Federer. "I was down twice a break in the third, I was down a break in the second. So no doubt about it, this was definitely the toughest match [of the year so far]."

After registering back-to-back three-set victories over Taylor Fritz and Kevin Anderson, Coric rose 13 spots to No. 36 in the ATP Rankings following his run to the semi-finals in Indian Wells.

“It was very enjoyable, but at the same time it was tough. It doesn't feel great to lose this match, but I know that's tennis. I need to look at it from the positive side, definitely, just the whole tournament, and this match as well.”

Three months later, Federer arrived in Halle in search of his 10th Gerry Weber Open trophy. After capturing his first MercedesCup title in Stuttgart the week before, the nine-time champion advanced to his 12th final in Halle riding a 20-match grass-court winning streak. Across the net was Coric, who, prior to his arrival at the ATP World Tour 500 event, owned just two wins in nine tour-level matches on grass.

But, despite his inexperience on the surface, Coric had defeated Alexander Zverev for the loss of just five games en route to the final. Federer needed to lift the trophy in Halle to remain at No. 1 in the ATP Rankings, but it was Coric who ended the week with the trophy in his arms after a 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-2 victory.

Saving two set points at 4/6 in the first set-tie-break, Coric took a one-set lead over the World No. 1 in dramatic fashion. Despite conceding the second set after dropping serve at 3-4, Coric reeled off four straight games from 2-2 in the decider to charge towards the biggest title of his career.

"It is the most unbelievable feeling, [to beat Federer]," said Coric. "I looked up to him when I was younger, watching his matches back at home with my mum, my dad and my sister. Just playing him here today was a very special moment and beating him just makes it even bigger for me."

The result lifted Coric to a career-high No. 21 in the ATP Rankings and the Croatian continued to improve that position throughout the remainder of the season. In the final instalment of their 2018 trilogy, Coric and Federer clashed in the semi-finals of another ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event; the Rolex Shanghai Masters.

After tough three-set wins over Daniil Medvedev and Roberto Bautista Agut in his opening two matches, Federer arrived in the last four with great confidence following a convincing straight-sets win over an in-form Kei Nishikori. Coric had also been made to work hard for a position in his second Masters 1000 semi-final, navigating his way past Stan Wawrinka and Juan Martin del Potro to set a third meeting of the season against the Swiss.

With confidence from his previous two meetings in 2018 against Federer, Coric produced one of the best wins of his career, beating Federer 6-4, 6-4 in a dominant serving display to reach the biggest final of his career.

"It's absolutely there. If not the best [win], then it's in the Top 2, Top 3," said Coric. "It's really something special."

The Croatian landed nine aces, dropped just six points behind his first serve and did not face a break point to overcome the defending champion in 74 minutes. Tying his FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Federer for the first time, at 2-2, the Halle champion also guaranteed himself a new career-high of No. 13 in the ATP Rankings heading into his final encounter against Novak Djokovic.

"It's one of the best matches I have ever played. I was just feeling through the ball," said Coric. "I think I served the best in my life, for sure. I was going for the angles. I was going for the body. Everything was going in."

Ending the year at No. 12 in the ATP Rankings, it would appear that Coric and Federer may be forced to continue their trend of only meeting at the back end of tournaments in 2019. As one of the emerging talents on the ATP World Tour, will Coric be able to continue his rapid rise next year and continue his winning streak against Federer? Or will the 99-time tour-level champion find a way to reverse his recent fortunes against the 22-year-old and regain control of their FedEx ATP Head2Head series? If 2018 is anything to go by, it won't be an easy task for either man.

Coric vs. Federer: 2018 Meetings

Event  Surface  Round
 Winner
 Score
BNP Paribas Open  Hard  SF  Federer  5-7, 6-4, 6-4
Gerry Weber Open  Grass  F  Coric  7-6(6), 3-6, 6-2
Rolex Shanghai Masters  Hard  SF  Coric  6-4, 6-4
Nadal, Federer Dominate The Break Points Better Than Anyone
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 20:27:00 Z

Rafael Nadal was the king of break points in 2018.

The 32-year-old Spaniard finished the season at No. 2 in the ATP Rankings with a 45-4 record, including five titles. He also earned more than $8.6 million dollars in prize money. Nadal's outstanding performance in the crucible of break points – both when serving and receiving – was a major reason.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of Nadal on break points in 2018 uncovered that he finished second best on tour this year with break points saved, and third best with break points converted.

Rafael Nadal: 2018 Season
No. 2:
Break Points Saved = 70.46% (198//281)
No. 3: Break Points Converted = 45.57% (216/474)

The following analysis combines break points saved when serving along with converting break points when receiving into one number. As you will see from the table below, which includes the best 10 players in this combined metric, Nadal’s separation on break point is evident.

2018 Season: Combined Total - Break Points Saved & Converted

#

Player

Break Points Saved

Break Points Converted

Combined Total

1

Rafael Nadal

70.46%

45.57%

116.03

2

Roger Federer

68.49%

41.88%

110.37

3

Pierre-Hugues Herbert

66.56%

41.74%

108.30

4

Steve Johnson

70.75%

36.3%

107.05

5

Pablo Carreno Busta

62.57%

44.21%

106.78

6

Kei Nishikori

62.85%

42.63%

105.48

7

Borna Coric

62.18%

43.23%

105.41

8

Roberto Bautista Agut

63.64%

41.76%

105.40

9

Adrian Mannarino

59.25%

45.64%

104.89

10

Gael Monfils

58.42%

46.42%

104.84

Roger Federer finished second best with the combined total (110.37), which helped power the Swiss to an end-of-season ATP ranking of No. 3. He also spent six weeks at No. 1 earlier in the year.

