My most memorable matches in 2015

 As the year comes to a close and 2016 tennis action rapidly approaches, let’s take a look back at the most entertaining matches–the list could be much longer but for now we’ll go with one at each tournament–I witnessed this season.

Indian Wells: Second round – David Ferrer d. Ivan Dodig 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(6)
Ferrer wins
A day-session match that turned into an enthralling night contest did not disappoint the Indian Wells faithful that stuck it out for long haul on Court 3. What ensued between Ferrrer and Dodig–although slightly more competitive than what their respective rankings would suggest–is exactly what should have been expected from two tenacious veterans who are both known at least in part for outstanding defensive skills: high intensity and amazing rallies. That is exactly what was on display, especially in the third set after Dodig endured a bit of a mental walkabout in the second to gear up for the decider. On the heels of 10 consecutive holds, sudden service breaks were traded starting at 5-5. Ferrer seized the initial upper hand for 6-5 but failed to close out the match. The Spaniard twice battled back from mini-breaks down in the tiebreaker, both times with incredible returns. It finally ended after two hours and 42 minutes when Dodig, who had already saved three match points, netted a drop-shot at 6-7. Sergiy Stakhovsky was among the fellow players transfixed by the proceedings. “Phenomenal match!” he posted on Twitter at one point. Later he wrote: “Are you watching this??? Incredible!!”

Miami: Third round – Fernando Verdasco d. Rafael Nadal 6-4, 2-6, 6-3

Once in a blue moon, Nadal and Verdasco bring out the best in each other (see: Australian Open, 2009). This was not one of those blue moons. In fairness, however, it was far better than their Cincinnati showdown in 2011–although that is not exactly saying a lot. Hindsight being 20-20, Verdasco beating Nadal in Miami was not a terribly huge upset. After all, the 14-time major champion did little right this past season until the fall swing. Of course, Verdasco only got worse following his Miami upset of Nadal. As for this match, Verdasco certainly played well by his 2015 standards, striking 29 winners to 34 unforced errors. But Nadal finished with 32 errors to just 18 winners and was plagued by laughably short service returns on a consistent basis. It was not a match that will be immortalized in the Smithsonian…but it was borderline shocking at the time–and for Nadal fans, alarming.

Atlanta: Semifinals – Marcos Baghdatis d. Gilles Muller 6-7(4), 6-3, 7-6(4)

Semifinal Saturday in Atlanta produced the goods, as both matches went deep into third sets. After eventual champion John Isner outlasted Denis Kudla 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 in an all-American affair, Baghdatis and Muller took the court for the nightcap. Muller had not been broken a single time in three previous matches and his serve (60 percent, 15 aces) and aggressive all-court game worked well again in this one. But Baghdatis had an answer thanks to his ever-solid ball-striking, as the Cypriot broke twice in the first set (but lost it in a tiebreaker) and once in the second. That set the stage for a dramatic and high-quality decider, which Baghdatis took in another ‘breaker after coming up with clutch service holds at 4-5 and 5-6 to stay alive. The No. 5 seed barely had anything left in the tank for a lopsided final against Isner after needing two hours and 34 minutes of gripping tennis to get past Muller.

Washington, D.C.: Second round – Teymuraz Gabashvili d. Andy Murray 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(4)

Murray’s U.S. Open preparation would soon get much, much better (he won the Masters 1000 event in Canada), but the start of his hard-court summer was a rocky one in Washington, D.C. But it was not really any fault of Murray’s own. The Scot simply ran into an on-fire Gabashvili, who fired aces and winners from every direction–even during pressure-packed moments with his back against the wall. Murray actually served for the match at 5-4 in the third, but Gabashvili broke right back, forced a decisive tiebreaker, and never looked back. The underdog Russian called it “something special” and “100 percent” the most important win of his career.

U.S. Open: Third round – Donald Young d. Viktor Troicki 4-6, 0-6, 7-6(3), 6-2, 6-4

Not even Hollywood could make up a script like this for the last-ever men’s singles match on one of the greatest courts in tennis: the Grandstand at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Set to be torn down prior to the 2016 U.S. Open with a new Grandstand emerging on the opposite side of the grounds as part of the tournament’s ongoing renovation project, the court’s last hurrah saw Young help carry the American torch at the expense of Troicki, Serbia’s No. 2 player. Perhaps the only thing more shocking than what transpired in this five-set contest was the way in which Young reached the third round. Prior to coming back from a set and 2-0 down against Aljaz Bedene, the Atlanta, Ga. native dug out of 6-2, 6-4, 3-0 deficit against world No. 11 Gilles Simon. With one more magic trick up his sleeve, Young treated a raucous crowd to yet another improbable resurrection from the dead. Not only did he lose the first two sets to Troicki 6-4 and 6-0, but the unseeded upstart also took a medical timeout for a back injury prior to the third. From out of nowhere, though, Young caught fire and enthralled the intimately packed house the rest of the way en route to a 4-6, 0-6, 7-6(3), 6-2, 6-4 triumph.

