ATP review 2009
Skysports.com's Joe Drabble takes a look back at the last 12 months on the ATP Tour.
Last Updated: 31/12/09 10:19am
From Nadal's knees to Safin's swansong, the 2009 ATP season has once again been packed full of drama and talking points.
While Roger Federer continued to smash records throughout the season, there were also plenty of new faces who announced themselves as major contenders for years to come.
The Swiss rolled past Pete Sampras' record 14 Grand Slam title haul, while Andy Murray's wait for a major title continues into 2010.
Two big names also bowed out of the professional tennis arena - Marat Safin and Fabrice Santoro both making emotional exits from the sport.
January - December 2009
2009 started as 2008 ended, world number one Rafael Nadal maintaining his fine record against rival Federer, but this time on the hard courts in Melbourne. In what was a contender for match of the year, the Spaniard edged a marathon five-set Australian Open final to win his sixth Grand Slam and first on the concrete.
British number one Murray started the year promisingly with a fourth round run Down Under, the Scot falling to another major player during the 2009 season - Fernando Verdasco.
Nadal continued his blistering start to the campaign in Indian Wells with a comprehensive victory over Murray in the final. The victory for the Mallorcan was sweet revenge after the Scot had prevailed in their last meeting in the final of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.
Fellow top 10 players Andy Roddick (Memphis), Novak Djokovic (Dubai) and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Marseille) also tasted silverware in the early stages of what was shaping up to be another hugely-competitive season.
Murray bounced back from his Indian Wells disappointment in some style to clinch his 11th ATP Tour title in Miami. The Scot then flew in to Florida and saw off Verdasco, Juan Martin Del Potro and Djokovic en route to glory.
The clay court season got underway in Monte Carlo and unsurprisingly one certain Spaniard found this period especially fruitful. Nadal claimed consecutive titles in Monte Carlo - his fifth on the spin - Barcelona and Rome.
After fighting off a niggling back injury, Federer ended Nadal's dominance in Madrid to claim his first title of 2009. This victory sparked a run of 21 consecutive wins for the Swiss.
The 2009 French Open got underway at Roland Garros on May 24 - Nadal heavy favourite to reign for a fifth successive year. However, a mixture of Robin Soderling and severe knee tendonitis was to prove his undoing in round four.
The Spaniard's loss was Federer's gain, the then 27-year-old making history with victory over Soderling as he became just the sixth man in history to complete a Career Grand Slam. The title was a record-equaling 14th Grand Slam, putting him level with American legend Sampras.
Soderling's run was to mark a breakthrough season for the Swede, who went on to qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals. Murray also caught the eye in Paris, progressing to the quarter-finals at Roland Garros for the first time.
And the Scot maintained his impressive form as the players made the switch to grass ahead of Wimbledon. Murray became the first British winner at Queen's since 1938 when he defeated James Blake in the final.
Naturally that victory saw 'Murray Mania' reach fever pitch ahead of Wimbledon, however there was one notable absentee from the famous event. Champion Nadal was unable to defend the title he won so spectacularly in 2008 due to injury.
With all eyes on Federer as he attempted to become the most successful player in tennis history, local hope Murray also carried the expectations of the nation on his shoulders as he progressed to the semi-finals.
But grass court supremo Roddick proved too strong for the Scot - A-Rod edging a four-set battle to set-up a final with Federer. And, in a final that matched the drama of the previous year, Federer made history with an epic 5-7 7-6 7-6 3-6 16-14 victory in 256 memorable minutes.
Federer's winning run came to an end in Montreal, Murray warming up for his favoured US Open in style with Rogers Cup glory. But it was a victory the week before for powerful Argentine Del Potro in Washington that was a sign of things to come in New York.
Talking of signs, Russia's Nikolay Davydenko, who had missed the opening four months of the season with a heel injury, was making up for lost time with a storming back end to the season. The diminutive right-hander claimed two titles in July, in Hamburg and Umag respectively, as he set off on a blistering charge towards the end-of-season showpiece in London.
