Like you do with the player tributes you should pick a set of standout matches of the decade to analyse.
The poll only for fun.
Here are the 20 best/most interesting matches in this decade in my subjective view. My criteria - 2 matches of each year:
- one "best of 5 sets" (QF, SF or F in Grand Slams or F in "9" tournaments; Olympics & "Masters" or rubbers in a Davis Cup final)
- one "best of 3 sets" (SF, F in "9" tournaments & "Masters" or F in any other tournament).
Indian Wells - SF: T.Enqvist def. M.Philippoussis 6-3 6-7(6) 7-6(8)
Extraordinary match in the night session between two hard hitters. It should have been a routine 6-3 6-4 for Enqvist but at 5:4 in the 2nd set Scud made his first break (to 0). In the tie-break Enqvist led 6:1* but Scud won 7 points in a row playing with full risk all the time! In the third set Enqvist like in the previous set, led 5:3, serving second time to win the match but was broken to 15. At 5:5 Scud had 4 break points. In the tie-break Scud had 2 match points (6:5 - Enqvist served a 123-mph ace, and 8:7 - Enqvist hit a huge backhand down the line). The Swede converted his 7th match point and won the match after 2 hours 31 minutes. In aces the Australian was better 24 to 12. It's amazing that Enqvist one year later won almost identical match against Roddick in Stuttgart, Scud on the other hand after almost identical scoreline lost a match to Kafelnikov 5 years earlier!
Actually this final had been highly expected before the tournament started. Both players were definitely the best in the world on clay that time and before the tournament Safin looked like the only contender who would beat one of them. He played against Norman in the quarters and lost in 4 sets, and it was the only set Norman dropped en route to the final, he had similarly easy run like Borg or Nadal when they triumphed in Paris. Guga on the other hand had very difficult road and was close to lose in 4 sets against both Kafelnikov and Ferrero. Moreover he had back problems in those matches and just before the final Norman was a delicate favorite. He began the final extremely tense with 0:4 (15-40), couldn't find the rythm, saved 4 break points in that game though and finally won his first game in the final. Began to play a little bit better but later found himself in an embarrassing position 2-6 1:5. Guga was 2-0 in sets and 2:1* in the third set when the Parisian crowd made the Mexican wave. It gave Norman extra energy, after that he began to play his normal tennis and won almost 7 games in a row (had 2 game points for a 2:0 lead in the 4th)! Fourth set was extraordinary, there were all kinds of shots and amazing drama. Guga had 4 bp's at 2:1, later Norman 4:2, Guga 5:4* (40-15). At first match point Norman played inside-out forehand which landed... "on out" according to Guga who came to the net to shake hands with the Swede but the chair umpire said "the ball was good" and gave a point to Norman. On the official website appeared "6-2 6-3 2-6 6-4" for Guga... The play was continued. Norman saved another match points - 2 in that game and 4 in the 12th game. 12th game was unreal, inspired Norman was playing tennis of his life, saved one of match points with combination of dropshot and volley - something he didn't play the whole tournament! In that game Norman was lobbed during 3 points, and won 2 of those points and the game after 9 deuces! In the tie-break Guga had *3:0, then 3:3, 6:3*, Norman saved match points again, among them first on Guga's serve. Before 11th match point Guga smiled for the first time in that set (!) and finally won the final after Norman's unforced forehand error. Becker who gave Guga The cup of Musketeers said the 4th set was the best he had ever seen.
It was a match of two big Wimbledon's losers: Ivanisevic lost earlier 3 finals there, Henman 2 semifinals (4 out of 5 were painful defeats against Sampras). This time Sampras had been already eliminated and the winner of that semifinal would have been considered as a favourite in the final... Henman won 4 their previous meetings and surprisingly broke Goran's serve many times in those matches. This time through 2 sets couldn't do anything but won second set tie-break and Ivanisevic collapsed - lost third set without a fight in 18 minutes! At the beginning of the 4th set match was interrupted by rain. The following day (Saturday) they had to play second tie-break, Ivanisevic could have lost second Wimbledon's semifinal after almost identical scoreline (lost 6-4 6-7 0-6 6-7 to Boris Becker in 1990) but at 5:5 in that tie-break appeared a significant difference between both players: Ivanisevic served uncompromising 1st serve - it was ace; Henman served tentative 1st serve and Goran surprised him with a winning return in Henman's feet. At 3:2* for Ivanisevic the rain came once again and the match was finished on Sunday! Everybody expected a marathon set similar to Ivanisevic's semifinal in 1998 (won 15-13 against Krajicek in the 5th set), however Henman disappointed painfully the British crowd - lost own serve at 3:4 and actually his last chance to win Wimbledon. Shaky Goran converted second match point. "Jeez, I was so tight, my shoulder weighed like 58 kilos," said Ivanisevic who on Monday beat 9-7 Rafter in the final set (again being two points away from defeat), becoming the first "wild card" champion in the history of Grand Slam and the lowest ranked Wimbledon champion (125 ATP).
