Sunday, December 02, 2012

2012 ATP Players of the Year

Hey Y'all...Merry X-Mas!

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving and bought loads of stuff on Black Friday. I have been busier then Hillary Clinton's pilot this week. The house has had serious renovations. We've had no shower for weeks now....if you are ever in this situation you have to have friends who will let you use their showers, otherwise ...well, you're in trouble. Anyway, tis the season for ridiculous Christmas songs so here is one now-

and a bonus one, too-

I'm sorry to all Nadal fans but I can't put him on this list -- he gets a special mention for dominating the clay season and playing a brilliant Aussie Open final but, well, as you know, he only played six months and even retired from matches in March. So well done and we hope you get fit soon. Maybe we'll see you in Australia and maybe we'll never see you play a professional match again, but either way you are missed.

1. Djokovic
...Had Federer won the WTF this would have been his spot for sure. And he did outplay Djokovic in the final, but yet again Djokovic managed to win. As the courts gradually get slower and slower, offensive players are getting less and less rewards for their attacking prowess. None the less, Djokovic has had another fantastic year. And if he stays injury free -- have you seen what the guy puts his body through? -- then next year should be another good one. However, one thing to bear in mind is that both Djokovic and Murray will turn 26 next year. That just sounds older all of a sudden. Mind you the Fed is 32 next year and Nadal turns 28. Perhaps the next generation may start to come through a little. This is especially true because as you get older your body generally starts to weaken a little unless your Batman or Navratilova, of course. They all still have ages on the tour, but just bear in mind that many many things can change in two years. Anyway...congrats to the Serb on a fantastic year, but he'll look back on that US Open final choke with regret surely.
2. Federer
...A few surprise losses to players like Roddick, Berdych and Haas aside (and actually he loses to mostly pretty decent players anyway), he's had an amazing year. A seventh Wimbledon title, and a couple of grand slam semis, too. Age-wise, perhaps comparisons between 2003-05 Agassi and this Federer can be drawn. Federer is the greatest player ever by some way (Sampras never even got to the final of the French, Laver won 'just' 11 slams and Nadal is pretty much a one slam player who's won 'just' four slams out side of the French) and I don't think anyone is going to surpass him. But in 2012 he took the number one ranking once more, got to another WTF final and did so much. He is the only person ever to win a Masters 1000 tournament without having his serve broken or losing a set the entire tournament at the 2012 Cincy Masters. And you can count the amount of break points he faced on your fingers, too.
3. Murray
...He won his first slam. OK he got lucky. OK he was unconvincing. OK he only won because Marin Cilic threw away a 6-2/6-1 lead in the quarters. OK Djokovic choked in the final. OK he was one of the least convincing slam winners ever. OK so he played several abysmal matches during it. Ok he didn’t play brilliantly in the Quarters or the Semis or the Finals, BUT he still won. He also won the Olympic Gold too (although I hope he sent some of his Gold medal to Delpo for wearing Fed out) and had a great second half of the year. The first half though was not so good. And he lost to Jerzy in Paris, too. A 'Breakout' Year for Murray in 2012 will surely be followed up by a disappointing good 2013, too. However one never really knows with Tiger Tim Murray.
4. Ferrer
...Mr. Consistency himself was awesome. He had Murray at Wimbledon but just let it slip. Had he beaten Murray at Wimbledon. he would have gotten to the semis of every single slam. He also made two Semi-Finals at grand slam level. He won a tour leading 7 titles and was let down by Almagro in the Davis Cup despite being brilliant himself. He is the best right handed Spaniard on clay (see what I did there) and is polite and liked by all.
5. The Bryans
...More records fell at the Bryans feet this year. They finished at number one once more and they won slams, too. They both got married and one of them had a baby. I think it was Mike. They also had a pretty good Davis Cup. So well done to them.
6. Czech Davis Cup team
...They went and won the thing. They also took the Hopman Cup. They beat Argentina and Spain, too. They have had a great year. I'm going to include here Berdych, who had a decent year, too. Losing to Gulbis in the 1st round of Wimbledon wasn't so good, but that had upset written all over it. He beat Federer and had Nadal on the ropes at the hard court slams. However that handshake business with Almagro was not acceptable.
7. Del Potro
...The Big Man is back battling the big guns. His forehand up the line is back, too. He looks very good, too. He will do well in 2013, you watch. He finished the year brilliantly (I'm going to ignore Paris because it is the Masters no one cares about...sorry Paris, but its true.) and looks set to cause some damage in the year to come.
8. Haas
...The comeback king was at it again this year. He upset Fed in Halle in the final and got to other ATP finals, too. He finished at around 20 in the world, which is a fantastic achievement. He is now I believe the German number one (please correct me on that, though, if I’m wrong) and is showing us how mighty the one-handed backhand still is. He also played a couple of epics against David Nalbandian.
9. Tipsarevic
...Took part in a Match of the Year contender against Ferrer in the US Open QF. He has a limited, but very powerful, compact game. He was not given loads to work with but he has maximized it like Ferrer and he is an excellent player. He did well in 2012, too. He won titles and got to the latter rounds of slams.
10. Gasquet
...He had a consistent year and reached the 4th round at all slams and ended up with a very good 12-4 record. He also got to three finals at the 250 and 1000 levels. He has finished at world number 10. It took him two years to get back in the top ten from when he fell out of it in 2009. And perhaps in 2013 he can crack the top 8. Just perhaps.
HM- Nadal & U.S. Davis Cup Team
...Nadal as I mentioned up the top! Also, the US Davis Cup team for all the upsets and a pretty good tournament.

