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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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Cilic Ices Native Son To Carry Chennai Open


With the encouragement of hundreds of delirious supporters, Indian wildcard Somdev Devvarman took on Croatian Marin Cilic in the finals of the Chennai Open. Somdev, a 23 year-old former NCAA champion ranked 202, proved quite a handful for the younger number 3 seed. Nevertheless, Cilic cooled off his opponent to prevail in straight sets 6-4, 7-6.

Ripping a forehand crosscourt for winner, Cilic finished an unadventurous game to open the match. Conversely, with a backhand crosscourt error, Somdev faced his first break point. However, with steeliness in the long rallies and deep penetrating groundstrokes, Devvarman conquered the wave. Then, Somdev turned the tables on Marin, connecting on a forehand pass and backhand up the line winners for triple break point. With his overpowering serve, the Croatian bullied his way out of trouble for 3-2. But, Cilic went down again double break point in his next service game when Devvarman thrusted one of his rocket like serves back to force an error from him. Yet, with crosscourt winners on the forehand and backhand, Marin once more pulled out the game for 4-3. With Devvarman serving at 4-5, the Indian picked the most inauspicious moment to bring out the dropshot. Using his long strides, Cilic reached the ball and put it away for a forehand winner. Shortly after, Devvarman terminated the set with a double fault.

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Top Ten Matches Of 2007


As 2007 draws to a close, the staff at MiamiTennisBlog.com would like to pay tribute to what we feel were the preeminent matches of the year. On the men’s side, the picks have been limited to five setters because undoubtedly, they were the most compelling.

#10 Maria Sharapova versus Justine Henin, Finals WTA Championships

After making the cut once Venus Williams pulled out due to injury, Maria whose serve had been affected all year by a shoulder problem, appeared to have regained her past championship form impressively dismissing higher ranked opponents to reach the finals. In a hotly contested match lasting 3-hours and 24-minute, Sharapova demonstrated she had “game” by winning the first set 7-5 and pushing Henin in the second set prior to loosing it 7-5. The contest came down to a final third set which was fiercely disputed, but Henin prevailed 6-3.

#9 Serena Williams Versus Justine Henin, Wimbledon Quarterfinals

After the drama of the previous round where she won despite a calf injury, Serena continued to battle against her archrival, Henin, taking the match to an ultimate set after loosing the first. Regrettably, Serena was not a 100-percent physically and went down 6-3 in the third. For her courage and effort, we must tip our hat to Serena.

#8 Robin Soderling versus Rafael Nadal, Third Round Wimbledon

Here are just a few reasons why this was a memorable match: 1) bad weather resulted in play spanning the course of four days. 2) Theatrics were the order of the day, when Robin decided that Rafa’s habit of constantly picking at his shorts between points was worthy of mimicry. And 3) this ended up being a five set marathon with great shots being made from both ends of the court. Nadal’s experience and physical strength were keys in aiding him to come out on top 7-5 in the fifth. It is doubtful that Robin and Rafa will be going out for drinks anytime soon.

#7 Carlos Moya versus Tim Henman, First Round Wimbledon

In his farewell Wimbledon match, Tiger Tim had fans atop “Henman Hill” on pins and needles with another five set nail-biter. The last set was dead even at 5-5 when play was suspended due to lightning. When Henman returned, he electrified the crowd with sensational shots and won 13-11 in the fifth. Sadly, the joy of his British compatriots would be short-lived as in the second round Henman would be defeated by another Spaniard, Feliciano Lopez. Anxious for a home grown champion since 1936, the Brits will have to wait at least another year.

#6 Andy Roddick versus Richard Gasquet, Quarterfinals Wimbledon

As the higher ranked player and with his previous grand slam experience, Roddick had all the elements in his favor to proceed to the next round. He was leading two sets to love and with Gasquet having never previously come back from such a deficit; Andy’s fate appeared to be sealed. But destiny took a wrong turn as Gasquet found the means to work his way back into the match with spectacular backhand passes and eventually walked away with the upset, winning 8-6 in the fifth. A dazed and confused Roddick probably had nightmares for days following that one.

#5 Maria Sharapova versus Serena Williams Finals Australian Open

Subsequent to an injury-filled year which resulted in her ranking plummeting to 81, it would not have been shocking for a visibly out-of-shape Serena to lose in the initial rounds of the tournament. Williams proved all the naysayers wrong when she reached the finals where she dominated the proceedings against Sharapova, who at the time was the second seed, and earned her third Australian trophy. In so doing, Serena placed the rest of the field on notice that she was back at the top of her game.

#4 Daniela Hantuchova versus Serena Williams, Fourth Round Wimbledon

After winning the opening set easily, Serena found herself battling in the second. While serving to extend that set into a tiebreaker, Serena literally went down when she began to experience pain in her calf muscle; speculation was that she was struck by a case of severe calf spasm. Once play resumed after a medical time out, a grimacing, teary-eyed Williams was unable to generate much power on her shots causing her to forfeit the second set. With her movement gravely hampered, Williams’ prayers for a reprieve were answered by a two-hour rain delay during which she received additional treatment for her problem. Guts, shear determination, and a befuddled Daniela, who was conspicuously uneasy with having to beat up on a wounded opponent, helped Serena pull out a 6-2 win in the third set. Therefore, for your die-hard attitude Serena Williams, we at HialeahTennis.com salute you.

