Mag By Craig Gabriel
2017 A LOOK BACK - PART ONE
It is amazing how fast 12 months have flown by. It seems like yesterday I was looking for the year for 2016 and we are looking forward to seeing you there. A year that kept us transfixed as the standouts from 2016 fell as tennis produced its own version of "Back to the Future".
We will be going back to the next day.
The Doha final was a battle between the top two, but Novak Djokovic beat No.1 Andy Murray after Nole had saved five match points against Fernando Verdasco in a match that remained one of the best in 2017. There was no hint of any change to tennis’ hierarchy. But then the chinks began at the Australian Open as Djokovic crashed to wild card Denis Istomin and Murray also failed. Rafa Nadal and Grigor Dimitrov produced a match that was glory personified and full of drama.
Roger Federer made his return to the majors after six months away and incredibly reached the final and faced his greatest rival Nadal as they produced an amazing five setter, a match to relish and which Federer won, it was his 18th major. Ten years before I had predicted Federer would reach 18 majors.
Serena Williams as we were to later find out was pregnant playing the Australian Open and went on to win the title for the seventh time for her 23rd major equalling the open-era record held by Steffi Graf, beating sister Venus in the final.
Grigor Dimitrov wins his second title in as many months but this means more, its his home event in Sofia, while Jo Wilfried Tsonga notched up his 400th career win by reaching the Rotterdam final.
In Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Denis Shapovalov is defaulted after swiping a ball which hit in the chair umpire in the eye during the Canada- Great Britain first round tie.
Eugenie Bouchard who continued to fail to get her career restarted made the news when she went on a date via Twitter following a bet with a guy named John. The bet related to the Superbowl as Bouchard said the Patriots wouldn’t win. John said they must go on a date if the Patriots do win - the Patriots came back dramatically to win.
The now history BNP Paribas Showdown special event, in its tenth year, was a big success at Madison Square Garden as eight players were split between The World and The Americas but it was the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells that drew massive crowds as Roger Federer showed he was well and truly back by winning the title, beating Rafa Nadal in the round of 16 and Stan Wawrinka in the final. The win over Nadal was Federer’s third in a row, the first time he had done that. And for the second straight event Novak Djokovic lost to Nick Kyrgios.
Elena Vesnina swept through the women’s field to win the biggest title of her career, defeating Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final.
Roger Federer owned the first quarter of the year. He won the Miami Open therefore claiming the three biggest titles to that point. On the women’s front Johanna Konta won her second title having won Sydney earlier in the year. She won the biggest event of her career by taking the Miami Open by beating Venus Williams in the semis and Caroline Wozniacki in the final to reach a career high ranking of seven.
Rafa Nadal became the first man in the open era to win a tournament ten times which he did at the Monte Carlo Open beating Albert Ramos-Vinolas. It was Nadal’s first title of 2017 and his 70th career and 50th on clay which broke the tied record he shared with Guillermo Vilas.
April was the month when Maria Sharapova started her return from a 15-month drug suspension. It was in Stuttgart – her ban ended on the 25th and she played her first match on the 26th. She beat Roberta Vinci in the first match and reached the semis where Kiki Mladenovic, who was very vocal against Sharapova, beat her.
And Nadal again won a title for the tenth time, this time in Barcelona.
In Madrid Simona Halep beats Kiki Mladenovic to win there for the second straight year. Maria Sharapova fell in the second round to Genie Bouchard who was very outspoken about Sharapova suggesting she should have been banned for life.
Rafa Nadal won his fifth title in Madrid beating Dominic Thiem – it was an epic first set and a roller-coaster last game as Nadal served for the title. It was his third straight clay title in 2017 having beating Novak Djokovic in the semis for the first time since Roland Garros 2017 and seven straight losses to Nole. Nadal returns to the top four in the rankings and it is his first time there since October 2016, seven months.
At 19 Alexander Zverev became the youngest man to win Rome since Nadal at 19 in 2006. Zverev beat Djokovic and was also the youngest since Djokovic a decade earlier to win an ATP Masters 1000. It was Sascha’s first final at a Masters 1000 and it sent him into the top ten for the first time. And Dominic Thiem became the only person to beat Nadal on clay.
In the Rome women's Elena Svitolina beat Simona Halep in the final 6-1 in the third.
It was now time for the second major, Roland Garros began in hot, dry conditions and it was obvious that the world's top two, Andy Murray and Djokovic were just not with it; they had won just three titles, a far cry from what was expected. Both failed in Paris. Much was also expected from Zverev, but he disappointed in Paris. With Roger Federer staying away, all eyes were on Rafa Nadal as he chased "The Decima", title No.10.
END OF PART ONE