The year of 2008 had many highlights and there was much happening in the tennis world as always. I have compiled my own list of events that was the most newsworthy. There was many to choose from but I decided to limit the list to ten. Here it is, in order of most important to least important:
1) Nadal beats Federer in an epic battle for the most important title in men’s tennis. Not only is it one of the most spellbinding matches of all time but it also ends Roger’s reign of five straight titles at Wimbledon, stopping him from passing Bjorn Borg’s record of five Wimbledon titles in a row. The 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-7(8), 9-7 win by Nadal is the pivitol point in the 2009 season. After this Nadal would go on to take the number one ranking from Federer, the first player to do so in more then four and a half years.
2) After Nadal passes Federer in the rankings he also wins the Olympic gold in singles, adding to his Wimbledon and French Open titles. 2008 was the year that would belong to Nadal, dominating his opponents and winning a total of 8 titles. He also achieved best career results in the two hard court grand slams.
3) Federer wins the US Open after a very average year according to his own high standards. In the semi-finals he takes revenge on Djokovic for beating him at the Australian Open earlier in the year and breezes through Murray in the final 6-2, 7-5, 6-2. Quite significant if you take into account that Murray was one of the most dominent players towards the end of the season.
4) Djokovic annouces what a talent he is by winning the Australian Open, effectively making it the big three in world tennis after Federer and Nadal. He upsets an off form Federer in straight sets in the semi-finals after losing in straight sets against him in the previous year’s US Open final.
5) Nadal crushes Federer 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 in the French Open final after two pretty close finals the two years before. This means Federer doesn’t come any closer to solving the problem of Nadal on clay, his single biggest challenge in tennis. Also it means Nadal goes into Wimbledon with a lot of confidence and would of course end up winning the title there.
6) Andy Murray is another player who had a breakthrough season. He won two Master’s Series titles and three other tournaments and also made his first grand slam final at the US Open. This means Murray closes the gap between him and the big three and opens up a gap between him and the rest of the field. 2009 might well be another break through year for the Scotsman.
7) Joe-Wilfred Tsonga from France comes from nowhere to reach the Australian Open finals, beating Nadal along the way in three easy sets. Tsonga gets injured in mid season though and would sit out for a long period, but come back strongly towards the end of the seaon by winning the Masters Series event in his home country and thereby qualifying for the Tennis Maters Cup. If Tsonga stays healthy he will be one to look out for in 2009 that’s for sure.
8 ) Djokovic takes another big title by winning the Masters Cup at the end of the season, thereby finishing strongly in which was another break through season for him. Even though he doesnt beat any of the other top four players and lose against Tsonga in the round robin matches, it’s enough to top off a fantastic season for the Serbian.
9) Giles Simon from France makes waves in the tennis world by winning three tournaments, qualifying for the Masters Cup and ending the year at number six in the rankings.
10) Juan-Martin Del Potro goes on a 27-match winning streak during the American hard court season and wins four tournaments in a row, finally losing to an in form Andy Murray in the quarterfinals of the US Open. He would also break into the top ten in the ATP rankings.
So there it is, my top ten moments of 2008. Really exciting stuff it was and who could have predicted it. But that is tennis, you never quite know what to expect and no matter how much we speculate about 2009 we just don’t know. Can Roger put break Pete’s slam record? That’s the big question isn’t it? Much of 2009 will depend on wether he can do that. My guess is…oh i think you already know the answer to that!