ATP Grand Slams 2012: Year in review

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    As the year draws to a close and we eagerly await the start of the next Australian summer of tennis, it is a good chance to look at the major moments of this year’s ATP grand slams.

    In a year that saw all of the top four men secure a grand slam title, 2012 will be more remembered for continued rivalries and some unknown players getting their moment in the public eye.

    At the beginning of the year it looked like Novak Djokovic would continue his domination of the world through 2012 as he made his way through to the final of the Australian Open, clinching a tough five-set win over then world number two Rafael Nadal, who had managed to get past Roger Federer in the semi-final.

    It wasn’t all easy for Djokovic in his run though as he had to overcome local wildcard Lleyton Hewitt in the fourth round and just managed to sneak past Andy Murray in the semi-final in another hard-fought five setter.

    It was fitting that the first grand slam of the year had the top two men in the world contesting the final after defeating the third and fourth best in the semis.

    This tournament also gave some faint hope back to a resurgence in Australian tennis as local hopes Bernard Tomic and Lleyton Hewitt took out four seeded players between them including big hitting Milos Raonic and flamboyant Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov, before both fell to eventual semi-finalists.

    This tournament gave a rise to young Japanese gun Kei Nishikori who became the first Japanese man in the open era to reach a grand slam quarter final, but all this was over-shadowed by the biggest dummy-spit of the year.

    The award for this goes to the former finalist and crowd favourite from Cyprus who managed to break not one, not two, not even three but four of his tennis rackets during an outburst at a change of ends!

    This was followed by the rest of the hard court season before April saw the start of the clay court season and the dominance once again of the Spanish and Argentinean players leading into the French Open.

    This brought with it few surprises as we saw 15 seeded players reach the fourth round, along with a practically unheard-of lucky loser David Goffin, from Germany.

    As we have seen in previous years though, Rafael Nadal continued his domination on the French clay, not dropping a set on his way until the final where he again met Novak Djokovic, who he managed to overcome in four sets.

    This was Nadal’s seventh French Open title, surpassing the record of six, previously held by Bjorn Borg.

    There was another familiar sight in this tournament as we watched all the Australian men fall in the first round apart from Bernard Tomic failed to advance past the second round.

    The short turn around before the Wimbledon Championships saw two former champions, Tommy Haas and Andy Roddick, take the spoils heading into the year’s most prestigious tennis tournament.

    New German hope from the French Open, David Goffin, again continued his charge reaching the third round and taking out Bernard Tomic in the first round.

    We also saw American qualifier, Brian Baker, reach the fourth round after taking out Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.

    As far as unheard of players go though, the pick of the bunch was world number 100, Lukas Rosol, who caused on of the biggest upsets of recent years taking out world number two, Rafael Nadal, in the second round.

    Apart from Nadal the semi-finals were again controlled by the top men with Roger Federer taking out defending champion, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray defeating Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

    This made Murray the first British man to reach the Wimbledon final since Bunny Austin in 1938, but he couldn’t go that step further as he fell to Federer in four sets, giving Federer his seventh Wimbledon title to equal Pete Sampras and helping him regain the world number 1 ranking.

    The doubles also caught some attention at Wimbledon as wildcard pair Jonathon Marray and Frederik Nielsen took out four of the top 10 seeds, including the world number two Bryan brothers in the semi-final and number five, Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau in the final in five tough sets.

    Following his second round defeat at Wimbledon, was a long rest period for Rafael Nadal as we withdrew from the rest of the year with a knee injury.

    With London this year hosting the Olympic Games it meant we had the chance to return to Wimbledon less than a month later to see who would take the medals.

    There were mixed fortunes for the Australians as Bernard Tomic was dispatched in the first round by quarter-finalist Kei Nishikori, while Lleyton Hewitt managed to reach the third round where he was unlucky enough to play Novak Djokovic who he pushed to three sets.

    Once again though, the top men took the spotlight with Andy Murray rolling over Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer outlasting Juan Martin Del Potro 19-17 in the third.

    Federer just couldn’t back up from this and was cleaned up in three relatively easy sets as Murray claimed the gold medal but Del Potro recovered remarkably to outdo Djokovic for the Bronze medal.

    This was the start of a great run for Murray, who also claimed the mixed doubles silver medal with young talent Laura Robson.

    Just a month after this we were headed to New York for the final grand slam of the year.

    In the absence of Rafael Nadal the rest of the seeded players flourished with once again only one unseeded man reaching the fourth round in Martin Klizan, who defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga during this time.

    This tournament included some milestone becoming the first grand slam since the 2004 French Open to feature neither Nadal nor Roger Federer in the semi-finals.

    Federer was defeated by Tomas Berdych and it also featured Andy Roddick’s last professional match as he retired following his fourth round defeat to Juan Martin Del Potro.

    But this tournament belonged to Andy Murray as he reached the final with three consecutive defeats of top 20 players, where he met Novak Djokovic in his third grand slam final of the year.

    Djokovic was the defending champion and came into the match as favourite but very few people would have expected what unfolded in this match.

    In what was the equal longest US Open final in history, Murray managed to survive five hard-hitting sets to claim his maiden grand slam title and the first singles victory for a British man since Fred Perry in 1936.

    This means that at the end of 2012, Novak Djokovic has finished with the world number one ranking that he started with, while Roger Federer slotted back into second place.

    Andy Murray has moved into third place and Rafael Nadal’s injury that caused him to miss the second half of the year means he has dropped back to fourth place in the rankings.