RISER: David Ferrer
FRESH FACE: Jerzy Janowicz
JUNIOR: Luke Saville
SURPRISE: Jerzy Janowicz
VETERANS: Lleyton Hewitt/David Nalbandian
COMEBACK: Tommy Haas
DOWN: Mardy Fish
TEAM/DUO: The Bryans
MOST IMPROVED: Richard Gasquet
UNDERRATED: Florian Mayer
OVERRATED: Andy Murray
PLAYER TO WATCH in '13: Juan Martin Del Potro
NATION TO WATCH in '13: France

I have mentioned Patrick before, and we had a 'biggest upset' discussion. Oh, one thing to bear in mind is that Patrick's a fan of Isner, Murray, Dolgopolov and Nishikori. They're his faves. I've tried to edit it a bit so it's readable, but so the info is there and here it is:

Galileo: I'm going to have to compile a top 10 upsets of the season so far

Patrick: Rosol

Galileo: Rosol def nadal, janowicz def murray, garcia lopez def murray....berdych def federer at the us open?

Patrick: Roddick def federer

Galileo: I'd forgotten that one

Patrick: Querrey def djokovic, klizan def tsonga

Galileo: Oh chardy def murray

Patrick: Kohlschreiber def nadal, verdasco def nadal

Galileo: Haas--haas beats federer, del potro def federer

Patrick: Nishikori bagel ferrer (at the olympics) , marray/nielsen beats bryans/lindstedt-tecau

Galileo: Lopez def isner

Patrick: Llodra def isner and delpo in straights, matheiu def isner, falla def isner, mahut def murray

Galileo: Goffin/mahut take set off federer

Patrick: Goffin def isner , dolgopolov def tsonga, gulbis def berdych

Galileo: Raonic def murray in barcelona?

And the ATP 2013 will be forthcoming, too, but I wish you all the best, folks, and this made me feel good-

If you want something more christmassy though-

Don't forget to go to WTA BACKSPIN -- Todd just wrote a vvvvveerrryy long and interesting article entitled the "WTA Yearbook" After I have finished writing the 2013 predictions, he's going to put me back in the cupboard till January the first.

And speaking of...

