Year-End Review – Everything Hard: Djokovic Made of Stone
by Ben Pronin | December 6th, 2012, 10:35 am
  • 43 Comments

Originally, I thought to divide the second half of the season into two parts (outdoor then indoor) but I think it’s better to include them in one. Why do I want to overstuff this one? Two words: Novak Djokovic.

The fact of the matter is that Djokovic really proved that he was the number one player in the world following the Olympics. He received some ridicule for playing (and easily winning) the Masters event in Toronto. But I really feel like he needed it. Not just for the easy points, but to ease his mind. He hadn’t won a title since Miami back in March. He lost a couple of big matches to his main rivals in the Big 4. His two big goals (win the French Open and the Olympics) were thwarted. Honestly, if he had gone off the rails at the end of the year, there would have been a ton of justifications.

Instead, Djokovic flew over to his favorite surface and got his game back on track. He then reached his fourth Cincinnati final but fell short to Roger Federer. And he played some incredible tennis (see: Djokovc-del Potro quarterfinal) at the US Open.

Credit Federer for the Cincy effort where he played some of the most care-free tennis I have ever seen from him (or anyone). But a lot was made of that bagel he dished Djokovic. People like to forget that when Federer gets on a roll, he’s absolutely the best. I was more surprised that this was the first bagel he ever served Djokovic. But that second set shouldn’t be overlooked. Federer quite nearly lost it, and who knows what would have happened in the third set? I believe this experience had a significant impact on their encounter at the World Tour Finals a few months later.

Based on form, Djokovic should have won the US Open. He came through tougher opponents in his final few rounds than Andy Murray and he showed just how unstoppable he can be in the third and fourth sets of their final. But Murray finally, finally, found a way to turn the tide, finally found some mental reserves to stay the course, to close out the big match, and to actually step up and play big tennis. Throughout four sets it was very frustrating to see Murray slice and dice his way to a lead that Djokovic could have easily had himself. But there’s nothing to say about that fifth set. Murray’s final few service games were nearly flawless. Big serves and big forehands. That’s how you win a major final. That’s how you win the US Open. And that’s how Murray finally became a grand slam champion.

But once again, Djokovic shrugged off the disappointment and would go on to lose only one more match the rest of the year. He won in Beijing, saved five match points to beat Murray in Shanghai, and then went undefeated to win the World Tour Finals. Ironically, he suffered his worst loss of the year in Paris when he lost to Sam Querrey after winning the first eight games of the match. But I doubt he lost any sleep over that and I hope that Querrey can build on this win, it’s about time he got a big one.

Federer has won the year end championships six times and made the finals a total of eight. But it should be noted and really emphasized that five times he won it going undefeated. So yes, Federer is the master of the year end event. Djokovic, however, won it back in 2008 against a slightly weaker field, against a much weaker draw, and with a loss in the round robin stages. Considering that we all four majors were split this year, that the number one ranking was just barely decided in Paris, and that the only two guys who weren’t in great form at in London were Jo Wilfried Tsonga and Janko Tipsarevic, Djokovic’s undefeated run is incredibly impressive. He beat Tsonga and Tomas Berdych, both who’ve played some great tennis this year. But he also beat Murray, del Potro, and Federer to take the title. And as a result, he ended up with winning records against all of his biggest rivals save Rafael Nadal (who was really missed, especially after the pathetic effort his replacement, Tipsarevic, put in).

Looking towards 2013, Djokovic is the best player on hard courts. It’s always going to be open, but he gets a slight edge when he’s playing his best. And considering his prowess on clay and Nadal’s questionable health, he is in the best position to remain number one at the end of next year.
Murray definitely has a chance, but he needs to step it up outside of the slams. Funny how the year he finally nabs his major he fails to win basically anything else. He’s not going to be number one with zero Masters titles. Federer’s age is showing only in his schedule. But his game is clearly still top notch. He spent half the year at number one and to be fair, he’s won a major more recently than Djokovic.

