Top Three Men’s Tennis Matches of 2012

by John on December 30, 2012


Time to flip the last page on the calendar tomorrow. So some thoughts on the three best matches of 2012 as the year is about to expire. The choices weren’t easy since there were clearly more than three that merited top accolades. In reality I had to halve six, which was reduced from at least 10, to come up with three. No. 1 on the list was Novak Djokovic’s marathon win over Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final. It was a battle between “two guys who absolutely refuse to surrender,” said ESPN commentator Chris Fowler afterward. Indeed it was. Djokovic won his third Australian Open championship, defeating Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5 in an epic lasting an exhausting five hours and 53 minutes. “It was obvious on the court for everybody who has watched the match that both of us, physically, we took the last drop of energy that we had from our bodies,” Djokovic said. “We made history tonight, and unfortunately there couldn’t be two winners.” It was Djokovic’s fifth Grand Slam title and third in a row, a streak that would end at the French Open when Nadal got his revenge in the final. Second best on the ledger was Roger Federer’s solid 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Andy Murray in the Wimbledon final. Federer, a month shy of 31 at the time, proved once again there was plenty of life left in the old boy as he won his record 17th Grand Slam, tied the record for most Wimbledon titles with seven, and reclaimed the No. 1 ranking. The title was Federer’s first major since winning the Australian Open in 2010. The Swiss Maestro, playing with machine-like efficiency and unbridled aggression, was just too good for Murray that day. “This year, I guess, I decided in the bigger matches, to take it more to my opponent instead of waiting a bit more for the mistakes,” Federer said. “This is, I guess, how you want to win Wimbledon, by going after your shots, believing you can do it, and that’s what I was able to do today. It’s special.” Rounding out the list at No. 3 was another marathon, Federer’s 3-6, 7-6 (5), 19-17 triumph over Juan Martin del Potro in the Olympics semifinals. The match lasted four hours and 26 minutes and was the longest three-set men’s singles match of the Open era. “I definitely got a sense that it was something special,” Federer said. “The deeper we went into the match, the more I thought, `Wow, this is so cool to be part of a match like this.'” The Swiss converted only two of 13 break-point chances, the second coming in the next-to-last game. Serving the final game, Federer held his nerve to take the match on his second match point. Twelve times in the final set, Federer held to stay in the match. Both players were spent from the riveting encounter which featured superb serving and dazzling shot making. Coming in Nos. 4-6, in no particular order, were Lukas Rosol’s second-round upset of Nadal at Wimbledon, Murray’s victory against Djokovic in the U.S. Open final and Nadal’s triumph over Djokovic in the French Open final.

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