2008 Year-End Wrap Up: ATP Pt 1, the Matches


Just goes to show how much more emotionally invested in the ATP I am compared to the WTA. What a year it’s been, and I’ve decided to separate it into different posts. So here’s the first one, matches of the year. And a little disclaimer before I start – neutrality has no place on blogs, so feel free to disagree/agree with my terribly biased opinions. 

 

Match of the Year

Do I need to spell this one out? Can anyone really pick another match other than this one? No, I’m seriously not going to mention it by name, if you can’t figure out which match I’m referring to, there’s something wrong with you. Not only did it have high quality tennis, Shakespearean rain delays/acts of divine intervention, and two players who both epitomise what the Wimbledon Champion should be like, but it was also a watershed moment in 2008. The man who won would go on to take over the World No 1 in a month’s time, but really, the moment he reached for the trophy at SW19, he already was the unofficial no 1. 

That’s probably as much as I’m going to write about THE match, though I think it deserves many posts solely dedicated to it, I do feel that it’s been theorised enough already, and frankly, I’m still too traumatized by match to talk at length about it (I have the HD version of the match on my computer, and it’s ZIPPED with the password “cardigan”. Maybe one day in 10 years time, I’ll meet a stranger at a pub, or on public transport, and smilingly nod when he/she asks me if I remember this match, but for now, to quote Federer “it hurt”, and it still hurts).

But one last thing I will say about this match was something that came up when I was talking to a friend of mine (also a tennis fan) the other day – what would’ve happened in an alternative universe, if Federer had won the match? 1) it would have been the best come back in the history of tennis. 2) as Federer fans, we would’ve all been a happier bunch. 3) Federer probably could have held on to his no 1 spot instead of subjecting us to his existential crisis from after Wimbledon right through to the doubles gold in Beijing. But think about the other side for a moment – Rafael Nadal would have been the imploder who served for the match, double faulted, and lost in 5 sets. If you remember Nadal’s face after the 2007 final, you would not wish that on him. You would not wish that on anyone. So maybe it was only fitting that Federer be the warrior who “almost” came back from a 2 set deficit than Rafa the imploder who double faulted and lost perhaps his last/only (I hope not) chance to beat Federer on grass. 

 

Non-“The Match That Shall Not be Mentioned” – Matches of the Year

Because The Match was so significant that it just overshadowed every other match, let’s take that aside for a second. The non-“Match” matches of the year (the ones I’ve watched anyway) are –

 

Best of Five

  • Gasquet v Murray Wimbledon: what can you do about Richard Gasquet, on the one hand, I give Murray full credit for coming back from a 2 set deficit, but on the other, it is so Gasquet to lose the match after being up two sets and so close to victory. From another perspective, both Gasquet and Murray (until recently) were at the time, what I would call “the tortured artists”, exceptionally talented, but with the mental fortitude of a stick insect. But since that match, how their lives have diverged – Murray’s gone on to establish himself as a strong contender at major tournaments, and Gasquet ended his year miserably titleless, and injured. *sigh* Had it not been for THE match, this would’ve been match of the year for me. 
  • Federer v Tipsarevic Australian Open: Tipsarevic came out of nowhere to push Federer to the absolute extreme, and he did play some phenomenal tennis. Federer had some brain dead moments too during the match that probably cost him in the first 3 sets, but once Tipsarevic took that 2-1 lead, Federer clicked into that extra gear, and didn’t give Tipsy much of a chance in any more of his service games. And the game where he broke at 8 all in the fifth was just sheer brilliance, from both ends of the court. Yet (and maybe I’m only speaking from hindsight), there was this ominous feeling after this match, that perhaps, the 10 finals in a row streak was about to end, and that perhaps something else is wrong.
  • Federer v Andreev US Open: I’ve still only watched half the match (downloaded to 90%), and from what I’ve seen so far, lots of unforced errors from Federer, but he wasn’t playing badly, Andreev was just playing the best tennis I’ve ever seen him play. I was scoreboarding the match during Constitutional Law, needless to say I didn’t hear a single thing about executive powers, all I heard was the buzzing in my ear from the general lack of oxygen. To add to the drama, I always thought New York was the last city to really warm to Federer, clearly I was wrong. Years of service from Federer was repaid with interest by New Yorkers at the US Open this year, and that was beautiful to see. Can we do the same down here in Melbourne for Australian Open 09? To be really sick and quote everyone’s favourite politician right now – “YES WE CAN!”
  • Nishikori v Ferrer US Open: I’ve still not seen the entire match either, plan to download in its entirety during the off-season. Ferrer I’ve always liked for his speed and doggedness, there are those who possess incredible talent, but only make use of a fraction of it (Gasquet, Safin), and then there are those who you wonder how on earth they even made it into the top 10, let alone top 4 for Ferrer at some point this year. But that is because Ferrer made 110% of the talent he does have. As much as I love Nishikori, I did feel quite bad for Ferru after the match. And how about Nishikori, I think we finally have a promising young talent from Asia. All hail Special K!
  • Haas v Gasquet US Open: REESHIE! *tears chunks of hair out* But this is another match between two “tortured artists” who really could’ve accomplished more in their careers with the talent they possess. I haven’t quite given up on Gasquet though, and I won’t until he gets to the age of 25 at least.
  • Those that never made it to five sets: who says you have to make it to 5 sets for it to be a fabulous match? matches I loved this year include – Gulbis v Roddick US Open, Federer v Gonzalez Roland Garros, Federer v Monfils Roland Garros, Nadal v Murray US Open, Djokovic v Federer US Open, Murray v del Potro US Open

