A small article where i would like to make a recap of this year entire tennis main events.The 2009 cast had a few emerging heroes, one comeback queen and lot of supporting players. But, like in the last six years, one man stood out. The season, in many ways, belonged to the greatest to grace the sport – Roger Federer.
Federer couldn’t have chosen a better venue to clinch his record-breaking 15th Major crown. The All England Club that gave the 21-year-old Swiss his first Slam in 2003 also held stage for his 15th. Not many expected it to be so easy, especially after Rafael Nadal stopped Federer yet again at the start of the year in Melbourne Park to bag his first hard-court Major crown.
Rafa’s Australian dream
Nadal had dissected Federer’s strokes to the tee, the year before on Paris’ clay and Wimbledon grass, but not many fancied the Spaniard to repeat the same on the hard courts at Melbourne. But that was not to be. The Spaniard, along with Federer, who boasts of one of the best rivalries in the sport, first secured a memorable five-set marathon victory over countryman Fernando Verdasco.
Verdasco, who broke into the top 10 on the ATP charts earlier this year, had his best-ever Major result by reaching the semis at the season-opening Slam Down Under. In the title clash, Nadal, got the better of Federer in yet another five-setter which made the champion cry out, “God, it’s killing me!” On the women’s front, Serena Williams powered her way through, to make it a perfect 10 at Grand Slams after crushing a hapless Dinara Safina.
After a sensational start, Nadal was the favourite to continue his four-year reign on the red clay of Roland Garros. But, out of nowhere, Swede storm Robin Soderling knocked out Rafa in the Round of 16. Federer, who has been waiting for this moment for some time, didn’t need a second invitation as they brushed aside Soderling in the final. The elusive French Open title helped the Swiss ace complete a Career Slam. Fedex is only the sixth man in history to achieve it. With that effort, he also equalled Pete Sampras’ feat of 14 Majors.
Meanwhile, in the women’s section, for a change, it wasn’t Serena Williams who hogged the limelight. Svetlana Kuznetsova, who knocked out Serena in the quarters handed fellow-Russian Safina, yet another final loss to pick up her second Major title. A Slam-less Safina had a tough time with critics after achieving the top status. The Russian ace was the 19th woman to reach the top since the inception of WTA rankings. That also marked an occasion for the first brother-sister (Safina-Marat Safin) tandem in tennis history to both achieve No.1 rankings.
Grand Slam glory
Tendonitis trapped Nadal after his French Open loss. The knee injury forced the Mallorcan ace to withdraw from the Wimbledon Championships. But even in the absence of the defending champion Nadal, in what was the most riveting tennis match ever, Federer and Roddick battled out for the prestigious trophy. Roddick went down fighting 16-14 in the final set. Federer clinched his record 15th Major, but the American ace emerged a new hero in London after that match.
Meanwhile, there was no classic at the other end. In another all-Williams affair, Serena beat elder sister and five-time champion Venus to make it No.11 in Slams.
Del Potro comes of age
The stage moved to Flushing Meadows for the season-ending US Open. After six very ordinary performances against the supreme Federer, Argentine Juan Martin del Potro got off the mark in style against the Swiss ace. The 20-year-old announced his arrival on the grand stage after playing some jaw-dropping tennis at Flushing Meadows during his demolition of Nadal in the semis. But, he packed a knock-out punch against Federer in a thrilling five-setter to win his first Grand Slam.
Daddy and supermom
After two wins and two losses in four Slams, Federer capped a professionally successful season with some good news off the courts as well. The top shot married long-time girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec in April this year. Soon on July 23, the couple was blessed with twin girls, Charlene Riva and Myla Rose.
While the tennis daddy enjoyed a great run, supermom Kim Clijsters made a fairytale comeback after a two-year break. Clijsters made mommies proud after becoming the first mother since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980 to win a Major at Flushing Meadows. On her way to her second US Open title, Clijsters went past the Williams sisters and eventually beat Danish teenage sensation Caroline Wozniacki in the championship match.
Andy Murray headed the list of disappointments in the year. A lot was expected from the Scot this season. The reigning master of the best-of-three matches, Murray, proved yet again he’s the best by winning six ATP titles. However, Murray’s Slam struggles continued this season as well, as he failed to get past the semis stage of any of the four Majors. At the other end, Novak Djokovic too failed to add any to his lone 2008 Australian Open crown.
Amongst the girls, Maria Sharapova missed five months of the season recovering from a shoulder surgery in October 2008. Sharapova finally triumphed in Tokyo in October this year, bagging her fist title on her return.
At the season end, there weren’t many surprises as Federer and Serena finished the year as No.1 in their respective categories.
2009 was also a year when a handful of controversies made headlines. But, none bigger than American legend Andre Agassi’s confessions in his autobiography – OPEN. The eight-time Major winner opened up in a way that rattled the tennis world. Agassi admitted to using ecstasy drugs ‘crystal meth’ as well as ‘speed’ in 1997 during the low point of his career. Agassi even admitted to lying to the ATP officials to avoid a ban.
Chasing Billie Jean King’s 12 Grand Slam titles, only Serena’s foul-mouth stood in her way. The 11-time Major champion lost her cool and threatened a line judge over a foot-fault call, with an abuse filled verbal volley during her semi-final clash against Clijsters at the US Open. She wound up losing the bout when a penalty point ended the contest.
The younger Williams was fined a record US$ 82,500 and handed a two-year Grand Slam probation. If Serena commits another “major offence” at a Major over the next two years, her fine would balloon to US$175,000 and she would be barred from the following US Open.
As the WADA set on its green mission, several players were suspected for doping in yet another disappointing turn of events. But, none bigger than the genial Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who was first suspected and later cleared. Likewise the Belgian duo of Yanina Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse, went through the same cycle of occurrence.
Meanwhile, Martina Hingis’ two-year ban ended on October 30, but the Swiss miss who was kept away from the sport due to doping charges ruled out a comeback.
Safin bids adieu
The Mercurial Marat Safin known for his racquet smashes, tantrums and other emotional outbursts on the ATP Tour played his last match as a professional player at the Paris Masters. The Tour’s most charismatic star ended his 12-year-career with a second-round defeat to Juan Martin del Potro. Another former world No.1 Amelie Mauresmo of France too decided to pack off her racquets. On the flip side, with Justine Henin coming out of retirement, the 2010 season will undoubtedly be another one to look forward to.
Spain win Davis Cup
In team events, Italy won their second Fed Cup after Flavia Pennetta led a 4-0 whitewash victory over the United States. In the men’s division, after struggling with form since his return from knee injury, Nadal who failed to win a single tournament since his comeback showed glimpses of his old form as holders Spain blanked Czech Republic 5-0 to retain the Davis Cup.