2013 – first half
Week by week:
Week #24 (Queens Club, Halle)
Week #25 (s’Hertogenbosch, Eastbourne)
Week #26-27 (Wimbledon)
Week #28 (Stuttgart, Bastad, Newport)
Week #29 (Hamburg, Bogota)
Week #30 (Atlanta, Umag, Gstaad)
Week #31 (Kitzbuhel, Washington)
Week #32 (Montreal)
Week #33 (Cincinnati)
Week #34 (Winston-Salem)
Week #35-36 (US Open)
Week #37 (Davis Cup – SF & play-off)
Week #38 (St. Petersburg, Metz)
Week #39 (Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur)
Week #40 (Tokyo, Beijing)
Week #41 (Shanghai – final)
Week #42 (Vienna, Stockholm, Moscow)
Week #43 (Basel, Valencia)
Week #44 (Paris)
Week #45 (London-World Tour Finals)
Week #46 (Davis Cup – final)
<<< TIME-LINE >>>
January 1st – The new season kicks off with an enforcement of a rule considering time for preparation between points – starting with first tournaments of 2013, a time violation between points (25 seconds) is penalized in the first instance with a warning. For the second and all subsequent violations, the penalty will be a fault for the server and a point penalty for the receiver. Other innovation: the Challenger Tour without service lets in the first three months of the year. “A trial will be a good way to test this initiative in a competitive environment and get feedback from players and the public before deciding if it could be adapted more broadly.” says ATP Executive Chairman (former Australian player) Brad Drewett – the feedback was generally negative… On 14 January, Drewett announces he would enter a transitionary period because of illness (Motor Neurone Disease). He dies four months afterwards at the age of 54.
January 3rd – Hopman Cup, the group stage. 16-year-old Thanasi Kokkinakis  of Australia is teamed up with Venus Williams of the USA versus Spain because John Isner pulls up lame with a knee injury. The following day Kokkinakis represents Germany, this time due to Tommy Haas‘ injured toe.
January 6th – Plantation |Futures|, qualifying third round. Two players from Monaco, 36-year-old unranked Guillaume Couillard and eight years younger Benjamin Balleret play an unimaginable 70-point tiebreaker in which the 636th-ranked Balleret prevails (36/34) and takes the 2nd set 6-1. “Neither of us sensed the first set would last so long. We were both really tight, because we know each other so well. We didn’t want to lose it. When we switched ends during the tie-break, with the score in the 20s and 30s, we were laughing,” says Balleret. The record is obviously unofficial, the official one remains “just” (20/18).
January 27th – Australian Open, the final. In a repeat of the US Open 2012 final, Novak Djokovic  takes a revenge on  Andy Murray prevailing 6-7 7-6 6-3 6-2. The first break of the match comes at 4:3 for the Serb in the 3rd set after almost three hours of play, never before in the Grand Slam final the crowd waited so long for the first break of serve. The Serb never looks back since then, overcoming Murray third straight year in Melbourne. The best player of the last two seasons, who claims his 35th title (6th major), says: “Winning it three in a row, it’s incredible. It’s very thrilling. I’m full of joy right now. It’s going to give me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season, that’s for sure.“
February 2nd – Davis Cup, the first round (Geneva). Lukas Rosol and Tomas Berdych win the longest doubles match in history (7 hours 1 minute) defeating Marco Chiudinelli and Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-7 24-22. There are 60 consecutive holds (!) since the late stage of the 3rd set, eventually Chiudinelli doesn’t maintain the pressure. He saves first match point on his serve in the last game (12th saved by the Swiss team), but at 30/40 commits a double fault. The guys of Switzerland lost the epic battle despite winning five more points in total (284-279)… Wawrinka lost the longest singles match of the season thirteen days before (in Melbourne to Novak Djokovic in 5:02).
February 6th – Vina del Mar, the second round. A long-awaited Rafael Nadal’s  arrival on tennis courts… The former world No. 1, who didn’t play 7 months 1 week, starts timorously losing opening service game, anyway quite comfortably beats  Federico Delbonis 6-3 6-2. Four days afterwards, Nadal unexpectedly loses in the final to Horacio Zeballos , nevertheless this tournament begins one of the best seasons in his career…
March 26th – Miami, the fourth round. Very low temperature (9 Celsius) perhaps is an important factor in one of the biggest upsets of 2013 as Tommy Haas  outplays Novak Djokovic 6-2 6-4 snapping his 14-match winning streak, avenging a 2-6 0-6 loss at the Hopman Cup three months before. The almost 35-year-old Haas becomes the second oldest player to beat No. 1 (a bit older was only Gianluca Pozzi as he defeated Andre Agassi at Queens Club ’00 thanks to retirement of the American).