Gael Monfils finished 10th best in the combined totals list, and actually finished first in Break Points Converted for all players on tour in 2018, winning 46.42 per cent (149/321). Steve Johnson was the tour leader in Break Points Saved, at 70.75 per cent (208/294).

Nadal and Federer both had an outstanding win rate on break points in 2018.

2018: Nadal & Federer - Percentage of Break Points Played

Players

Total Points Played

Break Points Played

% of Break Points

R. Nadal

7728

755

9.76%

R. Federer

9377

637

6.79%

The illustrious careers of both Nadal and Federer have been built around winning the big points, and 2018 was no exception.

Rivalries of 2018: Nadal vs. Thiem
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 14:16:00 Z

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

Four years ago, Rafael Nadal played Dominic Thiem, who was 20 years old, for the first time. Nadal beat the Austrian at Roland Garros in two hours and five minutes with the loss of just seven games en route to lifting his ninth Coupe des Mousquetaires in 10 years. But the Spaniard certainly noticed the talent in front of him.

“I didn't have the backhand, I didn't have that power," Nadal said at the time.

Nadal would win five of his first seven FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against Thiem, who was proving himself one of the best clay-court players in the world. But in 2018, the pair’s rivalry ascended to a new level.

Nadal and Thiem clashed four times, including in the Roland Garros final and the US Open quarter-finals, one of the year’s best matches. Both Top 10 players in the ATP Rankings, the duo contested some of the highest-quality clashes of the season.

But perhaps that was hard to foresee when they met for the first time in 2018 at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. There, Nadal dismantled Thiem in 68 minutes with the loss of just two games, the most lopsided match of their rivalry. The eventual champion lost just six service points and broke serve five times.

“That is not a normal result against a player [like Dominic]," Nadal said. "He's one of the best players of the world, especially on clay."

But Nadal would go 26-1 on clay courts this year. to move to 50-2 on the surface in 2017-18 combined. But like in 2017, his only loss on clay this season came against Thiem.

The Austrian beat Nadal in straight sets in the quarter-finals of the Mutua Madrid Open. Thiem would go on to reach his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final at that event.

“I had to really increase my level compared to Monte-Carlo to beat Rafa here," Thiem said. "He's in really great form. He won 21 matches on clay and 50 sets. This is amazing. So I had to play an extraordinary match, and that's what I did."

While Thiem is known to sometimes drop way back in the court, he stayed right in on the baseline to take time away from Nadal and control play. 

The stakes would get even higher at Roland Garros, where Thiem advanced to his first Grand Slam final. But once again, Nadal was across the net. And this time, the Spaniard asserted his dominance on the terre battue, winning the title in Paris for the 11th time in the pair’s biggest match to date.

“When you start the clay-court season that Dominic, he's one of these players that has a chance to win every tournament that he's playing, and maybe even more here in Roland Garros because he's strong physically," Nadal said.

That was their 10th match, and all of those had come on clay.

Thiem, Nadal

But Nadal and Thiem saved the best clash of their rivalry, to date, for last. Thiem served Nadal the Spaniard's first bagel at the US Open in 14 years in the quarter-finals, ripping shot after shot from the first point of the match to stun the favourite early. But the top seed eventually battled back for an epic five-set victory, finishing it off in a deciding-set tie-break. Thiem threw all his weapons at Nadal, blasting balls throughout the match. But the left-hander outlasted Thiem in four hours and 49 minutes.

“It's going to be stuck in my mind forever. Forever I'm going to remember this match, for sure,” Thiem said. “It's cruel sometimes, tennis, because I think this match didn't really deserve a loser."

The match showed exactly how enthralling this rivalry could be with both men at their best. They might be the two biggest ball-strikers on the ATP World Tour, putting everything they have into every shot like in a heavyweight championship boxing match.

For every heavy topspin cross-court forehand from Nadal, Thiem answered back with a big cut on his one-handed backhand. And for every time Nadal tried to take his two-handed backhand early and launch it flat like it was coming out of a cannon, Thiem was there to counter with a bigger blow off his forehand.

Their US Open clash was a perfect way to showcase one of the sport’s great budding rivalries. And based on the result, with the match going the distance, it’s safe to say that fans have plenty more to look forward to between Nadal and Thiem in 2019 and beyond.

