As a young athlete growing up in Philadelphia and running for an Olympic track coach of a father, I was always taught that it’s not how you start out in a sporting event – (or life for that matter), but how you finish, that really counts.
Having said that, the year of 2009 brought sports fans everywhere some big news throughout the course of the year, but nothing like the international bombshell that rocked the sports world quite literally to close out the year and decade.
This look back at the top five sports stories for 2009 will give sports fans everywhere reason to pause, smile, laugh or cry, depending on how you feel about each particular story.
With the new decade less than two weeks from getting under way, let me get started.
No. 5 Nadal Loses On Clay
Rafael Nadal had never lost on the red clay of Roland Garros, boasting a spotless 31-0 unbeaten record while winning four consecutive French Open Finals dating back to his French Open debut on May 23, 2005,
All that changed on May 31, when Nadal ran into red-hot Swede Robin Soderling, who cut down the fiery Spanaird in the fourth round of the 2009 French Open.
It took the 24-year-old Soderling 3 1/2 hours to complete what many viewed as an impossible task, beating then then No. 1-ranked Nadal 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 7-6 (2) with an impressive display of aggressive and often phenomenal play.
The loss ended Nadal’s bid to become the first player in ATP history to win five consecutive French Open titles and gave current World No.1 Rogerer federer the impetus to beat Soderling in the final and win his first-ever French Open title, completing the career Grand Slam in the process.