Q3 Review: Medvedev Goes On A Tear; Nadal Extends Race Lead
ATPTour.com looks back at tournaments in the third quarter of 2019
The development of Daniil Medvedev’s game and his subsequent rise up the ATP Rankings has been one of the storylines of the 2019 ATP Tour season. Medvedev’s star shone brightly on the summer North American hard-court swing, which will live long in the memory, when he recorded 20 wins from 23 matches.
His four-tournament tear included his first ATP Masters 1000 crown at the Western & Southern Open, where he beat World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals and David Goffin in the final. Having been No. 19 in the ATP Rankings on the eve of the Australian Open in January, Medvedev found himself in the Top 5 after his Cincinnati run, the first Russian man to hold that position since Nikolay Davydenko in June 2010.
Back-to-back finals at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. (l. to Kyrgios) and the Coupe Rogers (l. to Nadal), had preceded Cincinnati, but it was at the US Open where he showcased his personality and tactical maturity in reaching his first Grand Slam championship final.
Read Reaction: Medvedev – ‘After The Summer, I Had No Fear’
By beating 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals, Medvedev qualified for the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals, the season finale at The O2 in London from 10-17 November, for the first time, and he didn’t rest on his laurels in overcoming Grigor Dimitrov in the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows.
Only an inspired performance by Rafael Nadal, over five epic sets, could stop the momentum of the 23-year-old, who became the first player to record 50 match wins in 2019. Currently at No. 4, Medvedev has set eight new ATP Rankings highs this season.
Nadal Steps Up Bid For Year-End No. 1
Nadal’s enduring quality and longevity was highlighted in New York City, when the Spanish superstar reached his third major championship final of the year (also Australian Open and Roland Garros) to earn his 19th Grand Slam crown. Read Final Match Report
Fourteen years on from his first triumph at 2005 Roland Garros, the 33-year-old has now reached three Grand Slam finals in a single season on four occasions (also 2010-11 and 2017).
Nadal built up an 11-match winning streak over the summer by clinching a record-extending 35th Masters 1000-level crown in Montreal and kept his nerve — as other seeded players lost early — en route to a fourth trophy at the US Open.
As a result of his two tournament performances, Nadal added 3,000 points to his 2019 ATP Race To London tally, going from 6,225 points on 5 August to 9,225 points on 9 September. In the same period, Djokovic has gone from 6,725 points to 7,265 points, and now sits 1,960 points behind Nadal, who is in a strong position to finish year-end No. 1 for a fifth time (2008, 2010, 2013, 2017).
Kyrgios Manages Racquet Emergency For D.C. Title
Nick Kyrgios channelled his energy and worked his way through a racquet emergency for his second ATP 500-level title of his career in early August at the Citi Open. The 24-year-old Australian, who’d beaten three Top 10 players (d. Nadal, Isner and Zverev) en route to the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC earlier in the season, won six matches in Washington, D.C. for his sixth ATP Tour crown.
Shortly after his 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(6) semi-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas, when Kyrgios saved one match point, the 24-year-old realised he had only one undamaged tennis racquet left in his bag. His father sent a rush shipment of additional racquets from Canberra, Australia, but they were stuck in customs at FedEx’s Washington Dulles International Airport.
Kyrgios enlisted the help of Citi Open owner Mark Ein, but went to bed on the eve of the final thinking that he’d only be playing with one frame. Ein came to the rescue and Kyrgios beat Daniil Medvedev 7-6(6), 7-6(4) in the final. Read Report & Watch Final Highlights
Basilashvili Retains Hamburg Crown During Clay Swing
Nikoloz Basilashvili was the standout performer at the Hamburg European Open, where he extended his winning streak to 11 matches at the ATP 500-level tournament. Having won his first ATP Tour title in 2018 as a World No. 81-ranked qualifier, the 27-year-old Georgian returned to save two match points against Alexander Zverev 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(5) in the semi-finals before another tough three-set win against Andrey Rublev in the final.
Read Feature: Basilashvili: Putting Together A Jigsaw
Elsewhere on the summer European clay-court swing, two players lifted their first ATP Tour trophies. Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic backed up April’s run to the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters final by lifting his first ATP Tour title at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag (d. Balazs) and Chile’s Nicolas Jarry was successful at the Swedish Open in Bastad (d. Londero). Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas swept through to the J. Safra Sarasin Swiss Open Gstaad crown (d. Stebe).
Dimitrov Returns To Big Stage
Grigor Dimitrov returned to some of his peak performances days at the US Open, where he reached the third Grand Slam championship semi-final of his career (also 2014 Wimbledon and 2017 Australian Open). With a 1-6 record since Roland Garros, Dimitrov admitted to having low expectations ahead of the US Open, but solid practice prior to the final major of 2019, coupled with his all-round game, came together in a five-set quarter-final victory over Roger Federer. Read Match Report & Watch Highlights
“I kept on believing in the process, kept on working, kept on trying to improve, whatever else I had to improve on my end,” admitted Dimitrov after beating Federer. “I really controlled the things that I could.”
From the high of No. 3 in the ATP Rankings and the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals crown to losing to World No. 405 Kevin King in the BB&T Atlanta Open first round, Dimitrov competed in New York City at No. 78, and with a lot of doubts. The 28-year-old managed to turn around his year through sheer dedication, and provided tennis fans with a heart-warming run and hope of better results in 2020.
Berrettini Moves Into Mix For Nitto ATP Finals Spot
Matteo Berrettini had 1,140 points on 15 July, following the conclusion of Wimbledon, and was 845 points adrift of eighth-placed Medvedev. While he’d enjoyed a breakthrough season, with two ATP Tour titles at the MercedesCup In Stuttgart (d. Auger-Aliassime) and the Hungarian Open in Budapest (d. Krajinovic), in addition to a runner-up finish at the BMW Open by FWU in Munich (l. to Garin), Berrettini’s hard-court form wasn't quite as strong.
Having gone 5-8 on hard courts this year prior to the Italian’s lone post-Wimbledon outing in Cincinnati, where he lost in the first round to Juan Ignacio Londero, very little was expected of him on the eve of the US Open. After all, he’d lost to No. 72-ranked Denis Kudla in the 2018 first round.
But the 23-year-old grew in confidence throughout the US Open, winning five straight matches, including a thrilling 7-6(5) fifth-set victory over Gael Monfils in the quarter-finals, to set up a clash against Nadal, who he’d idolised as a child. By reaching his first Grand Slam championship semi-final, and, as a result of early losses for Nitto ATP Finals contenders, Berrettini soared from 17th to ninth in the 2019 ATP Race To London.
With four singles spots left up for grabs at the season finale, July's Generali Open titlist Dominic Thiem and 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas are in strong positions to qualify, but Berrettini (2,160) is now one of four players within 100 points of eighth-placed Nishikori (2,180). Defending Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev (2,120), David Goffin (2,080) and Gael Monfils (2,080) are also in contention.