Week 33


Australian players Max Purcell [70] and Alexei Popyrin [58] faced off in the qualifying round, with Purcell clinching victory despite trailing *1:4 (15/40) in the third set. Just a few days later, they were on the brink of another potential encounter in the semifinals. Popyrin entered the main draw as a lucky loser due to Karen Khachanov‘s withdrawal (the Russian had intended to return to the tour after being sidelined since the French Open). The quarterfinals marked a noteworthy achievement for both Australians, as it was their best result in a Masters 1000 event, propelling them to their first entry into the Top 50 ranking. Purcell is the only serve-and-volleyer inside the Top 100 now. In the quarterfinal against world’s best player, he stayed only 7 times on the baseline behind the serve, and this constant attacking allowed him to lead 4:3 in the decider.
Novak Đoković embarked on his first trip to the United States in nearly two years. His absence from American soil was due to his vaccination status, as he remained the only player within the Top 100 who had opted not to be vaccinated. His return was triumphant; the greatest player of the Open Era, secured his second Cincinnati title (the first being in 2018) under extraordinary circumstances. This victory came after the longest ATP final in history, in which he dashed Carlos Alcaraz‘s perfect record of 8-0 in deciding third-set tie-breaks (12-0 when considering all levels).
Never before in the Open Era had there been such a significant age gap between the two best players in the world, with Đoković holding a 16-year seniority over his toughest current rival. The upcoming US Open holds an intriguing promise. It’s challenging to envision anyone else lifting the trophy, and it’s highly likely that this New York event will play a pivotal role in determining the season-ending top spot. ”It’s amazing playing against you, sharing the court with you, learning from you,” Alcaraz told Djokovic during the trophy ceremony. “This match was really close, but I learned a lot from a champion like you. So congratulations to you and your team.”


Two summer tournaments, the equivalents of the current “ATP 500,” held in Indiana and Connecticut during the same week, served as the final preparation for the best players in the world before the US Open. This pattern persisted through the 1990s (New Haven vanished from the calendar in 1999, while Indianapolis moved to an earlier week of the season, and also disappeared ten years later). The Indiana event marked the emergence of Patrick Rafter, a relatively unknown 20-year-old serve-and-volleyer from Australia. He advanced to the semifinals after an all-tie-break marathon against the world’s top player, creating a sensation that opened the door for Jim Courier to regain the top spot. In the final, Courier finally found a way to defeat Boris Becker, having lost to the German in their previous six meetings.
In New Haven, the teenage sensation Andrei Medvedev confirmed his status as an all-court player. While he was initially associated with clay courts in his first twelve months on the tour, he reached the final in Halle on grass, and in Connecticut, he captured his first title on a hard court. This achievement was no fluke, as he ousted one of the biggest specialists on that surface, Andre Agassi, in a rain-interrupted battle during the semifinals. “I’ve never done anything like this before,” Medvedev said of his masterful serving vs Agassi (half of aces, 11, in the 1st set). “Not even in practice when there’s no one on the other side of the court.” A few moments after the final, a young boy approached the court to exchange a high-five with Medvedev; it was the son of his coach and future ATP player Alex Dolgopolov, who was just five years old at the time… The 7-time Grand Slam champion, Mats Wilander [575, WC], made his return to the court after a four-month hiatus, following his almost two-year absence. He lost 6-2, 5-7, 4-6 to Buff Farrow [409, qualifier], a 26-year-old American who in the 1980s could only dream of facing Wilander, the top player at the time. Farrow spent his time competing in Satellite tournaments during that era. This match marked only the second and final victory in Farrow’s ATP career.
…Finals 2023…
Cincinnati (Masters 1K; hard outdoors)
(2)🇷🇸Novak Đoković d. (1)🇪🇸Carlos Alcaraz 5-7, 7-6(7), 7-6(4) – 1 m.p.
…Finals 1993…
Indianapolis ($915; hard outdoors)
(2)🇺🇸Jim Courier d. (3)🇩🇪Boris Becker 7-5, 6-3
New Haven ($915K; hard outdoors)
(5)🇺🇦Andrei Medvedev d. (4)🇨🇿Petr Korda 7-5, 6-4
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