Nadal vs. Thiem: 2018 Meetings

Event

Surface

Round

Winner

Score

Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters

Clay

QF

Nadal

6-0, 6-2

Mutua Madrid Open

Clay

QF

Thiem

7-5, 6-3

Roland Garros

Clay

Final

Nadal

6-4, 6-3, 6-2

 US Open  Hard QF Nadal 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7(4), 7-6(5)
Novak Djokovic Reflects on Historic 2018 Season
Tue, 04 Dec 2018 08:54:28 Z
Watch as Novak Djokovic reflects on his historic 2018 season.
Tommy's Trio: Coach & Tournament Director Haas Set To Compete In London
Mon, 03 Dec 2018 22:37:00 Z

Former World No. 2 Tommy Haas recently won his first ATP Champions Tour events at the Legends Cup in Mallorca. Now, the German, who also serves as Tournament Director at the BNP Paribas Open, heads to Great Britain for Champions Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall, seeking another trophy. Haas spoke to ATPWorldTour.com in the lead-up to the tournament:

How excited are you to be heading to Great Britain for Champions Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall?
I’m very excited. I’ve heard a lot of great things about the event and obviously about the Royal Albert Hall. My former colleagues that have played there many times already have said that it’s as good of a venue you can get. Seeing the pictures, it looks amazing… I’m very much looking forward to going out and competing at as high of a level as I can. I know London during Christmas time will be a treat for me, so overall just very much looking forward to it.

Given you haven’t been retired for very long and you are still involved in tennis in various capacities, how excited do you still get to go out there and compete with the rest of the ATP Champions Tour players?
For sure, I do. I’m playing my first match against Xavier Malisse. I’ve known Xavier for many, many years. We practised a lot together in the past at the IMG Academy, we go way back and it’s obviously always nice to see other familiar faces. Whether it’s Juan Carlos Ferrero, Mark Philippoussis, Goran Ivanisevic, John McEnroe, who I practise with sometimes in Malibu, California, it’s always good to be around the tennis guys and catch up and see how everyone’s doing, and meanwhile have the excuse to try to stay in shape and go out there and play something you’re very, very passionate about and have done all your life. It’s something we will always know how to do best at the end of the day and we can go out there and play in front of people who appreciate the game and appreciate us, support us by coming to these events. It’s great for us, and I do enjoy it.

When you’re out there competing against some of your contemporaries who you’ve played on the world’s biggest stages, are there moments where you hit a shot and think, ‘Hey, I’ve still got it’?
Absolutely. I played at the ATP Champions Tour event in Mallorca where I played against all the great Spanish players from the past and when you’re playing on the third or fourth day, you’re kind of grinding. There are moments when I said, ‘Wow, I feel like I’m getting back to that level where I feel very confident and the mind and the racquet, what I’m trying to do, I’m actually doing it’, which is great. Then there are times when you play and you want to play at a certain level and maybe you haven’t played that much tennis before it or maybe you haven’t done that much physical activity, and all of a sudden you’re just a half a step or a step too slow and the ball’s not going where you normally want and it’s frustrating. The ups and downs are still there, I don’t think that will ever change.

If I’m looking at somebody who I obviously admire like John McEnroe, he’s 59 years old, but he’s obviously the best player of his age in the world by far. He’s still out there competing and he wants to play games and points. And it’s fun, that will always be the same for me. As long as my body allows me to stay active, I’m definitely going to try to play this game as long as I can. There’s absolutely nothing I enjoy doing more.

Off the court, you have a big responsibility at the BNP Paribas Open as Tournament Director. How has that experience been for you and how excited are you for the event to come around in a few months?
It’s absolutely great. Always a lot of talks and discussions and meetings about what we can do better every year, what we can improve on. It’s such an amazing team. I’m so happy to be a small piece of the team and help out and give my input and have the relationships with the players and help with the fans, the sponsors and add value to the event, which I think I do, and just keep learning more and more about it. We’re trying to keep raising the bar at this amazing Masters 1000 event at Indian Wells. It’s a two-hour drive from Los Angeles, so it’s a very convenient situation. I can’t wait… Hopefully everybody is healthy to come join us and it’s great.

Has there been anything that has surprised you in your role as Tournament Director?
You see a lot of things now from the other point of view. When you’re a tennis player and you’re on Tour, you make the decisions, you’re your own boss and everything ultimately comes down to your decisions, your dedication and you become very selfish. It all surrounds what you need and what you want. Now all of a sudden it’s more about what do the players want and need or what can I do to make sure the players feel better. It’s about the fans, what we can do to make it better for the sponsors, so it’s an all-around experience for everyone. The selfishness goes completely out the door. It’s not really about me at all anymore, which is great and I don’t need that anyway, but it’s all about everybody else and a team effort, which I love. We’ve got an amazing team of people there that have been there for such a long time, and we’re all in to make the event better and obviously with our boss — Mr. Larry Ellison, who is a great person to have in the sport of tennis and give his love to the game to everyone and complete his vision that he has for the event — it’s great to be a part of.

Pouille Haas

From a third perspective, you’ve also spent some time coaching Lucas Pouille. How has that experience been?
I didn’t think I was going to get into coaching that quickly. But when somebody asks you for your advice, maybe for a little bit of your help, you try to make everything possible. Also one of my most important jobs is trying to be a good dad to my two beautiful girls, so I don’t want to be gone for too long. I can’t do these things full-time. Meanwhile I try to do my best to keep motivating and inspiring Lucas. He’s had a couple of ups and downs this year and he’s in a phase where he has to figure out what he wants to accomplish next and with who and how. It was also nice to see the other side and what a coach has to go through, trying to keep a player in a good mood and motivated and making sure he puts in all his work and it’s very interesting. I did enjoy that. We’ll see if we continue next year or not, but it’s one of those things where the player has to figure out a lot of things as well and surround himself with the people who he thinks can ultimately help him to reach his goals. It was a great experience.