Montreal - final: A.Pavel def. P.Rafter 7-6(3) 2-6 6-3
Ok, obviously nothing to impress looking at the scoreline but it's really tough to find another match in 2001 which fits to the criteria... It was interesting match though because the last so offensive final in the history of "9" tournaments so far: Rafter was attacking to the net as usual after every 1st and 2nd serve, Pavel was at the net in each service game, with very varied game, mixing attacks after 1st or 2nd serve, or after approach shots. Rafter was serving exceptionally well and Pavel couldn't do anything on return games but hung in a match thanks to the brilliant passing-shots in the 1st set tie-break. At 4:3 in the 3rd set Rafter lost the only time in the match own service albeit had game point (Pavel gained that point after a backhand mishit). The Romanian finished the match with an ace (14-7 for Rafter in aces) and celebrated his biggest succes in career like winning a Grand Slam
A collision of two decades in men's tennis, two matches of 32 year-old Agassi (second best player in the 90's) and 11 years younger Hewitt (who seemed to be the king of the 00's then). They were the best players in the world in that period, Hewitt was No. 1 when they played both matches, Agassi came back on 1st place in 2003... Both matches full of amazing rallies, mainly from the back of the court.
San Jose - final: L.Hewitt def. A.Agassi 4-6 7-6(6) 7-6(4)
The match was exciting already since the 5th game when Agassi broke Hewitt's serve on 11th break point in the set (8 deuces in that game)! At 4:4 in the 2nd set Agassi had mini-match point - Hewitt saved it with an ace. Agassi led 5:2 in the tie-break - Hewitt hit the line with 2nd-"1st serve"! AT 6:5 Agassi had first match point - 15 strokes rally, Hewitt hit the sideline with backhand and finished the point with forehand. A moment later converted first setpoint with backhand down the line. In the 3rd set Agassi broke Hewitt's serve to lead *3:1 (30-15) but Hewitt broke back immediately. At 4:3 Agassi had 4 mini-matchpoints but Hewitt won the game after 6 deuces. 5:4 and another match point for Agassi - this time Hewitt saved it with an ace (17-10 in aces for him). In the tie-break decisive was point at 4:3 for Hewitt when Agassi played a dropshot from extremely difficult position then was lobbed and hit hot-dog but Hewitt finished the point with backhand stop-volley. The Australian converted first match point after service winner, and won the final after 3 hours match. Agassi converted only 2 out of 21 break points. Hewitt saved 4 match points in the 2nd round against Srichaphan. I know a couple tournaments when a titelist won 2 matches from match point down but it's the only case which I know where a player saved match points in three different sets!
US Open - SF: A.Agassi def. L.Hewitt 6-4 7-6(5) 6-7(1) 6-2
Mainly because of their fantastic final in San Jose, the match was announced as "the match of 21st century". And indeed, it would be one of the most amazing matches in - at least - the US Open history, if Hewitt won it from 0-2 down in sets. Defending champion Hewitt led 3:0* in the 1st set, *5:3 in the 2nd but lost both sets. Agassi had 4:1* in the third but began to struggle physically. It seemed that amazing pace of the match cost 32 year-old Andre too much. Hewitt won the second tie-break easily, led 2:1* in the 4th and when everybody expected 5th set, Agassi out of nowhere won 5 straight games without any problems! Definitely this match helped Agassi to become at 33 the oldest No. 1 in the world a couple months later in 2003.
Sydney - final: HT.Lee def. JC.Ferrero 4-6 7-6(6) 7-6(4)
One of the most amazing stories this decade. Lee - ranked 85. had to come through qualifying where was one game away from losing to Jan Vacek and Ryan Henry (578 ATP) In the main draw beat N.Lapentti, Roddick, W.Ferreira, got a walkover from Safin and played a final against Ferrero - Top 3 player then. Lee led 5:2* (40-0) in the 2nd set, later had 6:2 in the tie-break before converted 8th setpoint! In the decisive set, Mosquito led 3:0, later at 6:5 had matchpoint - missed relativeley easy forehand. Lee converted first match point after quite long rally and another forehand error by Ferrero. "You feel it when you've lost a final, having had a match point and leading 3-0 in the third - I had my chances ... sometimes tennis is tough, and today is," said Ferrero. "He had a match point against me two years ago and I won - today is the opposite." Actually matches like this one and earlier mentioned in San Jose happen once in career - when a player wins/loses being so close of losing/winning a match in two sets.