March 31st – Miami, the final. This time there is brutal heat, and Andy Murray  struggles past David Ferrer 2-6 6-4 7-6 in 2 hours 45 minutes winning his first MP-down match since Autumn 2007. The match point at *5:6 is saved in exceptional circumstances – Ferrer  decides to stop the point challenging the ball – the hawk-eye system shows it was good: “I [made] my decision in that moment. It’s a bad moment now. I don’t want to think anymore about that. I want to forget as [fast] as possible.”
April 6th – Davis Cup, the quarterfinals (Boise). Ilija Bozoljac and Nenad Zimonjic defeat the Bryan brothers 7-6 7-6 5-7 4-6 15-13 – the least experienced and relatively obscure Bozoljac [ranked 1150 in doubles] is the best on the court, he returns amazingly while some of his second serves in the most crucial moments are faster than his first serves! This pivotal win considerably helps Serbia to stun the United States 3-1.
April 11th – Casablanca, the second round. Kevin Anderson  snaps an astonishing 34-match winning streak of 21-year-old Pablo Carreno Busta . The unknown Spaniard began the season as No. 654, he qualified to the tournament in Morocco having won seven Futures tournaments in a row (!) – one in Turkey, six in Spain. Carreno six months later will receive an award in London for Most Improved Player. “It was an incredible season, winning seven Futures titles,” says the Spaniard. “I improved my tennis and my [Emirates ATP] Ranking and I would love to be here next year at The O2.”
April 21st – Monte Carlo, the final. Rafael Nadal is finally beaten in Monaco! The Spaniard had won 46 straight matches (eight consecutive titles) out there until his toughest rival Novak Djokovic defeats him 6-2 7-6. The Spaniards states: “It is not a tragedy. I lost after eight years without losing here. Today, he was better than me… He’s a fantastic player. If you are not at 100 per cent, [it] is very difficult to win against these kinds of players.” The Monte Carlo resident Djokovic says: “I think anybody who saw my expression in the end saw that it was a very emotional win for the reasons [of] living here and what I’ve been through in the last two weeks” – referring to his twisted ankle during the Davis Cup weekend which could prevent him from entering the event.
May 8th – Madrid, the second round. No. 77 Robin Haase loses 6-7 6-7 to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga . The last tie-breaks lost by the Dutchman during his infamous streak that stretched at the main level over 14 months. Haase loses 17 tie-breaks in succession altogether (the previous longest losing streak belonged to Graham Stilwell, who had lost 15 tie-breaks in a row in years 1972-73).
June 1st – Roland Garros, the third round. Tommy Haas  squanders twelve match points (Open era record for a single set) in a 4th set (nine match points in 10th game), but ultimately survives twisted confrontation versus  John Isner 7-5 7-6 4-6 6-7 10-8, saving a match point *4:5 in 5th, earlier being *0:3 (30-all).
June 2nd – Roland Garros, the fourth round. There are records that seem untouchable, one of them belonged over eighty-six years to Henri Cochet, who triumphed at Wimbledon 1927 coming back from two sets down in three consecutive matches, however, nothing lasts forever… In the Open era several players managed to win two matches in a row trailing 0-2 in sets, but no-one did it three times until Paris ’13, when  Tommy Robredo upset fellow Spaniard  Nicolas Almagro 6-7 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-4 enjoying his third two-sets-to-love down win within five days.
June 9th – Roland Garros, the final. Another routine clay-court win, 6-3 6-2 6-3, and the undisputed king of that surface, Rafael Nadal  for the eight time becomes the French Open champion. The runner-up David Ferrer  notches his first major final at the age of 31: “To beat Rafael [on a] clay court, I need to play more aggressive. I need to finish the points at the net and play my best tennis to beat him. But when the court is slower, it’s very difficult. He has more power than me with his shots and it’s very difficult to beat him.” In the semifinal Nadal overcame  Novak Djokovic 9-7 in the decider, coming back from a *2:4 deficit.
June 24th – Wimbledon, the first round. The biggest upset of the season – Steve Darcis  plays a match of his life to leave  Rafael Nadal in disbelief: 7-6 7-6 6-4 on Court No. 1, snapping a 22-match wining streak of the Spaniard, who never lost in the first round of a major tournament before: “It is difficult to adapt your game on grass. Now is not the right time to talk about my knee. The only thing I can do is congratulate my opponent. It is not a tragedy, I lost, it is sport.” Darcis is spent, the following day he cannot raise his right arm and withdraws prior to his second round match against Lukasz Kubot.
