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2010 Sony Ericsson Open Preview for Wednesday March 24

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2010 Sony Ericsson Open Preview for Wednesday March 24


Day 1 at the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open kicks off today with Justine Henin, former world number 1 and 2007 semifinalist, headlining the day session for the women.  Other notable names in action include Anna Chakvetadze, Carla Suarez Navarro, Patty Schnyder and wild card Anastasia Pivovarova.  In the night session, American Melanie Oudin will square off against qualifier Michaella Krajicek.

On the men’s side, wildcards David Nalbandian and Mario Ancic highlight the day session.  Nalbandian is returning to the ATP tour after hip surgery.  France is well represent on opening day with Michael Llodra, Richard Gasquet, Arnaud Clement, Paul-Henri Mathieu and Marc Gicquel in action.  Americans Taylor Dent and wildcard Ryan Harrison will also take to the courts on Wednesday.  In the night session James Blake will take on  wild card Filip Krajinovic.

Here is the complete order of play for Wednesday :

STADIUM start 11:00 am

A Chakvetadze (RUS) vs K Date Krumm (JPN) – WTA
[WC] M Ancic (CRO) vs J Chardy (FRA) – ATP
J Craybas (USA) vs [WC] J Henin (BEL) – WTA
[WC] D Nalbandian (ARG) vs L Kubot (POL) – ATP

Not Before 7:00 PM
[WC] F Krajinovic (SRB) vs J Blake (USA) – ATP
M Oudin (USA) vs [Q] M Krajicek (NED) – WTA

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
E Schwank (ARG) vs M Gicquel (FRA) – ATP
M Llodra (FRA) vs [WC] R Harrison (USA) – ATP
O Rochus (BEL) vs R Gasquet (FRA) – ATP
T Dent (USA) vs [Q] R Schuettler (GER) – ATP

Not Before 5:00 PM
[Q] D Istomin (UZB) vs M Russell (USA) – ATP

COURT 1 start 10:00 am
[WC] A Pivovarova (RUS) vs C Suarez Navarro (ESP) – WTA
K Srebotnik (SLO) vs P Schnyder (SUI) – WTA
S Bammer (AUT) vs [Q] P Parmentier (FRA) – WTA
T Bacsinszky (SUI) vs [Q] B Mattek-Sands (USA) – WTA
G Dulko (ARG) / F Pennetta (ITA) vs [WC] S Kuznetsova (RUS) / A Molik (AUS) – WTA

COURT 2 start 10:00 am
A Clement (FRA) vs G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) – ATP
I Andreev (RUS) vs [Q] X Malisse (BEL) – ATP
E Makarova (RUS) vs [Q] C Dellacqua (AUS) – WTA
[Q] V Lepchenko (USA) vs V Razzano (FRA) – WTA

Not Before 5:00 PM
I Benesova (CZE) vs [Q] E Baltacha (GBR) – WTA

COURT 3 start 10:00 am
S Voegele (SUI) vs A Cornet (FRA) – WTA
A Keothavong (GBR) vs T Paszek (AUT) – WTA
[Q] T Pironkova (BUL) vs [WC] H Watson (GBR) – WTA
[Q] A Rodionova (AUS) vs A Petkovic (GER) – WTA

COURT 6 start 10:00 am
D Koellerer (AUT) vs C Rochus (BEL) – ATP
M Chiudinelli (SUI) vs F Mayer (GER) – ATP
S Greul (GER) vs B Becker (GER) – ATP
P Mathieu (FRA) vs [Q] I Marchenko (UKR) – ATP

COURT 7 start 10:00 am
T Malek (GER) vs S Errani (ITA) – WTA
M Czink (HUN) vs [WC] A Rus (NED) – WTA
[Q] S Arvidsson (SWE) vs A Brianti (ITA) – WTA
[Q] R Kulikova (RUS) vs R Vinci (ITA) – WTA

COURT 8 start 10:00 am
J Hajek (CZE) vs S Stakhovsky (UKR) – ATP
[Q] A Golubev (KAZ) vs D Gimeno-Traver (ESP) – ATP
K Barrois (GER) vs [Q] M Koryttseva (UKR) – WTA
J Goerges (GER) vs [Q] A Morita (JPN) – WTA

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BMW Championship Hits Sunrise

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BMW Championship Hits Sunrise


img_9385Want to experience tennis live in South Florida this upcoming week?  Here’s your appetizer before the Sony Ericsson Open.  From March 14-21, the Sunrise Tennis Club will host the ATP Challenger tour’s BMW Championship.

