Did tennis fans get their wishes fulfilled in 2012?
What did the fans wish for?
Roger Federer fans would have wanted him to get back to the Grand Slam winners’ circle. He hadn’t won a slam since the Australian Open ‘10 and neither he nor his fans were used to such a long barren period. The greedier among the Federer fans would have also wanted him to regain the No.1 ranking. He hadn’t been No. 1 since May ‘10 and people had started wondering if he will ever be able to get back to that spot and overtake Pete Sampras to set the record for most weeks at No. 1 in the ATP rankings.
It is not hard to guess what Andy Murray fans would have wanted – they would have wanted him to break his Grand Slam drought after losing three finals. While no one doubted his talent, people had started saying it was now or never.
More than anything else, Rafael Nadal fans would have wanted him to break his losing streak to Djokovic. Novak had a stranglehold over Rafa in all of ‘11 defeating him in all six finals they played including the Wimbledon and the US open. The domination was complete and spanned all surfaces including Clay – Rafa’s favourite.
Novak Djokovic fans would have been perhaps, the most realistic of the lot. He had an incredible run in ‘11 and won pretty much everything except for the French Open and the fans knew that it would be next to impossible for him to repeat that feat. They would have still wanted him to win Grand Slams and be No. 1, but maybe not expect Novak to do as well as he did in ’11.
The neutrals would have wished for a great rivalry among the top 4. They would also wanted another challenger or two in the fray.
In addition to all the above, the romantics would have loved for a fairytale comeback or two and maybe some tearful exits.
Did they get their wishes fulfilled?
Short answer – they did! Djokovic continued where he left off last year and won the Australian Open, though Murray and Nadal both provided him stiff resilience by taking him to 5 sets. Nadal finally figured a way past Djokovic and defeated him in three finals. Federer won the Wimbledon one more time, regained No. 1 and went past Sampras. Murray broke his duck by winning the US Open and also delighted the British fans by winning an Olympics gold medal in London.
The neutrals enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t one player that dominated the year. For the first time since 2003 when Agassi, Ferrero, Federer and Roddick won the four Slams, 2012 had four different Grand Slam champions.
The field outside the top 4 continued to get stronger as well. Juan Martin Del Potro completed his comeback from injury and won four tournaments through the course of the year as well as an Olympic bronze. David Ferrer finished the year-ending championship ranked No. 5 and won seven tournaments on the way, more than any other player this season. Ferrer also won more matches than any other player this year. Tomas Berdych challenged the top 4 from time to time and currently ranked No. 6, he is leading the Czech team against the Spanish team in the Davis Cup final.
Tennis romantics also had plenty of excitement. Tommy Haas and Brian Baker led the comeback list with incredible stories of perseverance and strength of character. Former Grand Slam champions Andy Roddick & Juan Carlos Ferrero rounded off their wonderful illustrious careers by retiring at their favourite venues. Former top 10 players Fernando Gonzales and Rainer Schuttler also retired.
What can we expect in 2013?
Men’s tennis is enjoying a very exciting period right now. The rivalry at the top of the tennis world is better than ever and what makes it even more enjoyable is the great deal of mutual respect among the top players – the exchanges of volleys are limited to the court and don’t reach press conferences!
The fans surely missed Nadal’s presence in the second-half of the year and while the news on his injury wasn’t encouraging at first, more recent news articles indicate that Rafa will be back on the circuit in the new year. Doesn’t that set us up beautifully for the 2013 Australian Open?