June 26th – Wimbledon, the second round. Another shocker: seven-time champion of the tournament Roger Federer  is eliminated in the first week of a major for the first time since Roland Garros ’04 as he is defeated 7-6 6-7 5-7 6-7 by an inspired serve-and-volley display of Sergiy Stakhovsky . In the highly dramatic beautiful contest, the Ukrainian saves two break points at 5-all in the 3rd set, then is two points away from losing the 3rd, and saves a set point at *5:6 in the 4th. After the match he concisely sums up: “Magic”.
July 3rd – Wimbledon, the quarterfinal. In the entire history just five times a Polish player advanced to the major quarterfinals (four times it was Wojtek Fibak), losing in the last eight every time though. This time, two Poles face each other at this exceptionally prestigious stage, and Jerzy Janowicz  demonstrates awesome service performance (thirty aces, twenty-seven service winners) to dispatch  Lukasz Kubot 7-5 6-4 6-4.
July 7th – Wimbledon, the final. The longest tennis drought comes to an end – Andy Murray becomes the first British player to win a major title since Fred Perry in 1936 with a 6-4 7-5 6-4 win over Novak Djokovic in the longest (3:09 hrs) three set Grand Slam final in history. Murray erases deficits: *1:4 in 2nd & 2:4* in 3rd, then serves the championship out on his fourth match point in an amazing last game in which he was 40/0 up before saving three break points! The Scot says: “It was an unbelievably tough match, so many long games. I didn’t know what to do with myself. The noise levels during the whole match were just incredible.” Two rounds earlier, Murray came back from a two-sets-to-love deficit against Fernando Verdasco serving to stay in the tournament at 4:5 in the 5th set.
July 24th – Serb Viktor Troicki  is banned from playing tennis for eighteen months for failing to provide a blood sample in Monte Carlo three months before. The sanction had been supposed to end on 24 January ’15, but was reduced on appeal to one year, meaning he can play from the 15 July ’14… The other notable player – Marin Cilic – is baned in 2013 as well, for failing a drug test in Munich (May). He returns to the competition in November ’13 though.
July 28th – Washington, the final. The tallest final ever (208 vs. 202 cm): John Isner  in a no-break contest saves two match points and edges out  Kevin Anderson 6-7 7-6 7-6. Isner edges in aces too: 24-21. Anderson loses second time at the main level a match point-up match; ironically for the second time it is a all-tie-break battle against Isner.
July 27th – Umag, the semifinal. Fabio Fognini  leads 5:0 on serve against Gael Monfils , but wins 6-0 3-6 7-6 saving three match points at *5:6! It is the last win during Fognini’s staggering streak when he was unbeaten in 13 consecutive matches on clay. The Italian hadn’t won an ATP tournament in his first 150 main-level tournament, and all of a sudden claimed two titles in Germany (Stuttgart, Hamburg… in both events defeated 6-2 6-4 Tommy Haas in the quarterfinals) finishing as a runner-up in Umag, within three weeks.
August 5th – Montreal, the second round. 40-year-old Daniel Nestor becomes the first man to participate in twenty-five consecutive editions of an ATP event (the Canadian Open). Nestor teamed up with Robert Lindstedt beat Dominic Inglot/Jerzy Janowicz 6-3 6-4 in his first match of the commemorative tournament. Two weeks afterwards, Nestor records his 900th doubles match win in tandem with Leander Paes.
August 27th – US Open, the first round. A new star of the circuit, 23-year-old Canadian Vasek Pospisil  loses a five-setter dropping the two longest tie-breaks in a match as far as 3rd & 5th sets are concerned. Pospisil is defeated by  Rogerio Dutra Da Silva 6-4 6-3 6-7(9) 2-6 6-7(10). The match is suspended at 5:0 for Silva in the 4th set (Pospisil hadn’t any match point in the 3rd set). In the decider, the Brazilian saves a triple match point at *5:6, another ad-MP & three further match points at 6:7, 8:9 & 9:10* in the tie-break!
September 5th – US Open, the semifinal. The Bryan brothers’ quest for the calendar Grand Slam is over: Bob and Mike lose 6-3 3-6 4-6 to Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek, ending a 28-match winning streak in the Grand Slams and stopping their run two wins short of the Slam. The Aussie team of Ken McGregor and Frank Sedgman remains the only men’s doubles pairing to win all four majors in a single year, back in 1951.
September 9th – US Open, the final. Five finals in a row had been delayed by one day due to untimely weather conditions, and officials decided in December ’12 that another two finals would be played on a Monday night. In the first US Open Monday final according to the schedule, Rafael Nadal defeats Novak Djokovic 6-2 3-6 6-4 6-1, coming back from a *1:3 deficit in the 3rd set, in the arguably most important match of the season. “For a few things, this season is probably the most emotional one in my career,” says Nadal. “I felt I did everything right to have my chance here. You play one match against one of the best players in the history in Novak and No. 1 in the world on probably his favorite surface. I knew I had to be almost perfect to win.” Nadal has won two majors in 2013, Djokovic one, and a few weeks after their US Open final, the Spaniard returns to the top of men’s tennis after a 27-month break. It was 37th meeting between Nadal & Djokovic – they overcome the previous record established in 1992 by Ivan Lendl & John McEnroe.