 

Best of Three

  • Federer v Murray Masters Cup: it’s still fresh on everyone’s mind, so it suffices to say that I think it’s “the” best of 3 match of the year.
  • Before the Federer-Murray match, I thought the best of 3 match of the year was Nadal v Simon Madrid, again – the sheer drama, the Spanish fans, the unfreakingbelievable shots Simon was pulling off that had me pointing at my computer screen screaming “GET OUTTA HEYAAAA!”  I finished the match at 4am AEST, that’s how enraptured I was. 
  • Nadal v Djokovic Hamburg – it’s funny to think that Nadal is now safely in command of the No 1 spot when way back in May, he was one match away from dropping to no 3 (the position Federer, to my dismay, is in right now). Again, only watched bits of the match but it looked like high quality stuff, many thought it was the best match so far at that point in the year, until it was outdone by the match a day later.
  • Federer v Nadal Hamburg – aka the match next day – Federer shouldn’t lost the first set, but he did. Nadal shouldn’t lost the second, but he did. Therein lies the drama of this match, plus this match conned me into a false sense of security that the Roland Garros final was going to be a competitive match, until Nadal showed up in Clay Monster mode and Federer showed up… well Federer never really showed up. 
  • Roddick DEF Federer Miami – Roddick’s had a pretty disappointing year even by his own standards. But he can walk away from this year thinking “hey, I WON ANOTHER MATCH AGAINST FEDERER”. That almost counts as a grand slam in Roddick’s books these days right? Given that it was not long after Dubai (where Roddick beat both Nadal and Djokovic), there was every reason at that point in the year to think that Roddick was going to be relevant again. Until he lost to Davydenko the next day that is. Don’t you miss the days when Andy Roddick was making grand slam semis and finals, coming up with some classic presscons and acceptance speeches along the way? 
  • Federer v Nalbandian Monte Carlo – both players played out of their mind, and Federer prevailed in 3 sets, but that was the sharpest Federer had looked since the Australian Open. In fact, it was positively TMF/JesusFed. I had my doubts coming into the match, I hit the panick button half way through, and I ended the match back to being the Zen Master that I really am. Kool-Aid Drinker? Me? Never!
  • And that sinkin’ feelin’ continues…I don’t want to remind everyone but just think of what we had to live through this year – Fed the Dead v Simon Pt 1/Pt 2, Fed the Dead v Ginepri Cincinatti, Fed the Dead v Murray Dubai, Fed the Dead v Mardy-Fish-who-rhymes-with-Dish Indian Wells, Fed the Dead v Blake Beijing, Fed the inexplicable vs Stepanek the Worm in Rome, Fed the inexplicable vs Karlovic Cincinatti. The only thing I can say about that sinkin’ feelin’ is that old sayin’ – “what doesn’t kill ya makes ya strongaaaa”
  • Non-Masters Matches deserving of a mention: Cilic v Fish New Haven (Marin wins his first title, and I hopped on the bandwagon); del Potro v Gasquet Stuttgaard (del Potro started on his four titles streak, I lose more of my hair over Richard Gasquet); Kei Nishikori v James Blake Delray Beach (Kei wins his first title at the expense of my second favourite forehand in the game)

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3 responses to “2008 Year-End Wrap Up: ATP Pt 1, the Matches”

  1. TopSpin says :

    Hi Dootsiez

    Fantastic summary of the year…
    I’d add to your list of 5 setters that marathon match we had at the beginning of the year between Hewwit and Baghdatis (you remember, the one that finished at almost 4am).

    You say you’re gonna give Gasquet another year? I went through the same process last year and am going to save myself more frustation and lost hair by officially calling time on my support for him. Its criminal to think he’s only been beyond the fourth round of a Slam once. I sort of feel the same about Kuznetsova in the Women’s game but at least she has a Slam and shows up occasionally in the 2nd week.

    http://tennisisserved.blogspot.com

  2. Krystle says :

    That’s a very comprehensive round-up of the best matches.

    Since you mentioned that you’re planning on downloading the Ferrer-Nishikori match, where could I do the same?

    Personally I wasn’t that impressed with the Federer-Andreev match. It didn’t do much for me.

    The Gasquet vs Murray match really was a bit of a heartbreaker, and I’m not even a Gasquet fan. Considering how he was on fire for two and three quarter sets, hitting winners at will, but manages to lose it anyway with a minor blip serving out the set (and Murray briefly stepping it up).

    I loved the match between Federer and Tipsarevic. In my mind, it was the best match of the Australian Open this year.

    By the way, would you be interested in exchanging links with my blog? It’s http://tennis-brain.blogspot.com.

  3. Lokerpoes says :

    Hello, can you help me

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