There were new achievements by the old guard, and the reclamation of former glories. Meanwhile, young stars broke new ground—rankings, titles, recognition—and also began to consolidate their place among the elite.
Some of those stories have been covered in this short series.
This final resume attempts to round up some of the records, milestones, and fond farewells of the season.
· Roger Federer began the year by extending his Major record to 20 with a record-equalling sixth Australian Open title.
· Rafael Nadal won an extraordinary 11th French Open to take his Major tally to 17—second in the all-time men’s list.
· Novak Djokovic won Wimbledon and the US Open to draw level with former Major record-holder Pete Sampras on 14.
· The three champions ended the year in the top three places for the first time since 2014, ending the year together at the top for the seventh time.
· For the first time in their combined careers, each held the No1 ranking in the same calendar year.
· At 31 years old, Djokovic became the oldest man to be year-end No1.
· Djokovic also became the first to end the year at No1 after being outside the top 20 during the year: He was ranked 22 in June.
· Federer became the oldest ever No1 and extended his own record for weeks at No1 to 310.
· Federer established the longest gap between first reaching No1 and last holding No1—more than 14 years—and the longest gap between stints at the top, five and a half years.
· Nadal ended the year in the top two for the 10th time, trailing only Federer’s 11.
· Federer ended the year in the top three for a record 14th time.
· Federer reached a record 1,000th week in the top 100 at the end of the 2018 season, and a record 975 weeks in the top 50.
Masters and more
· Djokovic became the first man to complete the set of nine Masters titles with victory in Cincinnati.
· He extended his tally of Masters to 32, and Nadal extended the all-time record to 33.
· Nadal won three tournaments for a record 11th time, adding Barcelona and Monte Carlo to the French Open. Before 2018, he was already the only man to win 10 titles at a single event.
· Nadal won his 900th match—during Roland Garros—and Djokovic won his 800th during Queen’s.
· Federer won a record sixth Laureus World Sports Award, with a record fifth Sportsman of the Year Award and the Comeback of the Year Award.
· Federer reached his 99th title with a record ninth Basel title, winning his 20th consecutive match in his home town in his 12th consecutive final.
More ATP standouts in 2018
· Kevin Anderson reached his first Wimbledon final after marathon five-set victories over Federer and John Isner, went on to win his first 500 title in Vienna, qualified for his first ATP Finals, and reached a career-high No5.
· Juan Martin del Potro won his maiden Masters in Indian Wells, Isner did the same in Miami, and Karen Khachanov won his first in the last, Paris. All three men reached career-high rankings in 2018.
· Isner hit his 10,000th ace, joining just three other men: Ivo Karlovic, Federer, and Goran Ivanisevic. By the year end, he was second all time, with almost 11,000.
· Feliciano Lopez, now 37 years old, a former No12 in the rankings, played his 66th consecutive Major main draw at Wimbledon, breaking Federer’s record 65. He extended that run with No67 at the US Open.
· Fellow 30-somethings Richard Gasquet and Fernando Verdasco both scored their 500th tour-level wins. Gasquet became the first Frenchman to do so in April in Monte-Carlo. Verdasco became the ninth active player to reach 500 in Madrid.
· Stefanos Tsitsipas, age 20, became the first Greek to win a tour-level title in Stockholm, having already become the youngest player to beat four top-10 opponents at a single tournament in Toronto.
Where the men’s tour has seen the same three faces—Federer, Nadal and Djokovic—share the last eight Majors, and share the No1 ranking this year, the women’s tour has been a kaleidoscope of change. Five different women held the No1 ranking in 2017, with a sixth added this year in the shape of Caroline Wozniacki. As for the Majors…
· The last eight Major titles have been won by eight different women, only two of them former champions, and this year, three were debutants, and the fourth scored her first at Wimbledon.
· Wozniacki, who first rose to No1 eight years ago, at last got her first Major in Australia.
· Angelique Kerber won her first Wimbledon title after winning in Australia and New York in 2016, becoming the first German to do so since Steffi Graf in 1996.