US Open - SF: A.Roddick def. D.Nalbandian 6-7(4) 3-6 7-6(7) 6-1 6-3
Roddick was on a 17 wins streak, including 6-1 6-3 over Nablabdian in Toronto. A-Rod was a massive favorite to win this match, rather in straight sets, had 14 aces in the 1st set, having 70 % of 1st serves but Nalbandian played a combination of dropshot and volley at *5:6 (15-30), won 3 points on Roddick's serve in the tie-break (each time on Roddick's first serve!) and surprisingly was a set up ahead. At 3:2 in the 2nd set, Nalbandian played two wonderful backhands and broke Roddick's serve for the first time (and last) in the match. 2:2 in the third, Nalbandian has double break point - 2nd serve winner, forehand winner, and moment later Roddick is 3:2 up. 6:5 for Roddick, setpoint, Nalbandian saves it with opponent's error. 3:0 in the tie-break for Nalbandian who is playing great match tactically, seems that Roddick is finished - service winner, overhead - 3:2, 4:2, Nalbandian makes forehand error from comfortable position, 4:3. 27th ace and 5:4 Roddick. Great rally finished with Nalbandian's slice passing-shot (!) gives him 1st match point at 6:5. Two serves more than 130 mp/h and Roddick leads 7:6. 7:7, Nalbandian hit the line, someone ejaculated "out!", the Argentinian lost the point suggesting it affecded his last shot. Roddick finishes the set with tremendous forehand volley. Actually it was an end for Nalbandian, maybe he was too much disappointed of losing a set after match point up, maybe out of gas (had very difficult road to the semis), maybe the mix of both. Anyway electric match turned around in the 4th and 5th set into a copy of their final in Toronto... Roddick took the decisive break in the 8th game of the final set when Nalbandian's passing-shot was called "out". If the hawk-eye system had been instaled then, the point would have won Nalbandian... "I thought I had a little bit left in the tank, a little bit more than he did," Roddick said. "To his disadvantage, he had to play a couple more matches than I did in the last few days." Roddick the following day won the final to become the 5th US Open champion in history who was a match point down.
South-American soap opera? A mircale match? From zero to hero? Totally illogical? Against probability? The only GS final in the history between two Agrentinians and one of the most memorable ever. After just 51 minutes Gaudio found himself at totally embarrssing scoreline 0-6 *1:5 (30-40). It looked like the most one-sided RG final in the Open Era. Coria was playing his standard, rock solid match; Gaudio was beyond pathetic. Seemed out of gas (before the final Coria played 11 hours; Gaudio 5 hours more...). Then Gaston saved luckily setpoint and the Parisian crowd for the first time began to cheer him "Gaudio! Gaudio!", and since that moment Gaudio began to play his normal tennis. Coria led 4:3* in the third set when the Parisian crowd made the Mexican wave, and amazingly it turned round the events of this match like 4 years earlier when Kuerten and Norman had been playing on the same court! At 4:4 Coria led 40-0 on serve and lost 9 straight points! Coria won first game of the fourth set and at 1:0* doubly reinforced his shots - it gave him two points in the second game, and moment later everbody realized why he suddenly changed his tactics - Coria asked for the medical time-out (problem with left thigh)! After the massage began to play like a 65 year-old with good technique, couldn't serve, couldn't run! Everybody would have expected 6-1 6-0 for Gaudio in the last two sets. And indeed, Gaudio won 5 straight games without any problems to equalize the scoreline at 2 sets apiece. Fith set was ridiculous... Coria at 1:1 in the 4th set took some pills which cut down the pain and "El Mago" started to play at the beginning of the decider much more better tennis but barely 50-70 % for his normal standards. Actually Gaudio should have won that set 6-2 or 6-3 but lost his mind, forty minutes earlier had been furiously fighting to avoid embarrassing 0-6 3-6 3-6, and suddenly had a limped opponent on the other side of the net, and the match only in own hands! Fifth set delivered a break fest - 9 breaks of serve in all for a 14-games set! Coria led 3:1, 4:2, then was serving to win the final at 5:4 (lost that game to "0"), at 5:5 Gaudio lost service game after 5 deuces despite 3 game points, Coria was serving to win the tournament once again at 6:5... 30-0 Coria, 30-40, Gaudio broke the string on return - deuce, match point Coria, Eduardo Infantino - a coach of Coria licks his pendant - doesn't help - Gaudio saves match point after 15 strokes rally (!); second match point - Coria's lovely wife Carla finally smiles; Gaudio's coach Franco Davin is devasteted - 13 strokes rally - Gaudio saves a match point for the second time and two points later wins the game, and laughs apparently trying to understand what's going on; wins service game to "15" and for the first time in the 5th set is ahead! At the change of ends, Gaudio is completely relaxed; starts 14th game with quick 30-0 for himself on Coria's serve; 30-15; 17 strokes rally and Coria plays backhand minimally outside; Gaudio screams "Vamos!" - first match point for him. Short exchange from the baseline and Gaudio finishes the epic final with cross-court backhand. Gaudio who before the tournament was known as the biggest choker among the best players, a player who won only one match from match point down, and had 1-9 record in five-setters, won a Grand Slam final from 0-2 in sets and match point down - it was the first case since 1960 (!) when a player won a Grand Slam final from match point down (Laver over Fraser at the Aussie Open was the last one, 44 years earlier... Gaudio was ranked 44 during RG '04). Coria on the ther hand, that day lost a match the only time in his short career leading 2-0 in sets; and lost only two matches from match point up - against Gaudio, and Kuerten... in the final as well (Costa Do Sauipe 2002)!
