The Big Three Plus One

Now that the 2008 season is over it’s time for me to do a review on what happened in the tennis world.  Most of you who know tennis would know what the title of this post means. The big three is  Rafael Nadal,  Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. The player who is knocking hard on the door to make it the ‘big four’ is Andy Murray. However my personal opinion is that he needs to win a grand slam title before he can can claim that honour. So let me review each of the four players in 2008 and maybe look at what we can expect from them in the future as well.

The best player of 2008 of course was Rafael Nadal, who had his best season to date. He started the year by reaching the final of Chennai and after that achieving his career best result at the Australian Open by reaching the semi-finals where he lost to Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, another up and coming player from whom you can expect a lot in 2009. So that was a sign of bigger things to come for Nadal.  In the US hard court season he made the final of both Masters Series events in Indian Wells and Miami, losing to Djokovic in Indian Wells and to Davydenko in Miami. This all before his favorite clay court season even started. He would go on to win every tournament of the clay court season he took part in except for  Rome where he lost  surprisingly easy to fellow countryman Juan Carlos Ferero. The titles he won included two Masters Series events and the French Open which he won for a fourth straight year, a feat only Bjorn Borg has achieved thus far. Going on to the grass court season Nadal immediately found his rhythm and ominously for Federer won the warm up tournament at Queens club.

As could be expected he made the final of  Wimbledon where he would meet Federer for a third straight year in an epic five set thriller. He went on to become the first man since Borg in 1978 to win the French and Wimbledon in succession. Full of confidence Nadal won the next tournament he played in Toronto which was again a Masters Series event. Not surprisingly Federer’s number one ranking was under serious threat and Nadal would go on to claim the number one spot in the following tournament where he reached the finals and lost to Djokovic. Federer on the other hand seemed to be really struggling and lost in the round of sixteen to Ivo Karlovic. Next up was the Beijing Olympics where Nadal won the gold medal, taking revenge on Djokovic in the semi-finals for the loss in the Cincinatti Masters Series. In the final grand slam of the year Nadal came up against a very confident Andy Murray in the semi-finals and lose in four sets, still surpassing his previous best result at the US Open by two rounds.

After the US Open Nadal would go on to have a  good indoor season but he withdrew against Davydenko in the quarters of Paris due to injury, which would also keep him out of the Masters Cup in Shanghai. So all in all it was a break through season for Nadal and he pretty much dominated the tennis world. It’s really hard to see Nadal having another season like 2008. I don’t think he can dominate the game like Roger does. He puts too much into his tennis, every match he plays he goes through a certain grind that inevitably will catch up with him. He doesn’t play with the ease and talent that Roger does. Therefor it is not surprising that he got injured at the end of the season, missing out on one of the most important tournaments. We will have to see what happens with Nadal in 2009. Given that he stays fit he will probably win the French again, it’s hard to see anyone beating him there. As for Wimbledon i would pick Roger to reclaim his title there.

I have already reviewed Roger’s season, for that you can see the post ‘Federer-2008 in review’. I expect good things from Roger in 2009. Maybe he won’t be as dominant as before but i think he will have a solid season, winning one or two more grand slams and reclaiming the number one spot.

Next up is Novak Djokovic who had the best start to the season by winning the his first grand slam at the Australian Open.  He would also reach the final in Dubai and win the Masters Series at Indian Wells.  He had a very solid clay court season and won the masters series event in Rome. On the grass he made the final of Queen’s but disappointingly lose in the second round of Wimbledon to a resurgent Marat Safin. For the remainder of the season he performed pretty solid but didn’t win a title again until the final showdown in Shangai, where he won another very important title. So probably Djokovic’s best season to date, seeing that he won two very big titles. In 2009 I expect Djokovic to have another big season and maybe win another grand slam. I am looking forward to see how he defends his Australian Open title and also if he can make a bigger impact at Wimbledon in 2009 and give Roger and Rafa a real run for their money.

Finally there is Andy Murray who is another player who had a break through season, announcing that he will be a real force to reckon with in the upcoming 2009 season. He won five titles in 2008 which included two Masters Series events in Cincinatti and Madrid. He also made the final of the US Open where he lost 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 to a destructive Federer. This had to be particularly sweet revenge for Federer since Murray actually have a 4-2 career record against Roger and the US was a real big stage, so that had to hurt. However Murray has had a very strong finish to the 2008 season and he will definitely come out firing in 2009. Pete Sampras has already picked him as a grand slam winner in 2009. We will have to see about that but he certainly has a chance. Who knows, he might become the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win Wimbledon. That would really be something but i think you all know who i’m backing to win the biggest tournament in the world…

Who will be nr. 1 at the end of 2009?

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One Comment

  1. Nadal actually lost in the semi finals to Djokovic in both Indian Wells and Cincy. But you were spot on in predicting that Roger would win 2 Slams and regain the World Number 1 ranking .

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