Last year, Robin Soderling, the 2009 French Open finalist and world number 7, defeated Tomas Berdych, ranked 22nd, to take home the big prize.  Who will be the breakout star this year?

The 2010 list of potential contenders is equally impressive.  Mikhail Youzhny, ranked 13th, whose year thus far includes back to back finals in Rotterdam and Dubai will be the top seed.   After dropping from a peak ranking of 6th to 21st, Gilles Simon who has been dealing with a sleuth of injuries is hoping to get his game back on track and is the projected second seed.  Richard Gasquet, formerly ranked in the top ten, is also expected to be part of the main draw.  2004 champion Jurgen Melzer, ranked number 28th, is another featured attraction.  Michael Berrer, a recent quarterfinalist in Dubai and finalist in Zagreb, will try to continue his winning ways while Horacio Zeballos, ranked 49th and one of  the keys to Argentina’s win over Sweden earlier this month in Davis Cup, will attempt to carry that momentum towards a trophy in Sunrise.

Keep in mind that although these are the players on the acceptance list, the actual competitors may vary since they are allowed to enter this tournament and Indian Wells simultaneously.  The draw is expected to be finalized by the end of the day on March 16th.  Regardless, you can be assured that some of  the ATP’s best will take the court.

For tournament details and to purchase tickets,go to www.sunrisetennis.com.  Make sure to tune in for live coverage by following us on twitter at www.twitter.com/MiamiTennisNews under the username @MiamiTennisNews.

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Baghdatis Banks Title In Sydney

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Baghdatis Banks Title In Sydney


img_8640Marcos Baghdatis got his Australian Open campaign off to a spectacular commencement.  At the Medibank International Sydney, the 2006 Australian Open finalist prevailed over Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-6.

Gasquet had a jittery opening service game.  After a backhand down the line error wiped out game point, Gasquet flubbed an overhead and sent another backhand long handing Baghdatis the early break.  Marcos had no difficulty consolidating for a 2-0 lead. On many occasions, Gasquet pushed Baghdatis to deuce after the latter had game point.  However, with errant strokes, Gasquet did not get far.  The tides shifted in the sixth game when serving at 3-2 and deuce, Baghdatis botched an easy forehand after a well placed wide serve to allow Gasquet his first break point opportunity of the match.  Still, Gasquet failed to take advantage, dumping a forehand into the net.  Ultimately, Baghdatis held on for a 4-2 lead and closed out the set with an exemplary game.

With Gasquet at 30-0, the initial game of the second set was interrupted by rain.  When the Frenchman returned, he stumbled but still maintained serve.  Perhaps, calmer after the interlude, Gasquet was now tracking down dropshots that Baghdatis had poured on for winners in the first set.  As Baghdatis served at 1-2, he misconnected on a forehand up the line giving Gasquet break point.  Although Marcos forced Richard into a backhand error erasing that break point.  Unable to stick enough first serves, Baghdatis eventually double faulted donating to Gasquet the break. But, a 5-2 lead was not sufficient for Gasquet to wrap up the set.  After Baghdatis held easily at 3-5, with an excellent crosscourt pass, an unsuccessful tweener by Gasquet on a superb lob and another misfired backhand by his rival, Baghdatis had triple break point.  Baghdatis was back in the set after Gasquet netted a forehand.  Subsequently, with each player holding serve, the set went to a tiebreaker.  With a beautifully angled backhand crosscourt winner, Gasquet had a minibreak at 2-0.  Yet, with two successive double faults, Gasquet’s edge evaporated.  Thereafter, Richard folded.  Gasquet did not win a single point, permitting Baghdatis to run away with the tiebreaker and the championship.

