5) Djokovic d. Isner (Davis Cup, 1st round, 4th rubber): In the midst of a desultory spring, Djokovic delivered a stirring melodrama in five parts before a fervent Belgrade audience and frenzied family, whose soccer-style vibe clashes with some tournaments but meshes smoothly with Davis Cup. As the visiting villain, Isner performed more convincingly than anyone could have expected for his debut with Team USA. Littered with jagged plot twists, the match ebbed and flowed from one determined competitor to the other, infusing this often moribund competition with renewed energy and relevance.
4) Tsonga d. Almagro (Australian Open, 4th round): The men’s tournament in Melbourne was rife with spectacular first-week epics such as Youzhny-Gasquet, Blake-Del Potro, Del Potro-Cilic, and Roddick-Gonzalez. But this marathon five-setter climbed above the rest as a result of its steadily escalating intensity, for each brilliant shotmaker forced the other further into the realm of implausibility during its final stages. Generally more focused upon the journey than the destination, both Tsonga and Almagro shine most brightly in such moments, while their cordial post-match greeting shone just as brightly for those who appreciate classiness on court.
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