I'm actually going to do 9 matches of Nadal that defined this year.
1. AO QF vs. Berdych- Berdych has success vs. Nadal on hard courts in years past, and had a set up and a set point to take it 2 sets up, but Nadal just fought hard and came through with a defining win, imo. We saw how Berdych can take out a top seed in a HC slam at USO. This was a big match for Rafa to get through.
2. AO SF vs. Fed- Nadal's win over Fed in AO 09, many thought was a fluke blah blah blah, this was a big match for Nadal over Fed in a hard court slam.
3. AO F vs. Nole- 6 hour war, incredible stuff
4. Fed in IW- First time Nadal lost to Fed on an outdoor hard court since I think Miami 2005?
5. Tsonga in Miami- Nadal should have wrapped this up in 2, but struggled in 3 and his body paid the price.
6. Nole in MC- First time beating Nole since 2010 WTF, meant a lot to him.
7. Ferrer in Barcelona- Only Ferrer and Nadal can play a 2 set match that lasts over 3 hours, and what a match it was. Truly Ferrer's best chance to beat Nadal.
8. Djoovic RG final- Cemented legacy as greatest clay courter of them all.
9. Rosol match at Wimbledon- Not much more needs to be said, really.
1. Nadal d. Djokovic Monte Carlo 6-3 6-1
May not seem like the most important one, but in my opinion it was. He finally snapped his losing streak and bounced back from that heartbreaking AO loss. Also a record breaking 8th consecutive MC crown. A loss here on his beloved MC clay against Djokovic (again) would've been terrible and would've had major consequences for his career.
2. Nadal l. Djokovic AO 7-5 4-6 2-6 7-6 5-7
Need I say more about this? Cost him a slam, but more importantly, it gave him the confidence he could beat Djokovic. On Nole's turf he had him on the ropes. And he even arrived in Melbourne after a tough indoor/off season, not expecting too much. And he played brilliantly and almost had him. Very important.
3. Nadal d. Djokovic RG 6-4 6-3 2-6 7-5
Record breaking match either way, Rafa showed why he is the greatest ever on clay, finishing off a fantastic tournament in style with a win over his main rival these days. Probably would've been straight sets without the rain, but who cares.
4. Nadal l. Rosol Wimbledon 7-6 4-6 4-6 6-2 4-6
Could've easily been nr.1 this, but I chose a more positive approach. Terrible loss, end of the season, start of his injury woes. Don't want to say much more about it
5. Nadal d. Federer AO 6-7 6-2 7-6 6-4
Any win over Federer in a slam just adds to that fantastic legacy of Rafa. 8-2 already, staggering numbers. And another one on Fed's beloved hardcourts, showed the world again what a brilliant tennis player he is, on ANY surface.
What these two said.