The moment Grigor Dimitrov lifted the most important trophy of his career after claiming victory at the Nitto ATP Finals last month was certainly iconic. Now, it is award-winning. Libris by PhotoShelter has announced the image is one of its 17 Iconic Images from all walks of life in 2017.
“The 2017 Libris Iconic Images capture many of the year’s most memorable moments,” PhotoShelter CEO Andrew Fingerman said. “These 17 images are a small sample of the incredible images created by our Libris clients this year. To say we are proud to work with creative professionals of this calibre is an understatement.”
British photographer Thomas Lovelock shot the award-winning photo for ATPWorldTour.com after Dimitrov defeated David Goffin in the championship match at The O2.
Continuing our Season In Review Series, ATPWorldTour.com revisits the biggest Grand Slam comebacks of 2017:
There seems to be a special connection between Andreas Seppi and the Australian Open. Three years ago, the Italian saved a match point to upset Lleyton Hewitt in a five-set thriller at the Australian Open. Then, in 2015, he would advance to the Round of 16 with a stunning four-set dismissal of Roger Federer - his first Top 10 win at a Grand Slam.
As Seppi began to battle back from a two-set deficit against home hope Nick Kyrgios in this year's second round, another moment of magic was in the cards. In front of a packed crowd on Hisense Arena, Seppi took the third set 6-4 and the fourth set 6-2 and it quickly became apparent that the Italian would deliver even more heartbreak to the Aussie faithful.
In 2015, Seppi had fallen to Kyrgios 8-6 in a decider after racing to a two-set lead. The 33-year-old was ready to repay the favour. He would deny a match point while serving at 8-7 in the fifth set with a rifled forehand winner and snatched the decisive break in the next game. Seppi's 16th ace would seal the 1-6, 6-7(1), 6-4, 6-2, 10-8 victory after three hours and nine minutes.
“I remember the match from two years ago – it was pretty much the same,” said Seppi. “I knew what's going to happen, what it was going to be like on the court. It's always very, very tough to play in a crowd like this or stadium like this. But it was a great atmosphere.
“I just was focusing on my game. I served for the match before, lost my serve. I just tried to refocus, play like I did before. On match point, it was a big shot down the line. Maybe it was meant to be.”
For nearly two years, Janko Tipsarevic found himself outside of the Top 300 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. Recurring foot problems kept the Serbian on the sidelines for extended periods, but the former World No. 8 never gave up hope.
As Tipsarevic continued to fight towards a return to the Top 50 of the Emirates ATP Rankings at the US Open, that resilience was on full display. In a first-round marathon on Court 17, the Belgrade native clawed back from a two-set deficit to deny #NextGenATP Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-7(5), 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(2), 6-3 in four hours and 10 minutes.
Kokkinakis, who was in the midst of his own comeback quest following a multitude of injuries, did well to save 16 of 22 break points faced, but Tipsarevic's experience guided him past the finish line. The 33-year-old was denied three match points with Kokkinakis serving at 5-2 in the decider, but would close it out on his fifth chance in the next game.
Tipsarevic, a nominee for the Comeback Player of the Year Award in the 2017 ATP World Tour Awards Presented by Moët & Chandon, was sitting outside the Top 250 one year prior. But a quartet of ATP Challenger Tour titles in 2017 - two in Thailand and two in China - saw the Serbian vault back inside the Top 60. He completed a perfect 20-0 campaign on the circuit. Moreover, the comeback victory over Kokkinakis was his first from two sets down in five years.
Ivo Karlovic said that, long after he retires, this is one match he will never forget. Neither will we.
Court 19 at Melbourne Park could barely contain the drama that was unfolding in its modest confines, as Karlovic and Horacio Zeballos battled for five hours and 14 minutes in a marathon first-round encounter. Karlovic rebounded after dropping the first two sets to claim a stunning 6-7(6), 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 22-20 victory. The 42-game deciding set alone lasted two hours and 41 minutes, with the Croatian saving a break point at 3-2 and the Argentine denying one at 11-11, before Karlovic finally closed the door with a break at 21-20 30/40.
The thriller spanned 84 games in total, breaking the Australian Open record since the introduction of the tie-break in 1972. It surpassed Andy Roddick and Younes El Aynaoui's 2003 classic of 83 games. Only Novak Djokovic's win over Rafael Nadal in the 2012 final was longer by time played, at five hours and 53 minutes.
“This match is what I will, after my career, remember,” said Karlovic. “If it was an easy match or I lost easily, I wouldn't remember it. But this one I will definitely remember forever.
“My arm is good, but my knee, my back a little bit, is not so good,” said Karlovic. “I was just trying to hang in there, just point by point… [As the fifth set wore on], actually I was thinking about that other match: [John] Isner versus [Nicolas] Mahut (at 2010 Wimbledon, which Isner won 70-68 in the fifth set). I was hoping, a little bit, it could go that long so I could also have that record.”
In addition, it was just the third 0-2 comeback of the 38-year-old's career. His two previous victories both came against James Blake, rallying in the 2009 Davis Cup quarter-finals and in the 2013 US Open first round.
John Isner and Mischa Zverev had faced off on two previous occasions entering the season, and both proved to be one-way traffic in favour of the American. So when Isner grabbed a two-set lead in their Australian Open second round encounter, it looked like much of the same.