It remains to be seen if del Potro can be a consistent threat to the Big 4. And to be a threat he needs to score wins, in the majors and in the Masters events. It’s great that he finally beat Federer a few times but he needs to do it during the main events of the year, not just at the end. Besides these guys, it’s hard to see anyone else breaking through. The ATP is just unreasonably top heavy. Maybe Berdych can use Davis Cup as a spark to ignite a run but I wouldn’t bet a dime on Berdych to do anything consistently (win or lose).

It’s amazing how much history was made in just one year. I’m not sure how 2013 can top it, but I hope, more than anything, that we finally get a serious young gun breakthrough. Milos Raonic, please, win a major. Recreate some chaos and make us forget that we ever thought someone could play their best tennis above the age of 30.


Also Check Out:
Maria Sharapova Slams Serena Williams Over Rolling Stone Article, Questions Her Dating Choices
A Shoulder Injury Forces Former Champion Maria Sharapova Out Of The US Open
Electronic Line-calling Malfunction Costs Ljubicic at Indian Wells Tennis
Head YOUTEK Radical OS Review
Replay Reactions

Don't miss any tennis action, stay connected with Tennis-X

Get Tennis-X news FREE in your inbox every day

43 Comments for Year-End Review – Everything Hard: Djokovic Made of Stone

jane Says:

Thanks Ben. I think it’s notable too that the Andy/Nole rivalry really came to the fore this year: it began to heat up in AO and Miami, but then from Olympics through to the end of the year, in the latter half, that’s when these 2 guys really rose up. It added a new twist to things. Of course Fed was still in there, and others were playing very well: you even had a mini Fed-Delpo thing going on at the end of the year. And of course Rafa was missing, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens next year when he’s back in the mix. But right now it’s hard to see anyone but maybe Delpo or possibly Berdych breaking through the top four to win a slam. You never know though. Maybe 2013 will bring surprises along with history…?


Brando Says:

Agree with ben- on form nole should have won the USO- no doubt about it! That’s the ONE that go away for him- and I say this as a fan of muzza!


Brando Says:

Re 2013: I think it shall be ALOT closer than it has been previously- more like this year, and even even more competitive!


skeezer Says:

@Ben

Great read on Nole and the season, thanks ;)

Curious this year to see what Murray does out of the top 4. With a Slam under his belt, will he become formidable at Slams? He has always fallen short at AO, guess we’ll see how his confidence level is then. If fans haven’t figured it out by now, barring injury, Nole is the man to beat now. Sure, Rafa(especially during the Clay season) and Fed will get there digs in, but Nole is the man for now.

It will also be interesting to see if Novak can match the consistency of winning and being on top as Fed has done. It is a long tough road playing throughout the year, will he stay resilient and play through with a hiccup here and there? Lots to see and expect, and it feels like(imo) the years of 1 guy dominating the scene may be coming to an end.


jamie Says:

Djokovic will win the AO and USO in 2013.


courbon Says:

@ben I really enjoyed all 4 articls you wrote i ast couple of weeks.Icold not d anything or disaprove with anything-almost as I wrote it myself!I’m Novak fan,but have a great respect for other 3 so my post are very moderate (like Alisons!)and not stong,schocking or provocative- I like all 4 main guys.I wuld love to se new guys comng-you are right about Raonic ut I would love to see also Dimitrov and even new Jerzy guy-the look lke exicting players..


tenis colorido Says:

Raonic has already made some breakthrough, enjoying a positive vs record against Murray in 2012 alone, which happened to be the breakthrough year for the new-found Top 4.


the DA Says:

@ Ben

Good write-up.

“But there’s nothing to say about that fifth set”

Yep, agreed.

“Murray’s final few service games were nearly flawless. Big serves and big forehands. That’s how you win a major final.”

Again, spot on. Regardless of what went on in the previous sets, the test of a true champ is closing out the decider with authority.


Brando Says:

the DA:

‘Again, spot on. Regardless of what went on in the previous sets, the test of a true champ is closing out the decider with authority.’

That’s what was most impressive about Andy in that final.

He looked like he had kissed his chances good bye when it went to the 5th and i think everyone pretty much expected novak to win the 5th and Andy to suffer a loss that he may not even recover from.

