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Swiss Stand Out In 2014 First Quarter

Federer, Wawrinka© Getty ImagesRoger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka have both had standout starts to the 2014 season. looks back on the major talking points, highs, lows, breakthroughs, statistics and milestones from the first quarter of the 2014 season.

Swiss On Top
It has been a Swiss-dominated start to the ATP World Tour season with the breakthrough of Stanislas Wawrinka and the resurgence of Roger Federer. In a stunning fortnight at Melbourne Park, Wawrinka captured his first Grand Slam championship, taking out reigning champion Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals before beating Rafael Nadal in the final. Wawrinka rose to a career-high World No. 3 in the Emirates ATP Rankings and was joined in the Top 5 (No. 4) by Federer after the 32 year old produced standout results in the first three months. 

Having dropped to No. 8 at the end of January, Federer won his 78th tour-level title in Dubai (d. Berdych) and finished runner-up in Indian Wells (l. to Djokovic). It is the first time that two Swiss players have ranked inside the Top 5 of the Emirates ATP Rankings.

Watch First Quarter Uncovered

Race To London
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are virtually neck and neck in the Emirates ATP Race To London, with just 95 points separating front-runner Djokovic and second-placed Nadal. The race, which only reflects performances in 2014, determines qualification for the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, with the Top 8 qualifying for the Final Showdown, and are a predictor for the year-end Emirates ATP Rankings. 

Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka, who contested the season finale for the first time last year, is in third position, with fellow Swiss Roger Federer also in a commanding position, having qualified just five days before the start of the event in 2013.

Tomas Berdych, Alexandr Dolgopolov, David Ferrer and Kei Nishikori round out the current Top 8. The Barclays ATP World Tour Finals will take place 9-16 November at The O2 in London. Get Your Tickets Now

Djokovic Finds His Range
Working with new coach Boris Becker, some eyebrows were raised as Novak Djokovic entered March without an ATP World Tour title to his name for the first time since 2006, having fallen in the Australian Open quarter-finals and the Dubai semi-finals. However, the Serb righted the ship with victory over Roger Federer at the BNP Paribas Open and went on to complete the Indian Wells-Miami double for the second time in his career (also 2011) two weeks later, defeating Rafael Nadal in the final. The two victories took his ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tally to 18 trophies, eight shy of Nadal’s record total.

Match Wins Leaders - 2014

Player W-L
Roger Federer 22-4
Rafael Nadal 21-3
Tomas Berdych 20-4
Marin Cilic 20-6
David Ferrer 19-6
Fabio Fognini 19-6
Alexandr Dolgopolov 18-9
Kei Nishikori 17-4
Andy Murray 17-6
Novak Djokovic 16-2

Making Their Mark
The Top 10 weren’t the only players to impress in the first quarter of the season. Under the tutelage of Goran Ivanisevic, Marin Cilic enjoyed one of the best spells of his career in February, reaching three successive finals on the ATP World Tour. The Croatian was the first player to record 20 match wins in 2014 as he won his hometown title in Zagreb for the fifth time (d. Haas), finished runner-up in Rotterdam (l. to Berdych) and lifted the trophy in Delray Beach (d. Anderson).

DolgopolovAlexandr Dolgopolov closed in on a return to the Top 20 as he tested Rafael Nadal in the Rio de Janeiro final, having beaten David Ferrer in the semi-finals, posted another semi-final effort in Acapulco (l. to Anderson), and scalped Top 10 players with impressive showings at the back-to-back ATP Masters 1000 tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami. The Ukrainian defeated Nadal en route to the semi-finals in Indian Wells (l. to Federer) and topped Stanislas Wawrinka on a run to the Miami quarter-finals (l. to Berdych). Read Dolgopolov Off-Court Feature 

Fabio Fognini rose to a career-high World No. 14 after a strong showing on the clay of South America. The Italian captured his third ATP World Tour title in Vina del Mar (d. Mayer) and followed it up with a run to the Buenos Aires final, where he finished runner-up to Ferrer. Watch Fognini ATP Player Profile Delivered by FedEx

After winning his fourth ATP World Tour title in Memphis (d. Karlovic), Kei Nishikori proved to be a giant-killer at the Sony Open Tennis in Miami, recording back-to-back Top 5 upsets as he ousted Ferrer, saving four match points, and Federer to reach the semi-finals (w/o vs. Djokovic). Watch Nishikori ATP Player Profile Delivered By FedEx

Rankings Risers
Alexandr Dolgopolov's strong performance in 2014 puts him in the lead for the biggest leaps into the Top 50 Emirates ATP Rankings since the start of the season:

