Flashback 2010 before the grand finale

Flashback 2010 before the grand finale
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First Published: Wed, Nov 17 2010. 08 05 PM IST
Updated: Wed, Nov 17 2010. 08 05 PM IST
After 66 tournaments, played in over 30 countries, the top eight men’s tennis players will fight it out at the grand finale of 2010—the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals (WTF) in London from 21-28 November. The players will be divided into two groups of four each. The best two from each group will qualify for the semi-finals and the finalists will slug it out for a prize money of $770,000, or Rs3.48 crore (the total prize money for WTF is $5,070,000).
In these exclusive answers over email, the world’s best eight sum up the highs and lows of the year so far.
Rafael Nadal No. 1
2010 Match summary (won/lost): 67/9
Year-end rankings:
2009: 2
2008: 1
2007: 2
You were recuperating from knee surgery at the start...
I prepared well for 2010 and played good tennis from January even if I only won my first title in April.
Your best match performance?
Winning the US Open.
Your most heart-breaking loss?
Retiring against Andy Murray at the Australian Open.
How was the experience of playing in Thailand and Japan for the first time?
I like to play in Asia, I enjoyed my time in Thailand and Japan. The people were so nice and I always like to visit a new country even if my time is limited.
Roger Federer No. 2
2010 Match summary (won/lost): 60/13
Year-end rankings:
2009: 1
2008: 2
2007: 1
Summarize your 2010 showing.
I started well, winning the Australian Open but then lost too many close matches. I am looking forward to finishing the season on a good note and try to regain the No. 1 position in 2011.
Your best match performance?
Beating Nikolay Davydenko in the Australian Open quarter-finals. I was down a set and a break and he was playing so well. He had just won the (Barclays ATP) World Tour Finals and (the Qatar ExxonMobil Open) in Doha, beating me and Rafa (Nadal) in both tournaments.
Your most heart-breaking loss?
Losing the Halle final in June to Lleyton Hewitt.
Novak Djokovic No. 3
2010 Match summary (won/lost): 57/16
Year-end rankings:
2009: 3
2008: 3
2007: 3
Goals for 2011?
To get to No. 2 with a good showing hopefully in London and then perhaps try for the top spot in 2011. It’s going to be whole New Year the next year.
Your best match performance?
The semi-final against Roger Federer at the US Open (which Djokovic won in five sets). Hopefully, I can also help my country Serbia win the Davis Cup this year (Serbia is in the 2010 final, to be played against France in December).
Your most heart-breaking loss?
The US Open final against Nadal (lost in four sets) and my quarter-final loss against Jurgen Melzer at the French Open.
Robin Soderling No. 4
2010 Match summary (won/lost): 56/20
Year-end rankings:
2009: 8
2008: 17
2007: 41
Your best match performance?
My quarter-final win (in four sets) over Federer at the French Open. I was hitting the ball really well, serving and returning well and put him under pressure which was not easy.
Your most heart-breaking loss?
Losing to Andy Roddick in Cincinnati Masters in the third set tie-break, which was tough.
Your favourite venue in 2010?
Stockholm; my home country tournament.
One opponent you’d rather not face at the WTF?
Federer; I have a bad record against him.
Andy Murray No. 5
2010 Match summary (won/lost): 44/16
Year-end rankings:
2009: 4
2008: 4
2007: 11
Your best performance?
The Shanghai Rolex Masters final (beat Federer in straight sets) and a few good matches at the Australian Open.
Your most heart-breaking loss?
The Australian Open final (lost to Federer in three sets) was my toughest loss. It was close.
What’s your biggest strength as a tennis player?
My anticipation.
Your favourite venue?
Shanghai; great facilities.
One opponent you’d rather not face at the WTF?
Djokovic, because I’ve known him for a long time and we are good friends.
Tomas Berdych No. 6
2010 Match summary (won/lost): 44/24
Year-end rankings:
2009: 20
2008: 20
2007: 14
How important was it to qualify for the first time for the WTF?
Very important. This was one of my two goals at the start of 2010; the other being to get back in the top 10.
Your best match?
Beating Federer (third set tie-break) in the Miami Masters. I won despite being match points down.
Your most heart-breaking loss?
To Federer in the Toronto Masters; I lost it in the third set tie-break. I was serving to finish the match, but couldn’t.
Your favourite venue in 2010?
London; I hope I can say the same next week too.
One opponent you’d rather not face at the WTF?
Rafael Nadal.
David Ferrer No. 7
2010 Match summary (won/lost): 60/21
Year-end rankings:
2009: 17
2008: 12
2007: 5
Your best performance?
Beating Murray (straight sets) in the Madrid Masters; it was in front of my home crowd.
Your most heart-breaking loss?
Fourth-round loss to Fernando Verdasco at the US Open. I lost in the fifth set tie-break, it was close.
How does Spain get so many good players in the top 20?
I really don’t know, but we’ve had good coaches to guide us maybe.
Your favourite venue?
Valencia, because it is my home.
One opponent you’d rather not face at the WTF?
Rafael Nadal.
Andy Roddick No. 8
2010 Match summary (won/lost): 48/15
Year-end rankings:
2009: 7
2008: 8
2007: 6
Your best match performance?
Beating Nadal in the Miami Masters (semi-final in three sets).
Your most heart-breaking loss?
Fourth-round Wimbledon defeat to Yen-Hsun Lu.
Your favourite venue in 2010?
Indian Wells because you only play every other day and there are lots of golf courses.
SERVING FOR CHARITY
The top eight players who qualified for the WTF were asked to hit paint-covered tennis balls against large art canvases. Each canvas was overlaid with a stencilled image of the player, which, when removed, revealed a unique outline showing the player’s signature moves on court.
These artworks (shown above) were exhibited for public viewing in central London earlier this month and will be on view again during the tournament week from 21-28 November at the new Fan Zone. These personally autographed artworks will then be auctioned to raise money for charity.
kayezad.a@livemint.com
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First Published: Wed, Nov 17 2010. 08 05 PM IST