But 2017 would bare witness to a much improved Zverev and the German's impressive campaign kick-started with this riveting comeback at Melbourne Park. After dropping the first two sets in tie-breaks, Zverev extended the match to a fourth, where he would fight back from a break down at 4-2 and turned aside a pair of match points. The first was saved as he served to stay in the encounter at 5-4 and the second was denied at 7/6 in the ensuing tie-break.
The match would progress to a decider, where Isner saved three straight match points of his own at 6-5, but the big-serving American was unable to deny a fourth at 8-7. A rifled return at Isner's feet pushed the German across the finish line after four hours and 10 minutes. The 30-year-old Zverev notched the first comeback from two sets down in his career and his first five-set victory in a decade (2007 Wimbledon qualifying). He would finish 2017 with a perfect 4-0 record in five-setters.
"It was definitely my biggest win, especially coming back from two sets down," said Zverev. "Now being in the third round of the Australian Open, it was everything. I was emotional with my family being here and coming back from injury. It was big."
The match proved to be the catalyst for Zverev's strong season, which saw him stun World No. 1 Andy Murray just days later and included a first ATP World Tour final appearance in Geneva. He would go on to beat Isner on two other occasions, prevailing in the Geneva second round and US Open third round.
This was as good as it gets. We might might never see another comeback with such drama, such emotion and such grit and determination than the display Juan Martin del Potro and Dominic Thiem exhibited at the US Open. It was one for the ages.
Known as one of the more passionate and exuberant players on the ATP World Tour, Del Potro left it all on Grandstand court on a Tuesday evening in Flushing Meadows. Fighting a flu and a fever, the Argentine was barely able to move as he entered the court and with little range and rhythm, Thiem took advantage, blasting to a quick 6-1, 6-2 lead.
But the heavily partisan Argentine crowd, draped in blue and white, carried the 2009 champion. They urged on the lethargic and fatigued Tandil native and despite being on the verge of tears, he would respond in grand fashion. Bolstered by the crowd, he rewrote the script, halting Thiem's flood of momentum with a run of eight of the next 10 games.
Once again, the Austrian answered with a break in the fourth to take a 5-2 lead. He would serve for the match but Del Potro was far from finished, breaking back and eventually saving two match points - both with mammoth aces - while serving at 5-6. The drama boiled over to a fifth set, and as a rush of adrenaline surged through Del Potro, he would grab his second match point after three hours and 34 minutes.
"I don't know how I was able to win that match," del Potro said to ESPN in his post-match interview. "I was sick the last two days and I tried to play as best that I can. When I saw this crowd cheering for me, I was trying to feel better. I fought like this because of these guys."
It marked the seventh five-set victory in Del Potro's career and just the second comeback from two sets down. He would follow it up with a four-set upset of Roger Federer in the quarter-finals, reeling off 20 of 24 matches to finish the season and falling just short of qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals.
Continuing our Season in Review series, ATPWorldTour.com reviews some of the year's odd moments on the ATP World Tour.
There are plenty of things that happen during a tennis match. From winners and errors to overheads and tweeners, ATP World Tour players always entertain the crowd.
But there were also some quirky moments on the court in 2017.
An iguana was spotted on one of the court’s scoreboards, delaying play. Vesely had no interest in continuing play with the animal even near the court, while Haas walked right up to it for a selfie.
“Maybe the iguana got the note that this is most likely the last time playing here, and he wanted to say, 'Hi', and take a peek or something. I don't know, but it was pretty cool. Of that size, I don't think I've ever experienced that,” Haas said. “At one point the people were just trying to see if we can just get him off the scoreboard, but then he made an appearance and ran up and down the court as well back to the other scoreboard. So it was fun… It's nice for him to stop by. Good-looking iguana.”
The iguana was not the only animal to interrupt play on the ATP World Tour this season. Just a couple of weeks later, a bird caused a stoppage in Monte Carlo. In the second round of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, eventual champion Rafael Nadal was serving to move within one game of victory in the third set against Kyle Edmund when a small bird landed on the net.
While a ballperson attempted to usher it away, the bird flew onto the court’s surface instead, much to the crowd’s enjoyment.
Eventually, thanks to coaxing from the ballperson and Nadal, the bird flew to the front row behind the Spaniard and watched as he won the final two games of the match to advance to the third round.
It was not only creatures that caused quirky moments this year, though.
When the Brazilian stepped to the net while partner Lukasz Kubot served early in the second set against Henri Kontinen and John Peers, he certainly did not expect to accidentally get drilled in the head.
Kontinen and Peers would eventually win the quarter-final, 6-4, 7-6(6). And while it was a double-whammy for Melo — losing and getting knocked in the head by his teammate — Kubot/Melo would finish the year at No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings.
But perhaps the most bizarre moment of the season came on the ATP Challenger Tour in April at the Elizabeth Moore Sarasota Open.
It is not often that a player will crack into laughter after falling behind 0/15 in a game, but that is exactly what happened to Frances Tiafoe at 6-3, 3-2 in the second set of his first-round match against Mitchell Krueger. The cause was noise coming from an amorous couple in a nearby building, which broke Tiafoe's concentration and interrupted play. Krueger grabbed a spare tennis ball and smacked it toward the building, drawing laughs from the crowd.
