Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro, US Open 2009

Back in 2009, Roger Federer made history by reaching the four Slam finals and winning a record-breaking 15th Grand Slam career title at Wimbledon.

From Bud Collins The History of tennis:

But there would be no number 16 before the year slipped away. Standing in the way at the US Open was the 6-foot-7 Argentine pillar, del Potro, cool in the tie-breakers, 3-6 7-6 4-6 7-6 6-2, in 4:06 – the first five-set men’s final in Flushing in ten years.
The 20-year-old del Potro, who had jolted Nadal with his most one-sided major defeat (6-2 6-2 6-2) in the semis, started nervously against the champion, and was two points from gonezo at 4-5, 15-30 in the fourth set. But as Delpo got his massive forehand in gear, along with belief, Federer began to fade and hardly competed in the last set. Their final was pushed back to the third Monday, a one-day rainout slightly marring otherwise gorgeous weather.

Roger had won all six previous matches with the Argentine, including a 6-3 6-0 6-0 throttling in the Australian Open quarterfinals at the start of the year. He had won 40 matches in a row at Flushing and threatened to equal big Bill Tilden’s record of six straight (1920-25) US titles. However, del Potro was muy caliente in the stretch, becoming the first Argentine man to win the US title since Guillermo Vilas in 1977.

Disappointing was number 2, Scotsman, Murray, the 2008 finalist, ineffective in falling to number 13, Croat Marin Cilic 7-5 6-2 6-2, in the fourth round, as was 2007 finalist Novak Djokovic, number 4, downed by Federer in the semis, 7-6 7-5 7-5 – the penultimate point of the match being won by Federer with a masterfully hit “wicket shot’, a between-the-legs blast that zipped by a stunned Djokovic at the net.

A Wimbledonian hangover seemed to grip number 5 Roddick, succumbing to 38 aces and serve-and-volleying John Isner, 7-6 6-3 3-6 5-7 7-6 in the third round. But 6-foot-9 Isner was brushed aside by number 10 Fernando Verdasco, 4-6 6-4 6-4 6-4 – and the quarterfinals contained no American men. The last time their number was down to one was 1986, Tim Wilkinson preventing a QF shutout.

Kim Clijsters and her daughter, 2009 US Open

In 2007 at the age of 23, Kim Clijsters retired to start a family. Two years later she defeated Caroline Wozniacki in the US Open final to become the first mother to win a Grand Slam title since Evonne Goolagong in 1980.

From Bud Collins History of tennis:

Serena, the title holder, was the one constant in the quarterfinals – but who were these other folks?
Well, 23-year-old Kim Clijsters, the 2005 champ, looked familiar. However, she’d been retired almost three seasons, had a baby, and played only seven matches coming into New York as a wild card with no WTA ranking.

Amazingly, she also looked formidable, the lone unseeded/wild card entry to win the title, 7-5 6-3, over 19-year-old Caroline Wozniacki. As the first Dane to ascend to the final, Caroline had ousted 2004 champ Svetlana Kuznetsova 2-6 7-6 7-6 in the fourth round.

But of course, the sweetheart of Flushing – the crowds’ darling was 17-year-old Georgian Melanie Oudin; who tool off from number 70 and didn’t come down until number 9 Wozniacki stopped her in the quarters 6-2 6-2. But prior to that, come-backing Melanie the Fair Maid of Marietta, conducted her private war with Russia. Short, but long of baseline strokes and fight, she overcame numbers 36-4-29-13 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 6-2, Elena Dementieva 5-7 6-4 6-3, Maria Sharapova 3-6 6-4 7-5, Nadia Petrova 1-6 7-6 6-3.

Co-favorites were the Sisters Williams, but Clijsters chased both of them, Venus in the fourth round 6-0 0-6 6-4, and Serena in a bizarre and contentious semi, 6-4 7-5. The latter disrupted the tournament, a match disintegrating on a sad though historic note – a penalty point leveled a raging Serena was the abrupt end. At 15-30, Serena serving a second ball, was called for a foot fault, stepping on the baseline. That made it 15-40, match point. Whereupon Serena lost her head and directed a profane, threatening tirade at the Japanese baseline judge, Shino Tsurubuchi, raising her racquet menacingly at the official. Since the American had already incurred a warning violation for smashing her racquet at the close of the first set, the next infraction – her blow-up – called for a penalty point from umpire Louise Engzell. That concluded the game and the match, an unprecedented closure without a ball being struck. Williams was fined $10,000 by the US Open, but later fined another $82,500 (a record fine) by the Grand Slam Committee. She was fortunate not to be suspended. Another stranger, number 50, Belgian Yanina Wickmayer, got to the semis, there beaten by Wozniacki, 6-3 6-3.

