Nadal Wins Player of the Year, ‘Heist’ Honor in 2010 Tennis-X Year-End Awards

by Staff | December 19th, 2010, 12:20 pm

The year two-thousand ten saw Rafael Nadal rise up above injury to claim the No. 1 ranking; Roger Federer show he is game for a challenge in 2011; Serena Williams flame-out with an mysterious foot accident after what looked to be a record-breaking year; Justine Henin succumb to a season-ending arm ailment; Venus Williams end her season prematurely due to a bum knee…did any of the women’s top players make it through? ADHEREL

Oh yeah, Caroline Wozniacki kept enough balls in play and remained healthy enough to controversially finish No. 1 on the women’s side. Novak Djokovic came up just short at the Slams but stood up tall in Davis Cup to claim Serbia’s first championship. Andy Murray, everyone’s top up-and-comer year after year, again finished slamless. Last year’s US Open winner Juan Martin Del Potro was a bust due to injury. Though France led the “bust” department again with their slew of talented also-rans who never seem to get over that hump: Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, etc.

John Isner and Sam Querrey had solid years on the American men’s side, but no one is yet putting money on them to win a Slam and take the pressure off the aging Andy Roddick. Roddick fought through illnesses and injuries to again finish in the Top 10, joined by surprising entries such as Tomas Berdych, Fernando Verdasco and Mikhail Youzhny. Italy’s Francesca Schiavone had a year to retire on (eventually), winning the French, finishing Top 10 and leading her country to yet another Fed Cup title, for the second straight year blasting a hapless U.S. squad in the final.

Kudos all around, but here are the big winners in the 2010 Tennis-X Year-End Awards:

Player of the Year — Rafael Nadal

After leaving Australia nursing another knee injury, Rafa pounded and rebounded in the very best way possible, winning the next three Slams in head-spinning fashion including the US Open, giving the Spaniard the coveted Career Slam at just 24. What’s next for the Spanish Bull who has it all? Modeling for Armani? Further perfecting that ass-picking motion? Collecting a couple million in an off-season exo tour with Roger Federer. Waking up to his super-hottie girlfriend? Life is good is Mallorca, and probably any place else Rafa is hanging out these days.

Honorable Mention: Roger Federer, Kim Clijsters, Caroline Wozniacki, Serena Williams.

Match of the Year — Wimbledon 1st RD: John Isner d. Nicolas Mahut, 70-68 in Fifth Set

A year ago if we predicted such a scoreline, we’d be sent right to the asylum. Six months later, looking back, it’s still remarkable. Or ridiculous. Or both. Did that, could that, have really happened? In the record-smashing match that lasted three days and 11 hours, 5 minutes, Isner finished with a jaw-dropping 113 aces, and Mahut a “second best” 103. Incredible. Match of the Year? How about Match of history? A match that will never be eclipsed in terms of time and total ace count. Never! Both players were a physical mess for weeks after. And let’s not forget the chair umpire, Mohamed Layani, for “holding it in” all that time. “Well played!” as the British might say.

Honorable Mention: Berdych d. Federer (Miami), Clijsters d. Henin (Brisbane), Djokovic d. Federer (US Open), Serena d. Henin (Australia), Nadal d. Murray (London), Verdasco d. Ferrer (US Open), Fognini d. Monfils (French Open), Tsonga d. Almagro (Australia), Stosur d. Serena (French Open).

Quote of the Year — Hit for Haiti exhibition, Indian Wells, Pete Sampras vs. Andre Agassi, + Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

So many good ones. Was it when Agassi imitated Sampras, turning his pockets inside-out and saying, “I don’t have any money. No, wait, I’ve got a dollar!” bagging on Sampras’ reputation as a poor tipper? Was it when Federer tried to lighten the mood, interjecting, “This rivalry is intense, man. I mean, Rafa, start. Do something.” Was it when, after Sampras rocketed a ball straight at Agassi, who dodged it, Agassi said, “It’s all right, it’s all right…You know what, it’s better than being a valet driver and you pulling up.” Was it when Sampras then weirdly retorted, “Let’s talk about our baggage. Here we go. I’m a bad tipper. I’m sorry, Barack Obama.” Was it when a still-shocked Sampras later said, “Wow. You got personal. You got personal with me.” Or when Agassi retorted, “Nah, nah nah. Everybody knows that already.” So much good stuff, a goldmine. Thanks Pete and Andre, the award is in the mail. Just don’t toss it in the storage shed.

Honorable Mention: Andy Murray, getting emotional during the trophy ceremony after losing to Roger Federer at the Australian Open: “I can cry like Roger, it’s a shame I can’t play like him.” Yep, echoed by all of Britain.