Were there any lessons in particular you tried to instill in him?
I think just constantly trying to stay motivated, keeping it fun, trying to find the right balance between hard work and being relaxed and just sharp when it comes down to playing the matches. Obviously there are always things you can work on tactically and technically, as well. And that takes time. Unfortunately you need more time sometimes to make some changes and I didn’t really have that much, but he has a good time with a lot of other coaches and physios and fitness coaches, so everything is there, really. If you want to be a permanent Top 10 player, reach the Top 5 or become a Grand Slam champion, it takes a lot. It’s basically breathing tennis all the time from the morning until the evening. The player has to ultimately be ready to do that and I think Lucas has a lot of potential. I really like his game a lot. He’s a great athlete. He’s got a lot of potential to do well in the years to come, so we’ll see if we continue or I keep helping him out a few weeks here or there, but again it was a good experience for me. I really enjoyed it and I probably should have done it a little bit earlier to see what a coach goes through from the outside, but it was fun.

Novak, Rafa & Roger Lead 2018 Milestone Achievers
Mon, 03 Dec 2018 03:44:00 Z

Continuing our Season In Review series, ATPWorldTour.com looks at the key milestones that were reached in 2018.

Novak Completes Career Golden Masters
Five times, Novak Djokovic had fallen short in the championship match of the Western & Southern Open. But on 19 August, when Djokovic stepped on centre court at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Cincinnati, there was nothing that could prevent him from making history. By defeating Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4 to claim his first trophy at the event, Djokovic became the first singles player to win all nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events. He sits second all-time with 32 Masters 1000 titles, trailing only Rafael Nadal (33).

Isner’s 10,000th Ace
John Isner struck his historic 10,000th ace in the fourth game of the deciding set in his quarter-final in Houston against compatriot Steve Johnson. The American became just the fourth player to join the elite group, which includes Ivo Karlovic, Roger Federer and Goran Ivanisevic. He has since leapfrogged Ivanisevic and Federer, and currently sits second all-time with 10,937 aces.

Isner also finished the season atop the ATP World Tour in aces for a record-tying sixth time, hitting 1,213 of them in 2018, which is 131 more than second-placed Kevin Anderson. It is the fourth consecutive year in which he has tallied more than 1,000 aces, and the sixth time he has done so overall.

Isner

Lopez’s Grand Slam Streak
At Wimbledon, Feliciano Lopez played in his 66th consecutive Grand Slam main draw, breaking Roger Federer’s previous record of 65. The Spaniard, who will take the reins as tournament director at the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open, extended his record to 67 at the US Open.

“When I was [thinking] about breaking the record, I thought, ‘Wow, I'm going to beat Federer at something, which is a lot already’,” Lopez said after his first-round win at Wimbledon. “It's only a number, and I'm really proud of my consistency. It’s not about the number of Grand Slams played. It's about how many years I have been playing at the top level.”

Roger Returns To No. 1 At Age 36
By overtaking Nadal on 19 February at 36 years old, Federer became the oldest player to capture the No. 1 ATP Ranking since the Rankings were created in 1973. It had been five years and 106 days since the Swiss had previously held top spot, a record for longest time between stints atop tennis' mountain.

Rafa Wins 11th Titles In Monte-Carlo, Barcelona & Roland Garros
Nadal made history not once, but three times this season. Entering the year, he had been the only player to win 10 titles at a single event. And in 2018, he continued to push the boundaries, lifting his 11th trophy at three tournaments: the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell and Roland Garros. Monte-Carlo was the first of three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events he would win this year (also Rome and Toronto), which extended his record for most trophies at the elite level to 33.

Roger Claims 20th Slam
Federer defeated Marin Cilic to win the Australian Open, triumphing in Melbourne in a five-set final for the second year in a row. By winning his 20th Grand Slam championship, Federer became the first man in history to win that many majors. He also equalled Djokovic and Roy Emerson’s record of six titles at the tournament. 

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Rafa Claims 900th Victory
Nadal defeated German Maximilian Marterer in the fourth round at Roland Garros this year to become the fifth player in the Open Era to reach the 900-wins milestone. It was only fitting that the Spaniard accomplished the feat on the Parisian terre battue, where he has won the trophy 11 times and tallied an 86-2 record. Nadal, now 918-189, is just 30 victories from tying Guillermo Vilas for fourth place in the Open Era match-wins leaderboard.

Nadal

Novak Earns 800th Win
On the surface, Djokovic’s 7-5, 6-1 win against Adrian Mannarino at The Queen’s Club seemed ordinary, a relatively straightforward 79-minute victory for the Serbian. But it meant more for Djokovic, as it was his 800th tour-level match win. Through that victory, Djokovic owned an 800-171 record, equating to an 82.4 winning percentage, fifth among that elite group, with just three more losses than Nadal, who was 800-168 when he hit that milestone.

Djokovic's triumph against Mannarino came when he was the No. 22 player in the ATP Rankings. But after a 6-6 start to the year, the Serbian would win 47 of his final 53 matches to ascend back to World No. 1, making the biggest in-season climb to year-end No. 1 since the Rankings were introduced in 1973.

Djokovic

Gasquet/Verdasco Throw A 500 Party
Less than one month apart, veterans Richard Gasquet and Fernando Verdasco both earned their 500th tour-level wins. Gasquet became the first Frenchman to reach the milestone on 19 April, beating Mischa Zverev in Monte-Carlo, where he became the youngest player to win an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 match 16 years earlier. Verdasco followed that up on 8 May by becoming the ninth active player to accomplish the feat with a victory against Paolo Lorenzi in Madrid.

