Tramlines

Tramlines’s year in review

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Over the last 12 months, Roger Federer has dispelled the quite frankly ridiculous whisperings that he is a thing of the past.

He began the year by wiping the floor with Andy Murray (more on him later) and finished it by lifting the ATP World Tour Finals trophy.

Okay, so the middle of the year wasn't quite so impressive, with a limp French Open quarter-finals loss to Robin Soderling and a defeat at the same stage at Wimbledon to Tomas Berdych.

But the Swiss 29-year-old roared into form in the back-end of the season, claiming wins in Cincinnati, Stockholm and Basel as well as at the O2 in London, and reaching the finals in Toronto and Shanghai (in both of which he was beaten by Murray).

And what did all of this prove? That when he wants to, Roger Federer can still be completely dominant.

And it's the "when he wants to" that is the key to all of this. Federer is undeniably less dominant than he was, say, three years ago. But so what?

His focus has shifted slightly, and fair enough too. What does he have left to prove? Absolutely nothing. He owes tennis fans absolutely nothing and he has two young kids that are bound to affect his concentration at times. Let's just be greatful for the fact that he hasn't retired completely.

That brings us to Rafael Nadal. Twelve months ago there were serious concerns that his body could not cope consistently with the pressure put upon it, and that he would never again scale the heady heights of his 2008 season.

Yet once again he has proven everyone wrong. This year he was arguably more impressive than in 2008.

Yes, he had to retire hurt against Andy Murray at the Australian Open, and didn't enjoy the most successful first three months of the year. But then came the clay court season and he caught fire; at Monte Carlo in particular, where he hammered Fernando Verdasco 6-0 6-1 in the final. From then on he was practically unbeaten through the French Open and to the end of Wimbledon, which he won for the second time.

And that's without even mentioning his US Open triumph, which wrapped up a career Grand Slam for the world number one, the Spaniard becoming the youngest man to achieve that.

And we are yet to even mention Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray.

The Serb beat Federer in a thrilling US Open semi-final, won in Beijing and was beaten only by the world number two in both the Shanghai semis, the Basel final and the World Tour Finals semis before going on to lead Serbia to their first ever Davis Cup triumph earlier this month. That all proves he is finally getting back to his very best.

Partly through laziness and partly because last week's Tramlines Bonus winner has chosen to write on this subject, Tramlines is not going to go back into the whole Andy Murray thing.

Suffice to say that in 2010 he once again showed promise of finally challenging for the top spots and winning that elusive first Grand Slam. But, while often a match for the big boys in the one-week, best-of-three-set tournaments, the Scot is still to prove himself in the major tournaments. He came so close in the Australian Open when he stormed into the final before completely imploding against Federer, reverting back to his defensive, let-them-come-to-me style that is yet to pay dividends against any of the big names.

There were a few breakout performances in 2010 from some of the younger guys on tour - Marin Cilic looked exceptional in Melbourne only to do nothing much else in the rest of the year and Tomas Berdych's performances at the French Open and Wimbledon hinted at bigger things to come.

But let's face it - 2010 was all about Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, with the odd cameo from Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

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Moving on to women's tennis, unfortunately there is a lot less to say. Tramlines is actually a big supporter of the women's game; or, at least, has been a big supporter of it. Because even the staunchest fan is now beginning to struggle for positive things to say.

Sure, Serena Williams is an awesome player. But that's only when she is fit/chooses to fully concentrate on the game.

Sure, it's great to have Kim Clijsters back on the Tour. But Clijsters's split focus between tennis and her family, while completely understandable, makes a mockery of the competition when she once again waltzed to the US Open title and also the season-ending WTA Tour Championships.

Tramlines is not one to slate Caroline Wozniacki for taking over at the top of the rankings as she played well throughout the year and the facts prove that she was the most consistent player. That being said, Tramlines can see why people are frustrated with her being a dominant world number one without winning a Grand Slam.

Bright spots came in the form of Vera Zvonareva, who reached her first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon before quickly matching it in New York. Of course, it would have been nice if she'd won one. But you feel that such an achievement should not be far away for the Russian.

Tramlines was also heartened to see Sam Stosur backing up her 'breakthrough' 2009 season with another very solid year in 2010. Having been a fan of the Australian for years, it was fantastic to see her reach the French Open final.

And whilst nobody can deny the feel-good factor of Francesca Schiavone winning at Roland Garros, her first Grand Slam at the age of 30, it was frustrating to see that Sam didn't really turn up for that match: she froze under the spotlight.

Women's tennis desperately needs someone to turn up consistently and not just in the 'smaller' tournaments. Trouble is, it's hard to see where this person is going to come from.

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TRAMLINES BONUS

Congratulations to johnmorris1982 for his winning entry in the caption competition for the below photo: "Jada! Put the pea-shooter down you just got Vera in the eye!! Mummy's not happy with you!!"

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Email your 100 words, johnmorris1982, on any subject you like (within reason of course!) into us at tramlineseurosport@yahoo.co.uk, and TL will publish them in next week's blog.

For the rest of you, here is this week's photo. Come up with a caption, leave it below and TL will pick the best for next week.

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