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Player Reviews For The AO 2010: The Top Ten Men

February 1, 2010

I wrote this title and then got completely confused as to which top ten I should use. The top ten as of today, or the top ten as of before the Australian Open? I have decided to go with the top ten as of today, mainly because I am in love with Cilic and want to rave about his awesome performance.

So, here we go. I will do the women over the next few days.

1. Roger Federer: It’s obvious, isn’t it? He turned in his best tennis to beat Tsonga, and close to his best to beat Murray, Davydenko, and Hewitt. His backhand was at it’s pinnacle against Murray, and his forehand was close. Sure, his serve has been better, but his overall game was pretty damn good. Plus, he won the title and his sixteenth Slam. In straight sets.


2. Novak Djokovic: Novak came into this Slam needing to do well, and it turned out to be not his game, but a stomach bug that got in his way. Until the quarter finals, Nole was playing good tennis. Not amazing tennis, probably not Slam winning tennis, but he was playing well. unfortunately for him, he was struck down with a stomach illness. In his match against Tsonga, Nole had to leave the court to throw up. He probably should have retired but didn’t want to increase his bad reputation for pulling the plug when down. So Novak battled, got beaten, and won hearts. It may have hurt, but he showed some fighting spirit that he hadn’t brought out before.


3. Andy Murray: Andy Murray didn’t win the Australian Open and save British tennis from a 150,000 year drought. He didn’t beat Roger Federer and claim the world number two ranking spot. He hasn’t silenced the critics, and he hasn’t satisfied his fans or himself. But Andy Murray deserves credit. Murray played his best tennis over the last fortnight, he ignored massive pressure from his own nation, and most importantly, Murray proved to everyone that he isn’t a monotonous sulky Scot. On the podium, Murray shed some tears. He showed some real emotion and passion for tennis. He showed that not only does he have the best backhand in tennis, and not only is he going to have many more chances to win Slams, but he wants this just as much as the next guy. That was more of a surprise than his excellent performance. Through this, I believe Murray won some non-British fans. Whether he knows it or not, this will help spur him on to win that much coveted Slam.

9/10 (It would have been a ten. He hasn’t lost a point for losing to Federer, he has lost a point for some choking in the third set.)

4. Rafael Nadal: A heartbreaker for any tennis fan, Nadal once again showed his will to continue even when his body refused. Despite his time off, Nadal is still struggling from injury, particularly those pesky knees. He’s a fighter, and he always will be, but without his movement at it’s best, Nadal reverts to playing his bog-standard tennis. Which is enough to get him to the quarters, but not enough to stand the test against Murray. The result was an average performance, a retirement, and many upset fans.

5/10 (Not his fault, obviously)

5. Juan Martin del Potro: A similar story to Nadal and Djokovic, delPo tried his hardest the past fortnight but was hampered by injury. His forearm hasn’t been right since his tremendous US Open victory and it showed. Del Potro played his average tennis to get him through to the fourth round, when he bumped into a red-hot Cilic. Despite being in obvious pain and having to revert to a defensive game that is far from natural for him, del Potro fought through five tough sets. Cilic, unlike Blake earlier in the tournament, proved too much for del Potro when not at his best. However, del Potro showed his brilliant fighting spirit once again this tournament, and considering his youth and relative inexperience, this is impressive by itself.


6. Nikolay Davydenko: Davydenko came into the Australian Open in red-hot form and known as the one to watch. He had recent wins over Federer, Nadal, and del Potro. He absolutely demolished everyone in sight until he ran into Verdasco in the fourth round. Considered by many the worst match of the tournament, both men played an uninspiring five setter. Yet people were still talking of a possible upset when he met Federer in the quarters, and for the first set and a half he silenced the crowd with brilliant shot making and defensive skills. Then, much like in the match against Verdasco, Davydenko fell short. He lost the second, got bageled in the third, and made a fight of it in the fourth but failed to capitalise on any opportunities. As a result, Davydenko turned in a performance unworthy of his recent form. Another disappointment by tennis’ classic underachiever.


7. Andy Roddick: Roddick played some brilliant tennis mid 2009 before flattening off and reverting to the Roddick of old. The Roddick of 2010 doesn’t seem as promising. He was entertaining as usual and avoided an early upset, but his five set loss to Cilic in the quarter finals was anything but high quality. He looked tired and uninspired. At no point did it seem Cilic would lose the match. Roddick needs to find that spark he had in 2009, because at the moment, he looks to be far from a serious Slam contender.


8. Robin Soderling made a massive push in 2009, famously causing one of the biggest upsets in tennis history. However, Soderling has failed to live up to expectations after his hot streak ended. The Australian Open was a massive disappointment. After being up two sets to love against little known Marcel Granollers, Soderling ended up blowing the match 7-5 6-2 4-6 4-6 2-6 in his first round match. Unless Soderling is content to go down in history as a trivia question, he might want to up the results come the next Slam.


9. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: Tsonga made his breakout performance at the Australian Open in 2008 when he made the final, but hadn’t done a lot since. His results were good enough to keep him hovering in or around the top ten, but with talent like Tsonga has, he should have been doing a lot more. Tsonga finally turned it on at the Australian Open 2010. He played brilliant tennis to get himself all the way to the semi finals where he lost to Federer playing at his best.  He played a little flat against Federer, but that was probably due to all the five setters he had to fight through to get there. Tsonga is probably one of the most liked men in the sport by casual fans, tennis could really do with a man like Tsonga performing at this level all year-round.


10. Marin Cilic: A warning to all tennis fans: when people start enquiring about the really tall guy that is a future world number one and promising player, they may not mean del Potro. Marin Cilic showed tennis fans he was ready to play top tennis at the US Open last year, and at the Australian Open he announced it to the world. It was hard not to notice the expressionless man with the giant forehand, rock solid backhand, and mentality far beyond his 21 years as he battled his way through two five setters all the way to the semi finals. Here he ran into Andy Murray. After taking the first set, Cilic simply ran out of steam as Murray powered  on. Clearly tired, he reverted to defensive tennis but he never stopped fighting. His mind wanted it, but his body couldn’t do it. The top seeds better watch out when body and mind work in sync. Cilic is one for the near future… and my new third fave player!


One Comment leave one →
  1. February 1, 2010 4:22 pm

    Glad to see your comments about Cilic . He impressed me no end when he extended Del Potro at the U.S open. I agree with you wholeheartedly when you write that he could be the next big thing.

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