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Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas have all left their mark on the third quarter of the 2018 season.

Q3 Review: Djokovic, Nadal, Tsitsipas Lead The Way

ATPWorldTour.com looks back on an exciting third quarter of 2018

Nine months into the 2018 ATP World Tour season and the countdown to the Nitto ATP Finals in November begins. Here are the top five stories of the third quarter.

Djokovic On The Charge
Novak Djokovic continued his charge post-Wimbledon, winning 15 of his past 16 matches. The Serbian, who captured his fourth trophy at Wimbledon on 15 July, did not let up on the North American hard-court swing with his 31st ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati (d. Federer). It helped him to become the first player in history to complete a Career Golden Masters of all nine Masters 1000 tournaments and, three weeks later, in New York City, the Serbian clinched his 14 Grand Slam championship crown – and his third US Open title (d. Del Potro). Djokovic has put together a 34-4 match record in his past seven tournaments — which includes winning the Wimbledon and US Open in the same year for the third time (also 2011 and 2015). 

Rafael Nadal, who has been World No. 1 for the past 12 weeks, is now 1,035 points ahead of second-placed Djokovic in the year-to-date ATP Race To London after a dramatic shift in momentum. Nadal captured his 33rd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown last month at the Rogers Cup (d. Tsitsipas) to further strengthen his hold on the top spot and his bid to become year-end No. 1 for the fifth time (2008, 2010, 2013 and 2017). With two Masters 1000s and four 500 events left in the regular season, which ends on 4 November, in-form Djokovic now also has the prospect of adding to his 2011-12, 2014-15 year-end No. 1 finishes. Nadal fell to Juan Martin del Potro in the US Open semi-finals and now looks to recover sufficiently from knee tendinitis in what could be a intriguing end to 2018. 

Tsitsipas Makes Breakthrough
Stefanos Tsitsipas showcased his potential during the European clay-court swing earlier in the year, learning a terrific amount from his loss to Nadal in the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell final. Afterwards, Tsitsipas admitted, "The patience that Rafa has is amazing. He never cracks. He will always grab you like a bulldog." Fast forward five months and the 6'4" Greek soon turned around a 5-9 record on hard courts in 2018 with two deep runs in North America. Tsitsipas initially grew in confidence in tricky, wet conditions at the Citi Open, where he beat No. 11-ranked David Goffin en route to the semi-finals (l. to A. Zverev). He then headed to Toronto, for the Rogers Cup, and overcame four Top 10 opponents - Dominic Thiem, Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Kevin Anderson - for a place in the final, where he met Nadal on his 20th birthday. Tsitsipas, who 12 months earlier was at No. 168 in the ATP Rankings, was the youngest player to beat four Top 10 stars at a single tournament since the ATP World Tour was established in 1990. He is now at World No. 15 and among the leading contenders for a spot at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

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Nadal, Djokovic, Federer Clinch Nitto ATP Finals Spots
A trio of players — Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer — all booked their places at the Nitto ATP Finals in the third quarter of the season. Nadal clinched his spot for the 14th straight year as a result of beating Marin Cilic in the Rogers Cup quarter-finals on 11 August, while five-time former season finale titlist Djokovic and six-time former champion Federer booked their berths for the 11th and 16th time, respectively, on 8 September. 

US Open finalist Del Potro, who is up to third place in the ATP Race To London, is now on the cusp of qualifying for the first time since 2013 - and for the fifth time overall. In his past three tournaments, Del Potro went 11-3, which also included finishing runner-up at the Abierto de Tenis Mifel presentado por Cinemex (l. to Fognini).

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John Isner and Kei Nishikori, who both sit outside the automatic qualification berths, will look to make up ground toward the end of the season. Isner, a quarter-finalist at the US Open (l. to Del Potro), aims to made his debut in London, but is 435 points (2,930) behind eighth-placed Dominic Thiem (3,365). US Open semi-finalist Nishikori, with 2,475 points, attempts to qualify at The O2 for the fourth time (also 2014-16).

2018 ATP RACE TO LONDON SECOND, THIRD QUARTER COMPARISON

Player Points 10 September Points 16 July (Position) Points (Position) Difference
1) Rafael Nadal (ESP)* 7,480 5,760 (1) +1,720 (-)
2) Novak Djokovic (SRB)* 6,445 3,355 (5) +3,090 (+3)
3) Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) 4,910 3,380 (4) +1,530 (+1)
4) Roger Federer (SUI)* 4,800 4,020 (2) +780 (-2)
5) Alexander Zverev (GER) 4,365 3,585 (3) +780 (-2)
6) Marin Cilic (CRO) 3,815 2,915 (7) +900 (+1)
7) Kevin Anderson (RSA) 3,450 2,820 (8) +630 (+1)
8) Dominic Thiem (AUT) 3,365 2,995 (6) +370 (-2)
9) John Isner (USA) 2,930 2,220 (9) +710 (-)
10) Kei Nishikori (JPN) 2,475 1,610 (10) +865 (-)

* Qualified for 2018 Nitto ATP Finals

Fognini Still Perfect In Finals This Year
Fatherhood must suit Fabio Fognini. Since the birth of his son, Federico, in May 2017, the Italian has refocused to reach seven of his 17 singles finals and this year he has lifted three ATP World Tour titles - the Brasil Open (d. Jarry) in February and, in the past two months, the SkiStar Swedish Open (d. Gasquet) and Los Cabos (d. Del Potro). It's the third time in his career that Fognini has reached three finals in a season (also 2013-14). This week, the 31-year-old Italian returned to a career-high No. 13 in the ATP Rankings for the first time since April 2014.

Zverev, Tsitsipas, Shapovalov Among 2018 #NextGenATP Leaders
Tsitsipas and Denis Shapovalov trail Zverev in the ATP Race To Milan for a berth at the 21-and-under Next Gen ATP Finals in November. Zverev put together a 9-3 record on hard courts in his past four tournaments, including a third ATP World Tour title of the year at the Citi Open. The German defeated fast-rising Australian Alex de Minaur, who has an 18-15 match record this year, including a trip to the Sydney International final (l. to Medvedev), and currently holds down the fourth spot in the Race standings. Americans Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz, Russia’s Andrey Rublev and Jaume Munar of Spain also feature among the Top 8 in the battle for a Milan spot.

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