Best Of 2010
Biggest Upsets Of The Year - Nos. 3-5
by ATP Staff|
ATPWorldTour.com reviews the Top 5 upsets of the year, beginning with Nos. 3-5.
When World No. 53 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez squared up to his top-ranked countryman Rafael Nadal in the PTT Thailand Open semi-finals, few would have expected the 27 year old to be the one to end Nadal’s nine-match winning streak.
Just a week after becoming the seventh man in the history of the sport to win the career Grand Slam, Nadal had made his debut in Bangkok to great fanfare and after two convincing victories in his opening matches, made a strong start to the clash with Garcia-Lopez as he raced to a one-set lead.
With Nadal boasting a 64-4 match record in the past 52 weeks after winning the first set, it seemed the remainder of the contest would be a formality for the left-hander. Not so. Nadal squandered 24 of 26 break point chances in the match, including 16 in the second set, and was made to pay the price as Garcia-Lopez converted his only chance in the third set to seal victory in what he later hailed as “the best match of my career”.
“I had a lot of break point chances in the second set, too many chances,” lamented Nadal, who was bidding to reach his eighth tour-level final of the season. “He played a great match, especially in the third set, but I was playing better than him in the beginning. I didn't play the break points well. With 26 opportunities to break you have to take your chances. It's a difficult loss to accept. I was playing well and had a good opportunity to get to final.”
The result proved to be a catalyst for Garcia-Lopez, who went on to win his second ATP World Tour title with victory over Jarkko Nieminen, before reaching the quarter-finals in Tokyo (l. to Troicki) and beating Tomas Berdych en route to the Shanghai quarter-finals (l. to Djokovic).
You may have been forgiven for thinking Ivan Ljubicic’s best tennis playing days were behind him when the Croatian turned 31 in March. However, just a day later the Croatian proved that in fact the best was still to come when he ousted Rafael Nadal en route to winning his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells.
“Probably the best I've ever played in my career. I enjoyed it, really… Great, great moment,” declared Ljubicic after drawing on all his fighting spirit to recover from a set down to defeat Nadal for just the second time in seven attempts. The Croatian had beaten Novak Djokovic in the fourth round and defeated his third Top 10 player of the week, No. 8 Andy Roddick, to win the title.
After saving four break points in what he later termed the “key to the match” in the sixth game of the second set, Ljubicic went on to level the match before pulling off what he called “the best tie-break of my career” to clinch the deciding third set in two hours and 34 minutes.
For Nadal, it meant the continuation of his 10-month title drought and a drop from No. 3 to No. 4 in the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings. “That was an accident today,” said Nadal. “That's my feeling because I was playing enough well to win the tournament.”
Just a month after his record of reaching 23 consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals was ended at Roland Garros by Robin Soderling, Roger Federer was dealt another shock defeat in the Wimbledon quarter-finals. The Swiss, who was bidding to reach his eighth straight final at the All England Club, was bundled out on Centre Court by Tomas Berdych, who had also beaten the Swiss after saving match point a couple of months earlier in Miami.
It marked the first time that Federer had not reached a grass-court final since losing in the first round at Wimbledon (l. to Ancic) in 2002. The Basel native, who committed 18 unforced errors – five fewer than Berdych - had not lost to a player outside the Top 10 at a Grand Slam championship since 2004 at Roland Garros.
While the sight of Federer bowing out of The Championships prior to the final was a surprise to tennis fans, the nature of his opponent’s breakthrough was not. At Roland Garros, Berdych had reached his first Grand Slam semi-final and for a long time had been considered one of the most talented players on tour, although grass had not been his strongest surface.
“[I'm] not surprised," said Berdych, who would go on to lose to Rafael Nadal in his first Grand Slam final at the end of the week. "I'm very happy with my performance today. I was playing really well. I [had] some weak moments in the second set when I lost my serve and gave him chance to win the set. I didn't have any special tactics. For me the important thing was to play my tennis, serve well [and] play aggressive."
Coming Sunday: The 2 Biggest Upsets of 2010