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10 most successful players of 2016 Masters 1000 Series

10 most successful players of 2016 Masters 1000 Series

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by Jovica Ilic

Masters 1000 Series brought almost nothing new in terms of winners, with Djokovic extending his domination at this level of competition. Mighty Serb won another 4 titles, to round up his total tally to 30, something that seemed to be impossible just a half a decade ago! Also, Andy Murray raised his level significantly, conquering 3 tournaments to be on 14, just 3 behind Andre Agassi on the eternal list. Novak and Andy were by far the best players in the Masters this season, far above their rivals who were unable to keep that pace.

Rafael Nadal won his first Masters since Madrid 2014, and we finally got a new champion when Marin Cilic won his maiden Masters trophy in Cincinnati. Marin is the first new champion since Stan Wawrinka in Monte Carlo in 2014, and this was welcomed by everyone who wants to see some shifts and movements at the top of this Series, that has been under the full domination of the Big 4 for almost 10 years.

There were some surprises as well, such as Sta Wawrinka, who finished the season ranked 4th on the ATP list, but failed to be among the 10 players with most points collected in Masters in 2016, together with Dominic Thiem.

Another big name who missed to find its place in this analyze is Roger Federer, winner of 24 Masters shields, but that was expected, knowing the fact he only played in 2 tournaments. Here is the list of 10 best players of 2016 Masters Series, starting from Tomas Berdych. #10 TOMAS BERDYCH - 9 Tournaments, 1010 points, 12-9 Score Tomas Berdych didn't have a season like he would want to, winning one title in Shenzhen but finishing with mediocre 39-20 score.

Still, he collected enough points to finish inside the Top 10 for the 7th year in a row, which is a nice accomplishment. In addition, Tomas managed to be one of the best players of Masters 1000 Series as well, ending with 1010 points, that puts him in 10th place.

Like usual, Berdych was there to compete in all 9 Masters events, reaching 4 quarter-finals. In what has been a story of his career, Tomas scored some solid wins against lower-ranked rivals, but top players remained an obstacle that he has not been able to pass, losing twice to both Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, without winning at least a set! Novak was too strong in Miami, pushing Berdych's second serve to the limits, breaking him 4 times for a commanding 6-3 6-3 triumph.

Damir Dzumhur stunned him in Monte Carlo but Tomas bounced back in Madrid, defeating David Ferrer before he lost to Andy Murray. Tomas was pretty much hopeless against inspired Briton, creating no break points and losing his serve 3 times out of 4 chances that Andy created.

In Toronto, Tomas came from 5-2 down against Novak in the opening set (he even had 3 break points for a 6-5 lead), but he wasted a 6-3 advantage in the tie break. Novak won the second set 6-4 to prevail in straights. In Paris, Berdych again made his rival working hard to earn the triumph, losing to Andy 7-6 7-5.

It was a great display from the Czech player, reminding us of vintage Tomas Berdych, and he could have easily taken the opening set, building a huge 6-1 lead in the tie break. Andy saved no less than 7 set points to steal the set after 66 minutes, but instead of dropping his pace, Tomas continued to fight well, breaking Andy in game 10 of the set number 2 when Briton served for the match, but he couldn't force another tie break, as Murray won the set 7-5 and went to the semi-final.

This was the first time since 2009 that Tomas failed to reach at least one Masters 1000 semis during the season. #9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 7 Tournaments, 1125 Points, 14-7 Score Jo-Wilfried Tsonga ended the season outside the Top 10, but he accumulated enough points to be 9th on the list with best players of Masters 1000 Series.

Jo played 7 events, gathering 1125 points after 14 wins, reaching 3 quarter-finals and the semis in Monte Carlo. Tsonga had a good start, battling with Novak Djokovic in Indian Wells quarter-final for 2 hours and 6 minutes, losing 7-6 7-6.

Novak served for the opening set at 5-4 but Jo got the break back to force a tie break, but his efforts were in vain, losing it 7-2 when he sent a backhand to the net. The second set started with a break for the Frenchman, although his advantage was short-lived, Novak got it back and took the set with another 7-2 score in the tie break.

In front of the home crowd in Monte Carlo, Tsonga went all the way towards the semi-final, beating Roger Federer in the previous round. Nevertheless, compatriot Monfils was too strong in the battle for the place in the final, beating Jo 6-1 6-3 in 69 minutes.

This was one of the best tournaments for Monfils in the whole season and Jo didn't stand a chance, making too many unforced errors, unable to compete with his rival from the baseline. Tsonga finished the season on a high note, with last 8 appearances in both Shanghai and Paris, losing to Roberto Bautista Agut and Milos Raonic.

