2018 in review: Novak Djokovic wins Wimbledon. Coric stuns Federer in Halle


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2018 in review: Novak Djokovic wins Wimbledon. Coric stuns Federer in Halle

* ATP 500 Halle: Borna Coric (CRO) vs Roger Federer (SUI) 7-6(6) 3-6 6-2 The 21-year-old Croat Borna Coric arrived in Halle with two ATP wins on grass under his belt but he played a rock solid tennis throughout the week to go all the way, beating the nine-time champion Roger Federer 7-6 3-6 6-2 in two hours and six minutes for his second ATP crown after Marrakech 2017.

Borna played on a very high level, both in his service games and from the baseline overall, scoring his first win over Roger in three matches after a tough loss at Indian Wells three months ago. The Croat saved three out of four break points, stealing the opening set in the tie break and regaining his composure after losing set number two.

Roger was not on his usual level on this surface and at this event, just like in the previous three matches against Benoit Paire, Matthew Ebden and Denis Kudla. Unlike in those matches, this time he couldn't emerge as a winner, unable to impose his shots and suffering two breaks in the final set to finish runner-up, missing a chance to win the 10th title in Halle and losing the first place to Rafael Nadal, standing 50 points behind his great rival.

They had a similar number of aces, serving at 70% and 74% and producing only seven break points in the entire match. It has to be said that Roger won eight points more than Borna, including five in the opening set, but it wasn't enough to give him the triumph after being completely outplayed in the deciding set.

The Swiss had 43 winners and 23 unforced errors while Borna stood on a 32-21 ratio, taming his shots nicely and keeping the pace with Federer. Roger did everything right in his service games in the opening set, holding at love four times and dropping three points in six games in total to keep all the pressure on Borna.

Still, his return game was off during the entire week and despite winning a lot of points on Borna's serve he couldn't create break points in the first five return games. The 11th game was the longest of the match and Coric showed a fighting spirit, saving a break point after a 20-shot rally to avoid the setback and reach the tie break.

There, the first seven points went with the serve and Roger earned the first mini-break at 4-3 after a solid forehand attack, looking good to end the breaker on the winning side. Borna had some other plans, though, fending off the first set point at 4-6 with a deep return and another one after an amazing point that saw chances for both players to level the score at 6-6.

A service winner sent Borna 7-6 up and he stole the set after forcing an error from Roger, taking the breaker 8-6 despite winning five points less than his rival during the set. The Swiss served above 75% in set number two as well and he lost just seven points in five service games to keep the pressure on the other side of the next once again.

Unlike in the opener, Borna couldn't defend his serve as efficient as he would have wanted, saving a break point in games four and six but losing serve at 15 at 3-4 after a terrible volley, allowing Roger to serve for the set in the following game.

Four service winners got the job done for Federer in that ninth game and he was back in contention, entering the final set as the favorite. Nonetheless, Borna restored his shots and he delivered one of his finest serving performances, missing only one first serve and losing four points in five games, waiting for a chance on the return patiently.

It had to come as Roger started to struggle on his second serve and he got broken in game six after a backhand error, drifting further and further away from his 99th ATP crown. Coric closed the seventh game with an ace to gain a 5-2 lead and he broke Roger for the second time in the following game to cross the finish line and celebrate his biggest title on the Tour so far, also becoming the fourth youngest player who defeated Federer on grass.

* ATP 250 Antalya: Damir Dzumhur (BIH) vs Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-1 1-6 6-1 In the battle of the top seeds, Damir Dzumhur defeated Adrian Mannarino 6-1 1-6 6-1 in an hour and 25 minutes to lift his third ATP title and the first on grass.

This was the fifth ATP final for Mannarino and he is yet to taste the smell of victory, finishing on the losing side here just like 12 months ago when Yuichi Sugita halted him in the title match. It was a very strange result for a grass-court final but Damir had the upper hand in sets one and three, serving well and dominating from the court with a solid mixture of good groundstrokes and reliable display at the net that earned the title for him.

He faced just two break points in set number two, getting broken on both, but he compensated that with solid returns in the other two sets, breaking Adrian twice in each of the sets he won to emerge as a champion. Damir found his range right from the start, serving well and breaking Adrian at love in game four to take a 3-1 lead before cementing his advantage with another break in game six, closing the set with a forehand winner a few minutes later.

The Frenchman raised his level in set number two, scoring a break in game two despite two game points for the Bosnian who gave his serve away at love again at 1-4 after another poor volley. Serving for the set, Mannarino saved a break point in game seven and he converted the third set point with a service winner to level the score and set up a decider.

There, they both had an easy opening hold but it was all about Damir after that, losing just five points on serve in four games and breaking Mannarino twice to lift the trophy. Dzumhur earned a break in game four when Adrian sprayed a backhand error and it was all over when he suffered another break in game six following a volley winner from Damir.