N: Nadal Rafael

Hitting balls into the crowd

2009 was a tough year for Rafa. Beaten for the first time in Roland Garros and unable to compete at Wimbledon, he suffered the hardest loss of his career in the 09 US Open semies. Bothered by an abdominal injury, he was ousted by JMDP 2-6 2-6 2-6.

O: Oudin Melanie

American fans have been waiting for years for a young US player capable of taking the torch from the Williams sisters. Melanie Oudin seems to be the one, she won the hearts of tennis fans with her gutsy wins over Pavlyuchenkova, Dementieva, Sharapova and Petrova. Wozniacki ended her run in quarter finals.
Will she follow Chris Evert’s or Jennifer Capriati’s footsteps?

P: Pancho Gonzales
Pancho Gonzales, the first hispanic man to win the US Open, was honored in an on-court ceremony to commemorate the 60th anniversary of his second consecutive US Open win. In addition to his 2 US Open wins as an amateur, Gonzales also won 12 major professional tournaments. He died at the age of 67 in 1995, in penury and almost friendless.

Q: Querrey Sam
The 21 yr old Californian made it to the final in his first three tournaments of the 09 summer, coming up short in Newport and Indianopolis before winning in Los Angeles. It enabled Querrey to win the US Open Series and reach a career high 26 ranking. His US Open run ended in the third round against French Open finalist Robin Soderling.

R: Roger Federer
And so after five years, Federer’s reign in New York is over. It was time for something different, something new. “Maybe I look back and have some regrets about it. But you know, you can’t always play your best.”
First defeat in a majors final against someone else than Rafael Nadal for Roger Federer. “Don’t know how much more I want,” Federer said afterwards. “This one I think is easy to get over just because I’ve had the most amazing summer.”

S: Safin Marat

Marat Safin, 2009 US Open

No regrets for Marat, beaten by journeyman Melzer in the first round. “Whatever I said, whatever I did, it was a good ride”.

T: Twitter

Andy Roddick, 2009 US Open

U: US players
With Isner’s loss against Verdasco, it marked the first time in US Open history that no american player reached the men’s quarter finals. On the women’s side, Melanie Oudin reached the quarter finals and Serena Williams the semies.

V: Verdasco Fernando
While battling a stomach-muscle injury, Verdaso beat Tommy Haas and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga en route to the quarterfinals, where fourth-seed Novak Djokovic ended his run.

W: Williams Venus
Venus is just a pale version of the dominant champion she once was. After early exits at the Australian Open (2nd round) and Roland Garros (3rd round), she lost to Kim Clijsters in the fourth round in Flushing. It seems the only major she can be a contender is Wimbledon. Venus teamed up with her sister to clinch their third major doubles titles of the year.

Xtreme: Xtreme reaction

Serena Williams, 2009 US Open

We all know the story: 09 US Open semi final 6-4 6-5 40-15 for Clijsters. Serena Williams serves, foot faults, threatens the line judge to stick “this **** ball down her *** throat”. She receives a point penalty and loses the match.
So, the WTA has a number one who can’t win anything and a number two who threatens line judge and opponents. Welcome to the wonderful world of womens tennis!

Y: Yanina Wickmayer
The 19 yr old Belgian, who had advanced past the first round of a Grand Slam only once before, reached the semi finals. To get to this point, she benefited the most from the upsets at the top of the women’s draw. She had to face only one seed: Virginie Razzano in the first round.
One time wonder or the future of belgian tennis, what do you think?

Z: Zero
For the first time since 2001 there were no female Russian players in the quarters finals at the US Open. Petrova and Kuznetsova were defeated by Oudin and Wozniacki in the fourth round, whereas cry baby Zvonareva once again imploded on the court as she couldn’t put away any of six match points against Flavia Pennetta.

Remember when Ivanisevic used to say every game he played, there were three players that could surface anytime: Good Goran, Bad Goran, Crazy Goran. The same could be said about Marat Safin.

A larger than life persona and one of the most charismatic tennis player ever, Marat is a man capable of blowing away any opponent or blowing up himself. A man capable of overwhelming the great Pete Sampras to win the US Open at only 20. A man capable of pulling down his shorts to celebrate a point. A man capable of showing up for a tournament with two black eyes.

Marat Safin

I’ve always been a big fan of Marat: sometimes I loved him, sometimes I hated him but now I really miss his game, his humor and his crazyness.

