• Upsets of the year – part 2

    12/14/09 6:19 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Upsets of the year – part 2 The 2009 season on the ATP Tour was hard to predict from start to finish. Let’s take a look at the 10 biggest upsets of the year, concluding with 1-5.

    5) U.S. Open fourth round: Marin Cilic d. Andy Murray 7-5, 6-2, 6-2

    Murray had made it all the way to the U.S. Open final one year ago, and he seemed poised for a repeat performance, if not more. The tournament’s No. 2 seed had lost just one set in his first three matches and he was coming off a U.S. Open Series in which he won the Montreal title and reached the Cincinnati semis. Cilic, meanwhile, had never been past the fourth round of Grand Slam and he had been enduring a dreadful summer on the U.S. hard courts. Furthermore, the underdog Croat was 0-3 lifetime against Murray and had suffered two consecutive straight-set drubbings (including at the 2009 French Open). Shockingly, however, Cilic did not merely beat Murray; he crushed the Scot in a mere two hours and eight minutes.

    4) French Open third round: Philipp Kohlschreiber over Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4

    Heading into the French Open, Djokovic was considered to be the only real threat to Rafael Nadal’s Roland Garros reign. And why not? Djokovic reached the final in both Monte Carlo and Rome, lost to Nadal in one of the best matches of the year in the Madrid semis, and also won a clay-court title in Belgrade. Kohlschreiber, on the other hand, had been past the third round of a Grand Slam just twice in his career and had generally done his best work on hard courts, not clay. Nonetheless, like Cilic, Kohlschreiber did not merely win; he thrashed his heavily-favored opponent in straight sets.

    3) World Tour Finals semifinals: Nikolay Davydenko d. Roger Federer 6-2, 4-6, 7-5

    Look no further than the stats to find out just how massive an upset this one really was. Federer and Davydenko had faced each other 12 times prior to their semifinal showdown in London. Not only had Federer won all 12 encounters, but he had also won 28 of 32 sets. That’s right; 28-4 in sets against Davydenko. While Federer had not been dominant in round-robin competition, he was playing well (and continued to play well). Davydenko had also been vulnerable during play, so his stunning victory came completely out of nowhere. Making it all the more surprising is the fact that Federer actually played good tennis; Davydenko was simply on fire.

    2) U.S. Open final: Juan Martin Del Potro d. Roger Federer 3-6, 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2

    Del Potro was up against extraordinary odds in this year’s U.S. Open final. First and foremost, of course, he was playing the No. 1 player in the world and 15-time Grand Slam champion. Federer had won the previous two majors (the French Open and Wimbledon) to break Pete Sampras’ record and the Swiss was also coming off a Masters title in Cincinnati. Although he had been in fine form throughout the summer, Del Potro had never appeared in Grand Slam final. Even more glaring was that the 20-year-old Argentine went into the title match with an 0-6 career record against Federer. Del Potro lost—got absolutely blown out, in fact—their first five meetings in straight sets, including a 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 humiliation at the Australian Open. As if all of that wasn’t enough, Del Potro fell behind a set (twice, 1-0 and 2-1) and even saw Federer serve for a two-set lead at 6-3, 5-4. The way it happened—and that it happened at all—was nothing short of mind-boggling.

    1) French Open fourth round: Robin Soderling d. Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-6(2)

    This was not simply the biggest upset of the year. This was the biggest upset of the decade and one of the biggest upsets in tennis history. If you want to argue that it was one of the biggest upsets in sports history, you would have plenty of stunning facts to support your case: Nadal had never lost a single match at Roland Garros (four trips, four slam titles). He was 19-1 on clay in 2009 and had dropped only two sets in those 19 victories. He was 3-0 lifetime against Soderling and had just hammered the Swede 6-1, 6-0 in Rome only one month ago. Soderling, meanwhile, had never been past the fourth round of a Grand Slam. He had compiled a dismal 3-5 career record at the French Open. He was playing on his least favorite surface against arguably the best dirtballer of all time. “Upset” does not even do it justice.

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your choices of number 2 and one couldnt be any better:
Del Potro beat Nadal easily in easy match in the semis (and Nadal is the AO champion) so that would give any idea that he is a real threat but the match was Roger's to lost un charistisric play from him in the fourth and fifth and Del Potro deserves the win because Roger lost his temp when it counted am his fan but how he handled the situation was realy un acceptable.
the massive upset was Nadal's FO,jaw dropping suprise Soderling has something against Nadal he just prove how much tennis is a mental sport when you had the believe you can do anything he beat him in his backyard and he didnt hesistat i though he is going to drop on the floor like mathiue did against Federer in Paris but he didnt this guy is like a mosqitue that doesnt go away the FO was interesting this year no more 6-1 6-0 matches which was good thing for the torny so good upset!
i like Nadal but i think on other's surfaces the oponent has a chance so Soderling was the "Knight" who made anything possible!

tennislover , 12/14/09 7:21 AM

Cannot equate Rafa's performance at the USO with that of the AO, as Rafa was just back from injury and was suffering from another one - abdominal muscle tear - at the USO. If Rafa was able to play at the USO the way he did at the AO, I don't think Del Potro could beat Rafa that easily, maybe Rafa could even beat Del Potro.

Rafa really had an off day during the FO match against Soderling, coupled that with Soderling's excellent play and we saw the upset of the decade. I'm sure if Rafa played like he did the FO 08, Soderling has no chance at all to beat Rafa. Well that's my take on Rafa's USO and the FO results this year.

luckystar , 12/14/09 3:01 PM

lucky - i dont think tennislover was comparing Nadal's USO and AO performances. TL was just saying that Del Potro's win over Fed didnt come COMPLETELY out of nowhere since he had just destroyed Nadal.

RickyDimon , 12/14/09 4:03 PM

Great article, and yes the No.1 one was so obvious we were already discussing it on part 1. So I won't repeat myself here. I just can't wait to see Rafa in good form on clay again.

grafight , 12/14/09 5:40 PM

I still cannot believe Rafa lost in Paris to Robin Soderling!!! I was watching the match and waiting for the comeback that never came. When Soderling won, my first reaction was I am sure he is on dope. But gradually am accepting it. :(

vmk1 , 12/14/09 6:53 PM

Yes Ricky I know what TL means but really the Nadal that Delpo 'destroys' is far from the one we saw at the AO, so that's not a good gauge of Delpo's strength. In fact, I would say that Fed performed better at the AO final compared to the USO final, and I think it was Fed's mistake that he allowed Delpo backed into the game by losing the 2nd set, which in my opinion was Fed's to lose. If Fed could win the 2nd set, then most likely Fed would win the USO title in 3 sets. Credit to Delpo though, he was able to take his chances and never gave up, I think that's the mark of a champion. In fact I earmark Delpo as the next dominant player after Fed/Nadal's dominance is over, with Nole and Murray challenging him like what Nadal is doing all along to Fed.

luckystar , 12/15/09 10:53 AM

Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
3. Federer 8 670 pts
4. Ferrer 6 970 pts
5. Nadal 6 385 pts

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