A backhand winner in the following game clinched the title for the Bosnian, achieving his best result of the season that helped him to finish inside the Top 50. * ATP 250 Eastbourne: Mischa Zverev (GER) vs Lukas Lacko (SVK) 6-4 6-4 After a great season he had last year, the 30-year-old Mischa Zverev ha struggled to repeat that in 2018, losing the pace to his rivals in the ranking and scoring just 10 wins prior to Eastbourne without reaching the quarter-final.

He left all that behind him at the Nature Valley International, defeating Lukas Lacko 6-4 6-4 in an hour and 37 minutes to lift his maiden ATP crown from the third final, lifting the trophy in an emotional moment for him and his family.

It was the clash of two unseeded players chasing the first ATP crown and one of the biggest encounter in a career for both, considering their age and the fact they will not get too many chances to become the winner on the Tour again.

Mischa did everything right in his service games, losing five points behind his first serve and saving both break points he faced to mount the pressure on the other side of the net. Lacko gave his best to prolong the match as much as possible, fending off 10 out of 12 break points but losing serve once in each set to finish on the lower step of the podium.

It was the best possible start for the left-hander, breaking Lacko at 15 in the opening game after a forehand error from the Slovak and saving a break point in game four to go 3-1 up. Lacko saved two break points in game five with service winners and that was the last opportunity for returners to change the result, with Zverev closing the set in game 10 after a beautiful volley winner.

The fifth game of the second set saw more troubles for Lacko on serve and he got broken on Mischa's sixth break chance, earning it after an amazing return winner and sealing the break with another forehand down the line winner for a 3-2.

Mischa had to save a break point in the following game to remain in front and he missed a chance to increase the lead, wasting a break chance in game seven before crossing the finish line with three service winners in game 10 to start a title celebration.

* Grand Slam Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs Kevin Anderson (RSA) 6-2 6-2 7-6(3) A former world number 1 Novak Djokovic passed quite a journey in 2018, making a slow comeback after a long injury and seeking his best form for some four and a half months.

After a streak of mediocre results, Novak looked much better in Rome and Roland Garros and he was ready to attack his first ATP title in a year at Queen's, wasting a match point against Marin Cilic in the final but heading to Wimbledon as one of the favorites to go all the way.

In the clash of titans, Novak defeated Rafael Nadal in the semis after two days of amazing battle to enter his first Grand Slam final since the US Open in 2016 and he defeated Kevin Anderson 6-2 6-2 7-6 in two hours and 18 minutes to claim his 13th Grand Slam crown and the fourth at Wimbledon, the first in three years.

Novak is the fourth player in history with at least four titles in two different Majors after Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer and ranked 21st he is the lowest-ranked player to lift the Major crown after Gaston Gaudio at Roland Garros in 2004 and since 2001 at Wimbledon when Goran Ivanisevic went all the way.

Playing in his second Grand Slam final after the last year's US Open, Anderson gave his best as the first South African in the final here since 1921 but it wasn't enough against such a strong rival, leaving his everything in the semi-final where he prevailed over John Isner after more than six and a half hours on Friday in what was the third longest singles match in history.

This was the first Wimbledon final with two players at the age of 30 or more and Novak and Kevin are the sixth and seventh players who have reached the Wimbledon final in the Open era after turning 30 following Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors and Roger Federer.

This was also the first Wimbledon final since 1996 with none of the top-four seeds battling for the crowd (Nadal was the last surviving player from that group before he lost to Novak) and Djokovic is the first champion who was seeded 12th after Andre Agassi in 1992 when he defeated Goran Ivanisevic.

With these 2000 points, Djokovic is back inside the top-10 for the first time since October and he was now ready to challenge Nadal and Federer for the big titles in the rest of the season. As the result suggests, Novak was the dominant figure in the opening two sets but Anderson raised his level in set number three, wasting five set points in games 10 and 12 before Novak sealed the deal in the tie break to become the champion.

Kevin fired just 10 aces and only three in sets one and two, a clear indicator of Novak's amazing return, and he stood no chance against the Serb from the baseline as well. Novak faced only one break point until the middle of the third set, doing everything right in his games and overpowering Anderson in the serving department, the only element where the South African could have counted on the green light in the overall stats.

Djokovic saved all seven break points he faced and he broke Kevin in games one and five in both sets one and two, struggling to find the rhythm on the return only in the deciding set. In the end, Novak won 39% of the return points and he seized every break chance he created, proving his status of the favorite and the more experienced player in big matches like this.

It was very important for Kevin to find his pace early on but he made the worst possible start, hitting a double fault to get broken in the very first game of the match, sending the initial boost to the Novak's side of the court.

Novak sailed through his service games and he lost just three points in four games behind his initial shot, keeping all the pressure on the other side of the net. Djokovic earned the second break in game five when Anderson netted a tough volley and he wrapped it up on serve in game eight after just 29 minutes.

Kevin got the treatment on his right elbow in the break between two sets but that gave him nothing, dropping serve in the very first game of the second set when Novak forced a backhand error, and there was nothing he could do on the return against the accurate serves from the Serb and his deep and precise groundstrokes.

