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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Last

Tennis in 2022

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

Playing tennis seems pretty long distance in the memory bank after a soaking November and freezing December but what a year 2022 was for the club and for tennis on the international stage. Take a moment out of your busy Christmas schedule to reflect on another scintillating season of tennis.

January - Nadal goes 21 in 22

With Novak being barred from the Australian Open and Roger looking increasingly unlikely he'll play another grand slam event, it was over to Nadal to dig deep and secure that one extra grand slam victory to put him one ahead and potentially secure his legacy as the greatest ever male player.

And dig deep he certainly did; it looked for all the world that Medvedev being two sets up would claim his second grand slam. It was a match for the ages though and somehow Nadal roared back and pummelled his way through Danii's near impenetrable defences.

It was a fairytale on the ladies side, Ashleigh Barty certainly had a somewhat love-hate relationship with tennis but bowed out in some style whilst also being the top player at the time. It was a massive win for her, nothing better for a pro than winning your home slam, but also a massive win for the Aussies with the title last being won in 1978! Maybe a shame to see her retirement at only 25, but if you've achieved your ultimate goal then why not go out on a high and on your terms.

March - Sax Teams Woah in Winter

Sax Men's 1st team secures a historic title to get promoted to Division 1 in the Winter League for the first time in the club's history! It would be title joy for our mixed team too, winning Division 4. Just to highlight where the club is going, our Ladies 2nd team made it a trio of promotions and secured 2nd place in Division 3! Hard luck to the Ladies 1st team, which came oh-so close to making it four promotions, missing out by a single point in a fantastic season. Our Men's 2nd and 3rd teams would both end up with very solid campaigns and finish mid-table.

May - Anyone for Tennis?

The club's open weekend, which took place on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd May was a huge success, drawing an estimated 120 visitors over the two days, and attracting more than 30 new members of all ages. All three courts were stacked full of keen players throughout the days, there was also an incredible BBQ... and TONS of cake.

June - Ruud Awakening

June saw the 126th edition of the French Open, with the men's title being won for the 14th time by the 'King of Clay', yep that man again, Nadal. Defeating the 23-year-old Casper Ruud who would have made many a fan with his run to the final and proudly revered for his professional on-court demeanour.

Since Barty's retirement, there has been only one name; Iga Swiatek. Since inheriting the number 1 spot, she fully earned it by going on a mammoth 37 winning streak and claiming the French Open with a straight sets win over young Coco Gauff. Great to see the American reach her first grand slam final, and at only 18 too! Coco and Iga I'm sure will play many a final against each other in the future as they'd likely look to dominate the next decade of women's tennis.

July - Phantom Villain with a punch

Love him or hate him, this certain Aussie definitely divides opinion and well at the very least makes for some compelling entertainment.

Kyrgios became the first unseeded man to reach a major final since Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the 2008 Australian Open however, he will more likely be remembered for in-between play moments rather than his huge powerhouse grass court game.

The final was somewhat more calm on his part, at least compared with the feisty encounter with Tsitsipas. In the end, it would be Djokovic though who'd come through to claim his 21st grand slam. On the ladies side, Jabeur became the first Arab to reach a major singles final, the first African woman to do so in the Open Era, and the first African woman to do so not representing South Africa. This marked the first time since 2009 that both finalists represented non-European nations. However it would be the Kazakhstani, Elena Rybakina who would prevail and claim her maiden grand slam.

It would be a fantastic showing from the Brits, too: with Cam Norrie getting to the semis, the emergence of Draper, and Heather having a stormer.

August - Sizzler of a Summer for the teams

The Sax Men's 1st team would make it three titles in as many campaigns and win the Division 4 Ipswich and District Summer League. The Men's 2nd team would also have a strong showing and clinch promotion into Division 5 by the smallest of margins. The Men's 3rd team, Mixed, and Ladies 2nd team would all have solid and enjoyable summers, though unfortunately the Ladies 1st team would suffer relegation, though I'm sure they'll look to bounce back immediately.

September - Dazzling Alcaraz dances to success

Sorry for this, I already feel old, but both winners of the US Open were born in the 2000s...

Iga Swiatek would continue her season's good form and storm to her second title this year alone! Ons Jabeur would again have to settle for runners-up, you have to be in it to win and win well; she'll certainly keep giving herself the best chance of a maiden grand slam with her fantastic variety of shots.

Ruud would also have to settle as a two-time runner-up, another great tournament from the Norwegian though. There have been many pretenders that have had a go at breaking into the 'Big Four', well maybe Alcaraz is the real business?

Either way he has got off to the best possible start, winning his first grand slam in his first final at only 19! That said, he didn't do it the easy way, at 23 hours and 39 minutes of play duration across his seven matches, Alcaraz spent the longest time on court in major history. He is an incredible all-court player with a fantastic style to watch, there is no way he won't be a multiple grand slam winner.

Back at home and there would be success in the Box League with our Finals Day on the 25th September seeing newly-crowned champions. The day was a culmination of no fewer than 53 entries in total for the four competitions. The club also hosted future champions with Saxmundham running three Suffolk Grand Prix events throughout the year.

September part 2 (busy month...) - Evolving Away from Tennis

Considered among the greatest tennis players of all time, Serena Williams was ranked world No. 1 in singles for 319 weeks, including a joint-record 186 consecutive weeks, and finished as the year-end number 1 five times.

She won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, the most by any player in the Open era, and the second-most of all time. To win one grand slam is the biggest achievement to any player, but the greatest find a way of firing themselves to want more. This hunger has never wavered, winning her final grand slam in 2017, a whole 18 years after winning her maiden singles in 1999. The arrival of the Williams sisters has been credited with ushering in a new era of power and athleticism on the women's professional tennis tour, and they have been an inspiration and role models for the entire world.

September part 3 - Farewell Federer

The unthinkable has finally happened, the legend that is Federer has retired! Maybe no longer statistically the greatest of all time, but in the hearts of most Swiss is the all-time greatest male player ever to set foot on the court.

Ok it's no shock, talks of retirement have dragged on for close to a decade now, yet his longevity and success seem to have known no bounds. No player has such a following as Roger and maybe no player will ever again have this kind of affection from the masses.

His gracefulness and poetic presence on court was always a phenomenon to watch and he is a player that leaves a gaping hole in the tour. The Laver Cup was maybe not the Wimbledon fairytale ending we'd all dreamt of, but the doubles match pairing with his decades-long rival Nadal was a fitting tribute, with plenty of raw emotion and cracking tennis all night.

November - Brave Britain Battle in BJK Cup

Great Britain almost reached their first Billie Jean King Cup final since 1981 as a surprise run came to an emotional end against Australia in the semi finals.

In an incredible deciding doubles match, the game went to the wire with the Aussies coming up trumps 10-6. It was a heroic effort by a team that was, on paper, well below all their opponents in terms of rankings, but came together as a team to come oh-so close.

Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls began the year in Bath by earning £152 each for a semi-final appearance at one of the ITF World Tour's smallest tournaments. They were barely ranked inside the top 200, but now finish the year as the 25th best pair on tour, having won a first WTA title in Granby, Canada, in August.

The duo thrived amid the pressure and atmosphere of the BJK Cup Finals and have now set themselves the goal of qualifying for next year's end-of-season eight-team WTA Finals. Nicholls is 28, and Barnett 29, but feel they are just getting started.

The season would conclude with Djovokic winning the ATP Finals, pipping 2nd place specialist Ruud to the title in Turin. Caroline Garcia would go on to beat Aryna Sabalenka to the WTA Finals title in Fort Worth.

Report by Matthew Last, Head Coach, Saxmundham Tennis Club

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