Exploring the world of Professional Tennis
The incredibly short off season has come and gone. We are already a week into the 2013 season of professional tennis, so I deemed it appropriate to write about some thoughts that are probably on every tennis fan’s mind. Will Djokovic continue to dominate? Can Federer stay mentally and physically strong? Will Nadal’s ailing knees (and body) keep together? Can Murray build on his Olympic and Grand Slam success? Let the discussion begin…
Novak finished his 2012 season with a 75-12 mark on the year, suffering twice as many losses this past season as his previous 2011 year which saw him start almost the entire first half of the year undefeated. While some may view his 2012 year as a sign of being human, it was still quite an incredible accomplishment. He added the 2012 Aussie Open to his bag of Grand Slam titles, along with 2-runner up finishes, one at Roland Garros and the other at the US Open. Djokovic compiled 4 Masters Series championships to his trophy case and also won the prestigious World Tour Finals tournament, taking out unsurprising finalist Roger Federer. A few of the downsides to Djokovic’s 2012 year were the loss of his grandfather, which saw him weep openly on a practice court. The only “surprise” loses (if you can call them that) were to big-serving John Isner in the semi’s of Indian Wells and national compatriot Janko Tipsarevic in the quarters of Madrid on the controversial blue clay. I feel his 2012, however, will be remembered for his titanic clash with Rafael Nadal in the finals of the Australian Open. The match lasted for more than 5 hours and featured some of the biggest and baddest ball bashing we’ve seen this century. 2012 was a year of professional ups mixed with a few emotional downs for Novak.
BOTTOM LINE: I see him recovering the personal loss of a family member and his continued momentum towards the end of the year to continue to propel him into 2013. Don’t be surprised to see him playing on Sundays at the Grand Slams this year.
Roger Federer added yet another highly successful year to his already Hall of Fame and perhaps Greatest-of-all-Time career. His record was 71-12, equalling the world number 1 in losses and trailing by only 4 wins. Roger captured the 2012 Wimbledon tournament in a hard fought 4 set win over Andy Murray. A few weeks later, Murray got his revenge on the exact same court in the form of the Olympics to give Roger a silver medal. Federer added 3 Masters Series tournaments to his trophy bag as well, one of those coming on the blue clay in Madrid that Nadal absolutely loathed. Roger’s “surprise” losses came at the hands of Andy Roddick in Miami early on and Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals of the US Open. The most surprising loss, however, came in the finals of a small grass court tournament in Halle. Federer lost in straight sets to Tommy Haas. Yes. Tommy Haas. On grass. You’re as surprised as anyone. Apart from those hiccups, Federer added more hardware to his name and continued to show no signs of slowing or becoming injured.
BOTTOM LINE: Look for him to run deep in almost every tournament he plays, but something tells me we’re going to see a few more “cracks” in Federer’s armor.
When anyone looks back or thinks about Rafael Nadal’s 2012 season, the first thing that will come to mind is Wimbledon. Not for his success, but his shocking defeat at the hands of then-ranked-outside-the-top-100 Rasol. Rasol, appearing to close his eyes and swing as hard as he can, took the match out of Nadal’s hands and bludgeoned him to death. Afterward, Nadal wouldn’t participate in another professional match for the rest of the year, citing a knee injury. This completed his season with a 42-6 mark, hardly a bad record, but the lack of his ability to compete or his body to cooperate is what turned his, at least by the numbers, successful season, into a cup half empty. When we did play, he finished runner up at the Aussie Open and captured the Roland Garros title for a record 7th title in Paris on the dirt. Nadal also added 2 Masters Series shields to his arsenal of titles, both on clay. He crashed out on the controversial blue clay to compatriot Fernando Verdasco. Nadal was scathing afterwards, berating tournament officials in his press conference.
BOTTOM LINE: Nadal’s success in 2013 lies in his body’s ability to remain healthy. He’s capable of beating anyone, so long as he can run all day to do so. Will his physical style end the road to titles for him, or will he bounce back to return to his previous championship form?
Perhaps the most anticipated season for tennis fan lies in Andy Murray. After suffering a few heartbreaking losses in grand slam finals (his Wimbledon defeat this past year brought him to tears), he finally broke through, capturing Olympic Gold and a US Open title. Most were glad to finally see him break into elite Grand Slam company, and his colleagues seemed to congratulate him graciously. Murray finished up with a 56-16 record. While not quite as polished as Federer or Djokovic, one can hardly scoff at those numbers. Murray jumped Nadal to finish the number 3 ranked tennis player on the ATP tour, his best finish yet. Many fans are waiting to see how he will capitalize on his best season yet.
BOTTOM LINE: Will Murray continue his career with a big title or titles in 2013, or will he sink back into his familiar good-but-not-good-enough persona we’ve seen throughout the maority of his career?