Decade 2000s

The fourth decade of the Open Era [2000-2009]
# It’s the year of decay of players who ruled in the 90s and the fans observe three new heroes: Gustavo Kuerten, Magnus Norman as well as a prototype of a new player – Marat Safin. Norman doesn’t maintain good form in the second part of the year, but Safin with Kuerten fight in the season-ending tournament in Lisbon for the No. 1 spot – Kuerten wins that battle taking the title in extraordinary circumstances. A couple of months before at the US Open, Safin becomes the first very tall Grand Slam champion (195 cm), who bases his game-style mainly on ground-strokes
# Pete Sampras sets up a new record for the most majors titles: 13 (overcomes the previous 33-year-old record of Roy Emerson, the Australian won all his majors in the pre-Open Era though)
# First Davis Cup triumph for Spain, mainly thanks to Juan Carlos Ferrero, who potentially seems to be the best clay-court player of the decade
# Vincent Spadea produces a shameful record losing 21 matches in a row
# Lleyton Hewitt becomes the youngest No. 1 in the world at the end of a season (20 years 8 months) thanks to the US Open & Masters titles – he wins ‘Masters’ (Sydney) without a loss at the group stage as the first player since 1993 (Michael Stich)
# Gustavo Kuerten‘s second miracle in Paris. The Brazilian defends his title, overcoming earlier unknown Michael Russell in the fourth round, saving a match point with a long rally at the helpless situation: 3-6, 4-6, *2:5 (30/40)!!
# Young man from Switzerland, Roger Federer snaps Pete Sampras31-match-winning streak at Wimbledon in a 5-set thriller; Sampras explicitly is not able to compete with young guns like Hewitt, Safin, Roddick or Federer; that loss assigns his decline
# Marc Rosset, as the first player, serves 30 double faults in a match (Davis Cup, Neuchatel)
# In the first Grand Slam with 32 seeds (this model was used in Florida 1987-89 in the so-called “Fifth Grand Slam”), Goran Ivanisevic becomes the first “wild card” champion of a major (wins Wimbledon, on his fourth final attempt); the Croat is two points away from defeat in his last two matches!
# Grand Slam tournaments (except Wimbledon) introduce a super tie-break for mixed doubles replacing the third and final set
# Interregnum: admittedly Lleyton Hewitt maintains a position of the best player, winning a major (Wimbledon) and like in the previous season – Masters (Shanghai), but it’s a very balanced season, second year running each major final is consisted of a different pair of players, two titles go to 27-year-old guys (Albert Costa, Thomas Johansson) who didn’t play even a Slam semifinal before
# US Open: 31-year-old Pete Sampras, after more than a two-year drought, wins another major title, serving better than ever, but never plays a professional match again (!) assuring himself the best possible retirement
# Martin Lee defeats Sjeng Schalken in the only ‘double-bagel tie-break’ match  (Rotterdam)
# Mikhail Youzhny secures the maiden Davis Cup for Russia, becoming the first man to win a clincher in the Cup final from a 2-sets-to-0 deficit
# Andre Agassi becomes the oldest No. 1 in the world at the age of 33 years 4 months
# First majors win young players, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Roger Federer and Andy Roddick; it foreshadows a new era… despite of huge expectations, Ferrero won’t be a clay-court king in the consequence of Gustavo Kuerten‘s decline, it is reserved for Ferrero’s younger compatriot Rafael Nadal, who at the age of 17, shows astonishing potential, beating on clay former Roland Garros champions in straight sets: Albert Costa (Monte Carlo) & Carlos Moya (Hamburg)
# Lleyton Hewitt, the best player of the last two seasons, finishes the year as No. 17! 
# Roger Federer changes his style of play (stressed the defensive attitude) and commences to dominate in men’s tennis winning three majors within the season as the first man since 1988 (Mats Wilander)
# Gaston Gaudio becomes the first man to win a Grand Slam final being one point away from defeat (Roland Garros, the last time with net-judges, even though other majors got rid of them already in the 90s); the Frenchmen Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement play in Paris the fifth more-than-6-hour match in history, surpassing the J.McEnroe-Wilander‘s record, unbeaten over 22 years
# Chilean Nicolas Massu, within 24 hours, collects two Olympic gold medals (Athens) – the first Olympic gold medals for his country in history!! First Olympic Games with allocated points to the ATP ranking (the same in the next two editions, Beijing & London)
# Vincent Spadea establishes another unique record – in Paris he survives a Grand Slam match with the most match points saved (9 m.p. – ties Christophe Roger-Vasselin‘s ’82 record to be precise); he gets his first ATP title in the 223rd tournament attempt (Scottsdale) which is a specific record too
# Andy Roddick fires the fastest serve at the time, in Charleston (Davis Cup) – 155 mph… 249 kph, it will be overcome seven years later by Ivo Karlovic‘s 251 kph, John Isner serves 253 kph in 2016
Three years of complete “Fedal” reign, especially the 06-07 seasons, in both of them, Roger Federer wins three majors, whilst Rafael Nadal triumphs thrice at Roland Garros (overcoming in the finals twice Federer to whom loses two Wimbledon finals); they will keep for themselves the two first positions replacing each other yearly also in the years 2008-2010!
# Roger Federer loses only four matches within the season, it’s the most dominated season by a player since 1984 (John McEnroe); Federer would have equaled McEnroe’s best win/loss record if he had beaten David Nalbandian in his last match of the year at ‘Masters’ (Shanghai), the Argentinian won 7-6 in the 5th set though, in the most balanced (until the end) Masters final since 1988
# A teenager from Mallorca, playing with unusual long shorts, Rafael Nadal, after a bit disappointing 2004 season, wins two consecutive ‘Masters Series” events (including the longest final at the time, 5 hours 14 minutes, in Rome against Guillermo Coria), preceding the Roland Garros crown, and starts timidly his long rivalry with Federer
# The most unexpected Davis Cup final since 1974, Croatia defeats Slovakia in a clash of two small countries, who didn’t even exist at the beginning of the 90s
# Rafael Nadal, like in the previous and the next season, wins three biggest clay-court tournaments (Monte Carlo, Rome, Roland Garros) and signalizes his grass-court potential advancing for the first time to the Wimbledon final; in the first round at Roland Garros the Spaniard overcomes the unbeaten since 1977 record of Guillermo Vilas of the most successive wins on clay (53)
# Roger Federer, as the first man since 1969, plays four major finals in the same season; the following year he repeats the feat and also in 2009 (in the last year of the decade he has a 2-2 record in the finals, instead of the previous 3-1)!
#Andre Agassi quits with tennis after 20 years on the tour, his last tournament: third round loss at the US Open to a familiar surname BeckerBenjamin
# Implemented the “hawk-eye” system (2 Challenges per set, soon 3)
# The new score format in doubles is applied in all tournaments except majors: ‘no-ad’ and ‘super tie-breaks’ instead of standard third sets