Despite the lost, Gasquet’s game is on the right path in light of the cocaine scandal which curtailed his 2009 season.  Last week, Gasquet was a quarterfinalist in Brisbane.  Armed with a new coach, Baghdatis has been revitalized.  For the Cypriot, this is his second title in three months after a previous drought of two years.  Now, Baghdatis is hoping that he will carry this momentum to Melbourne.  After an unforgettable tussle into the wee hours in 2008, Baghdatis appears once again on a third round collision course with Lleyton Hewitt.  If his Sydney victory is any indication, Marcos appears fit for another rumble.

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Analysis of the 2010 Australian Open Draw

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Analysis of the 2010 Australian Open Draw


australian_open_logoThe Australian Open draw is out.  More than any prior year, in this imprecise game of predictions, the only certainty is the uncertainty in determining a frontrunner for the trophy on both the ladies’ and gentlemen’s side.  With no one having a conspicuous edge, with few exceptions, anyone in the top ten can be regarded as a legitimate contender.  Moreover, on the women’s side, the return of some old faces with previous success at majors means that it’s is truly anybody’s title.

In the top half of the draw, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Nikolay Davydenko and Robyn Soderling are the highest seeds respectively. Astonishingly, if the last couple of months are an accurate barometer, Davydenko is for the first time a true threat to make it all the way to the final.  After wrapping 2009 with the ATP World tour finals trophy, just  days ago, Davydenko brought down Federer and Rafael Nadal to take the title in Qatar.  However, the question remains as to whether Davydenko can translate that type of success to a best of five set tournament over two weeks. If the draw proceeds as expected, Davydenko will have a crack at Federer in the quarters and Djokovic or Soderling in the semis.

For his part, Federer has a pretty challenging road in attempting to reach the final.  In the first round, the world number one faces the ever dangerous Igor Andreev.  Subsequently, there are possible match-ups with Australian Open finalists Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis in the round of 16. Other than Davydenko, Fernando Verdasco, a semifinalist in ’09, is a potential in the quarters. So, Federer will need to be on his toes to advance beyond the quarters.

Third seed Djokovic should have a fairly unobstructed run to the quarters.  Still, Richard Gasquet who is getting back in the swing of the game may be a problem for Djokovic in the round of 16. Furthermore, on that side of the draw, majors’ finalists Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Soderling could clash in the round of 16.  With both Tsonga and Soderling potential quarterfinal opponents for Djokovic and with both having wins over the latter, a Djokovic/Federer semifinal is in far from a foregone conclusion.

In the bottom half of the draw, for the defending champion Nadal and Andy Murray, technically, their path to a quarterfinal showdown appears uncomplicated. Yet, Radek Stepanek, a potential round of 16 encounter for Nadal, is perhaps the sole question mark.  In Murray’s case, a healthy Gael Monfils can spell trouble in the round of 16.  But, with Monfils fighting injury, Murray will not be bothered.

Last year’s semifinalist Andy Roddick has another golden opportunity to move at least to the quarterfinal despite Fernando Gonzalez seemingly in his way.  Also, with U.S. Open champ Juan Martin Del Potro fettered by a wrist injury, his progress deep into the draw is in doubt.  Del Potro is slated to see Marin Cilic in the quarters or Roddick in the semis.

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ATP’s Rollercoaster Ride in 2009

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ATP’s Rollercoaster Ride in 2009


img_2928From Rafael Nadal winning his first hardcourt major in Australia, to Roger Federer completing the career grand slam, to the emergence of a new major star Juan Martin Del Potro at the U.S. Open, 2009 was a year replete with ups and downs on the men’s tour.  Here’s a flashback.

At the Australian Open final, despite a marathon semifinal match, Nadal had adequate reserves to stare down Federer in another five setter.  With that victory, Nadal seemed well positioned to achieve the calendar grand slam.  After sweeping every clay court tournament, Nadal was halted at the Madrid Masters by Federer days prior to the French Open. For many analysts, fatigue may have been deserving of an assist as Federer defeated Nadal in straight sets to capture his initial title of 2009. As such, Nadal was still considered the outright favorite for a fifth consecutive French trophy.