Comeback of the Year — Justine Henin

In her first Slam in over two years, the diminutive pocket rocket made it all the way to the Australian Open final before losing to Serena Williams in a tough three setter. Unfortunately, the Belgian’s season ended prematurely after taking a tumble on the Wimbledon turf, but her effort in Australia deserves notice. Would she have finished the year No. 1 if she had stayed healthy? About a 90% chance.

Honorable Mention: Mardy Fish, Kimiko Date

Heist of the Year — Rafael Nadal’s Watch

With tennis thievery on the rise, this could very well become a permanent category in our yearly wrap-up. Just weeks after signing a mega-lucrative deal with watchmaker Richard Mille, Rafael Nadal lost his prized Tourbillon RM 027 timepiece in a theft in the Toronto locker room. The problem is, the watch was no ordinary watch. The price tag on this uber-bling was in the ballpark of $525,000. That’s like having a mid-range American McMansion wrapped around your wrist, just without the lawn watering, upkeep and nasty neighbors. But stealing a house not so easy. Stealing a watch out of a locker of say a Spanish No. 1? Easy. Police and investigators are on hunt, but the case remains unsolved.

Honorable Mention: Andy Murray (Rotterdam, Dubai for playing poorly and still collecting a hefty appearance fee), Pete Sampras’s stolen trophies from storage, Radek Stepanek steals Nicole Vaidisova off the open market, and the same for Sasha Vujucic for recently taking Maria Sharapova out of circulation.

Coach of the Year — Uncle Toni

Can we already call Toni the greatest uncle ever in pro tennis? This uncle has outwitted, outsmarted and ultimately outcoached tennis’ brainy best once again to put his nephew on top of the tennis world. This guy deserves all the credit in the world and then some. You can say Rafa doesn’t need any coaching, but there is an awful lot of illegal hand signaling going on during matches. This year Rafa even admitted Uncle Toni sometimes signals him where to serve, sheesh. But Uncle T gets all-around high marks for his for leading his nephew to a second No. 1 finish in three years.

Honorable Mention: Joakim Nystrom (Melzer), Magnus Norman (Soderling), Sergey Demekhine (Zvonareva).

Worst Injury of the Year — Serena Williams

Stepping on glass ain’t what is used to be. No that mysterious glass injury will keep Serena off the court at least through Australia and perhaps as long as Miami and into the spring. Too bad the story was so long coming out, and never really probably fully came out what happened in Germany. Party on Serena!

Honorable Mention: Juan Martin Del Potro (wrist), Tommy Haas (hip), Justine Henin (arm).

Surprise Performance of the Year — Francesca Schiavone, French Open

The charismatic Italian captured the hearts and minds of the tennis world who watched her remarkable ascent to the French Open title. The near 30-year-old was a just a journeywomen with a handfull of titles, but somehow Franny channeled the inner strength to work her way through upset after upset to win in Roland Garros. Here’s to crafty players who have the ability to do more than just bash topspin forehands and backhands.

Honorable Mention: Jurgen Melzer (French Open), Tomas Berdych (Wimbledon), Vera Zvonareva (US Open), Ljubicic (Indian Wells), Ernests Gulbis (Rome).

Biggest Disappointment — Juan Martin Del Potro

After such a strong 2009 in which he closed the year reaching the London finals, the Tower of Tandil’s 2010 effectively ended in Australia when he injured his wrist. And with that injury the hopes for a true third rival and perhaps successor to the Federer-Nadal stranglehold at the top will have to wait another year.

Honorable Mention: Andy Murray, Caroline Wozniacki (no Slam finals yet!), Dinara Safina, Justine Henin, Marin Cilic.

Biggest Choke of the Year — Viktor Troicki loss to Novak Djokovic at US Open

Up two sets and a break against your countryman on a steamy, hot day at the US Open with Djokovic almost collapsing from the heat. And what do you do? Let him back in the match and choke it! Choker! The temperature topped 100 degrees, yet Troicki looked fresh while Novak was totally dragging his ass. But when the shadows crept over Arthur Ashe court Djokovic got a reprieve from the heat, he got a second wind while Troicki lost his aggressiveness against his close friend. “Somebody from the stand kept telling me to hang on and that’s exactly what I did,” Djokovic said. “I have to give Victor credit. He served incredibly well. A couple of points turned the match.”

Honorable Mention: Falla loses to Federer at Wimbledon, Federer loses to Baghdatis (Indian Wells).

Newcomer of the Year — Aleksander Dolgopolov

The 22-year-old from the Ukraine finished in the top 50 for 2010 and climbed as high as No. 39 after his first full season on tour. Watch for this kid. This year he Q’d into Masters 1000 events at Monte Carlo and Madrid, reached the third round at the French and beat No. 13-ranked Fernando Gonzalez en route. The kid can play on all surfaces, reaching the semis at the ATP stop in Eastbourne, losing to the eventual champion Michael Llodra, and at Wimbledon he lost to the Top 10er Tsonga 10-8 in the fifth. Nowhere to go but up.

