2013 was a year of record-breaking tennis, legendary sporting comebacks, declines and the further demolishing of the beautiful single-handed backhand.
The year culminated with the season-ending World Tour Finals in London once again- a tournament that held extreme importance for each of the top 8 participating in it.
New names like Wawrinka, Gasquet, Del Potro competed with the usual likes of Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, Berdych and Ferrer. Murray stayed out due to his back surgery, and a few surprises were expected.
On the face of it, the result shows that there were no surprises. Djokovic won his 3rd season-ending WTF- creating quite a collection of titles during the fag end of the season for himself. The post US Open spurt is in stark contrast to his earlier years where he would taper off after a great first half of a season.
He faced old and new rival Rafael Nadal once again in yet another high-profile final.
More importantly, he halted all notions of Nadal running away with the men’s game in 2014 after a shockingly stellar 2013. Djokovic seems to have gained that edge in their rivalry once again after suffering to Nadal on clay and the US Open Final. Djokovic defeated Federer twice, Nadal thrice and Del Potro once in the final 4 tournaments that he won. Beijing, Shanghai, Paris and London- to add to his 4 titles- made it 8 titles for the season for the Serb- who in the hearts of many, is still the World No. 1.
But it is Rafael Nadal who ended the year as no. 1- the third time he has ever done that. After missing the Australian Open, Nadal scripted one of the memorable comebacks of the year- only marred by another flop Wimbledon and a sputter towards the end of the season after the North American hard court season. Between March and October, Nadal was unbeatable, winning 10 titles out of 12 finals, killing off all competition and taking no. 1 from reigning king Djokovic.
Djokovic will be happy to have denied Nadal that missing gem in his cabinet- a WTF title. Nadal is yet to win the season-ender, a tournament that rival Federer has won 6 times, and Djokovic thrice.
Djokovic destroyed Nadal in an anti-climax of a one-sided final 6-4, 6-3, after fighting hard through the group stages. The surprise of the tournament, though, was Roger Federer reaching the semi finals from the group of death. Yes, you heard it right- it was a surprise- considering the season the Swiss Master has endured: his worst since 2002. He ends ranked 6th in the world, a new low, but has shown glimpses of form towards the end of a season that saw him win ONLY one title.
Rafael Nadal (1)
10 titles, 2 Slams, just 4 away from Federer’s tally of 17 majors. Nadal will be satisfied with a terrific season, and will look back at the Wimbledon first round exit knowing that it gave him more time to practice for the US Open. His final two losses to Djokovic will hurt a bit though, just when he thought he had turned a corner on his great rival.
Novak Djokovic (2)
8 titles, 1 Slam and a 3rd WTF title. The last win will give him immense pleasure after a tough mid-season that saw him drop to no. 2- losing the Wimbledon final to Murray and the US Open final to Nadal. 3 Major finals out of 4 cannot be a failure by any standards, but he will be disappointed at his conversion rate. He looks set to win another Davis Cup too, and to challenge Nadal in 2014 once again.
David Ferrer (3)
A disappointing WTF tournament did not take away from his consistency through the year. A French Open Final, another Paris Masters final along with a few ATP 500 wins sealed what was the Spaniard’s best year. He will especially consider his win over Nadal in the Paris Masters to be the high point of the year.
Andy Murray (4)
The Brit reached 2 Major finals out of the 3 he played- Aussie, Wimbledon (fell in the US quarters). Decided to go with foresight and have his back surgery to concentrate on 2014 instead of mulling over a tough US Open loss to Wawrinka. Still, the Brit is Wimbledon Champion- a lifelong dream culminating in mad British celebrations after waiting for a thousand years.
Juan Martin Del Potro (5)
The Argentine will be thrilled with his season, but disappointed at his final losses to players like Federer, Djokovic. He lost to the Swiss master twice in a row towards the end (Paris and London), and failed to make the semis of the WTF. He fancies his chances against Nadal, but consistently plays marathons and fails against Djokovic and Federer. He still looks the only threat to the top 3 and can dismantle anybody on his day.
Roger Federer won at Halle, his countryman Wawrinka joined him in the WTF semis (the first time two Swiss players made the semis), Berdych remained his regular consistent self losing to the major players, and Gasquet was the weakest of the top 8 at London.
2014 will be even more competitive with Murray returning, and Federer looking to compete in what could be his last season in the top 10.