As the first quarter of the calendar year comes to a close, so do the first 20 tournaments of the ATP 2019 tour. Here’s a look at how the three months went on the ATP tour, who were the movers and shakers and breakers on tour.
The first three months of the men’s tour are wide-ranging from the hard courts Down Under to the Latin American clay swing, and from the indoor European swing to the Sunshine Double US hard courts Masters 1000 tournaments.
The 2019 season thus far has seen plenty of twists and turns and as we get ready for the European clay swing, the biggest takeaway from the first quarter of the year is that the ATP tour has more parity than it has head in a very long time.
When the season began, TennisWorldLive.com looked at the field as the “Big Three”, the “Next Gen”, and the “Others”. Interestingly, we have a story to tell for each of these three categories of players, for the first three months of the year.
The Big Three were still expected to be the ones to run away with most of the silverware, and while they did win noteworthy titles, it was not ‘only’ their quarter.
Novak Djokovic started the year where he left off in 2018, and despite a surprise loss to Roberto Bautista Agut in Doha early in the year, he was clinical and invincible in Melbourne, winning his 15th Grand Slam title.
Rafael Nadal returned to the tour at the Australian Open from injury with a revamped serve and forehand and looked very sharp, until he ran into Djokovic in the final and lost a very one-sided battle. Nadal has been plagued with injuries intermittently since, but is expected to be back strong for the European clay swing.
Roger Federer started the year well winning the Hopman Cup, but endured a surprise fourth round loss to Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Australian Open. Federer has come back strong since, winning the Dubai Open (his 100th title), and the Miami Masters 1000 as well as making the finals of the Indian Wells Masters.
Of the 20 ATP tournaments played thus far, there were 19 different winners with only one individual winning more than one title, that being Federer. This statistic depicts what an evenly-fought three months of the season it has been.
2019 began with a lot of speculation and excitement around the flurry of next generation players and tennis experts and fans wondered how they would perform in the year to come. While overall, one can conlude that the results have been somewhat mixed, there are plenty of positives for the ‘Next Gen’ to take from these three months.
Stefanos Tsitstipas, Daniil Medvedev, Felix Auger- Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov are among the positive stories of the ‘Next Gen’, whereas Alexander Zverev, the highest ranked of them all at number three was by far the biggest disappointment of the first quarter of 2019.
Karen Khachanov and Borna Coric did not have a particularly good quarter, after a strong end to 2018, and Frances Tiafoe did well in parts, but would like to be more consistent.
Tsitsipas and Medvedev were the strongest starters of the year among the Next Gen, with ATP 250 titles and positive showings at the Australian Open. Consecutive weeks of tennis in February probably wore them out a little by the Sunshine Masters, but they remain a force through the rest of the season.
Canadian teenagers Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov reached new highs during the Sunshine Masters, with both ending the quarter with semi-final showings at the Miami Masters. Much was expected of Zverev, but early departures at the Australian Open, Indian Wells, and Miami Open has left him with a lot of thinking to do.
While Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and Tomas Berdych started the year well, the one name that stands out among the others is Gael Monfils, and to a lesser extent Stan Wawrinka and Nick Kyrgios.
Monfils had a very consistent February winning the ATP 500 at Rotterdam, and strong showings at other ATP 250 tournaments. An Achilles’ Heel issue left his Indian Wells and Miami outings less promising.
Wawrinka had some strong tournaments and is back in the top 35 of the ATP rankings. As temperamental as ever, Kyrgios had the best week in a long time, defeating Rafa Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, John Isner, and Alexander Zverev.
Somewhere in between ‘Next Gen’ and ‘Others’, lies Dominic Thiem, who had a disappointing start to the year, especially at the Latin American clay swing.
However, he had a phenomenal week and a half at Indian Wells winning his first ATP Masters 1000 beating Roger Federer in the final in what was a spirited performance. Grigor Dimitrov, who was world number three 15 months ago continues to disappoint, with underwhelming showings galore.
Not surprisingly, the first quarter of 2019 had a lot of stories and plenty of individuals that contributed to those. As we move ahead to the clay court season and onward, there is reason enough to believe that this promises to be an evenly matched year with a lot of exciting tennis and results ahead.