What a year this has been for tennis, and we, as spectators, have thoroughly enjoyed it. Here’s our top ten moments that we’ve seen, accompanied with highlights just below.
10) Yaroslava Shvedova’s ‘Golden Set’
Having earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records, it simply had to make it onto our list of the best moments. Kazakh Yaroslava Shvedova (who was seeded 56th at Wimbledon 2012) made history be becoming the first player to win a whole set without losing a single point. However, the remarkable thing is that she did it against then world No.10 Sara Errani! If you’re wondering, in total it was 24 straight points, taking just 15 minutes. She won the match – unsurprisingly – 6-0, 6-4. It was probably the best moment of her tennis career, and she later said on Twitter, “Today I laid a golden egg!” But, it appears the egg didn’t hatch as she didn’t progress past the next round (the fourth) as she was next to face the eventual overall winner of the tournament – Serena Williams.
9) Heather Watson – First British Women to Win a WTA Title since 1988
We’ve waited a long time for a British female to have much success in the sport of tennis but that looks to be turning around now. Watson, aged just 20, won the Japan Open back in October. The win meant she’d jump back to British No.1 above Laura Robson. The final, against Chang Kai-chen, saw Heather win 7–5, 5–7, 7–6.
8) Lukas Rosol Beats Rafael Nadal
For Rafael Nadal, the Wimbledon tournament didn’t go well, as after his first round bye, his second round match was against Lukas Rosol. At the time, he was a 100+ ranked ATP player and therefore unseeded going into the tournament, but somehow – many suggest Nadal was injured as he didn’t play again professionally for the remainder of the season – managed to beat then world No.2 Rafael Nadal. However, Nadal did win the first set on tie-break, but Rosol’s serves were quite simply unstoppable, and by the end of the match – which finished 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 – he had smashed 22 aces. But still, the Czech was knocked out in the next round.
7) Jerzy Janowicz in Paris
The 22 year-old Pole burst onto the scene at this year’s Paris Masters 1000, beating three top 20 and two top 10 ranked players en-route to his first Masters 1000 final. In fact, he was the first qualifier to reach a Masters 1000 tournament since Canas in 2007, and the first qualifier to reach the Paris final since Stepanek in 2004. He lost in the final to David Ferrer though – who ended the season as world no.5 – in straight sets; if he had gone all the way, he would have been the first Pole to win any ATP Tour title for 30 years. Nevertheless, the final helped him climb from the 221st ATP ranked player (where he finished at the end of 2011) to 26th by the end of 2012. But how could he do this? Well, some people think that a few of the T10 players he beat lost on purpose to give themselves more time to prepare for the World Tour Finals about a week later. However, being 6’8″, serving at approximately 140kph (during his game with Murray anyway) and having a massively strong forehand, must certainly have helped. Below is his 2nd round Paris match with the British No.1.
6) Laura Robson’s Incredible US Open Run
The US Open demonstrated the rise of this particular young Brit. Aged 18, Robson reached the third round. In the first round she beat Samantha Crawford, who went on to win the junior title and then set up a tie with three time US Open winner Kim Clijsters. The former world number one was set to retire after her conclusion of the event and that came much earlier than excpected, Robson won and became one of only six people to beat Clijsters at the US Open ever – Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Venus Williams, Amélie Mauresmo and Justine Henin. She also beat world No.7 Li Na, their full match (you may wish to forward through the intro) is below.
5) A Duo of Anger Management Issues
We decided to combine the issues of Marcos Baghdatis destroying four racquets at the Australian Open and David Nalbandien destroying the skin of a line judge’s lower leg at Queen’s into one potentially painful ‘moment’, as for some they were the funniest moments of the 2012 tennis calendar, but for others they were times when tennis was cast as a shameful sport. But we thought they were still absolutely hilarious!
Cypriot Olympic flag-bearer Marcos Baghdatis lost his cool after losing yet another game during his match with Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka. Wawrinka (who at the time was seeded lower than Baghdatis) went on to win the match 7-6, 6-4, 5-7, 6-1. In total he smashed up four racquets – some of which hadn’t even been taken out of their original bag.
The next major incident of the year came from David Nalbandian during the Queen’s Club final in July. Although he was leading the match 7-6, 3-3 at the time, he just over-hit the ball and it went miles over the baseline. However, he was still running after he hit the ball and he purposely kicked an advertising board, but, an innocent linesman was sat behind the board and he received quite a nasty gash to his lower leg. Later, Nalbandian was disqualified and Marin Cilic won by default.