Honorable Mention: Ricardis Berankis, Petra Kvitova, Thiemo de Bakker.

Best In-Match Retirement — Novak Djokovic in Belgrade

Yes, Novak Djokovic really did retire at his very own event. Down a set to upstart Filip Krajinovic, Djokovic decided to retire from the match rather than complete it and give the Serbian teen a true win. It was Djokovic’s tournament, so does he have to give his own appearance money back? Djokovic, for the record, had a cold.

Honorable Mention: Elena Dementieva retires to Francesca Schiavone in the French semis with a torn calf muscle, gifting the Italian a berth in her first Slam final.

Shot of the Year — Francesca Schiavone’s tweener

Hey, women can do it, too, and sometimes better.

Honorable Mention: Victor Hanescu (US Open), Fernando Verdasco match point against David Ferrer (US Open), Roger Federer fake trick shot.

Congratulations 2010 to all our Tennis-X winners. Your trophies are in the mail, C.O.D. Happy Holidays everyone.

You Might Like:
Roger Federer Wins Two Laureus Awards; Serena Named Sportswoman Of The Year
Right Or Wrong? Kvitova Bumps No. 1 Wozniacki For WTA Player Of Year Award
2019 ATP Awards: Nadal, Federer, Italians Honored
Roger Federer Wins 3 ATP Awards, Denis Shapovalov Takes 2
Rafael Nadal Receives 2010 Alma Award [Video]

Don't miss any tennis action, stay connected with Tennis-X

Get the FREE TX daily newsletter

18 Comments for Nadal Wins Player of the Year, ‘Heist’ Honor in 2010 Tennis-X Year-End Awards

Kimmi Says:

great list.

Eeeeeek! i didnt know Nadal’s watch was toronto locker rooms lol! was the locker broken, or did he leave it unlocked? I dont think “they” care much, it wasnt big news afterall or was itÉ i must have missed something then…

Best in-match retirement..could it be “worst”? Novak retiring in belgrade was because of the allergies not the “cold”. he later pulled out of the next tournament, master1000 madrid.

Troicki losing to djoko was a really choke wasnt it.. especially that he was up 2 sets and a break. ouch! All federer matches that he lost with matchpoint should pass as biggest choke of the year too imo…not just a bagdatis match. lets hope he does better next season.

dari Says:

Haha. That hanescuhonorable mention shot is pretty funny. Never seen a full swing fake out.
Who is excited for the Exo’s this week?!!!
On the note of missing tennis, been watching Borg among others on the senior tour, those boys still got it!

jane Says:

“Sergey Demekhine (Zvonareva).” Certainly the cutest, not an honorable mention; in that regard he trumps Uncle Tone.

Hey “staff,” Djoko skipped Madrid, as Kimmi said; he’d been sick with allergies all spring, even in the DC USA tie, all the way through clay, until finally he packed it that match and skipping Madrid where he’d been in the semis the previous year. Yes, he maybe should’ve finished, but that was his only retirement of the year. Some players get injured, and some high profile ones get injured a lot, whereas Nole gets sick a lot. Just different immune systems and tolerances.

On another topic, this is an interesting article about the amount of hours the players spend on airplanes during the year (in the hundreds!!)! I’m happy the ATP is shortening the season, even though as a fan it may be a bit of a drag, I’d rather see players having longer and more successful careers:

jane Says:

Happy holidays to Staff and all posters! More tennis around the corner in 3 weeks – crazy!!! But good. :)

TGiT Says:

I think we need to focus on what is truely important…

The EAGLES baby…kicked the Giants again!!!

WTF Says:

How can Rafa’s watch be the #1 heist of the year? Sure what he wears around his wrist is worth more than my house, but Pete lost all his trophies including all his grand slam titles. That’s a way bigger theft. Money can buy Rolex watches. They can’t buy GS titles. His trophies were priceless in every sense of the word.

The logistics of carrying out such a heist would also be a lot greater than it is to pinch someone’s watch. And let’s not forget the fact that the watch was gifted to him by a sponsor, so it was no monetary loss to Nadal. None of Pete’s 64 titles were a gift. He had to work hard and earn those. He held the distinction of winningest GS player of all time until a year ago when Fed surpassed him.

I also felt Sam Stosur deserved mention for Surprise Performance of the Year. When she made the FO semis last year, I thought it was a definite one off fluke. Then she made the final this year, beating Henin, Jankovic and Serena along the way. No one saw that coming.

WTF Says:

Verdasco’s win over Ferrer has to be the most dramatic win of the year. Wow. Trailing by 2 sets, he comes back and wins it in a 5th set tie break and in such dramatic fashion!

