The 2018 Rogers Cup final should be long remembered for the emergence of Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas on the ATP’s biggest stage. Tsitsipas reached his first Masters 1000 final (likely the first of many) with four top 10 wins in a single tournament. Against Rafael Nadal he put in a tremendous effort only to fall in straight sets 6-2 7-6(4) in an hour and 43 minutes. Nadal won all but 2 points on his first serve and was only broken once despite Tsitispas best tennis in the second set. Nadal got off to a smooth start, overwhelming Tsitsipas with two breaks to take it with ease. In set 2 Nadal broke in the first game and looked set to run away with it, but Tsitsipas battled back breaking for 5-5. He had a set point to force a third set at 6-5 but he lost it by a netcord and then lost the ensuing tiebreak.
It’s the 4th Rogers Cup for world #1 Nadal, his 5th title of the season, and his first hard court title of the season. Nadal dropped just one set in the tournament, easing past Benoit Paire and Stan Wawrinka before being pushed to 3 sets against Marin Cilic. In the semifinals Nadal took on young gun Karen Khachanov and defeated him in straight sets.
Tsitsipas claimed early wins against Damir Dzumhur and Dominic Thiem, then he stunned Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev, and Kevin Anderson in consecutive three set matches his last four wins coming against an extremely high level of competition. Tsitsipas reached the semis in Washington last week and has been in tremendous form this Summer.
Roger Federer captured Grand Slam #18 at the age of 35 this past weekend with his five set victory over long time rival Rafael Nadal 6-4 3-6 6-1 3-6 6-3. Federer turned back the clock for two weeks in Melbourne, after missing of half of 2016 due to a back injury. The swiss legend took advantage of the quick surface in Melbourne to gain key advantages against Rafa in the three sets he won. Nadal was broken early in the three sets he lost, and in the fifth set, he was up a break, but lost it, going on to surrender the match. When Federer slipped into more passive play, Nadal took advantage with his topspin forehand, but from the start of the second week, with Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray defeated, the tournament looked to be Federer’s to lose.
Federer had not won a title since 2015, and hadn’t won a slam since 2012, many thought he had at most a couple years left on tour. He still may have a couple of years left, but those years are all the sudden looking a lot more promising. The injury layoff gave Federer time to rest and recuperate, and in the right conditions, his ability to play masterful attack tennis is still good enough to beat almost every ATP player on tour.
Federer also showed renewed stamina, outside of his three set victory over Mischa Zverev, who served and volleyed his way into the quarterfinals, ending Andy Murray’s bid for a first AO title, the two other Federer victories to reach the final in week 2 were in five sets. Semifinalist Stan Wawrinka couldn’t keep up sustained pressure after coming back from 2 sets to 1 down. Kei Nishikori also forced a fifth set against Federer, but his serving wasn’t strong enough to take the 5th in their round of 16 match.
Nadal was an underdog all tournament, having not won a hard court title since early 2014. The 30 year old Spaniard was pushed to his limits against Grigor Dimitrov, in his second five set contest of the tournament, but in the end, Nadal’s experience and poise was too much for the less accomplished Dimitrov, who has been playing great tennis in 2017. Milos Raonic and Gael Monfils were Nadal’s two other victims, despite being top 10 players, they were no match for Rafa’s movement, and forehand pace.
Federer’s victory and Nadal’s finals appearance sets up an intriguing 2017 season. Djokovic and Murray remain the overall top 2 players, and should compete as co-favorites for the remaining three Grand Slam titles this season. At Wimbledon and the French Open however, Federer and Nadal will have key roles to play. A renewed Federer is dangerous on a fast grass court, especially if he continues to hit the ball as flat as he did against Nadal. A healthy Nadal remains the king of clay, and has a fantastic shot at winning yet another title in Paris.
Dimitrov has shown signs that he could solidify a spot in the top 10, after an excellent start to 2017. His performance at the eight Masters 1000 tournaments this season will go a long way towards determing his fate however. Dimitrov has historically failed to live up to expectations in clutch moments.
Wawrinka also showed he’s not going to drop from the top 5 anytime soon, having his Swiss countryman back playing at a top level should push Wawrinka to up his game as well. Wawrinka and Dimitrov were both masterful in their quarterfinal matches, defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and David Goffin respectively.