Part 1: 15 to 8
15 – Shanghai 2009: Just shut the fuck up and play
14 – US Open 2009: Everybody is an underachiever
13 – Hamburg 2000: a beer with Guga
12 – Hopman Cup 2009: black eyes
11 – US Open 2008: foot fault
10 – Wimbledon 2007: the spaghetti
9 – French Open 1998
8 – Wimbledon 2008: worst challenge ever?

Note: it’s not a ranking of Marat’s achievements, these are just 15 moments of Marat’s career which reflect “Marat being Marat”.
Read More

A: Andy Murray
After his semi at Wimbledon and his impressive win in Montreal, Andy Murray seemed ready to win his elusive maiden Grand Slam. Ousted by big server Marin Cilic in the fourth round, Murray has perhaps finally learned that to win a major one must act more than react.

B: Bernard Tomic
Australia’s hottest tennis prospect won his second junior GS title, defeating Chase Buchanan in finals. At just 15 years and three months, Tomic became the youngest junior GS winner in history in Melbourne in 2008. He has now decided to shift his focus on his professional ranking.
Do you think he will emulate Andy Roddick, winner in juniors in 2000 and in seniors in 2003?

C: Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki, 2009 US Open

First major final for the 19yr old Dane, who had to face only one seed to reach the final: in the fourth round against reigning French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, Wozniacki rallied a break down in the third set to win 2–6, 7–6(5), 7–6(3). But she couldn’t put an end to Clijsters’ fairytale comeback.

D: Djokovic Novak
In his semi against Federer, he never acted like he could win. He tried to revamp his image following his 08 US Open faux-pas but it’s perhaps time for him to revamp his game.

E: Esther Vergeer
Forget Sampras, Federer and Lendl, Esther Vergeer is the most dominant player ever, and you probably never heard of her.
Unbeaten since January 2003, the 28 yr old wheelchair tennis player won her 8th US Open title, her 139th singles titles.

F: Flavia Pennetta
The 27 yr old italian had a terrific summer with wins in Palermo on clay, in Los Angeles on hard court, and an entry in the top 10 ranking. Flavia lost only 6 games in her first three rounds at the US Open but saved six match points against Zvonareva to reach the quarter finals, where Serena defeated her in straight sets.

G: Gonzalez Fernando

Fernando Gonzalez, 2009 US Open

The hard hiting Chilean made it through to the quarter finals for the second time of his career, beating 7th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the fourth round. He then played two close sets to Rafael Nadal, before falling in 3 sets in an empty Arthur Ashe stadium.

H: Henin Justine
“I do think that [Henin] is planning something” Clijsters said. “She’s always been very competitive as well, and the way she ended her career still seems strange to me. I do think that she will come back.”
She was right indeed. Two weeks after Clijsters’ triumph at Flushing, Henin announced her comeback.

I: Isner John
Isner, the giant turned giant killer was the last American standing in the men’s singles draw at the U.S. Open. The Georgia University graduate stuned Roddick in the thid round in a five set thriller: 7-6(3), 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, 7-6(5). He then bowed out to Spain’s Verdasco in four sets in the next round.

J: Juan Martin Del Potro

Juan Martin Del Potro, 2009 US Open

Juan Martin Del Potro ended Federer’s five year unbeaten streak at the US Open to win his first Grand Slam title.
“I had two dreams this week” said Del Potro during the trophy ceremony: “One was to win the US Open and the other is to be like Roger”. “One is done, but I need to improve a lot to be like you”.
With a monster forehand and a consistent backhand, the Argentine possesses all the weapons to become the next number one.

K: Kim Clijsters

Kim Clijsters, 2009 US Open

“I am looking at this as a second career, not as a comeback, as I am now in a situation where not everything revolves around tennis 24h a day.”
In only her third tournament since her come back, she won her second US Open title, becoming the first mom to win a major since Evonne Goolagong in 1980.

L: a little LOVE for Safina?
Dismissed by her peers and the media for her Grand Slam collapses, Dinara Safina was furious at the organisers for shifting her 3rd round match from Arthur Ashe to Louis Armstrong stadium. But no matter the stadium, a loss is still a loss: she was defeated by Petra Kvitova, ranked 72.

M: Marin Cilic
Marin Cilic scored the biggest upset of US Open 2009, defeating Andy Murray in the fourth round 7-5 6-2 6-2. Despite a set and a break up, he lost against eventual winner Juan Martin Del Potro in quarter finals.