September 29th – Kuala Lumpur, the final. An ATP title for the first time in history is won by a Portuguese man – it is Joao Sousa , who saves a match point (with forehand passing-shot down the line) during his win over Julien Benneteau 2-6 7-5 6-4. “I just feel great. I don’t realize, actually, what I just did out there but I just feel great,” explains the 24-year-old Sousa. Benneteau  drops to 0-9 in the main-level finals – the worst record in the Open era. In the first round of Challenger in Guimaraes (July), Sousa beat Benneteau’s younger brother –  Antoine 3-6 7-6 6-4 saving four match points, then went to win the title!
October 11th – Tashkent (Challenger), the quarterfinal. The Tunisian tennis federation orders Malek Jaziri  to withdraw from his match against Amir Weintraub  of Israel. The aftermath: Tunisia is suspended from the 2014 Davis Cup competition. Weintraub comments: “Jaziri is a good friend of mine, and he really wanted to play.”
October 15th – Stockholm, the first round. Swedish cameos: 31-year-old unranked qualifier Joachim ‘Pim-Pim’ Johansson, the former Top 10 player, demolishes  Alejandro Falla 6-1 6-3 in his first pro-match in more than two years. Johansson admittedly loses his another match, but 41-year-old Jonas Bjorkman (b. 1972), who didn’t play a pro-match over five years, goes to the final in doubles partnering Robert Lindstedt.
October 17th – Moscow, the second round. 17-year-old Karen Khachanov  of Russia, who hasn’t even played a Challenger event (just one Futures & one ATP tournament), dismisses a Top 10 player of the two previous seasons,  Janko Tipsarevic 6-4 6-4 not even facing a break point. Former No. 1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov ponders: “I watched him against Tipsarevic and I don’t say this, a lot, about many people, but this kid is the real deal. He doesn’t have the junior game anymore and he definitely knows what he’s doing on the court…”
November 3rd – Paris, the final. David Ferrer  becomes the first man since Fernando Gonzalez in 2006 to lose three finals within three weeks (failed seven consecutive final attempts in ’13; Brian Gottfried suffered eight final defeats in a row in ’77). The Spaniard having lost finals in Stockholm and Valencia, in Paris – as the defending champion – is outsmarted by Novak Djokovic, who wins 7-5 7-5 despite a *3:5 deficit in both sets. Although the finish of the season was quite unfortunate, Ferrer ends the year as No. 3 which interferes the five-year reign of the Big Four. Ferrer admits: “I think it was a really good match, really good rallies. I play maybe better than yesterday, and I lost.” In the semifinal he stopped a streak of nine consecutive defeats to Rafael Nadal.
November 11th – London, the final. Novak Djokovic notches 22nd consecutive win routinly dispatching 6-3 6-4 Rafael Nadal. The Serb had tremendous conclusion of the ATP season, but Nadal needed just two wins in London to secure himself No. 1 in the end of the year. Both players are more than 7000 points ahead of No. 3 David Ferrer! “We push each other to the limit [and] we make each other better,” says Djokovic on rivalry versus Nadal. “We make each other work harder on our games, especially when we play against each other. It’s always a huge challenge.” In doubles at the World Tour Finals, just like a year before, triumph unexpectedly Spanish debutants: in 2012 it was a Granollers-M.Lopez pair, the sensational champions in ’13 are 30-year-old Fernando Verdasco & three years older journeyman David Marrero.
November 17th – Davis Cup, the final (Belgrade). Second all-Slavic final in the 113-year-old Davis Cup history. Serbs are deprived of injured (heel) Janko Tipsarevic & banned Viktor Troicki, and Radek Stepanek  wins decisive fifth rubber in the Davis Cup finals for the second time in his career as the third man in history (joining Henri Cochet & Fred Perry, 1920s-1930s). The Czech dismisses Challenger level player  Dusan Lajovic 6-3 6-1 6-1 under two hours. “I don’t think words can describe it,” says almost 35-year-old Stepanek. “To defend this trophy means the world for us and our country. We waited 32 years for the second title and now we are one of five countries that have been able to defend the title.”