Players on the second tier of the ATP tour in terms of accomplishment, such as Monfils, Raonic, Nishikori, and Marin Cilic are going to have to play much better if they are going to threaten the tour’s core of Djokovic, Murray, Wawrinka, and once again Federer and Nadal. They benefited from Federer and Nadal’s relative absence, especially on hard courts, but the competition level of the ATP tour just rose. Young guns such as Alexander Zverev, and Dominic Thiem are also fast improving too.
Henri Kontinen and John Peers took home the doubles title, defeating the legendary Bryan Brothers in straight sets. The Finnish/Aussie duo rose to prominence in 2016, and brought joy to home fans already in 2017.
Roger Federer failed to put together consecutive top class performances, and it was Novak Djokovic who once again walked away with the Wimbledon title. The 2015 trophy is his third at the All-England club, and he’s the first repeat winner at Wimbledon on the men’s side since Federer in the mid 2000’s. Djokovic has now won two slams this year, and continues to be secure in the world #1 ranking spot, as he’s the best player in the men’s game right now by some margin.
Djokovic beat Federer in three hours, and four sets 7-6(1) 6-7(10) 6-4 6-3, as Federer fought hard to try and get the first two sets, but his quality declined over the final two frames. In set 1 Federer went up a break 4-2, but lost his serve the next game, he would later have two set point chances on Djokovic’s serve at 5-6, but Novak saved them both in a long service game, and then rolled through the tiebreak as Federer’s chances disappeared.
The Swiss would fight back in the second, even after failing to convert two more break point chances at 2-2. He staved off a set point serving 4-5, and then in the second set tiebreak saved an incredible six set points, including three consecutive down 3-6 in the tiebreak, before finally converting his second set point serving 11-10 in the tiebreak.
At this point Djokovic was angry, but he used that anger to fuel his game to another gear, a gear that Federer lacked. After dealing with an assault of winners from Fed, and some sloppy errors on his part in the first two sets, Djokovic buckled down and broke for 2-1 in the third, after failing to convert two break points in the opening service game of set 3. There would be a rain delay a couple of games later, but Federer didn’t look any better coming out of it, as Djokovic held the rest of the way and took the third 6-4, forcing Federer into a difficult position.
In set 4, Federer appeared to struggle with the wind and his error count went up considerably, he lost his serve at 2-3, and never recovered, failing to generate a break point on the Djokovic serve. At 3-5 he was broken again, gifting Djokovic the match on his first match point. Statistically, both men served at a similar level, but Djokovic was more efficient facing break point, as he saved 6 out of 7, while Fed saved 6 of 10, after previously only being broken once all tournament. Djokovic was also cleaner from the baseline as he slapped 46 winners compared to 16 errors, while Federer had a 58/35 spread. Simply put, Djokovic’s superior returning was enough to win the day against his elder rival as the Serbian sporting legend demonstrated he has shaken off any mental cobwebs from his shocking French Open final defeat to Wawrinka.
Surely Djokovic will enter the summer Masters tournaments, and the US Open as the favorite as he bids to win 3 out of 4 slams on the season. Federer meanwhile demonstrated he still has more good matches left in him, as his play at times this week was fantastic, even compared to his level of play in his prime. Winning a five set match against a physical opponent will likely continue to be a tough ask in a slam final, but Federer remains as the world #2 for good reason, and his longevity and grace is something to behold, as we truly are in a great era for men’s tennis.
In the second week, it was infact Djokovic that had to fight harder to reach the final, he shockingly went down 2-0 against Kevin Anderson, as the South African won a pair of tough tiebreaks 8-6 and was serving at a peak level, a level Djokovic was dazed by. The world #1 would do what world #1’s do however, as he found the spirit within himself to wake up, and remind Anderson beating the best in the world doesn’t come easy. He won the third set 6-1, and the fourth 6-4 as Anderson collapsed under the pressure of trying to pull off what would have been a massive upset. At this point, darkness suspended the match, and the next day Djokovic came out and won the fifth set 7-5. Anderson fought harder than expected to try to recover and finish the upset, but Djokovic had that extra gear that Kev couldn’t reach, in what was the biggest test for Novak of the 2015 tournament.
He went on to roll past a fatigued Marin Cilic in straights 6-4 6-4 6-4, and then outplayed, and outworked Richard Gasquet, a surprise semifinalist 7-6(2) 6-4 6-4. Gasquet played some of the best tennis of his career, as he upset Stan Wawrinka in the semifinals 11-9 in the 5th set. Wawrinka played well overall, as grass isn’t his best fit as a surface, and his first four wins were great, but Gasquet’s backhand befuddled him and he couldn’t get over the hump. It was an accomplishment for the classy French veteran to reach a grand slam semifinal as a 21 seed regardless, in round 4 Gasquet beat Nick Kyrgios in a close fourth set tiebreak, erasing the awful memory of his defeat last year against the volatile young Aussie.