A couple of points later, the noise was still audible. "It can't be that good," Tiafoe shouted in the building's direction. He went on to win the match 6-3, 6-2.
Before John Isner settles in for his final push ahead of the new ATP World Tour campaign, he spent time on Thursday in New York — the home of the inaugural New York Open from 11-18 February — where he participated in two clinics for more than 100 local kids and attended the Brooklyn Nets game against the New York Knicks.
“It’s one of the most important things us professional players can do as pros, to give back,” said Isner, who will be playing in the New York tournament. “I want to see tennis in a healthier spot 10 years from now when I’m done playing than it is now. You want to give back as much as you can.”
However, Isner is still very much a contender on the ATP World Tour. And for a moment, his 2017 season appeared destined for a dream ending. But suddenly it came to a halt.
The 6'10" American saved a match point in the Round of 16 at the Rolex Paris Masters to upset eventual Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov before beating arguably the hottest player on the ATP World Tour, Juan Martin del Potro, in the quarter-finals. Isner was just two wins away from clinching his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title and with that his first berth in the season finale at The O2. But despite winning six more points than his opponent, his year came to an end in a stunning semi-final defeat at the hands of world No. 77 Filip Krajinovic in a third-set tie-break.
“I did finish the year well but I also finished on a very, very tough loss, so that was tough to get over,” Isner admitted. “It took some time, but I did know I had some more important things in my life to look forward to outside of tennis so [I was] very happy to put that behind me.”
In fact, he had one of the highlights of his life to look forward to: Isner got married to Madison McKinley on 2 December.
“Standing up there and saying our vows was pretty surreal,” Isner said. “When we got engaged, you picture that moment but you can’t put yourself in that situation. It’s sort of like practising for tennis. You can practise, practise, practise. But when it comes time to play a big match, you can’t really replicate that at all.”
It was a spectacular moment for the No. 17 player in the Emirates ATP Rankings, who was thrilled to have friends and family — many from his tennis ‘family’ including Sam Querrey, Steve Johnson and others — attend in South Carolina. “The wedding was amazing; it was honestly the most amazing wedding I’ve ever been to and will probably ever go to," Querrey said.
Isner believes that entering the new season as a married man will only help his performance on the court.
“I’m a lot happier now being married than I was even being engaged,” Isner said. “I think that’s a good thing so I try to keep that in perspective — that I’m a happily married man and just enjoying that aspect of my life. It’s a very big step, so I think for my tennis career it’s going to be a boon for sure.”
And while the newlyweds spent a week in Mustique — a small island that is part of the Grenadines — for their honeymoon, it is back to work for Isner as he prepares for 2018.
“I do feel like I’m a little bit behind, but obviously I’ve had some more important things to take care of,” Isner said. “I haven’t been on the court as much as I would like but I don’t feel like I’m too rusty and I’ve stayed in good shape. That’s the most important thing for me every offseason — to keep getting stronger, get my body feeling better and I think I’ve done that very well so far, so I’ve just got to focus on the tennis.”
And despite a devastating season-ending loss for Isner, he did accomplish one major goal: the right-hander finished the season inside the Top 20 for the eighth consecutive year. The American also led the ATP World Tour in aces (1,123) for the fifth time since 2010.
“I think that [finishing in the Top 20] is something that can motivate me for 2018 as well. To really keep putting together these consistent results is pretty impressive in my opinion,” Isner said. “I want to keep doing that, but I do believe I can do even better than that as well.”
The 32-year-old, who made three Masters 1000 semi-finals this year, can do that by getting off to a fast start — he did not win back-to-back matches until May in 2017. But Isner is not putting extra pressure on himself to rocket up the Emirates ATP Rankings immediately.
"If I have some good results, yeah, my ranking could go up," Isner said. "But I need to be consistent throughout the whole year."
Isner will be able to make strides toward that with a strong performance early in the year at the new ATP World Tour 250 event on Long Island: the New York Open.
"I think it’s very cool. It’s going to be a very unique venue. It’s going to be much more intimate in February versus September in Flushing Meadows," Isner said. "I think the players love coming to the city. I do as well. So I think this event is going to be awesome and can’t wait to get it going in February."
Continuing our Season In Review Series, ATPWorldTour.com revisits the biggest ATP World Tour comebacks of 2017:
Five for five at No. 5. A pair of five-match point saving thrillers kick off our list, with both Novak Djokovic and Borna Coric rallying from a set and a break down to dramatically escape from the jaws of defeat.
For Djokovic, the drama played out in Doha at the season-opening Qatar ExxonMobil Open, where he dodged five match points against Fernando Verdasco in a second-set tie-break. The Serbian, who was No. 2 in the Emirates ATP Rankings at the time, was seeking a strong start to 2017 after relinquishing the top spot to Andy Murray to conclude the 2016 season. He would go on to lift the trophy, defeating Murray in the final, but his hopes were nearly extinguished in the semis.