#3 Justine Henin versus Marion Bartoli, Semifinals Wimbledon

You would think that having James Bond 007 (a.k.a. Pierce Brosnan) in the stands would make one nervous. Such a dapper and debonair presence in most cases might be a distraction, apparently not in the case of Marion Bartoli, to her he was a source of inspiration. Seeded 18th , Bartoli of France probably believed that she had no more than an outside chance to win against Henin, the world’s number one. After losing the first set 6-1, Bartoli should probably have discarded the idea of an “outside chance”. Yet, Marion stated that when she saw Brosnan, her favorite actor, in the stands she realized that she could not continue with such an embarrassing display. Bartoli started to perform better, propelling her to win the second set. On the other hand, Henin surprised by the turn of events essentially became unglued. Henin’s level of play took a nosedive. Shots which for her were usually a surety were converted into errors leading to her dismissal in the third set 6-1; Henin’s quest of obtaining her first Wimbledon trophy will have to be postponed yet another year.

#2 Roger Federer versus Andy Roddick, Quarterfinals U.S. Open & Ranek Stepanek versus Novak Djokovic, Second Round U.S. Open

Tied for second place are these two matches on hardcourt for the quality of the shots although only one went the distance. Roddick could not have performed any better; his serve was phenomenal while his groundstrokes were dead on. Yet, Federer decked out in his Darth Vader evening attire had the force with him. The first two sets were decided by tiebreakers with Federer coming up with some surreal passing shots while Roddick tried all within his powers to stave off the assault. After loosing the first two sets, Andy was a broken man and fell in the third set 6-2. This match was reminiscent of his play at Wimbledon 2004, where as Andy stated he “threw everything at Roger but the kitchen sink” and still could not get the victory. So maybe next time, Andy will need to remember to bring the kitchen sink.

In what turned out to be a spectator’s dream for an opening round contest at a major, this five set thriller was jam packed with first class shot making from both Stepanek and Djokovic. This 4-hour and 44-minute marathon fittingly ended with a fifth set tiebreaker where Djokovic prevailed, the initial step towards his punching his ticket to his first grand slam finals.

#1 Roger Federer versus Rafael Nadal, Finals Wimbledon

The hallowed grounds of tennis’ premiere tournament were the setting for this epic battle between these top-ranked contenders. For the first time since capturing the number one ranking several years ago, Federer was at risk of being displaced by Nadal. The match started out with Roger pulling ahead in a tough first set tiebreaker. In the second set, Roger had the chance to place further distance between himself and his opponent, but Rafael picked up his level of play and equalized the match. The third set was also a fiercely contested affair which saw Federer come out on top once more in a tiebreak. At that point, one thought that Federer would put the pedal to the metal and run away with the trophy, but much to Federer’s dislike, Nadal had more to say. Throughout the course of the match, Federer took exception with some of the calls that the electronic line monitor was making; repeatedly his challenges were proven wrong. A normally cool and composed player (let’s face it, the guy appears to hardly sweats on court), Federer almost went, ballistic, at one point asking the umpire to turn off what he felt was a faulty machine. Clearly, the tension was getting to Roger. A factor which probably contributed to his losing the fourth set 6-2. For the first time at his favorite grand slam, Roger would need to go to a fifth set to win. When Rafa took an injury time out, a rattled Federer was able to regroup and regain his composure; this permitted him to find his rhythm in the ultimate set where he broke Nadal twice to capture his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title.

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2007 ATP Year End Review


In many respects, the 2007 ATP tennis season can be summarized as a case of déjà vu, particularly where the grand slam tournaments are concerned. As he did in 2006, Roger Federer repeated at the Australian, Wimbledon and US Open while Nadal claimed his third consecutive French Open trophy. Majors aside though, Federer faltered throughout the year at the Masters’ Series, the second most prestigious competitions on the tour. At the Pacific Life Open, Guillermo Canas who entered the draw as a lucky looser, after a prolonged suspension from the sport for steroid abuse, provided the year’s first stunner by beating Federer in the second round, putting an end to the latter’s 41 match-winning streak. In so doing, the door was opened for Serb Novak Djokovic to make it to his first Masters Series final where he eventually lost to Rafael Nadal.

A few months later, at the Sony Ericsson Open, Canas demonstrated that his prior win was not a fluke, lightning can indeed strike twice, he again eliminated Federer in straight sets, a tremendous feat considering that in 2006, only Nadal and Andy Murray had been able to register wins against Federer. Moreover, the Sony Ericsson Open turned out to also be Djokovic’s coming out party; he exacted his revenge against Nadal by defeating him in the semifinals and went on to stop Canas from becoming the first qualifier to win the Ericsson Open, claiming his first Masters Series trophy. Without a doubt, Djokovic’s star was on the rise in 2007. He not only beat Federer at the Masters in Montreal, but also went on to make it to his first grand slam final at the US Open where he would prove to be a worthy contender before finally surrendering to Federer.