As for Federer, he had little trouble against Roberto Bautista Agut, who was hampered by a sprained ankle and fell in straights, and then he beat Gilles Simon, another Frenchman who had a successful tournament, but had little to threaten the world #2. Simon beat Gael Monfils and Tomas Berdych on the week, but lost to Federer in 3 sets. In the semis, it was Andy Murray, who was also playing great tennis at Wimbledon. Murray came into the match as a slight favorite after a pair of week two wins over the big serving Ivo Karlovic in four sets, and surprise quarterfinalist Vasek Pospisil in three sets. Pospisil was the player who took advantage of the soft section in the draw, and reached his first ever slam quarterfinal, as he continues to occasionally show he still is a player with promise, especially on fast surfaces that suit his underrated serve.
Murray didn’t play poorly at all against Federer as he kept his first serve % high, and his error count relatively low, but Federer was simply stunning, putting up one of the serving performances of his career. The world #3 and UK number #1 often failed to generate even half chances against the Federer serve, and the Swiss broke when needed with his controlled aggression, world-class forehand and crisp volleys to take the match 7-5 7-5 6-4. His home fan base was certainly disappointed, but Murray really did all he could this tournament, and Federer on the day was just too good for anyone, as Murray again came up short in his quest to win another Wimbledon. All the same he’s had a good, and consistently top-tier year as he appears healthy, and happy with his tennis.
In the men’s doubles a surprise final took place as the #4 seeds Jean-Julien Rojer, and Horia Tecau beat Jamie Murray, the brother of Andy, and his partner John Peers the #13 seeds 7-6(5) 6-4 6-4. Tecau had previously come up short in Wimbledon finals, so finally taking the championship was a major career highlight for him. A qualifying team of Jonathan Erlich and Philipp Petzschner reached the semifinals, beating #2 seeds Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo in the process, while the Bryan brothers lost in the quarterfinals to Florin Mergea and Rohan Bopanna.
The (primarily) North American hard court summer will begin in earnest for many of the worlds top players now as the focus shifts towards the US Open Series, on the road to the 2015 US Open, as many great matches have yet to be played in 2015.
KUDLA CRUISES TO CLAIM SINGLES FINAL, PEERS AND SMITH WIN DOUBLES CROWN AT CHARLOTTESVILLE MEN’S PRO CHALLENGER
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., November 4, 2012 – After a week of exciting tennis, No. 8 singles seed Denis Kudla and No. 2 doubles seed John Peers and John-Patrick Smith took home the respective hardware at this year’s Charlottesville Men’s Pro Challenger at The Boar’s Head Sports Club on Sunday.
Kudla was in eveyone’s face all week
Kudla, who won his first-ever youth tennis tournament at The Boar’s Head when he was just eight years old, dominated Kuznetsov from the first serve of the match. The 20-year old resident of Arlington, Va. started the match by breaking his opponent’s serve, a trend that would continue all afternoon. In the first set – which took just over 20 minutes – Kudla broke Kuznetsov twice more en route to a 6-0 win, in which he won 77 percent of the points played (24 of 31), including 12 of 15 return points.
Kuznetszov, who admitted after the match that Kudla was “way too good for me today,” finally notched a game to begin the second set, but ultimately fell 6-3 and would settle for the runner-up prize.
Kuznetsov Had a Good Run in Cville
Kudla, who was also presented with the tournament’s annual Chase Sportsmanship Award, will receive 90 points and $10,800 in prize money, while Kuznetsov gets 55 points and $6,360. Kudla went on to break Kuznetsov two more times in the second set, and won 60 of the 94 points played in Sunday’s final match.
JP Smith and John Peers Took the Title in Dubs
On the doubles side, Peers and Smith survived a tough first set against University of Virginia standout Jarmere Jenkins and fellow American Jack Sock, 7-5. The second set was a different story, as Peers and Smith took control by winning the first five games and would only drop one. The duo will split $4,650 and 90 points.
Sunday, November 4 – RESULTS
Men’s Singles – Finals  Denis Kudla, United States d Alex Kuznetsov, United States, 6-0, 6-3
Men’s Doubles – Finals
 John Peers, Australia / John-Patrick Smith, Australia d [WC] Jarmere Jenkins, United States / Jack Sock, United States, 7-5, 6-1