Verdasco led 6-4, 2-0, but Djokovic would conjure one of his vintage moments of magic, breaking back for 4-all in the second set and eventually forcing a tie-break. There, he erased four straight match points from 2/6 down - and another at 6/7 with a rifled return at Verdasco's feet - to level the encounter. He would not look back from there, breaking twice in the decider to cross the finish line. It marked the third time Djokovic erased five match points in his career. He also did it against Murray in 2012 and against Florent Serra in 2009.
“It was quite a thrilling experience for me to be able to go five match points down... I'm obviously very pleased because you need these kind of matches, these kind of confidence boosters, for whatever is coming up after that,” Djokovic said. “He had three out of five match points with his serve, and three, four of the five match points he had a forehand to finish it off and he didn't."
While Djokovic has accumulated a history of mesmerising escapes during his 15-year career, Coric experienced his first bout of heart-stopping drama on a sun-kissed afternoon in Marrakech. You always remember your first ATP World Tour title and this was one that the Croatian will certainly never forget.
His final opponent Philipp Kohlschreiber had endured heartbreak just six weeks prior in Dubai, when he squandered seven match points against Andy Murray in the quarter-finals, and it would follow him from Asia to Africa. In search of his eighth ATP World Tour crown, the German would concede a set and a break lead on two occasions as Coric refused to go down quietly.
The drama would hit a jaw-dropping crecendo with the #NextGenATP star serving to stay in the match at 6-5 in the second set, denying five championship points. Exhibiting his steely resolve, he punched a dipping volley winner to turn aside the second match point and later fired a clutch service winner to deny the fifth. He would eventually navigate to the finish line 5-7, 7-6(3), 7-5 after two hours and 38 minutes, lifting his first ATP World Tour trophy.
"I would say that's my biggest comeback, I've never saved five match points," said Coric. "Especially in such an important match, I served very well in the big points. It's an awesome feeling."
Jack Sock had one foot on a plane heading home to the United States. Trailing 1-5 in the deciding set against Kyle Edmund in the second round of the Rolex Paris Masters, his season was over. A long break filled with rest and relaxation was in the cards. In other words, it was time for some golf.
That's how the script was written. But the 25-year-old had a plot twist that no one saw coming. Not even Sock himself had foreseen what would transpire over the next 30 minutes - and subsequent five days.
The Nebraska native completed one of the most dramatic sprints to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals in tournament history, storming back from the 1-5 deficit to stun Edmund and less than a week later hoisting the Paris trophy. With the Brit just one game from victory, Sock would turn the match around in a flash, reeling off 19 of the next 22 points to permanently shift momentum and kick off a chain reaction that led to him seizing his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy and a trip to The O2.
"I should have been out first round here, in my first match, so I'm kind of just playing with house money now as you'd say," said Sock. "I'm just enjoying it."
Sock had entered the week in Paris at No. 24 in the Emirates ATP Race To London, before opening his bid with the Edmund victory. Another comeback would ensue against Fernando Verdasco from a set down, followed by a third escape act from a set deficit against Filip Krajinovic in the final. Sock would not only punch his ticket to London, but qualified for the semi-finals on debut.
Most Match Points Saved En Route To 2017 Title
|Victor Estrella Burgos
||Quito||4||2R & Final
Albert Ramos-Vinolas had his back against the wall. Trailing top seed Andy Murray 0-4 in the deciding set of their Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters third round encounter, the Spaniard knew that a comeback would require something special.
“The most normal thing would be to lose the match,” said Ramos-Vinolas. “But today is one of those days that sometimes happens. I still fought. I was fighting. I was 0-4, and I thought that I need to keep playing every point. Then, at the end, I won. I don't know what to say.”
That something special would come in the form of a stunning 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory, as the relentless Spaniard began to pierce holes in Murray's defensive armoury, aided by an aggressive change in tactics. With his forehand suddenly finding openings in the court, Ramos-Vinolas flipped the third set in his favour in a flash. Blink and you missed it.
The World No. 24 reeled off seven of the last eight games, breaking Murray three times for the emotional victory. It was Ramos-Vinolas' first win over a World No. 1, having entered the match with a 1-12 record against Top 5 opponents. The victory moved him into his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final and he would eventually reach the title match, falling to countryman Rafael Nadal. One week later, Murray and Ramos-Vinolas met again on the clay of Barcelona, and this time it was the Scot who rallied from a set deficit to prevail.
Monfils produced the stunning comeback in typical Monfils fashion, striking a pair of clutch, mesmerising hot shots in the deciding tie-break, en route to the second round victory. The Frenchman was a hot shot machine with his back against the wall on a sunny Wednesday afternoon, energising the Montreal faithful as he plotted his comeback from 2-5 down in the second set and 3-5 down in the third. Nishikori served for the match three times and Monfils had an answer on each occasion.
And with the Japanese one point from victory at 6/3 in the third-set tie-break, Monfils nailed a down-the-line backhand that kissed the sideline. Moments later, he muscled a down-the-line forehand winner from deep behind the baseline to stave off his fourth consecutive match point. In front of an electric atmosphere on Banque Nationale Court, the Frenchman converted the first match point of his own with a blasted forehand winner down the line.
