With 38 ATP tournaments in the calendar, hard is the most represented surface in the men's tennis world and it provides the best opportunity for the players to earn a huge amount of points and cement their position on the ranking list.
Two Grand Slams, ATP Finals, six Masters 1000 events and eight ATP 500 tournaments have been played on hard court in 2018 and it was a very interesting season on the most common tennis surface, with 11 players sharing those 17 biggest titles.
Overall, 22 different players claimed ATP title on hard court this season and no one managed to win more than three, which just shows how fearsome the competition was. Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov are the leaders of the pack with three ATP titles on hard, leaving a bunch of six players with two behind them.
Struggling with an elbow injury and needing some time to recover after a surgery, Novak won just three matches at the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami where he was the dominant figure in the last 10 years, with another early exit in Toronto at the beginning of the summer swing.
Nonetheless, this proved to be only a fluke and he went on to win Cincinnati and the US Open, achieving a Career Golden Masters in Ohio and lifting his 14th Grand Slam crown in New York to cement his status of one of the greatest players of all time on hard surface once again after two years without big titles on the favorite surface.
Djokovic played only three tournaments by the end of the season and his level was very high, earning enough points to leave Rafael Nadal behind him and finish as the year-end number 1. He won the title in Shanghai for the third big title in a row before losing to Karen Khachanov in the title match in Paris and to Alexander Zverev at the ATP Finals after a dominant display in the opening four matches.
In the last five events of the season, Novak gathered mighty impressive 5600 points and 26 wins to close the year on a high note and stand as the biggest favorite at the upcoming Australian Open as well, chasing his seventh title in Melbourne.
One of his biggest rivals should be a two-time defending champion Roger Federer who also won three ATP titles on hard to stand at the top with Novak. The Swiss played 10 tournaments on hard court in 2018 and he conquered the Australian Open and two ATP 500 tournaments in Rotterdam and Basel, accumulating 36 wins to stand second behind Daniil Medvedev.
At the age of 36, Roger managed to defend the Australian Open crown to rewrite history once again, earning his 20th Grand Slam title and becoming the oldest number 1 player in the history of the ATP ranking after going all the way in Rotterdam as well.
Roger had a great chance to add another title to his tally at Indian Wells but he wasted three match points in the final against Juan Martin del Potro, losing an epic battle in the deciding set tie break and suffering another loss in the second round of Miami a week later.
Djokovic toppled Federer in the final of Cincinnati and it was John Millman who stunned him in the fourth round of the US Open for one of the most unexpected results of the season. Borna Coric played one of his best matches on hard court to beat the Swiss in the semi-final of Shanghai but he bounced back two weeks later to claim the ninth crown in the hometown of Basel despite not playing his best tennis during the entire week.
In one o the matches of the season, Novak prevailed over Roger in the semi-final of Paris Masters after a thrilling battle and only one break of serve in the entire encounter and the Swiss was beaten in the semi-final for the third time in the last four tournaments at the ATP Finals as well when Alexander Zverev celebrated a 7-5 7-6 win.
Overall, it was another very fine display from Federer on hard and he should be happy with the results and number of wins he claimed, especially after that Melbourne run. The 22-year-old Russian Daniil Medvedev has been the most productive player on hard court in 2018, winning 38 matches and notching three titles in Sydney, Winston-Salem and Tokyo to join Roger and Novak at the top of the charts.
It was the best possible start of the year for the Russian, overcoming a set deficit against Fabio Fognini and Alex de Minaur as a qualifier in Sydney to secure his maiden ATP title, winning another one just before the US Open in Winston-Salem after winning all six matches in straight sets.
Daniil obviously saved his best for last, going all the way to secure his first ATP 500 title and come closer to the place inside the top-20. He was also the semi-finalist in Moscow and Basel and that was enough to bring him the Tour leading 38 wins on hard court in 2018.
Another young Russian made a name for himself on hard in the season behind us, with Karen Khachanov as the newest Masters 1000 champion and the winner of three titles overall from 35 wins. His first crown came in Marseille after edging Lucas Pouille in the title match and he reached the semi-final in Toronto, fighting well in the opening round against Rafael Nadal before losing in straight sets.
The Spaniard halted Karen in the third round of the US Open as well after a thrilling clash that lasted four hours and 23 minutes and the youngster needed some time to find the form again, losing early in St. Petersburg, Beijing and Shanghai.
That all changed in Moscow and Paris where he hoisted two titles to finish the year just outside the top-10. In the French capital, Khachanov played a brilliant match to down Novak Djokovic and become the first Russian Masters 1000 champion in nine years.
Juan Martin del Potro and John Isner have also added their names on the first-time Masters 1000 champions list after celebrating at Indian Wells and Miami and we had five different winners of six hard-court Masters 1000 tournaments for the first time since 2010.
Players with the most titles on hard court in 2018:
Novak Djokovic - 3
Roger Federer - 3
Daniil Medvedev - 3
Karen Khachanov - 3
Points with the most wins on hard court in 2018:
Daniil Medvedev - 38
Roger Federer - 36
Juan Martin del Potro - 36
Kevin Anderson - 35
Alexander Zverev - 35
Karen Khachanov - 35