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Like in previous years, the year 2016 has had its fair share of tennis tournaments and championships at different venues across the globe. As expected, the tournaments and championships attracted most of the top-ranked tennis players in the world, with some of them failing to win trophies. Some of the tournaments and championships were also graced by notable leaders.
It is during 2016 season that some of the upcoming professional tennis players have had the opportunity to prove their worth by upsetting some of the top-ranked players. Even though they did not win any trophies or titles, they have no doubt made a name for themselves as the players to watch come 2017 season and thereafter.
Although most of the 2016 matches have been very exciting, there are some matches that will remain in the mind of tennis fans for a long time to come as the most exciting and memorable matches. The following are the 3 most exciting tennis matches of 2016.
Murray vs. Raonic – Wimbledon Men’s Single Final Match
Briton Andy Murray saw off Canadian Milos Raonic to lift the men’s singles title for the third time to prove that he is the British No. 1 male tennis player. However, the 29-year old Briton had to fight extra hard to overcome the 25-year old Canadian to win the title, becoming the first Briton to win multiple single titles at Wimbledon after Fred Perry in 1935.
The final match against Canadian Milos Raonic was nothing but exciting. With former Prime Minister David Cameron, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, past champions Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker and Bjorn Borg all seated in the Royal Box and thousands of spectators on Henman Hill, Murray got on to the Center Court to deafening welcome cheers. Although this was intimidating to Raonic, his win against Roger Federer in the semi-final made him feel settled.
This was Raonic’s first time in a grand Slam final and the fact that a blustering wind was blowing across the court made matters worse for him. However, he proved himself as one of the best professional players to watch in the coming years. He was quick to fire down several shots and at one time managed to record a 147 mph short, the tournament’s biggest serve.
Murray employed his trademark dip passing shots in an attempt to force break points in the second set. This did not work because he kept on missing several at critical moments when everyone believed he had caught the Canadian off-guard. He proceeded to win the first five crucial points and several mini breaks before delivering a powerful forehand that Raonic netted with a backhand to earn Murray the title.
Serena vs. Kerber – Wimbledon Women’s Single Final Match
Serena Williams came to Wimbledon after three consecutive Grand Slam losses. These include losses to Roberta Vinci, Angelique Kerber in Australian Open final and Garbine Muguruza. She was literally under intense pressure to deliver. Indeed, many did not believe that the World No. 1 woman professional tennis player would overcome Angelique Kerber, the German who was planning to upset Serena once again within a period of seven months.
It seems that Serena had other plans. She was not out to prove anything. Her main goal was to attain the same milestone achieved by Steffi Graf. She was out to be one of the top tennis players in the Open-era list and nothing was going to stop her. It is this long-held dream that made the match a very exciting one as Serena managed to edge Kerber in straight wins of 7-5 and 6-3 to not only record her seventh Wimbledon title but also to get on the Opera-era list.
Both ladies got to Center Court well prepared for the match. The constant roaring and peaceful moments as the ladies battled against each other kept everyone waiting for the big blows that would make it possible for either of the ladies to lift the title. Kerber adopted her ruthless way of play often giving Serena anxious moments. However, Serena did not respond in kind. Instead, she remained focused, delivering clinical serves that proved potent. She only conceded one break point, which she managed to write off with a powerful 117 mph shot that earned her both the title.
Wawrinka vs. Djokovic – US Open Men’s Single Final Match
The US Open 2016 Men’s single final match pitting the 31-year old Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland and 29-year old Serbian Novak Djokovic will remain in the mind of tennis fans across the world as one of the most memorable and exciting professional matches. This is not only because it turned out to be a major upset for Djokovic but also because of the quality of play the two exhibited.
Djokovic had arrived in New York with a lot of doubt about his overall fitness clouding his mind. In addition to what he termed as personal issues, the defeats he suffered both at the Olympics and Wimbledon weighed down on him seriously. He also had to contend with an injury on the wrist. However, he was the defending champion and he had to do all that he could to defend the title, which would be his 13th Grand Slam title.
On his part, Wawrinka romped into the final a very tired tennis player. Although he did not have any injury issues, the 18 hours he had spent playing on the court against different players had seriously taken a toll on his body and mind. Djokovic had just spent 9 hours playing on the court to reach the final. However, the fact that Wawrinka had beaten Djokovic four times out of the 23 encounters they had played made him believe that he could defeat Djokovic to lift the title.
The match started off strongly with Djokovic proving to be the sharper of the two. He soon was leading 5-2 before Wawrinka found his footing to deliver powerful shots that forced the tie-break. Wawrinka eventually took charge of the second set with a series of attacks and counter attacks coupled with well calculated ground strokes. Although Djokovic responded in kind, his shots often went wide, which frustrated him to the point of smashing his racquet, much to spectators’ delight. Djokovic’s injuries started to show as the third set approached. He had to receive treatment for blister, something that made Wawrinka mad because it happened at the point where he was about to serve. Although Djokovic tried the best he could to defend the title, the third seeded Wawrinka proved strong, eventually winning the title 6-7, 6-4, 7-5 and 6-3 to add to his cabinet that also has the 2014 Australian Open and French Open (2015) titles.
These matches will no doubt remain in the mind of tennis fans, players and coaches for some time to come. Fans will certainly be watching out for the losers in these matches and many other matches. This is because although they lost, they proved that they are capable of upsetting the big names at any time.