2008 Tennis Highlights
The lion’s share of tennis highlights in 2008 come from the racquets of the ATP giants, with newbie, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, elevating tennis to Tinsel Town-type entertainment, and Nadal and Federer fighting one grand slam battle after another for the number one spot in world tennis.
The 2008 season began with a scintillating and searing display by a relatively unknown unseeded player for the opening grand slam in Melbourne elanggame. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga gutted the legions of British tennis fans and cost the bookmaker’s a heap in cash when he flayed Andy Murray in the opening round.
But that was not the end of the Muhammad Ali lookalike’s climb to stardom, as the Frenchman set the scoreboards sizzling when he went on to destroy the hopes and dreams of some of the most accomplished tennis players on the planet, including Guillermo Garcia Lopez, Richard Gasquet and Mikhail Youzhny.
The stuff dreams are made of
Tsonga’s performance against the incumbent number two in world tennis, Rafael Nadal, was the stuff dreams are made of and the effervescent crowd pleaser effectively beat the King of Clay on all fronts – in skill, strength and speed (not to mention popularity) – as the concise statistics of the sports information system revealed.
His über-powerful serves, pinpoint volleys and aggressive yet precise backline play had the 3D ball tracking mechanism of the hawk eye working overtime, with Nadal questioning its accuracy with hope rather than conviction.
Tsonga views himself as the ultimate entertainer and, while the crowd feeds off his sublime skills, he too is motivated by the energy and hype of the supporters. In his final clash against Novak Djokovic, where his dreams of a grand slam victory were left in tatters, he often incited the crowd by playing to the video walls surrounding the courts…and to great effect.
Sadly, Tsonga was unable to continue his formidable dash to the top end of the ATP ranking as a knee injury kept him sidelined for the majority of the season.
The clash of the Titans
One match that will go down in the annals of tennis folklore is the clash of the Titans – the Roger Federer/ Rafael Nadal battle for grass-court supremacy.
Federer, who will no doubt be remembered as one of the most dominant tennis players of all time and the most graceful, had a unpleasant start to the 2008 season – he was badly affected by glandular fever, an illness that arguably cost him the number one spot.
He fared reasonably well at the Australian Open, losing to eventual champion, Novak Djokovic, but flippantly cast the loss aside and marched triumphantly on to the grass-courts of Wimbledon, a territory that had been annexed by the Swiss Master as his own private stamping ground.
The match was epic, and the event management system was put under one of its most telling tests with rain, gloom and precision ball placing all affecting the end result.