And Andy even acknowledged this- saying post match that had he lost he may have struggled to overcome the loss.

YET, despite surely knowing all this, Andy stepped up to the mark and delivered in exceptional fashion!

The win was great, of course, but for me the manner in which he did it suggests that he has AS GOOD A CHANCE AS NOVAK at AO, USO and Wimby.


courbon Says:

Hi Brando-you speak like a true Nadal fan-Novak also has a chance at RG…he,he,he


Brando Says:

@Courbon:

LMAO- i do, no more no less than a fed fan raves of how nole is the man to beat. Oh the hypocrisy in tennis fandom, lol! :-)

No doubt in my mind, after rafa nole is the CLEAR 2nd fav for RG!

Seeing as I am at it, my 2013 expectations as opposed to predictions for this moment:

1- AO: Nole and Andy co-fav- DO NOT see any other winner

2- RG: Rafa fav followed by nole- DELPO may be the no.3 potentially

3- WIMBY: NO IDEA- very much up grabs IMO

4- USO: Nole, Andy, Rafa and Delpo may be the main contenders by September 2013.

That’s how i see it going forward!


courbon Says:

@I know, your “predictions’ are pretty much like mines…just teasing you.By the way, very glad you guy is back.


Brando Says:

@Courbon:

Thanks Courbon your an ace fan- just like many nole fans.

I must say- things have pretty much always been awesome between nole and rafa fans here- very cordial EVEN during the 16 months period from Jan 2011.

I think their is a mutual respect for the other player between both sets of fans- hence the friendly and warm relationship.

To Nole’s fans credit NONE of them seem to parade or shove down people’s throat that their guy is the man to beat.

ONLY sour fans from a different corner seem to do such things!

Best ignore them!


courbon Says:

Thaks for a kind words.I haveto go now, speak to you soon…


Brando Says:

@Courbon:

No worries.


jane Says:

Well, speaking personally, I don’t take anything for granted, being a Nole fan first and Andy fan second. They’ve both been consistent but they’ve had to work very hard for their achievements given the guys who were ahead of them for so long. I guess I just appreciate every single event win in that case, especially when they can win against their main rivals and make strides on the court. It really makes all 4 of them keep striving the way I see it. Without the competition they might rest on their laurels, but instead they have to wrest their laurels.


Tennis Guy Says:

Oh, the desperation.

Ofcourse nole, rafa and murray fans have to stand united.

Remember Federer won 57% of the vote in the ATP fan favorite awards. It is 30% more than all the others put together.

Rafa was 4th, I think. LOL! I wonder why? I guess not all fans are dumb as some gullible people here who think Rafa is a saint.

think about this – Exactly 6 month break. to the day. LOL!


madmax Says:

Great write up Ben.

I agree, Novak is on a roll and I expect him to do great things again in 2013. He is no longer afraid, he just goes out there with such brimming confidence, overflowing at times. Good for him. It’s what he works for, what he has dedicated his life to – his sport – and if he puts the work in, he will reap the benefits.

Like Jane, I enjoy more and more the novak/murray rivalry. These are the players of the future.

No one knows the state of rafa’s game, but I think he is still top quality and don’t listen to anything else other than rafa will do well.

Federer, imo, will contest strongly in all tournaments he plays. I also expect him to win a few next year. I think his schedule is great for him and his longevity. He certainly knows what he is doing, more than anyone else and will have talked long and hard with his team, am sure.

His schedule will have been designed for maximum impact next year, that’s a certainty. Anyone who discounts Federer, does so at their peril!


skeezer Says:

True Rafa fan predictions

“my 2013 expectations as opposed to predictions for this moment:”

1) no single predicted winner
2) RAFA! ( tough prediction there, of course )
3) no single predicted winner
4) no single predicted winner

LOL.

___________

“I enjoy more and more the novak/murray rivalry. These are the players of the future.”

Yes!


Brando Says:

LOL, if the off season back and forth is anything to go by between the fans, 2013 promises to be the most divisive, spicy and divisional year yet!

Peace time could be over, and it may be all out war here on Tennis-x!

