Here is a look at some of the most memorable moments from the 2018 ATP Tour 250 events, including first-time titles for Daniil Medvedev, Frances Tiafoe and Stefanos Tsitsipas, an historic win for Joao Sousa in Portugal and a fairytale week for Pablo Andujar in Marrakech…
What a start to the 2018 season we had in Australia, with rising stars Daniil Medvedev and Alex de Minaur giving us a glimpse of the future as they went head-to-head in the final of the Sydney International. In what was, at the time, the youngest final since Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in Indian Wells in 2007, 18-year-old Australian De Minaur pushed his 21-year-old Russian opponent all the way in a three-set thriller. Backed by a raucous crowd on Ken Rosewall Arena, De Minaur hit back from 0-4 down in the final set and saved a match point before Medvedev eventually claimed his first career ATP title with a 1-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory after 2 hours, 13 minutes of thrilling tennis.
Taking over the slot from Memphis, the first New York Open was held in Long Island this year and it was South Africa’s Kevin Anderson who claimed his first title in three years with a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 victory over American Sam Querrey in the final. Anderson, who was ranked as low as No. 80 in January 2017 after a number of injury issues, had lost his last three ATP finals including at the US Open later that year, but the 6’8” South African held his nerve in the final set tie-break to capture his fourth career title and move up to World No. 9.
It was a fairytale week for Spain’s Pablo Andujar at the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakech as the World No. 355 became the lowest ranked player for 20 years to win an ATP title. Having undergone three elbow surgeries, Andjuar was ranked down at No. 1,824 just two months earlier. However, the Spaniard won a Challenger title in Alicante and headed straight to Morocco where he defeated Australian Open semi-finalist Kyle Edmund to claim his third title at the Grand Prix Hassan II.
American Frances Tiafoe joined the first-time winners’ circle as he capped a memorable week at the Delray Beach Open by defeating Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk in the final. The 20-year-old Next Gen star had already overcome Matthew Ebden, World No. 10 Juan Martin del Potro, Australian Open semi-finalist Hyeon Chung and rising Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov to reach his first ATP final. With the victory, Tiafoe became the youngest American to win a title since a 19-year-old Andy Roddick won Houston in 2002.
Watch the full match replay now.
Local favourite Joao Sousa made history at the Millennium Estoril Open in April as the 29-year-old became the first Portuguese player to win an ATP title on home soil. Having saved two match points in the second round against his countryman Pedro Sousa, he then overcame an in-form Kyle Edmund and Stefanos Tsitsipas in three sets to reach the final, where he saved his best until last as he defeated Frances Tiafoe in straight sets to claim his third career title.
An emotional Steve Johnson successfully defended his Houston title by defeating fellow American Tennys Sandgren – before burying his head in his countryman’s shoulder at the net. Johnson’s father, Steve Johnson Sr, died 11 months earlier with his son’s victory in Houston being the last one he saw. His second Houston title was all the more special for Johnson who was getting married the following weekend.
Having skipped the clay court season for a second year, Roger Federer made his return to action on grass at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart. In the semi-finals, the Swiss faced Australia’s Nick Kyrgios for the third time – and, for the third time, the match was to be decided by a final set tie-break. With the Australian coming out on top in their first meeting in Madrid in 2015, Federer gained his revenge in Miami two years later. On this occasion, Kyrgios took the opening tie-break 7-2 before Federer hit back to win the second set 6-2. In the shootout, it was Federer who edged it 7-5 before going on to defeat Milos Raonic in the final and claim his 18th grass court title.
American John Isner claimed his fifth Atlanta title as the ‘Georgia Bulldog’ defeated countryman Ryan Harrison for the second straight year in the final. In what was his eighth appearance in the Atlanta final, Isner captured his second title of the season (Miami) and the 14th of his career. Harrison also made history that week by becoming the first player since Tommy Haas in 2001 to come from a set down in all four matches to reach an ATP final.
Fabio Fognini captured his eighth career title and first on hard courts after a stunning 6-4, 6-2 victory over top seed Juan Martin del Potro to win the Abierto de Tenis Mifel presentado por Cinemex title in Los Cabos. Del Potro was looking to complete the ‘Sombrero Double’ having won the ATP World Tour 500 event in Acapulco in February but, having made the perfect start to go 3-0 up in the first set, the Italian hit back to win 12 of the last 15 games to capture his third title of the season.
Rising Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas made history in Stockholm as he became the first Greek player to win an ATP title, defeating Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis to add his name to the likes of Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker, Mats Wilander and Roger Federer on the honours board. Having lost his opening two finals in Barcelona and Toronto against Rafael Nadal, the 20-year-old went one better in the Swedish capital, coming through 6-4, 6-4 in the final.
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