Year/Decade wrap-ups

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

It’s that time of the year – every writer/blogger wants to put a cap on the year and let you know what they thought of it. It’s even worse this year because we are also closing out a decade. I already posted a few of these as separate posts, but realizing just how dang many of them there will be, I give up and will post a few here and you guys can post more you come across in the comments. Sound like a plan?

Killing Him – by Steve Tignor

Tignor’s article on the 09 AO final is wonderful as usual. He gets Rafa’s game and does so without taking away from the game of his opponent.

—The revelation, though, is Nadal. Is this the same guy who finished the season in such tame and dispirited fashion? Here he’s up on the baseline, pushing Federer off the center hash mark, outfoxing and out-varying him with drop shots, on-the-run reflex winners, and short-angle volleys, and playing with that famous determined kick in his walk and snarl on his lip. He’s also changing directions with both strokes much more often than I recall. The biggest difference, though, is that Nadal’s backhand is a weapon. I haven’t seen that full-swing, up on his toes, sharp crosscourt two-hander in months. I seem to remember he tried it when he had a break point in the final game of the Madrid final against Federer and missed it wide. (I remember it because I’ve never felt the air go out of a building the way it did when the ball landed in the alley.) Did he make that shot again in 2009?

Sadly, I’m not sure if he did.

—These were also the days when Nadal was routinely outplaying and outhitting Federer when it mattered most. Look at the point he constructs on set point at 6-5 in the first set. Nothing defensive about that. Even better, look at the rally he constructs on what would prove to be the most important point of the match, at 5-3 in the third-set tiebreaker. For most of these five sets, he stood at the center of the court and hit his forehand forcefully but safely crosscourt, to a spot just behind the service line and well within the sidelines. The fact that he can tilt the rallies this way and dictate them without much risk has always been the fundamental reason he owns a 13-7 record against Federer. But at 5-3, when he knew that a winning point would put him in position to take a two-set-to-one lead, but that a losing point would still leave him ahead 5-4, he moved his forehand target all the way to the sideline. Nadal hit that spot, made a rare dash to the net, and angled away a backhand volley. The set was his, and the lead was too much for Federer to overcome. For anyone who still thinks Nadal is “one-dimensional,” realize that he’s one-dimensional by choice. When he senses the right moment to do more, the resources are there and the surprise factor is built-in.

…when he’s feeling confident. He can’t seem to trust those other dimensions when not. Let’s hope they come back with a vengeance in 2010.

Top 10 Records & Achievements Of The Decade – ATP Staff

3. Rafael Nadal’s four consecutive Roland Garros titles is a stunning feat. The Spaniard won on debut in 2005 and won 31 consecutive matches before big-hitting Swede Robin Soderling upset him in a fourth-set tie-break in the fourth round this year.

5. Rafael Nadal became the first man since Bjorn Borg 28 years before him to claim the elusive Roland Garros-Wimbledon double in 2008. (Federer repeated the feat in 2009). In a banner year Nadal also won Olympic gold that season.

8. Rafael Nadal’s imposing clay-court streak during the decade was breathtaking. Nadal, who owns a 181-16 career win-loss record on clay, won more than 11 matches for each one he lost on the surface. He amassed an 81-match winning streak between 2005-07. His record in best-of-five-set matches on clay is 49-1 and he has won 24 of 26 finals on the surface.

10. Rafael Nadal‘s record at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments is astonishing. Before turning 23 in June, Nadal had won 15 of the ATP World Tour’s premier tournaments between 2005-09. He trails Federer by just one and all-time leader Agassi by two titles. (Agassi won his record 17th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title as a 34 year old.)

And in the Honorable Mentions section:

Rafael Nadal reaching 400 match wins faster than any other active player is worthy of note. Nadal reached his 400th win from 491 matches, topping Federer and Hewitt, who both needed 520 matches to register their 400th wins.

Sizzling Stats Of The Decade – by the ATP Staff

Most Match Wins In A Season
92, Roger Federer, 2006
82, Rafael Nadal, 2008
81, Roger Federer, 2005
80, Lleyton Hewitt, 2001
79, Rafael Nadal, 2005

Most Titles In A Season
12, Roger Federer, 2006
11, Roger Federer, 2005
11, Rafael Nadal, 2005
11, Roger Federer, 2004
8, Rafael Nadal, 2008

After looking at those lists, I have one question – did anyone other than Rafa and Fed win anything in 2005?

