As another incredible season draws to a close, we take a look back at the 2018 ATP Masters 1000 finals…
It’s been another memorable year at the ATP Tour Masters 1000 events with established stars such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic adding to their record title hauls, Alexander Zverev backing up his breakthrough 2017 season and the likes of Juan Martin del Potro, John Isner and Karen Khachanov all claiming their first trophies on the biggest of stages.
The first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final of the season proved to be a classic and was widely regarded as one of the best matches of the year.
Top seed and defending champion Roger Federer went into the BNP Paribas Open final in Indian Wells having made his best ever start to a season with a 17-match winning streak as he prepared to face Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro for the title. Federer, who survived a three-set thriller against rising Croatian Borna Coric in the semi-finals, was looking to claim his sixth title in Indian Wells as well as his third of the season having successfully defended his Australian Open crown and added a second indoors in Rotterdam to become the oldest World No. 1 at 36. Meanwhile Del Potro arrived in the Californian desert in good form of his own having won in Acapulco on his last outing and was seeking his first title at this level.
Federer went into the final leading their head-to-head series 18-6, but it was the Argentine who had the better 3-2 record in finals. World No. 8 Del Potro took the first set and had a match point in a dramatic second set tie-break only for the Swiss to hit back and hold three match points of his own in the decider. It went to another tie-break and it was the emotional Argentine who came out on top to claim his first career ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title and end Federer’s perfect start to the season.
After 31 memorable years at its home in Key Biscayne, the Miami Open was to be held for one last time at Crandon Park with a new venue set to host the event from 2019 at the Hard Rock Stadium. Having captured the title in Indian Wells, in-form Juan Martin del Potro was looking to join the exclusive ‘Sunshine Double’ club but his 15-match winning streak came to an end at the semi-final stage as the Argentine ran out of steam and into red-hot American, John Isner.
Meanwhile, fourth seeded German Alexander Zverev had already seen off Daniil Medvedev, David Ferrer, Nick Kyrgios, Borna Coric and Pablo Carreno Busta to reach his third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final. The 20-year-old Rome and Montreal champion was looking in good shape to claim his first title of the season as he took the opening set against the 6’10” Isner on a tie-break but failed to convert any of his three break points as the No. 14-seeded American hit back to complete a 6-7, 6-4, 6-4 victory and capture his first title at this level, becoming the oldest first-time ATP World Tour Masters 1000 winner at the age of 32 as well as the first American since Andy Roddick in 2010 to lift the Miami title.
The 2018 clay court season got into full swing once again in the Principality of Monaco where the glorious setting of the Monte Carlo Country Club played host to the prestigious Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.
Rafael Nadal was back to World No. 1 and appearing in just his second tournament of the year having retired from his Australian Open quarter-final against Marin Cilic with a right hip injury, but the 10-time champion and ‘King of Clay’ was still the man to beat as he eased past the likes of Karen Khachanov, No. 7 Dominic Thiem and No. 5 Grigor Dimitrov to reach his 12th final in 15 appearances in Monte Carlo – without dropping a set.
There he met Kei Nishikori, the Japanese superstar who had come through injury problems of his own in recent months and who had even dropped down to Challenger level in February to find some form. Despite being ranked No. 36, the former US Open finalist registered impressive victories over World No. 3 Marin Cilic in the quarter-finals and No. 4 Alexander Zverev in the semis to reach his fourth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final. However, Nishikori was no match for Nadal as the Spaniard claimed his 11th Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters title and third in a row with a 6-3, 6-2 victory in an hour and 34 minutes.
In its 10th year at the Caja Magica, the ‘Magic Box’ of the Mutua Madrid Open saw the world’s elite challenge for the fourth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title of the season.
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal came into the tournament as the red-hot favourite to claim a sixth title in the Spanish capital but, despite setting a new record of 50 consecutive sets won on the same surface, his clay court streak came to an end at the hands of Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals as the Austrian gained revenge for the previous year’s final.
In the bottom half of the draw, second seed Alexander Zverev was in incredible form as he avenged his loss to John Isner in Miami in the quarter-finals and then eased past Next Gen star Denis Shapovalov in the semis to set up a blockbuster final between the two young stars.
Thiem, looking to claim his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title, went into the final having won four of their five previous meetings, but it was the 21-year-old German who came out on top, his 6-4, 6-4 victory earning him a third title at this level in less than a year. He also became the first player to win a title at this level on clay without dropping serve, facing just one break point all week.
