It's the almost the end of the season, so let's wrap it up with this article.
Best and Worst of ATP Tour in 2005
By Mert Ertunga
One more season has passed and while the top men are battling it out for the year-end Masters Cup title in Shanghai, it is time once again to look at the ins and outs of 2005 on the men's tour.
Player of the Year: Roger Federer
Under normal circumstances, Rafael Nadal's year would be considered an excellent season, well-deserving of the number one status. But where there is Roger Federer, there are no "normal circumstances."
Not only was Roger Federer the best player of 2005, but he had arguably the best ever year in the Open era by any player. Dominating on all surfaces and winning 11 titles, including two Slams is nothing more than astonishing. But if numbers mean anything, 77-3 going into the Masters Cup should be enough.
So why did I say "arguably"? Jimmy Connors in 1974 won 15 singles titles, including three Slams. He did not win on every single surface, however, he was not allowed to compete in the French Open, either, the only Slam that escaped him that year. Thus, the term "arguably." But no need to drift away from the topic. Federer ruled in 2005.
Best Match of the Year: Rafael Nadal def. Guillermo Coria
The Australian Open semifinal clash between Safin and Federer was exciting, including match points for both players. The Miami finals between Federer and Nadal had a lot of drama, including an amazing turnaround by Federer. Shot-making quality of the Madrid finals between Ivan Ljubicic and Nadal was fantastic. Andre Agassi vs. James Blake at the U.S. Open was one for all ages.
However, the finals of Rome tournament had all the above qualities multiplied by three. The match (6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 ) included three major turnarounds, last one with Nadal being down 3-0 in the fifth and looking completely exhausted. It had overwhelming drama, with each player having multiple match points. The athleticism and the scrambling ability displayed by both players drew many "oohs" and "aahs" from the crowd. Coria's whining antics were ever present. As if that was not enough, the final set tiebreaker went to 8-6, featuring match-points by each player. Did I mention the match lasted five hours and 14 minutes?
"Who is this Guy?" Award: Ivan Ljubicic, Croatia
In the beginning of the year, most tennis fans around the world could not pronounce his name. American tennis fans did not even know him. They learned quickly in March when he single-handedly took out United States in Davis Cup competition, by defeating both Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick on American soil.
He went on to lead his country to its first-ever Davis Cup finals to be played later this month. Gaining more confidence as the year went by, the big-serving Croatian went 20-3 in the last two months of the season and won two titles, which put him in the Masters Cup. Currently, he is the third-best player on the tour behind Nadal and Federer.
Biggest Disappointment of the Year: Marat Safin, Russia
This is not a knock on the entertaining Russian, injuries can't be helped. In a time where one player is so dominating like Federer, inevitably tennis world needs a worthy opponent to create a rivalry. Most all critics agree that at his best Marat Safin is the only one with a chance to give Federer a run for the number one ranking. Following a very promising start to the year by winning the Australian Open, including a semifinal win over Federer, Safin battled more injuries than opponents, playing sparsely, not winning another title and going 20-11 in the process.
Tim Henman clearly had the worst year of his career since mid-'90s, and hyped-up Croatian Mario Ancic's dismal year was upstaged by his compatriot Ljubicic's performance. Nevertheless, the "what could have been" factor makes Marat's year the biggest disappointment for the year not only for him, but also for tennis fans.
Rising Star: Andy Murray, Scotland
Last year, Mario Ancic grabbed this spot. Now that super Mario won one title only and had an average year, Andy Murray better hope that I don't jinx him in the same manner. Perhaps I read the British media too much and like them. I am guilty of overrating Andy Murray who went only 14-10 this year. But it's not just the hype. I really like his competitive spirit and the variety of shot-making that he brings to the table every time he steps on the court.
"Quiet" Performer of the Year: Lleyton Hewitt, Australia
No, no, of course this does not mean that Lleyton is a quiet guy, anyone knows better than that! It does mean however that he managed to stay under the radar most of the year. This guy finished the year ranked No. 4, reached the semis of two Slams, and reached the finals of another. He also won a title in Australia and reached the semis of three Masters Series tournaments. Considering all that, we hardly heard about this guy throughout the year. And it is not like he just came around the corner. He has been number one in two of the last five years.
"Biggest Mystery" of the Year: Roddick's Success on Grass
You take Roger Federer out of the equation, and Roddick was clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the field on grass. Hey, it is not a fluke, either. For three years in a row, he has won Queen's Club Tournament and only lost to Federer in Wimbledon, reaching the finals twice. Without a doubt, he is the best grass court player behind Federer for three years.
As clueless as Roddick is at the net, can someone please explain to me how he is so dominant on grass? Would it be an exaggeration to say that some of the club players have better form on their volleys? Maybe!
The "big serve and big forehand" explanation does not cut it, either. Ivan Lendl and Jim Courier also had those, and they never solved the grass puzzle.
"Comeback" Player of the Year: James Blake, USA
Yes, nice guys do finish first sometimes. James Blake takes the cake in this category. After personal, emotional, and physical tragedies of the last two years, including the loss of his father and a life-threatening injury, classy Blake came back with a vengeance, finishing the year ranked No. 25. To top all that, he is a bright shining light in terms of an example player after whom American junior players can model themselves.
"Are You Kidding Me?" Award: ATP's New Doubles Scoring
Errr, how does this sound: Max Mirnyiand Mikhail Youzhny defeated Igor Andreev and Nikolay Davydenko 5-1, 5-1 in the finals of ATP Kremlin Cup? There are no typos, that was indeed the real score of the match. Don't take my word for it, go look it up yourself.
As usual, let me know what you think. Maybe at the end of 2006, I will add a few more categories.
Until next time, take care, everyone!
I agree with pretty much everything he said except that the best match of the year should be the Australian Open semi-final between Safin and Federer.
LOL @ "Biggest Mistery of the Year"