Tennis season 2008 was a real roller coaster with what twists and turns. There was never a lull in the house with constant surprises and unexpected results. So since the year is officially going to end on the 31st which is just three days away, I decided to write about some of the finer encounters of this year. 15 to be precise.
Though I have written only the Grand Slam and the Olympic face-offs many a masters matches were equally exhilarating and I facing a choice between "Some of All" and "All of Some", went for "Some of All".
So here's my list of "Some of All" :
I. Novak Djokovic v/s Roger Federer [Oz Open SF]: The very first Grand Slam to grace the year. Of course, this is a regular phenomenon from the time the event was introduced. Another regular phenomenon the tennis world anticipated, Roger Federer winning and defending it increasing his slam tally to 13. sadly, a Serb named Djokovic put paid to the Swiss's dreams in the Semi-Finals defeating him 7-5,6-3,7-6.
Shocking though it was, more shocking was the relevation that the then World No. 1 was just on the road to recovery from a bout of mononucleosis; that's one justifiable reason about his straight set loss.
II. Novak Djokovic v/s Jo-Wilfred Tsonga [Oz Open Finals]: The World No. 3, highly charged after defeating Federer wasn't in the mood for any hanky-panky nor was he in the mood to let a Frenchman named Tsonga [who defeated Rafa when his chance came] to snatch victory from him.
Though both enjoy good friendship off-court, Nole meant business that day and finished it till the end at 4-6,6-4, 6-3,7-6.
III. Maria Sharapova v/s Ana Ivanovic [Oz Open Finals]: Both youngsters were highly pumped, both equally enthusiastic and both wanting to win the Open. But then there can be only one winner and so it became a question of who wanted it more.
Sharapova proved the ultimate fighter and ended up adding one more in her kitty. Ivanovic was good, but not enough at 7-5, 6-3.
IV. Maria Sharapova v/s Dinara Safina [RG fourth rd]: Two Russians pitted against each other. One, an accomplished winner while the other slowly making an impact and her presence felt. Who would prevail? Everyone expected Sharapova to cruise, after all she had won the Australian Open.
But Safina showed her mettle and came back strongly after being one set down and trailing 0-4 in the second to take the match at 6-7,7-6, 6-2.
V. Roger Federer v/s Rafael Nadal [RG Finals]: The Matador v/s The Bull. Okay, this was a foregone conclusion in Rafa's favour. Clay court is Rafa's speciality and French Open is his fiefdom. Rafa had done his homework completely. Went into the finals without dropping a single set. The final was nerve-jangling.
The final shocker came when Roger lost with a resistance almost equal to nil. Totally un-Federer like. It was insult to injury; the final score: 6-1, 6-3, 6-0.
VI. Marat Safin v/s Novak Djokovic [Wimbledon Second rd]: The former World No. 1 was a surprise package. One thing about Marat, he never ceases to surprise. sometimes, I am sure even he himself would have been surprised at himself. At the face it appeared Djokovic was going through to the next round.
But Marat, God knows what came into him that day. Played as well as he used to play once upon a time and left Djokovic wondering where did he go wrong? The final score: 6-4,7-6,6-2.
VII. Zheng Zie v/s Ana Ivanovic [Wimbledon fourth rd]: Ana Ivanovic, the newly crowned as the No. 1 player in the women's list, faced a staggering defeat at the hands of World No. 133 Zheng Zie.
Zheng Zie whom the world wouldn't have paid a second glance before this [ no offence] was suddenly thrust into the spotlight. it would have been more, had she won her semi-final against Serena Williams. She didn't, leaving the sisters to come face to face with each other again. But not snatching any glory from Zie's victory against Ana it was a great match with the scoreboard reading 6-1, 6-4 in Zie's favour.
VIII. Marat Safin v/s Roger Federer [Wimbledon SF]: Federer, gunning for his sixth Wimbledon and equalling Sampras's record of 14 Grand Slams met an opposition who had become the first Russian to have reached the Semi-Finals of the "Grass Slam."
whereas Marat didn't extend his play to the level of his Djokovic match, Federer played as if his whole life depended on it [to a certain extent, it did] and went on to reach his sixth Wimbledon final and upped his Wimbledon grass court winning streak to 66.
IX. Roger Federer v/s Rafael Nadal [ Wimbledon Finals]: Federer seemed to have been emulating Nadal's feat of winning all his French Open matches without dropping a set at the Wimbledon i.e all except the finals where he dropped not only a set but also the match as well.
Let alone clay, Federer was made to look like a school-boy in his favourite turf. Nadal came, Nadal played and Nadal conquered. Federer was lost, for words, for action. The victor was vanquished in his own backyard. Final score was something like 6-4,6-4, 6-7,6-7,9-7 and it was game, set, match: Rafael Nadal.
X. Roger Federer/ Stan Wawrinka v/s Thomas Johansson/ Simon Aspelin [Olympic Doubles Gold Medal]: An American by the name of James Blake denied federer the opportunity to win his first gold medal. That did it. Federer became like the one possessed and maybe this was the strength potion he needed.
And with Wawrinka destroyed[literally] his opponents to conquer his first ever Olympic gold. When the Swiss team played it seemed as though they were on fire and thoroughly unstoppable.
XI. Rafael Nadal v/s Fernando Gonzalez [Olympic Singles Gold Medal]: It was the high point of Rafa's career. First he won the Toronto Masters in the week prior to the Olympics, won Roland Garros and Wimbledon back-to-back. All what was needed was a icing on the cake and the Olympic gold did just that.
Olympics is perhaps something more mouth watering than a grand slam for the only reason that it comes once every four years and this is what makes it more difficult. More pressure, more expectation and Rafa winning the singles perhaps did justice to all that.
XII. Andy Roddick v/s Novak Djokovic [US Open QF]: This match, I had to pick up. Although there was nothing extravagant about the game, there was one incident which made the match more memorable. Djokovic taking a pick at Roddick.
It might have earned him respect in Serbia but not in the States where Roddick was the home favourite. Djokovic went on to draw the ire of the crowd in spite of his win. Doesn't that closely represent "double trouble"?
XIII. Serena Williams v/s Venus Williams [ US Open QF]: This was another Williams meet. Was it time for quits from Serena's part? Yes, it was. She defeated Venus in a hard fought game.7-6,7-6.
Venus tried hard to win but Serena's patience was already wearing thin after her Wimbledon loss. She was in no mood to listen to sister talks and stuff. Won the match and finally ended up winning the Open against Jankovic.
XIV. Andy Murray v/s Rafael Nadal [US Open SF]: Rafa has always found the hard court uncomfortable. Before it used to be Wimbledon but he overcame that barrier and so it was kind of anticipated that this would also end up as a Federer-Rafa stand-off.
But Murray had other plans. He packed off Rafa superbly in the Semis and propelled himself in the direction of his first Grand Slam finals. Rafa was left behind, unable to reach to his third final of the year.
XV. Roger Federer v/s Andy Murray [US Open Finals]: Roger made his third Grand Slam final for the year. If a statistics be been drawn about Federer this year at the finals, he mostly ended up on the losing side. What would happen this time?
Murray who reached his first Slam final was obviously feeling the pressure and Federer was not ready to give away this time. He had had enough and the way he played, proved that. Finally he achieved his 13th Grand Slam and went one step closer to the desired target.