The 2015 Tennis Season in Review

Hi, folks. With 2015 drawing to a close it is once again time to look back at what happened in tennis this year. No doubt it’s been a one-man show aside from Wawrinka who won his second slam at the French Open with a brilliant display of offensive tennis.

For me who became a serious Djokovic fan this year it has been my favorite tennis season as a tennis fan yet. For Fedfans, it’s been a mixed year because although Federer had his best season since 2012 he lost in two more slam finals to Djokovic and still couldn’t clinch #18.

As for Nadal fans, it has been a very difficult year but it ended well for them because there is no doubt now that Nadal is back even though there hasn’t been any progress for him in solving the Djokovic puzzle.

Finally, like Federer, Murray had a very consistent year but could not break through again on the big stage. It’s just very hard to do with someone as dominant as Djokovic around which puts some perspective over what Wawrinka achieved.

  • Australian Open

So let’s take a look back at the biggest events of the season. First is the Australian Open where Djokovic started his unheard of domination. The first big news was Federer’s third round exit against Seppi in four sets. It was the first time since 2003 that Federer lost before the semi-finals in Melbourne.

After an abysmal second half of 2014, Nadal lost in the quarterfinals to Berdych as his woes continued. Murray then defeated Berdych in the semis while Djokovic bageled Wawrinka in the fifth set in the top half semis.

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In the final Murray did well to win the second set on a tiebreak after losing the first set by the same score but then Djokovic sprinted 6-3, 6-0 across the finish line to win a record fifth Australian Open title.

Djokovic had become the undisputed hard court GOAT, especially after winning a third Indian Wells/Miami double in the North-American summer as well.

  • French Open

With Nadal looking more vulnerable than ever the big question was whether he would be beaten only for a second time at the French this year. For the first year ever probably Nadal did not win a clay court event in the run-up to the French but Federer and many others still thought he was the favorite in Paris.

I thought it was as good a year as any for Djokovic to finally defeat Nadal in Paris after losing their six previous meetings at the French. They were drawn to meet in the quarterfinals after Nadal had fallen out of the top four which was good for Djokovic.

The only problem for Djokovic at the one slam he has never won before was that he had an absolutely brutal draw, having to face Nadal, Murray, and Wawrinka in succession to win the title.

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So when Djokovic destroyed Nadal 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 it was a huge victory, but he still had a long way to go to bag that elusive French Open title. Murray was having his best clay court season ever and took Djokovic to five sets in the semis which had to be played over two days.

This meant no rest day for Djokovic before a final with a rampant Wawrinka. The odds just didn’t favor him(as is usually the case at the cursed French) and he went down in four sets to a very deserving winner in the final.

Wawrinka was a very gracious winner and the finals ceremony was an emotional one which brought Djokovic to tears. I felt Djokovic deserved the title after all the heartbreaks at this tournament over the years but it wasn’t to be and it was still a very entertaining tournament.

  • Wimbledon

After what happened at the French, some people thought Djokovic would be negatively affected after yet another heartbreak in the French capital, but didn’t the same thing happen the previous year after which he won Wimbledon?

If there is one thing that should be clear about Djokovic by now it is that he recovers very well from setbacks. He doesn’t dwell on the past. He did look vulnerable in the fourth round against Anderson, but as usual, he came through when it mattered.

After that match, he was unleashed and only dropped one more set in the final against Federer before winning a third Wimbledon title. Federer was playing some incredible tennis himself straight-setting Murray in the semis in a devastating display of grass-court mastery.

Winner, Novak Djokovic of Serbia and runner up Roger Federer of Switzerland pose with their trophies after their Men's Singles Final match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, July 12, 2015. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

So going into the final many people thought Federer would win, including me. I wanted Djokovic to win after what had happened at the French. I thought he did the dirty work of defeating Nadal but then got screwed over by the draw.

So I was delighted to see him raise his game in the final to an unheard of level as he stunned the tennis world by defeating Federer in four sets this time. The previous year he defeated Federer in five sets, and this year Federer was playing better.

This made this win all the more special. Djokovic’s partnership with Wimbledon legend Becker was paying huge dividends because Djokovic’s serve and overall attacking game had improved measurably and he was now a Wimbledon legend himself.

  • US Open

Down to the final slam of 2015 and this was the big one for Djokovic, especially since Federer made the final as well. If Federer wins this final he surely ends any prayer of Djokovic still catching up to his slam count with Djokovic still stuck on only one US Open title.

