Isner & Fritz Seek More Team Success In ATP Cup

The 24 teams competing in the inaugural ATP Cup present a wide range of ages and experience on the ATP Tour. But the diversity of Team United States is especially noteworthy with its top two singles players, John Isner and Taylor Fritz.

The 34-year-old Isner and 22-year-old Fritz hold the biggest age difference between the top two singles players among any country in this event. Although they possess different playing styles and personalities, they’re aligned in their ability to thrive during team competitions. They will seek to continue that trend when they compete alongside Reilly Opelka, Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek in Group D in Perth, facing Russia, Italy and Norway.

”We don’t get to compete that often as a team, with fellow players cheering you on from the side of the court. Winning and losing certainly adds a lot of extra energy to matches when you’re playing for your country, but I’ve found it does help me to play better,” Fritz said. “It’s going to be great to play alongside John.”

Read More: Fritz: 'Team USA Will Bring A Lot Of Firepower'

Fritz generated headlines this year by posting a career-best season, capturing his maiden ATP Tour title in Eastbourne (d. Querrey) and cracking the Top 25 of the ATP Rankings in August. His Laver Cup win for Team World against Dominic Thiem also marked his first victory against a Top 5 player. 

Isner finished inside the Top 20 for the 10th consecutive year, a feat that only the Big Three of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have also accomplished. The veteran American prevailed in Newport (d. Bublik) and finished runner-up at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Miami (l. to Federer). Isner also represented Team World for the third straight year and said he's always eager to take part in team events.

”I’ve always enjoyed playing for a team. I’ve really done it my whole life. Playing in the team events... has been a joy for me and you definitely can get your competitive juices flowing after a pretty long layoff,” Isner said. “It’ll be pressure-packed on top of that, being out there playing for your country right out of the gate. I do think that will be a very good thing for me and hopefully it will bode well for the Australian Open next year.”

Isner has been the top gun of American tennis for most of this decade, finishing a

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ATP Cup: Dodig Reveals The One Croatian Stroke He Would Take

Ivan Dodig is Croatia's No. 1 doubles player at World No. 12, and the 34-year-old may play a key role at the inaugural ATP Cup. Dodig will likely partner the world's No. 15 doubles player, Nikola Mektic, when their country competes in Group E action in Sydney against Argentina, Austria and Poland. Croatia's other players are Borna Coric, Marin Cilic and Viktor Galovic. catches up with Dodig to find out which Croat he looked up to growing up, which shot from a countryman he'd like to add to his repertoire and more.

Which countrymen did you watch playing tennis when you were growing up?
Obviously for all us Croatian players, Goran Ivanisevic was the first guy. We were looking at him, he was our idol and I think many of us would say Goran was the main key for us to start playing tennis. He was a big inspiration for many kids and he is still the reason why I think many good Croatian players are coming on the Tour.

If you could take one stroke from any other player on your ATP Cup team and add it to your game, what would that stroke be?
I would take Cilic’s forehand. He has a powerful forehand. I think it is his best stroke. My forehand, when I played singles, was my weakest shot. I improved every year, but still I always did much better [with the] backhand. I was missing that forehand.

What are the first Australian animals that come into your head?
I know everybody is scared of the spiders there. Kangaroos.

What are the three things you love most about Croatia?
Sea, weather and food.

What do you like most about Australia?
I like Australia a lot. I always said it would be my second country I would choose to live in. It has beautiful weather, beautiful cities and amazing food. It is the perfect country to live [in]. Unfortunately for us from Europe, it is a little bit too far to travel in our sport but, in general, I very much like the country.

Which player would most likely be late for an ATP Cup dinner?
It is going to be Marin Cilic or Borna Coric. One of them. They are always a bit… It’s okay, they are stars, they are our first two players, so they can always get a little bit of credit.

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ATP Cup: Why France's Stacked Lineup Makes Them Title Contenders

The depth and experience of Team France have immediately marked them as one of the frontrunners to prevail at the inaugural ATP Cup.

Gael Monfils, Benoit Paire, Lucas Pouille, Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin look to bring France out of Group A in Brisbane, where they’ll take on Serbia, South Africa and Chile. All five players have experience in team competitions and thrive on the opportunity to represent their country.

”I played in all the teams since I was 14 in France. I played under-14, under-16 and under-18. To me, French teams are really important,” Mahut said. “When you play tennis, you are mostly alone on the court or sharing good and bad moments with your coach. For once a year, you are with your teammates wanting to achieve the same goal. It is what I like in team sports.”

There are no weak links in the lineup. France is the only team with three players inside the Top 25 of the ATP Rankings.

Teams With Top 25 Singles Players

Total Players
France 3 Gael Monfils, Benoit Paire, Lucas Pouille Russia 2 Daniil Medvedev, Karen Khachanov Italy 2 Matteo Berrettini, Fabio Fognini Spain
Rafael Nadal, Roberto Bautista Agut Canada
Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassime

Monfils returned to the Top 10 last month after an outstanding season that included an ATP Tour title in Rotterdam (d. Wawrinka) and semi-final finish at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Montreal. Paire re-entered the Top 25 on the back of tour-level crowns in Marrakech (d. Andujar) and Lyon (d. Auger-Aliassime). Pouille recorded his maiden Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open and reached the quarter-finals at the Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati.

The trio regularly practise and spend time together during tournaments, creating a strong bond over the years that will only deepen during the event.

