The 2017 tennis season has drawn to a close, and what a year it has been. Players returning from injury, players getting injured, comebacks, upsets and maiden title winners-2017 had it all. And as we get ready to take a bite into the next season, after a couple of months, it’s time that we take a few moments to digest 2017. We recount the entire year in the men’s ATP singles, trying to draw out a rough outline of the next season and of course just to refresh our memories in our tennis recap.
It all began in January at the Qatar open in Doha, where the absence of Nadal and Federer was noticeable. Novak Djokovic defeated Andy Murray in the finals (6–3, 5–7, 6–4) to kick-start the 2017 tennis season. Everyone thought it was going to be the same pattern again for the rest of the year. Little did we know that it was not to be. As the Australian Open drew closer, there was a buzz amongst the media and players alike, as the world awaited the return of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Four 250-point tournaments preceded the Australian open- Chennai open, Brisbane International, Auckland open and Sydney international. Roberto Bautista Agut won his maiden Chennai open title, while Grigor Dimitrov defeated the Japanese top seed Kei Nishikori in three sets in Brisbane. Jack Sock and Gilles Müller won the titles at Auckland and Sydney respectively.
The draw was set for the first grand slam of the year as the Australian Open welcomed the veterans Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, as they returned from their respective injury breaks. However, it was not going to be an easy road for them as Nadal was seeded number nine whereas Federer, was pushed to no.17. Day 4, second round featured one of the biggest shocks of the tournament as Denis Istomin ousted the defending champion Novak Djokovic (7-6 (10/8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4). The match in itself was a thriller, as the score line suggests. Stretching to almost 5 hours, the Uzbek finally served the match out recording the biggest win of his career. Rafael Nadal defeated Alexander Zverev in a high-octane match on day 6. However, it was Mischa Zverev, Alex’s bigger brother, who managed to create headlines as he knocked out the Brit Andy Murray spectacular fashion. However, he was stopped in his tracks, by the Swiss maestro who demolished the serve-and-volley specialist in straight sets. The quarterfinals featured Roger Federer and Mischa Zverev, his compatriot Stan Wawrinka, Grigor Dimitrov, Rafael Nadal, the Canadian Milos Raonic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and the first Belgian to reach the quarters of the Australian open David Goffin. Fans all around the world dreamed of a ninth Roger-Rafa final, and it was not long before the dream came true. However, it was Roger Federer, who prevailed in five thrilling sets over his nemesis Rafael Nadal to grab his 18th major title and fifth in Australia. First blood of the 2017 tennis season to Federer.
Post the Australian open, it was time for some Davis Cup action, as the first round kicked off in February. Italy, Belgium, Australia, United States, France, Great Britain, Serbia and Spain qualified for the next round. The month of February featured four ATP 500 events-all of them on hard courts. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga prevailed in Rotterdam, Netherlands, while Dominic Thiem won in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Andy Murray managed to win in Dubai, defeating the Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in straight sets. However, it was Sam Querrey, in Acapulco, Mexico, who created headlines, as he brushed aside Rafael Nadal in straight sets to win the title.
Roger Federer, continued his spectacular form as he won the masters 1000 event in Indian wells, defeating his compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka in straight sets. The masters’ 1000 event in Miami featured another Roger-Rafa final. Yet again Roger Federer prevailed over his nemesis, dispatching the Spaniard in straight sets (6-3, 6-4). The title saw Federer, complete a third sunshine double, having done so in 2005 and 2006. However, a few days after his victory Federer announced that he would be skipping the entire clay court swing. Citing fatigue issues, Federer aimed to prepare well for the grass court seasons, and focused his attention on winning the championships at Wimbledon.
The Davis cup quarterfinals, that preceded the clay court swing, saw Belgium, Australia, France and Serbia make it through to the semis. Rafael Nadal dominated the pre-French-open-tournaments of the 2017 tennis season, winning titles in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, and Madrid. While Alexander Zverev won titles in Rome, where he defeated Novak Djokovic and in Munich. Rafael Nadal, was the clear favourite, having showcased some of his best tennis, coming into the tournament. There were no surprises there as Rafael Nadal captured yet another title at the Roland Garros. He dispatched Stan Wawrinka in straight sets, and never looked in any sort of trouble. Djokovic and Murray had fallen in the quarters and semis respectively. Dominic Thiem, Marin Cilic, Pablo Carreño Busta and Kei Nishikori all made it into the final eight. The 2017 tennis season Grand Slam score was 1-1 between Federer and Nadal.