For me the match of the decade despite quality tennis was played only in the 3rd set
Night session, a match between two good buddies, high quality tennis and a lot of courtesy between them, everybody was happy out there. Amazingly short match given the amout of games - lasted only 2 hours 6 minutes, Agassi didn't face a break point (had break points in two Roddick's service games - 2:2 and 5:5 in the 1st set). Agassi finished the match with his 16th ace, defending champion Roddick served 30. Agassi beat Hewitt in the final and it was his last big triumph (one year later won his last tournament in Los Angeles); Roddick that time would have been still considered as a contender for Federer.
Australian Open - SF: M.Safin def. R.Federer 5-7 6-4 5-7 7-6(6) 9-7
One of the best matches of this decade although first three sets were rather of poor quality. Both 4th and 5th set played on the highest level of tennis' technique and drama though. Federer led *5:2 in the tie-break, at 6:5 had match point on serve - Safin saved it with a lob (perhaps Federer played a ball with volley which would have landed out)! In the 5th set Safin led 5:2* (30-15) - Federer played tremendous backhand lob from very difficult position. At 5:3 Safin had two adv. match points - on both occasions missed backhands trying to play winners. In the 10th game, Federer saved another match point, this time at the net (Safin had empty court to play finishing passing-shot...) Then at 6:6 Federer had 30-0 on Safin's serve and break point - missed forehand. Safin leading 7:6 had double match point (fourth and fifth). Before the last game of the match, Federer changed his shirt into a white one (all previous games in this match had been playing in blue). Federer saved 6th match point with an ace but at 7th match point fell on the court reaching Safin's backhand down the line, hit the ball but Safin this time didn't miss the opportunity and finished the point with gentle forehand playing in the open court. "To come back and still fight to win, it's a little bit difficult because psychologically you're upset that you've already had your chances," said Safin who broke Federer's streak of 26 consecutive wins! Safin won the final against Hewitt and became 7th Australian Open champion who was one point away from defeat.
Monte Carlo - SF: R.Nadal def. R.Gasquet 6-7(6) 6-4 6-3
It was a moment when both promising teenagers were almost on the same level. Nadal earlier that year won two small ATP tournaments, Gasquet two Challengers. The Frenchman after winning back-to-back Challengers, won 2 qualifying matches in MC and 4 in the main draw with amazing win over Federer in the quarters after saving 3 match points. So Gasquet had the best streak in his career - 16 matches, Nadal had 4 matches won in a row - that streak finished ultimately on 81! It was a very chilly day. Nadal led 5:3* in the first set but Gasquet won 9th and 10th game easily producing great tennis. Nadal served to win the set once again at 6:5 but again Gasquet broke back in a sensational style. The tie-break was unique - first 12 points went against the server! At 6:6 Gasquet finally won a point on serve thanks to a forehand dropshot. The Frenchman led 2:0* in the 2nd set, had game point to lead 3:1 but after 5 games, Nadal was 3:2 ahead (despite break point which Nadal saved with amazing backhand passing-shot), later 5:2. Gasquet took a medical time-out (pain in lower back) and won two games in a row after that. Gasquet saved 2 adv.setpoints in the 10th game but made an unforced error on the third occasion. Nadal's physical strength decided in the third set, however, Gasquet had break points at 2:2 and 3:3...
