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