Busy Month on ATP Tour Sees Federer Claim Title #100, Monfils Return to Form
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
After Novak Djokovic claimed the Australian Open title, the ATP season roared into February with multiple 500 level events and a number of 250s on clay and hard courts across the globe. Here is your look at all the action for the month that was.
ATP MontpellierEmbed from Getty Images
Veteran Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won an all French final in this indoor 250 6-4 6-2 against Pierre-Hugues Herbert. The veteran beat Gilles Simon, Jeremy Chardy and Radu Albot in consecutive matches to reach the final, overall he defeated four French players to win the tournament. PHH upset Denis Shapovalov and Tomas Berdych to reach the final.
ATP SofiaEmbed from Getty Images
Bulgaria’s only ATP event was won by the in-form Daniil Medvedev 6-4 6-3 against Marton Fucsovics. Fucsovics had a breakthrough after upsetting Andreas Sepi and getting a walkover against Roberto Bautista Agut in the quarters (then edging Matteo Berrettini in the semis). Medvedev got past Gael Monfils in the semis and prior to that he scored wins against Robin Haase and Martin Klizan in consecutive matches. Medvedev’s win helped him reach the top 15, he’s now 1-1 in ATP finals this year.
On clay in Argentina home hero and wild card Juan Ignacio Londero won his first ever ATP title prevailing against Guido Pella 3-6 7-5 6-1 in a huge moment for him. Londero’s breakthrough pushed him to a new career high in the top 70 and he beat clay courters Nicolas Jarry and Federico Delbonis most notably to make the final. Pella had a good month edging Paolo Lorenzi, Diego Schwartzman, Albert Ramos, and Pablo Cuevas to reach the final in what was a tough path for a 250.
ATP New York
The first ATP 250 in the States this year saw Reilly Opelka lift his first title in three sets 6-1 6-7 7-6 against maiden finalist Brayden Schnur, a Canadian. Opelka also upset top American John Isner, while Schnur edged Sam Querrey in the semis. Opelka’s powerful serve was a difference maker and he should be a factor in Indian Wells and Miami coming up.
ATP Buenos Aires
The 250 on clay in Buenos Aires resulted in Marco Cecchinato’s third career ATP title 6-1 6-2 against home player Diego Schwartzman. Schwartzman upset Dominic Thiem and also beat Aljaz Bedene and Albert Ramos to reach the final. Cecchinato beat Christian Garin, Roberto Carballes Baena, and Guido Pella to reach the final, three accomplished clay courters. This was a great result for Cecchinato outside of Europe.
ATP RotterdamEmbed from Getty Images
Gael Monfils returned to form winning his 8th career title 6-3 1-6 6-2 against fellow veteran Stan Wawrinka. It was a thrilling moment played in good spirits and filled with joy for both players who have overcome injuries and adversity to return to the top of the game. Monfils 500 level title included wins against Daniil Medvedev, and David Goffin. Wawrinka upset Milos Raonic, Denis Shapovalov, and Kei Nishikori before falling short in the final. Both players would love to contend at the slam level again.
ATP RioEmbed from Getty Images
The Rio 500 on clay was the top event on the Golden Swing and Serbia’s Laslo Djere claimed his first title 6-3 7-5 against young gun Felix Auger-Aliassime. FAA played well but Djere was the player of the week, as he upset Dominic Thiem and also claimed wins against clay courters Casper Ruud and Aljaz Bedene to reach the final. FAA defeated Fabio Fognini, Christian Garin, Jaume Munar, and Pablo Cuevas to reach the final, showing his all court talent that is set to make him a top 20 player in the near future. Djere broke into the top 40 with the win, the tournament was filled with upsets.
Young gun Stefanos Tsitsipas found form and got past Mikhail Kukushkin 7-5 7-6 in the final after defeating David Goffin, and Sergiy Stakhovsky in the late rounds to reach the final. Kukushkin upset Denis Shapovalov and Andrey Rublev before getting a winnable semi against Ugo Humbert. This indoor hard court 250 saw some early round upsets but in the end the #1 seed Tsitsipas won his second career title.
ATP Delray BeachEmbed from Getty Images
Radu Albot made history, winning his first career title and breaking into the top 60 with a 3-6 6-3 7-6 win against Dan Evans in a battle of journeymen in the Delray 250 hard court final. Evans edged John Isner in the semis and upset Frances Tiafoe in round 1 while Albot got past big servers Ivo Karlovic and Nick Kyrgios before nipping Americans Steve Johnson and McKenzie McDonald to reach the final.
ATP DubaiEmbed from Getty Images
Roger Federer won his 100th career title at the Dubai 500 6-4 6-4 on hard courts against the in-form Stefanos Tsitsipas. Federer found form late in the tournament after dropping sets against Philipp Kohlschreiber and Fernando Verdasco in the first two matches. Marton Fucsovics and Borna Coric were his quarterfinal and semifinal opposition, while Tsitsipas had a relatively easy path until Gael Monfils was his semifinal opponent and he prevailed in that match in a third set tiebreak. The young Greek played well but Federer was just too good.
ATP AcapulcoEmbed from Getty Images
The Acapulco 500 was won by the struggling big server Nick Kyrgios 6-3 6-4, as he defeated Alexander Zverev in a battle of talented finalists. Kyrgios was focused on the week, edging John Isner in the semis, Rafael Nadal in the second round, and Stan Wawrinka in the quarters while Zverev had a smooth path that included Alex De Minaur in the quarters and Cam Norrie in the semis. Kyrgios has always had the talent to be an elite player, if he can keep this form he will contend in both upcoming Masters tournaments, but that can’t be predicted.
ATP Sao Paulo
Argentina’s Guido Pella won his first ATP title, winning the 250 on clay to close the Golden Swing 7-5 6-3 against Christian Garin. Pella edged Laslo Djere in the semis, while Garin upset Ruud. Pella didn’t have the toughest draw (Roberto Carballes Baena and Marco Trungelliti) but it was still a massive accomplishment to win his first title.