<<< DESCRIPTIVE SUMMARY >>>
Rafael Nadal & Novak Djokovic: these two players compete in their own informal league in this decade: Nadal has won 19 big titles (seven majors & twelve ‘Masters 1K’ titles) while Djokovic 18 (five & eleven respectively + Word Tour Finals twice…. Roger Federer just nine in total). Their rivalry in 2013 was excited to the end, Nadal finishes the year as the best player in the world for the third time despite losing their last two encounters. The Mallorcan was able to secure the top spot – looking in retrospect – actually thanks to his win over the Serb in the US Open final… They needed eight years to have established the biggest “head-to-head” in the Open era (thirty-nine meetings against each other already!) – Ivan Lendl & John McEnroe – the previous holders of this record, manufactured thirty-six mutual meetings within thirteen years; it allows me to predict that Nadal & Djokovic will have played against each other at least fifty times when they finish their careers. Andy Murray looked like a potential contender to interfere in this rivalry, but the first six months of this year cost him too much, and back injury forced him to skip the last quarter of the season. He isn’t a worse player than ‘DjoDal’, I’d even say he’s better from the ‘tech-tact’ point of view, but not strong enough considering physical preparation, and not so determined to keep the same level week-in week-out, so I don’t expect him to reach the very top as long as Nadal & Djokovic are around.
Men’s tennis has turned into a sport of veterans 😉 Twenty-nine over-30-year-olds finished the season in the Top 100 (35-year-old Tommy Haas is a Top 20 player, he is the oldest player in the elite since Andre Agassi in 2005). This trend should be maintained in the next couple of years because there are many 28-, 29-year-old players still competing on the high level. It’s not a good circumstance for the dynamism of this sport. We constantly see the same faces play∓ing against each ot/h4her, and what’s more upsetting – some players of the elite are helpless in match ups against the best players of the best: Stanislas Wawrinka (0-12 vs. Nadal, 2-15 vs. Djokovic), Richard Gasquet (0-12 vs. Nadal, 1-10 vs. Djokovic). Tennis hasn’t ever been as predictable as nowadays at the crucial stages of the biggest tournaments. I don’t think it’s going to change soon because the development of…
…occurs at a slow rate. The most talented players born in the 90s that have emerged thus far (Milos Raonic, Jerzy Janowicz, Grigor Dimitrov & Bernard Tomic) are more or less in the same place where they were a year before. Dimitrov & Tomic admittedly won their first titles in 2013, but at Slams they didn’t show anything special which would allow me to expect them to do some real damage. Among these four players, Janowicz has the biggest potential in my opinion, but he needs to do something with his serve. I cannot comprehend like a player with his height and fluent service technique can serve on more important ad-court so far from the center mark! In the right-side picture comparison of his standing to the best two right-handed players right now, using double-handed BH too (Andy Murray & Novak Djokovic). In regard of this ridiculous standing, Janowicz struggles to win games when he faces break points against the elite players because they know that due to the place where he stands, he can’t surprise them with a sliced serve down the T (he doesn’t use a kick out-wide often too); his possibilities to create interesting angles are limited. Another thing: it’s tough to approach the net directly behind the serve standing so far from the center mark, too match space on the right side is open for a serve-and-volley action. I understood Magnus Gustafsson who had been serving even farther from the center mark on ad-court, because he had his game-plan adjusted to his dominant forehand. Even when Janowicz stays in the back of the court behind the serve (which actually always happens on ad-court), he doesn’t need to cover the backhand because it’s a good shot in his repertoir, quite balanced comparing to the other wing… He needs to do something with this serve to be a real deal, otherwise he will be another “Tsonga” – good to watch but too predictable to beat the Top 5 players. In turn Raonic should be working hard on his