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.

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    The Crowd Says (14)

    • December 6th 2012 @ 10:14am
      The Kebab Connoisseur said | December 6th 2012 @ 10:14am | ! Report

      For all the money we chuck at tennis in Australia we get very little back other than to kiss the backsides of these Johhny and Tatiana Foreigners every January. “Ohh, how do you like Australia….?” blah blah blah. They proceed to take all our money and head back to Monte Carlo full of Aussie dollars. Kids in Oz today, just do not get into tennis like they once did and the path way to the top is very murky and without well off parents you ain’t going to get anywhere near it, even if you are Bjorn Borg incarnate.

      We have 20 odd males in the top 100 in golf, and many, many, many more players playing that sport coast to coast. Maybe that money or a lot of the funding should be in golf. Possibly elevate the Australian Open to the US PGA Tour and get the prize money to $8 Million USD.

      We are spending 100s of millions on Flinders Park in Melbourne for the 2 week event, then you have this blank cheque we hand out to duds like Tomic and the other clowns out there. Golf should get more of the funding in the future, it is just ridiculous so much goes into tennis which not many people play.

      • December 6th 2012 @ 10:54am
        clipper said | December 6th 2012 @ 10:54am | ! Report

        The Kebab Connoisseur – we have 7 players in the top 100 in golf and 3 in the top 100 in tennis, with a 4th (Ebden) just outside the 100. These rankings are often cyclical, although I don’t think we’ll ever have our golden period of tennis again, for many reasons. I also doubt that there are many more people playing golf than tennis in Australia. Tennis has become far more international, and so has Golf, but not to the same degree.
        The tourists and their money that flow into the country for the Australian Open would more that outweigh the cost, especially with all the TV rights thrown in.
        If we had a one of the slams in Golf here, I’m sure you’d have the same situation with the foreigner heading overseas with the cash. We’re lucky to have one of the Grand Slams here, even if our Tennis stocks will never reach their former glories.

        • December 6th 2012 @ 11:30am
          Scotty said | December 6th 2012 @ 11:30am | ! Report

          I agree. Australia prospers greatly from the tournament, with millions of dollars of revenue being brought into the country by tourists and foreigners. And Kebab, I;m not sure what you are saying is correct, according to the ABS in 2009, approximately 9% of children participated in tennis as an organised sport.

          ABS did not publish statistics on golf participation but I would not think it would be higher. Australians should be proud of the fact that we host one of the 4 most recognised prizes in world tennis. We should embrace it, and let all people from across the world visit our country with the unified view of watching some good tennis.

          I agree that tennis is not what it used to be, but I believe that this is part of a larger issue, unrelated to tourists coming here to ‘take all our money.’

          • December 6th 2012 @ 12:37pm
            The Kebab Connoisseur said | December 6th 2012 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

            It is fine to have the Oz Open, great and all that. But, does tennis deserve all the funding it gets directly from our taxes as opposed to other sports?

            The Open was always here, even without the government chucking good money after bad at it.

            Not sure if I buy into the believe that Melbourne is “swamped” by Johnny Foreigners spending their hard earned down here. You get the odd few, but mostly, overwhelmingly it is us locals who rock up.

            Point is, other sports also need a leg up. Particularly golf, which has far more players. The government should get the PGA tour of America to play a few tourneys down here before Xmas a year. And funding should come out of the tennis handouts.

            • December 6th 2012 @ 1:06pm
              Scotty said | December 6th 2012 @ 1:06pm | ! Report

              I’m still not sure that golf has more players than tennis but that is irrelevant. And I disagree, after being at the Australian Open, I do think that a large percentage of fans are from overseas.

              However, I do agree that it would be great to see more golf tournaments in Australia. I also agree that other sports should have more funding. I just dont know where you are getting that tennis is getting the most monetry support from government. A lot of the money that Tennis Australia makes is due to the Australian Open, where spectators spend their money. What TA does with this money is another story….but regardless, a large portion of TA income, comes from the Australian Open. And if what you are saying is true, why Tennis?
              FFA just recently wasted 40 million AUD on a failed world cup bid. Why not blame soccer for the funding problems with golf?