#8 David Goffin - 9 Tournaments, 1405 points, 19-9 Score David Goffin enjoyed a career-best season, climbing up to the 11th place on the ATP rankings list, partly thanks to some very good Masters 1000 results.

He played in all 9 tournaments, assembling 1405 points from respectable 19 victories. He started with 2 semi-finals in Indian Wells and Miami, and added another 2 quarter-finals in the latter part of the season, losing to Raonic, Djokovic, and Murray in those matches.

The beginning was very hard, though, saving 2 match points against promising American Frances Tiafoe in Indian Wells second round, but after that, he toppled Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic to advance to the last 4, where Raonic stopped him by 6-3 3-6 6-3.

Miami gave him some favorable draw and David grabbed that with both hands, booking a semi-final clash with Novak Djokovic, that world number 1 won by 7-6 6-4. David fought well in the opening set, he led 4-3 before Novak broke back to level the score, and Serb took the tie break 7-5 after a fantastic lob (the set lasted 73 minutes).

Novak made a crucial move in the 7th game of the second set to clinch the match by 7-6 6-4, but David could have been very pleased with his tennis in the month of March. Andy Murray beat him in the quarter-final of Rome by 6-1 7-5, as David managed to resist more seriously only in the second set, which wasn't enough to send the match into a decider.

Andy was once again too strong, this time in Shanghai in the penultimate event of the season, defeating David 6-2 6-2 with 2 breaks of serve in each set (Andy had 15 break points in total). #7 Gael Monfils - 8 Tournaments, 1555 Points, 19-7 Score Gael Monfils played arguably his best tennis in 2016, finishing the season at the 7th place and making a debut at the World Tour Finals in London.

His Masters 1000 results were also very good, with 19 wins from 8 tournaments that he entered, compiling 1555 points. With a more serious approach to his game and with smarter court attitude, Gael played only a few poor matches in Masters, reaching a final in Monte Carlo, together with one more semi-final and 2 quarter-final appearances.

The season started with 3 very good results, which Gale never did before, making the last 8 in both Indian Wells and Miami, before going all the way to the final in Monte Carlo. In Indian Wells, Raonic stopped him in straight sets, as Gael stayed in touch in the opening set, and the match against Nishikori in Miami produced an epic fight! Kei saved 5 match points en route to the semi-final, and this was one of the most entertaining matches of the season for sure.

Monfils saved his best tennis for Monte Carlo, where he reached his 3rd Masters 1000 final in a career, playing some high-quality tennis from start to finish. He won first 5 matches easily, to set up an ultimate clash with Rafael Nadal, and the first two sets from the final were among the best tennis we saw on the ATP Tour in 2016, with players pushing each other to the limits in almost every point.

Despite winning the second set 7-5, Gael had nothing in the tank to continue his fight in the deciding set, Nadal won it 6-0, but despite that, this was probably the greatest Masters final of the season. Madrid and Rome were not that successful, but Gael was back on the right track in Toronto, where he lost to Novak Djokovic 6-3 6-2.

Gael had more break points, but as always, Djokovic won the most important points for a routine victory. Cincinnati and Shanghai gave him 180 points in total, after losing to Dominic Thiem (gave him a walkover) and David Goffin, while he was forced to skip home Paris Masters due to a rib injury.

#6 MARIN CILIC - 6 Tournaments, 1605 Points, 13-5 Score After surprising everyone at US Open two years ago, Marin Cilic failed to carry that momentum and add more big titles to his tally.

That all changed this summer in Cincinnati when he won his first Masters 1000 crown, becoming the first new Masters 1000 champion since Stan Wawrinka in Monte Carlo 2014! Overall, Marin played in only 6 Masters events in 2016, collecting 13 wins and 1605 points, which was enough for the 6th place on this list.

Cilic opened the year with the quarter-final in Indian Wells, but his biggest result came in August, going all the way in Cincinnati. He played some great tennis, using his weapons wisely on this fast hard court, and beating the names like Berdych and Dimitrov en route to his first final at this level.

In the title match, Marin toppled Andy Muray by 6-4 7-5, being a more determined and aggressive player. Andy was the favorite but he failed to deliver his best tennis in the crucial moments, losing big 400 points in the chase with Novak Djokovic for the year-end number 1 spot.

Nevertheless, Marin will help Andy with his victory over world number 1 Novak Djokovic in Paris. This was their 15th H2H meeting and Marin finally found the way to crack Novak's game, celebrating by 6-4 7-6 to reach the semi-final, where he lost to John Isner.

