My top 10 moments in tennis from an incredible 2005
Posted: Tuesday November 29, 2005 11:37AM; Updated: Tuesday November 29, 2005 1:14PM
Andre Agassi and James Blake battling it out until the wee hours of morning in the U.S. Open quarters was classic tennis theater.
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Outspoken ATP tennis pro Justin Gimelstob is a frequent contributor to SI.com. Click here to read all of his columns.
With only the Davis Cup final left to be played this weekend in Slovakia, another great tennis year is almost in the books. There were so many great moments and accomplishments in 2005 that deserve their place in tennis lore. Here are my top 10.
10. Doubles qualifiers take the Wimbledon title Australian Stephen Huss and South African Wesley Moodie started off the fortnight just hoping to get into the main draw and ended it hoisting Wimbledon trophies above their heads. Fittingly, their final opponent was the No. 1-ranked doubles team of Mike and Bob Bryan, whom they defeated 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-3. This fairy tale was as earned as it was improbable -- Huss and Moodie defeated the Nos. 1, 2, 3, 6 and 9 seeds en route to the title.
9. Ivan Ljubicic dominates the U.S. Davis Cup team Ljubicic accounted for all three points in leading Croatia to a major upset of the American dream team. On paper, a squad boasting the likes of Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and the Bryan twins -- playing on home soil, no less -- seemed invincible. Ljubicic proved otherwise. He dismantled Agassi on the first day, teamed with Mario Ancic to win a four-set encounter with the Bryans and outclassed Roddick for the third and final point.
8. Unanimous Comeback Player of the Year Kim Clijsters Clijsters battled back from a career-threatening wrist injury and proved she had the emotional fortitude to win a Grand Slam, pummeling Mary Pierce 6-3, 6-1 in the U.S. Open final. Clijsters started the year with more questions then answers, but after dominating hard-court tennis in 2005, she jumped from No. 134 to a year-end No. 2 ranking.
7. French Open semifinals, Rafael Nadal takes down Roger Federer Tennis saw the emergence of its next star as the 19-year-old Spaniard proved he is the best in the world on clay -- and exposed perhaps the only area where Federer is human. Nadal rode a gripping 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory to the final, where he made quick work of Mariano Puerta and won his first Grand Slam, legitimizing his place not only as the king of clay courts, but also as the world's dominant No. 2 player. And there's plenty more of Nadal to come.
6. Shanghai Masters Cup final, David Nalbandian upsets Federer This roller-coaster match twisted and turned all the way to the final point. Federer was in complete control after winning the dramatic second-set tiebreaker 13-11. But while his month off to treat an ankle injury didn't adversely affect his standard of play, it definitely slowed down his fitness and stamina. Nalbandian dominated play in the third and fourth sets against an obviously hampered Federer and surged to a seemingly insurmountable lead in the fifth and final set. But as the world's No. 1 served for the match, the momentum switched one final time, and Nalbandian eventually closed it out in the fifth-set tiebreaker.
5. Australian Open semifinals, Serena Williams overcomes Maria Sharapova The two most marketable and visible women in professional tennis scraped and clawed under the brutal Australian sun, and Serena eventually avenged her WTA Championships loss from two months earlier. She saved three match points to advance to the final with a 2-6, 7-5, 8-6 victory over Sharapova.
4. U.S. Open final, Federer defeats Agassi Tennis fans were the winner when this dream matchup pitted the best player in the world against the game's most visible. Agassi hung with Federer for three sets, and was actually up a break midway through the third. But the Swiss juggernaut employed some majestic tennis to pull away in what hopefully wasn't Agassi's swan song.
3. Australian Open semifinals, Marat Safin upsets Federer One of the few players capable of challenging the greatest player in the world, Safin produced a dazzling display of shot-making and combined it with rare emotional stability to hand Federer one of his four losses of the year. Federer failed an ill-advised attempt at a between-the-legs winner when Safin got a lob over his head on Federer's match point in the fourth-set tiebreaker. Safin won the deadlock and the deciding fifth set.
2. Wimbledon final, Venus Williams defeats Lindsay Davenport The longest women's final in Wimbledon history featured two great former champions playing at the tops of their games on the most famous court in the world. I watched every point of this match from a friend's box and it was one of the best I have ever seen. Venus saved match point with an inside-out backhand winner and jumped for joy after her victory.
1. U.S. Open quarterfinals, Agassi vs. James Blake Great tennis and even greater drama on the biggest stage in the American game. Two of the best ambassadors in the sport played their hearts out under the lights for a spot in the semifinals, all decided by a tense fifth-set tiebreaker that Agassi finally won. The two-time U.S. Open champion summed it up accurately when he stated, "I wasn't the winner, tennis was."