Similar to the French Open, the US Open had been a somewhat cursed slam for Djokovic because in five finals he’d only won one title. For someone of his hard court abilities, that just wasn’t good enough.

If he still wanted to break the French Open curse he first had to break the lesser US Open curse. Winning a second US Open title was simply a must. This was it. Another US Open final loss would have been devastating, whereas the title would put him in double figures as far as slam titles were concerned.

It would also give him a second three-slam title year. There was an immense amount at stake before the final with Federer and on top of that the final was delayed due to rain which meant that Djokovic had a drunk pro-Federer crowd to deal with as well.

But let me revisit the semis just for a second before I continue with the final. Djokovic once again just did what needed to be done in the earlier rounds which some people mistook for poor form again.

on Day Fourteen of the 2015 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 13, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.

But then in the semis, he put on a devastating display against Cilic destroying the defending champion 6-0, 6-1, 6-2. And yet despite that, many still thought Federer was the favorite after he had another convincing straight-set win over Wawrinka in the semis.

As for myself, I had learned my lesson from Wimbledon and I called Djokovic the favorite. Yes, he had a rampant Federer, a rabid pro-Federer crowd, history, and Federer’s new-found SABR to deal with, but Djokovic is a special player.

There is a certain inner calm about Djokovic which I have never seen on a tennis court before. Against ridiculous odds and a nerve-wrecking situation, he came away as the victor in four sets again.

There is a monk-like centeredness from Djokovic which he surely cultivated through meditation, one of his many practices to help improve his game. I think one day Djokovic will look back on this victory as a watershed moment in his career. There is no doubt in my mind about that.

  • World Tour Finals

Down to the grand finale of the season and with Djokovic winning Shanghai and Paris as well he was now on track to topple Federer’s best ever 2006 season. He still had to win the World Tour Finals, however.

It is the fifth biggest event of the year and no tennis season would be perfect without it. So even though Djokovic had already chalked up one of the best tennis seasons ever, there was still much left to play for.

Federer was still looking for revenge after Wimbledon and the US Open and the indoor courts in London would help his case. The Federer hype had also started again especially after Federer defeated Djokovic 7-5, 6-2, in the group stages.

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I didn’t take that result seriously for a second and Djokovic made a statement when he destroyed Nadal 6-3, 6-3 in the semis. Federer then defeated Wawrinka in straight sets as well which meant the Federer hype train was in full flow again.

And for the third time since Wimbledon Djokovic brought the hype train to a crashing halt when he routined Federer 6-3, 6-4 in the final. It was another big statement from the Serbian. He had defeated his two biggest rivals in succession and made it look easy in the process.

He was the untouchable and undisputed king of 2015. No one came close.

  • A 2016 Tennis Season Preview

If you want a closer look at how Djokovic chalked up the greatest tennis season in modern times then you should take a look at this post of mine. As a fan of Djokovic it was a very enjoyable and inspiring season for me and if you are not a fan then it probably wasn’t.

If you fall under the latter then I’m sure you want to see things change in 2016. I wouldn’t get my hopes up too high of that happening, though. It’s hard to see Djokovic top his 2015 season unless he wins the calendar slam.

That is always a difficult task, but I don’t think it is entirely out of the question that Djokovic can complete the Djokovic slam since he won Wimbledon and the US Open and his favorite slam is coming up.

I also have a feeling 2016 may just be the year for him at the French after he broke the semi-curse of the US Open this year. I don’t think Nadal will beat Djokovic again at the French and it’s doubtful that Wawrinka will go on another run like he did this year.

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But most importantly it is very unlikely that Djokovic will get another draw like he did this year. So I can see Djokovic winning in Melbourne again and then possibly completing the Djokovic slam at the French.

Given that neither Federer nor Nadal achieved that feat, it tells you how difficult it is to do, though. Or maybe Djokovic will lose the Australian Open but finally, bag the French. Who knows. It sure is going to be interesting to find out.

I just don’t see many guys who can challenge him right now. At the World Tour Finals Djokovic made another big statement against Fedal as if to say I own you both now and you are never beating me again in an important match.

Djokovic also owns Murray and is close to owning Stan. I think Djokovic did the right thing by skipping that stupid IPTL tennis. The first half of 2016 will be especially important for him so he needs to be well rested and ready to go.

Can’t wait to see how it all unfolds!

