By Erin Bruehl, USTA.com
This past season mirrored 2006 in that only Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal won Grand Slam singles titles. The world's No. 1 and No. 2 players continued their hold of the Grand Slams in 2007, with only two different players even reaching a Grand Slam final – Fernando Gonzalez lost to Federer at the Australian Open, and Novak Djokovic lost to Federer at the US Open.
Roland Garros and Wimbledon were both Federer-Nadal finals, with Nadal continuing his clay-court dominance for his third straight win at Roland Garros and Federer continuing his dominance on grass with his fifth straight Wimbledon crown.
This year did see the emergence of Novak Djokovic into one of the top players in the game and one of the most engaging personalities, as he reached a career-high ranking of No. 3 in the world.
Among the year's other breakout stars was David Ferrer of Spain, who reached a career-high ranking of No. 5 in the world and won three titles while advancing to his first career Grand Slam semifinal at the US Open. He also advanced to the final of the Tennis Masters Cup against Federer.
Maybe no one finished the season as hot as David Nalbandian, who won at both Madrid and Paris in October, with defeats of Federer and Nadal, respectively, to finish the year in the top 10.
A few young Americans also made names for themselves at the US Open, as John Isner and Donald Young both advanced to the third round in Flushing.
The year was not without controversy, as Russian world No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko was investigated in a betting scandal, and world No. 12 Tommy Haas thought he had been poisoned during Davis Cup play (the ITF found no evidence of it).
In doubles, Americans Bob and Mike Bryan were again the best of the best, finishing No. 1 in the world with one Grand Slam title in Australia.
And the year concluded in the best way possible for the U.S., as the team of Andy Roddick, James Blake, the Bryans and captain Patrick McEnroe won the Davis Cup in an emotional 4-1 victory over defending champion Russia in Portland, Ore., for its first trophy in 12 years. Player of the Year – Roger Federer
Was there really any doubt? All the Swiss superstar does is continue to make a run at history. With three more Grand Slam titles in 2007 at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, he raised his career total to 12, just two shy of American Pete Sampras’ all-time record. Based on his track record that has seen him reach 10 consecutive Grand Slam finals, we could likely expect to see Federer make history in 2008 with a new Grand Slam career wins record. Federer finished 2007 ranked No. 1 for the fourth consecutive year, won a tour-best eight titles, including his fourth Masters Cup title, and became the first player in history to surpass $10 million in earnings on the tour.
Breakout Player – Novak Djokovic
The 20-year-old rising star from Serbia did not make his Grand Slam debut until the 2005 Australian Open and then rose all the way into the top 20 by the end of 2006 after starting the year at No. 78. In 2007, however, he took his game to another level, leaving no doubts as to his place among the game’s current elite. He finished the year at No. 3 in the world and is the youngest player in the year-end top 10. Djokovic reached his first career Grand Slam final at the US Open (falling to Federer) and won five titles on the tour while qualifying for the Tennis Masters Cup for the first time. The Serb also showed off his entertaining personality with his now-famous imitations of other players.
Match of the Year – Federer vs. Nadal, Wimbledon Final Doubles Team of the Year – Bob and Mike Bryan
Roger Federer triumphed to win his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title and his 11th career Grand Slam, but it certainly did not come easy in a final featuring world No. 1 Federer vs. world No. 2 Rafael Nadal. This match of the world’s best players came just a few weeks after the two met in the final at Roland Garros, where Nadal continued his dominance on clay with a four-set victory. In London, Nadal pushed Federer to the limit on one of the Swiss’ best surfaces – grass – before Federer prevailed, 7-6 (7), 4-6, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-2. It was the only men’s Grand Slam final in 2007 to go five sets and was the third longest Wimbledon final of the Open Era at three hours, 45 minutes.
The brothers finished 2007 ranked No. 1 in the world for the third consecutive year and won a tour- and career-high 11 titles for the year, including the Australian Open. The two were also vital parts of the 2007 U.S. Davis Cup team that brought home the trophy for the first time since 1995 by beating Russia in the final. The Bryans clinched the victory for the U.S. with a win in the doubles competition for a 3-0 lead on the second day. On the year, the Bryans were undefeated in Davis Cup play, going 4-0.
Comeback Player of the Year – Tommy Haas
After sitting at No. 47 in the world during the 2005 season (he was listed at No. 1086 at one point in 2004 after missing all of 2003 because of injury), Haas quickly climbed back up the rankings in 2006 – cracking the top 20 again – and continued his resurgence in 2007. This year, the former world No. 2 was firmly back as one of the top players in the game, never falling lower in the rankings than No. 13 and finishing the year at No. 12. He cracked the top 10 on several occasions in 2007 (at No. 9) for the first time since 2002. The German reached the semifinals at the Australian Open, the quarterfinals at the US Open and won one title at Memphis.
Top Newcomer – John Isner
No one outside the collegiate ranks probably knew much about the 6’ 9” hard-serving former University of Georgia star until mid-2007. He was ranked No. 839 in the world when he turned professional in June and made an incredible jump in the rankings to No. 106, where he finished the year. Playing in both Challenger and ATP events, Isner first broke through on the ATP Tour in Washington in July, defeating world No. 12 Tommy Haas, among others, en route to the final against Andy Roddick. However, he will likely be most remembered in 2007 for reaching the third round at the US Open in his Grand Slam debut and winning a set from world No. 1 Federer before falling in four sets.
Biggest Upset – Igor Andreev defeats Andy Roddick at Roland Garros
As the No. 3 seed, Roddick won the first set over Andreev in the first round on the clay at Roland Garros with a 6-3 victory. But the unseeded Russian stormed back, winning three straight sets off the American for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 victory. Andreev advanced all the way to the quarterfinals for the first time in his career at a Grand Slam.
Hometown Hero – Andy Roddick
Roddick knew he wanted to win a Davis Cup title and did everything he could to bring the cup home, as the U.S. won the trophy for the first time since 1995. The world No. 6 made playing on the U.S. team a priority and was sensational in Davis Cup competition. He came to be known as the U.S. team’s stopper, and winning his matches was nearly a forgone conclusion. Roddick was a perfect 6-0 in Davis Cup singles matches in 2007, and in the final against Russia as the No. 1 singles player, he gave the U.S. an early 1-0 lead with a straight-sets win over Dmitry Tursunov.