Federer's tryst with destiny

The Swiss ace took his Grand Slam count to 15 while Rafael Nadal struggled

Federer's tryst with destiny


Rafael Nadal

The Swiss, now the all-time record-holder on 15 Grand Slam singles titles thanks to his sixth in seven years at his beloved Wimbledon in July, added that repeat honour to his career-first French Open trophy.

That success on clay completed the matched-set of Federer trophies for the man often called the best to ever wield a racquet. Doubters had called it the end of an era in 2008 when he won just one Grand Slam event (New York) after dealing with glandular fever and a back injury.

In addition to lifting the two Majors during his torrid mid-season run, the 28-year-old kept busy off the court, marrying longtime girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec in April just before starting the clay season in Monte Carlo. Three months later, the proud couple became the parents of twin girls, with infants Charlene and Myla already pegged as junior tennis royalty.

The new family made its first road trip together less than a month after the babies were born, travelling with a nanny and using private jets for the American events leading into the US Open.

In New York, Federer’s master plan went slightly off the rails as he lost the final in a fifth set to emerging Argentine Juan Del Potro, who also scored his second straight win over the number one into the final weekend of play at the season wrap-up ATP World Tour Finals in London in November. But at the end of a career comeback campaign which made him the only man besides Ivan Lendl to re-claim the year-end top ranking after losing it, the Swiss was satisfied.

Rival Rafael Nadal felt that pain in the first person, with the one-time King of Clay losing his first-ever match after four titles at Roland Garros as Swede Robin Soderling put him out in the fourth round.

Nadal’s troubles could be blamed on his knee tendinitis, which forced also him to miss his Wimbledon title defence a month later. The Spaniard had to get used to inactivity as he sat out the summer, returning to make only modest impressions for the rest of the season. His usual fire was missing as he crashed from the London year-ender, but he still turned to 2010 with with renewed optimism.“My level right now I think is not (enough) to be number one,” Nadal admitted. “My level is to be still fighting and practising hard to be ready as soon as possible to compete another time with equal conditions with everybody.”

Serb Novak Djokovic made a superb last-season run, winning three events in six weeks and pressing on Nadal’s number two spot. Left on fourth was Scot Andy Murray as the hope of a nation changed on clothing sponsors for the New Year and continued the quest for his first Grand Slam title.

While men laboured into late November-December for the Davis Cup final, where Spain defeated the Czech Republic, women ended their campaign nearly a month earlier as the WTA came good on its promise of a longer off-season.

Kim Clijsters returned in spectacular style to win the US Open after a retirement scenario from 2007 was reversed with the mother of one dipping her toes selectively back into the tennis mix.

Also due for a 2010 comeback is former number one and fellow Belgian Justine Henin, whose withdrawal from the game barely lasted 18 months.

Number two Russian Dinara was still searching for confidence after losing her nerve in the year-end rankings duel with Serena Williams -- the dominant player of the year with two slam successes. Notable retirements included irrepressible Russian Marat Safin, who simply grew tired of tennis life and Frenchman Fabrice Santoro, who delighted fans for nearly two decades with his unorthodox two-fisted style.

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