Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tennis Year-In-Review

Federer's Fantastic Year

The results speak by themselves. He reached all four Grand Slam finals (again) winning the French Open to get a career Grand Slam and winning Wimbledon to overtake Pete Sampras' slam record tally. He also regained his #1 ranking and ended the year on top for the fifth time. All of these are well and good, but his personal life was also picture perfect as as he got married to longtime girlfriend Mirka Varinec who then delivered twin baby girls in the middle of the year.

Serena Makes Herself Heard

When Dinara Safina took the top spot back in April, people kept asking "Who Was the Real #1?" especially with Serena Williams winning the first Grand Slam of the year. It reached fever pitch when Serena went on to win at Wimbledon followed by Safina's breakdown at the French Open final a couple of weeks prior. Serena, however, took over the top ranking and clinched year-end no. 1 by dominating the last tournament of the year. This was a couple weeks removed from "Serenagate" at the US Open where she threatened a line judge and ended up losing the match to eventual champion Kim Clijsters.

Agassi Out in the Open

Andre Agassi released his autobiography later in the year and what followed was a maelstorm of opinions and judgment especially from those shocked that this 8-time Grand Slam champion used crystal meth back in the day and lied to ATP officials about his drug use.

King of Clay Dethroned

Rafael Nadal was poised to have a great year especially after he drove Federer to tears beating his rival at the Australian Open final. In late spring, he moved through the clay tournaments knocking off win after win like he usually did. He then went on to lose to Federer at Madrid and then to Robin Soderling in the 4th Round of the French Open where he was the 4-time defending champion. After that, Nadal's year never recovered. Citing knee tendinitis, he withdrew from Wimbledon and went title-less for the rest of the year. Barely showing up at the year-end tournament, he capped his year off by helping Spain win Davis Cup.

Breakthrough Slam Winners

Surprisingly, there were others not named Serena, Federer, or Nadal who won slams this year and none of them were really on anyone's radar to win a major this year. Svetlana Kuznetsova got her second slam title at the French Open after edging out Serena in the semis and dismantling Safina in the finals. The US Open was only Kim Clijster's third tournament after she came back from retirement. She beat five Top 18 players en route to only her second slam title. Finally, Juan Martin Del Potro shocked all by taking out four-time defending champion Federer in 5-sets to claim his maiden major title at the US Open.

Slamless Still

There were a few players who either got close or were overhyped to win a Grand Slam title. In the women's side Safina couldn't live up to her ranking and take a big title while Jelena Jankovic and Elena Dementieva also couldn't back up their efforts to grab their maiden slam. First-time slam finalist Caroline Wozniacki reached the US Open finals losing out to Clijsters. In the men's side, Andy Murray didn't even get a whiff of a slam final this year while Soderling made his first slam final at the French Open losing out to Federer.

Other Tidbits

Andy Roddick came tantalizingly close to his second slam title losing to Federer 14-16 in the fifth set of this year's Wimbledon. Richard Gasquet beat his drug suspension as the ATP bought his "kissing" excuse. So long and farewell to Marat Safin, Amelie Mauresmo, Fabrice Santoro, Ai Sugiyama, and Thomas Johansson as they all retired this year.

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