The Top Matches of 2005
The year was packed with exhilarating, astounding and surprising faceoffs. Here's our pick of the top matches we aired. Click on each headline to find out why we chose each match. Agree, disagree, have other opinions about our list? Jump onto our message boards and let us, and the tennis nation, know.
You can see replays of all these matches on successive nights beginning Dec. 19 at 8 p.m.
Match Fest Promo:
(click on "Match Fest Promo")
Monday, December 19th: Maria Sharapova vs. Lindsay Davenport/February 5, 2005/Toray Pan Pacific, Japan
After a crushing semifinal loss to Serena Williams at the 2005 Australian Open, where she held two match points, 17 year-old Maria Sharapova proved the setback was only temporary, bouncing back nine days later to defeat world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport 6-1 3-6 7-6(5) to claim the prestigious Toray Pan Pacific crown.
Sharapova captured her first career Tier I title at the Toray Pan Pacific Open.
Sharapova defeated four-time winner Lindsay Davenport, in 1 hour, 48 minutes, for her first title of 2005.
The win was Sharapova’s eighth title of her career.
Tuesday, December 20th: Richard Gasquet vs. Roger Federer/April 15, 2005/Tennis Masters Series, Monte Carlo
18-year-old French qualifier Richard Gasquet fought off three match points in the tiebreak to shock world No. 1 Roger Federer, 6-7(1), 6-2, 7-6(8) and advance to the Tennis Masters Series-Monte Carlo semifinals. Gasquet snapped Federer's 25-match winning streak and ended the Swiss stylist's bid for his third consecutive Masters Series shield.
It was Federer's first loss since Marat Safin saved a match point to topple the top-seeded Swiss in the Australian Open semifinals.
One of Federer’s only four losses in 2005.
Playing his first ATP event of the year, the 101st-ranked Gasquet broke Federer's serve six times to become the youngest French man to defeat a world No. 1.
Wednesday, December 21st: Andy Roddick vs. Fernando Verdasco/May 3, 2005/Telecom Italia Masters, Rome
A great round-of-16 match between Roddick and Verdasco at the Telecom Italia Masters in Rome became the sportsmanship play of the year, when, up 5-3 in the second set, Roddick overturned the line judge’s call on Verdasco’s second serve that would have given him triple match point. Instead, Roddick checked the mark left in the clay and told the judge the ball was actually in, awarding Verdasco with an ace. Roddick went on to lose the match, but won the crowd’s appreciation as a sportsman. Instant replays showed Roddick was right and the serve was good. Versdasco benefited from Roddick’s unflinching sportsmanship to win the match 7-6(1) 6-7(3) 4-6.
Verdasco saved four match points.
Verdasco converted 4 of 13 break points in his first career victory over Roddick.
With his three set win over the top seed, Verdasco advance to his first career Masters Series quarterfinal.
Thursday, December 22nd: Guillermo Coria vs. Rafael Nadal/May 5, 2005/Telecom Italia Masters, Rome
This epic duel on the dirt between Rafael Nadal and Guillermo Coria stretched to five sets, lasted five hours and was deadlocked 6-6 in the decisive set. By that point, the world’s premier clay-court players had contested 364 points with each man holding 182 points. The roller coaster-contest continued to ignite the capacity crowd straight through the enthralling 5th set tiebreaker. Nadal’s 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(6) win over Coria was one for the ages.
The 5-hour 14-minute final is the longest final since records have been kept (1990).
The victory was Nadal’s 17th in a row.
Nadal became the first player to win the Monte Carlo and Rome titles in the same year since Thomas Muster in 1996.
Friday, December 23rd: Anastasia Mykina vs. Venus Williams/July 9, 2005/Fed Cup Semifinals
Though she struggled to find her 2004 form, Anastasia Mykina brought the goods in the 2005 Fed Cup semifinal tie. Brad: can you break this into two sentences and simplify. It’s a bit confusing. In a battle of Grand Slam champions, Myskina rallied from a one-set deficit to defeat Venus Williams, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, to give host Russia to a 1-0 lead over the United States in the Fed Cup semifinals. Myskina ended Williams’ eight-match Fed Cup undefeated streak and sent the American to her first defeat on clay in six Fed Cup matches.
The win was the ninth consecutive Fed Cup victory for Myskina.