Mike Bryan Back To No. 1
At 40 years and 78 days old, Mike Bryan became the oldest player to top the ATP Doubles Rankings on 16 July. While the American already owned the record for the most weeks atop those standings, Bryan has not let go of the spot since, and he has now spent 475 weeks as World No. 1. 

Bryan's victory with Jack Sock at Wimbledon not only propelled him to the top of tennis' doubles mountain, though. It was Bryan's record-breaking 17th men's doubles Grand Slam trophy to lead all players in the Open Era. Bryan then claimed major title No. 18 at the US Open, also triumphing with Sock, before capping off the season with his compatriot by lifting the trophy at the Nitto ATP Finals.

Bryan

Paes Reaches No. 750
Leander Paes, a 54-time tour-level doubles champion who first reached the top spot in the ATP Doubles Rankings 19 years ago, became the sixth player in ATP World Tour history (since 1973) to record 750 doubles match wins on 7 April. The Indian legend joined Mike Bryan, Daniel Nestor, Bob Bryan, Todd Woodbridge and Max Mirnyi in the exclusive club. At 45, he will finish inside the Top 100 for the 24th consecutive year. Read Tribute

Paes

ATP World Tour Season In Review: Doubles In 2018
Fri, 30 Nov 2018 14:04:00 Z

Continuing our Season In Review series, ATPWorldTour.com looks at the headlines that shaped 2018 on the doubles circuit.

Tale Of Two Halves: Mike Bryan Enjoys Stellar Season
Heading into their fifth tour-level final of the season at the Mutua Madrid Open, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan had compiled a 26-6 tour-level record and looked set to challenge for the No. 1 position in the ATP Doubles Team Rankings. That soon changed as Bob Bryan was forced to retire from the championship match in the Spanish capital with a right hip injury.

That injury would keep Bob Bryan out of action for the remainder of the season, leaving brother Mike Bryan without a doubles partner. The brothers' streak of 76 consecutive Grand Slam appearances came to an end at Roland Garros. At the Fever-Tree Championships, Mike Bryan teamed up with countryman Jack Sock, reaching the quarter-finals at The Queen's Club, before lifting their maiden team title in dramatic fashion at Wimbledon.

Bryan/Sock won three of their four matches from the Round of 16 onwards in five sets, beating Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus in the championship match 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-3, 5-7, 7-5. Posting a 1-2 record at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Toronto and Cincinnati, Bryan and Sock then entered the US Open short on match practice, but once again found their best level in Grand Slam play.

Bryan/Sock dropped just one set at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, in the semi-finals against Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, en route to their second straight Grand Slam title. The American duo cruised past 2017 year-end No. 1 doubles team Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo 6-1, 6-3 in the championship match to capture the trophy.

Once more, Bryan/Sock struggled to replicate their form at Masters 1000 events, posting a 2-2 record in Shanghai and Paris before making their team debut at the Nitto ATP Finals. The Americans advanced to the semi-finals at The O2 with two wins from three round-robin clashes and beat Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares to reach their third final in eight events.

Meeting Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, the team who defeated them in group play for the trophy, Bryan/Sock were once again forced to produce their best tennis in the English capital. They rallied from a set down and saved one championship point at 10/11 in the Match Tie-break before capping their extraordinary season with a 5-7, 6-1, 13-11 victory.

"This is how you want to start a partnership and end one. To win here is just an epic experience," said Bryan. "To finish a great year off the right way, winning here, against some of the best teams in the world... [I have had] unreal memories with Jack this year. We're closing the book on our partnership because Bob is coming back. But we're always going to be great friends and hang out in the off-season. We're going to spend the off-season together training."

Marach/Pavic Finish As No. 1 Team
After ending 2017 with a victory over the Bryan brothers, as an alternate pairing at the Nitto ATP Finals, Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic continued where they left off at the start of 2018. The Austrian-Croatian duo did not drop a set en route to the title at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, beating Murray/Soares in the final to earn their second team trophy.

Marach/Pavic didn't take long to double that total, defeating Max Mirnyi and Philipp Oswald the following week in Auckland before claiming their maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. Marach/Pavic required final-set tie-breaks in both their quarter-final and semi-final clashes, before beating Cabal/Farah 6-4, 6-4 in the final to triumph in Melbourne.

Taking their 2018 winning streak to 17-0, Marach/Pavic reached the championship match at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament. In the final, the pair's unbeaten run was ended by Herbert/Mahut in a Match Tie-break. From there, the Australian Open champions posted consistent results throughout the following four months. Marach/Pavic reached the quarter-finals or better in each of their next nine events, winning their fourth trophy of the season at the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open and finishing runner-up , with runner-up finishes at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and Roland Garros.

Leading the ATP Doubles Race To London, Marach and Pavic also reached finals in Hamburg and Beijing before clinching the year-end No. 1 ATP Doubles Team Ranking. Marach (Austria) and Pavic (Croatia) are the first players from their respective countries to end a season at No. 1 in any of the ATP Rankings categories (singles, doubles, team).

