By Jack Edward
Hello Popcorn folk! I’m back at the end of the year with another edition of “Losing to a Tournament’s Eventual Champion”.
No idea what a loss to a tournament’s eventual champion is? Take the Paris Masters whilst it’s fresh in the mind. Stan Wawrinka loses to Holger Rune in the first-round (after holding three match points). Holger Rune goes on to win the tournament. Ergo Wawrinka lost to that tournament’s eventual champion.
I’m going to list the players on the ATP Tour that sustained the most losses to a tournament’s eventual champion (round-robins don’t count!).
Maybe your favourite is in here…
Joint-Third: Five Losses
In 2022, 127 players lost to a tournament’s eventual champion.
Of those 127, six players lost to a tournament’s eventual champ five times, the third-most of anyone on tour.
There are some higher-ranked players in here that won’t be much of a surprise…
Despite sitting out half the season, there’s Alexander Zverev…
- Bublik in Montpellier (F)
- Tsitsipas in Monte Carlo (SF)
- Rune in Munich (2R)
- Alcaraz in Madrid (F)
- Nadal at the French Open (SF)
A few of these losses will hurt Daniil Medvedev fans…
- Nadal at the Australian Open (F)
- Nadal in Acapulco (SF)
- Van Rijthoven in ’s-Hertogenbosch (F)
- Hurkacz in Halle (F)
- Djokovic in Astana (SF)
Hubi Hurkacz reminds us of the strength of his season…
1. Rublev in Dubai (SF)
2. Alcaraz in Miami (SF)
3. Carreño Busta in Montreal (F)
4. Sonego in Metz (SF)
5. Rune in Paris (2R)
… and Matteo Berrettini does well to make the list given his injury woes.
1. Nadal at the Australian Open (SF)
2. Alcaraz in Rio (QF)
3. Ruud in Gstaad (F)
4. Carreño Busta in Montreal (1R)
5. Musetti in Napoli (F)
Let’s spice things up – I have two dark horses for you!
Big Marin Čilić makes the list with some pretty difficult losses to stomach…
1. Kokkinakis in Adelaide (SF)
2. Alcaraz in Miami (2R)
3. Baez in Estoril (2R)
4. Alcaraz at the US Open (4R)
5. Djokovic in Tel Aviv (F)
… and Finnish up-and-comer Emil Ruusuvuori shows promise going into 2023!
1. Nadal in Melbourne Summer Set (SF)
2. Sousa in Pune (F)
3. Rune in Munich (QF)
4. Musetti in Hamburg (2R)
5. Mannarino in Winston-Salem (2R)
Joint-Second: Six Losses
Four players went one further with six losses to TEC’s throughout the year.
The first won’t shock anybody. Casper Ruud had a year full of positives but couldn’t go one further at many of the tour’s biggest events.
1. Alcaraz in Miami (F)
2. Djokovic in Rome (SF)
3. Nadal at the French Open (F)
4. F. Cerundolo in Bastad (2R)
5. Alcaraz at the US Open (F)
6. Nishioka in Seoul (QF)
6.5. Djokovic at the ATP Finals (F) *remember though, round-robin events are excluded*
Then we have a couple more dark horses to throw into the mix…
Dan Evans went one more loss to a TEC than last year, showing it takes QUALITY to defeat him.
1. Karatsev in Sydney (SF)
2. Rublev in Dubai (1R)
3. Berrettini at Queen’s Club (1R)
4. Carreño Busta in Montreal (SF)
5. Nishioka in Seoul (1R)
6. Auger-Aliassime in Antwerp (QF)
Tommy Paul had a similar year to Evo, arguably posting some better results, as his stock rose throughout the season.
1. Monfils in Adelaide (QF)
2. Norrie in Delray Beach (SF)
3. Nadal in Acapulco (QF)
4. Berrettini at Queen’s Club (QF)
5. Kyrgios in Washington (2R)
6. Rublev in Gijon (QF)
Now for the darkest of dark horses… Jaume Munar, the world #57, makes the list with some very unfortunate draws!
1. Alcaraz in Rio (1R)
2. Martinez in Santiago (2R)
3. Fritz in Indian Wells (2R)
4. Alcaraz in Barcelona (3R)
5. Ruud in Gstaad (QF)
6. Sinner in Umag (2R)
Joint-First: Seven Losses
Finally, the cream of the loser’s crop. Four of the 127 players to lose to a TEC did so on seven separate occasions!
Three of the four players could be considered fairly obvious…
We’ll start with Stefanos Tsitsipas of course. Over the course of this year and the last, he has accrued the most losses to eventual tournament champions with a grand total of 13.
1. Auger-Aliassime in Rotterdam (F)
2. Alcaraz in Miami (3R)
3. Alcaraz in Barcelona (QF)
4. Djokovic in Rome (F)
5. Ćorić in Cincinnati (F)
6. Djokovic in Astana (F)
7. Rune in Stockholm (F)
Felix Auger-Aliassime showed the first four titles of his career were no accident as it often took the best player of the week to knock him out of the tournament.
1. Rublev in Marseilles (F)
2. Djokovic in Rome (QF)
3. Nadal at the French Open (4R)
4. Van Rijthoven in ’s-Hertogenbosch (SF)
5. Hurkacz in Halle (QF)
6. Ćorić in Cincinnati (QF)
7. Rune in Paris (SF)
Does Cam Norrie’s inclusion surprise you? Not me — Norrie made four finals last year and has felt like a valid member of the top-15 this year too with plenty of honourable losses.
1. Auger-Aliassime in Rotterdam (QF)
2. Nadal in Acapulco (F)
3. Alcaraz in Madrid (3R)
4. Djokovic at Wimbledon (SF)
5. Medvedev in Los Cabos (F)
6. Ćorić in Cincinnati (SF)
7. Rune in Stockholm (QF)
Drum Roll Please…
And finally… arguably the most hard-done-by player of the lot…
Miomir Kecmanović! Poor Kekkers couldn’t catch a break with draws this year. His best year to-date was arguably stifled by some peak performances. 2023 will hopefully bring him better luck!
1. Karatsev in Sydney (2R)
2. Fritz in Indian Wells (QF)
3. Alcaraz in Miami (QF)
4. Djokovic at Wimbledon (3R)
5. Medvedev in Los Cabos (SF)
6. Musetti in Napoli (SF)
7. Auger-Aliassime in Basel (2R)
Did your favourite player lose a ton of matches this year? Is that player vindicated with an inclusion on this list?
Hopefully you enjoyed this alternative perspective on the season. I’ll catch you next time with a feature on the WTA!