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At either end of a dazzling 2012, it was the captivating image of Novak Djokovic that held the world of tennis hostage. Images however, can never tell the entire story. In fact, these images trespass the perimeter of reality and prophecy. Djokovic might have ended the year as the World No.1 much like he did in 2011, but unlike last season, the Serb wasn’t the only one making all the headlines.
For one man 2012 represented the start of something, as Andy Murray ended Briton’s 76 year Grand Slam drought, on the other hand for another it was about reviving old times as Swiss Maestro Roger Federer clinched his seventh Wimbledon title. While in the Land of rabbits David Ferrer became the talk of the town as the Spanish baton went from Rafael Nadal to the little warrior (only for a year, may be) this despite the King of Clay’s seventh Roland Garros title that came in May.
Let’s look back at this magical year, where we had 4 Grand Slam champions for the first time since 2003.
Australian Open: Continuing from where we left off?
It all started at the Aussie Open where the ‘Big 4’ entered the tournament looking in great shape. So it was no surprise to see the four enter the semifinals, with Nadal facing great rival Federer while Murray (now coached by the Iceman – Ivan Lendl) took on the reigning champion Novak Djokovic. Neither of the two matches failed to live up to expectations, but the Murray-Djokovic tie stood out as the determined Serb won his match after being two sets to one down.
Entering the final after that long five setter up against his arch-rival Nadal, Djokovic seemed to be short-handed. The man however has defied odds for two years now, and has continued to do so at the final as he defended his Aussie Open title successfully by beating the Spaniard in five sets that lasted over six hours.
It was an unbelievable match which saw each player playing his best tennis, neither player deserved to lose the match that day, but so cruel is sport that someone has to win, and that day it was Djokovic.
Nadal’s Sensational Seven at Roland Garros
Rafa came into Roland Garros in great shape, unlike 2012. Prior to the event, Nadal had ended his 7 match losing streak against Novak, by beating the Serb at Monte-Carlo and then again at Rome to regain the title in Italy.
It was all set up for a classic final yet once more, but this time it was Nadal who was king. The Spaniard was looking for his seventh title and re-write history, while on the other hand Novak was looking for a fourth consecutive major and hold all four majors simultaneously.
The match started with frustration for the Serb as Djokovic was frustrated and continued to struggle and was wayward. As we progressed, Nadal kept growing and Djokovic seemed to have no answers. The World No.1 however fought back winning eight games in a row before the clouds opened up. It was that rain delay that postponed the match to the next day and gave Nadal a chance to recuperate. Nadal closed out the match the next day winning the last set 7-5.
With the win, Nadal surpassed Bjorn Borg’s six French Open titles, setting the record on the men's side.
Nadal’s Early Exit at The Championships
Perhaps the biggest upset in Wimbledon history was Lukas Rosol's well documented win over Rafael Nadal in the second round. The Czech ranked 100 in the world, played like the No.1 in the world making Nadal look ordinary. He moved the Spaniard side to side and in the end overcame the then World No.2 finishing the match in five sets.
Down two sets to one, Nadal started to play more like him in the fourth set by breaking Rosol twice to claim the set 6-2. With all the momentum with the Spaniard, it was time for the rain gods to intervene. As the players came out with the roof coming on, the Czech played some ‘unbelievable’ tennis as he overthrew the two time champion to write his name in the history books. The Czech won the match 6-7(9),6-4,6-4,2-6,6-4.
This was the first time since 2005 that Nadal didn’t make it past the second round in a Grand Slam tournament.
Federer adds Grand Slam number 17 at Wimbledon
At Wimbledon, Roger survived a great scare at the hands of Julien Benneteau (being two sets to love down), Federer took out reigning champion Novak Djokovic and then home favorite Andy Murray to win his seventh Wimbledon title, equalling Sampras's record.
Federer also returned to the top of the mountain by winning Wimbledon and becoming the new World No.1 for the first time since 2010. It was just what the Swiss deserved after claiming two Masters title preceding in 2012, before his triumph at The Championships.
Juan Martin Del Potro: Back with a Vengeance
In 2009, Juan Martin Del Potro stunned the world by capturing the US Open crown. His career however was set back a couple of years, as he suffered from a severe wrist injury. The Argentine was back this year and played some breathtaking tennis. What exemplifies his fantastic form this year is the fact that the Argentine got back to back wins over Roger Federer to end the year.
After missing almost a year, the Argentine came fighting back this year. In 2012, Del Potro ended the year ranked and won his country's only medal (Bronze) at the London Olympics.
Andy Murray: The Boy becomes a Man
Eight years after winning the junior US Open crown, Andy Murray met his destiny as he claimed his first major to end the 76 year British drought. The Scot realized his dream by overcoming Novak Djokovic for the second match in a row. Being coached by the Iceman – Ivan Lendl has definitely had a positive effect on his temperament and his ability to strategize.
The now World No.3 had earlier claimed the Gold Medal at the London Olympics by beating Djokovic and Federer in the semis and finals respectively.
Ferrer’s Resilience finally Rewarded
Being under Nadal’s shadow for most of his career, David Ferrer could never be his own man. This year however, with the former missing out most of the season through his knee injury, Ferrer found himself in the unusual spot of being the Spanish talisman. The tenacious Spaniard responded to the challenge by remaining unbeaten all through Spain’s Davis Cup campaign.
The gritty 30 year-old won an astonishing 76 matches in 2012 – the most by any player this year. He also won 7 titles, including a Masters Series event at Bercy. That was the Spaniard’s first career title at the Masters level.
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