Like myself, just hope your fav is does well enough so that you can handle the back and forth that’s inevitably due here!:-)


subo Says:

there is only one roger federer when he retires that is it for me will never watch another game federer is the goat


dari Says:

“LMAO- i do, no more no less than a fed fan raves of how nole is the man to beat. Oh the hypocrisy in tennis fandom, lol! :-)”

I think everyone can agree that nole- 25 years old, #1 year end two years in a row, winning 4 of the last 8 majors- that IS the man to beat! no matter whose fan you are, no hypocrisy in that, simple facts!

i am ready for questions to be answered about rafa’s condition, even though, i think the real proof will be in the clay season

Federer-Gillette tour under way tonight! have seen tons of pics and media, quite a spectacle they have set up


Polo Says:

I have a feeling that Nadal will age faster than Djokovic and that Murray will never catch up to either. With Federer slipping away due to age, Djokovic should be the next dominant player.


Polo Says:

Subo, I don’t know if I will stop watching another game of tennis when Federer retires. But I am sure it will not be as interesting. Nobody plays like Roger and I see nobody in the horizon who could take his place. Tennis without Roger sounds like a downgrade.


jamie Says:

Brando Says:

@Courbon:

LMAO- i do, no more no less than a fed fan raves of how nole is the man to beat. Oh the hypocrisy in tennis fandom, lol! :-)

No doubt in my mind, after rafa nole is the CLEAR 2nd fav for RG!

Seeing as I am at it, my 2013 expectations as opposed to predictions for this moment:

1- AO: Nole and Andy co-fav- DO NOT see any other winner

2- RG: Rafa fav followed by nole- DELPO may be the no.3 potentially

3- WIMBY: NO IDEA- very much up grabs IMO

4- USO: Nole, Andy, Rafa and Delpo may be the main contenders by September 2013.

That’s how i see it going forward!

____________________

1- AO: Nole
2- RG: Nadal
3- WIMBY: Andy
4- USO: Nole


dari Says:

link to south america exho’s if anyone wants it, says he will be live streaming here:

http://www.youtube.com/RogerFederer


Alok Says:

@Polo, December 6th, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Well said. there won’t be another Fed for many years to come. Can’t say never, because we can’t see into the future, but with the present crop, the 18-4 grop, I’d say very doubtful. although, with Fed gone, the slams will most likely be split 4 ways, if DelPo could improve on his fitness and not suffer any more setbacks with his wrist.

I do think JMDP’s lack of fitness is due to his wrist problems, because there’s very little he can do, except maybe run when he’s laid up with his wrist problems.


Alok Says:

18-24 group not 18-4.

Anyone find Ipad can be annyoying at times?


Alok Says:

Tennis Guy Says:
Oh, the desperation.

Ofcourse nole, rafa and murray fans have to stand united.

Remember Federer won 57% of the vote in the ATP fan favorite awards. It is 30% more than all the others put together.

——

Yes, no one can dispute those numbers.


skeezer Says:

Polo @ 5:54

For sure! :]

Ladies and Gentlemen, sit down and prepare yourself for a very long coach potato tennis era, the era of PONG.


Polo Says:

Alok said, “…with Fed gone, the slams will most likely be split 4 ways…”

and then people will call it a strong era.


madmax Says:

dari,

thanks. Have just seen that and posted a comment on another thread here. Read that fed had set up a youtube channel, now we shall all be happy over Christmas watching him play, win or lose.

I didn’t see the match, but it looked a close one. Was he testing out some shots today or just rusty? or did belluci play “the match of his life”. Sad I missed it, but will watch the highlights later.


Nims Says:

Can Novak reach the consecutive semis and quarters record Roger had set?


RZ Says:

2012 really was an amazing tennis year with all the records being broken.

Aussie Open: longest men’s slam, start of Vika’s amazing first quarter run
French Open: #8 for Rafa, career slam for Maria
Wimbledon: #17 for Roger and back to #1
US Open: First British slam champ in 70-something years, Serena adding to her tally (at Wimby too)
Olympics – longest 3-set men’s match

Add in milestones for different players/nationalities – Nishikori winning the title in Tokyo, Laura Robson being the first British woman to reach a WTA final in years, followed by Heather Watson being the first British woman to win a WTA title in years.

