Fabulous Fabio Defeats delPo For First Hard Court Title (written by Emre Saridogan)

There was simply no stopping Fabio Fognini this week, as the fiery Italian stormed to an 8th career title, beating hot favourite and top seed Juan Martin del Potro 6-4 6-2 in the final.

Such a result was looking rather unlikely as del Potro raced 3-0 ahead in the opening set, with Fognini unable to make his mark in the opening exchanges. However there was a dramatic turnaround thereafter, as Fognini won 12 of the next 15 games to race to victory.

“It’s something strange because, of course, at the beginning of the week if you told me that we would be talking about titles… I am really happy, happy about this week, about my game. Of course it means a lot for me,” said Fognini after his victory.

Another point of interest in Los Cabos was the success of British number 2 Cameron Norrie, who reached his 3rd ATP tour level semi-final, losing to Fognini. Norrie will move up to 66 in the world, a new career high, and looks to be on the verge of a spot in the Top 50. Norrie also reached a semi-final last week in Atlanta, and is showing a level of consistency on the tour that will surely mean he will soon go onto even bigger things.

There was more British success in Washington, with Andy Murray making a spectacular return to hard court tennis, reaching the quarter-finals at the ATP 500 event before having to pull out due to exhaustion. This may seem unlike Murray, but poor tournament scheduling caused Murray to finish all 3 of his matches after 3am local time, and this, coupled with a lack of match sharpness, proved Murray’s undoing. He will rest this week rather than playing Toronto, and will prepare himself for Cincinnati and the US Open.

The overall winner in Washington was world number 3 Alexander Zverev, who defeated young gun and surprise package Alex de Minaur 6-2 6-4 to defend his title. De Minaur is 19 years old, and had what was surely the best week of his career to reach the final. He is mentored by Australian legend Lleyton Hewitt, and looks to be someone who could have an excellent career. However it was Zverev who was able to triumph this time around. The 21 year-old German jokingly proclaimed himself the ‘old guy’, as he was the oldest semi-finalist this week, with the other 3 being either 19 or 20, showing that perhaps a change of the guard is imminent, with Federer further reducing his schedule by pulling out of Toronto.

“It’s quite funny, because this final could be the final of the next 15 years, so I hope you guys all enjoyed it.” “It feels great. It shows mental strength as well, and shows a little bit of maturity,” Zverev said. “I had a great tournament. I played a lot of great players. Losing only one set, it was a fantastic week for me.”

Now the tour moves onto Toronto, the first of two Masters 1000 tournaments played in preparation for the US Open, which begins in only 3 weeks.

Rafa Rises Above Tsitsipas Challenge To Win 33rd Masters 1000 ( written by Emre Saridogan)

There is no stopping Rafael Nadal at the moment. The world number one overcame stern tests from the likes of Wawrinka, Cilic, Khachanov and Tsitsipas for the loss of just one set, storming to victory in Toronto.

In a draw without Rafa’s arch rival Roger Federer, the Spaniard was always going to be the hot favourite. However a young man called Stefanos Tsitsipas did not want to make it easy for Nadal.  He had beaten 4 top 10 players in a row to reach the final in Toronto, a feat that puts the Greek 15th in the world rankings, after starting the year at 92 in the world. Tsitsipas started slowly, losing the first set 6-2 and going 2-0 down in the second, but grew into the match. He broke Nadal as he served for the match, and then followed with a service hold to force a tiebreak. Things were looking up for the Greek until a forehand error at 4-3 to Nadal in the breaker turned things around, with Nadal easing to victory thereafter.

Despite the loss, Tsitsipas has much to be proud of, having just turned 20 on the day of the final. He became the youngest player to beat 4 top 10 players in a row since the introduction of the ATP World Tour in 1990, and he reached his first ever Masters 1000 final. Had Tsitsipas not spent such long amounts of time on court in previous matches, he may well have gone all the way.

“If you told me this two weeks ago I would not have believed it,” said Nadal. “It’s a great way to start the hard-court season. Winning in Toronto is so important. You don’t win Masters 1000s very often. It’s a very important victory for me and I’m very happy.”

Nadal also further consolidated his position as world number one, and is now 3,740 points ahead of Roger Federer. Nadal only has 2180 points to defend from Cincinnati and the US Open, so will likely retain his number one ranking going past the final Grand Slam of the year. Next for Nadal is Cincinnati, where the Spaniard will look to improve upon a quarter final finish in 2017.