tennisreporter.net's Best of 2003
Not sure how much I agree with some of these...
The year's best … and a few disappointments
By Matthew Cronin
Comeback Player of the year, Men:
Yes, the Scud has had a slew of injures over the years and has staged more comebacks than Gary Hart. However, his leap from No. 83 to No. 9 in the rankings was the result of a killer off-season training regimen. The result: a Wimby final and Davis Cup heroics.
Rookie of the Year, men: Rafael Nadal
The 17-year-old Mallorcan was the spring sensation and already looks like a Top 5 player in the making. The ambitious lefty bagged two Challenger titles and upset Albert Costa and Carlos Moya in Masters Series tournaments.
Match of the Year, men:
Andy Roddick d. David Nalbandian, US Open
There were a ton of good men's matches this year, but only a few great ones that mattered. Two involved Andy Roddick: his remarkable 4-6, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4, 21-19 win over Younes El Aynaoui in the quarters of the Aussie Open; and his 6-7 (4), 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-1, 6-3, victory over David Nalbandian in the semis of the US Open. Since the US Open match was more significant to Roddick's career, we'll pick the Nalbandian contest. Even though it seemed like that Roddick would never win another point from the back court again, he never caved in and finally out-toughed the brawny Argentine in three-and-a-half hours. He was a match point down 6-5 in the third set tiebreak, but he still had his nuclear weapon in his pocket and exploded a 138-mph service winner and a 136 down-the-middle ace to go ahead 7-6. Roddick committed a forehand error, but then Nalbandian did the same and at 8-7, Roddick punched away a forehand volley winner. He was no longer praying to Nalbandian, started moving his feet again, found his fearsome forehand and built his own altar.
(my note: what? I mean yea, the USO match was 'more significant' b/c it put him into his first slam final, but the AO match put him into his first slam SF and I don't think he would've had the same 2003 without that match... plus, it was just a LOT better match. I don't think the USO match will be remembered as an amazing match for years to come but I'll find it really hard to forget the AO match. but hey, that's me)
Doubles team of the Year, men:
Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan
Back in July after they won their first Grand Slam at Roland Garros, tennisreporters.net asked the question: "Can the Bryans dominate?" While Bob and Mike didn't exactly snuff out the competition from July through November, they did edge out all comers and finished the year at No. 1. In the last tournament of the year at the Houston Masters Cup with the top spot in the line, the lefty-righty combination came through with flying colors, winning all five matches they contested, saving four match points against Martin Damm and Cyril Suk in their first round-robin match and two match points against Jonas Bjorkman and Todd Woodbridge in their final round-robin match. Had they lost that match, the Bryans would have been eliminated from the tournament. But they played like a couple of veterans and in the final, outlasted France's Michael Llodra/Fabrice Santoro 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4. It was their fifth title of the season and they became the first all-American team to finish No. 1 since fellow Southern Californians Rick Leach and Jim Pugh in 1989.
Most Improved, men:
There's plenty of fine candidates here (such as Mardy Fish, Martin Verkerk and Nicolas Massu), but the German was the biggest factor with his run to the Aussie Open final and success against the elite. The fleet counterpuncher's No. 6 ranking is no fluke.
(my note: plenty of arguments in favor of Rainer... but not even a MENTION of Coria!?)
Over-30 player of the Year, men:
Aussie Open titlist Agassi is the easy choice, but don't forget El Aynaoui, who finished ranked No. 14.
Biggest Disappointment of the Year, men:
The Russian hasn't found a way to stay healthy or focused and now is in danger of becoming a one-Slam wonder. Believe it or not, he's making his countrymen appreciate Yevgeny Kafelnikov.
my note: ouch!!! It seems a little early to write him off that much