While everyone may have discounted Robin Soderling in the fourth round at the French Open, the Swede who played a contentious match with Nadal at Wimbledon in 2007 had visions of victory dancing in his head.  Soderling upstaged the best clay player in circulation, handing Nadal his first defeat at Roland Garros.  Soderling rode this euphoric wave all the way to his first final at a major where he was ultimately stopped by Federer. In addition, Soderling was a quarterfinalist at the U.S. Open.  At his initial ATP World Tour Finals, Soderling was a semifinalist and with that result jumped to a career best ranking of 8th after commencing 2008 at 17.

Melbourne was the site where Fernando Verdasco at last  lived up to his talent.  After surprising Andy Murray the hottest player on tour in the fourth round, Verdasco was involved in a dogfight in the semifinals with countryman Nadal.  Hands down, the best match of the tournament and one of the most scintillating of the year, the two Spaniards went toe to toe for over five hours.  Although Nadal was triumphant, Verdasco’s run in Australia galvanized him the rest of the year.  Verdasco reached the quarters at the U.S. Open and was instrumental in Davis Cup play. Verdasco participated in his first ATP World Tour Finals and ended 2009 at number 9.

After an horrendous start to the season, Federer’s year turned around after beating Nadal in Madrid in May. After avoiding a sleuth of pitfalls to get to the French Open final, Federer grabbed the elusive brass ring and tied Pete Sampras’ record of 14 majors.  With a knee injury placing Wimbledon defending champ Nadal out of action, the impossibility of a Federer-Nadal duel could have been deflating for the championships.  To the contrary, Andy Roddick stepped up to the plate and in facing Federer, the two had a final to rival last year’s epic.  Federer had to out ace Roddick, required 95 minutes and 30 games in the fifth set before coming away with the victory and a record setting 15 majors.  In July, Federer supplanted Nadal at the top of the ATP’s ranking list.  Brimming with confidence, Federer appeared unstoppable and was a shoe-in for a sixth consecutive  title in New York.

At the U.S. Open, Federer battled Del Potro in the final.  With this being the latter’s maiden major final, jitters were more likely than not to play a pivotal role.  In spite of his youth, Del Potro demonstrated that he is a quick study.  After a devastating lost to Federer in the French semifinals, down two sets to one, Del Potro carried a tiebreaker and showed up Federer in the fifth set to capture his initial major. Del Potro closed 2009 as the world’s fifth best player and is a definite threat to take over the top spot in 2010.

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2009 U.S. Open Draw Set

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2009 U.S. Open Draw Set


usopenlogoThe suspense is over.  With Rafael Nadal’s ranking now at number 3, the burning question was whether Roger Federer will have to face his nemesis prior to the finals.  The prospect of a Roger versus Rafa final remains alive with these two on opposite sides of the draw.  On the other hand, there will be no Williams sisters final.  Serena and Venus can only clash in the semifinals.

Federer will be aiming for a sixth consecutive U.S. Open trophy and his recent win in Cincy demonstrates that the world number one has a good shot. Still, 2003 U.S. Open champ Andy Roddick who gave Federer an unforgettable battle at Wimbledon and Novak Djokovic, 2007 U.S. Open finalist, might be formidable semifinal opponents. Nadal may find himself in a dog fight right out of the blocks with Richard Gasquet as a first round adversary. With Rafa still not in full shape with his knees, another possible obstacle will be Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals.  Last year’s finalist, Andy Murray could meet Nadal in the semifinals.  The Brit is hungry and healthy, a combination that may stand in the way of Nadal reaching his first U.S. Open final. In the quarterfinals, Murray might see Juan Martin Del Potro.  Although the Brit has had Del Potro’s number, the Argentine may pull an ace off his sleeve.  Should conditioning not become a factor, Del Potro has the tools to get to his first major final.