Nestor, Mirnyi Retire
The 2018 season saw two of the greatest doubles players of all time finally hang up their racquets. Daniel Nestor, with 91 tour-level doubles titles and 10 stints at the top of the ATP Doubles Rankings,  will forever be remembered on the ATP World Tour by partners and rivals for his incredible success and commitment to the sport.

With more than 15 years inside the Top 10 and almost 24 consecutive years, from April 1994 until April 2018, inside the Top 100 in doubles, Nestor continued to write his name in the history books throughout his career. On 11 January 2016, the Canadian became the first player in ATP World Tour history to record 1,000 doubles match wins. The only players who have captured more tour-level doubles titles than Nestor are the Bryan brothers — Mike with 121 and Bob with 116 — who have remained a pair throughout their careers. Nestor's 91 title runs were achieved with 11 different partners.

Nestor’s most successful partnership came alongside Mark Knowles. The pair claimed 40 tour-level doubles championships together. And while the team created countless great memories, their first Grand Slam win at the 2002 Australian Open and their second at the 2004 US Open, six years after losing two match points in the final at Flushing Meadows, stick out.

“Daniel had an incredible career," said Knowles. "He achieved everything that there is to achieve on the doubles court. He should be celebrated for his incredible success and dedication to the sport."

Nestor earned his 1,062nd and final tour-level victory at the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open before retiring in September, shortly after making his 30th straight appearance in front of home fans at the Rogers Cup in Toronto.

Max Mirnyi will be remembered just as fondly for his illustrious career. 'The Beast', after 22 years as a professional and reaching No. 1 in the ATP Doubles Rankings, announced his retirement in November.

“I have come to a decision that the 2018 season was my last year competing professionally,” Mirnyi said. “It was a very difficult choice for me to make as tennis has been my life ever since I can remember myself. I was fortunate to achieve far beyond what a little boy from Minsk, Belarus, could have dreamed of.”

Mirnyi climbed to the top of the ATP Doubles Rankings for the first time on 9 June 2003, and he would spend 57 weeks atop the doubles mountain, good enough for 15th all-time. The Belarusian won 52 tour-level doubles titles (52-46), and Mirnyi recently finished his 20th consecutive doubles campaign inside the Top 100.

The six-time men’s doubles Grand Slam winner and 2012 mixed doubles Olympic gold medalist (w/ Victoria Azarenka) qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals 10 times, lifting the trophy in 2006 with Jonas Bjorkman and in 2011 with Daniel Nestor. ‘The Beast’ most recently appeared at the prestigious season finale in 2016, at 39 years old, alongside Treat Huey. Mirnyi also captured 16 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 doubles titles, including the 2003 Miami crown with Roger Federer.

Cabal/Farah Reach The Next Level
This season proved to be a breakthrough year for Cabal/Farah. The Colombian duo, who first joined forces at the Futures level in 2004 and made their tour-level main draw debut in 2011 at Wimbledon, notched 39 wins from 62 tour-level encounters to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time.

Read More: Built To Last: Bryans, Cabal/Farah, Rojer/Tecau Take The Long Road To Success

Starting the season with a maiden Grand Slam final appearance as a team at the Australian Open, Cabal and Farah did not drop a set in Melbourne before falling in the championship match to Marach and Pavic. The Colombians continued to impress, reaching their second final of the season in Buenos Aires before lifting their biggest team title at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in May. In the Italian capital, Cabal and Farah battled through three Match Tie-breaks in four matches, beating Pablo Carreno Busta and Joao Sousa to capture their maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown.

Another Masters 1000 final appearance soon followed in Cincinnati (l. to Murray/Soares) before three consecutive semi-final runs at the US Open, China Open and Rolex Shanghai Masters. After reaching the last four at the Nitto ATP Finals, Cabal and Farah's season ended with a tight 3-6, 7-5, 5-10 loss to Roland Garros titlists Herbert/Mahut.

Herbert/Mahut Continue To Find Success
After consistent success in their previous three ATP World Tour campaigns, Herbert/Mahut only combined at 12 tour-level events in 2018. But that did not stop the Frenchmen from lifting titles and making history in the process.

Herbert/Mahut became the first team to overcome Marach/Pavic to clinch the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament title in February and, three months later, faced the duo once again in the Roland Garros championship match. Bidding to capture their third Grand Slam crown, Herbert/Mahut dropped just one set en route to the final. The French pairing edged Marach/Pavic in a second-set tie-break and became just the third all-French team to lift the Roland Garros doubles title in the Open Era. Herbert/Mahut ended their season with a fourth consecutive appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals, reaching their first final at the season-ending event.

Max 'The Beast' Mirnyi Finally Rests
Thu, 29 Nov 2018 17:49:00 Z

‘The Beast’ is hanging up his racquet. After 22 years as a professional, Max Mirnyi, former No. 1 player in the ATP Doubles Rankings, has announced his retirement.

“I have come to a decision that the 2018 season was my last year competing professionally,” Mirnyi said. “It was a very difficult choice for me to make as tennis has been my life ever since I can remember myself. I was fortunate to achieve far beyond what a little boy from Minsk, Belarus, could have dreamed of.”

Mirnyi climbed to the top of the ATP Doubles Rankings for the first time on 9 June 2003, and he would spend 57 weeks atop the doubles mountain, good enough for 15th all-time. The Belarusian won 52 tour-level doubles titles (52-46), and Mirnyi recently finished his 20th consecutive doubles campaign inside the Top 100. As a singles player, he ascended as high as No. 18 in the ATP Rankings, and won 244 tour-level matches, including 16 victories against Top 10 opponents.