San Jose - final: A.Murray def. L.Hewitt 2-6 6-1 7-6(3)
First career title for 18 year-old Murray (ATP 60). First two sets one-sided: Hewitt broke Murray's serve twice in the 1st set and lost own serve three times in the second. Murray began the third set with *2:0 but Hewitt stopped the streak of 4 losing games in a row. 2:2, 4:2 Murray, 4:4, 5:4 (30-0), later match point - Hewitt saves it with an ace. 6:5 and again 30-0, again match point, and again Hewitt saves it with an ace (his 8th)! In the tie-break Murray quickly jumped to a *3:0 lead and converted third match point with tremendous cross-court backhand. Later that day 47 year-old John McEnroe won his 71st title in doubles. McEnroe along with Bjorkman beat Goldstein/Thomas in the final. It was McEnroe's first doubles tournament since 1994!
A double meaning match: Nadal not only won prestigious event beating the strongest contender but also equalled a Vilas' record of 53 consecutive wins on clay! It was an epic final which lasted 5 hours 5 minutes. First two sets without a break of serve. Federer led 3:1 and had 2 setpoints at 6:5 before won the tie-break 7-0! The Swiss was playing excellent offensive tennis (won 15 out of 18 points at the net in the 1st set). In the 2nd set reversal - Nadal had setpoint at 5:4 - Federer saved it with spectacular backhand volley. In the tie-break had 3:1 and 4:2 but Nadal won 5 out of last 6 points. Third set was decided by one break for Rafa in the 5th game. After the third set, Federer surprisingly overpowered "the king of clay" - won 4th set easily and was 4:1* up in the 5th set! Everyone would have expected the end of Nadal's run on clay but an amazing fighter awoke. Federer had game point at 4:2 but Nadal equalled. Federer leads 6:5* (15-0), Nadal serves first double fault in the entire match! One long rally for Nadal, another one for Federer... 40-15 double match point! Federer makes easy forehand errors at 6th and 8th stroke of the rallies - deuce; very aggressive Nadal wins another two points and third tie-break of the final comes! 3:1, 4:2, 5:3 for Federer but Nadal wins 4 straight points (service winner and 3 Federer's forehand errors). "It is a pity for me because I started well and had my chances to win, but he caught me on the finish line," said the Swiss.
Nadal won finals in Rome 2005 against Coria 7-6(6) in the 5th, one year later against Federer 7-6(5) in the fifth, but this time had an epic match in the semis (the final against Gonzalez won easily 6-2 6-2). It was a time when Nadal had his best claycourt period in career; before Rome won Monte Carlo and Barcelona without dropping a set, moreover nobody could play a tie-break against him! Couting with Davis Cup's playoffs '06, Nadal was on a 29 sets-winning-streak on clay without even facing a setpoint! And finally had to save setpoint against Davydenko in the 1st set at *5:6 (earlier led 4:2 and was serving to win the set at 5:4 after 2nd break of serve) - saved it with forehand dropshot immediately after Davydenko's return. Nadal won 7 straight points in all what gave him a safe 4:0 lead in the tie-break. Second set proved that Nadal's style simply suits Davydenko's aggressive baseline game because he takes balls very early. Nonetheless Nadal was serving to win the match at 5:3, at 5:4* (30-0) was only centimeters from triple match point. Davydenko was serving at 6:5 but lost the game to "0". Excited crowd started to cheer for Davydenko and the Russian playing out of his skin led *6:3, 7:6, 8:7 before converted 6th setpoint. Both playeres exchanged breaks of serve at the beginning of the decider. Davydenko saved break point at 2:2 in sensational style and later was two games away from winning the match at 4:3*. They were going to break the record for the longest "best of three" match but the third tie-break was required... Davydenko didn't last out physically the laboriousness of the match, and Nadal managed to win three consecutive games easily (0, 0, 15) and the match after 3 hours 39 minutes.
The only quarterfinal among these 20 matches... Gasquet has played two matches in his career so far above his highest position in ATP ranking - against Federer in Monte Carlo '05 and against Roddick at Wimbledon 2 years later. Two-time former finalist Roddick, before the encounter with Gasquet, won 9 consecutive matches on grass and 14 sets. Won first two sets 6-4 and was leading 4:2* in the third, it looked like a routine "3x 6-4" but Gasquet broke back. In the tie-break happened something against probability - Gasquet won it easily despite poor TB record that year before Wimbledon (5-10) and Roddick's all-time record of 18 consecutive tie-break wins! In the 4th set no breaks of serve and again tie-break. Gasquet played tennis of his life producing winners from all corners of the court. Roddick would have been still considered as a favorite before the fifth set (had 9-9 in five-setters; Gasquet 3-6, losing 5 in a row). Although in comparison with previous five-setters, Gasquet hadn't any cramps, had been winning service games comfortably and broke Roddick's serve for the second time in the match at 7:6 at at 8 p.m. local time. The match lasted 3 hours 34 minutes. The Frenchman finished the match with amazing ratio winners to unforced errors (93-29) and 23 aces (Roddick 22). "After losing two sets I decided to play more aggressive, to play with my backhand and to serve better and to fight a lot," said Gasquet. "I played with no pressure and a great backhand. It was incredible for me to play like that and win this match."