Biggest/Best win of the year IMO. For any single match at least.

Lynsey Says:

Biggest Disappointment — Juan Martin Del Potro

Hey, how about picking someone who actually PLAYED and wasn’t sidelined by injury for the entire year, like maybe Cilic?

BTW, I still think Fed’s tweener was better than Schiavone’s. Fran hit a great one, but it was returned, and, like Nadal in his match against Lopez when he attempted one, it could’ve been returned and her opponent could’ve won the point. Other best points I would’ve chosen, Fed’s BH winner against Nadal in the WTF final to take the first BP, or Verdasco’s amazing match point against Ferrer USO or his amazing drop shot against Rafa in Monte Carlo after a long rally and already down 0-6, 1-4 that saw him fall to his knees and praise the heavens.

Tsonga-Almagro AO is always forgotten because it was so long ago and some other match was on Rod Laver Arena, but it’s my pick for best match of the year.

Lynsey Says:

BTW, no honourable mention to Paul Annacone? After hiring him, Roger went on to make the finals in every single event he played for the rest of the year (Paris aside, although he had match points against Monfils, iirc), his overall play improved, and he beat the #1, 3, 4 and 5 in the world en route to capturing a record-tying 5th Masters Cup title.

I think Annacone deserves some credit for that.

sar Says:

Caroline Wozniacki (no Slam finals yet!),

Wasn’t she in a slam final this year?

Catherine Says:

@ sar: Wozniacki was in the RG final, got beaten by Schiavone, if my memory isn’t failing me completely… ;-)

@ Lynsey: totally agree with you, I think Annacone indeed managed to get ‘something’ done with Federer – just compare his results before and after Annacone joined his team! And however great a coach Toni Nadal is (he IS), the (admitted!) ongoing on-court coaching taints his legacy I think…

@ WTF: yep, agree with you – Sampras’ loss of his trophies, which bear a great emotional value to him, is of course the biggest heist of the year, for the exact reasons you say. All the money in the world cannot buy you GS trophies!

Somehow I never appreciated that watch on Rafa’s wrist – the price of which is in fact totally obscene – it just didn’t appear fitting to me that someone who claims to remain humble does that kind of thing. I am not too keen on Roger doing advertisements for Rolex for that same reason either.
I somehow like the thought of Rafa not caring much for it anyways, reason for him not to have his locker room in Toronto locked, or what? I hope the bugger who stole it gets busted, and if he made money from selling it, that he gets forced to donate that money to Rafa’s charity foundation. Hehe!

dunbar Says:

re Annacone: cause, or coincidence? After all, Federer was about due for a decent run.

dunbar Says:

Fancy a spot of climbing? Puts a whole new complexion on the concept of a “steady nerve” – I mean, you wouldn’t want to choke here, would you?

fan4tennis Says:

WTF, not ALL of Pete’s GS trophies were stolen, only the AO one. He has said the rest of his GS trophies were in his house. Granted, even just one stolen is bad enough, but it was not all of them. IMO, I am not surprised. Pete has shown a tendency thru the years to be very cheap….errrr excuse me, thrifty, and it has been published by other players also, so him paying for a cheap place to store his trophies and not even insuring them, seems to be a pattern with him.

Kimmi Says:

Wozniacki best GS results in 2010 was the USO. she reached the semi there, losing to zvonareva. She reached R16 at AO, lost to Li Na. Qtr final in RG, lost to Schiavoni. R16 at wimbledon, lost to Kvitova. Why would she get the tennis-x player of the year? GS results should determine these awards imo.

Catherine – Stosur lost to Schiavoni in RG final not wozniacki.

Abbie from Cape Town Says:

Someone with decent English grammar skills needs to edit the Staff and Sean Randall’s articles. They are good, but could be so much better if written correctly. There are people all over the world reading these reports and many of them use English as a second language. Imagine a confused English student! This particular article is pretty apalling…

MMT Says:

Gotta disagree with the honorable mention for best in-match retirement – that was legit, although it would have been interesting to see which of the two (Dementieva or Stosur) could hold their nerve in the final, each having her own well-document problems with that.

As for the shot of the year – come-on – Schiavone’s “tweener” barely made it over the net. Federer’s against Brian Dabul at the US Open this year was (1) a clean winner, (2) a BASELINE pass, (3) 5 feet from the backstop…(4) on a TWEENER!

No comparison.

Steve Says:

Good article, UNTIL I read that the shot of the year is Shiavone’s??? Ridiculous, Federer’s tweener was better in every department. It’s not even on the list, hmmm…

But good article!

Top story: Rybakina Runs Away From Andreeva, Pegula Upset; Gauff v Kudermetova Thurs.