The Defining Moment in Each Current Tennis Superstar's Career

Jeff Cohn@jeff_cohnCorrespondent IIIJuly 28, 2013

The Defining Moment in Each Current Tennis Superstar's Career

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    The current tennis superstars have had more than exceptional careers and are somewhat freakish in their superhuman abilities.

    These players win so much that their losses look surprising, even when coming in semis and finals.

    Though they have won so many events and big matches through time, some moments clearly stand out for them in their respective careers.

    Not every superstar has had a definitive moment that defined his or her career, but some victories and accomplishments are certainly more special in certain regards.

    Here is a list of defining moments in a few of the current tennis superstars' lives.

Rafael Nadal's US Open Victory

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    While Rafael Nadal certainly loves all of the majors and the excitement they can bring, he always came up short at U.S. Open and had to have hated that fact.

    He had won each of the other Grand Slams before even reaching his first final in Flushing Meadows.

    Due to the fact that he had eight major titles to his name, it was starting to seem ridiculous that he could not even reach the championship match in New York—after all, the tournament is not so different from other hard-court events he has won in the past.

    Playing perhaps the greatest two weeks of tennis the world had ever seen, Rafa finally made it to the final and defeated Novak Djokovic (who could have just as easily been Roger Federer) in four.

    He also backed up his final run the next year, but still only has that one elusive trophy from the Open.

Roger Federer's 2009 Season

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    Losing an incredibly tough five-setter to longtime rival Rafael Nadal in the 2009 Australian Open final, Roger Federer broke out in tears.

    Soon after, he would take home his first (and so far, only) French Open championship, break Pete Sampras' record of most major titles won by a male player by winning Wimbledon, returning to the No. 1 spot in the rankings and reaching another U.S. Open final.

    Surely, he won a few other tournaments during that stretch, but it seemed to come from nowhere.

    That Melbourne loss was inspiring and motivational, even though he lost to a man that has always seemed to have the answers to his game.

    Federer has had three or four magnificent seasons like that, but none were even close to his 2009 run, historically.

Victoria Azarenka's Thrashing of Maria Sharapova

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    Defeating a player, 6-3, 6-0, in a major final is certainly an unusual feat. Doing so against the likes of Maria Sharapova is even more incredible.

    Combine both of those concepts with the fact that this thrashing was not done by Serena Williams and you have yourself the recipe for a new champion.

    Victoria Azarenka was always a very commanding baseline player, but when she got her first look at a major final Down Under, she did not look back once.

    She destroyed Sharapova in no time at all, marking her territory as a true force on the women's tour.

    Since then, she has won another Australian Open title, and nearly a U.S. Open as well, but neither was as telling as this one win.

Andy Murray's Major Title

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    Notice that I wrote "Murray's Major Title" up above.

    This can refer to both his U.S. Open victory (which was his first major) or recent Wimbledon championship.

    The Wimbledon win felt more like his first major due to the nature of the tournament and his background, but both were impressive.

    Murray had his foot in the door for years and was never able to convert. Now, I also must point out that he did not face the toughest competition in his two Slam victories' runs (Marin Cilic and Tomas Berdych in the U.S. Open were much more powerful than the opponents Murray faced at the All England Club), but they are still historic and great for his career, obviously.

    Yes, he also did win the Olympic gold medal in London prior to heading to the U.S. Open, but that might have only helped him move a step forward. In other words, it felt less like a major than actual majors, and an Olympic gold medalist does not necessarily translate to immediate success, either (note Nicolas Massu's career as a whole).

David Ferrer Making His Way to the French Open Final

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    David Ferrer started to become one of the top, top players just a few years ago.

    His consistency, resilience and improvement allowed him to challenge the top players much more frequently.

    Participating in a few Grand Slam semifinals, he never seemed to be the better player against his opponents at that stage. The same goes for his French Open final loss to Rafael Nadal, but that is another story.

    As of now, his career will likely be defined by his tremendous performance at Roland Garros this year, wherein he did not drop a set until facing Rafa.

    When the draw helped knock out Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray (who skipped the event) early, David Ferrer jumped on his opportunity and reached a career milestone that will not be forgotten anytime soon.

Maria Sharapova Winning Roland Garros

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    Maria Sharapova was very successful prior to undergoing shoulder surgery about half-a-decade ago.

    She had won each of the majors with the exception of the French Open.

    When returning to the tour, her serve looked to be no good, and she was having a hard time finding her range.

    Slowly but surely, and year by year, she climbed up the rankings and won a few more titles here and there.

    In fact, after losing in the 2011 French Open semifinals to Li Na, I can vaguely remember the Russian tweeting something along the lines of this—"Had a really good chance to win the big one this year...didn't happen for me but I'd like to thank my fans for the support."

    Well, she recovered from that loss pretty quickly and completed the career Slam that very next year.

    Considering Maria's style and poor movement at times, it is amazing that she was able to win a Grand Slam on clay. She almost defended her title this year and still has many good looks to do so in the future.

Novak Djokovic's Peak Performance in 2011

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    Novak Djokovic was always referred to as the world's best (and thought to be, permanent) No. 3 player.

    He gave the top guys a stern test at times and won many titles, though he only had one major championship to his name.

    After winning the Davis Cup with his Serbian teammates, he changed his diet, breathing technique, serve and forehand and became the man he is today.

    He won a record number of Masters events that year and also took home three Slams. He also had a winning streak of over 40 matches going into his French Open semifinal against Roger Federer.

    Though he did not get all four of the majors that year, he achieved results that nobody would have thought he was capable of just months before the 2011 season began. After all, he was serving more double faults than aces and did not have a true weapon. It is amazing what happens when a top guy like Djokovic gains that "belief."

Juan Martin Del Potro's US Open Triumph

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    Juan Martin del Potro was looked upon as a decent Top 10 player, and he still is today because his great runs are fairly inconsistent.

    However, nobody could have imagined he would take down Rafael Nadal in a major semifinal, and then on top of that, beat Roger Federer in a five-set thriller to win his first major out of nowhere.

    The Argentine was an inspired man during those two weeks in Flushing Meadows, and he showed signs of brilliance that may make him one of the world's elite players for years to come.

    He was potentially on his way to becoming the world's No. 1 player, but was starting to have problems with his wrist, so he underwent surgery.

    His game has not been exactly the same since that procedure, but if there is one moment in his life that will far surpass the rest, it is this one unbelievable run in the world's biggest tennis stadium.