”I like being on a team a lot. You can feel the pressure when you’re playing for

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Nadal’s Many Happy Returns To World No. 1

Rafael Nadal just posted the fourth-best return numbers by a year-end No. 1 in the past 29 years.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers breakdown of year-end No. 1 players since 1991 identifies that Nadal’s 2019 season eclipses the other four times he finished year-end No. 1 in 2017, 2013, 2010 and 2008. The analysis comes from the ATP Return LEADERBOARD, powered by Infosys NIA Data, and is determined by adding the winning percentages in the following four areas:

First-Serve Return Points Won Second-Serve Return Points Won Return Games Won Break Points Converted

Interestingly, the leading five spots for return metrics by a year-end No. 1 from 1991 to 2019 are all from the previous nine years (2011-2019), showing a clear correlation that we are currently in the “golden era” of the service return.

Leading Five Years 1991 - 2019: Return Rating
2011 - N. Djokovic (180.3)
2012 - N. Djokovic (172.2)
2016 - A. Murray (172.2)
2019 - R. Nadal (170.8)
2013 - R. Nadal (169.6)

As a comparison with serving, only two year-end No. 1 players (Djokovic 2015 / Nadal 2017) from the past decade are also ranked in the top 10 spots for serving.

Nadal’s 2019 return rating of 170.8 was also good enough to elevate him to the top spot on Tour in the specific category in 2019, a place he has not occupied since 2016.

Rafael Nadal: 2019 Season Return Win Percentage & Rating

Return Strategy

Win %


First-Serve Return Points Won



Return Games Won



Second-Serve Return Points Won



Break Points Converted



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Best of 2019: First-Time Winners Part 2

Continuing our Season In Review series, pays tribute to the first-time winners of the 2019 season. In part two of our two-part series, we look at the year's final seven first-time winners.

Adrian Mannarino - ‘s-Hertogenbosch [First-Time Winner Spotlight] 
Adrian Mannarino reached a career-high World No. 22 in 2018, but he had lost the first six ATP Tour finals of his career. The French lefty overcame that record at the Libema Open in ’s-Hertogenbosch, defeating Jordan Thompson 7-6(7), 6-3 to finally taste a tour-level title.

"People are going to stop talking [about my finals record]," said Mannarino. "In France, we have another player, Julien Benneteau, who lost 10 finals and never won a title. Every time I was losing a [final] I was on my way to Benneteau... This is a big achievement for me. I am not pretending to be Top 10 or anything. Winning a title on the ATP Tour level is already something amazing for me, and I cannot be more thankful to all the people who helped me get to this title."

Mannarino advanced to two more ATP Tour finals this season, falling short in Zhuhai and Moscow.

Adrian Mannarino defeats Jordan Thompson in two hours and one minute to win the Libema Open title on Sunday.

Taylor Fritz - Eastbourne [First-Time Winner Spotlight]
In February 2016, at 18 years and three months, Taylor Fritz reached the Memphis final. That made him the youngest American to reach a tour-level final since then 17-year-old Michael Chang won the Wembley 1989 crown, and the first American teenager to advance to a championship match since Andy Roddick in 2002.

More than three years later, Fritz reached his second ATP Tour final at the Nature Valley International, and he would not let slip the opportunity, defeating countryman Sam Querrey 6-3, 6-4 for the trophy.

"It's so amazing. I almost can't even believe it. I'm still trying to take it in," Fritz said. "I've wanted to win a Tour title ever since I made the final of one when I was 18. It feels like I've just been waiting so long. I'm so happy."

Fritz made two more finals in 2019, finishing runner-up in Atlanta and Los Cabos.

Taylor Fritz dropped one set en route to the Nature Valley International trophy.

ATP Appoints Massimo Calvelli As ATP Chief Executive Officer

The ATP has announced the appointment of Massimo Calvelli as the ATP Chief Executive Officer, beginning 1 January 2020.

Calvelli brings a wide range of tennis and executive experience to the position and was the unanimous choice of the ATP Board of Directors. The 45-year-old Italian has been a highly respected sports executive in global sales, marketing, operations and product development for the past 20 years.

Calvelli will work closely with fellow Italian Andrea Gaudenzi, who becomes the new Chairman of the ATP on 1 January 2020. The two will serve in a new split role at the helm of the ATP, replacing the combined position of ATP Executive Chairman and President, currently held by Chris Kermode through to the end of 2019.

“I am delighted and honoured to be appointed as the new CEO of the ATP,” said Calvelli. “I have been involved in professional tennis for most of my life and I look forward to bringing my passion and knowledge of the sport into this role. It’s a very exciting time to be involved with the ATP Tour as we strive to build on the growth of recent years, and I look forward to getting started in January.”

Most recently, Calvelli was employed by Nike where he worked across multiple functions and oversaw all aspects of global tennis sports marketing. During his time at Nike, he has led negotiations with many of the sport's global icons. Previously, the former professional tennis player was the Global Business Director for Wilson Sporting Goods.

Gaudenzi said: “Together with the ATP Board of Directors, I am delighted to welcome Massimo as the new CEO of the ATP. We share a great passion for the sport and I’m confident our diverse business experiences will serve the Tour well as we work on the future direction of men’s professional tennis.”

The appointment of Calvelli concludes an extensive leadership recruitment process undertaken over the last eight months by the ATP Board of Directors, with the assistance of global leadership advisory and executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates.

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