The six-time men’s doubles Grand Slam winner and 2012 mixed doubles Olympic gold medalist (w/ Victoria Azarenka) qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals 10 times, lifting the trophy in 2006 with Jonas Bjorkman and in 2011 with Daniel Nestor. ‘The Beast’ most recently appeared at the prestigious season finale in 2016, at 39 years old, alongside Treat Huey. Mirnyi also captured 16 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 doubles titles, including the 2003 Miami crown with Roger Federer.

Mirnyi completes his illustrious career with a combined 1,024 match wins in singles and doubles, and he did not slow down in his final season. The 41-year-old, alongside Philipp Oswald, captured titles at the New York Open and the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship.

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Many will look back on Mirnyi’s standout career and think of his doubles success, but the Belarusian also performed well on the singles court before exclusively focusing on doubles in 2009. Mirnyi won the 2003 ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, moving through a daunting set of opponents in Federer, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Ivan Ljubicic and Mario Ancic before defeating Raemon Sluiter in the final. Mirnyi also advanced to the final at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Stuttgart in 2001, defeating three players — Gustavo Kuerten, Pete Sampras and Yevgeny Kafelnikov — who reached the No. 1 ATP Ranking in their career, as well as former World No. 2 Goran Ivanisevic, along the way.

“Throughout my whole career I always did the best I could and treated my profession with honour and respect. Now it’s time for me to move on with my life and accept new challenges,” Mirnyi said. “I will miss the game greatly but for certain I will continue to follow it closely and love it from the sidelines. I thank everyone who took part in my development as a tennis player and as person.”

Did You Know?
Mirnyi won at least 25 tour-level doubles matches in 19 of his final 20 seasons, including 2018.

Max Mirnyi Statement
I would like to announce today that I have come to a decision that the 2018 season on the ATP World Tour was my last year as a professional player.

It’s been a very tough choice to make considering that the game of tennis has been my life ever since I can remember myself. I am absolutely thrilled to have had a chance to enjoy this game for so long!

While competing for myself or representing my country I have always treated my profession with the highest honour and respect, worked at it as hard as I could and now, stepping away from the game, I have no regrets and feel nothing but joy. I have achieved far beyond what a little boy from Minsk, Belarus could dream about at the beginning of the road.

My journey would not be possible without the continued support of my family. I owe it to my mother and father for teaching me life and sports from a young age. Very early my father became a key figure in my life, advancing with me through all levels of the game as my coach, manager and a friend. My wife and my kids gave me tremendous support and always inspire me to keep going forward.

Also, along the way I was very fortunate to meet outstanding coaches who helped me shape my game and character. Here I would like to acknowledge them and show my love to them once again:

My junior coaches Valeriy Lavrenov and Arcadi Edelman from “MAZ" tennis school: Thank you for building a good foundation and helping me fall in love with this game!

Mr. Nick Bollettieri, your family and your staff: Thank you for providing me with a home away from home at the IMG Tennis Academy in Florida. Believing in me at the time when the wins were very tough to come by and to this day you continue to be monumental in my development as a player and as a person.

Alexandr Dolgopolov Sr: Thank you for letting me be part of your family and for all your efforts in preparing me for the physicality of this sport and life on Tour. I really learned a lot from the time together and it helped me push my limits many times throughout out my career. Your wife’s lessons on flexibility planted a very valuable seed as a result of which I avoided many common injuries of the sport.

Bob Brett: Thank you for being in my corner and always providing me with very valuable advice, introducing me to Nike Tennis, which turned out to be my only apparel sponsor during my whole career.

Fritz Don: The most positive and optimistic person I have met. You helped me look at the methods of training in a different way. Tennis was always fun with you.

Brian Teacher: You made me understand the biomechanics of tennis. Your introduction to yoga helps me to stay balanced on and off the court to this day.

Scott Davidoff: I appreciate your assistance in helping me in a tough transition from my career No. 1 to career No. 2 — doubles only. Your endless scouting reports, knowledge for the game and support off the court helped me to be on the winning end of the biggest events and get excited about making career No. 2 last.

Peter Mirnyi: You pushed me with always a good vibe and your brotherly love at the time when more losses were creeping into my records and it was very easy to get negative and stop. However, we didn’t and had some memorable moments towards the end of this song.

My fitness coaches, Anthony Blair and Yutaka Nakamura: At different stages of my athletic development you recognized the most important areas where my wide and long body needed the most attention. With your help I always felt I had a physical edge over my opponents and surely never lost a match due to lack of preparation.

My medical team that looked after me and made sure I have the best chance to compete at the highest level. At different times each one of you played a crucial role into my longevity: Igor Golovnev, Pavel Malashevich, Alexsandr Razumets and Ivan Bury-sport doctors and trainers Team Belarus. Dr. Simon Small-Philadelphia (foot supports), Dr. Di Giacomo-Rome (ankle), Dr. David Dines-NY (shoulder), Dr. Angel (Barcelona) and Dr. Christopher Sforzo-Sarasota (elbow).

I will never forget the next group of people without whom my climb would also be impossible. Around the globe friends with their financial or moral support, often providing housing that helped Nikolai and I get past some difficult times.