4) Serena Williams Completes a ‘Golden Slam’
Arguably the greatest woman in tennis, Serena Williams won a Gold medal in the London 2012 Olympic games – thus completing her Golden Slam: A collection of all four Grand Slams and an Olympic Gold. She clearly stayed in the swing of Wimbledon, as she won her fifth title there just a month earlier. Actually, she won all 17 matches she played since her first round defeat in Roland Garros! The Olympic final itself continued this trend, as she destroyed Maria Sharapova 6-0, 6-1.
3) Nadal is King of Clay… Again
He has been widely known as the ‘King of Clay’ for a long time, and – before his injury – this year he was able to continue to show us why he deserves this title. He began the spring campaign with his eighth consecutive Monte Carlo title, beating Djokovic in a one sided final. He then beat fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in the final of the Barcelona event, winning his seventh title in the space of eight years. After a poor Madrid Open campaign, losing to fellow countryman Fernando Verdasco, he went on to Rome. In Rome the former world number one again met rival Novak Djokovic in the final, a straight sets win for the Spanish master gave him his third title of the season, heading into the event where he has such a good record – Roland Garros.
At the French Open, Rafael Nadal stormed to the semi-finals without dropping a single set. His semi-final tie saw him take on the Spanish number two David Ferrer. Despite the Spanish link Nadal showed no mercy and gave Ferrer a 6–2 6–2 6–1 thrashing. That semi-final victory set up a tasty final against Novak Djokovic, the tightly matched players fought out an exciting final and it ended 6–4 6–3 2–6 7–5 in the favour of Rafa, meaning the Spaniard only lost one set throughout the course of the entire tournament. Roland Garros is a special event for Nadal and that win was his seventh title. It was also a special event for Maria Sharapova, the shock winner of the women’s tournament.
2) Roger Federer is the New Pete Sampras
From the start of the Wimbledon final it had looked as though things could go differently, as Andy Murray took the first set (6-4) and had a few set points in the second. However, the roof came on after that, and it slowed Murray right down, and so did Federer amazing sliced forehands, and the Swiss giant went on to turn around the second set (7-5), and apart from a small blip at the end where Murray had just kept holding his serve, it was plain sailing to the end of the match for Roger – winning his seventh Wimbledon title 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
1) Andy Murray: Golden Glory and the American Dream
The British No.1, Andy Murray has been searching for that breakthrough since he turned pro in 2005, and finishing the year ranked fourth for every year since 2008. However, 2012 was to be his year, as he clearly stayed in the swing of Wimbledon, and of course he had the ‘home advantage’ at London 2012. Murray didn’t have an easy path to the final with Federer, he faced second seeded Novak Djokovic in the semi-final – which he of course won 7-5, 7-5, Spanish No.3 (and now world No.11) Nicholas Almagro, and Marcos Baghdatis, so it was clearly never going to be easy. However, the final most certainly didn’t seem to trouble the Brit, and the crowd loved it – as Wimbledon turned into Wembley for a day.
Although in the first set it seemed quite even apart from the odd lucky shot from Andy, yet the Brit still won it 6-2. In the second set though we learnt who was boss. The Brit dominated from start to finish winning every game bar Federer’s last service game of the set – where Murray was starting to look tired – making it 6-1. But a new set sparked a new dawn for the Swiss giant, as for the first four games both players kept hitting long forehands, and three times (twice for Roger, once for Andy) we saw games won to love. It was now 2-2. But Federer got lazy in this game. First he hit an easy forehand into the net. When Murray heaves a forehand into the corner of the court moments later to force an error, and then presents Federer with a testy half-volley which goes long, the extent of his punishment in this match starts to become clear. The next point, the best rally of this set, is also won by Murray and the Briton is a break up! They then just served it out, with both looking quite tired, to 6-4 Murray. The Brit had won the match (which is in full below).
Less than a month later, he headed for the US Open, where he was searching for his first Grand Slam. However, he faced defending champion Novak Djokovic in the final. It was not all one-sided, in my opinion it was actually three sided, as Murray scraped through the first two sets, winning them 7-6 (12-10 on tie-break) and 7-5, before Djokovic dominated for two sets, winning them 6-2 and 6-3. However, in the final deciding set, Andy actually managed to get over 75% of his first serves IN, when usually he gets around 50%, but NO! It was Djokovic’s turn to serve atrociously in this set – as he served only 45% of his first serves in. This serve domination was reflected by the final scoreline of the set: 6-2 to Murray. BRITISH. ANDY. MURRAY. The first since Fred Perry in 1936 to win a Grand Slam. Well Done Andy!