# A failed experiment with “round robin” ATP tournaments; Satellites are eliminated after 36 years
# Roger Federer loses his first match after a 41-match winning streak (outplayed by Guillermo Canas at Indian Wells); one out of six players to win at least 40 matches in a row… in Shanghai he wins the last “best of five” Masters final
# Rafael Nadal is defeated on clay (by Federer in Hamburg) for the first time after 81 consecutive matches won, an all-surfaces record
# Novak Djokovic emerges as the third serious force in men’s tennis; catching a title in Montreal becomes the first man since 1994 (Boris Becker in Stockholm) to beat the three best players in the world in one tournament… earlier that year he wins the last “best of five” final in the history of ‘Masters 1000’ (Miami)
# The longest super tie-break, [23/21]: winners Albert Montanes / Ruben Ramirez-Hidalgo in Estoril
# The longest doubles fifth set in terms of games: 28-26 (winners Andre Sa / Marcelo Melo at Wimbledon)
# American giant John Isner (208 cm) survives five consecutive matches in the 3rd set tie-break in Washington (no-one won even four in a row before); Isner’s older compatriot – Andy Roddick makes another interesting TB-record, the most consecutive tie-breaks won, 18 
# Rafael Nadal, after occupying the No. 2 over three years, finally dethrones Roger Federer defeating the Swiss in Paris (their third straight final there) and Wimbledon (an epic 5-set battle compared to the Borg-McEnroe‘s 1980 clash as the best match in the Open Era), Nadal also gets the Olympic gold medal in singles – Beijing (Federer triumphs in doubles with Stanislas Wawrinka, who did not win a doubles tournament before)
# Federer‘s record of 237 consecutive weeks at the top of the ATP ranking is finished
# Andy Murray emerges as the fourth serious force in men’s tennis, the 21-year-old Scot finds a way to beat Federer on a regular basis, has a 5-1 H2H record against him in a 16-month period (years 2008-09)
# The last time on carpet (Robin Soderling gets the title in Lyon); the first events with 28-draw (four top seeds have ‘bye’ in 1R)
# Roger Federer‘s resurgence after a season with mononucleosis: the Swiss recaptures his position of the best player in the world becoming the fourth player of the Open Era (after Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg and Rafael Nadal) to win Roland Garros and Wimbledon within a season, in London he beats 16-14 in the 5th set Andy Roddick (their third Wimbledon final) which is considerably the longest set in finals in terms of games; thanks to this triumph Federer overcomes Pete Sampras‘ record of the most Grand Slam titles
# Porec (Davis Cup, semifinal), the first match in which would have been played 5 tie-breaks if there hadn’t been required the two-game advantage in the 5th set. Radek Stepanek struggles past in the tallest player in history (211 cm) Ivo Karlovic 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 6-7, 16-14 in a 6-hour battle; Karlovic improves his previous world-record in aces from 55 to 78 (both achieved on clay!)… in other Davis Cup rubber (Rancagua) Nicolas Massu wins the longest 4-setter in history with a tie-break against Stefan Koubek (5 hours 14 minutes)
# Juan Martin del Potro emerges as the fifth serious force in men’s tennis (joining Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray), the young Argentinian does something that Djokovic and Murray could not in the previous two years, namely he beats Federer in the US Open final, the triumph is more impressive in regard of the devastating win over Nadal in the semifinal
# For the first time in the history of “Masters”, the ratio of games won/lost decides who advances to the semifinals! Andy Murray is a victim of it
# Novak Djokovic & Nadal play the longest “best of three” tie-break match in history… The Spaniard wins 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 in Madrid after 4 hours 3 minutes, saving three match points in the deciding 11/9 tie-break
# Three names (“Masters 1000”, “ATP Tour 500” and “ATP Tour 250”) are introduced to allow better comprehension of the ATP structure regarding the prestige of its events – the numbers indicate the ranking points for titles

# The first season in which players get points for Davis Cup rubbers (it’ll last until 2015)

The 2010s