As the end of 2010 is upon us, I thought I'd share with you my top 10 tennis moments of the year. It has been a year of change in the sport, with the women's game more open than ever, while the balance of power has once again swung Rafa Nadal's way in the men's game.
These are my 10 for 2010 – I hope you agree with them!
10. Roger Federer won the Australian Open in January. His crushing victory over Andy Murray extended his record major tally to 16. The Swiss maestro looked set to dominate the year again, but then...
9. The Indo-Pax express did much more than just reach a major doubles final at the U.S. Open for the first time. Rohan Bopanna and Aisam Qureshi hit the headlines for promoting peace between their two rival countries by playing together. There was no "Hollywood" ending though as they were edged out for the title by the record-setting Bryan Brothers. (Mike and Bob have now won an all-time high 62 career doubles titles.)
8. Novak Djokovic saved two match-points against Roger Federer in the U.S. Open semifinal, before coming through in five sets and thereby preventing the first Nadal/Federer grand slam final of the year.
7. In her comeback, Justine Henin threatened to "do a Clijsters" as she marched to the final of the Australian Open. Unfortunately for the Belgian, she ran into a familiar foe, Serena Williams –- who also won Wimbledon.
6. Kim Clijsters won her third straight U.S. Open in less than an hour. After clinching the title for the first time in 2006 she was injured the following year and then retired. After returning, she won in New York in 2009 and then again in September. That means she’s on a 21-match winning streak at Flushing Meadows. Not bad for one of the nicest women in tennis!
5. At the tender age of 29, Francesca Schiavone showed us there was life in the old girl yet by lifting the French Open title in Paris in June. She completed a marvellous breakthrough year by also helping Italy to the Fed Cup in November, beating the U.S. in the final for the second year in a row.
4. Serbia's men won the Davis Cup for the first time after a thrilling final against France in Belgrade. Viktor Troicki, my up-and-comer of the year, was the hero. After losing a great doubles rubber along with Nenad Zimonjic which lasted over four and a half hours, he came back the next day and thrashed Michael Llodra in impressive fashion in the deciding rubber to hand Serbia the title.
3. Victoria Azarenka dramatically collapsed on court at the U.S. Open. The Belarusian was touted to go far in the year’s final major, but had to be taken to hospital during the second round. At first the searing weather was given as the reason. Then came the news that the 21-year-old had hit her head in the gym beforehand and had suffered a concussion.
2. Rafael Nadal won the U.S. Open by beating Novak Djokovic in a great final to complete the career grand-slam. The Spaniard changed the grip on his serve just two days before the tournament began, and only dropped serve five times in seven matches. Nadal won the final three majors of 2010 and finished as the undisputed world number one.
1. John Isner beat Nicolas Mahut in a mere 11 hours at Wimbledon. The longest match in tennis history will surely remain in the record books forever. Having said that, though, the two will meet at the Hopman Cup in January. If you’re going to watch, take an overnight bag!