backhand. His game-plan reminds me of… Tsonga’s – the Canadian tries to cover the left side as much as possible and puts himself under constant pressure in tight moments when plays a point behind his second serve. Dimitrov is a complete player, but he should change the ratio of topspins to slice off the backhand wing; I see the improvement in this department, but the slice is still overused on a regular basis. Unfortunately Tomic seems to be a January man – he plays the best tennis in the first month of the year in his home country. Perhaps problems with his father affect his mind, but if he gets his act together, he will enter the Top 20 soon… Two interesting youngsters have broken through to the Top 100 this year: Raonic’s peer and countryman – Vasek Pospisil & one year younger Pablo Carreno-Busta. Pospisil is refreshing: very good serve, a lot of creativeness at the net, yet solidly flexible in defense. If he stays healthy and improves the mentality, he may take part in the most entertaining matches in the upcoming years, rather on faster surfaces; in turn Carreno-Busta should be a distinctive player on clay-courts. This year he notched an amazing streak of winning matches in the Futures tournaments, then spent a lot of time at the Challenger circuit to get as much experience as could, but next year he will be regularly playing at the main level. Carreno-Busta reminds me of Juan Carlos Ferrero, whose astonishing streak in Satellites ’99 was snapped also in Casablanca. There’s even something similar in faces and game-styles of the two Spaniards, anyway I don’t expect Carreno-Busta to enjoy similar successes to JCF… During the Russian indoor events, out of nowhere popped out 17-year-old Russian – Karen Kachanov (b. 1996). He managed to beat quite easily such experienced players like Victor Hanescu & Janko Tipsarevic. I saw fragments of his match against the Serb, and I must admit I thought he would be the best player in the world in 2018 (very intuitive prediction)… Below Top 100 players born in the 90s and their ranking last year:
13 – 11, Milos Raonic (27.12.1990)
26 – 21, Jerzy Janowicz (13.11.1990)
48 – 23, Grigor Dimitrov (16.05.1991)
125 – 32, Vasek Pospisil (23.06.1990)
52 – 51, Bernard Tomic (21.10.1992)
133 – 55, Federico Delbonis (05.10.1990)
654 – 65, Pablo Carreno-Busta (12.07.1991)
263 – 82, Jiri Vesely (10.07.1993)
150 – 91, Jack Sock (24.09.1992)
97 – 93, Guido Pella (17.05.1990)
81 – 97, Evgeny Donskoy (09.05.1990) – regress
It was a fantastic year for Vasek Pospisil, who actually within a few months turned from a Challenger random guy into a potentially seeded player in Slams ’14. How good the year could have been if he had won more tight matches? The young Canadian suffered four five-set defeats, three of them were really dramatic:
– Roland Garros: H.Zeballos 6-7(9) 4-6 7-6(4) 6-2 6-8…
*4:2 (30/15) & 6:5 (30-all) in the 5th set
– Wimbledon: M.Youzhny 2-6 7-6(3) 6-7(7) 6-3 4-6…
4:2* (30-all) in the 5th set
– US Open: R.Dutra Silva 6-4 6-3 6-7(9) 2-6 6-7(10)…
seven match points in the 5th set
Moreover he notched a painful loss (figuratively & literally – as he stumbled and fell down trying to save fifth match point in a tense tie-break vs. Janko Tipsarevic) in the Davis Cup semifinal, and lost three matches in deciding 3rd set tie-breaks, also 5-7 in the deciding set to Roger Federer leading *3:1; in the meantime notched ten tie-breaks lost in a row. Despite all those unfortunate defeats he made a huge progress in 2013, so with better luck/mental toughness, the Top 20 next year seems within his grasp… Consolation: at Challenger level, Pospisil won three MP-down matches in 2013 and took part in two titanic Davis Cup victories in doubles.
Five distinctive players aged 31-34 finished their careers in 2013: Igor Andreev, James Blake, Xavier Malisse, Nicolas Massu & David Nalbandian. The loss of Andy Roddick & Blake within twelve months, it’s been a huge blow for the American tennis, especially that Mardy Fish struggles with injuries and he will likely be another Yankee to call it a career – at the US Open ’14. I wouldn’t be surprised if two other players born in 1981 followed the suit next year: Nikolay Davydenko & Victor Hanescu.
Cameos & slumps