Good stuff all around!


RZ Says:

Should clarify above – 8th RG title for Rafa, not slam #8


nadalista Says:

@RZ, Rafa has 7 RG titles, not 8. Funny how you “correct” yourself with even more falsehoods!

#googleisyourfriend


jane Says:

Nole’s latest Facebook message, for his fans here:

“Hey guys! How are you? I took some time off to have a good relaxing holiday. As you can see, i had couple of weeks of rest in a beautiful tropical place with Jelena. Just what i needed after a long, but successful season. We really enjoyed and recharged our batteries. I am writing you from London. I came here to attend a Winter Whites Gala at the Statoil Tennis event that is held tomorrow evening. It is a charity event that is hoping to raise awareness and funds for Centrepoint charity for homeless young people, whose patron is Duke of Cambridge, Prince William. I am really happy to have a chance to meet him and express my admiration for his philanthropy work. He is a great example of how important it is to never forget that there are many people who are less fortunate than ourselves,and that we should always try to help as much as we can. The world would be much happier and better place if we all cared for each other. Sometimes a simple smile and polite word can change someone’s life, and it doesn’t cost a thing! :)”


Wog boy Says:

jane,

Thanks:)


Sienna Says:

Whenever all for elite players play up to their strength and expectations then it probably plays out like 2013 with the exception of US Open where Fed would have advantage because there is no Olympics.

But in fairness I think getting top shape for Fed 3 to 4 times in a year might be a litle much to ask.
AO Djokovic
RG Nadal
WI Federer
US Murray

However these are predictions that are considering Nadal in prime shape.

I DOUBT HE IS! I feel Nadal has over the year started to fade and there comes a time when he is not up to the job to stay competative. Last year demasgue was a terrible sign of things to come. And lets face it he didnot take his defeath easy or humble. He even started to pick a fight with players who were better then him on the day. His absence could only be called a once elite running scared. He fled from more defeath after Wimbledon 2012. That was a terrible sign for things to come.
Nadal as the Great Escapist. He should have finished the year with 16 defeath instead he run scared and saved his face for sponsors and fans.


madmax Says:

Jane,

Really nice comments from Novak. Thanks for sharing.


Daniel Says:

“He’s won a major more recent than Djokovic” Ben regarding Federer.

I was thinking about this. If Djokovic doesn’t win AO he could be #1 and Slamless in the last 52 weeks. Don’t recall last time this happended. And if Murray wins AO he would have won last 2 Slams and may not be #1. That puts consistency in perspective in today’s game.


mat4 Says:

I just hope that Novak will continue improving his game and stay healthy. For me, that’s all that counts.

He has to improve his transition game and forehand volley, if he wants to be efficient against the strategy used against him – to slice defensive backhands.


mat4 Says:

The results, the wins… you never know.

But I hope that a player of his quality, consistency and ambitions won’t stay at 5 slams. He deserves to win a little bit more.

Top story: Nadal Returns Tonight In Beijing, Djokovic Begins Final No. 1 Push; Serena Survives Scare
  • Recent Comments
Rankings
ATP - Sep 29 WTA - Sep 29
1 Novak Djokovic1 Serena Williams
2 Rafael Nadal2 Simona Halep
3 Roger Federer3 Petra Kvitova
4 Stan Wawrinka4 Maria Sharapova
5 David Ferrer5 Na Li
6 Tomas Berdych6 Agnieszka Radwanska
7 Kei Nishikori7 Eugenie Bouchard
8 Milos Raonic8 Caroline Wozniacki
9 Marin Cilic9 Ana Ivanovic
10 Grigor Dimitrov10 Angelique Kerber
More: Tennis T-Shirts | Tennis Shop | Live Tennis Scores | Headlines

Copyright © 2003-2014 Tennis-X.com. All rights reserved.
This website is an independently operated source of news and information and is not affiliated with any professional organizations.