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Ricky Recaps The Best Matches From The French Open, Wimbledon, And The U.S. Open

By Ricky Dimon

I was lucky enough to attend all three of the Grand Slams this summer (well, the French Open is technically in the spring but…who cares! It feels like the start of summer when you get to Paris). I’ll start my recap of all the fun by taking a look back at the best men’s singles matches from each tournament, of which there were many.

French Open

Stan Wawrinka vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (fourth round) – In terms of quality, drama, and length, this had to be considered the best match of the tournament. It was a complete roller-coaster ride, with Wawrinka winning 7-6(6), 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 8-6 after a ridiculous five hours and nine minutes. It was played in front of an absolutely jam-packed Suzanne Lenglen crowd; not even a set in the media section was to be hand if you had not already arrived by the fourth set. It was a battle that influenced the rest of the summer for each player. Tsitsipas, who during his press conference looked like he had seen a ghost, never recovered. Wawrinka, meanwhile, followed up his French Open quarterfinal run with the same result at the U.S. Open.

Rafael Nadal vs. Dominic Thiem (final) – Nadal ran away with it in the end, but that was pretty much a foregone conclusion. For two sets, this was more fun than anyone could have expected. Nadal had to play his typically incredible clay-court tennis to take the first set and Thiem showed why he is the second-best clay-courter in the world as he stole the second. From a quality standpoint, those first two sets were two of the best of the year. Predictably, Thiem could not sustain it and eventually succumbed to the King of Clay 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 after three hours and one minute.

Best match that not many will remember: Jan-Lennard Struff vs. Borna Coric (third round): One of the best things about the French Open is the fans. If you are from France or even Belgium, Germany, or any other Western European country, your crowd support is going to be bonkers. That was the case from Struff, who might as well have been playing at home with the Germans making an outer court at Roland Garros a borderline fire hazard. The 29-year-old touched off his breakout summer with a 4-6, 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(1), 11-9 upset of Coric that lasted four hours and 22 minutes.

Wimbledon

Novak Djokovic vs. Roger Federer (final) – The first-ever tiebreaker at 12-12 in a singles match was saved for the final, making this even more historic that it already was. Although the first thing that comes to everyone’s mind is Federer’s failure to capitalize on 40-15, double-championship point on his own serve at 8-7, the quality sustained for most of the four-hour and 57-minute thriller (other than Djokovic’s second-set walkabout) cannot be forgotten. The top-ranked Serb won 14 fewer points than Federer but won the big ones to triumph 7-6(5), 1-6, 7-6(4), 4-6, 13-12(3). It will surely go down as the best match of 2019 and perhaps one of the best matches ever played.

Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal (semifinals) – Witnessing any match between the two greatest players of all time in the greatest rivalry of all time is an incredible thrill. I first did in Cincinnati (2013) and again at this year’s French Open, where Nadal dominated a semifinal on his clay-court stomping grounds. Getting to see them play against each other while both showcasing some of their best tennis was icing on the cake. That is what happened when Federer had proverbial home-court advantage this time, as the Swiss prevailed 7-6(3), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 on his favored grass of the All-England Club. The highlight was the final service game at 5-4 in the fourth, during which Federer fought off one break point and missed two match points before finally sealing the deal. Centre Court had to be the loudest its ever been–or at least close–throughout that last game.

Best match that not many will remember: David Goffin vs. Daniil Medvedev (third round): Medvedev’s epic summer really began with the hard-court swing, but few people will remember that he also played one of the best matches at Wimbledon. In a preview of what would become a surprising Cincinnati final, Goffin got the best of the Russian 4-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 in three hours and 31 minutes during third-round action. Not many saw it in person, either, as it was tucked away on relatively small Court 2. The thriller ended with Goffin winning two incredible rallies in a row to hold serve at 6-5 after saving one break point, thus completing his comeback from 4-1 down in the fifth.

U.S. Open

Rafael Nadal vs. Daniil Medvedev (final) – Have we ever had two consecutive Grand Slam finals produce such entertainment? Maybe so, but I would have to do some serious research to either confirm or deny. As an encore to Djokovic vs. Federer, Nadal and Medvedev played almost as long and produced almost as much drama. Medvedev, who was in his fourth straight final (also Washington, D.C., Montreal, and Cincinnati), finally seemed to be left for dead when he trailed by two sets to love and a break in the third. Instead, the 23-year-old Russian improbably battled back to turn this into a five-set thriller that lasted four hours and 49 minutes. Perhaps most amazing was that Medvedev, who was booed non-stop earlier in the tournament, had the Arthur Ashe crowd chanting his name by the end.

Matteo Berrettini vs. Gael Monfils (quarterfinals) – They were not playing for much more than the right to lose to Nadal, but a spot in a Grand Slam semifinal is still a very high stake. And with that pressure on, Berrettini and Monfils played a high-quality contest in which they had to be decided by a fifth-set tiebreaker. Berrettini had never even been to a slam quarterfinal before, but showed the clutch gene beyond his years by prevailing 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(5) after three hours and 57 minutes. The huge-hitting Italian got the best of Monfils’ defense–which is not easy to do!

Best match that not many will remember: Andrey Rublev vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (first round): Tsitsipas’ stay in New York did not extend past the first match of the second day. Of course, it has to be said that he got a brutal draw. Rublev was unseeded, but he was already a former U.S. Open quarterfinalist (2017) and he ended up reaching the quarterfinals this time around, too. But the Russian had a tough time finishing off these one even though Tsitsipas was cramping throughout the fourth set. Rublev finally triumphed 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(7), 7-5 after three hours and 54 minutes. The quality was by no means the best of the event, but the drama does not get much better for a first-rounder.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

Editors Note: What a year Ricky has had… And he isn’t done yet. Did someone say boat rides up and down the Thames? Sounds like the ATP year-end championships at the amazing 02 Arena… Oh, he isn’t saying but he was at Queen’s Club for the whole Fever-Tree. (world’s best little gem of an event) He was also at Roehampton as his warm-up • he then ate his way thru all the pasta bars at Wimbledon. We supplied all Lucky Charms. Yes, the cereal. We are blessed that he writes with us. But he loves the team. He even had Stefan Bojic, the world’s best tennis freestyler, as a roommate a few nights. The story hasn’t been published yet. It got lost in the system… We are certain they were practicing backwards serving in the hallway… Only one broken light shade in the room… Please check Stefan out. Godfather of freestyle. Undisputed Grandfather of Freestyle at 28 years old. (LJ)

Instagram | @stef_bojic

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