Centre Court at the most prestigious tennis event, two best players of the decade "00's", competitive match throughout five sets, changing wheather, all kind of shots, saving match points, would you ask for more?
Federer was a favorite, he beat Nadal in two previous Wimbedon finals but everybody knew that the Spaniard would win that match because he had mental advantage over Federer in '08 - won all their 3 matches which had been played earlier that year (including a demolition in Paris 4 weeks earlier). Already first point of the match indicated it would be a great final - Nadal played winning forehand down the line after 14 strokes rally. Broke Federer's serve in the 3rd game and held his serve to the end of the set despite two break points for Federer in the 10th game. It was first losing set at Wimbledon for Federer after 19 winning streak! The Swiss began the 2nd set in impressive style, led 4:1* and players began to struggle with very strong wind. Nadal adapted himself to the uncomfortable conditions better and won 5 straight games, saving break points at 3:4 and 5:4! Nadal leveled up at 3:3 in the 3rd set after saving 4 break points (Federer was 1/12 in converting bp's then!), and in the 7th game the Spaniard had triple break points, won all previous games having bp, and Federer's second serve... It looked like a sensational '6-4 6-4 6-4' for Nadal but Federer won 5 straight points (4 with service winners). At 5:4* for Federer, rain stopped play for 80 minutes. Tree games went with serve and decided a tie-break: Federer served 4 aces (!) and won it 7-5 on third setpoint. Fourth set without breaks of serve but before the tie-break Nadal had a chance to win the match - led 5:4 (30-0) - Federer won relatively easily 4 straight points. In the tie-break Nadal led *5:2 and choked - served double fault. Federer had 6:5, later Nadal two match points - first was saved with service winner, on 2nd match point was serving Nadal, came to the net and was passed down the line after Federer's best backhand in the match! Defending champion converted 2nd setpoint with service winner after 2nd serve. Actually it was amazingly hard moment for the Spaniard who lost a winning set, theoretically he was close to win both losing sets, most players would have collapsed but not Nadal... At 2:2 (deuce) in the final set, the game was suspended for the second time - this time for 30 minutes. Federer was close twice to clinch the match - had mini-matchpoint at 4:3 (Nadal saved it quickly with a forehand-smash mix) and was two points away from the title at 5:4 (30-30). Nadal was clearly stronger after that, had double break point at 5:5, 30-0 at 6:6 and finally broke Federer on 4th break point in the game at 7:7 - it was an end of 39 games won on serve in a row by both players! In the following game Nadal for the first time played serve and volley... and won the point, also another point after forehand volley. Federer saved first match point in that game with tremendous backhand but on 4th match point for Nadal, made a forehand error and Nadal began to celebrate with his family after the longest Wimbledon final in history (4 hours 48 minutes). It was 9:15 pm local time, probably if Nadal hadn't won 16th game of the final set, the match would have been suspended because of darkness. It was the end of Federer's amazing streak at Wimbledon (40 wins in a row; Borg won 41) and on grass (65 wins in a row - all-time record).
Madrid - SF: G.Simon def. R.Nadal 3-6 7-5 7-6(6)
Gilles Simon achieved something very special for a player of his calibre who began the season ranked 29 - defeated 3 best players in the world within a year (Djokovic in Marseille, Federer in Toronto and Nadal in Madrid) - in 2008 the same feat achieved only Roddick and Murray... Simon had absolutely amazing run in Madrid. Before the semifinal won all his 4 matches in 3-setters, three of them after a tie-break in the third, in two of them was forced to saved match points! After such an amount of tennis, slim Frenchman theoretically hadn't any chances against extreme fit Nadal who was playing in front of the home crowd after relatively quick three matches in the previous rounds. And indeed, the Spaniard was controlling that match tending to a routine 6-3 6-3 but at 3:4 in the 2nd set, Simon saved mini-match point after 22 strokes rally and the momentum swung for his favor. Broke Nadal's serve to lead 5:4 (30-15) but couldn't close out the set - did it two games later despite Nadal in the 12th game had double break point to bring on the set to the tie-break but bravely playing Simon won 4 consecutive points and the set to equal the match at one set apiece. At the beginning of the final set Simon saved 6 break points and won a game which lasted 15 minutes! Nadal took a break in the 6th game but Simon rapidly leveled up from 2:4 down to 4:4. The Frenchman like in the previous set broke Nadal in the 11th game but wasn’t able to finish the match despite being two points from victory at 6:5. The drama was continuing in the tie-break: Nadal 3:1, Simon 5:3, 5:5, match point Simon, 6:6, another match point for Simon and Nadal’s backhand passing-shot landed outside the court, but Simon needed his last challenge to check it out. The match lasted 3 hours 22 minutes – the longest three-set match in Simon’s career so far.
