Tennis: Ranking the 10 Best Matches of the Year to Date in Men's Tennis
Thus far, the 2012 men's tennis season has been able to create some memorable matches.There have been upsets, broken records and even an Olympic gold medal handed out. This has been a great year of tennis to date.
With the US Open still to go and many more tournaments left on the schedule, it can only be expected that by the end of the season there will be many more matches that keep people on the edge of their seats.
But, we can only look to the past and not the future when considering matches from this season.
So, here are the 10 best matches of the year to date in men's tennis.
10. Sony Ericsson Open Third Round: Roddick vs. Federer
With his game nowhere near the level that it used to be, Andy Roddick needed something to turn his career around. This year at major championships Roddick's best performance has been a match in the round of 32, which he lost.
After winning the first set, Roddick seemed to lose all momentum when Federer dosed him quickly in the second set 6-1. However, Roddick never seemed to quit. He was able to come back in the third and took the match with a 6-4 third-set victory.
Beating Federer has always been tough for Roddick, this match being his third win against him. In the end, however, he could not use it to build any momentum. He eventually lost in the finals and has not been able to accomplish anything of significance since this upset.
9. Australian Open Semifinal: Nadal vs. Federer
Whenever Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer meet, it seems like it is always a good match. At the Australian Open this year, it was no different. Federer came out throwing all that he could at Nadal, but could not stop the Spaniard in any way after the first set.
Nadal used great defense, running down balls all over the court, to turn the game into his favor. He followed that up with unbelievable shot-making. There was not much Federer could do at that point.
Early in the game, however, Federer did have him on the ropes. He was up a set and a break in the second before Nadal took over and never looked back. This match marked the 10th time these rivals have met in a Grand Slam, and Nadal added to his impressive record of being 8-2 against the Swiss master.
8. Olympic Second Round: Raonic vs. Tsonga
Two tennis stars finally coming into their own met up with the opportunity to advance into the third round of the Olympic tournament. It was a great matchup between two exciting players.
On one side there was Milos Raonic, who uses his unbelievable serve to earn points, and on the other, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who plays a loose, hard-hitting style of game to take down his opponents. These two styles created an atmosphere great for tennis.
No one knew exactly, though, what they were into once this one got rolling.
Both players split the first two sets and then the third happened. Lasting 180 minutes, Tsonga finally got the best of his opponent and took the match with a 25-23 final set win. It was an exciting match through and through.
If you were to add up the combined time of each set, the entire game lasted longer than the projected three hours planned for the opening ceremonies.
7. BNP Paribas Open Semifinal: Isner vs. Djokovic
There are two matches so far this season that John Isner had been a part of that could of made this list. One being his win over Novak Djokovic, and the other very early in the season against Roger Federer. The latter may have looked like a fluke, an upset of sorts, early in the year.
However, the semifinal win against Djokovic at the BNP Paribas Open showed that Isner was a legitimate threat on tour.
Before this season, Isner had been known for his incredibly long match at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships, but now he has catapulted himself to one of the top players in the game. This was cemented when he beat Djokovic in a close three-set match at Indian Wells. The final score being 7-6 (7), 3-6, 7-6 (5).
That win put Isner in the top 10 of the rankings for the first time ever and showed that he plans on staying there for an extended period of time.
6. Australian Open Semifinal: Djokovic vs. Murray
This match was an instant classic. It lasted all five sets, with the third being 88 minutes long. In the final set, Djokovic looked like he had an easy path to victory, but Murray showed tremendous guts. He battled back winning three straight games to make it 5-5. He even had a chance to go up a game, leading Djokovic 40-15 before his tank went empty. Murray ended up losing the final set 7-5.
Looking back now, this match could have matured Murray by allowing him to see that he can battle against the top players in the world at the biggest events.
5. Australian Open Final: Djokovic vs. Nadal
Any final at a major tournament is going to be a good match. You know it will live up to its hype, and many times exceed that. That is exactly what happened when Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal met in the finals of the Australian Open early this year.
After both players were involved in matches the round before that played like a final, they were able to come out and again leave everything on the court.
The final score ended 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5 in favor of Djokovic. The win meant Djokovic had beaten Nadal in the past three consecutive Grand Slam finals. A pretty impressive feat considering how good of a player Nadal is.
The match itself was the longest played Grand Slam event final in tennis history. It was early morning before the players finished their five hour and 53 minute match.
4. French Open Quarterfinal: Djokovic vs. Tsonga
Although Novak Djokovic could not follow up on this semifinal win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, he did have to put in a lot of energy in his defense to even get out of the match alive. Tsongo played the former world No.1 extremely well and used energy and athleticism to control most of the match.
The Frenchman outplayed Djokovic, but the true heart of a champion shown through. Djokovic managed to win the first set, but the next three totally belonged to Tsonga, even if he could not garner enough for a victory. In the fourth set, Djokovic battled off four match points and went on to win the final set in convincing fashion.
The final score ended up being 6-1, 5-7, 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-1 and will go down as one of the greatest matches in French Open history.
3. Wimbledon Final: Murray vs. Federer
It was a battle of two milestones.
Andy Murray had the opportunity to win his first ever Grand Slam event in his career, while playing on home soil nonetheless. A win by Murray would also have been the first by a British competitor at Wimbledon in the last 76 years.
On the other hand, Roger Federer had the chance to tie the record for most Wimbledon championships of all-time.
In the end, the arguably greatest tennis player ever prevailed and was able to add another accomplishment to his impressive tennis resume. Murray turned out to be no match for Federer, who beat the Brit 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
2. Olympic Final: Murray vs. Federer
When an Olympic gold medal is on the line, you know the match is going to be good. After all, this type of tennis is only played every four years. This gold-medal match got an extra boost when hometown hero Andy Murray met Roger Federer in the finals.
The two met earlier in the year at Wimbledon with Federer being able to take home the title. The quest for the gold medal, however, was a different story. Murray was able to take out Federer in three straight sets 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 and to get revenge on the Swiss Maestro.
Murray was able to finally have a victory that held some weight and got to do so during a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
1. French Open Final: Nadal vs. Djokovic
This was the match that officially made Rafael Nadal the best player ever on clay courts, according to some. He was able to take out Novak Djokovic in four sets with a scoreline of 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5.
This win was Nadal's seventh title at Roland Garros. It allowed him to pass Bjorn Borg to become the player with the most championships at the French Open during the open era.
Nadal was able to come back in the fourth set, after losing the third, to win the finals when Djokovic uncharacteristically double-faulted. Making the victory extra special were the tears that flowed down Nadal's fathers face. It was a very special moment for him to see his son write himself into the record books.
All in all, this tennis match had a bit of everything you could ask for.