Tennis-X.com 2009 Awards; Federer Named Player of Year
In lieu of sending you bushels full of guarantee money to secure your continued allegiance to our site, the Tennis-X.com staff has instead compiled its 2009 year-end awards for the best and the brightest of the year that was.
Player of the Year — Roger Federer
He looked shaky at times, but in the end it was the numbers that mattered. He won his first French Open title, broke Pete Sampras’ Grand Slam singles mark, added another Wimbledon, and had twins. His nemesis Rafael Nadal helped out by pulling up lame at key times of the year, but the Swiss again ended up the true King of Swing after many had written him off after Rafa took No. 1. No more crying for King Fed.
Honorable Mention: Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Juan Martin Del Potro
Match of the Year — Wimbledon Men’s Final
In the 30th game of the fifth set, with the light failing and the shadows playing havoc with the players, Andy Roddick finally faltered and Roger Federer collected his sixth Wimbledon crown in his seventh final 5-7, 7-6(8), 7-6(7), 3-6, 16-14. “Sorry Pete, I tried to hold him off,” joked a tearful Roddick to Sampras in the crowd after the match. “It was great to play against Roger, a great champion, in front of all these legends of the game.” Two heavyweights hammering it out — history for Federer, and heartbreak for Roddick.
Honorable Mention: Nadal v. Federer (Australian Open), Nadal v. Verdasco (Australian Open), Djokovic v. Nadal (Madrid), Del Potro v. Federer (US Open), Serena v. Dementieva (Wimbledon)
Quote of the Year — Serena Williams
“I swear to God I’m (expletive) going to take this (expletive) ball and shove it down your (expletive) throat, you hear that?”
The expletive, by the way, was “fucking.” Serena Williams gets called for a foot fault late in a match against Kim Clijsters at the US Open and completely loses her shit, threatening a frightening level of violence against a linesperson. Then it took Serena three attempted press statements to offer a proper apology.
Honorable Mention: Roger Federer (Miami): “It was unfortunate, you know, but thank God the hardcourt season is over.”
Coach of the Year — Magnus Norman
The former world No. 2 and ward to fellow Swede Robin Soderling has taken his charge into the Top 10 for the first time to end 2009, as well as given him the confidence to do what no one has been able to do over the last handful of years — beat Rafael Nadal at the French Open. And the biggest accomplishment for Norman since dating Martina Hingis. “I feel more involved with Robin. He’s younger and listens more. I like that!” said Norman, who formerly coached another Swede, Thomas Johansson, before switching to Soderling near the beginning of the year. Known as a sporadic big-hitter, Soderling has improved his consistency but moreso his attitude under Norman, transforming from a short-fused head case to a more mature player willing to stick it out and grind when things aren’t going his way. “Before starting work with Robin, we looked into what he needed to work on. His mental attitude was an obvious priority. So we talked a lot, discussed things. Before, he was like a teenager on court: now hes a man. He became a great warrior with a cool head. That’s the thing I’m most proud of.”
Honorable Mention: Zlejko Krajan (Safina), Larry Stefanki (Roddick), Franco Davin (Del Potro)
Surprise Performance of the Year — Robin Soderling (French Open)
Not the best of friends after Soderling imitated pulling his shorts out of his ass when playing against Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon years ago, the Swede treated the Spaniard like an enemy in their meeting at Roland Garros this year, bullying him off the court. Nadal was ripe for the picking after another long claycourt season, and Soderling simply took it to him — letting his forehand fly, resulting in a lot of unforced errors but also a lot of winners. He knew he couldn’t just sit back and rally with Nadal, and in groundstroke rallies Soderling has the height advantage where the Spaniard’s high-bouncing shots don’t bother him as much as other players. He came in with a game plan and executed, and his forehand was “on.” Not many players can hit Nadal off a red clay court, but the Swede showed how it was done.