Player Current Ranking 2013 Year-End Ranking Jump
Alexandr Dolgopolov No. 22 No. 57 +35
Lleyton Hewitt No. 46 No. 61 +15
Yen-Hsun Lu No. 51 No. 66 +15
Federico Delbonis No. 43 No. 55 +12
Pablo Andujar No. 35 No. 48 +13
Marin Cilic No. 26 No. 37 +11
Florian Mayer No. 30 No. 40 +10

Comeback Kings
Andy Murray made a welcome return to action at the start of the season, having undergone back surgery in September, which curtailed his 2013 campaign. The Scot reached the Australian Open quarter-finals on his comeback (l. to Federer) and after a quarter-final exit at the hands of Novak Djokovic in Miami, declared, “I think my game is just about there.” He is set to go into the European clay-court swing minus coach Ivan Lendl, who amicably ended their coaching relationship just prior to Miami. Read: Murray Ready For Clay 

After suffering a back injury that prevented him from competing at 100 per cent in the Australian Open final against Stanislas Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal came back strongly at the inaugural Rio Open, winning his second title of the season (d. Dolgopolov). Another player to suffer an injury Down Under was Milos Raonic, whose ankle injury kept him off the Tour throughout February. The Canadian returned with successive quarter-final appearances in Indian Wells (l. to Dolgopolov) and Miami (l. to Nadal).

Sadly for fans of Juan Martin del Potro, the Argentine was forced to go under the surgeon’s knife once more, this time to correct an injury to his left wrist. The Tandil native had played through the pain for the first two months of the season before succumbing. Read More

DimitrovBudding Rivalry
Both Ernests Gulbis and Grigor Dimitrov made strong starts to 2014 and, in turn, started what could be a gripping rivalry on the ATP World Tour in the years to come.

The pair met three times in the space of four weeks, with Gulbis edging the FedEx ATP Head2Head 2-1. The Latvian won their first contest in straight sets in Rotterdam, but in a thrilling encounter in the Acapulco quarter-finals, it was Dimitrov who emerged victorious, 7-5 in the third set after two hours and 39 minutes. When they clashed in the Indian Wells third round, it was Gulbis who prevailed, recovering from a slow start to prevail 7-5 in the third set.

View FedEx ATP Head2Head 

Both players won titles in the first quarter, with Gulbis triumphing in Marseille (d. Tsonga) and Dimitrov ousting Andy Murray en route to the Acapulco title. Dimitrov had also opened the season by reaching his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open, where he pushed Rafael Nadal to four sets.

Milestones Conquered
Lleyton Hewitt became the third active player to record 600 tour-level match wins when he defeated Robin Haase in the first round of the Sony Open Tennis. Read Tribute | View Gallery

Novak Djokovic claimed his 550th match win with a first-round victory in Indian Wells (d. Hanescu), while Tomas Berdych notched his 450th victory by defeating Alexandr Dolgopolov to reach the Miami semi-finals.

Rio Makes Its Debut
NadalThe Rio Open celebrated its inaugural edition with Rafael Nadal as the first winner of the ATP World Tour 500 tournament. The Spaniard was presented with his trophy by Gustavo Kuerten and Brazilian footballing legend, Ronaldo. "Always when you win a title, it’s special," said Nadal. "In a 500 tournament, you don’t have a chance to play a lot of these in the calendar. The first edition of a big tournament like Rio, it’s a very important city in the world, and after coming back from injury, it always makes the victory a little more special." Watch Rio Uncovered

First-Time Winner
Federico Delbonis showed his potential in the summer of 2013 when he stunned Roger Federer to reach his first ATP World Tour final as a qualifier in Hamburg (l. to Fognini). The 23-year-old Argentine got his hands on his first piece of silverware in February when he won the Sao Paulo trophy, defeating Paolo Lorenzi in the final. “It’s the best thing that’s happened in my life,” said Delbonis. “It feels incredible to lift up the trophy. It’s a unique feeling. I hope that it happens again.” Read First-Time Winner Spotlight

Bryans On Track
Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan are leading the way in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings after completing the Indian Wells-Miami double for the first time. The Americans are closing in on their 100th team title, after hoisting trophy No. 96 in Miami. The team they beat at Crandon Park, Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, nicknamed the ‘Colombian Power’, have also made a strong start to the season, reaching five ATP World Tour finals and triumphing in Rio de Janeiro (d. Marrero/Melo).

New pairing Lukasz Kubot and Robert Lindstedt gave themselves a good chance of qualifying for the year-end Barclays ATP World Tour Finals when they became surprise titlists at the Australian Open (d. Butorac/Klaasen). The Polish/Swedish duo are currently second in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings.

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