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At long last the caravan that rolls around through the year beginning Down Under, traversing the entire the entire world before pitching tent in London signaled a temporary halting of proceedings for 2012. This tennis year was one that could be described in many ways notably historic, phenomenal and perhaps more than any other 'a season of parity'. In a season of split successes amongst the 'Big Four' Novak Djokovic emerged as the first among equals on the ATP Tour while Victoria Azarenka took her place on top of the WTA rankings holding off Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.
It was a rare year that included the Olympics, held at London on this occasion and on the hallowed Wimbledon turf to boot, and the tournament was a wonderful addition to the calendar bringing forth a level of emotion dissimilar from those seen at the annual tournaments storied though they may be. Like any year, it had its moments of bitterness and controversy to balance the wonderful storylines and the remarkable achievements over the year. All in all this year was memorable and on that note let's take a dive down memory lane to review the professional tennis year of 2012.
ATP Tour â€“ Year in Review
To begin, let's cast our eye on the ATP Tour where we witnessed an occurrence for the first time since 2003. Messrs Agassi, Ferrero, Federer & Roddick are pedigreed tennis players but what binds them is that they were the champions at the 4 slams in 2003. It was a remarkable phase in men's tennis which saw 8 different slam winners in the 8 slams over 2002 and 2003. Since then, Federer began to dominate the tour in a manner hitherto unseen, until Nadal managed to upstage the maestro in a couple of phenomenal years before of course Djokovic happened last year. All this left the trio on a reasonably level pegging with Andy Murray just waiting to break that door down. All these came together in the perfect storm which was 2012.
It almost felt like the year went schizophrenic as it took on the personalities of its different leaders as the months passed on. Djokovic began 2012 where he left off in 2011 taking the Australian Open crown after yet another battle for the ages with Nadal. The Serb ripped apart his shirt and let out an animal like roar to signal his battle cry for the year. The rest waited and bided their time to take on the seemingly invincible Serb. The spring came and the season moved to the clay and once again it was Djokovic v Nadal, this time in Monte Carlo. Nadal hadn't lost here in 7 years, it didn't happen in the 8th either as he arrested a 7 match losing slump to the Serb. He repeated the result in Rome, following a "slip-up" by both men on Madrid's experimental blue clay, to go into the French once again the favourite. He bested Djokovic once again there in the final to deny the Serb the grand slam while taking his 7th title on the red stuff. That was to be Nadal's last hurrah as his zenith didn't gradually taper like the gently rolling hills, but rather resembled the edge of a cliff as he was first rocked by a Czech at Wimbledon before being checkmated by his suspect knees knocking him out for the rest of the year.
Grass has always been a sight for Federer's sore eyes and so many of his greatest moments have come at the All-England Club at Wimbledon. The Swiss Maestro had a fantastic finish to 2011 winning 3 titles on the trot and had continued to ride his slightly retooled offensive approach to 4 other titles including 2 masters in the first half of the year. This dangled the carrot of World No.1 in front of him if he could recapture his beloved Wimbledon crown with Djokovic losing before the final. The draw put the two on a collision course for the semis and the Swiss overcame the Serb with a superb display of grass court tennis. Andy Murray was up next and the Brit put the fear of god into Federer dominating the first set and holding the upper hand through much of the early part of the match. The Maestro though turned on the genius to steal the second and upping the ante eventually wore down Murray using all the considerable skills at his disposal. As he held up the trophy for the 7th time equaling Sampras' modern Wimbledon record, Roger Federer for the third separate occasion was World No.1. Federer went on to stay on top of the World all the way till the first week of November as he became the first ever man to reach 300+ weeks as the ATP World No. 1.
His loss at Wimbledon to Roger Federer had reduced Andy Murray to tears as the Brit revealed his emotional side to the British fans. But 3 weeks later coming back to the lawns, this time liveried in Olympic colours, he rode the support and sympathy wave ousting Djokovic in the semis before blasting past Roger Federer in the finale to claim Olympic gold. It was a glorious triumph which he capped by capturing silver in the mixed partnering rising tyro Laura Robson. Del Potro captured an emotional bronze upending Djokovic in what was undoubtedly the Serb's least successful part of the season. The tour then moved on to the North American hard courts and Federer seemed to have Djokovic's measure as he handed the Serb a bagel in the Cincinnati final enroute to his 5th title there. The title left Federer one of the favourites heading into the final slam of the year in New York, but the world. No.1 was upset by an on song Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinal. The Czech however could not get past Andy Murray as the Brit made his second consecutive final to face defending champion Djokovic. Murray showed tremendous game to take the tight first two sets and seemed all set to not become the first man in history to lose his first 5 slam finals. Djokovic fought back to even to take it into a decider but Murray showed marvelous gumption to tough it out as he sank to his haunches and joined his hands over his nose to celebrate his first ever slam.
Heading into the final phase of the year, it was all for Djokovic to do to restore his standing as the world's best player and the Serb took the bull by the horns in the final phase. He began by winning Beijing before fighting back to claim the Shanghai crown against Andy Murray. An early loss in Paris notwithstanding, he headed into the World Tour Finals as the confirmed year end world no.1 when Federer chose to withdraw from Paris after Basel. However in the eyes of the spectators and many in the journalistic community the title of player of the year was far from decided heading into the World Tour Finals. Djokovic though was not to be denied as he defied Federer in a classic final to emerge as champion to bring the season to a fitting end.
Also Read: Part 2: WTA Tour â€“ Year in Review.
Photograph by Dan Galbraith
- 13/12/2012 08:07 - Francesca Schiavone, Su-Wei Hsieh and Sorana Cirstea heading to Hobart
- 12/12/2012 07:27 - Ebden and Gajdosova awarded wildcards for Brisbane
- 11/12/2012 16:51 - Djokovic and Williams named 2012 ITF World Champions