Madrid - SF: R.Nadal def. N.Djokovic 3-6 7-6(5) 7-6(9)
Again Nadal, again Madrid-SF but this time on clay not indoor... In the first week of 2008 Nadal beat his mentor Moya 6-7 7-6 7-6 in Chennai to tie the record for the longest "the best of three sets" match (3:54). We would have expected that Nadal (who tends to play long matches) would break this record even without all-tie-break match but with whom? Theoretically with Canas or Massu but they no longer competitive players to win more than 5 games against Nadal in a set. 4 hours 3 minutes record in a match with Djokovic is actually logical because of Djokovic's "neverending" ball bounce before the serve and abillity to play long rallies. Anyway that scoreline was a little bit surprising becuase their previous matches had been relatively one-sided no matter who was the winner. This time Djokovic surprised Nadal with very aggressive game from the very beginning and was close to clinch another easy win in their rivalry - had double mini-match point at 4:4 in the 2nd set - Nadal fought off with 2 service winners. The same thing with another mini-MP at 5:5... In the tie-break Nadal converted his 3rd setpoint in that set. At 6:5 in the 3rd set Djokovic was two points away from victory. The Serb was exhausted but playing with his heart more than with legs, produced amazing winners in the final set tie-break and at 6:5 had match point on serve. Bounced 20 times, served really well, Nadal barely returned and after exchange of 20 shots, finished the point with forehand winner! 7:6 for Djokovic and Nadal again finishes the point with forehand winner - this time at 19th stroke of the rally! Unreal way to save match points after almost 4 hour of play Djokovic saved match point at 7:8 and had one another at 9:8 - Nadal's service winner. Extraordinary fighter won the match on 2nd match point and through another 6 months of the season didn't play a match on this level. Has that match finished him
Beautiful weather, the biggest Wimbledon champions around (Becker and McEnroe in the commentatory boxes, Sampras, Borg & Laver sitting together in the stadium), a perfect atmosphere and a perfect drama to make a new record - 15 Grand Slam triumphs (Federer overcame Sampras' record of 14)... First set was completely dominated by servers until 5:5 when Roddick had to save 4 mini-setpoints - one of them with a help of hawk-eye system. In the following game Federer made two surprising - for his standards - errors at 30-30 and Roddick took a 1 set lead. Second set was even more dominated by servers - not a single deuce before the tie-break, a receiver was only twice 2 points away from breaking the serve, Federer at 1:1 (30-15) and Roddick in a very important moment - at 5:4 (30-30). In the tie-break occurred something what I would call "against probability". Roddick led 5:1, 6:2, and despite extraordinary tie-break rercord in '09 before that final (27-4), and despite winning all games in the 2nd set easily, lost 6 straight points (!) including 3 on his own serve. Here is the story of quadruple setpoint: Federer returns a 134 mph serve and plays gentle winning cross-court backhand; service winner; slice-ace; Roddick's high backhand volley error from relatively easy position - awful choking shot... At 6:6 Roddick was so tense that lost the ball - Becker said "Oh my god!" Antsy Roddick lost next two points after easy errors and the set in the consequence.
Digressions: Roddick lost a tie-break for the third time in his career squandering a 5:1 lead (Stuttgart '01 - T.Enqvist; Davis Cup '02 - J.Kroslak). Obviously if Roddick had won that set it doesn't mean he would have won the final 7-5 7-6 6-7 6-3, anyway the story of their matches tells that a tie-break usually is a key to the win, so Roddick in some sense wasted 4 consecutive virtual match points...