Federer returned after his mini break, and captured his first title on grass in more than 6 months in Halle. He defeated Alexander Zverev in straight sets. Feliciano López defeated Marin Cilic, in a tightly fought match, to win the title at the Queen’s club in London. Novak Djokovic salvaged a title in Eastbourne, defeating Gael Monfils in the finals.
The next grand slam of the 2017 tennis season saw Federer 2-1 over Nadal. Wimbledon turned out to be a dramatic affair, as British hope Andy Murray was knocked out in the quarters by Sam Querrey. He played some of his best tennis to silence the home crowd, and get through to his first semifinals at the championships. Rafael Nadal, who was untroubled up until the fourth round, was defeated in five tight sets, by the big serving Giles Muller. Novak Djokovic, was forced to retire, in his quarterfinals match up against Tomas Berdych after he lost the first set in a tie-break. Roger Federer, however waltzed his way into the finals, having exacted revenge on the Canadian Milos Raonic. He was untroubled in the finals by Marin Cilic, who was not a 100% for the match. Federer’s title in Wimbledon meant he had won his 19th grand slam, putting more numbers between him and Nadal.
With half of the year gone and one major still remaining, the fatigue was taking its toll, and the list of injury hit players kept growing. Novak Djokoivc, Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori, were all ruled out for the rest of the 2017. While Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic also announced their withdrawals from the US-open. Meanwhile, Alexander Zverev won the title in Washington, climbing into the top ten rankings for the first time. He clinched another title at the masters’ 1000 in Montreal, Canada, as he defeated Roger Federer in straight sets. Grigor Dimitrov won his first masters’ 1000 title in Cincinnati, defeating Nick Kyrgios in the finals.
This was the last grand slam of the 2017 tennis season and Nadal grabbed this one to even the score. The US open felt like a quite affair with 5 of the top ten players missing out due to injuries. It also marked the return of a former champion Juan Martin Del Potro, who was stacked in Federer’s draw. Federer was the favorite to win the title, however he was knocked out in the quarters of the US open, by the big serving Argentine, in four sets. Rafael Nadal however, did not hang around, and dispatched Del Potro in four sets after dropping the first (4-6, 6-0, 6-3, 6-2). The other half of the draw saw a first time US open finalist, in the South American Kevin Anderson. However, he was no match to Rafael Nadal’s prowess, as the Spaniard brushed aside his childhood friend, to win his second slam of the year. This result also meant that, Rafael Nadal had almost cemented the year-end world number one title. He kept up his good form, winning another title in Beijing, where Roger Federer had decided to skip. He defeated Nick Kyrgios in the finals, in straight sets. Shanghai open saw yet another final between Roger and Rafa and yet again, Federer got the better of his nemesis. It was the first time; he had piled up four consecutive victories against Nadal. Del Potro went on to win a title in Stockholm and kept his hopes alive for a place in the ATP world tour finals. Roger Federer won another title in his hometown Basel, where he defeated Juan Martin Del Potro in a thrilling encounter.
The yearend ATP world tour finals featured new faces and had a new champion as well. Rafael Nadal withdrew from the tournament after his first round loss against David Goffin. Federer who was a clear favorite after Nadal’s withdrawal, was shocked by David Goffin, who came from behind to reach the finals for the very first time. However, Dimitrov was too hot to handle, as he raced to his first ever ATP world tour finals title.
With the year done and dusted, the players will enjoy a few weeks off, before they hit the practice courts again, gearing up for the heat down under. Djokovic and Wawrinka, will return to action in the month of December, to play in Dubai. We caught a glimpse of Murray in his exhibition match against Roger Federer, but he still was not looking at his 100% best. Another exciting year of tennis awaits us, as we hope to watch more of what we saw. Will the nextGen overthrow the veterans or is there some more left in their tanks? It remains to be seen.