  • A Holiday Message

I just want wish everyone a happy holiday season and a blessed new year. Thank you for all the support of my blog throughout the year.

I am sorry for the ones who thinks tennis has become boring due to Djokovic’s dominance, but I can’t say that I have much sympathy for the ones who are so obsessed over one player that they can only enjoy tennis when that player is winning everything.

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That is not what being a tennis fan is about. That is something else called celebrity worship. Like everything else tennis is always changing and evolving and if you get stuck on any one player you get left behind.

So I hope the ones that haven’t moved on yet can do so in 2016 and appreciate Djokovic or at least, tennis, for what it is.

The is in your court.

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4 Comments

  1. Since I started closely following tennis in 2012, Djokovic has moved up my level of appreciation from about 10th (I didn’t like his MTO’s or time-wasting, and thought his game was too one dimensional). Now, he is a clear 2nd out of currently active players (if JMDP ever comes back he would be my second favourite) on my list, particularly given his difficult background which neither Federer nor Nadal had to contend with. As a Federer fan, the idea of him winning grand slams became unimportant for me after 2013. After such a terrible year I lost all hope of it ever happening. Therefore this year and last year, to see him even get close to beating the rampant no.1 player, seems much better because of that bad year. Obviously I will still be cheering for Federer, but I am long, long past the point of being massively depressed when he loses. In 2013, particularly after the Wimbledon loss, it took me literally several DAYS to get over that one. The US Open and Wimbledon final losses were less painful because they always seemed to be out of reach. Federer really had no right to force a fifth set in 2014, that tiebreak at WB this year was ridiculous, and that second set took so much of Federer’s energy at the USO that I could tell he had little chance of winning one more set, let alone the two more he needed to win. Sometimes you just have to say too good. As a Djokovic fan, I came up with an interesting hypothetical scenario for 2016:

    assuming that Djokovic remains no.1, wins 3-4 masters 1000’s and reaches the final or wins the WTF in each case, would you rather:

    Djokovic wins FO only, but beating Wawrinka, Federer and Nadal in the QF, SF and F, at least one of those matches being an epic 5-set match?

    OR

    Djokovic wins AO, WB and USO, but loses in 1R of FO to a player ranked outside of the top 100, and does not have to beat Federer, Nadal, Murray or Wawrinka in any of his slam wins (this is a hypothetical, the odds of this happening are virtually nil)? He also never wins the FO.

    Both sides have their merits: another 3 slam season would equal Federer (who also has 3) and brings his total to 13, within striking distance of Nadal, and you could argue that Djokovic is greater. But, never winning the FO would be brought up in any comparison with other players.

    In the other scenario, Djokovic gets to 11 slams to equal Borg, and unlike Borg has the career slam, and finally gets that FO after a brilliant series of matches. However, equalling Federer’s GS total would be much harder.

    What is your view on this?

    As for my own hypothetical (as it’s not fair to subject you to one without subjecting myself to one), a choice between Federer winning two slams next year and Olympic Gold, and briefly returning to no.1, but retiring at the end of the year, and him reaching a few more finals over the next few years but losing them all, and playing on for another three or four years (but remaining a top 5 player), seems a difficult choice. 19 slams and an Olympic Singles Gold would be impressive and very difficult to surpass, particularly if it involved beating Djokovic in at least one of those three victories in the final. But at the same time losing the experience of seeing Federer with his shotmaking would be a huge loss for me. I imagine it would depend on what he decided to do after his career. If he simply disappeared like Connors, I would choose the second option. If he played frequent exhibitions, and IPTL for a few years (which is pretty much a tour level competition minus the ranking points and with weird rules), and maybe returned as a coach, umpire or commentator at some point in the future, I would choose the extra slams and Olympic Gold. Just a couple of hypotheticals I thought of, and I wonder what you will make of the Djokovic one.

    Finally, it’s still Christmas Day (at least in the UK), so Merry Christmas if you celebrate it, Happy Holidays if you don’t, and of course a good 2016, tennis and otherwise, so Happy New Year in advance.

    Charlie

    [Reply]

    universal123 Reply:

    Wow that post is long when I read it back now haha, have fun reading that.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks, Charlie, likewise. About the hypothetical I don’t care much about those anymore. I just enjoy the tennis as it happens. No one knows what is happening next year. Let’s just wait and see.

    [Reply]

    universal123 Reply:

    Yeah I guess, it was just a discussion point because I get bored during the off-season, but it doesn’t really matter.

    [Reply]

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