Monday, November 30, 2009

The Last Word on Tennis for 2009

The sound of soles rapidly shuffling into position on the spotlight's surface of the O2 arena has now ceased. The dazzling blue glow has been dimmed for the last time, and a worthy winner has emerged from the group of eight.

London's O2 arena hosted a fantastic ATP Masters year-ending tournament which saw the top five players fall at various hurdles. Nikolay Davydenko outlasted them all to lift the trophy and ascend to sixth in the world rankings, jumping past absentee Andy Roddick.

Robin Soderling's run to the semi-finals saw him finish eighth in the rankings, a career high for the much-improved Swede. Another player who has come on leaps and bounds is finalist Juan Martin Del Potro. It was only January this year when he was given one of the biggest thrashings at the Australian Open by Roger Federer, 6-3, 6-0, 6-0. He ran Federer close in a five-set loss at the semis of the French before triumphing over the world number one to win his first Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows.

Rafael Nadal, plagued by numerous injuries and inconsistent form, finished the year on his biggest ever low, losing his last four matches.

Roger Federer has now been world number one for 258 weeks, 2 weeks shy of Pete Sampras' record of 260 weeks at the very top ranking. By Christmas Federer will be the outright leader. The Swiss ace won his first French Open crown, which equalled Pete Sampras' Grand Slam record and also completed his career Grand Slam. Then a month later at Wimbledon he overcame Andy Roddick in an epic final to stand alone as the all-time greatest player in history with 15 Grand Slam titles. He married long time girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec before welcoming twin daughters into his life. It has been a historic year for Roger Federer.

Finally, tennis will be losing two of its more famous players in Marat Safin and Fabrice Santoro. We will for sure miss Safin's petulance and anger issues as much as his superb tennis, which we must confess was sadly only rarely seen.

The Australian Open is up next in January 2010 and Roger Federer will be as hungry as ever to claim the title he so agonisingly lost this year.

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