Friday, 29 December 2017 14:46 PM GMT
The best of the 2017 Grand Slams

In 2017, the Grand Slams had it all. There were incredible comebacks, surprise upsets, absurd shots and dominant champions. Here’s my selection of the players, matches and moments that rose above the rest.

Best players - Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Both Nadal and Federer made remarkable comebacks in 2017. Both had finished 2016 with injuries and disappointment, but right from the start of 2017, they took over tennis like they did years ago.

They played each other in the first men's Grand Slam final at the Australian Open, with Federer winning in five tense sets. From there Nadal and Federer won Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open, and finished the year ranked No.1 (Nadal) and No.2 (Federer). Considering their recent injuries and ages—Nadal at age 31 and Federer at 36—their results were astonishing.

Best match: Del Potro v Thiem, US Open

Nadal and Federer’s Australian Open final was a classic, but don’t overlook the US Open battle between Juan Martin del Potro and Dominic Thiem.

A visibly unwell Del Potro started flat and Thiem seemed unable to miss as he won the first two sets while losing just three games. But del Potro, who never quits, staged a remarkable resurrection act, winning the next two sets to force a decider.

The fifth was tight but the Argentinian prevailed 1-6, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(1), 6-4 as his loud supporters in the packed Grandstand stadium cheered him on.

Of course, an honourable mention must also go to that Federer and Nadal meeting in Melbourne, with the pair rolling back the years for another classic encounter that would set the tone for the rest of the 2017 season.

Best shot: Nadal's slice winner v Federer

Tennis was loaded with fine shots this season but arguably nothing was better at the Grand Slams than this Nadal slice forehand winner against Federer in Australia.

Leading 3-1 in the fourth set, Nadal ran right to hit a backhand, which Federer then smashed crosscourt with his backhand. Having been beaten a number of times by some punishing Federer strokes on that wing, the point appeared to be gone for the Spaniard.

But Nadal sprinted, stretched his left arm and conjured up a forehand slice that zipped low and crosscourt for a winner as Nadal slid past the doubles alley. The angle and accuracy of the shot was incredible, with Federer himself even moved to applaud.

An honourable mention must also go to Nadal's astonishing forehand effort against Stan Wawrinka in the Roland Garros final, which also brought applause from his opponent.

Best achievement: Serena Williams

At the Australian Open, Serena Williams did the unthinkable by winning the singles tournament while, as it would later transpire, she was eight weeks pregnant.

Even more impressive: Williams, age 35 at the time, didn’t lose a set. The victory was Williams’s 23rd major singles title of her career, one shy of the all-time record of 24.

Best breakthrough: Jelena Ostapenko

At Roland Garros, 20-year-old Ostapenko won the title with passion, relentless attacking tennis and remarkable comebacks, all at heights uncommon for such a young player. She won five out of her seven matches in three sets, repeatedly surviving late troubles that seemed to spell certain defeat. In four of those matches she lost the first set, which usually leads to a loss.

Almost as impressive: weeks after her victory in Paris, Ostapenko had her best Wimbledon, reaching the fourth round, bowing out with a run of 10 Grand Slam match wins to her name.

Best comeback: Sloane Stephens

Fabulous tennis comebacks usually involve players with a lack of play and almost no odds of victory. What if you added an incredibly low ranking - 957 - on to that list?

Then you have Sloane Stephens, the 24-year-old American who won the US Open with an astonishing performance a month after nearly falling out of the top 1000.

She won four of her matches in three sets, including the semifinal against Venus Williams. In the final, Stephens was near perfect: she lost just three games against fellow American and friend Madison Keys.