With the win, Myskina raised her record in Fed Cup competition to 17-4, including a 6-1 mark on clay.
Myskina has only lost one match in Moscow’s Olympic Stadium.
Saturday, December 24th: Guillermo Coria vs. Lleyton Hewitt/July 15, 2005/Davis Cup Quarterfinals
Guillermo Coria’s and Lleyton Hewitt‘s Quarterfinal Davis Cup clash evoked images of the McEnroe and Connors era. The bad blood between these two men began when Coria served for the opening set and continued through the post match press conferences. The fiery fist-pumping Aussie’s signature "Come on!" angered the Argentine and both men exchanged stares and glares throughout this riveting match. The home crowd lifted Hewitt to a 7-6(5) 6-1 1-6 6-2 triumph over Coria.
Hewitt’s four-set victory gave Australia a 1-0 lead in the tie.
The win lifted Hewitt’s record to 2-0 against Coria.
The victory was Hewitt’s 27th in Davis Cup singles.
Sunday, December 25th: Elena Dementieva and Dinara Safina vs Mary Pierce and Amelie Mauresmo/September 18, 2005/Fed Cup Final, Paris, France
With the Fed Cup championship hanging in the balance of the decisive set of a doubles duel, Russia’s Elena Dementieva and Dinara Safina dared to play close to the lines and were rewarded for their risk with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 victory over France’s Amelie Mauresmo and Mary Pierce in a one-hour, 47-minute match.
The victory lifted Russia to a 3-2 triumph over host France.
Russia won its second consecutive Fed Cup championship at Court Philippe Chatrier at Roland Garros.
Dementieva accounted for all three points to lead Russia to the 2005 Fed Cup title.
Monday, December 26th: John McEnroe vs. Thomas Muster/November 15, 2005/Stanford Financial Champions Tour
John McEnroe 6-2, 6-3 victory over Thomas Muster was an intriguing battle of two of the open era’s greatest lefthanders. Though the fiery counterpunching Austrian was the one who got off to a great start - breaking McEnroe in his opening game - soon enough it was the versatile American who took charge. McEnroe won six straight games to take the first set and establish control of the match. Dominating the court with spins, angles and repeated sorties to the net, McEnroe ran Muster like a yo-yo. Though the Austrian converted the occasional passing shot winner, there was little he could do to repel McEnroe.
Debut of the ump and net cam on The Tennis Channel.
Although their careers overlapped, this was the first time Muster and McEnroe ever met on the ATP tour.
McEnroe finished the year second and Muster third in the Stanford Financial Champions Tour year-end rankings.
Tuesday, December 27th: Ivan Ljubicic vs. Dominik Hrbaty/December 4, 2005/Davis Cup Finals, Slovak Republic
Ivan Ljubicic entered the contest chasing history and the coveted cup. The Croation sensation carried a record 11 straight live Davis Cup victories into the rubber in addition to a 5-0 lifetime record against Dominik Hrbaty. Home town hero Hrbaty withstood the pressure and a barrage of aces from Ljubicic to post a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 victory to level the tie at 2-2.
The 4th rubber of the 2005 Davis Cup Final was Ljubicic’s 109th match of 2005; Ljubibic had 29 aces.
Ljubicic saved two match points in the 3 hour 20 minute contest.
Wednesday, December 28th: Mario Ancic vs. Michal Mertinak/December 4, 2005/Davis Cup Finals, Slovak Republic
Mario Ancic’s first live Davis Cup singles victory of the season was the most monumental Davis Cup victory in Croatian history. The 21-year-old Ancic defeated Michal Mertinak, 76(1), 6-3, 6-4, in the decisive fifth rubber to lift Croatia to its first Davis Cup championship with a 3-2 victory over the host Slovak Republic in Bratislava.
Ancic defeated Mertinak after two hours 50 minutes in the decisive fifth rubber to give Croatia its first ever Davis Cup title.
Croatia is just the 12th nation in history to win the Davis Cup.
Ancic hit 15 aces, surrendered just 11 points on his serve, and won all 31 of his second-serve points.
The Tennis Channel, which presented more than 2,500 hours of tennis during the year, will present a look back at the year's top 10 matches on "Match Fest" Monday through Dec. 28 each day at 5 p.m.
The match featured Monday will be Maria Sharapova's 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5) victory over Lindsay Davenport at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.