· Naomi Osaka, age just 20, won her first Major at the US Open, becoming the first Japanese woman to win a Major singles title and the youngest in New York since Maria Sharapova 12 years ago.
· The four champions, along with WTA Finals winner, Elina Svitolina, topped the rankings at the year’s end.
Premiers and more
· Osaka was the first of eight players to win their maiden singles title in 2018: She won the Premier Mandatory (PM) in Indian Wells, beating fellow 20-year-old Daria Kasatkina.
· Sloane Stephens won her first PM in Miami, and reached a career-high No3 after reaching the French Open final.
· Petra Kvitova won a tour-leading five titles across clay, hard and grass, among them the PM in Madrid, and the Premier 5 in Doha, where she beat three top-five players. Just 18 months after returning from a near-career-ending attack to her hand, she ended the season at No7, having also helped the Czech Republic to the Fed Cup title.
· Wozniacki ended her resurgent season with the PM in Beijing, but would reveal, after bowing out at the round-robin stage of the WTA Finals, that she has been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
· Serena Williams, having won the 2017 Australian Open while two months pregnant, returned this March from post-birth complications and maternity leave to play all three remaining Majors, and reached the final of both Wimbledon and the US Open. In the course of her 24 matches in 2018, she passed the 800 career match-win mark.
· Agnieszka Radwanska, winner of 20 titles, was runner-up at Wimbledon in 2012, reached No2 in the rankings, and won her biggest title at the 2015 WTA Finals. Winner of the WTA Fans’ Favourite Award six times and Shot of the Year five times, she was admired for her charm, her crafty tennis, and the nimble creativity she used to undermine her opponents’ firepower.
· Tommy Haas, twice winner of Comeback Player of the Year in a career dogged by surgeries and accidents, reached a career-high No2 in 2002, but twice dropped out of the world rankings because of long injury absences. He was still as high as No11 in 2013 after reaching the quarters of the French Open for the first time. He made the semis of the Australian Open three times, and Wimbledon once, and won 15 singles titles, including the Stuttgart Masters in 2001. Boasting one of the best single-handed backhand, and with a passionate on-court persona, he remains one of tennis fans’ most popular players—despite retiring at almost 40, he is playing the Champions Tour for the first time this week in London—and an admired colleague who is now Tournament Director at the prestigious Indian Wells event.
· Francesca Schiavone, another slight, lightweight woman who wielded spin, touch, and angle, all with a single-handed game, she was the first Italian woman to win a Major, the 2010 French Open, one of eight career titles. Schiavone was part of the Fed Cup squads that won the title for Italy in 2006, 2009 and 2010. Spirited, witty,
and always a great watch, the former No4 finally called it a day at 38 years of age.
· Roberta Vinci, another petite single-handed Italian, just 5ft 4ins tall, won 10 titles, and shone at the age of 30 to reach her only Major final—against best friend Flavia Pennetta—at the US Open in 2015. She won five Major doubles titles and 20 more doubles trophies—reaching No1—and also made No7 in singles. Vinci contributed to four Italian Fed Cup titles, 2006, 2009, 2010, and 2013.
· Mikhail Youzhny, the top-ranked Russian for many years, reached a career-high No8 in 2008, won 10 titles, and made at least the quarter-finals of every Major, advancing to the semis of the 2006 US Open.
· Anabel Medina Garrigues also left a hole in Italian tennis having reached No16 in singles (11 titles) and No3 in doubles (28 titles, including two French Opens).
· Julien Benneteau’s notorious record was reaching 10 singles finals without winning a title, but he did win the doubles title at the French Open in 2014 among 11 other doubles titles.
· Jurgen Melzer won five tour titles and reached a career-high No8 in 2011. He also won two doubles Majors among 13 doubles titles.
· Also leaving the tour are: Alejandro Falla, Annika Beck, Casey Dellacqua, Martina Hingis, Karin Knapp, Florian Mayer, Max Mirnyi, Gilles Muller, Patty Schnyder.
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BIOGRAPHY: Ethan Hazard
BIOGRAPHY: Daniel Sturridge