#5 RAFAEL NADAL - 7 Tournaments, 2010 Points, 15-6 Score After Cincinnati 2013, no one could ever think that Nadal will not break almost every possible Masters 1000 record, with already 26 titles under his belt (Novak was on 14 at that point!).

Nevertheless, things went from bad to worse for this great champion in the years to come, and after winning 4 titles in a row that spring and summer, Nadal will claim just two more trophies up to date, one of those this April in Monte Carlo.

Those 1000 points allowed him to be 5th on this list, but it has to be said that this was another disappointing Masters season for him, finishing with just 15 wins and 2010 points in total from 7 events played. In Indian Wells, Nadal struggled to find the right form, but he survived Zverev's challenge and reach the semi-final, losing to Djokovic 7-6 6-2.

Rafa opened the match better, having an early break, but that lasted only for a few minutes, as Novak regained his composure soon. After 68 minutes of intense battle, Novak took the tie break 7-5, and from 2-2 in the second set he broke Nadal's resistance, winning the final 4 games of the match to go through to the final.

Nadal suffered another setback in Miami, as he was forced to retire in his second round match with Bosnian Damir Dzumhur, ranked 94th in the world, but Monte Carlo cured all the wounds, with the 9th title for Nadal in the Principality.

This was his first Masters 1000 title since Madrid 2014, and it could not come in the better moment, returning Nadal back into contention for the remaining big clay tournaments. He had to defeat Thiem, Wawrinka, and Murray (this match lasted 2 hours and 43 minutes) back-to-back, and it looked that he will have an easier job in the title match against Gael Monfils.

As we already said, Gael performed great, forcing Nadal to bring his A game before he broke the Frenchman in the deciding set to lift the beloved trophy once again. Despite this success, Nadal was still far from the brutal clay courter he was just a few years ago, and he couldn't pass Murray and Djokovic in Madrid in Rome.

That match against Novak was something special, Novak prevailed by 7-5 7-6 in brutal 2 hours and 24 minutes, but it could have lasted more since Nadal had 5 set points in the second set. That was pretty much all we saw from Nadal in the Masters Series, he skipped Toronto and Paris and suffered tough losses to Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki in Cincinnati and Shanghai, staying on those good results from the first part of the season.

#4 MILOS RAONIC - 9 Tournaments, 2175 Points, 24-8 Score Milos Raonic had a banner season behind him, climbing to 3rd place on the ATP rankings list, reaching his first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon, and making a lot of improvements in his game that made him even more dangerous, especially in return segment.

Milos was fully committed to Masters 1000 Series, playing in all 9 tournaments, and reaching at least the quarter-final in 7 of those. He won 24 matches in total, which was enough for 2175 points and the 4th place on this list.

It was a very strong start for Canadian, advancing to Indian Wells final, his 3rd at this level, following a good wins over Berdych, Monfils and Goffin. Instead of an entertaining final against Djokovic, the crowd saw a one-sided match, and Djokovic's domination in every segment.

Serb successfully tames Milos' serves on this slow hard court and after that, it was easy for him to take the control in the rallies, celebrating by 6-2 6-0 in 77 minutes. It was almost a flawless performance from the defending champion, who made only 4 unforced errors, against 27 from Raonic! Novak opened the match with a 4-0 lead and he never looked back, keeping his level high and not letting Milos climb back on the scoreboard.

In Miami, Nick Kyrgios beat Milos in the quarter-final, in a very tight match with only one break of serve. Andy Murray was too strong in the quarter-final of Monte Carlo, letting Milos only 2 games in the encounter that lasted 66 minutes.

Raonic couldn't do anything on return and he lost his serve 5 times, but this was a solid result for him. On a much faster Madrid clay, he was again in the last 4, but this Novak Djokovic defeated him 6-3 6-4. Novak broke him once in each set, creating 10 break points in total, while Raonic failed to convert any of 3 he had.

In another close match, Gael Monfils toppled Milos 6-4 6-4 in Toronto quarter-final, again with one break in each set. In the semi-final of Cincinnati, Raonic was again beaten in the deciding moments, this time to Andy Murray, who saved all 3 break points and took Milos' serve 3 times for a commanding 6-3 6-3.

In Paris, Canadian advanced to another semi-final but he was unable to step on the court versus Murray, due to a tear in his right quad muscle. #3 Kei Nishikori - 7 Tournaments, 2280 Points, 20-7 Score Kei Nishikori can be very happy with the way he performed in 2016, finishing among the Top 5 players and winning the most Masters 1000 points behind untouchable Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

Japanese star played 7 tournaments and he made 2 finals and two semis, with one last 8 appearance as well, for a total number of 2280 points. Kei had to dig deep against Isner and Johnson in Indian Wells but he passed both tests, only to lose to Nadal in the semis.