Third set went again with no breaks of serve but Federer looked as a distinctively better player, had bp at 3:2 and was two points away from winning the set at 5:4 and 6:5. He confirmed his advantage in the tie-break - quick 5:1, then 6:3 after great rally finished with forehand passing-shot, and a mix of powerful serve and forehand gave him the set on 3rd setpoint. Federer won two tie-breaks in Wimbledon final third straight year (did it 4 times in all)! Roddick broke Federer's serve to lead 3:1 in the 4th set and convincingly won the set 6-3 despite 0-30 in the 9th game. Fifth and final set it was again a dominant display of servers. They played 30 games what means they would have theoretically played two additional tie-breaks! Federer was serving like a machine (served 3 aces in 5th, 9th, 23rd and 25th game; 21 in the set overall!) excluding a game at 8:8 when Roddick had double break point - the Swiss saved it with servince winner and forehand drive-volley. Roddick was two points away from defeat at 10:11, 12:13 and 13:14. Finally at 14:15 happened to him something against probability for the 2nd time in this match - had game point and lost three straight points on serve for the first time in the match, it was first break for Federer in the match after 4 hours 17 minutes! The American didn't last out physically - last two points lost after awful frame-forehand errors. It was a poor finish for a great match, the longest Grand Slam final in the Open Era in terms of games - 77. Federer has established also a Grand Slam final record serving 50 aces (Roddick 27 aces). The Swiss had 37 service winners, his opponent 72...
1. Gustavo Kuerten - Roland Garros 2000
2. Goran Ivanisevic - Wimbledon 2001
3. Andre Agassi - US Open 2002
4. Andy Roddick - US Open 2003
5. Guillermos Coria and Vilas + Gaston Gaudio (and J.McEnroe in the back) - Roland Garros 2004
6. Richard Gasquet - Monte Carlo 2005
7. Andy Murray - San Jose 2006
8. Nikolay Davydenko - Rome 2007
9. Gilles Simon - Madrid 2008
10. Novak Djokovic - Madrid 2009
__________________ stroke <- point <- game <- set <- MATCH -> round -> tournament -> season -> career
Re: Voo's 20 best matches of the decade (2000-2009)
I need some time to come up with a post where I can put some other memorable matches of the decade, but one springs to mind that doesn't involve two huge stars: Corretja against Clement at RG 2002. Corretja won 6-1, 6-2, 4-6, 5-7, 8-6 after failing to serve out the match at 5-4 in the fourth - when he was serving to stay in it at *4-5 down in the fifth, Clement reached 0-40, three consecutive matchpoints, and on one of them he earned a high forehand volley with the whole court open but even as the crowd roared in anticipation, he overthought it and played it back to Corretja in an attempt to wrongfoot him. Corretja managed to throw up a lob, got back in the point and won it, and ended up serving out a four hour plus match that could have been done and dusted in little more than two.
I started a thread a few years ago highlighting Clement's terrible five-set record at RG, apart from his most successful showing in 2003 when he made the 4th round he lost in five sets every year from 98 to 05, including the history-making longest ever match against Santoro and a narrow defeat to Agassi where he was two points from victory and lost the fifth set 6-0 in the end.
__________________ The Wit and Wisdom of the Tennis Journalist, Indian Wells 2004
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I remember this one time when I went on a vacation on the Maldives. That was in the year 2001, I think. I went to this spa. I went to walk around with my girlfriend. I walk in, and we want to book a spa. This guy goes, "AHH, I remember you. You beat Sampras. I saw you on TV." That was like, really, how can you remember me? This guy has probably never been off his island and still knows me. I was a little bit shocked. Then I went to play tennis with him because he was actually the tennis teacher. It was nice.
Q. Were you naked at the time in the spa?
ROGER FEDERER: No. It was at the front desk. I didn't walk in naked.
Re: Voo's 20 best matches of the decade (2000-2009)
Originally Posted by Fiberlight1
You think the Roddick Federer match was better than Verdasco Nadal at AO?
No, I don't think was better but as I said in the first post I chose best/most interesting matches. Writing "most interesting" I mean something more than only high quality of tennis.
Decided the fact that Roddick and Federer played a final, Federer broke the Sampras' record, and 5th set was a record as well
__________________ stroke <- point <- game <- set <- MATCH -> round -> tournament -> season -> career
Re: Voo's 20 best matches of the decade (2000-2009)
2005 Rome final: Nadal vs. Coria?
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Re: Voo's 20 best matches of the decade (2000-2009)
Originally Posted by jmsx521
2005 Rome final: Nadal vs. Coria?
Yes, I thought about that match, so for me it's right after Safin-Federer in 2005 if we are talking about "the best of 5" (third is Masters final when Nalbandian beat Federer 7-6 in the 5th). Maybe decided the fact that I had already described Safin's win and Nadal is the hero of this thread anyway. It's not my fault that Nadal wins the most epic matches
__________________ stroke <- point <- game <- set <- MATCH -> round -> tournament -> season -> career