"It's a good victory for many reasons," said Monfils. "It's a big revenge, because last year around this time I had the same thing actually against Kei. I was up 6/2 in the tie-break in the [Rio] Olympics quarter-finals and I lost the tie-break. So I know exactly how he feels. Also, last year, a bit before, I played him in Miami. I also had five match points and I lost it 7-6 in the third. I'm more than happy because I fought through the toughness, because it was tough for me. It was a bit like a rollercoaster."
The victory was even more special considering it was Monfils' first in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Nishikori, improving to 1-3. It also marked the first time he had rallied from a set down against a Top 10 opponent in seven years.
Philipp Kohlschreiber was one point from securing the 400th match win of his career at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. But for Andy Murray, there was no room for sentiment on a Thursday evening at The Aviation Club. Murray denied Kohlschreiber's milestone quest with a history-making performance of his own, saving seven match points in a marathon 31-minute second set tie-break.
The World No. 1 dodged knockout blow after knockout blow in the 38-point record-tying tie-break, won by Murray 20/18. It equaled five other epic tie-breaks of the same score since such scores were first kept in 1991.
Kohlschreiber got off to a fast start, pushing Murray from corner to corner and striking winner after winner. After taking the opener, he would continue to grab the upper hand in the second. But a Murray moment of brilliance in the ensuing tie-break would turn the tide. Down match point at 8/9, he managed to cut an audacious forehand drop shot to spin past the tramlines and a bewildered Kohlschreiber (see below). Heavy serving and aggressive play fended off a further six match points and he would force a decider after an 84-minute set. Murray would go on to prevail 6-7(4), 7-6(18), 6-1.
“It's obviously a special match to win because of how it went,” said Murray. “I'll probably never play another tie-break like that again. I have been playing on the tour for 11, 12 years now, and nothing's been close to that.
“There were definitely some unbelievable points in that second set tie-break, but in general I think the level was extremely high. He was hitting the ball so hard tonight from both sides. Any time he had the opportunity, he was ripping the ball and made it really, really tough.”
Murray went on to win the Dubai title, defeating Fernando Verdasco in the final. It was his lone crown of the 2017 season, which was cut short due to a hip injury in July.
One of the best tournaments in the world will continue to improve, as Tournament Director Tommy Haas has announced a full-scale beautification project ahead of the 2018 BNP Paribas Open. This year, the event won Tournament of the Year honours along with Acapulco and Doha at the 2017 ATP World Tour Awards presented by Moët and Chandon.
“Year after year, we strive to continually improve and enhance the overall fan experience at the tournament,” Haas said. “This year, we are focusing on what makes our event unique – the unparalleled beauty and scenery of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Our team cannot wait to welcome tennis fans from around the world to tennis paradise and showcase the physical beauty and majesty of the venue in 'Full Bloom' like never before.”
Indian Wells will add 62 palm trees, two fountains, floral installations, pavers, plants and greenery throughout the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. The tournament will also be more than doubling the size of the Stadium 1 video walls on the north and south sides of the court.
The first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event of the season will take place from 8-18 March, with Roger Federer attempting to retain his title. In 2017, the ninth seed captured the trophy without dropping a set, including victories over the year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka.
“We believe that coupled with the extensive renovations and world-class dining amenities added prior to the 2017 event, tennis fans won’t be able to find a more enjoyable experience anywhere in the world,” Haas said.
It’s normally the return, but this season it was the serve that carried Rafael Nadal back to the pinnacle of our sport. Nadal finished 2017 as World No. 1 for the fourth time in his career. An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of his service patterns reveals a key change that took him from personal worst-to-first marks from 2016 to 2017.
The Spaniard finished first on tour with second serve points won this season at 61.5 per cent (1076/1749), recording his personal best in this specific metric since emerging onto the tour in 2003. It’s a remarkable improvement, considering he won a career low (tied with 2004) 54 per cent in 2016.
Nadal’s second serve dominance in 2017 came from mixing it around the service box much more than normal, especially in the deuce court. The strategy was specifically to surprise opponents by serving to their stronger forehand return, and also catch them sliding left anticipating a serve to the backhand. The serve went right a whole lot more this year, and it worked a treat.
Masters 1000 & Nitto ATP Finals
Deuce Court Second Serve Location – 2016 & 2017
|Middle T||167 (44.3%)||111 (63.8%)|
|Body||124 (32.9%)||59 (33.9%)|
|Wide||86 (22.8%)||4 (2.3%)|
For example, at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events and the Nitto ATP Finals this season, Nadal hit 86 second serves out wide in the deuce court. Last season, he attempted only four to the same location.
Masters 1000 & Nitto ATP Finals
Deuce Court Second Serve Points Won - 2016 & 2017
|Middle T||95 (56.9%)||69 (62.2%)|
|Body||73 (58.9%)||24 (40.7%)|
|Wide||55 (64%)||3 (75%)|
Nadal’s commitment to hit more wide second serves in the deuce court was well rewarded, as he had the highest win percentage (64 per cent) there than in any other location.
In the Ad court, Nadal predictably served primarily at the body, and had the highest win percentage out wide, at 64.4 per cent.
Nadal won an impressive 74 per cent (2755/3721) of his first serve points in 2017, which was only one per cent lower than his personal best performances in this area in 2010 and 2012. He hit 286 aces this season, which was his second highest total after hitting 310 back in 2010.
