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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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Nadal Dusts Off Ferrer For Fifth Masters Title In Rome

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Nadal Dusts Off Ferrer For Fifth Masters Title In Rome

Despite giving it the old college try, neither the rain nor David Ferrer could alter Rafael Nadal’s destiny.  In the finals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia ATP Masters 1000, Nadal bested Ferrer 7-5,6-2 to grab his fifth trophy in Rome. In addition to garnering his 27th clay court title, Nadal tied Andre Agassi’s record of 17 Masters shields.

Following two easy service holds, Ferrer sent a forehand crosscourt long to face double break point.  With two un-returnable serves, Ferrer got to deuce. After dismissing five break points, with a forehand crosscourt winner, Ferrer held for 3-2.  The subsequent game, Ferrer had 15-30 with a crosscourt backhand pass for a winner.  However, Nadal connected on a few forehand winners to guard serve.  Then, by double faulting and netting a forehand, Ferrer was behind 0-30.  Still, by serving well and being aggressive at the right time, Ferrer maintain serve for 4-3.  Upon the heels of an uncomplicated game by Nadal, with Ferrer at play and 40-15, sprinkles turned into heavy rain causing the match to be suspended.

After nearly an hour intermission, Ferrer double faulted when play resumed.  Yet, with a return error by Nadal, Ferrer stayed ahead 5-4.  Next, with two consecutive miscues by Nadal, Ferrer had a 0-30 opening.  Unfortunately, Ferrer misfired on a second serve return. With three additional errors, Nadal equalized the set.  Subsequent to committing a double fault to allow a third game point to evaporate, Ferrer’s mistakes on two forehands gave Nadal the break and a 6-5 edge. Later, Ferrer crushed a backhand crosscourt return resulting in an error by Nadal on the next stroke and Ferrer’s first break point.  However, that break point was quickly wiped off when Ferrer sent a return long.  With a forehand volley winner, Nadal arrived at set point.  Nadal converted when Ferrer’s return missed its destination.

Ferrer started out the second set with mistakes leading to 15-40.  But, with well struck serves, Ferrer got to deuce.  Then, with a volley winner off a dropshot, Ferrer carried the game for 1-0.  After a comfortable hold, Nadal terminated a long rally with a volley winner for 0-15.  Perhaps feeling the effect of the prior point, Ferrer committed two miscues to hand Nadal triple break point.  Although Ferrer got to deuce, because a few more errors, Nadal eventually captured the break.  Again, there was a prolonged pause due to rain.  Upon returning, with backhand down the line winner, Nadal consolidated at love for a 3-1 lead.  Following an easy game, Ferrer placed pressure on Nadal at 30 all. Once more, let down by his forehand, Ferrer failed to progress further as Nadal maintained serve for 4-2.  Then, with back to back double faults, Ferrer eyed double break point.  As another of Ferrer’s forehand landed long, Nadal widened his advantage to 5-2.  Next, with a forehand volley winner, Nadal had double championship point.  When Ferrer’s returned sailed out of play, Nadal secured for the fifth time consecutive Masters shields in Rome and Monte-Carlo.

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