Tennis Elbow: ….And the winner is.
November 13, 2012 · Print This Article
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