Top seed Dinara Safina has a tough path to the quarterfinals with Alisa Kleybanova, Lucie Safarova possible rivals in the early rounds.  Jelena Jankovic, Safina’s potential quarterfinal counterpart, may have Sabine Lisicki or Ana Ivanovic to contend with.  Elena Dementieva and Svetlana Kuznetsova could be semifinals match ups for either woman.  Dementieva has looked great in the lead up tournaments and is well positioned to carry her first major. Although reigning French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova has been dealing with injury, she is a threat to take her second U.S. Open.

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USA Cleans Switzerland’s Clock In The First Round Of The Davis Cup


In Davis Cup play, Andy Roddick has been unflappable. Today, America’s ace in the hole hammered Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka in the fourth rubber 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to book his team’s place in the quarterfinals. Moreover, Roddick becomes second only to John McEnroe on the U.S. all-time Davis Cup winning list.

With Swiss cowbells ringing, Wawrinka won the first game with a forehand volley. Thereafter, things got sticky pretty fast for the Swiss. In two subsequent service games, Wawrinka went down love-30 and also faced a break point. Still, with a few unforced errors by Roddick, Wawrinka held serve. However, it was just a matter of time before Stanislas had to pay the piper. The debt came due in the seventh game. When Wawrinka missed a crosscourt backhand, Roddick got his second break point. Then, with a little luck, Roddick’s stroke skidded off the line, leading to a backhand error from Wawrinka and the break advantage. With his overpowering serve, Roddick grabbed the set.

The initial game of the second set was a replay of the first. Again, Wawrinka held serve for 1-0 with a forehand crosscourt volley winner. But, after Roddick cruised through his service game, Wawrinka was in dire straights afresh. With a backhand down the line winner and a volley error by his adversary, Andy had double break point. When Stanislas misconnected on an overhead, Roddick jumped ahead 2-1. The Swiss was irate, slamming his racket to the ground because he felt that the ball bounced twice on the American’s previous stroke. Except, there was no conclusive evidence that this was the case. In fact, Andy appeared to have trapped the ball. Thus, Wawrinka’s and the Swiss team’s protest fell on deaf ears. With Roddick able to neutralize Wawrinka’s masterful stroke, the backhand, and with the Swiss forced to sure up his least comfortable shot, the forehand; one break was enough for Roddick to capture the second set.

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Australian Open Heating Up


Along with the summer temperatures, the action on court is scorching at the first major of the year. Let’s review the key developments of the initial week and try to predict what could unfold the last days at the Australian Open.

The unexpected casualties in the preliminary rounds were Ana Ivanovic and Venus Williams, the fifth and sixth seeds, respectively. Venus was shocked in the second round by Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro after having the match on her racket.  Suarez Navarro, a quarterfinalist at last year’s French Open, is now in the round of 16. Ivanovic, the 2008 finalist, was eliminated in the third round by 19 year-old Russian Alisa Kleybanova.  This was not a great surprise.  Since winning the French Open, Ivanovic has yet to make it past the third round at a major. Agnieszka Radwaska, the ninth seed, fell in the first round, beaten by Kateryna Bondarenko. The biggest upset on the men’s section was David Nalbandian, the tenth seed, going down in the second round to Yen-Hsun Lu ranked 61.

As we enter the meat and potatoes part of the tournament, the top four men remain on track to collide in the semifinals. With the exception of Novak Djokovic, the defending champion, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray have looked extremely sharp. Of the two Americans left, Andy Roddick, the seventh seed, may represent the biggest headache pending on Djokovic’s side of the draw. Roddick’s recent weight lost and coaching change appear to be paying dividends. Andy has dispatched his opponents expeditiously, so an upset could be brewing. James Blake, the ninth seed, has played very well. However, Blake will meet last year’s finalist, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, in the round of 16. Vanquishing Tsonga may be too tall an assignment for the American. Nadal will face Fernando Gonzalez, the 2007 finalist. Gonzalez may not have much left in the tank after his high quality, over four hour long, five setter against Frenchman Richard Gasquet. Federer will battle Tomas Berdych. Should Roger advance, waiting will be either Juan Martin Del Potro or Marin Cilic, two tough customers. The French are assured of having at least one man in the quarterfinals with Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils playing one another next. With the leftover field competing so well, the odds maker may need to reshuffle their numbers. The favorite may have to be Nadal, Federer and Murray in that order.

