Biggest ATP World Tour Comebacks Of 2016
ATP World Tour Season In Review: Biggest ATP Comebacks
Continuing our Season In Review Series, ATPWorldTour.com revisits the biggest ATP World Tour comebacks of 2016:
Kei Nishikori left his comfort zone on an oppressively hot and muggy day in Key Biscayne by finding a way to come through one of the matches of 2016 on the ATP World Tour. At the end, his shirt saturated, he embraced Gael Monfils following a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) victory for a place in the semi-finals of the Miami Open presented by Itau.
After saving five match points in the two-and-a-half-hour contest, sixth seed Nishikori admitted, “When I was down 4-5, love-40, I thought it was going to be it. It was going to be tough to come back, but I tried to play one point at time.”
Monfils started strongly, but after Nishikori overcame an early setback the Japanese kept pace with the explosive Frenchman. By the start of the third set, No. 16 seed Monfils, clothes soaked with sweat, was clearly labouring under the Miami sun. But instead of going away quietly, he began swinging with abandon. Down 2-4 in the deciding set, Monfils swept through the next three games and held four match points with Nishikori serving to stay in the match at 4-5.
“At 3-4 I really raised my level,” said Monfils. “I started to be very aggressive, started to go for it, and still had the strong feeling that I could make it. At the end, I pushed very hard and definitely had an opportunity to close it out, but Kei fought well. In the tie-break he was just better than me.”
In their previous four meetings, seven of their 11 sets had gone to a tie-break, so in the genteel confines of The Queen’s Club, in west London, just as the majority of spectators were settling down to watch Andy Murray in his quest for a record fifth title at the Aegon Championships, a battle royale was instigated on Court 1. No quarter was given over two hours and 25 minutes.
Gilles Muller, a finalist at the Ricoh Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch just four days earlier, scraped past John Isner, who fired down a tournament record 43 aces, 3-6, 7-6(16), 7-6(7) for a place in the quarter-finals. Muller had previously held the main draw record at the Aegon Championships, hitting 37 aces in 2015 in a three-set first-round win over Mikhail Youzhny.
The Luxembourg native saved 10 match points – six in the second set and four in the third set. Seventh seed Isner had two match point opportunities on his serve at 13-12 in the second set tie-break and at 6-5 in deciding set tie-break. It was the most match points saved on the ATP World Tour in 12 years, when Rainer Schuettler fought off the same number in a 3-6, 7-6(13), 6-0 win over Andreas Seppi in the 2004 Kitzbühel second round.
The 18-16 tie-break was also the longest at The Queen’s Club since the semi-finals in 1997 when Goran Ivanisevic defeated Greg Rusedski 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(18). It was the longest tie-break on the ATP World Tour in 2016. There had been an 18-16 tie-break in a Davis Cup tie in March, when Mirza Basic came back to defeat Malek Jaziri 5-7, 4-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(16), 6-4.
Isner and Muller’s combined 69 aces was the most in an ATP World Tour best-of-three match (since 1991). The previous most was 65 aces last year in The Queen's Club second round with Isner (36) and Feliciano Lopez (29). It was a match for the record books.
As the ticker tape floated onto the court at the Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam, Martin Klizan could only smile at the end of a memorable week that would have impressed Harry Houdini, the illusionist and escape artist. Not once, but twice had the Slovakian been close to packing his bags at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament. But each time he had managed to wriggle free en route to the biggest title of his career.
In saving five match points to beat sixth seed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-7(5), 7-6(6), 6-0, Klizan broke a four-match losing streak against his in-form Spanish opponent, who had already picked up two ATP World Tour titles and won 13 of his past 14 matches in the early days of the 2016 ATP World Tour season. Klizan saved two match points when serving at 4-5 in the second set, then saved a further three match points in the next game that saw him convert a break point with a superb forehand return winner down the line. "It was a very, very tough match. I was almost on the plane," said Klizan, after the two-hour and 44-minute victory. "I saved five match points, which is incredible. I am very happy that I won, breaking his four-match winning streak he had over me. Despite Roberto's match points, I kept fighting, because it isn't over until it's over."
Less than 24 hours later, the 26-year-old Klizan reached his first ATP World Tour indoor final since the 2012 St. Petersburg Open, with a swashbuckling comeback win over qualifier Nicolas Mahut 6-7(3), 7-6(7), 6-2. Serve-volleyer Mahut held the upper hand for the majority of the match, but Klizan took risks after saving one match point on his serve at 3-5 in the second set. In an emotionally-charged tie-break, Klizan saved two more match points before levelling with a drive volley. The Slovakian then broke Mahut in the opening game of the decider, finishing the match with 45 winners. “It was an incredible moment,” Klizan said. “I will remember this tournament until the day I die. I never thought I could win, because Nicolas was playing great tennis. Maybe I was lucky, but I tried to fight until the last point. I think the crowd enjoyed the show.”
Klizan went on to maintain his perfect record in ATP World Tour finals (4-0) the next day, with another three-set comeback win over fifth seed Gael Monfils. His eight match points saved were the most en route to a title since Felix Mantilla saved nine match points at 2001 Palermo – all versus Albert Portas in the semi-finals. “I cannot believe that it happened," said Klizan. "It was my dream to be on the board with these unbelievably great players. It's an amazing feeling. Every day I was just fighting. Most of the time I had three-hour matches every day, so the only thing I could do was fight. In the end I saved so many match points. I still cannot believe it."
Guido Pella d.  John Isner 7-6(5), 5-7, 7-6(8) – Saved 3 M.P. – Rio de Janeiro first round
[WC] Noah Rubin d. Sam Groth 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(6) – Saved 3 M.P. – Delray Beach first round
 Rafael Nadal d. Alexander Zverev 6-7(8), 6-0, 7-5 – Saved 1 M.P. – Indian Wells third round
[LL] Horacio Zeballos d. Fernando Verdasco 1-6, 6-4, 7-6(4) – Saved 1 M.P. – Miami second round
Diego Schwartzman d.  David Goffin 7-5, 2-6, 7-5 – Saved 2 M.P. – Antwerp semi-finals