The USA have been in a slump for 3-4 years and it won’t change anytime soon. Guys like Jack Sock, Ryan Harrison, Steve Johnson & Rhyne Williams are nowhere near to replace Roddick, Blake, Fish & Robby Ginepri (also sensed probable retirement in ’14). At least the young Americans are the Top 50 materials; Sweden – the biggest power in men’s tennis beside the United States in the 80s – has actually notched an imaginable slump. There were six Swedes in the Top 20 at the end of 1986, today the highest ranked Swede, Markus Eriksson is No. 417. This dramatic situation caused resurrecting of Joachim Johansson (b. 1982) & Jonas Bjorkman (b. 1972) in Stockholm. The former played (singles) his first tournament in more than two years, the latter his first (doubles) in five years. Pim-Pim with his awesome serve is still potentially a Top 100 player, but I guess he would be around only if the entire season was held in Europe, indoors… Russia won the Davis Cup twice in the previous decade, it won’t be repeated in the 10s. The current three best Russians: Mikhail Youzhny, Dmitry Tursunov & Nikolay Davydenko – all have turned 30 and their time is counted…
The first full decade of the Open era it was a time of the Australian & American dominance in men’s tennis. In the 80s & 90s the USA remained its status, Australia declined, more South American and European countries joined the race. Over twenty years, as far as Europe is concerned, the Roman & German countries were superior to the Slavic ones. It’s been changed in the last two decades, and now the Slavs are the leading European force. Let’s compare:
The number of Slavic players in the Top 100 at the end of seasons in ten-year intervals since the ATP ranking inception:
1973: Jan Kodes, Nikola Pilic, Jiri Hrebec, Boro Jovanovic, Zeljko Franulovic, Milan Holecek, Vladimir Zednik – 7
1983: Ivan Lendl, Tomas Smid, Wojtek Fibak, Pavel Slozil, Marko Ostoja – 5
1993: Andrei Medvedev, Goran Ivanisevic, Petr Korda, Karel Novacek, Alexander Volkov, Ivan Lendl, Andrei Chesnokov, Andrei Cherkasov, Slava Dosedel, Martin Damm, David Rikl – 11
2003: Jiri Novak, Max Mirnyi, Karol Kucera, Ivan Ljubicic, Mikhail Youzhny, Nikolay Davydenko, Radek Stepanek, Dominik Hrbaty, Ivo Karlovic, Mario Ancic, Igor Andreev, Dmitry Tursunov – 12
2013: Novak Djokovic, Tomas Berdych, Mikhail Youzhny, Jerzy Janowicz, Grigor Dimitrov, Dmitry Tursunov, Ivan Dodig, Janko Tipsarevic, Marin Cilic, Radek Stepanek, Lukas Rosol, Nikolay Davydenko, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Michal Przysiezny, Lukas Lacko, Lukasz Kubot, Viktor Troicki, Ivo Karlovic, Jiri Vesely, Teymuraz Gabashvili, Aljaz Bedene, Evgeny Donskoy, Oleksandr Nedovyesov, Sergiy Stakhovsky – 24
The progress in Slavic countries is reflected in the the Davis Cup finals:
70s: Czechoslovakia (1975 – runner-up)
80s: Czechoslovakia (1980 – champion)
90s: Russia (1994-95 – runner-up)
00s: Russia (2002 & 2006 – champion, 2007 – runner-up), Croatia d. Slovakia (2005), Czechs (2009 – runner-up)
10s: Serbia (2010 – champion), Czechs (2012 – champion), Czechs d. Serbia (2013)
<<< STATISTICAL SUMMARY >>>
65 tournaments (22 – clay; 19 – outdoor hard; 18 – indoors; 6 – grass) were played in the 2012 season within 45 weeks (two weeks shorter season than 2011). Below the list of titlist:
10 – Rafael Nadal
7 – Novak Djokovic
4 – Juan Martin del Potro, Andy Murray
3 – Richard Gasquet
2 – David Ferrer, Fabio Fognini, Ernests Gulbis, Tommy Haas, John Isner, Nicolas Mahut, Milos Raonic, Tommy Robredo, Mikhail Youzhny
1 – Carlos Berlocq, Marin Cilic, Grigor Dimitrov, Roger Federer, Marcel Granollers, Ivo Karlovic, Feliciano Lopez, Jurgen Melzer, Juan Monaco, Albert Montanes, Kei Nishikori, Lukas Rosol, Gilles Simon, Joao Sousa, Janko Tipsarevic, Bernard Tomic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Stanislas Wawrinka & Horacio Zeballos
Most matches won:
75 – Rafael Nadal
74 – Novak Djokovic
60 – David Ferrer
53 – Tomas Berdych
51 – Juan Martin del Potro
Longest winning streaks:
24 – Novak Djokovic
22 – Rafael Nadal (twice)
18 – Rafael Nadal
17 – Novak Djokovic
13 – Fabio Fognini & Andy Murray
Leaders by surface:
hard (outdoors & indoors): Novak Djokovic – 53
clay: Rafael Nadal – 39
indoors: Novak Djokovic – 17
grass: Andy Murray – 12
Singles & doubles winners: Nicolas Mahut (Newport)
Wild Cards winners: Rafael Nadal (Sao Paulo), Juan Monaco (Dusseldorf), Nicolas Mahut (Newport), Juan Martin del Potro (Washington & Tokyo), Gilles Simon (Metz)
