No one can have an argument about Novak Djokovic being the player of the year in tennis, period. Not one player from the men’s tour or the women’s tour came close to duplicating what the Serb achieved this year. He...
No one can have an argument about Novak Djokovic being the player of the year in tennis, period. Not one player from the men’s tour or the women’s tour came close to duplicating what the Serb achieved this year. He was the player all the other players talked about … and every player did speak about him. It was not till the semi-finals of the French Open that he lost his first match. When he started his winning run in Australia and then continued it through the Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells with the BNP Paribas Open and then in Miami/Key Biscayne, most figured it just couldn’t keep going. I distinctly remember Rafa Nadal making that very point when he lost to him in Miami. From the hard courts it continued on to the clay courts and lo and behold on to the grass courts with Wimbledon, his biggest individual achievement. He left everyone in the dust and eventually ascended to the world No.1 ranking. His next two losses were the result of retirements. He was invincible but only because of injury. Among the top four only Roger Federer scored a “full match” win over him and that was with his stunning play in the French semis; one of the matches of the year (a topic for an up-coming blog). Nadal didn’t even score a win by default over the Serb and they played six times. As I have suggested in a previous blog of mine here on We Are Tennis, that could have been one of the reasons he wasn’t his normal self this year. Andy Murray made a surge this year as well and even got to the No.3 ranking, the first time he was ahead of Federer. That came after his brilliant Asian Swing that saw him winning three events in as many weeks but there was a slight dampner on that when Federer suggested those weeks didn’t have strong fields. Murray slipped down after Federer closed out the year with some of his best tennis in a couple of years – he won Basle, the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris and the ATP World Tour Finals. In men’s tennis probably Nadal was the one who had most fans concerned. Sure he won the French (again) but lost finals at Wimbledon and the US Open. He just wasn’t the guy we were used to. Don’t you think? His smile only returned when he helped Spain win the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas. Players with honourable mentions for the year are Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who played that remarkable match at Wimbledon to beat Federer and then reached the finals of the ATP World Tour Finals. The Serbs Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki who benefitted from the previous year’s Davis Cup, Mardy Fish who had the greatest year he will ever have and the return of Juan Martin del Potro. By contrast the women’s tour was scattered with winners and there was a world No.1 who unfortunately wasn’t a major winner. While men’s tennis was exciting for the domination of Djokovic and how the players tried to reach him, women’s tennis was interesting for the variety of “new” champions. Few players in world tennis are as popular as Kim Clijsters. Just when we were used to her being back when she won the Aussie Open, she was gone again, this time mainly because of an ankle injury. Note to KC, you are free to do the splits on court but please, no more dancing at relation’s weddings. All you guys reading this make sure you follow Kim on Twitter and let her know that. The Australian season gave tennis a taste of what was to come in June as the delightful Li Na created history by winning the French Open. That could still be regarding as THE result of the year. How can you argue when 120million people are watching? Not only was it a personal first but it was also the first for a nation (China) and a continent (Asia). What’s your opinion is there another result you think could supersede that one? We were digesting Li’s result when Petra Kvitova turned the betting odds (yes, yes, I know we are not allowed to bet in tennis – figure of speech) upside down and beat Maria Sharapova to win Wimbledon. What a stunning effort! And then lo and behold there is yet another first time winner at the US Open with Sam Stosur also upsetting the apple cart by beating Serena Williams to become the first Aussie woman to win a major since Evonne Goolagong in 1980. The four major winners in women’s tennis are among the nicest people you could meet. Then Kvitova sealed her place as the “Women’s Player of the Year” by capturing the year-end championship in Istanbul and helped guide the Czech Republic to the Fed Cup. The only one from the top I have not mentioned by name is Caroline Wozniacki. She finished No.1 and had consistent results but when it mattered, things were just not there. As for honourable mentions, full marks for Sharapova with the way she came back and was ranked among the top four, Victoria Azarenka started to make more in-roads and of course THE comeback player of the year, Serena Williams. The lady was back on the scene after so long away and even reached the US Open final. So as we close out 2011 Novak and Petra are the one to take the bows. Do you agree?