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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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Soderling Reins In Youzhny In Rotterdam

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Soderling Reins In Youzhny In Rotterdam

img_9587_rsAfter the semifinals whereby Robin Soderling swiftly bounced second seed Nikolay Davydenko and Mikhail Youzhny eliminated top seed Novak Djokovic in straight sets; there was great hope for a sensational final at the ATP 500 ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament.  Lamentably, the match ended with Youzhny bowing out due to hip injury.  Thereby, Soderling prevailed 6-4, 2-0.

After a dream 2009 season, Soderling had a nightmarish commencement to 2010.  Prior to this week, with first round defeats in Chennai and Melbourne, the Swede had yet to record a victory on the ATP tour.  Soderling’s faith was tested the first game.  After opening with an ace, Robin made scores of errors leading to Mikhail breaking.  However, with an overhead winner, Soderling had a chance to get on the board.  The Swede did so when a 25 shot rally terminated with the Russian’s forehand finding the bottom of the net. Soderling then carried his next game at love for 2-1.  With a forehand up the line winner, Soderling had his second break opportunity.  Robin converted when Mikhail double faulted.

The primary indication of a Youzhny injury came before his serving at 1-4.  The Russian was treated on court.  Youzhny temporarily blocked out the problem saving a tough game for 2-4 and holding at love to force Soderling to serve for the set.  As a result of a litany of forehand miscues by Soderling, Youzhny captured the break for 4-5.  But, serving to equalize the set, Youzhny coughed up three backhand mistakes for double break point. Helped by a net court winner, Soderling bedded the first set.

After Soderling easily seized the initial game of the second set; courtesy of Youzhny’s backhand breaking down, the Swede had triple break point.  As the Russian dumped another backhand crosscourt into the net, Soderling had a 2-0 lead.  At that point, with Youzhny’s mobility severely restricted, he elected to pull the plug on the match.

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