The ATP World Tour came to an end on Monday night with Novak Djokovic’s win over Rafael Nadal at the O2 Arena to defend his World Tour Finals title. We take a look at some of the moments of the year and hand out our own awards..
Player Of The Year – Rafael Nadal
Honourable Mentions – Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray
Without a doubt, the Spaniard is deserving of this title after his astonishing comeback from a knee injury that left him out for over half the year. A 75-7 record that including 10 titles, two of which were slams as he chases down Roger Federer’s current record of 17. After losing to Horacio Zeballos in his comeback tournament at Vina del Mar, Nadal three times went on winning streaks of 15 or more matches. The first led to titles in Acapulco, Sao Paolo and Indian Wells – the last of which was even more impressive due to the uncertainty of Nadal’s knees on tougher hard courts. Despite seeing his record breaking run at the Monte Carlo Masters finally ended after 8 years of domination, he went on to sweep the rest of the clay swing and pick up his eighth French Open with a win over David Ferrer in the final.
The grass season ended quickly for the second year running with a loss to Steve Darcis but he bounced back again with titles at the Cincinnati and Montreal Masters, the latter of which was won without dropping a set. He went on an astonishing run of service games without a break at the US Open, finally losing serve in his straight sets semi final win over Richard Gasquet. He won against Novak Djokovic in the final for his third straight win over the Serbian and his thirteenth grand slam title.
The post-US Open season has never been all that great for Nadal and he would go without a title in the four events played although his easy claim to Player Of The Year was already sealed long before this. The cherry on top would be him getting the No.1 ranking back for the first time in over 2 years.
Match Of The Year: Wimbledon SF – Novak Djokovic def. Juan Martin Del Potro 7-5 4-6 7-6(2) 6-7(6) 6-3
Honourable Mentions – Australian Open 4R – Novak Djokovic def. Stanislas Wawrinka 1-6 7-5 6-4 6-7(5) 12-10, French Open 4R – Stanislas Wawrinka def. Richard Gasquet 6-7(5) 4-6 6-4 7-5 8-6
Although Wimbledon had a lot of dramatic matches and upsets galore made the event enjoyable, many of the matchups were less than stellar quality-wise but this made up for it with Djokovic and Del Potro putting on a marathon five setter that saw the Argentinian save match points to force a deciding set.
Djokovic had come into the match without losing a set but looked slightly vulnerable at times with many of his opponents wastefulness at important stages bailing him out. This match saw him taken to the brink by a player who could actually take advantage of the drops in his level. Del Potro had looked like he was soon to be out of the tournament in the quarter final prior where an early slip looked to have spelled danger.
Solitary breaks in the opening two sets saw the players split sets with breaks at a premium. After 11 games without a break in the third, it looked like Djokovic had finally made the breakthrough with a 0-40 opening at 6-5 up. However, Del Potro reeled off five straight points to hold only to lose the tiebreak and go 2-1 down in sets.
Del Potro twice fought back in the fourth, pulling back the break at *4-3 down and winning four straight points from *6-4 down in the tiebreaker as he showed the spirit and hitting that once saw him a grand slam winner.
The fifth set would be once more decided by a single break but Del Potro failed to capitalise in his once chance at 2-2. He fell down a break for *5-3 and despite having a break point as Djokovic served for a place in the final, he wouldn’t be able to complete the comeback once more as Djokovic booked his final place.
It seems likely that Djokovic was still feeling the effects in the final, losing to Andy Murray in straight sets in what was a disappointing end to the tournament for him.
U-23 Player Of The Year: Milos Raonic
Honourable Mention: Jerzy Janowicz
Although Jerzy Janowicz‘s run to the Wimbledon semi finals which saw him give Andy Murray an almighty scare had him in contention for this, his lack of consistency throughout the year saw him come up just short to Raonic who won two titles and made the top 10 for the first time in his career. Raonic was also in the race for the World Tour Finals up until the very last week although the title needed to qualify was always going to be too much to achieve.
Raonic has dominated the San Jose event but the past few years and was once more a success there, defeating Tommy Haas without facing a break point in the final and not losing a set in the whole tournament as he once more proved unbreakable. North America has always proved successful ground for Raonic and he made his first Masters final in Montreal but was outclassed by Rafael Nadal in the final. He will feel disappointed he dropped the fifth set against Richard Gasquet in the US Open from a break up but bounced back in Asia with finals in Bangkok and Tokyo. He saw off two top 10 players in Gasquet and Tomas Berdych on his way to the title in Thailand but was unsuccessful against another in Tokyo. Juan Martin Del Potro was too good on the key points and would come through 7-6 7-5 for yet another 500 title.
The season petered out after that but he remained in the race to London until the very last, which bodes well for 2014 if he can continue to improve at his current rate.