Best Of 2019: ATP Heritage Review
ATPTour.com marked a number of milestones and historic anniversaries throughout 2019
Federer’s 100 Titles & 1,200th Match Win
Roger Federer became the second man in the Open Era to capture 100 singles title on 2 March with victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final. “It’s been a long, wonderful journey… I have loved every minute,” Federer said on court after his victory. “It’s been tough, but the sacrifice has been very, very worthwhile and we’ll see how much more I’ve got left in the tank. Reaching 100 is an absolute dream come true for me.”
Two months later, on 9 May, the Swiss superstar recorded his 1,200th match win over Gael Monfils in the Mutua Madrid Open third round and immediately set his sights on the 1,274 match wins record of American Jimmy Connors, who is also the all-time titles leader with 109 crowns.
Federer added to his silverware haul in 2019 at the Miami Open presented by Itau (d. Isner) in March, the Grass Court Open Halle (d. Goffin) in June and the Swiss Indoors Basel (d. De Minaur) in October for 103 titles overall. He is also on 1,237 match wins – 37 victories behind Connors.
50th Anniversary of Laver’s Second Grand Slam
The tennis world celebrated the 50th anniversary of Rod Laver’s second Grand Slam of the Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open titles. The Australian, who won 18 of the 32 tournaments he entered in 1969, compiling a 106-16 match record, spoke exclusively to ATPTour.com on the eve of each major championship in 2019, reflecting on his memories of his historic run half a century ago. Laver first completed the calendar year Grand Slam as an amateur in 1962, following in the footsteps of Don Budge, who first achieved the feat in 1938.
Exclusives: Laver Talks About His 1969 Grand Slam
Australian Open Feature: Wet Cabbage Leaves Keep Laver & Roche Cool
Roland Garros Feature: 'It All Worked For Me Against Rosewall'
Wimbledon Feature: 'I Never Looked At Draws, It Was In My Corner'
US Open Feature: ‘Unless You Played Your Best Tennis You’d Get In Trouble'
Fognini, Berrettini, Medvedev, Bautista Agut Make Top 10 Breakthroughs
Two Italians — Fabio Fognini and Matteo Berrettini — a Russian, Daniil Medvedev, and Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain broke into the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings for the first time this year.
Fognini, aged 32, became the third Italian in rankings history (since 1973) to crack the elite group (after Adriano Panatta and Corrado Barazzutti) on 10 June, and he was also the oldest first-time member in the Top 10 since 1973. Shortly prior to his debut at the Nitto ATP Finals, on 28 October, Berrettini entered the Top 10.
“It is crazy, because we had to wait a lot,” said Berrettini. “Fabio won a crazy tournament [in Monte-Carlo], he was playing so good. He was looking for this achievement a bit longer than me. He [has had] a really great career. After winning an ATP Masters 1000 [title], the Top 10 is the next step, so I was happy for him and now I am super proud of myself.”
On 15 July, Medvedev entered the fray, 12 months on from being ranked No. 61. “I am very proud to reach this step in my career,” said Medvedev. "Some years ago, I changed my life and really dedicated myself to this sport and the results have shown this. This is hopefully the first step of many more goals.”
After 14 years on the ATP Tour, Bautista Agut fulfilled his childhood dream on 19 August by debuting in the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings. “It’s great to be there. There’s a lot of work behind that,” said Bautista Agut. “I’ve been dreaming of this since I was young, so I’m very happy.”
Cilic, Wawrinka, Dimitrov, Melo Record Milestone Match Wins
Stan Wawrinka rightly savoured his fight from two knee surgeries two summers ago on 1 June with the 500th match win of his career with victory over Grigor Dimitrov in the Roland Garros third round. The Swiss told ATPTour.com, “The level on our tour is extremely high and you suffer a lot to get to 500 match wins, trust me! So it means a lot to hit the milestone, but I’m not done yet. Let’s keep working hard and start the road to 600!"
Thirteen years after recording his first ATP Tour match win, Marin Cilic became one of 10 active players to hit the 500 match wins milestone after he beat Ivo Karlovic at the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow on 17 October. Just four days later, on 21 October, Dimitrov earned his 300th match win by defeating Damir Dzumhur at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna. The Bulgarian’s first tour-level victory at Rotterdam in 2009 against Tomas Berdych.
Former doubles World No. 1 Marcelo Melo became the 35th player to record 500 tour-level doubles wins when he partnered Lukasz Kubot to victory over Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury in the Citi Open first round in Washington, D.C. “It means a lot. It means I’ve been playing good for a long time,” said Melo, who did not know he was on the verge of the milestone before the match. “I’m very happy and the many people [who have been] with me all the way, for sure they’re going to be happy as well.”
Herbert/Mahut Complete Career Grand Slam
Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert became the eighth men's doubles team in the sport’s history to complete the career doubles Grand Slam of all four major championship crowns on 27 January to clinch their first Australian Open trophy. The Frenchmen defeated 2017 champions Henri Kontinen and John Peers to add to their 2015 US Open, 2016 Wimbledon and 2018 Roland Garros titles.
“We knew when we won Roland Garros that it was the one missing, so for sure it added maybe a special motivation when entering this tournament,” said Herbert. “I think we wanted it, but we also wanted to be good on court in each match and we focused on the game, and that's why maybe today we could achieve what we achieved here at the Australian Open.”
“Today, I didn't have it in mind, because I thought I was sure it would have been really difficult to play if I was just focused on just to win this tournament, because it was the one missing," said Mahut. "I was just focussed on the game, just focused on what I have to do on court to be good, because in front of us we had a really good team to beat.”
Herbert and Mahut became the first team to complete the Career Grand Slam since Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan secured their set of major titles at Wimbledon in July 2006. Herbert and Mahut reunited later in 2019 to compile an 11-match winning streak, including titles at the Rolex Paris Masters (d. Khachanov/Rublev) and the Nitto ATP Finals (d. Klaasen/Venus).
Mike Bryan Celebrates 500 Weeks As Doubles No. 1
Mike Bryan, who returned for his 13th stint at No. 1 in the ATP Doubles Rankings on 16 July 2018, celebrated his 500th week in the top spot on 26 May at 41 years and 28 days. Mike was quick to praise his brother, Bob Bryan, who’d missed eight months of the 2018 season due to a hip injury, telling ATPTour.com, “It seems like yesterday that we won Roland Garros [in 2003] and reached No. 1.
“It’s a dream to hit No. 1, but to be No. 1 for so long I owe it to this guy. We’ve been pushing each other and never really taken the foot off the gas as long as we’ve been playing. We’ve always reached for more and never been satisfied when we’ve won a tournament and set our sights on the next one. There has been sacrifice, but we love what we do.”
Djokovic Moves Up Weeks At No. 1 Ladder
Novak Djokovic, who began his fourth stint at the summit of men’s professional tennis on 5 November 2018, moved passed Jimmy Connors (268 weeks) for 269 weeks at No. 1 in the ATP Rankings on 16 September 2019, and rose to third place for the most weeks in the top spot on 271 weeks, beyond Ivan Lendl (270 weeks), on 30 September. He completed his 275th week at World No. 1, before Rafael Nadal returned to the top spot on 4 November. Djokovic is now behind only Pete Sampras (286 weeks) and all-time leader Roger Federer (310 weeks).
Farewell To Former Stars
The tennis world also bid farewell to former players, who passed away during the 2019 season, including Britons Graham Stilwell (13 January) and Paul Hutchins (14 March), Australia's Peter McNamara (20 July), 1972 Roland Garros champion Andres Gimeno of Spain (9 October) and Russia's Alexander Volkov (19 October). See Obituaries Section