World Tour Finals: Round-Robin – Roger Federer d. Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-2

Djokovic vs. anyone was expected to be straightforward in London–and anywhere else throughout the fall swing. And this round-robin showdown did, in fact, turn out to be relatively routine…but not in the way anyone could have anticipated. Although Djokovic-Federer Part 1 of 2 (they also faced each other in the title match) may not have been the best match of the tournament (that was arguably Nadal vs. Ferrer), it temporarily sent the O2 Arena–and the whole tennis world–into a frenzy. Djokovic had not lost since Cincinnati in August, but Federer scoffed at any notion that the world No. 1 was unbeatable. The 34-year-old Swiss fired 19 winners in just one hour and 17 minutes of play while breaking Djokovic a hard-to-believe four times. Federer’s win allowed him to avoid Nadal on semifinal Saturday, during which he took care of countryman Stan Wawrinka before falling to a reinvigorated Djokovic in the final.

Doubles honorable mention: World Tour Finals Round-Robin – Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan d. Jamie Murray and John Peers 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 16-14

Bryans
In one of the longest and probably most stunning doubles matches of 2015, the Bryan Brothers somehow managed to punch a ticket from round-robin competition to the semifinals. But it was not before coming with one point of elimination on an incredible five occasions. After splitting the first two sets in tiebreakers (the Bryans were two points away from a straight-set defeat even before the real drama began), Bob and Mike faced deficits of 7-2 and 9-5 in the super-breaker. But the Americans saved four match points in a row and five in total, including one when Peers missed an easy put-away forehand right on top of the net at 9-8. Murray and Peers fought off four match points, themselves, before the Bryans finally clinched a shocking victory on serve at 15-14.

42 Comments on My most memorable matches in 2015

        • Apparently we’re DQed nny.

          Happy New Year anyways to all even to those unable to witness a match in 2015!!!

          Guests are arriving soon. Maybe I should send them home because they never witnessed a match.

          • Hawkeye I’m pretty sure Ricky was asking what was the most memorable match of people whether they were there or not. He was just talking about HIS most memorable matches he went to himself and watched live. I’m pretty sure he’s not trying to tell people who didn’t see a match live that they shouldn’t put any comments down. Just sayin. No need to freak out lol

            • Don’t worry BG. Not freaking out.

              But if what you say is true, why the comment that I wasn’t there.

            • i was more interested in people’s memorable matches that they watched in person. Because everyone has the same most memorable matches watched on TV, because we all watched the same ones.

              but yes, you can obviously discuss anything you want!

            • First it should be 2015, not 2016. Second, “my most memorable matches” is more appropriate as a description of matches you played. If the reference is to matches you watched, what difference does it make whether you watched it in person or on TV?
              “Because everyone has the same most memorable matches watched on TV, because we all watched the same ones.” What????? Not everyone watched the same ones and even if they did, why would all have the same most memorable??? Seriously???

            • well I played a whole lot of memorable matches, too. But I won’t waste your time by blogging about them since this is a website about pro tennis, not my tennis, in case you haven’t figured that out. I thought the title “My most memorable matches” would be pretty obvious that I wasn’t referring to matches I played, but hey, it’s the new year and my readers have clearly been out on the town a little too much and are slow on the uptake right now.

            • The only saving grace is that nobody has said “I agree” to your impaired logic or claimed you made “perfect sense”..

  1. I saw Gilles and Marcos live that was an awesome match I was rooting for muller because he seemed to be doing more of the aggressive shotmaking plus I love serve and volleyers so yeah that was an awesome match most people were rooting for baghdatis but I was trying to get muller pumped up with some Allez’s.

  2. Also the match before in the quarterfinals with Pospisil and baghdatis was an epic one with an insane ending from baghdatis it was straight sets I think but it was a close one.

  3. This referring to yourself in the blog title is a little off putting. Sean Randall does it all the time but you’re better than that.

    Hope it doesn’t continue. Just my two cents. No offence.

  4. Exactly. The premise of the article is your most memorable. You then say let’s start with ones that you witnessed. But you didn’t say let’s limit the discussion to just those and then you ask the unqualified open ended question “anyone else”.

    More accurate title would have been “Most memorable matches in 2015 that I attended ” but more significantly what is the importance to your audience that only matches you attended are being considered?

  5. I’m happy to say that I was at both the Dodig/Ferrer match and the Young/Troicki 5 set miracle….both were gut wrenching thrillers….it’s why we watch the ATP Tour!!!

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