The Masters Series events have produced some of the most intriguing and fascinating matches of the Open era and their significance has been justified by the strong participation of all the top players. After the Grand Slams and the World Tour Finals, it is the nine events of the ATP Masters Series that hold most importance.
Made up of four events in Europe, four in North America and one in Asia, the Masters Series has always played a pivotal role in gaining ranking points, building momentum in the season and gaining a psychological advantage over opponents. The events were dominated by the likes of Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg and Boris Becker from the 1970s to 1990s, before Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras took the reins.
Then, with the turn of the new millennium, Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray came along to dominate the stage. Like the Grand Slams and the ATP World Tour Finals, the Masters have been dominated by Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray.
The so-called “Big 4” have redefined the impact of the Masters events, producing memorable matches aplenty.
The ‘big four’ swept the Masters events in 2011 & 2013, and between the 2010 and 2012 Paris Masters they won 17 consecutive ATP Masters 1000 events. They have dominated the game like no other group in the history.
1 Held as Hamburg Masters (outdoor clay) until 2008, Madrid Masters (outdoor clay) 2009-Present
2 Held as Stuttgart Masters (indoor hard) until 2001, Madrid Masters (indoor hard) from 2002-2008, and Shanghai Masters (outdoor hard) 2009-Present
So who is the greatest ever Masters champion?
In reality, the “Big Four” is actually the “Big Three”, with Murray lagging some way behind with just 11 Masters Titles. Between Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, however, the competition is fierce.
1) The overall record
Nadal leads the all-time order in the Open-Era with 27 ATP Masters titles, followed by World No. 1 Djokovic & Federer (tied at 24 titles). The top five is completed by Ivan Lendl (22) and John McEnroe (19). Federer has more match wins as he turned pro earlier and played his first Masters match in 1999, compared to Rafa (2003) and Novak (2005).
VERDICT: This yardstick is clearly dominated by Nadal with most titles, 2nd all-time in finals (behind Roger) and semi-final appearances. He also has a higher win-loss ratio than Federer and Djokovic, though the best ever is Borg’s 136-27 (83.44%).
RAFA – 1, ROGER – 0, NOVAK – 0
2) Surface: Titles per court type
HARD COURTS: Federer leads the way with an all-time record of 16 titles (4 Indian Wells, 2 Miami, 2 Canada, 7 Cincinnati, 1 Shanghai), followed by Djokovic who has won 14 on hard (4 IW, 5 Miami, 3 Canada, 2 Shanghai). Nadal has a relatively paltry record on hard in comparison with only seven titles (3 IW, 3 Canada, 1 Cincinnati). Federer is the only man to have won all five of the hard-court Masters events.
RAFA – 1, ROGER – 1, NOVAK – 0
CLAY: This surface has unsurprisingly been dominated by the undisputed “King of Clay” Nadal. He has won an all-time record 19 titles (8 Monte Carlo, 7 Rome, 3 Madrid, 1 Hamburg) on clay; more than double that of nearest rival Bjorn Borg, who claimed eight titles. Djokovic has won seven titles (2 Monte-Carlo, 4 Rome, 1 Madrid), followed by six for Federer (4 Hamburg, 2 Madrid).
RAFA – 2, ROGER – 1, NOVAK – 0
INDOOR: On the current roster, only the Paris Masters is played indoors (Madrid was played on indoor hard courts till 2008). Djokovic has won three titles indoors (all at Paris), followed by two for Federer (1 Madrid, 1 Paris) and just one for Nadal in Madrid. Djokovic is the only player to successfully defend his title in Paris (2013 and 2014).
VERDICT: All have conquered at least one surface.
RAFA – 2, ROGER – 1, NOVAK – 1
3) Variety: Titles at different tournaments
In this category, Federer has won 7 out of a possible 9 events though among his bulging trophy collection, Federer has still not won in Monte Carlo or Rome – losing four finals at each event. Nadal has also won 7 out of a possible 9 events overall, with Miami (lost 4 finals) and Paris (lost 1 final) missing, while Djokovic has won 8 events – Cincinnati the only blot on his copy book (4 final losses). Should Djokovic win at Cincinnati, he will join Ivan Lendl as the only player to win every Masters event.
VERDICT: Novak has produced the most variety at Masters Level.
RAFA – 2, ROGER – 1, NOVAK – 2
4) Head-to-head in Masters matches
Federer and Nadal have played 16 times at Masters Level with a 12-4 head-to-head record in favour of Rafa; in finals matches the Spaniard boasts a 7-3 lead. Though Nadal has the best of Federer, Djokovic has the beating of them both, with a 14-9 winning record against Nadal and a 9-9 record versus the Swiss.
VERDICT: Djokovic has a better head-to-head record than his two great rivals at Masters Level, including the big matches – “the finals”.
