Nadal, Big Four had their share of barn-burners in 2015

It is again time to hand out our year-end awards. Today, we look at the top men's matches of 2015, but click here to check out the rest of our list.

Top men's matches of the year

1. Fabio Fognini def. Rafael Nadal, US Open 3R, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4

From the beginning, this night match on Arthur Ashe stadium was dubbed a much-watch, and it more than lived up to its billing. Nadal was having an up-and-down season, and Fognini was 2-1 against the Spaniard coming into the third-round encounter.

A few weeks earlier, in Hamburg, they nearly came to blows after Fognini, purportedly upset with his opponent's service pace, started a war of words with Nadal. In New York, there was tension, but strictly because of the on-court swings in momentum and high-quality play.

Though his form leading into the tournament had been questionable, Nadal looked solid and appeared to be in command as he took a two-set lead. But Fognini dug in, defying his temperamental reputation to take the next two as midnight approached.

By then, all attention was on this match, and Fognini's performance was exhilarating. The Italian wrapped up the fifth set with a flurry of winners that almost reduced Nadal to a spectator. Fognini completed his improbable turnaround against one of the game's greatest competitors.

2. Leonardo Mayer def. Joao Souza, Davis Cup 1R, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5), 5-7, 5-7, 15-13

It took 6 hours, 43 minutes -- the longest Davis Cup singles in history and the second-longest singles match of all time. Mayer walked on the court with Argentina down 2-1 against Brazil, while Souza had already gone five sets in the opening singles of the tie between these two South American rivals.

The match went on and on. The energy from the crowd in Buenos Aires kept the players going when they could hardly stand.

"Amazing, and not just for the way they played tennis," Argentine captain Daniel Orsanic said afterward, referring to the physical strain the players had been under on the red clay.

It took so long that Federico Delbonis and Thomaz Bellucci had to come back to finish the deciding singles match the next day, with Delbonis finally sending Argentina through.

With Davis Cup now introducing a fifth-set tiebreaker, it's a record that likely won't go anywhere anytime soon.

3. Richard Gasquet def. Stan Wawrinka, Wimbledon quarters, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 11-9

Backhand for backhand, it was one of the prettiest matches of the year. Gasquet began in unusually assertive fashion, taking the first set before Wawrinka, the reigning French Open champion, began to impose himself. Even when he found himself behind, however, the Frenchman kept the pressure on and sent the match to a fifth set.

Gasquet had been to the semifinals once before, coming from two sets down a round before to make it that far. But that was 2008. The second time would be just as dramatic. He went up 5-3 in the fifth, fell back on serve but still refused to collapse. Gasquet held off another break point and then broke to seal the match.

4. Novak Djokovic def. Roger Federer, US Open final, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4

This was the year's most significant rivalry, with the two playing each other eight times. Djokovic won five of their meetings, two in Grand Slam finals at Wimbledon and the US Open, but Federer handed the Serb three of his six losses during the season.

None of their matches were classics, as they rarely played their best at the same time, but this was the best encounter of the season.

Djokovic took on an in-form Federer, a first-set pratfall and an unfriendly US Open crowd, and he still won comfortably. Federer began slowly following a rain-delayed start, but he displayed his increasingly varied game, highlighted by his new, sensational sneak-attack return.

Djokovic, however, was impenetrable, even coming up with a lob to fend off those new half-volley returns. He wobbled a bit up 5-2 in the fourth, but he regrouped to grab his 10th Grand Slam title.

5. Andy Murray def. Grigor Dimitrov, Cincinnati R16, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 7-5

It's not unusual for these two to play matches filled with long, exciting rallies, but they don't often produce such a rollercoaster. Dimitrov was up a set and two breaks in the second, with the end in close sight. Then Murray clawed back to win a tiebreaker and went up 2-0 in the third.

But the momentum changed again, with Dimitrov taking the next five games for a two-break, 5-2 lead. He serving for the match at 5-4, holding two match points. Along came Murray (again), who emerged victorious and somehow had the energy to go three sets and beat Gasquet in the next round.

6. Novak Djokovic def. Kevin Anderson, Wimbledon fourth round, 6-7 (6), 6-7 (6), 6-1, 6-4, 7-5

Djokovic played the maximum possible amount of Grand Slam matches this season, but none were tighter than this clash. Anderson's huge serving made this a competitive match, but it was his all-around play that had him on the cusp of beating the world No. 1.

Anderson came back from 3-1 down in the tiebreaker to win the first set and then had Djokovic on high alert by taking the second. But the Serb showed why he was having an all-time season, lifting his game to take the next two before play was stopped for the night.

Things got even better when they returned the next day. It was tense right up until the final point, when Anderson dumped a backhand into the net. Djokovic roared in triumph, just as he had often done in frustration during the two-day match.

Though it was Anderson's seventh unsuccessful attempt at reaching a Grand Slam quarterfinal, he would get through in his very next try at the US Open.

7. Novak Djokovic def. Ernests Gulbis, Montreal QF, 5-7, 7-6 (7), 6-1

Djokovic had such a great season, not only because he won the matches he should have, but because he won those he should not have. This was definitely one of them.

Djokovic and Gulbis trained at the same academy, and in Montreal, the Latvian began the match playing like they were right back there. He had to qualify for the tournament, but by this point, Gulbis was back in the fine form he has produced on some occasions, pushing Djokovic back and hitting winners left and right.

But despite facing two match points in the tiebreaker, the top seed somehow grabbed the second set and ran away with the third. "Very lucky," he wrote on the camera following the match.

8. Roger Federer def. Andy Murray, Wimbledon semifinals, 7-5, 7-5, 6-4

A straight-sets encounter, but nevertheless this was one of the highest-quality matches of the season. It featured what might be one of the best games of all time -- a 14-minute tussle in which Murray came from 0-40 down to hold at 5-4 in the second set. Though he won that game, it was Federer who won all three sets, breaking Murray right at the finish each time.

The seven-time champion called it perhaps his best serving performance ever, while smacking 56 winners in the victory.

"I didn't actually play a bad match," Murray told the press afterward.

9. Marin Cilic def. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, US Open quarterfinals, 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4

Tsonga had been looking sharp in the previous rounds, but started slowly in this match until he called the trainer to look at his knee injury. The Frenchman was already two sets down by that point, but he unleashed his powerful game to take the third.

A pulsating fourth set followed, with Tsonga fending off three match points to hold at 5-4 and then secured the tiebreaker as a roaring crowd urged the match into a fifth set.

Cilic admitted he was almost a broken player by that point but found a way to gather himself and eventually emerged as the winner.

It would take more than four hours and five match points, but Cilic provided a reminder of why he was the defending champion at this event.

10. Rafael Nadal def. Tim Smyczek, Australian Open 2R, 6-2, 3-6, 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-5

It was supposed to be a routine match for Nadal, and it started off looking that way. But as would frequently happen during the season, the Spaniard contrived to make the encounter far more interesting than it should have been.

Upon dropping the second set, Nadal called for the doctor and then began sweating heavily and complaining of nausea in the third.

But he hung in, took a tense fourth set and was serving for the match in the fifth when a loud fan interrupted his motion, producing a fault. Noting what had happened, Smyczek told Nadal to take two serves, a gesture of sportsmanship that became the most memorable moment of the match.

Nadal won that point and, eventually, the game for the win. But it was Smyczek who won a legion of admirers.