The South African sprayed another forehand error in game five to lose serve again and Novak served for the set at 5-2, looking to move two sets to love up and come closer to the finish line. After 70 minutes, Kevin finally gained a break point but Novak saved it with another forced error after a 15-shot rally, sealing the deal with a service winner to take a huge 6-2 6-2 lead.

Anderson found his best tennis in the final set when he had nothing to lose anymore, and the returners have won just five points in the first seven service games, with the South African leading 4-3. Djokovic saved a break point in game eight after forcing another error from Anderson's backhand and he had to do the same at 4-5 when Kevin had two set points on the return.

Novak stayed calm and he saved both with great attacks, making a hold for a 5-5 with a service winner on the second serve. The South African was the better player in those moments and he had another great chance of clinching the set at 6-5.

Novak was not to be denied, though, fending off both with winners and he was the favorite in the tie break now, opening 5-1 lead there with two mini-breaks. Serving for the title at 6-3, Novak blasted a service winner to complete the triumph and what was his biggest moment in two years, making a perfect come back after tough 12 months that he had and becoming the major factor in men's tennis once again, returning to where he belongs for the last 11 years.

* ATP 250 Newport: Steve Johnson (USA) vs Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND) 7-5 3-6 6-2 For the seventh time in the last 10 years, the American player won the Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open in Newport following a 7-5 3-6 6-2 win of the 3rd seed Steve Johnson over the Indian Ramkumar Ramanathan in an hour and 59 minutes.

This was the fourth ATP title for Johnson who previously celebrated on grass in Nottingham back in 2016, with two titles in Houston on clay as well. Ramanathan became the second player born in 1994 in an ATP final and the first Indian in the title match since 2011.

In addition, Leander Paes was the last Indian winner in singles on the Tour right here in Newport 20 years ago and Ramkumar couldn't follow the footsteps of his mentor, unable to stay on the same level with Steve in the deciding set.

Johnson arrived in Newport with only one ATP win on grass this spring but he played on a high level at his home event to lift the second crown of the season, becoming the only player with titles on clay and grass in 2018.

Johnson won just two points more than Ramanathan but he was more efficient on the return, facing just two break points and creating five on the other side to steal Ramkumar's serve thrice. Both players served well in the opening 10 games and the first break point came at 5-5 when Johnson fired a forehand down the line winner.

Steve converted it with a nice return that Ramanathan failed to control and he sealed the opener with a hold at 15 in game 12 after 44 minutes. Ramkumar saved a break point at the start of the second set with a volley winner and his only break of the match came in the fourth game when he landed a backhand cross court winner for a 3-1 advantage.

Serving at 4-2, the Indian saved a break point with a service winner and he converted the third set point in game nine with another unreturned serve that sent the match into a decider. There, Ramanathan served at only 45% and his second serve let him down, getting broken in game two after a forehand cross court winner from Johnson.

This was all Steve needed to settle into the winning rhythm and he cemented his triumph with another break in game eight following a forehand winner that pushed him over the top and earned the trophy for him. * ATP 250 Umag: Marco Cecchinato (ITA) vs Guido Pella (ARG) 6-2 7-6(4) The 25-year-old Italian was ranked outside the Top 90 when he came to Budapest in April, winning the title as a lucky loser to change his fortune completely, reaching the semi-final at Roland Garros a month later and playing in his first ATP semi-final on grass in Eastbourne.

The season only got better for Marco in Umag, claiming his second title after a 6-2 7-6 win over Guido Pella in an hour and 38 minutes, becoming the second Italian champion here after Fabio Fognini who was the last man standing in 2016.

These two have played twice on the Challenger level before and this was their first meeting on the ATP Tour, with Pella seeking his maiden title after losing the previous two finals. He fought well, especially in the second set, but it wasn't enough to win at least a set, wasting a 4-2 lead in set number two to leave Umag with the second-place award.

Marco served at 78% and he fends off seven out of eight break points he faced to keep the pressure on the Argentinian who got broken three times from seven opportunities he gave to Cecchinato. Marco defended his second serve in a more efficient way and it was enough to cross the finish line in straight sets and add more fame to his already amazing season.

Cecchinato had to work hard in the opening game, saving two break points with winners before he scored a break in game four when Guido netted a backhand. Marco blasted an ace in game five to fends off a break point and the set was in his hands when he broke for the second time in game eight, wrapping up the first part of the match in 37 minutes.

Pella saved two break points at the start of the second set and this gave him the confidence to push even stronger in the following games, converting his fifth break point in game five when Cecchinato sent a forehand long for the first lead of the match.

Marco got it back in game eight after a bullet from his backhand and they both served well in the following games to set up a tie break where the Italian opened a 4-0 advantage. He converted the second match point at 6-4 to clinch the crown and complete a great day for the Italians after Fabio Fognini won the title in Bastad earlier that Sunday.