              • Roar Rookie

                December 6th 2012 @ 8:43pm
                neily_b said | December 6th 2012 @ 8:43pm | ! Report

                I’m not sure about over the general population but I know where I live you would be struggling to find ten golfers under 16, but there are enough junior tennis players at coaching for 3 different classes, 4 times a week. The work tennis Australia does with junior tennis players is one of the best junior sports programs I have seen so I think the money we put into this is completely warranted. This shows with us having both junior Wimbledon champions last year and 4 male junior grand slam titles in the last 5 years, more than any other country. Considering only one of these was won in Australia, we’re bringing some of the money we send back with the champions. And one of the main increases in money injected into it was to even out the prize money between women and men, something which ours was the first grand slam to do.
                I think the money we are putting into the sport will pay off, we just have to wait for the next generation to come through.

    • Roar Guru

      December 6th 2012 @ 11:39am
      Alan Nicolea said | December 6th 2012 @ 11:39am | ! Report

      David Goffin is from Belgium Neily. Good article though. Looking forward to the Australian summer of Tennis. Always a great time. Tomic and Hewitt have a mountain of work to do if they are to defend their fourth round appearances at the Australian Open this year. Also hoping Del Potro can just go up a few gears and push the top players like he did at the ATP tour finals this year.

      • Roar Rookie

        December 6th 2012 @ 8:54pm
        neily_b said | December 6th 2012 @ 8:54pm | ! Report

        Oh my bad, I must have seen the flag wrong! I really think Tomic and Hewitt will struggle early this year with so many points to defend and unfortunately that could ruin their season. I do think though that Del Potro is going to be the biggest threat to the top 4, especially at the hard court tournaments and it would be good to see him win another grand slam and break their dominance a bit.

    • Roar Pro

      December 6th 2012 @ 12:46pm
      Justin Cormick said | December 6th 2012 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

      Nice article, this year was an awesome year in tennis. Do you think anyone outside the top four can win a grandslam in 2013? If anyone can I think it would be Berdych or Del Potro and probably at the Australian Open or the US Open. That seems to be when everyone is still just getting started or getting a bit worn out.

      • Roar Rookie

        December 6th 2012 @ 8:49pm
        neily_b said | December 6th 2012 @ 8:49pm | ! Report

        I would like to see some players outside the Top 4 win something this year. Personally I reckon Murray will probably be a lot stronger now that he has his first title and I think Nadal will struggle to come back early in the season but as always he will be hard to beat in Paris. If anyone is going to do it though I think the favourite would have to be Ferrer purely because of his clay court ability. Other than that I think the main threats would have to be Berdych, Del Potro and Tsonga, pretty much anyone with a strong serve and fairly heavy ground strokes, although there are some real talents coming through who could be dark horses. I really want to see guys like Raonic and Nishikori be successful this year!

      • December 7th 2012 @ 2:54am
        Colin N said | December 7th 2012 @ 2:54am | ! Report

        It’s just the consistency of the top four guys that make them so hard to beat and, even if you’re in the 5-8 bracket of seeds, you still may have to beat three of the top-four to win a grand slam.

        That’s what made Del Potro’s US Open win remarkable in 2009 in the sense that he beat Nadal and Federer on the way to the title. However, it was Wawrinka who dispatched of Murray earlier on which made Del Potro’s run slightly (and I use that term loosely) easier. So, if Murray had managed to come through against the Swiss player, it would have been Murray, Nadal, Federer, which makes it so difficult for those outside of the top-four to make a significant challenge, however good they are.

        As a Brit, I think I can now relax somewhat when I watch Murray now he’s won that first major. It would have been a travesty had he gone through his career without getting a Grand Slam

    • Roar Pro

      December 6th 2012 @ 9:10pm
      Justin Cormick said | December 6th 2012 @ 9:10pm | ! Report

      You could be right about Nadal, if he is ever gone lose the French Open again it could be this year.

    • December 7th 2012 @ 11:07pm
      Frankie Hughes said | December 7th 2012 @ 11:07pm | ! Report

      Nadal can win at Roland Garros playing at only 40-50%. His only loss was when he was at 20-25%, and it still took Soderling painting the lines to knock him out.

      Ferrer isn’t gonna beat Nadal on clay. Ferrer win their first meeting on clay, when Nadal was 15-16. Nadal has made Ferrer ever since!

      • December 10th 2012 @ 6:34pm
        Aden said | December 10th 2012 @ 6:34pm | ! Report

        Methinks someone is a Nadal fan.

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