1. Andy Murray, GBR
...sure, he had an inconsistent season as he learned to adapt to the "Lendl Way," and even had a few head-shaking losses AFTER his biggest '12 moments. But, oh, what moments they were. If you think about the two biggest results on tour this season, it's likely that the Scot's taking of the Olympic Gold in London and his first slam title at the U.S. Open occupy two of the top three spots (along w/ Federer's defeat of him in the SW19 final), if not THE Top 2. At this point in Murray's career -- just like the far-more-accomplished Federer -- it's about finding those big moments, not simply having a fully consistent season. And Murray surely did that -- finally -- in 2012. And, for that, he's my ATP Player of the Year.
2. Roger Federer, SUI
...he defied convention and returned to the #1 ranking (breaking Sampras' record for most weeks in the top spot during a career), though he didn't finish the season there. He won another Wimbledon title, but failed to secure that elusive singles Gold in London a few weeks later. Playing more often, he racked up six titles, two additional slam semifinal appearances, and a runner-up result in the ATP World Tour Finals. If he'd only been able to win Gold over Murray, he'd been an easy #1 on this list for me... but Murray (with some help from del Potro vs. Federer one match earlier) seized that moment from him. Hence, #2.
3. Novak Djokovic, SRB
...he had much to live up to after his brilliant '11 campaign. And although he won the Australian Open, was RU in Paris and NYC (and a semifinalist in London) and managed to finish the year at #1, he just couldn't live up to last year. A 6-5 record in finals (vs. 10-1 in '11) is the first sign, as well as his inability to win a single Olympic medal in London. A fantastic season for anyone else... but he set the bar TOO high for himself a year ago for his '12 to not SEEM to be a bit disappointing.
4. Bob & Mike Bryan, USA
...the beat goes on. #1. Seven titles. A U.S. Open title and Olympic Gold, and RU results at two other slams.
5. Rafael Nadal, ESP
...sure, he missed much of the season, but I still think he deserves a mention in the middle of this list. After all, he won four titles, including yet another at Roland Garros, and was a finalist in Melbourne, as well.
6. David Ferrer, ESP
...always in his fellow Spaniard's shadow, often even during his absence, Ferrer made a name for himself this year. He led the tour in titles (7) and reached two slam semis.
7. Juan Martin del Potro, ARG
...if del Potro can insert himself into the title mix at the slams in '13, things are going to get mighty interesting. As '12 went along, the big Argentine surely started to resemble the monster of a champion he certainly seemed to be on the verge of becoming when he won the U.S. Open in '09 -- before the '10 wrist injury that has hampered him for the past two-plus years. He won four titles this season, pushed and beat the big boys (like he did in '09, when he beat both Federer and Nadal en route to his slam crown) and celebrated his Olympic Bronze as if it were a much brighter color. Crossing fingers that this is the (belated) start of something big(ger).
8. Czech Davis Cup Team a year in which Czech teams won the Hopman Cup (mixed team) and Fed Cup (women), it was fitting that the ATP men would make it a complete set and win the Davis Cup and make the Czech Republic the first nation to sweep all three in a single year. It was the first DC won by the Czechs as an independent nation, and the first by any Czech-stocked team since Czechoslovakia was crowned back in 1980.
9. Max Mirnyi & Daniel Nestor, BLR/CAN a pair,they won four titles, including the Roland Garros crown. Apart, Nestor won a fifth doubles title, while Mirnyi picked up a Mixed Doubles Gold with Vika Azarenka.
10. Leander Paes & Radek Stepanek, IND/CZE
...they won three titles as a duo, including the Australian Open. And they were U.S. Open finalists, as well.

Filip Peliwo, CAN: became first Canadian Boys slam champ (winning SW19 and US), and reached all four junior slam finals
Juan Monaco, ARG: entered '12 w/ three titles, then went 4-1 in finals
Robert Lindstedt & Horia Tecau, SWE/ROU: 4 titles, AO runners-up. Tecau took the AO Mixed crown.

All for now.

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