Honorable Mention: Nikolay Davydenko (London Finals), Yanina Wickmayer (US Open), Fernando Verdasco (Australian Open), Svetlana Kuznetsova (French Open)
Biggest Disappointment — Andy Murray
Who would have believed that after his 2008 US Open final run, that Andy Murray would get completely shut out of all four Grand Slam finals this year. Murray not only failed to reach a single Slam championship match, but he only reached just one semifinal that coming at Wimbledon where he fizzled under the pressure against Andy Roddick. Murray, still had a great year winning six ATP titles, but at the London Masters he failed to make the weekend.
Honorable Mention: Richard Gasquet, Marat Safin, Ana Ivanovic
Biggest Choke of the Year — Dinara Safina (French Open)
Dinara Safina spent much of 2009 writing the manual on how not to rise up to and keep the No. 1 ranking, but her effort in the 2009 French Open final was stand-out. Safina faced another big-match choker, Svetlana Kuznetsova (10-18 in career finals to this point), but in this situation even Kuzy could see that Dina was in it to win it in the shakes department, and she didn’t have to do a whole lot more than keep the ball in play. Safina was broken at love to start the match, which was all you need to know about the intervening period up to the point where she double faulted on match point, at least stretching the match to over the hour mark. “She plays with too much pressure,” summed up Kuzy afterwards, perhaps the pot calling the kettle black if you didn’t consider she now had two Slam titles to her name and a new-found confidence. “I play to enjoy it.” Unfortunately few others enjoyed it, a final lacking an artiste or creative such as Henin or Mauresmo or Serena Williams (just kidding!), two Russian robots slugging it out before approximately 30% empty seats at Stade Roland Garros.
Honorable Mention: Andy Murray (Wimbledon), David Nalbandian (Indian Wells), Nicolas Almagro (Paris), Andy Roddick (Wimbledon)
Newcomer of the Year – Melanie Oudin
“C’mon!” Who couldn’t get with that? Apparently Oudin’s hotel couldn’t. The hotel threw Oudin out after her reservation ran out in NYC, but that was the only downer in a year for the Mighty Mariettan. The feisty Oudin fought her way to the fourth round at Wimbledon and the quarterfinals at the US Open where the 17-year-old stunned Elena Dementieva and Maria Sharapova en route. There was plenty of talk a year ago of who the next great American girl was going to be, for many that question has now been answered. In a weak year for fresh faces on either tour, Oudin was the “O”-so easy choice.
Honorable Mention: Yanina Wickmayer
Best Comeback — Kim Clijsters
Kimmy pushes put a kid, announces her un-retirement, plays a few warm-up tournaments then does something she couldn’t achieve during her pre-baby year, winning the US Open. Clijsters straight-setted the talented yet weapon-challenged Caroline Wozniacki in the final, shaking off the spectacle of witnessing Serena Williams almost sinking her teeth into the head of a US Open lineswomen during the semifinals, dropping enough f-bombs to populate an episode of The Wire before subsequently being defaulted. “I just wanted to come here and get a feel for it all over again, play a Grand Slam so when I started  I didn’t have to go through all the new experiences,” Clijsters said. “It’s a great feeling to have, but confusing in a lot of ways as well.” Confusing for the rest of the tour as well — Clijsters beat Serena and Venus Williams, arguably the two best players on tour, en route to the title, begging the question, just how weak is the women’s tour right now? No wonder Justine Henin soon after announced her subsequent return from retirement — there’s Grand Slam titles up for grabs out there!
Honorable Mention: Taylor Dent, Kimiko Date, Nikolay Davydenko
Shot of Year — Roger Federer Tweener
Someday this category will just be called the “Roger Federer Award”. The Swiss maestro has arguably never done it better, or anyone else for that matter when Federer went between the legs and somehow conjured a laser passing shot against Novak Djokovic in the US Open semifinals. It’s not just one of the best shots of 2009, it’s one of the best EVER.
Honorable Mention: “Crazy” Daniel Koellerer Dive v. Del Potro (US Open), Roger Federer Overhead Smash v. Davydenko (London Masters), Rafael Nadal Pass v. Verdasco (Australian Open), Nadal Forehand Winner v. Federer (Australian Open)
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