Nadal’s renaissance back to No. 1 this season speaks of rounding out his game more, and getting inside his opponent’s head to figure out what they are expecting, and switching it.
Albert Agusti, president of the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona 1899, and Javier Godo, Count of Godo in Barcelona, traveled to the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar in Manacor, Spain, to award the World No. 1 player with his second silver replica of the trophy.
"There's no one better fit to receive this award in his own museum than Nadal," Agusti said.
Nadal received his first replica of the Conde de Godo trophy in 2009 following five consecutive Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell triumphs. In addition to his 10 Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell titles, the Spaniard is also a 10-time champion of both the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and Roland Garros.
"(Nadal) is going to have to make room in this museum because there are surely more trophies to come,” Agusti said.
Godo backed Agusti's sentiments by jokingly suggesting that even by taking appropriate measures to keep another trophy from Nadal, no accolade is out of reach. "We'll shield off our tournament trophies from him but even then, nothing is safe from this guy."
Nadal, who confirmed he'll compete in the 66th edition of the tournament (23-29 April 2018) and would need another five event victories in Barcelona to add a third Conde de Godo trophy to his collection, was humble in his response.
"I'm very excited about this second big Barcelona trophy, but there will be no more," said the 16-time Grand Slam champion.
Grigor Dimitrov produced a number of moments worthy of the highlight reel during a season filled with career milestones, including a year-end No. 3 finish in the Emirates ATP Rankings, triumph at the Nitto ATP Finals and his first ATP World Masters 1000 title at the Western & Southern Open. After six days of voting, fans gave Dimitrov another accolade, with his dive volley against Yuichi Sugita in the Cincinnati quarter-finals crowned the Masters 1000 Golden Hot Shot.
The hot shot finished as the overwhelming favourite in the poll, receiving 33 per cent of votes cast. Pablo Cuevas’s no-look winner against Alexander Zverev at the Mutua Madrid Open finished second in the voting with 13 per cent of votes, but led the nine hot shot contenders in Instagram views, registering more than 250,000 plays in four days.
Rafael Nadal and Dimitrov’s rally at the Rolex Shanghai Masters and Juan Martin del Potro’s tweener at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells respectively finished third and fourth in the voting, with both receiving 12 per cent of votes.
Re-live nine great hot shots from the season’s ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments:
Continuing our Season In Review series, ATPWorldTour.com revisits the five biggest Grand Slam upsets of 2017.
Grigor Dimitrov had arrived, again. After reaching the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings in 2014, the Bulgarian was back among the elite this August and again a favourite to make a deep run at Grand Slams. A week before the US Open, Dimitrov had won his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. The seventh seed was a trendy pick to reach the second week in Flushing Meadows.
But #NextGenATP Russian Andrey Rublev had been quietly building an impressive season, and the 19-year-old didn't lie down for Dimitrov. Rublev fell behind a break in the first and second sets but came back in both sets, feeding Dimitrov a steady barrage of heavy forehands. He finished with 36 winners, including 23 on the forehand side. Rublev was also clutch on his serve, erasing eight of 10 break points.
The win was the Russian's first Top 10 victory. He'd go to on reach the quarter-finals in New York (l. to eventual champion Nadal), becoming the youngest US Open quarter-finalist since Andy Roddick in 2003.
The run also solidified Rublev's status as one of the top #NextGenATP players in the world. The right-hander later reached the final of the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals (l. to Chung).
Daniil Medvedev checked a number of boxes by beating Stan Wawrinka at SW19. Before playing fearlessly to beat the Swiss right-hander, the 21-year-old had never won a match at a Grand Slam, beaten a Top 5 player or even played a match at Wimbledon.
The #NextGenATP Russian picked the perfect setting for the career breakthrough: Centre Court. After splitting the first two sets with Wawrinka, Medvedev gained the crucial break at 5-4 to take the third set against the three-time Grand Slam champion.
In the fourth, the Russian rolled, hitting four aces and converting both break points to advance.
Wawrinka, who was eyeing a career Grand Slam at The Championships, has struggled at Wimbledon. But he was coming off a final run at Roland Garros and had brought on Pete Sampras' former coach Paul Annacone to help as part of his coaching team during the grass-court swing.
But the Swiss star was also battling a knee injury. His match against Medvedev was his final contest of the 2017 season.
This was Alexander Zverev's time to make a splash at a Grand Slam. The 6'6” right-hander had beaten Novak Djokovic for the Internazionali BNL d'Italia title in Rome weeks earlier. The win had given Zverev his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title and a spot in the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings at No. 10. The right-hander looked ready to battle deep into the second week of Grand Slam tournaments.
His first-round opponent, however, was no debutant. Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco had conquered bigger odds in the past – see his 2016 Australian Open first-round upset of Rafael Nadal – and Verdasco is never one to be intimidated against a higher-ranked player.
The 33-year-old broke the German eight times in the two-hour and 52-minute contest that spanned two days because of darkness. Play was suspended after two sets, and Zverev looked ready to take control of the match when play resumed, gaining a 3-1 lead in the third set.
But Verdasco fought back and broke the 20-year-old's will, winning five of the third set's final six games to lead two sets to one. The left-hander cruised in the fourth set to gain a 2-1 lead in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.