26 Responses

  1. mary says:

    I gotta go to work but for now I’d like to add just this. As much as I love our man & as you all know I’m not a Fed lover (not a hater though), I have to stand and applaud Roger for his 2006 season. Thats Amazing!!!!!!!!!!
    Just curious miri, has anyone else won that many titles in a year? Obviously not in the modern era!!

  2. mary says:

    “when he’s feeling confident. He can’t seem to trust those other dimensions when not. Let’s hope they come back with a vengeance in 2010.”
    You are sooooooo right miri. Hope he gets lots of opportunity (with an abundance of confidence) come 2010 & beyond.
    Btw, miri what happened in 2007? My memmory is not functioning at present. Self inflicted. Late night, few drinks, early to work, now I’m a physical & mental vegetable. ;-)

  3. killian says:

    Hi Miri and Rafanatics-

    Not sure where to put this, so am just doing it here. In the latest New Yorker {not really known for it’s sports coverage! ;D} our boy Rafa gets a shout out in the End of the Year poem by Roger Angell: “V.S. Naipaul, Rafa Nadal,
    we hug you one and each, et. al.”

    just thought it was so cute.
    Cheers and Bon Nadal.

    • CC says:

      Awww… That is cute. I like it. :)

    • Carol says:

      That really cracks me up…thank you! hee, heee and so great to see how universally our man is appreciated… et al!

      I’ll never see an journal citation with the author listing et al in the same light again :-))

      Bon Nadal to you too!

  4. Suad says:

    good question
    love it

  5. faeaki7 says:

    Yes its amazing to see those stats and how great Rafa was at such a young age of 19, as all the bloggers have said it really shows the dominance of the so called FeDal era..

  6. Isabel says:

    I was impressed with the numbers, 2005 was already 2 in the world. I am in the crowd for the 2010 is a river of opportunity, he has 100% efficiency throughout the season!

    Rafa, Feliz Natal!Luck in 2010! Dear!

  7. Ch F says:

    “…when he’s feeling confident. He can’t seem to trust those other dimensions when not. Let’s hope they come back with a vengeance in 2010.”

    Couldn’t agree more, miri. It’s my tennis wish for 2010 ;-)

    • Atch2 says:

      And he made no. 5 too, beating the same guy.

    • sia says:

      miri, could it be anything but?

    • CC says:

      Yeah, I guess it would be difficult to disagree with that one. It was such a special match, a special day altogether. One of those days where I can still remember exactly what the sky looked like when I stepped outside in the morning (maybe because I was looking out for rain clouds ;)).

  8. miri says:

    Death in the Afternoon – Tignor’s excellent look-back at the Nadal/Nole semi in Madrid.

    • An says:

      To see the vid of this match and the way both where playing that afternoon pains me even more now, knowing what we didn’t know then…

      Rafa playing with pain in his knees…
      Death in the afternoon indeed. What a match, what players and what fighting spirit! Another one Rafa won on pure will! Love him, always will!

  9. miri says:

    Going to the Ledge – Tignor’s look-back at the Nando/Nadal AO semi-final.

    • CC says:

      I’ve really enjoyed reading these two Tignor pieces, because I agree with all he says. What a nice Cristmas treat. Thank you.

    • Eliana says:

      Great! I somehow get amazed when a USA news media gives props to Rafa. Well, maybe I’m being unfair talking about all of the media… but I do think ESPN would marry Federer if it could.

  10. CC says:

    Phew, I’m trying to cool off here:
    Rafa’s Wimbly victory has been voted sporting moment of the decade in the Daily Telegraph. I love the Brits for loving Rafa!

    • mary says:

      Thanks CC. I hope us Aussies appreciate & love him here as much as the poms. I can say that cause I’m mostly British! ;-)

  11. Lou Lou says:

    I love Nadal and I love this site, I love all who contribute here and Oh boy, do I love the comments here….. Congrats on completeing ur first year, Miri. I remember in Jan of 09, during one of my intense “Nadal” googling I’d stumbled onto ur site and was OVERJOYED!!!

    Also, Nadal bt Soderling… YAY!!!