Who is looking forward to the final Grand Slam of the year? There have been plenty of great storylines already during the 2014 season, but we are wondering if the same players who already won big tournaments this year will win, or if there will be others that surface, or rise up, and contend for the US Open title. Here, we take a look back at the four biggest tournaments of the year so far and what transpired.
Down Under: The 2014 season got off to a hot start at the Australian Open, literally and figuratively, with some familiar faces and some unfamiliar results. Stanislas Wawrinka fended off BNP Paribas Open Champions Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals and finals, respectively, to capture his first Grand Slam title, catapulting the Swiss to a career-high World No. 3 ranking.
On the women’s side, we didn’t know it at the time, but it was merely a sign of things to come. World No. 2 Li Na dropped only one set in Melbourne en route to the title, but the emergence of Eugenie Bouchard could not go understated. Bouchard, ranked No. 31, would use her semifinal performance down under, to vault up the rankings and currently sits at No. 7. Oh, and Italian Flavia Pennetta , who contemplated retirement just under a year earlier, also made the quarterfinals. Her story was just beginning.
Indian Wells: It was actually at the 2013 BNP Paribas Open that Flavia Pennetta hinted at retirement. It’s a good thing she stuck around for a while, as the 32-year-old defeated Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-1 to capture her most prestigious title to date, making history along the way. Pennetta was the first Italian to win the event and the lowest seed to triumph. She was also just the second player aged 30 and over to reach the women’s final. Martina Navratilova accomplished the feat twice. To read more about Pennetta’s victory, click HERE.
The men’s side pitted two of the most prolific stars in BNP Paribas Open history in the finals, as then two-time Novak Djokovic went toe-to-toe with four-time Champion Roger Federer. The Swiss was fierce out the gate, winning the first set in 31 minutes, but the Serb fought back to even the score in the second set and eventually win a third set tiebreak to claim the title. To read more about Djokovic’s victory, click HERE.
Although the 2014 edition was filled with exciting tennis, a revamped Tennis Garden, featuring a brand new Stadium 2 complete with three restaurants, also made this year’s BNP Paribas Open special. For a complete recap of the 2014 BNP Paribas Open, click HERE.
French Open: When it comes to the French Open, three-time BNP Paribas Open Champion Rafael Nadal is the King, and it’s not a debate. The Spaniard won his fifth title in a row at Roland Garros and ninth overall, both records, dropping only two sets during the tournament. After losing the first set to Novak Djokovic in the final, Nadal rattled off three straight to hoist the trophy.
While Nadal has won five straight, the women have produced five different champions in the past six years, with two-time BNP Paribas Open Champion Maria Sharapova adding to her 2012 French Open triumph with another such victory this year. Her road was not easy, with young stars Garbine Muguruza, Eugenie Bouchard and Simona Halep pushing the Russian to three sets, but Sharapova was able to fend off the competition.
Wimbledon: A BNP Paribas Open men’s finals rematch took place at the All England Club, and it was a classic. Seeking his record eighth Wimbledon title, Roger Federer once again found himself matched up with Novak Djokovic, who was looking to end his drought of three consecutive losses in Major finals. This gentleman’s final did not disappoint, featuring all the pristine shot making and world-class skill of two great champions. However, Djokovic would rein once again over the Swiss, reclaiming the No. 1 World Ranking.
Petra Kvitova put on a dominant display at Wimbledon, dropping only one set in the tournament to capture her second Venus Rosewater Trophy in the last four years. Her big lefty serve was on full display and simply overwhelmed her opponents, capping her title run with an impressive 6-3, 6-0 win over Bouchard.
Rankings: Looking back at this time last year, the men’s and women’s have stayed true to form, with only two men and three women appearing outside the 10 in 2014. However, the rise of players in the women’s game was been remarkable, considering their ranking last year. Simona Halep, ranked No. 22 in July of 2013 now finds herself No. 3 in the World, while Eugenie Bouchard was ranked No. 55 and has climbed up to No. 7.
Off the Court: There were plenty of storylines on and off the court, and we tried to capture them all on our blog through our Tuesday Newsday and Friday Five posts. Click the links to read up on past storylines.