The year that was

Sportstar - - AUSTRALIA TOUR DIARY -

Let’s look back at this event­ful, ex­cit­ing and of­ten sur­pris­ing year and see if you agree with how I saw the bests and worsts of vintage 2018.

Spec­tac­u­lar re­sults in the sec­ond half of the year gave a resur­gent No­vak Djokovic a de­ci­sive edge over French Open cham­pion Rafael Nadal and Aus­tralian Open ti­tlist Roger Fed­erer. Djokovic cap­tured Wim­ble­don, his first ma­jor ti­tle in more than two years, and the US Open to tie Pete Sam­pras for third place with 14 Grand Slam sin­gles ti­tles. The 31­year­old Serb also be­came the first player to win all nine ATP Mas­ters 1000 events when he cap­tured Cincin­nati.

Best men’s player:

No. 1­ranked Si­mona Halep won three ti­tles — the French Open, Mon­treal and Shen­zhen — and reached three more fi­nals at the Aus­tralian Open, Rome and Cincin­nati. Her ■0.7 per cent match­win­ning per­cent­age (46­11) led the tour in 201■. An­gelique Ker­ber comes in sec­ond thanks to win­ning Wim­ble­don and Syd­ney and reach­ing the semi­fi­nals at the Aus­tralian Open, Dubai and East­bourne. Naomi Osaka peaked bril­liantly to cap­ture the US Open and In­dian Wells to grab third place.

Best women’s player:

No­vak Djokovic’s 6­4, 3­6, 7­6 (9), 3­6, 10­■ epic vic­tory over Rafael Nadal in the Wim­ble­don semi­fi­nals treated mes­merised spec­ta­tors with ter­rific shot­mak­ing and mind­bog­gling ral­lies for five hours and 15 min­utes. As the long­time ri­vals walked off Cen­tre Court, both play­ers re­ceived a stand­ing ova­tion. “I’m just over­whelmed,” Djokovic told the BBC af­ter­wards. “These kind of matches you live for, you live for.”

Like two great box­ers ex­chang­ing heavy­weight punches for 12 rounds, Rafael Nadal and Do­minic Thiem slugged it out for four hours and 49 min­utes as spec­ta­tors of­ten rose to their feet af­ter the most ex­cit­ing points. The un­for­get­table US Open quar­ter­fi­nals last un­til 2.04 a.m. when Nadal fi­nally pre­vailed 0­6, 6­4, 7­5, 6­7 (4), 7­6 (5). “I’m sad for him,” said the al­ways­gra­cious Nadal. “It’s cruel some­times, ten­nis, be­cause I think this match didn’t re­ally de­serve a loser. But there has to be one.” Chris Evert, a 1970s­■0s su­per­star, called it “the great­est men’s match that I’ve ever seen.”

Best Grand Slam men’s match II:

AP

Box set: The 31­year­old No­vak Djokovic be­came the first player to win all nine ATP Mas­ters 1000 events when he cap­tured Cincin­nati in Au­gust.

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