Krutov family (Moscow, Rus), Christopher Boyer (Greenwich CT), Dubovic family (NY), Roberman family (NY), Fisher family (NY), Skrilivetsky family (NY), Grae family (NY) Trincher family (Bradenton FL), Anna Golub (Bradenton FL), Howard Winitsky (Delray Beach FL), Robets family (Lexington KY), Alex Reichel (LA) Anne and Cathy Rossiter (Chicago IL, Binghamton NY), Dima Davidov (Chicago IL), Igor Pevzner (Israel), Samir M’biota (Paris Fra), Cleon Papadopoulos (London UK), Magidov Family (RUS), Kojia Misha and Luba (Melbourne AUS), Mizue Sato (Tokyo, Jap), Kozhevnikov Oleg and Lyudmila (Dubai UAE), Kouzmenko Sergey and Irina (Minsk BLR), Frolov Vladimir and Valeria (Minsk BLR), Sergey Stutanov (RUS), Andrei Likhachev (RUS), Dmitry Gusev (RuS), Gennadi Silin (FL), Trubeev family (Sarasota FL), Zimmerman family (Sarasota FL).

For your professional and legal guidance I would like to thank my three special friends and agents: Max Eisenbud at IMG, Lisa Somermaier from Sunset consulting and Vittorio Selmi from ATP.

I would like to also address the Belarus Tennis Federation with your CEOs Simon Kagan, Mikhail Pavlov, Vladimir Peftiev, Sergey Teterin and Aleksandr Shakutin and thank you for your trust in me, the Belarus Ministry of Sport for always attending to my needs and electing me to represent the country for this long. It was a great honour and pleasure for me to do so around the world. Being the flag bearer for Team Belarus and winning a gold medal at the Olympics in London was by far the most memorable and proudest moment in my life.

I want to thank ATP and your staff for providing me with the most incredible working environment, taking me to places where I otherwise would have never been. Caring for me and guiding me on a daily basis.

To ITF, for letting me become part of your historic events and having my most memorable experiences with you.

Nike and Wilson, you have been my biggest supporters during my whole career. I am grateful that you spotted me early and stayed with me to this day. It has been an absolute honour and pleasure to be one of your athletes. You have always responded to all of my needs and gave me the chance to use the latest equipment and newest technologies. It made it so easy to keep my focus and just on the job! Thank you.

Special acknowledgment goes to all 100 of my doubles partners from 1994 to 2018 with whom I have an individual story to tell and who helped me installed a brick, large or small, in building my career wall. Thanks again to you, guys! We had a blast!!!

Sergej Skakun, Evgeni Mikheev, Vladimir Voltchkov, Kevin Ullyett, Mark Merklein, Jaime Oncins, Martin Hromec, Lars Rehmann, Robbie Koenig, Alejandro Hernandez, Scott Humphries, Ben Ellwood, Lior Mor, Tuomas Ketola, Georg Blumauer, Myles Wakefield, Justin Gimelstob, Andrei Cherkasov, Jean-Philippe Fleurian, John-Laffnie de Jager, Peter Nyborg, Brent Haygarth, Kent Kinnear, Gabor Koves, Andrei Olhovskiy, Nenad Zimonjic, David Adams, Pavel Vizner, Gustavo Kuerten, Alexander Reichel, Daniel Vacek, Michael Sell, Dusan Vemic, Denis Golovanov, Alexander Shvec, Peter Tramacchi, Olivier Delaitre, Jeff Tarango, Martin Damm, Eric Taino, Sandon Stolle, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Jonas Bjorkman, Nicklas Kulti, Lleyton Hewitt, Marat Safin, Nicolas Kiefer, Daniel Nestor, Mark Knowles, Tommy Haas, Fabrice Santoro, Patrick Rafter, David Prinosil, Jonathan Stark, Mahesh Bhupathi, Roger Federer, Julien Boutter, Michael Llodra, Mardy Fish, Jared Palmer, Jeff Morrison, Mikhail Youzhny, Sargis Sargsian, Thomas Johansson, Jurgen Melzer, Gaston Gaudio, Fernando Verdasco, Mischa Zverev, Marin Cilic, Rohan Bopanna, Tommy Robredo, Andy Ram, Sergey Betov, Jamie Murray, Aliaksandr Bury, Ashley Fisher, Robert Kendrick, Uladzimir Ignatik, Horia Tecau, Andrei Vasilevski, Feliciano Lopez, Mariusz Fyrstenberg, Scott Lipsky, Robert Lindstedt, Sam Groth, Jerzy Janowicz, Fabio Fognini, Lukasz Kubot, Grigor Dimitrov, Mehdi Jdi, Victor Estrella Burgos, Ivan Dodig, Marcelo Melo, Treat Huey, Yaraslav Shyla, Marcin Matkowski, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Ryan Harrison, Kevin Anderson, Philipp Oswald.

And lastly, I wish to thank and hug all of my fans who gave me love and support, who cheered with me in moments of glory but more importantly those that lifted me time and time again at different part of the world when matches and tournaments were lost and times were tough. You gave me the strength and motivation to wake up and keep working.

I will never forget what it is like to play in front of you, be it on the practice court or a packed house.

Going forward, it's time for me to move on with my life and accept new challenges.

I will miss the game greatly, but for certain I will continue to follow it closely and love it from the sidelines.


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