RAFA – 2, ROGER – 1, NOVAK – 3
5) Record vs top-5, top-10 and seeded opponents
Against the very best in the business, Djokovic leads the order with a 62% win percentage against Top 5 opponents and 67% vs Top 10 opponents. Nadal has a better win-loss % against the seeded opponents with 74%, while Federer has the lowest percentage in all three categories.
VERDICT: Novak has produced superior results when it comes to competing against the top players.
RAFA – 2, ROGER – 1, NOVAK – 4
6) Masters consistency
Nadal has managed the most successful title defences with 12 (7 Monte-Carlo, 4 Rome, 1 Madrid), followed by Djokovic (7) and then Federer (6). Nadal’s eight Monte Carlo Masters titles is the most achieved at one tournament, as well as the most defences.
Djokovic has successfully defended his titles at six Masters events (aside from Monte Carlo, Madrid, Cincinnati), while Federer has defended at four events.
Nadal can also claim to have won at least one Masters title in 10 successive seasons (a record that is still active) having won one title every year since 2005. He has also produced the most seasons with two titles (8) and three titles (6), though Djokovic has won 4+ titles in three separate years – something that Nadal and Federer have achieved only in two separate years.
VERDICT: Nadal has got the numbers in this category, though it is worth noting that he has never defended a Masters title on a hard court, but only his dominant surface of clay.
FINAL SCORE: RAFA – 3, ROGER – 1, NOVAK – 4
As things stand, with all stats considered, it is current World No. 1 Novak Djokovic who takes home the title for ‘Ultimate Masters Champion’. Though Nadal’s overall numbers are better, Djokovic’s variety of victories and records are more noteworthy. His supremacy at the Masters level has more or less become legendary. Federer is also in the mix but his records at the Masters Level pale in comparison to his Grand Slam success.
** (all stats updated until end of 2015 Cincinnati Masters)
Source – Tennis Abstract.com
World No 1 Serena Williams rallied past third seed Simona Halep 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) to claim her second straight trophy in the Cincinnati WTA tournament on Sunday night.
Williams, who will be bidding for history at the US Open as she attempts to complete a rare calendar-year Grand Slam singles sweep, came back from an early first-set deficit to take charge against Halep.
Williams was playing her third consecutive Cincinnati final and she claimed her fifth title of 2015. After a slow start, the world No 1 began to dominate her Romanian rival by winning five straight games to take the opening set.
Halep, the world No 3, again showed her abilities early in the second when earning three break points in the opening game, but Williams rescued each.
Though the second set proved more even than the first, it was Halep who was rescuing match points in the tie-break before the inevitable happened and Williams, having played her finest tennis of the week, secured her latest victory.
Meanwhile, Daniel Nestor and Edouard Roger-Vasselin won their first title together, registering a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Marcin Matkowski and Nenad Zimonjic.
It was Nestor’s record-tying fifth doubles crown at Cincinnati. The 42-year-old’s previous win there came in 2009 with Zimonjic, his opponent in the final on Sunday. Nestor and Roger-Vasselin faced no break points while they broke their sixth-seeded opponents four times.
In all, they won 67 per cent of the points on the Grandstand court. The two earned 1000 ATP Tour ranking points. The win will put the duo back in the top 20 in the doubles rankings; Nestor began the week at No 25, Roger-Vasselin at No 23.
“It’s been two great weeks with you. This is the first time I beat the Bryans and I won a Masters, so obviously it’s thanks to you,” Roger-Vasselin said about his partner after the match.
In the women’s doubles final, sister duo Hao-Ching Chan and Yung-Jan Chan of Chinese Taipei earned a 7-5, 6-4 win against fourth-seeded Casey Dellacqua and Yaroslava Shvedova.
Ana Ivanovic admits her tight quarter-final defeat to Serena Williams in Cincinnati was a “missed opportunity” but the ex-world No1 is pleased with her US Open build-up.
Ivanovic was on her way to victory over Williams as she led the American top seed by a set and a break and was also up 2-0 in the final set, but dropped the last six games to surrender to Williams 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.
The Serb, ranked No9 in the world, was trying to hand Williams just her third defeat of the year but the world No1 escaped – like she has so many times in 2015 – to register her 42nd-consecutive victory on American hard courts.
Ivanovic, who made the quarter-finals in Toronto the previous week, will not be playing another tournament prior to the US Open, which kicks off on August 31.
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“Definitely a missed opportunity but with Serena it’s so hard to get over the line – she’s obviously one of the best players in history,” said Ivanovic.
“On the positive side, I think I played some really good tennis out there today and fought until the end.
“I am pleased that I’ve reached two quarter-finals in two weeks and I can see that some of the things I worked on last month are being implemented on the court in matches. I’m feeling quite optimistic about the US Open.”