“Winning the third set gave me a lot of confidence... and I think it was hard for him on the other side, to start again and have to win two more sets,” Verdasco said.
The Spaniard, who was making his 56th consecutive Grand Slam appearance, improved to 13-1 in Roland Garros first-round contests.
It had been eight years since Andy Murray lost at the Australian Open before the quarter-finals. The Scot had reached the Melbourne final five of those times, a semi-final in 2012 and a quarter-final in 2014.
Throw in the fact that Murray had won 32 of his past 33 matches, dating back to his perfect 2016 finish, and you can easily see why the Brit was the heavy favourite during his fourth-round match against Mischa Zverev. But the German's serve-and-volley game presents a different look for players, and Murray struggled all day against the aggressive left-hander, who was eager to make the most of his first Grand Slam fourth round appearance.
The German attacked the net 118 times against the top seed, winning 55 per cent of those points (65/118). He also mixed up his groundstrokes, slicing often to prevent Murray from gaining rhythm.
It didn't matter how many times Zverev got passed at the net or how many times he missed a volley — the 29-year-old was committed to his game plan, and he never wavered.
“There was no Plan B, really,” he said. “I can't stay on the baseline, a couple feet behind the baseline, try to out-rally him. He's very strong physically. He has a good baseline game. I knew I had to come in. That was my only chance to win.”
The victory marked a successful turnaround for Zverev. In March 2015, he was No. 1,067 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. Less than two years later, he was playing in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open (l. to eventual champion Roger Federer).
The Serbian was The King of Melbourne. Novak Djokovic had won five of the past six Australian Open titles. The only year he didn't win during that stretch – 2014 – the right-hander was knocked out in the quarter-finals by eventual champion Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland.
In his most recent Grand Slam, the US Open, Djokovic also performed well, reaching the final in New York (l. to Wawrinka). Suffice to say, the Serbian was feeling good in the world's biggest stadiums.
But the wild card from Uzbekistan picked the right time to play the match of his life. As Djokovic acknowledged after the upset, Istomin did just simply outplay the World No. 2, playing bigger in the crucial moments and outrallying one of the most consistent players of all-time.
“All the credit to Denis for playing amazing,” Djokovic said. “He deserved to win. No doubt, he was a better player in the clutch moments. He stepped it up, played aggressive. Served very well, very precise. There's not much I could do. Of course, I was not pleased with my performance overall. But I have to congratulate my opponent today.”
Istomin ended Djokovic’s 15-match win streak at Melbourne Park. The Serbian had only lost once to a player ranked outside of the Top 100 in the Emirates ATP Rankings during the past seven years – No. 145 Juan Martin del Potro in the opening round of the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The stunner was Djokovic's earliest loss at a Grand Slam championship since his 2008 Wimbledon second-round exit to Russian Marat Safin. The loss also marked the first time that Djokovic had gone three Grand Slam championships without picking up a title, since between 2013 Roland Garros and 2014 Wimbledon.
Continuing our Season In Review series, ATPWorldTour.com revisits the top 5 ATP World Tour upsets of 2017.
Vasek Pospisil has the game to beat the top players. In January 2014, he reached No. 25 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, and a year later, he was in the quarter-finals of The Championships, Wimbledon (l. to Murray). His serve-and-volley game can flummox the greatest.
So even though Pospisil had been beset with injuries and had a triple-digit number (No. 129) next to his name, the Canadian, who had recently started working with former doubles No. 1 Mark Woodforde, surely believed he could shock the BNP Paribas Open and knock off World No. 1 Andy Murray.
The Scot had never won the BNP Paribas Open title in Indian Wells, and he had suffered early setbacks in the past, falling in the second round three times (2006, 2011, 2012).
But, after a disappointing Australian Open, Murray looked determined to pen a new Indian Wells story for himself. He led 4-2 in the opener and was having little trouble with Pospisil's big game, having broken the 6'4” right-hander in the fourth and sixth games.
But the Canadian came alive, winning six straight games to gain a set and a break lead. Pospisil was darting around the court, and the crowd was loving his aggressive, old-school style.
Murray rallied to force a second-set tie-break, but Pospisil stayed on offence and didn't back away from the challenge, earning the biggest win of his career with a forehand winner. He tossed his racquet into the sky to celebrate.
“If I pick a handful of great moments in my career, this is definitely one of them,” Pospisil said. “To beat the No. 1 player and somebody as accomplished as Andy, one of the greats of the game, is amazing.”
Defending champion Stan Wawrinka entered the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on a roll. The Swiss right-hander had fallen just short of reaching his fourth Grand Slam final at the Australian Open (l. to eventual champion Federer in five sets).
Wawrinka's first-round match against Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia-Herzegovina in Dubai looked as if it'd be a “get-used-to-the-conditions” match. Wawrinka had a 3-0 lead after about eight minutes, and Dzumhur could hardly keep the ball in play. “Stan The Man” was blasting forehands from the centre of the court and teeing off on Dzumhur's second serve.
But the 5'9” Bosnian chased down more balls and hoped Wawrinka would slow down, which eventually happened, and Dzumhur earned the biggest win of his career with some exhausting defence and clutch serving. “I was fighting. I was grinding,” Dzumhur said.
