As if an Olympic silver medal, the U.S. Open quarterfinals and getting Argentina into November’s Davis Cup final weren’t enough, Juan Martin del Potro broke a title drought of nearly three years by winning Stockholm, beating Jack Sock in the final, 7-5, 6-1. After a tight first set, del Potro cruised over an increasingly impatient Sock, who won just 7/43 return points.
It’s the 19th title of del Potro’s career, an impressive total even before considering the era he’s played in and how much time he’s lost to injuries. He had as tough of a path to a 250 title as one will ever see: John Isner, Nicolas Almagro, Ivo Karlovic, Grigor Dimitrov and Sock. 500 events have been won with far less arduous title routes than that.
Relevant results: Despite a lackluster final, it was a great week for Sock, who survived in three sets against Malek Jaziri and Dustin Brown before getting a quality win over Sascha Zverev in the semifinals. A rolled ankle was partially to blame for top seed Gael Monfils’ loss in the second round (after a first round bye) to Gastao Elias. 18 year old Mikael Ymer got his first ATP win in a romp over Fernando Verdasco. He also took a set off Karlovic and won the doubles title with his 20 year old brother Elias:
Wow. Elias and Mikael Ymer doubles champions in Stockholm. Great story. pic.twitter.com/QI62Zptv2n
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) October 23, 2016
Tie Break Tens
A special event in Vienna ahead of the event this week saw six players compete for $250,000 by playing 10 point tiebreaks against each other.
Group 1: Andy Murray 2-0, Goran Ivanisevic 1-1, Marcus Willis 0-2. Ivanisevic, 45, beat Willis, the Brit who was ranked well outside the top 700 and had 15 minutes of fame at Wimbledon for winning a match and then losing to Roger Federer. Willis, now ranked just inside the top 500, also lost in qualifying for the official tournament.
Group 2: Dominic Thiem 2-0, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 1-1, Tommy Haas 0-2.
Semifinals: Murray def Tsonga, Thiem def Ivanisevic
Third place: Tsonga def Ivanisevic
Final: With family in attendance in his home country, Thiem “upsets” Murray
Svetlana Kuznetsova needed to defend her title to slide into the last spot for the WTA Finals (made possible by Serena Williams vacating her spot), and defend it she did. Kuznetsova went through a very respectable path to the title: Alize Cornet, Timea Babos, Elina Svitolina and Dasha Gavrilova.
Relevant results: Carla Suarez Navarro also could have qualified for Singapore if she had won the title. Instead, she was forced to retire in her first match after a bye against Gavrilova. Belinda Bencic’s miserable, injury-filled year came to an end with a straight set to Dasha Kasatkina, who later lost in the quarters to Julia Goerges.
Kuznetsova had no time to celebrate her title on Saturday, as her first match in Singapore is on Monday. Group play got underway on Sunday, as Angie Kerber fended off Dominika Cibulkova in a high-quality match (7-6, 3-6, 6-2), while Simona Halep beat an erratic Madison Keys, 6-2, 6-4. Keys had 40 errors.
Monica Niculescu played flawlessly to upset Petra Kvitova in the final. Caroline Wozniacki ended her marvelous fall resurgence by withdrawing against Niculescu in the quarterfinals.
Pablo Carreno Busta picked up his second title of both his season and career by beating Fabio Fognini in the final. The always-irascible Fognini took exception with Carreno Busta coming back to win after receiving medical attention the trainer, saying it was a “magic trick” and “I need one too.”
Richard Gasquet won the inaugural edition of this event in Belgium, topping Diego Schwartzman in the final. The 30 year old leads the notable generation of Frenchman in total titles with 14, though they are all 250 titles.
-It was a shockingly successful week for Schwartzman, who made the final after entering the week with zero career wins indoors. He didn’t have a single easy opponent either, going through Nicolas Mahut, Taylor Fritz, Pablo Cuevas and top seed David Goffin. In his first match following a bye, second seed David Ferrer was taken out by Kyle Edmund.
News of the Week
-In Basel, junior World No. 1 Stefanos Tsitsipas, 18, won his first ATP qualifying match over Rajeev Ram. He did not qualify for the main draw though, losing next round to Robin Haase.
As per this interview w/Toni (in CAT) Rafa will 1) be back to practice in 15d 2) play Abu Dhabi b4 going to Brisbane https://t.co/XBIEGeZtWn
— Genny SS (@genny_ss) October 23, 2016
-Angie Kerber obviously won WTA Player of the Year. Other award winners:
Most Improved – Konta
Newcomer – Osaka
Comeback – Cibulkova
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) October 21, 2016
Despite official info in September, Kyrgios won't play ATP500 in Rotterdam. He will take part in NBA All-Star Celebrity Game the same week.
— Michal Samulski (@MichalSamulski) October 19, 2016
Malaysia airlines has dumped controversial tennis star Nick Kyrgios as their Australian ambassador. https://t.co/s9LVcEMvFZ
— Sunrise (@sunriseon7) October 18, 2016
-After her opening win in Singapore, Simona Halep confirmed she wants to keep working with top coach/ESPN analyst Darren Cahill, though they’ll have to sit down after the season to see if it’s still the right fit. Halep won big titles in Madrid and Canada this year but is still searching for the success at majors that she had in 2014.
This is interesting. Sharapova and Muguruza to play an exhibition on a half-clay, half-grass court, like Federer and Nadal in 2007. https://t.co/iCxtBvor1B
— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) October 22, 2016