Hi guys, I'm back after playing a very long stretch of tennis - so this will be a long report coming up!
I crashed out early in Halle 2008, failing to live up to my points last year and as a result I lost my Number 1 ranking to Federer.
Zeiner def. Williams 6-2, 6-7, 6-4 - I led 5-2 in the 2nd set, but choked badly by trying to aim too close to the sidelines, then I had to dig very deep to win from there
Kavcic def. Zeiner 7-5, 6-4 - poor game all-round, as I produced 37 errors, gifting two breaks to love at the end of each set. Not the best Wimbledon preparation!
R1: Zeiner def. Azdin 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 - routine victory (Incredible 1), breaking whenever necessary
R2: Zeiner def. Darcis 6-7, 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 - I dropped the 1st set tie-break 3-7 after double-faulting twice, but quickly recovered and played great with my forehand
R3: Zeiner def. Neodesyov 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 - easy win
R4: Zeiner def. Berdych 7-6, 2-6, 7-6, 6-1 - played a very tight 1st set, Berdych was serving very well and he hit 23 aces throughout the match. Eventually I managed to get on top of his game and get a 4-set win in under 2.5 hours
QF: Zeiner def. Nieminen 6-3, 6-0, 7-6 - Again a good match for me, this was the only match of the tournament where I did not get broken and managed to register yet another bagel set. I would then face Nadal in the semifinals (for the first time on grass).
SF: Nadal def. Zeiner 7-5, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 - This SF match was a tense affair. I led 4-2 in the first set, but squandered the lead and Nadal won it 7-5 with a great passing shot. I managed to grab the 2nd set with an ace in the tie-break (7-5), but was a little mentally weak in the 3rd and 4th sets - I led 4-1 in 3rd set tie-break and 5-3 in 4th set tie-break, but lost both of them!
Federer went on to beat Nadal in the final, so his points lead over me increased. BUT: my best tennis was still yet to come...
2008 Toronto (Rogers Cup)
Zeiner def. Dolgopolov 6-3, 6-2
Zeiner def. Simon 6-2, 6-2
Zeiner def. Roddick 6-1, 7-6
Zeiner def. Ferrero 6-4, 6-4
Zeiner def. Karlovic 6-3, 7-5
Not much to say other than I played the best matches I've ever played at Toronto/Montreal!! Historically, I have not had such a good record there, but I managed to win my 1st Title there
I went on to also win 2008 Cincinnati Masters, sweeping through the draw and beating James Blake 6-3, 6-4 in the final! I took a 10-match winning streak into the US Open.
2008 US Open:
R1: Zeiner def. Andreev 6-1, 6-0, 6-4
R2: Zeiner def. Nishikori 6-2, 6-2, 6-1
R3: Zeiner def. Kuznetsov 6-0, 6-0, 6-2
First 3 rounds were all very routine wins as my spin and power were too much for the low-ranked opponents.
R4: Zeiner def. Wawrinka 7-6, 7-6, 6-2 - I held firm against the storm of winners that Wawrinka was hitting and was able to force some errors in the first 2 tie-breaks. At one point, I returned a 145mph bomb serve onto the baseline!
QF: Zeiner def. Murray 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 - Solid start as I broke for 2-0, then held serve all the way to take the 1st set. Murray struck back after I led 5-4 in the 2nd set, as he rattled off 3 games in a row to win set 2. But in set 3, he seemed to get tired and I was able to bully his backhand and hit many forehand winners to seal the win and sail into another US Open semifinal!
SF: Zeiner def. Djokovic 6-1, 7-5, 7-5 - I was really dialled in when I played Djokovic, and he did not manage to break me at all in the match. I played the big points very well, and his 1st serve was only at 52% - so I went into a US Open Final at last!
F: Zeiner def. Federer 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 4-6, 17-15 - This was quite possibly the BEST match ever! So many twists and turns so it would take far too long to describe, but after trailing 1-4 in the 5th set, I took a lead and served for the match 3 times (but got broken back each time!). Finally at 16-15, 40-30 I put away a smash and the title was mine! I had finally won after 5 hours, 15 minutes - my 1st US Open Title and my 7th Grand Slam Title overall!
2008 China Open:
I continued my momentum as I took back the World Number 1 position after the US Open, extending my winning streak to 22 matches by winning another China Open title - I beat Nadal in the final 6-4, 6-4!
Then moved on to 2008 Shanghai Masters, where I reached the semi-finals before retiring against Nadal before losing 3-6, 6-2, 2-6 - we have had some interesting battles this year already, but I have to be focused otherwise the match slips away. This ended my win-streak at 25, but I already had 2 Slam Titles for the year, so I was more than happy!
2008 Paris Masters - I lost to Nalbandian 5-7, 5-7 in the QFs, which was very surprising as I had destroyed him many times before - but I think playing indoors was the real issue.
RR: Zeiner def. Ferrer 6-3, 7-6
RR: Djokovic def. Zeiner 6-3, 6-3
RR: Zeiner def. Roddick 6-4, 7-5
SF: Federer def. Zeiner 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 - this was a fantastic comeback win for Federer, who had to save 1 match point. this was the first time I have ever lost after holding match points - and it was also the final match of the season.
Overall Win/Loss record for the 2008 season was 71-9, which was not bad - but I will definitely look to improve that for 2009!