The career-best win at the time foreshadowed a career year for Dzumhur. He went on to win his first and second ATP World Tour titles (St. Petersburg, Moscow), becoming the first Bosnian to claim an ATP World Tour crown. At the start of the season, Dzumhur was No. 82 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. He will finish 2017 at a career-high No. 30.
You have to appreciate the honesty. The day before David Goffin celebrated the “best win” of his career, beating Roger Federer to reach the championship of the Nitto ATP Finals, the Belgian was asked what he planned to do differently against Federer.
The 26-year-old Goffin had never beaten the Swiss right-hander, coming up short in all six of their FedEx ATP Head2Head matchups, including a 6-1, 6-2 drubbing weeks earlier at the Swiss Indoors Basel.
What would Goffin do differently? He wasn't sure. “Honestly, I don't know what to do,” he said.
Goffin had been up and down at the Nitto ATP Finals. He upset World No. 1 Rafael Nadal but then, two days later, won only two games against Grigor Dimitrov. Goffin reached the semi-finals by beating fourth seed Dominic Thiem in a 'win and you're in' round-robin match.
So which Goffin would show against Federer? Or maybe it didn't matter which Goffin arrived, as all tournament, Federer had been clear about his intentions – a record-extending seventh Nitto ATP Finals title. The 36-year-old had finished Group Boris Becker play a perfect 3-0, and Federer was 16-0 against the other three semi-finalists – Goffin, Jack Sock of the U.S. and Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov.
Exactly what Goffin did not want to happen – a repeat of their Basel matchup – looked like it was occurring in the first set. Federer was dominating, cutting shoestring volleys for winners and blistering backhands. But Goffin gradually relaxed and grew in confidence, and he forced a third set, where he had thrived all year.
He entered the semi-finals 21-5 in deciding sets, and even in one of the biggest arenas in tennis, Goffin held his nerve. He broke in the third game and served out the match on his first opportunity.
“As soon as I had the chance to go for the shot from the return and from the serve, [that] was the key, to go for the shot,” Goffin said.
He became the first player to beat the Top 2 players at the Nitto ATP Finals since 2009, when champion Nikolay Davydenko beat No. 2 Nadal in group play and No. 1 Federer in the semi-finals. The Belgian also became the sixth player ever to beat Nadal and Federer in the same tournament and the first since Novak Djokovic at the 2015 Nitto ATP Finals.
A long-awaited return to No. 1 was in Rafael Nadal's sights, but an excited Canadian with wavy blonde hair had other ideas. Eighteen-year-old Denis Shapovalov had saved four match points in his Coupe Rogers opener to beat Brazil's Rogerio Dutra Silva, and he had then dismissed Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets for the biggest win of his life.
Nadal was his next opponent, but if the Spaniard were to beat Shapovalov and win one more match, the No. 1 spot in the Emirates ATP Rankings would be his for the first time in more than three years, since 6 June 2014.
The Spaniard started quicker, breaking routinely in the eighth game. Shapovalov, though, swung freely in the second set, attacking with his forehand to even the match. Both players held throughout the third, so they headed to one of the most dramatic moments in tennis: a third-set tie-break.
Nadal cruised to a 3/0 lead and looked as if he would finally pull away. But Shapovalov rallied, crushing another forehand winner on match point before falling to the ground in shock. He embraced Nadal at the net before kissing the court and blowing kisses to his thousands of red-and-white clad admirers in the crowd.
The Canadian became the youngest Masters 1000 quarter-finalist (since 1990) and the lowest-ranked player to reach a Masters 1000 quarter-final since No. 239 Ivo Karlovic at 2011 BNP Paribas Open. It had been 13 years since a player younger than the 18-year-old Shapovalov had beaten a Top 2 player during a completed match. Nadal, 17, beat No. 1 Roger Federer at the 2004 Miami Open presented by Itau.
Roger Federer had been perfect. The 36-year-old had shocked everyone and won seven straight matches to win his first tournament in six months, the Australian Open, beating four Top 10 players, including Rafael Nadal in the final, to capture his record 18th Grand Slam title.
A month later, Federer headed to Dubai, where it looked like his successful comeback from knee surgery would continue. The Swiss right-hander had won seven titles and 10 consecutive matches in the United Arab Emirates. After beating Frenchman Benoit Paire, Federer faced World No. 116 Evgeny Donskoy in the third round.
Federer rolled through the first set and held match points at 6/4 and 7/6 in the second set tie-break. He was a swing away from making the quarter-finals.
But Donskoy fought them off and forced a third set. Surely, though, Federer would rebound in the third.
Federer broke in the sixth game and served for the match at 5-4. But again, Donskoy, who hadn't reached a quarter-final since Moscow 2015, broke one of the greatest players of all time, and in the tie-break, the Russian delivered his best of the match.
Federer was in control at 5/2 with two serves to come. But in one of the wildest tie-breaks of 2017, World No. 116 Donskoy reeled off the final five points to prevail in just over two hours and pull off the biggest upset of the 2017 season. “I surprised everyone today,” Donskoy said.
Federer perhaps summed up best what his fans were thinking on the day his perfect season ended. “I don't know how it got away,” he said. “So many chances, it was crazy.”