Week two of The Championships and there was huge concern and discussion over Serena Williams’s health situation during a doubles match that saw her retire. Eugenie Bouchard made the big step into the final and there she met Petra Kvitova who was playing superbly and had been advancing quietly. The final was a rout as Kvitova was merciless against Bouchard beating her 6-3, 6-0 and capturing a second Wimbledon. Milos Raonic eventually stopped Nick Kyrgios’s run and in turn fell to Roger Federer in the semis. Fans were seeing the Federer of old. On the other side Novak Djokovic had momentum having beaten Grigor Dimitrov so it was down to the two heavyweights in the final. What a match! It came down to a point here and there before Djokovic won his second title in a priceless five setter against Federer on the Centre Court.
The American hard court tour was running hot. On the women’s side of things in Montreal Aga Radwanska defeated Venus Williams who had upset Serena in the semis in what was a great three setter but arguably the match of the month was Serena’s three set win over Caroline Wozniacki 7-5 in the final set. A week later and it was Cincinnati’s turn and again Serena beat Wozniacki in three sets and went on to beat Ana Ivanovic in the final. This year Ivanovic, who beat Maria Sharapova, has to be seen as the comeback player of the year. In the men’s Toronto was Tsonga territory. Jo Wilfried had one of his best weeks in ages – he knocked off Novak Djokovic then Andy Murray, then Grigor Dimitrov and finally Roger Federer in the final but a week later Federer bounced back and won Cincinnati beating David Ferrer in the final after beating Murray and Milos Raonic while Ferrer beat Tommy Robredo who’d upset Djokovic.
The US Open was now upon us and pretty much the first week was straightforward with the big names all getting through although Simon Halep was one of the top seeds to fall early as she lost to Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in one of the year’s most emotional results.
The Open was riding high as a mix of A-lister players battled the challengers. Swiss teen Belinda Bencic came to the fore and Peng Shuai kept Chinese hopes flying without Li Na and she reached the semis only to lose a highly dramatic match when she retired with cramps against Caroline Wozniacki. Caro had beaten Maria Sharapova in a fab run but for the third straight year Serena Williams won the title and her 18th Grand Slam crown. In the men’s Gael Monfils was entertaining all – he beat Grigor Dimitrov and then in a match that was one of the matches of the year he led Roger Federer two sets to love and had two match points only to see things slip away. What stunning tennis was played!
The week was wall-to-wall brilliant tennis. Kei Nishikori won three straight five setters including a massive upset of Novak Djokovic and created history by reaching the final. Federer eventually went out to Marin Cilic who made the final and then was glorious in winning the crown. The Bryan brothers created quite a moment winning their 100th title at the US Open.
The semis of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas were stunning. At Roland Garros, France defeated the Czech Republic on Court Philippe Chatrier and in Geneva the Swiss accounted for Italy and Asian tennis had it’s ups and downs. Nishikori won the Malaysian Open Kuala Lumpur but the week before Li Na was tearful in announcing her retirement.
Roger Federer captured the Shanghai Rolex Masters for the first time but he almost didn’t make it to the final. In what he referred to as his “greatest escape” he saved five match points to beat Leo Mayer in a priceless match. He then crushed Novak Djokovic before accounting for Gilles Simon in the final. Late in the month at the women’s season-ender, the BNP Paribas WTA Finals, Serena Williams held the trophy aloft with a comfortable win over Simona Halep but Halep without doubt scored the single most talked about result of the year when she demolished Williams 6-0 6-2 in the round robin competition. At the BNP Paribas Masters Novak Djokovic, now a new father, became the first man to win the title in back-to-back years.
The month started with Rafa Nadal getting his appendix taken out and the Czech Republic took out Germany in the final of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas. The ATP World Tour Finals the men’s season-ending championship saw an abrupt end to things as Roger Federer was unable to pick up a racquet for the final match against Novak Djokovic because of a back ailment. The tournament had seen plenty of one-sided matches but without double the semi-final match between Federer and Stan Wawrinka proved to be one of the year’s best matches as Federer rallied from four match points down to win 7-6 in the third. This was a match of drama, emotion and brilliant tennis. The following week Switzerland defeated France to win the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas in Lille 3-1. Wawrinka was the stand out player of the series, Gael Monfils played glorious tennis on the first day to beat Federer and Federer produced stunning tennis on the last day to beat Richard Gasquet and seal the championship for the first time.
The year is really over. Time to take stock on what was a roller-coaster season and so to my awards for the year:
COMEBACK OF THE YEAR
Nick Kyrgios saving a record 9 match points to defeat Richard Gasquet at Wimbledon
UPSET OF THE YEAR
Nick Kyrgios beating Rafa Nadal at Wimbledon
MOST AMAZING MATCH OF THE YEAR
Simona Halep defeating Serena Williams 6-0 6-2 at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR
DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE YEAR
Li Na’s retirement
MILESTONE OF THE YEAR
Bob and Mike Bryan winning their 100th title with the US Open
BREAKTHROUGH OF THE YEAR
Tied – Eugenie Bouchard, Simona Halep and Kei Nishikori
SURPRISE OF THE YEAR
Marin Cilic winning the US Open
MATCH OF THE YEAR
Roger Federer defeating Stan Wawrinka at the ATP World Tour Finals
PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic
Enjoy a great festive season and look ahead to what should be another remarkable year for tennis in 2015. Happy Christmas and all good wishes for a super New Year.