Having claimed his third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title in Madrid without dropping serve, 21-year-old German Alexander Zverev arrived in Rome full of confidence as he looked to defend his Internazionali BNL d’Italia title. And what a defence he put up, too.
As the No. 2 seed, Zverev overcame in-form Kyle Edmund, David Goffin and No. 4 seed Marin Cilic to reach his third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final of the season, where he would face seven-time champion Rafael Nadal for the title. After defeating a resurgent Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals, Nadal looked in determined mood to make it eight as he came up against the German for a fifth time, having won all four previous encounters. Nadal took the opening set 6-1 but the young German bounced back in the second, taking it by the same scoreline to force a decider. With the Italian crowd in full voice, Nadal asserted his authority and took the final set 6-3 to claim his 32nd title at this level and eighth in the Italian capital since 2004.
The North American Summer hard court season began in earnest with the Rogers Cup making its biennial return to York University in Toronto. Alexander Zverev was the defending champion from Montreal while World No. 1 Rafael Nadal and in-form Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic were among the big names looking to stop him. But this tournament will always be remembered for the emergence of Greek teenage sensation, Stefanos Tsitsipas.
After an indifferent start to the year, Djokovic was back in the mix following his elbow injury but even he was powerless to stop an inspired Tsitsipas in the third round. The 19-year-old had already stunned French Open finalist Dominic Thiem before coming through 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 against Djokovic to reach the quarter-finals, where he ended Zverev’s reign with another dramatic three-set win – saving two match points in the process. The World No. 27 then saved another match point to defeat Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson in the semi-finals to book his place in the championship match.
There he would face three-time champion Nadal, the top seed who was looking to claim his first hard court title since Beijing in 2017. Just as the final looked to be heading the Spaniard’s way and Tsitsipas appeared out of steam, the teenager hit back and forced a second set tie-break but it only delayed the inevitable as Nadal claimed his record 33rd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title.
What a fairytale this week proved to be for Novak Djokovic…and what a statement the Serb put out for the rest of the field!
The Wimbledon champion came into the tournament needing the title to become the first player in history to complete the ‘Golden Masters’ – all nine different ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles – but had lost all five of his previous finals here in Mason, Ohio. Having battled to back-to-back three-set wins against Mannarino, No. 5 Dimitrov, Raonic and No. 7 Cilic to give himself another shot at the title, the Serb faced seven-time champion Roger Federer having lost to the Swiss in the final on three previous occasions.
In what was the 46th meeting between the two legends, Djokovic was a man on a mission as he powered past Federer 6-4, 6-4 to claim his first Cincinnati title and became the first man to complete the ‘Golden Masters’ sweep.
Full of confidence after his history-making victory in Cincinnati and backed up by his third US Open title, Novak Djokovic rattled through the draw to reach his fourth final at the Rolex Shanghai Masters without dropping a set. Avenging his French Open quarter-final defeat against Marco Cecchinato, the Serb eased past Kevin Anderson in a repeat of the Wimbledon final and then overcame World No. 5 Alexander Zverev 6-2, 6-1 to set up a showdown against rising Croatian Borna Coric, the World No. 12 who had stunned defending champion Roger Federer in a memorable semi-final.
With Djokovic looking to claim his fourth title in his last five events as well as a 32nd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown and Coric seeking his first trophy at this level, it was all to play for at the Qi Zhong Stadium in Shanghai.
Rolex Paris Masters – Paris
Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal from the Rolex Paris Masters meant Novak Djokovic would return to World No. 1 for the first time since 2016 and complete a remarkable turnaround for the Serb as he became the first man to reach No. 1 from outside the Top 20 in the same season since Marat Safin in 2000.
The three-time champion was also carrying a 21-match winning streak with him going into his eagerly-awaited semi-final against former winner Roger Federer as the two heavyweights played out an epic three-set classic at the Palais Omnisports. With Djokovic coming out on top, the Serb faced first-time ATP World Tour Masters 1000 finalist Karen Khachanov for the title, with the Russian having defeated Top 10 players John Isner, Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem to reach the championship match.
And the 22-year-old didn’t stop there as he completed a famous 7-5, 6-4 victory to become the first Russian since Nikolay Davydenko in 2009 to win an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title and finish his year in style.
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