The 2009 US Open will be forever remembered as the Grand Slam the "Tandil Tower" Del Potro announced himself as a major force on the ATP Tour. He had shown flashes of his potential throughout the season. However what unfolded in New York was quite sensational.
After powering his way through the first week, the 21-year-old dismantled the returning Nadal in the semi-final with a brutal array of groundstrokes. His victory set-up a final with Federer, and, despite falling two-sets-to-one down, Del Potro rallied to claim his first ever Grand Slam title.
Attention then switched to the Middle East as players battled it out for much-needed ranking points. There was no stopping Davydenko at this point, the Russian prevailing at the Malaysia Open and Shanghai Masters.
Federer, Nadal, Murray, Djokovic, Del Potro and Roddick already had their places at the O2 Arena assured, however a host of players travelled to the Paris Masters for the final qualifying event searching for points.
Davydenko, Verdasco and Soderling finished as the next highest ranked players, and all three lined-up in London after a knee injury accounted for Roddick.
The Paris Masters also saw tour veterans Safin and Santoro bow out in emotional style.
The revamped O2 Arena played host to the ATP World Tour finals for the first of four scheduled years. Serbia's Djokovic came into the event as favourite having leapfrogged Murray as the world number three with storming victories in Beijing, Basel and Paris.
Murray was once again the star attraction in front of his home fans, however he failed to progress past the group stages in what was very much a tournament of shocks. 10/1 pre event outsider Davydenko capped a fine year with victory, seeing off Del Potro 6-3 6-4 in the final.
American doubles stars Bob and Mike Bryan were crowned ATP World Tour doubles champions for a fifth time with victory over Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic.
SKYSPORTS.COM 2009 AWARDS
Player of the year - Roger Federer
Who else? Grand Slam glory at Roland Garros and then Wimbledon saw the Swiss superstar overtake Pete Sampras with 15 major titles. His victory in Paris also saw him become only the sixth player to win all four Grand Slams.
Oh, and he even squeezed in the time to become a father halfway through.
Rising star - Juan Martin Del Potro
The 'Tandil Tower' rocked the tennis world in September when he stunned Federer to lift his maiden Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows. Del Potro looked imperious on the hard courts and has signalled his intent to improve on both grass and clay in 2010.
Most improved - Robin Soderling
Soderling, far from a household name at the start of the season, reached a career-high ranking of ninth in the world in 2009, a year which ultimately resulted in his debut appearance at the ATP World Tour Finals.
The Swede compiled a 47-19 match record over the course of the season, a year topped off with a his first Grand Slam final appearance at Roland Garros in May.
Comeback - Nikolay Davydenko
A heel injury ruled the Russian out of the first four months of the 2009, however his comeback from injury was nothing short of sensational.
Davydenko stormed back on court to land five Tour titles, the last of which coming at the ATP Tour World Finals in London.
Best performance - Del Potro at US Open
Andy Roddick's battling display at Wimbledon is certainly worth a mention, however Del Potro scoops this award for going one better and topping Federer in the final at Flushing Meadows.
After a brutal demolition of Rafael Nadal in the semi-final, the Argentine silenced those who doubted his mental strength by fighting back from one-set down to defeat the world number one in New York. Simply superb.
Match of the year - Federer v Nadal, Australian Open final
What a way to start the year! It seems decades ago since Nadal and Federer slugged it out in the Melbourne heat, however it is a defeat the Swiss won't forget in a hurry.
The 5-7 6-3 6-7 6-3 2-6 defeat left Federer in tears as Nadal claimed his first Australian Open title in four hours and 22-minutes.
Low point - Marat Safin says goodbye
Another one of sport's great characters left the tennis arena in November when he bowed out of the Paris Masters. The fiery Russian has provided us with some golden moments during his 12-year career - not least his extraordinary dismantling of Pete Sampras in the 2000 US Open final.
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