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Stepanek Steps Up To The Winner Circle In Brisbane


The finals at the Brisbane International in Australia featured third seed, Spaniard Fernando Verdasco and eight seed, Czech Radek Stepanek. Using his customary antics and tactics to unnerve his opponent, Stepanek triumphed over Verdasco 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

From the first game, Stepanek placed Verdasco on notice that volleying would be the order of the day. The Czech brought the Spaniard into net with a dropshot which the latter deftly handled for a backhand volley winner and went on to hold serve. Serving at 0-1, Radek unleashed another dropshot which Fernando again reached for a forehand volley winner. With two consecutive unforced errors from Stepanek, Verdasco arrived at triple break point. With a forehand down the line winner, Verdasco took a 2-0 lead. After finally holding serve at 1-3, Stepanek pressured two unforced errors from Verdasco’s weaker side, the backhand, for love-30. However, it is the closest the Czech got to overcoming the break deficit. The Spaniard pulled out the game and capped off the set with a forehand volley for winner.

A major problem for Stepanek the previous set was a low first serve percentage which impeded his venturing to the forecourt. The Czech quickly rectified that dilemma. Serving to open the second set, Stepanek connected on an overhead smash and two volleys to lead 1-0. Then, by pressuring Verdasco’s backhand, Stepanek got his first break point. Despite being unsuccessful, for Radek, this was a sign of better things on the horizon. When Stepanek got another break chance, he took the opportunity to rouse up the crowd. When later Verdasco misfired on a backhand crosscourt backhand, Stepanek had a 3-1 lead. Now fully energized and with a potent first serve and lethal volleys, Stepanek went on to carry the second set.

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A New World Order:  The Year That Was 2008

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A New World Order: The Year That Was 2008


img_3045Fascinating is the word in a nutshell that perhaps best describes this past season. With 2009 looming, the time has come to reminisce as to why 2008 was such a quintessential year for the ATP.

The abundance of talent littering the tour foretold of a possible shake up as the year began, threatening Roger Federer’s supremacy. All dynasties have gone through a period of decline; perhaps, for Federer, 2008 will be viewed as such. In Australia, Federer faced two foes, mononucleosis and Serb Novak Djokovic. Unable to vanquish either, Roger succumbed in the semifinals. For Federer, this calendar had many ebbs and few flows with a spanking by Spaniard Rafael Nadal in the French final, a gut wrenching loss in the Wimbledon final in five sets, a much desired gold medal at the Olympics, but in doubles. Roger regained a bit of respect by capturing his fifth consecutive U.S. Open. But, for the first time since the dawning of the Federer era, Roger failed to grab a single masters’ shield. In 2008, not only did the Swiss have to get acclimated to the fact that Wimbledon was no longer his playpen, he also lost his grip on the number one ranking.

What a year for Nadal! Undoubtedly talent is an important part of success, yet hard work cannot be discounted. As the season started, the smart bet would have been on Djokovic yanking the top spot from Federer. Nevertheless, Roger’s clay nemesis, after more than two years of serving as best man, finally moved up to number one. After crushing defeats in the quarterfinals in Australia and finals at the Sony Ericsson, Nadal had a surreal clay run with one solitary loss. Moreover, Rafa won his fourth consecutive French Open and the crown jewel, his first Wimbledon trophy.  He was the first man in over twenty years with this dual combination. The ultimate feather in Rafa’s cap was getting Olympic singles gold. An arduous and lengthy schedule put the breaks to Nadal’s play with tendonitis stopping him from participating in the year-end tournament and the Davis cup finals. Regardless, Nadal could not have scripted this year any better.

In many respects, Djokovic had an up and down ride. After hoisting the Australian and Indian Wells trophies, the world number three had a reality check. Nadal unwilling to relinquish his hold on number two, schooled Djokovic when the two met in Rome and Paris. His confidence slightly dented, Novak was a non-factor mid-year with an early exit at Wimbledon. However, Djokovic finished strongly by winning the year-end tournament in Shanghai.

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