Tennis Elbow: ….And the winner is.

November 13, 2012 · Print This Article

Welcome to Tennis Elbow, a new column that will look back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon hands out his Player of the Year Award.

Many things have made this season a great one in the ATP World Tour but among them, one stands out–it’s that there’s really no way to determine which player enjoyed the finest season.

That’s actually not entirely true, because many of the top players can’t compare to the ones at the very top. For all their excellence, players like Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Thomas Berdych, or Juan Martin Del Potro still have a long way to go before entering the same stratosphere of the top four.

The odd man out, of course, is David Ferrer. The 30-year-old has been the little engine that almost could for the better part of the last five years, and the 2012 season might have been his best one yet. His 74 victories top everyone on Tour, except for Novak Djokovic, and his seven singles titles are also the envy of most players. That said, only the BNP Paribas Masters 1000 title is among the biggest prizes on Tour.

But as is usually the case with Ferrer, this resume isn’t enough to best that of the four tenors. Not all is lost, Ferrer. There’s always next year.

The other Spaniard, Rafael Nadal, hasn’t played since Wimbledon due to injuries. Despite that, he remains ranked No. 4 after a season where he was at his usual best during the clay court season. With a little luck, Nadal could have won two Grand Slam tournaments in 2012 despite missing half the season, but Djokovic couldn’t lose in Melbourne.

Perhaps it’s Andy Murray who’s the true dominant player of the 2012 season? This season, he reached new heights, first by winning the London Olympics, and then especially by taking home a first Grand Slam title–at long last–in Flushing Meadows. However, a great season could have been a stellar one, but Murray still lost his fair share of finals (i.e. four). Murray isn’t my choice for Player of the Year, because this pseudo award is purely subjective and nothing can ever be easy with the 25-year-old.

This leaves Roger Federer and Djokovic, the current top two players on Tour and also the two players who happened to play the final match of the season at the O2 Arena for the World Tour Finals. Sometimes, this all makes sense.

By any indication, King Roger enjoyed an incredible season–the six titles, including Wimbledon and three Masters 1000 tournaments, the 10 finals, and the 71 wins against only 12 defeats. But his biggest feat likely is the 16 weeks that he spent ranked No. 1 on Tour. At 31 years old. At that age, after a somewhat difficult 2011 season, it would have been easy for King Roger to simply pack it in and ease away in the sunset. At his age, he’s not supposed to accomplish all of this, but that doesn’t mean that he should be the Player of the Year.

Federer isn’t the recipient of this award, because Novak Djokovic is. After what was just about a perfect 2011 season, the Serb could only go down–but the fall didn’t happen for a long time. He first started by winning the Australian Open, though that too didn’t happen for a long time–the final against Nadal will live on as an all-time classic. The Djoker came this close of winning the French Open, and the same can be said of the US Open against Murray. That his two biggest disappointments, arguably, were a semifinal defeat at Wimbledon and a fourth-place finish at the Olympics, says a lot about the kind of season he has enjoyed.

So, too, do 75 wins, almost $10 million in prize money, six titles and another five defeats in finals. But these are only numbers. What has made Djokovic’s dominance so stunning these past two seasons is his steadfast refusal to quit during matches. Because he’s such a great returner, Djokovic makes you hit an extra two or three shots. And because he never quits, he makes you hit an extra extra two or three shots.

This is why it’s so fitting that it’s the 25-year-old who won the World Tour Finale, right when everyone didn’t think that he could.

It doesn’t happen often, but the 2012 season came down to the final match. For the Barclays World Tour Finals, Djokovic defeated Federer. For that reason, it’s Novak Djokovic who’s my choice for Player of the Year. Keep in mind that, again, that the award is highly subjective and that Nole is my favourite player by a mile.

The Djoker entered the year as the alpha male, and he ends it as such. He’s King. There can only be one.

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @CeeeBG

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4 Responses to “Tennis Elbow: ….And the winner is.”

  1. Yanik Deschenes on November 13th, 2012 10:57 pm

    With respect, I totally disagree with the choice. The player of the year MUST be Andy Murray. He has performed well in every important tournament this season. He was under unbelievable pressure at Wimbledon and almost won the tournament. He then won the Gold medal in front of his fans in London under again unbelievable pressure. Finally, Andy won the US Open one month later (the first Brit since Fred Perry). Let’s recognize this incredible achievement and name Andry Murray the best player of year 2012!

  2. Charles Gascon on November 15th, 2012 12:45 pm

    Yanik, thank you for the comment. Andy Murray is my third choice probably. He had clear highs, but wasn’t nearly as consistent as Novak. (Or Federer for that matter, who is my 2nd choice.) Novak won the most matches on Tour, won one Grand Slam title to equal Andy’s. His title at the World Tour finale is equivalent, in my mind, to the Olympics. Murray has one other Grand Slam final loss, while Novak has two. And if you will say that he came so close of winning Wimbledon, then Novak came much, much closer of winning the US Open.

  3. Jack Han on November 17th, 2012 11:22 am

    Murray is definitely the player in the top 4 who’s made the biggest breakthroughs this year, no doubt about it.

    However, the reason why he is number 3 in the world instead of #1 or #2 is simply because he tends to lose to lower-ranked players more than Federer, Djokovic or Nadal (barring the Rosol exception at Wimbledon). Those guys average 1 or 2 really big upset losses each season. Here are some matches Murray has lost this year to lower-ranked players:

    Janowicz (Paris, 3R)
    Chardy (Cincinnati, 3R)
    Mahut (Queens, 1R)
    Gasquet (Rome, 3R)
    Raonic (Barcelona, QF)
    Garcia-Lopez (Indian Wells, 1R)

    Murray’s played very tough in the big matches this year, but he’s not anywhere near in contention for #1 because of those losses to lower-ranked players at smaller events. Four of those upsets came at ATP 1000 events, so that has to hurt points-wise as well.

    Switching gears, its great to see you here, Yanik!

  4. Charles Gascon on November 26th, 2012 10:35 am

    I agree, Jack. Murray enjoyed the best storylines of 2012, that’s a definite. But that’s all.

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