Tennis

Why Nadal is like Schwarzenegger in the ‘Terminator’

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Here we look back at the 2019 season, beginning with the Spaniard who is moving ever closer to tying Roger Federer's grand slam mark. Men's player of the season: Rafael NadalNot for the first time — or second, or third — Nadal entered a season under an injury cloud. This time it came courtesy of yet more knee issues and an abdominal complaint. Follow @cnnsport He has often lamented how much time he has missed over the years but always seems to rally, and impressively. Indeed, "I'll be back" seems like a line tailor made for Nadal, not just for Arnold Schwarzenegger in the "Terminator." For the first time since 2008, the now 33-year-old reached at least the semifinals at all four grand slams, winning the French Open for a mind boggling 12th time and US Open for a fourth time. The left-handed spin master also became the oldest men's year-end No. 1 and capped his 2019 by leading Spain to the Davis Cup crown in the competition's new look. He went 8-0 in singles and doubles, clinching the final against Canada in Madrid after Roberto Bautista Agut's gutsy victory with a heavy heart. Seemingly over another abdominal injury that threatened his participation at the ATP Finals, Nadal ends the year in good health so he'll be hoping to pick up where he left off when the Australian Open rolls around in January. A title in Melbourne and Nadal would match his pal Federer atop the men's grand slam ladder with 20. Women's player of the season: Ashleigh BartyGiven that Nadal and Novak Djokovic shared the haul of men's majors in 2019, male contenders for standout player realistically whittled down to two. On the women's tour — where four different grand slam winners surfaced for the third straight season — the options were greater. Naomi Osaka endured a topsy-turvy campaign but the Japanese superstar became the first player since Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to claim her first two majors back-to-back when she triumphed at the Australian Open. Simona Halep collected her second grand slam title by playing one of the most flawless matches ever. That it came in a Wimbledon final against one of tennis' best ever players, Serena Williams, added to the already incredible accomplishment. Andreescu emerged to become Canada's first grand slam singles winner, while Williams — even if she lost a pair of grand slam finals to remain one major shy of matching Margaret Court's all-time record — was the lone female player to feature in two grand slam finals. But Barty just edges it. The talented all-rounder — in tennis terms, even if she played cricket at a high level during her time away from tennis — made steady, eye-catching progress.There was a maiden grand slam quarterfinal at home in Melbourne and moving inside the top 10 — before opening her grand slam account on the clay surface that wasn't her favorite.Barty's title in Paris a day before Nadal's triumph made the 23-year-old the first Australian to win the French Open since Court in 1973. Barty concluded 2019 by winning the WTA Finals and is the first Australian women to end a season at No. 1. Top men's match: Roger Federer-Novak Djokovic, Wimbledon Nadal's five-set win over Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final had just about everything. From leading by two sets and a break, a rare volley miscue by Nadal paved the way for the Russian's rally. Before you knew it, Medvedev forced a fifth set and almost stole it. They combined for 137 winners, won 101 net points and served and volleyed 49 times in four hours, 51 minutes at tennis' largest regularly used stadium — Arthur Ashe — as late afternoon turned to night in New York. But Djokovic's clash with Federer in the Wimbledon final in the battle of players who had amassed 35 majors ever so slightly trumps the US Open classic. While not matching the quality, for sheer drama it made for nail-biting stuff. It's no stretch to say that Federer had opportunities to win in straight sets, a result that would have pleased the overwhelming majority on the grandest court in tennis. As it turned out, Federer was the first to hold match points at 8-7 in the fifth set. Some of those fans held up index fingers and yelled, "one more" point. But for the third time in grand slam meetings, Djokovic saved match points on the Federer serve and went on to win. The Serb's 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) win in four hours, 57 minutes marked the longest Wimbledon singles final — and first that featured a final set tiebreak after a rule change. Perhaps the key statistic? In the three tiebreaks, Djokovic didn't make a single unforced error. Best women's match: Naomi Osaka-Bianca Andreescu, BeijingThe Big Three of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have long dominated the men's game. But could a women's Big Three emeRead More – Source