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Season In Review

Rafael Nadal© Getty ImagesNadal won his sixth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.

The 2009 ATP World Tour season, without a doubt, has been the year of Roger Federer. The Swiss star completed the career Grand Slam with his first victory at Roland Garros, broke Andy Roddick’s heart as he won an epic Wimbledon final to clinch a record-breaking 15th Grand Slam singles title and reached the final at both the Australian Open and the US Open. The 28 year old capped his stunning season by regaining the crown of ATP World Tour Champion. It was not just on the court that Federer enjoyed immense success, though. In April he married his long-time girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec and in July the pair became proud parents to twin girls Myla Rose and Charlene Riva.

In the first part of the season, though, it was Federer’s rival Rafael Nadal who stole all the headlines. The Spaniard won his sixth Grand Slam title, and first on hard court, at the Australian Open with a dramatic five-set victory over Federer. In the semi-finals the Mallorcan had come through one of the best matches of the season against an inspired Fernando Verdasco, who had Murrayousted World No. 4 Andy Murray and No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga en route to his first major semi-final. It proved to be the spark for a career-best season for Nadal’s fellow Spaniard, who went on to qualify for the year-end Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

Nadal’s hard-court success continued with victory at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, where he crushed Murray for the loss of just three games to recapture the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title he had first claimed in 2007. Murray brushed off the disappointment of the heavy defeat in fine style, though, and two weeks later was lifting the trophy at the Sony Ericsson Open, having defeated Novak Djokovic to become the first British champion in Miami. It was to be one of an ATP World Tour-best six trophies that Murray would capture in a sparkling 2009 for the Scot.

There were few surprises early in the European clay-court season as Nadal resumed his dominance with titles at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, the Barcelona Open Banco Sabadell and the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. However, the Spaniard could not complete the set of three clay-court ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles. After coming through an epic semi-final clash with Djokovic at the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open, the left-hander was defeated by Federer in the final as the Swiss captured his first trophy of the season.

FedererVictory in Madrid sparked a run of 21 successive victories for Federer, who took advantage of Nadal’s shock fourth-round exit at Roland Garros to clinch the clay-court title with victory over first-time finalist and one of the surprise packages of the year Robin Soderling – Nadal’s conqueror – before regaining his Wimbledon crown in a marathon five-set encounter with Roddick. Hailed as one of the best-ever Wimbledon finals, Federer did not break the American’s famed serve until the final game of the match. In reaching his third Wimbledon final, the 27-year-old Roddick had ended "Murray Mania" in the semi-finals with a superb display to oust the home favourite. Suffering with severe knee tendonitis, defending champion Nadal was unable to raise a racquet to attempt to retain his crown at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.

Federer’s winning run came to an end at the hands of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals of the Rogers Cup in Montreal, where Murray was to go on to claim his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy of the year with victory over Juan Martin del Potro.

Despite the defeat, the then-20-year-old del Potro had shown he was coming into his best form. A week earlier the Tandil native had defeated Roddick in the Legg Mason Tennis Classic final and, after sitting out the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati – where Federer was del Potroonce more victorious – set New York alight with some electric performances en route to his first Grand Slam title at the US Open. The “Tower of Tandil” crushed Nadal in the semi-finals – surrendering just six games – before rallying from two-sets-to-one down in the final against Federer with rocketing forehands to become the first tallest-ever Grand Slam winner at 6’6’’.

While del Potro was greeted with fanfare on his return home, it was Nikolay Davydenko who stepped up as the one to watch as the race heated up in the battle to qualify for the eagerly anticipated Barclays ATP World Tour Finals – to be held for the first time at The O2 arena in London. The Russian, who had been hindered with a foot injury in the first few months of the season, won the inaugural Proton Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2009 with victory over Verdasco before later triumphing over Nadal in the final of the Shanghai ATP Masters 1000, presented by Rolex.

The 28-year-old Davydenko faltered early at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris (Bercy), where Djokovic continued his strong run of form with a second straight ATP World Tour title following on Davydenkofrom victory over Federer in Basel. But the Russian had done enough to secure his place in the elite eight-man field at the season finale and was not content to settle for merely qualifying.

After initially losing to Djokovic in a repeat of the 2008 final, Davydenko defeated Nadal and debutant Soderling to earn his place in the semi-finals before overturning a 0-12 record against Federer in one of the performances of the season to book his place in the final against del Potro. The Russian then capped a dream week by dismissing his towering Argentine opponent in straight sets to claim the biggest title of his career and bring the curtain down on an outstanding 2009 season.

American doubles stars Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan were crowned ATP World Tour Champions for the fifth time after a dramatic battle for the top spot with Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic went right down to the wire at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. For the second year in a row, the battle for the year-end No. 1 ATP Doubles Team Ranking came down to the last match of the season and the twins made up for missing out in Shanghai in 2008 by defeating Max Mirnyi and Andy Ram in the final to win the year-end championships for a third time and reclaim the No. 1 ranking.

After seven months without an ATP World Tour title, and having been hindered with injury problems in the second half of the season, Nadal ended his season on a high note as he led Spain to its fourth Davis Cup title this decade. Spain won its second consecutive Davis Cup title with a 5-0 whitewash over Czech Republic in Barcelona, with Nadal earning his 400th tour-level win by defeating Tomas Berdych in the opening match. The 23 year old is the first player to win 400 singles matches in less than 500 matches played (401-91).

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