He went a step further in Miami, reaching his 2nd Masters 1000 final but losing to Novak 6-3 6-3. Djokovic was on a very high level and Kei failed to follow that rhythm from the baseline. Japanese served at only 52% and that was far from enough to harm Novak, who won more than a half return points and broke Kei 5 times from 9 opportunities.

Kei pulled back two breaks, which wasn't enough to make a bigger difference. Madrid brought another valuable result for Kei, he prevailed in a crazy match against Nick Kyrgios to set up another match against Novak, but Djokovic upends him again, by 6-3 7-6.

Kei fought valiantly in the second set, which wasn't enough to send the match into a decider. A week later in Rome, those two players played an even better match, that lasted 3 hours and 2 minutes. Novak came from behind to notch a 2-6 6-4 7-6 triumph, Kei was just a few points away from the win but he couldn't bring the match home, in his 3rd consecutive loss to Djokovic in Masters Series.

After 3rd, there was 4th as well, in the final of Toronto a few months later. Kei beat Wawrinka in the semis but again he wasn't able to crack Novak's riddle, with Djokovic winning 6-3 7-5. #2 ANDY MURRAY - 8 Tournaments, 4650 Points, 27-5 Score In arguably his best Masters 1000 season, Andy Murray started in a slow gear but was getting better with every tournament, finishing with 3 titles and 5 finals in a row.

Andy claimed 27 wins and 4650 points in total, more than double compared to any rival behind him on the list. Ironically, the start could not have been worse, as Andy lost to Delbonis and Dimitrov in the 3rd round of both Indian Wells and Miami, collecting a poor 90 points from those two biggest Masters, which was something that he for sure didn't plan.

Clay swing was much more successful, and in fact, Andy was the most consistent players in Monte Carlo, Madrid, and Rome. As we already said, Andy lost to Nadal in a hard-fought match in Monte Carlo, but he got revenge 3 weeks later in Madrid when he beat Rafa 7-5 6-4 to reach the final.

Still, Djokovic was waiting in the title match, and it was a much harder test for Murray. Novak won the opener 6-2 in just 30 minutes, sending the clear sign who is the better player on this kind of surface, but Andy at least showed his fighting spirit, winning the second set 6-3 to force a decider.

After a real drama in the final game, Novak took the third set 6-3 to win the title, mostly because due to the fact he played much better in the longer points, which is essential on clay. A week later those two met in another final, this time in Rome, and Andy won the match 6-3 6-3, for his first Masters 1000 crown on clay.

Marin Cilic stopped him from winning the title in Cincinnati, but Andy was the man to beat in Shanghai and Paris, winning two crucial titles en route to becoming world number 1, which he accomplished in Paris after Milos Raonic had to withdraw before the semi-final.

#1 NOVAK DJOKOVIC - 8 Tournaments, 5150 Points, 31-4 Score Before 2011, Novak Djokovic was on 5 Masters 1000 titles, and he even failed to win any in 2010, but everything changed starting with Indian Wells 2011, as he launched his hunt towards Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

In the last 6 seasons, Novak achieved some unreal stuff in Masters Series, and after another 4 titles in 2016, he is the proud owner of mythical 30 Masters crowns, which will probably stay as the unreachable bar for the generations that will come.

For the 3rd year in a row, Novak is an undisputed king of Masters tournaments, gathering 5150 points with a record 31 wins from 8 tournaments. Novak stayed undefeated in Indian Wells and Miami for the 3rd year, something that will be very hard to repeat in the future, but Monte Carlo produced a big surprise, as he lost to Jiri Vesely in the second round.

For rock consistent Djokovic, this was the earliest Masters loss since Madrid 2013, and he came to Monte Carlo with mindblowing 11 consecutive Masters finals! Everything went back to normal in Madrid, where Novak beat Andy in the final, but the result was the opposite in Rome a week later, this time it was Murray's turn to celebrate.

Canada was conquered for the 4th time, as Novak showed some top class tennis in the closing stages against Monfils and Nishikori, but he stayed empty handed in both Shanghai and Paris (he was the defending champion in both).

In China, Roberto Bautista Agut played one of the matches of his life to topple Novak 6-4 6-4, and Marin Cilic took advantage of Novak's poor form in Paris, beating him for the first time in 15 matches. .

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