Qualifying winners: Ernests Gulbis (Delray Beach)
Lucky loser winners: none
Oldest winner: Tommy Haas – 35 years 6 months (Vienna)
Youngest winner: Bernard Tomic – 20 years 2 months (Sydney)
Lowest ranked winner: Nicolas Mahut – No. 240 (‘s-Hertogenbosch)
First time title winners:
18 – Joao Sousa (Kuala Lumpur)
45 – Lukas Rosol (Bucharest)
47 – Horacio Zeballos (Vina del Mar)
50 – Bernard Tomic (Sydney)
74 – Grigor Dimitrov (Stockholm)
120 – Carlos Berlocq (Bastad)
136 – Nicolas Mahut (‘s-Hertogenbosch)
151 – Fabio Fognini (Stuttgart)
3 hrs. 40 min. Novak Djokovic d. Andy Murray 6-7, 7-6, 6-3, 6-2 (Australian Open)
62 min. Tommy Robredo d. Fabio Fognini 6-0, 6-3 (Umag)
Longest matches (best of 5):
5 hrs. 2 min. Novak Djokovic d. Stanislas Wawrinka 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7, 12-10 (Australian Open)
4 hrs. 52 min. Blaz Kavcic d. James Duckworth 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7, 10-8 (Australian Open)
4 hrs. 44 min. Radu Albot d. Joao Sousa 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 11-9 (Davis Cup)
Longest matches (best of 3):
3 hrs. 26 min. Martin Alund d. Markus Eriksson 7-5, 6-7, 7-6 (Bastad)
3 hrs. 17 min. Federico Delbonis d. Fernando Verdasco 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 (Hamburg)
3 hrs. 6 min. Grigor Dimitrov d. Novak Djokovic 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 (Madrid)
Bogota: Ivo Karlovic d. Igor Sijsling 6-3, 7-6(14)
Longest tie-break in the deciding set:
s-Hertogenbosch: Roberto Bautista-Agut d. Stephane Bohli 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(12)
Most match points saved:
7 – Rogerio Dutra Da Silva d. Vasek Pospisil 4-6, 3-6, 7-6, 6-2, 7-6 (US Open)
Most set points saved:
6 – Feliciano Lopez d. Gilles Simon 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (Wimbledon)
Gilles Simon d. Paolo Lorenzi 6-3 3-6 7-5 (Indian Wells)… 0:3 in the 1st, and 0:4 in the 3rd set, then 2:5* (15/40), 3:5 (30/40)…
Match point(s) saved title winners:
– Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, saved 5 MPs in Quarterfinal (B.Tomic) and 1 MP in Final (T.Berdych), Marseille
– Andy Murray, saved 1 MP in Final (D.Ferrer), Miami
– Fabio Fognini, saved 3 MPs in Final (F.Delbonis), Hamburg
– Mikhail Youzhny, saved 3 MPs in Quarterfinal (against J.Monaco), Gstaad
– John Isner, saved 2 MPs in Final (against K.Anderson), Atlanta
– Joao Sousa, saved 1 MP in Final (against J.Benneteau), Kuala Lumpur
Most tie-breaks won:
1. John Isner – 38
2. Novak Djokovic – 22
3. Juan Martin del Potro – 21
4. Milos Raonic – 20
5. Bernard Tomic – 19
Best tie-breakers by percentage (at least 10 played):
1. Dmitry Tursunov 16-6 (.72)
2. Rafael Nadal 18-7 (.72)
3. Andy Murray 16-7 (.69)
4. Novak Djokovic 22-10 (.68)
5. Juan Martin del Potro 21-12 (.63)
Most aces served throughout the year:
1. John Isner – 979
2. Milos Raonic – 883
3. Kevin Anderson – 651
4. Nicolas Almagro – 622
5. Sam Querrey – 576
Aces per match:
1. Ivo Karlovic – 17.3
2. John Isner – 16.3
3. Milos Raonic – 14.7
4. Sam Querrey – 12.8
5. Vacek Pospisil – 11.2
Most aces in a match:
39 – Milos Raonic (US Open) 5 sets, lost to Richard Gasquet
38 – Ivo Karlovic (US Open) 5 sets, defeated James Blake
36 – Sam Querrey (Wimbledon) 5 sets, lost to Bernard Tomic
Qualifying leader: 6 – Daniel Brands & Santiago Giraldo
Biggest H2H: 6 – Rafael Nadal vs. Novak Djokovic (3-3)
Double bagels: Doha: M.Safwat – J.Al Mutawa 6-0 6-0, Rotterdam: J.Nieminen – D.Goffin 6-0 6-0; Halle: R.Federer – M.Zverev 6-0 6-0
11 – Bob Bryan & Mike Bryan
6 – Bruno Soares
5 – Alexander Peya
4 – David Marrero
3 – Raven Klaasen, Max Mirnyi, Jamie Murray, Leander Paes, John Peers, Edouard Roger-Vasselin, Horia Tecau, Nenad Zimonjic,
2 – Julien Benneteau, Rohan Bopanna, Johan Brunstrom, Martin Emmrich, Colin Fleming, Santiago Gonzalez, Christopher Kas, Julia Knowle, Scott Lipsky, Michael Llodra, Marcelo Melo, Daniel Nestor, Filip Polasek, Aisam Ul-Haq Qureshi, Jean-Julien Rojer, Fernando Verdasco
Most matches won:
Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan – 70
Most match points saved:
7 – two matches (Knowle/Polasek & Benneteau/Zimonjic – winners)
Ivo Karlovic/Divij Sharan d. Adil Shamasdin/John-Patrick Smith 6-4 4-6 [19-17], Newport
Match tie-break leaders (by percentage):
David Marrero/Fernando Verdasco 14-6 (.700)