You’ve read the rest, now read the…other rest.
Sure Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams enjoyed lay-up years, but who wins for most donkey cheese, or crying most on the court, or for thinking they’re great clothing designers or yelling at umpires? Why should these players go unrewarded? Here are the latest and the greatest of award winners from the long slog that was 2012 on the men’s and women’s professional tours.
It’s your Christmas come early:
MEN’S PLAYER OF THE YEAR — Novak Djokovic
No one thought he could follow-up that incredible 2011 season, but he did, establishing himself again as far and away the top player. And the most gluten free. And the guy with the most donkey cheese. With Roger Federer the old man of the tour, Rafael Nadal and his bad knees, and Andy Murray unable to take two steps forward without taking one step back, the Djokovic reign could go on for years.
Honorable Mention: Andy Murray, Roger Federer
WOMEN’S PLAYER OF THE YEAR — Serena Williams
Again she played a limited schedule due to injuries, accidents, what have you, but again she decimated the competition. She didn’t lose all year against world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka or No. 2 Maria Sharapova, and won two Slams and the singles and doubles at the Olympics. Finishes No. 3 in the world but voted Player of the Year by the WTA, that’s Serena. The only thing that can stop her is retirement.
Honorable Mention: Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova
MATCH OF THE YEAR — Novak Djokovic d. Rafael Nadal (Australian Open)
They play long. They play reeeeeaaaaaaal long. And that’s just what happened when Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal clashed in Australian Open final. Checking at just under six hours (or flying time from London to New York), the Serb outlasted Nadal in five sets to win 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5 and capture his third Australian Open title. In addition to both players taken an excruciatingly long time between points, bouncing balls and adjusting their backsides, the play between the two was jaw-dropping and at times breathless. There were moments were it felt like you weren’t watching tennis, but something else. More remarkably, Djokovic had just endured a similar slugfest in the earlier round beating Andy Murray, and now showed off his world-class fitness against Nadal.
Honorable Mention: Djokovic d Murray (Australian Open), Isner d Federer (Davis Cup), Azarenka d Stosur (US Open), Serena d Azarenka (US Open), Federer d De Potro (Olympics)
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR — Jerzy Janowicz
No one really killed in this category this year, but the towering, emotional powder keg from Poland stood out among the up-and-comers as a player who can immediately do some damage. And he did just that, powering his way to the Paris final to end the season. Among his victims that week were Andy Murray, Janko Tipsarvic, Marin Cilic and Gilles Simon. Hell, he even beat Dimitry Tursunov in the qualifying. Not bad for a kid who ranked No. 221 to start the year.
Honorable Mention: Laura Robson, Heather Watson, Martin Klizan, David Goffin, Sloane Stephens, your mom
COMEBACK OF THE YEAR — Tommy Haas
No one does a comeback from surgery or injury quite like the determined German, who has now won multiple ATP Comeback of the Year titles, and for good reason. The oft-injured former world No. 2 was left for dead following right elbow surgery in 2011. But this year he claimed 184 ranking spots to improbably finish on the brink of the Top 20 at No. 21. Someday they might rename the award after him!
Honorable Mention: Venus Williams, Slava Shvedova, Paul-Henri Mathieu, Brian Baker
SHOT OF THE YEAR — Grigor Dimitrov behind the back winner
Watch the video. Enough said.
Honorable Mention: Roger Federer between the legs, Novak Djokovic between the legs, half the players on tour and your mom between the legs.
BEST MELTDOWN — Marcos Baghdatis, Australian Open
The tennis racquet is a player’s most important tool — which is why when things start going wonky in a match, it’s best to smash the shit out of not only the one you’re using, but the rest of your racquets in the bag. Baghdatis’ racquet sponsor got some unique pub in January as the ESPN cameras caught the Cypriot up close making some adjustments to his sticks. Watch the video and enjoy.
Honorable Mention: Berdych-Almagro kerfuffle (Australian Open), Madrid’s blue clay controversy
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT — Rafael Nadal’s Left Knee
Whether it’s patella tendinitis or the myriad other problems Rafa has had with his knees, his left one in particular kept him off the tour for much of the latter quarter of the year. While he is scheduled to make his return at some high-profile (read: high dollar) exhibitions in January, there’s no running around the fact (ha!) that Rafa needs to cover a lot of miles with his style of play, so are his problems destined to return, even if he cuts back his schedule (which he’s never been good about doing)? Stay tuned.
