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Nothing but Nadal in 2010

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Nothing but Nadal in 2010


No room for dispute, 2010 was a banner year for Rafael Nadal.  The Spaniard captured three majors, regained the world number one ranking and completed the career grand slam.  As such, Nadal’s domination left no ambiguity as to who was the most outstanding player in 2010.  With the year at a close, here’s a snapshot of the stories which caught the headlines this foregone season.

After a slow start, Nadal found his footing on clay with his first calendar title at the Monte-Carlo Masters.  Subsequent to banking titles at the Masters in Rome and Madrid, Nadal culminated his clay campaign with his fifth big prize at Roland Garros.  At Wimbledon, the Spaniard defended his 2008 title to seize his second major at the All England Club.  Finally, at U.S. Open, with troublesome obstacles removed from his half of the draw,  Nadal reached his first final in New York.  Nadal stared down a strong challenge from Novak Djokovic to hoist his first U.S. Open trophy.  With a total of seven titles, Nadal topped his peers in 2010.

For Roger Federer, this year was a mixed bag.  After grabbing his sixteenth major in Australia, Federer had a fourth round loss at the Sony Ericsson Open to Tomas Berdych which sent him into a tailspin.  As defending champion at the French Open, Federer was beaten in the quarterfinals by Robin Soderling which ended an unprecedented streak of twenty-three consecutive semifinals at the majors.  Furthermore, defending champ Federer was ousted in the quarterfinals by Berdych at Wimbledon.  In fact, Federer’s ranking dropped to number three, his lowest since November 2003.  Yet, with his second title of the season at the Cincinnati Masters, Federer seemed again on the right road.  However, Federer failed to take advantage of match points in the U.S. Open semifinals against Djokovic and went down in flames.  After the New York fiasco, Federer resurfaced with a fresh coach, Paul Annacone, and won three of four finals including the ATP World Tour finals where he toppled Nadal.

The Australian Open appeared a turning point for Andy Murray.  Easily handled in the final by Federer, Murray could do nothing right with the racket for a while. Eventually at Wimbledon, Murray advanced to the semifinals only to be disappointed by Nadal.  With the defense of his title at the Rogers Cup, Murray seemed to be back.  But, another setback occurred at the U.S. Open where Murray was stunned in the third round by Stanislas Wawrinka.  In besting Federer in the Shanghai Masters final, Murray looked to be heading for a strong finish.  Yet, at the ATP World Tour Finals, Murray took another  downturn.  This was emblematic of the Scot’s tumultuous year which included a rupture with coach Miles Maclagan, a brief ceding of the world number four spot to Soderling and only two titles.

With solely two titles and a U.S. Open final appearance, Djokovic had a so-so year.  The Serb even ascended to number two for a bit, but finished at number three.  While individual success was sparse, Djokovic led his country to its first Davis Cup title.  Along with countryman Viktor Troicki, Djokovic mounted a brilliant comeback to stop France from a tenth trophy.

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Good Fortune Helps Djokovic Win First ATP Masters Title On Clay: Warwinka Comes Out Second Best


At the ATP Masters Series in Rome, the finals came down to Novak Djokovic and Stanislas Wawrinka, a Swiss player on the rise. This was the latter’s first ATP Masters Series final. After dropping the first set, Djokovic recovered to claim his first ATP Masters trophy on the red dirt 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.

After starting his first service game with a double fault, Wawrinka, who looked a bit edgy, calmed down and kept toe to toe with the world number three, who himself appeared on his heel throughout the first set. Wawrinka’s one handed backhand, his most prolific shot, had good depth and range getting him off the hook on a couple of close service games. In the seventh game with Djokovic serving, a fortuitous net court, a superb backhand winner and a double fault presented the first break points for either player which Wawrinka eventually capitalized on to lead 4-3; the Swiss took the first set 6-4.

The second set began without much to differentiate the two players. Yet, one conspicuous fact was that Djokovic had trouble with finding the right distance on his backhand with 8 unforced errors to 2 winners. Djokovic tried to mix things up by coming to the net, but without much success. On the other hand, Wawrinka did not have a strangle hold on this match either. As the rallies became longer the Swiss competitor commenced to produce more errors on both wings. In the first set, Stanislas won over 70% of his second serve points while Novak less than 40%. The contrary was happening in the second set. A frustrated Djokovic finally seized an opening in the sixth game, converted the break taking a 4-2 lead and carried the set 6-3.

At the commencement of the decisive set, Wawrinka again flirted with danger and that cost him dearly. With his first opportunity to break, Djokovic put his nose in front 1-0. From then on, Djokovic’s opponent withered away, paralyzed by a litter of unforced errors. As the net play and the drop shots which were not clicking for Djokovic earlier, started to find their mark, the match turned around. In the ninth game of the set with Wawrinka in dire straits, Djokovic broke one last time to take the championship.

With two retirements clearing his path and his not facing any seeded player for the duration of the tournament, Djokovic’s win is difficult to put into perspective vis-à-vis Roland Garros.

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