Prizes shared but Djokovic and Serena Williams still rule
Grand Slam titles were shared around like slices of pizza in 2014 but for all the welcome variety Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams ended the year still setting the standard. For the first time since 1998 the eight Grand Slam singles trophies on offer were lifted by eight players. While the four women’s champions were existing members of the elite club, Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka and Croatia’s Marin Cilic marked the biggest shake-up of men’s tennis for a decade with breakthrough victories.
After years spent in the shadow of 17-time Grand Slam champion and compatriot Roger Federer, Wawrinka came good in Melbourne, beating Djokovic in the quarterfinal of the Australian Open and showing no mercy to injured Spaniard Rafa Nadal in the final. Nadal rebounded to claim a ninth French Open title, but the year was too prove a worrying one for the injury-prone Mallorcan who suffered a shock defeat by Australian teenager Nick Krygios at Wimbledon before a wrist problem and a grumbling appendix restricted him to only seven more matches.
Federer, 33, claimed five titles but was unable to add to his record collection of Grand Slams. He came close though. The Swiss maestro went toe to toe with Djokovic for five sets in an epic Wimbledon final, while a few weeks later in New York he looked favourite for the title before being ambushed by the powerful Cilic in the semi.
The door had been opened by events earlier on that sweltering New York day when Asian trailblazer Kei Nishikori became the first Asian man to reach a Grand Slam singles final with a stunning defeat of Djokovic. It meant for the first time since 2005, a men’s Grand Slam final took place without a member of the Fab Four, be it Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Briton Andy Murray.
Like Djokovic, Williams, 33, will start 2015 as the measuring stick for the rest as usual. The American, now the oldest world number one, overpowered Caroline Wozniacki to win her 18th Grand Slam title at the US Open, moving level on the all-time list with Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert and only four behind record holder Steffi Graf. While not as dominant as the year before, she still bagged seven titles and the way she scythed through the draw to win a sixth US Open crown was awe-inspiring.