Honorable Mention: Milos Raonic, Caroline Wozniacki, Gael Monfils, Bernard Tomic, Robin Soderling
BIGGEST UPSET — Lukas Rosol d Rafel Nadal (Wimbledon)
The biggest upset of the year occurred at Wimbledon this year when then-26-year-old unknown Czech Lukas Rosol slapped 65 winners to 29 unforced errors, adding 22 aces in manhandling former champ Rafael Nadal in the second round in five sets. Perhaps the funniest part was the days after the upset when various Czech players and coaches said you’ll probably never hear from this kid again due to his inconsistent go-for-broke style — and they were right. Since then he has had some good results on the challenger circuit, and at the US Open lost in the qualifying. But what a wild one-day ride for the Czech who on that day could do no wrong in his first (and last?) Wimbledon main draw appearance.
Honorable Mention: Razzano d Serena (French Open), Isner d Federer (Davis Cup), Robson d Clijsters (US Open)
BIGGEST CHOKE — Lucie Safarova blows 5-1 final set lead to Li Na in Montreal semifinals
There was rain in Canada. Then there was pain in Canada. Poor Lucie. The darling young Czech led the French Open champion by a commanding 5-1 score in the final set, just three points from her place in the biggest championship match of her career. But lefty Lucie couldn’t hold it together and the nerves took over. She lost the next six straight games from that position to lose the match. Ouch. We still love ya Lucie.
Honorable Mention: Nadal loses to Verdasco (Madrid), Benneteau loses to Federer (Wimbledon), Cilic loses to Murray (US Open), Venus/Kerber (US Open), Kanepi/Wozniacki (French Open)
BEST HOT TUB INCIDENT — Bernard Tomic
Fine year for the Aussie hope Tomic, who tanked a high-profile match against Andy Roddick at the US Open, was told his Davis Cup services wouldn’t be needed by Aussie captain Patrick Rafter (who could probably still beat Tomic if his senior tour play is any indication?), was cited four times for wild driving by Aussie police, then got into a public naked hot tub fight. “Police were called to a Surfers Paradise high-rise apartment building after residents saw two men, one of them naked, wrestling and fighting in a hot tub on the balcony. One of the men was later identified as Tomic,” said a news report. Keep them coming kid, this is a train wreck we can’t stop watching.
Honorable Mention: Hot Tub Time Machine
BEST HOOK-UP — Jurgen Melzer marrying Iveta Benesova
Jurgen outdid his ranking again this time, permanently landing the Czech vixen Benesova. The two were married in Austria just after the US Open. And that makes Benesova and Melzer, who had previously been linked to Nicole Vaidisova, Dominikova Cibulkova, Anastasia Myskina and Fernando Verdasco, officially off the market! Sorry Nando.
Honorable Mention: Tomas Berdych and Ester Satarova, Serena Williams and Grigor Dimitrov, Serena Williams and coach Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams and your mailman
QUOTE OF THE YEAR — Tomas Berdych
Players, captains, trainers, everyone likes to drop a little smack entering into a Davis Cup weekend, but the Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych took it up a level when he dropped the “You Suck” card on Spain’s Nicolas Almagro before the Czech-Spanish tie. Berdych told the media, “I played Almagro many times this year and won most of them. If he’s nominated [for the singles], he will be the weak point on which we can build our victory. He’s missing that little something that distinguishes great players.” Wow. And maybe the smack helped, as he was right, and the Almagro losses were big in the Czech victory.
Honorable Mention: Andy Roddick on why he refused to sign a women’s offered breast when he was 17 years old: “I had just never seen a boob before, to be honest.” Rafael Nadal after losing to Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon: “It’s not a tragedy, it’s only a tennis match”.
TWEET OF THE YEAR — Yaroslava Shvedova: “Today I laid a golden egg.”
The was the Khazak after beating Sara Errani at Wimbledon in which she took the first set by winning all 24 points, a feat umatched in women’s pro tennis, and just the second known. Again, that’s 24-0. Try to do better than that, Mr. Federer.
Honorable Mention: Anything by Ivo Karlovic
To the winners, to receive your Isner-sized trophy please email us with your address along with a paypal money order in the amount of $15,536 USD for shipping, handling, insurance and money toward the year-end Tennis-X Christmas party.
Thanks for reading. Have a happy holiday and assuming the World doesn’t really end tomorrow, see you in 2013!
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