In the last few years, tennis has been a tale of two surfaces while Federer has been king on grass and hardcourt, Rafael Nadal has been “Rey” on clay, and 2007 was no exception. Rafa extended his winning streak to 81 on the “terre battue” including titles in Rome and Monte Carlo before Federer was finally able to get the better of him in Hamburg at the finals. This unforeseen result fueled speculation that perhaps Federer might win his first French Open title; but such a prediction never materialized. Rafa reasserted his dominance in beating Federer in the finals. Unfortunately, despite a strong stance at Wimbledon where he once again became a finalist, the remainder of Rafa’s season can best be described as lack luster. Plagued by injury, Nadal was unable to rack up another title, the only tournament final he reached, the Paris Masters, proved to be a debacle, a lopsided win by David Nalbandian. Therefore, it is safe to assume that the latter part of 2007 is a period that Nadal would like to relegate to the distant past.

Besides Novak Djokovic, 2007 had some other nice surprises, primarily, the resurgence of a few so-called veteran players. For his part, at the tender age of 31,Carlos Moya, the former French Open champion, saw his rededication to the game pay off; posting his best results over the last several years. Moya reached the finals at the Medibank in Australia, the semifinals and quarterfinals on his best surface clay at Hamburg and the French Open respectively. Moya even demonstrated his competence on hardcourt by making it to the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open. Perhaps as is the case with the Spanish wine Rioja, Moya gets better with age. Undoubtedly, Moya’s fellow countryman, Ferrer, was one of the most exciting players to watch in 2007. Customarily, the Spaniards can be expected to do well on clay, but Ferrer surprised everyone when he beat Nadal on hardcourt on his way to earning a spot in the U.S Open semifinal where he eventually fell to Djokovic. A few months later, Ferrer returned the favor at the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, easily defeating Djokovic as well as two other players to make it to the series final. For all his troubles though, Ferrer sealed a date with Federer who despite looking sluggish in the initial rounds of the event, managed to pull out yet again another victory.

Another individual who decided the time had come to revive his game was Nalbandian; his recommitment was evident with a new fitness trainer and coach, weight loss translated to a renaissance of his powerful two-handed backhand along with spryness on the court. In the last few months of the year, Nalbandian’s game flourished, the reward was wins over both Federer and Nadal at the ATP Masters final in Paris and Madrid. Nalbandian has always been a difficult opponent for Federer, strangely enough, he is one of a hand full of players with a winning record against Roger. Thus, if he continues to work hard and improve, 2008 will prove to be an interesting season not only for him, but also for tennis fans alike.

Regrettably, for those fanatical about American tennis, 2007 continued to disappoint. Andy Roddick failed to reach the finals of any of the key tournaments, his best showing was semifinalist at the Australian; while James Blake appears to be spiraling down, he did not make it past the fourth round at any of the grand slams. This leaves many to wonder when the drought of American champions will come to an end. Hope may lie with a young Atlanta teenager by the name of Donald Young, who decided to dabble in the adult league in 2007 while still playing on the junior circuit. In 2008, Young will probably join the ATP full-time, his inexperience will be a hindrance for several years, as impatient as Americans are, it is doubtful that their hunger for a consistent champion will be satisfied early enough. Regardless, all was not lost in 2007; team tennis was the brightest spot for the USA. After a twelve-year hiatus, the Davis Cup returned to its home on US soil, when the US convincingly defeated Russia.

Probably, the biggest story in 2007 was for the shenanigans off the court; tennis was revealed not to be immune from an ugly aspect of professional sports, gambling. At times, one forgets that tennis is not just a game; it is after all a business. With so much money involved, there is no lack of temptation. Allegations of match fixing surfaced when one of tennis’s most prominent stars, Russian Nikolay Davydenko was accused of possibly throwing a match against a relatively obscure opponent. Eyebrows were raised when an inordinate amount of bets was being placed in favor of Davydenko’s adversary despite the fact that he had been pummeled in the first set. When the Russian retired in the third set supposedly due to a foot ailment, suspicions heightened that something illicit was afoot. Subsequently, a few players admitted to having been approached with the proposal of loosing matches for monetary gains. The investigation in Davydenko’s case is still ongoing, but the repercussions that this type of blemish may have on the sport are troubling enough to the ATP officials that a few months later an Italian player was temporary barred from play after he was found to be betting on matches.

After taking a look back at the past year, it would only be fitting to peak into the tennis crystal ball and tread into the realm of forecasting what may unfold in 2008. As it turns out, the crystal ball appears cloudy; therefore, what to expect the upcoming season is anyone’s guess. The predictable question remains as to whether Nadal will at last relinquish the French Open crown to Federer thereby anointing him the best player the game has ever seen or as was the case with Pete Sampras will that trophy continue to remain elusive. What is undoubtedly clear in reviewing the events of 2007 is that the gap has been closing between Roger and the rest of the field; thus, Superman may be forced to come down to earth in 2008 and permanently reside amongst the commoners.

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