BEST OF 2012
Top 5 Doubles Achievements Of 2012
by Matt Fitzgerald|
Today, ATPWorldTour.com counts down the Top 5 doubles achievements of 2012. In some instances, the accomplishments are based solely on performances this year, whereas others reflect a body of work over several seasons that culminated in a significant milestone this season. Be sure to join the discussion about our list by leaving your feedback in the Facebook commenting tool at the bottom of the page. Let the debate begin!
5. Age Is Simply A Number
Mark Knowles retired at the US Open after a highly successful career that included three men’s doubles majors, a Wimbledon mixed doubles title and two year-end World No. 1 finishes. But before beginning the next chapter of his life as a full-time dad and humanitarian, Knowles achieved another notable feat.
Playing his first ATP World Tour tournament of the season in San Jose, Knowles partnered good friend Xavier Malisse. The two went on to lift their second team trophy at the SAP Open, making the 40-year-old Bahamian the first male in his 40s to win an ATP World Tour doubles title since 2006, when 47-year-old John McEnroe coincidentally won the same event with Jonas Bjorkman.
“To be in a sentence with John McEnroe is pretty cool," said Knowles. “I’ll take that. I didn’t realise that. To win a title at 40 years old is far beyond anything I could have dreamed of. When you first turn pro, you never really dream of playing 20-plus years on tour. I’ve been fortunate enough to stay fairly healthy and have had some great partners who have helped me win a lot of titles over the years.”
Daniel Nestor, who shares the same birthday as Knowles and turned 40 on 4 September, later joined his former long-time partner in exclusive company when he reunited with Nenad Zimonjic to win the Swiss Indoors Basel in October. With the victory, Nestor also became the fourth player since 1973 to win 80 tour-level titles.
4. London Calling For Spanish Duo
For Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez, securing one of eight slots to the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals was an impressive accomplishment, following a run of strong results throughout the season that saw the pair capture its first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title in Rome, reach the US Open semi-finals and finish runner-up at the Rogers Cup in Toronto.
Entering the season finale at The O2, Granollers and Lopez were not the favourites, with a plethora of experienced doubles teams eyeing the crown jewel of the ATP World Tour. Utilising a modern style of play, with one player forward and one player on the baseline, the two notched wins against Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan, Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi/Jean-Julien Rojer and Jonathan Marray/Frederik Nielsen to advance to the title match.
In the final, Granollers and Lopez found themselves facing another classic serve and volley team, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna. It was a rollercoaster affair, but in the end, Granollers and Lopez ran away in the deciding match tie-break to become just the second Spanish team to win the season-ending championships, joining 1975 titlists Juan Gisbert Sr. and Manuel Orantes.
“We finished here winning the title, so it's incredible for us,” said Granollers. “We try to play as best as we can always. I think we have a very good relationship. So, I think, that's one of the keys of our success… To win here with him is very special. Thanks to the ATP for a great tournament and to Barclays for supporting our sport.”
After completing a career Grand Slam by winning the Australian Open with Radek Stepanek, Paes continued with his bucket list at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, teaming up with Stepanek to attain the milestone through their first-round victory over David Ferrer and Albert Ramos.
“For me at this stage, I’m playing for the history books and setting new records, so for me to get my 600th win is really special,” Paes said. “I’ve got to really thank my whole team over the past 20 years, they’ve made such a difference with me.”
Mirnyi, who successfully defended his Roland Garros title with Daniel Nestor, became the 18th player to join the club when he and his Canadian partner beat Tomas Berdych and Nenad Zimonjic in the second round of the Shanghai Rolex Masters.
“It was a very close match,” said Mirnyi. “We found ourselves at sudden death deuce on three or four occasions. The second set tie-break could have gone either way, so to get my 600th match win in Shanghai, after months of getting closer, is very exciting.”
2. Marray/Nielsen Make Wimbledon History
“Do You Believe In Magic?”
1. A 1965 hit performed by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees The Lovin’ Spoonful.
2. A phrase to describe the improbable run made by Jonathan Marray and Frederik Nielsen to the 2012 Wimbledon Gentlemen’s doubles title.
Prior to joining forces at the All England Club this year, Jonathan Marray and Frederik Nielsen had never played a tour-level tournament together. The two required a wild card to gain entry, but they clicked like a match made in heaven to write one of the most surprising stories of the season.
Marray and Nielsen would go on to defeat three seeded teams en route to the final, upsetting No. 9 seeds Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez in the first round and eighth seeds Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer in a tight third-round encounter, before stunning reigning top-seeded champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan in the semi-finals.
The last team standing in their way was fifth-seeded Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau. The Swede and Romanian were contesting their third straight championship match at SW19, but were seeking to get past the final hurdle for the first time. It had all the makings of an intriguing match-up and it more than delivered.
The momentum swung back and forth and it was fitting the outcome would be determined in the first five-set final since 1998. Having lost the fourth set in a tie-break, Marray and Nielsen dug deep to push ahead in the decider, capping off their history-making efforts by becoming the first men’s wild card pair in tournament history to hoist the trophy.
Marray, who had lived on the fringes of the ATP World Tour for many years, said, “Every kind of sportsperson has injuries I'm sure at a time in their career. When you're not really doing so well, those moments you kind of second guess yourself whether you want to carry on or not. But I felt like I had a bit of unfinished business and things like that, so I'm more than happy to have made the decision to carry on.”
1. Triple Crown For The Bryans
In a year that saw a number of players realise incredible personal milestones, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan furthered their case as the greatest men’s doubles team with a trio of accomplishments.
The Bryans had to overcome disappointment on numerous occasions the first half of the season. They fell in the Australian Open and Roland Garros finals, were unable to win their first title at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and were sent packing in a shocking defeat at Wimbledon.
Their top priority of the year was the London 2012 Olympics. Returning to the All England Club three weeks after their semi-final loss, the American twins channeled their motivation and desire to win the one title missing from the resume, defeating Michael Llodra and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final to become Olympic champions. With the win, they joined Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde as the only teams to own a career Golden Slam.
“To play on Centre Court at Wimbledon and win the gold medal is a dream come true,” said Mike. “We could stop tomorrow and we got a big smile on our face for the rest of our lives.”
The Camarillo, Calif. natives continued chasing the record books at the US Open. Seeded second, the two avenged their Melbourne defeat to Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek by prevailing in the final. With the triumph, the Bryans broke the Open Era record for the most Grand Slam team titles, passing Woodbridge and Woodforde and tying John Newcombe and Tony Roche for the all-time record with 12.
“We weren't thinking too much about revenge today,” Bob said. “We were just thinking about playing a good match and executing the scouting report our coach gave us and winning our home slam in front of all these fans that were pumping us up the whole day.”
The third achievement came at the China Open in Beijing. In winning the title, Mike surpassed Woodbridge for the most tour-level doubles title in ATP World Tour history with his 84th crown (he won titles with Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles in addition to his 82 with Bob).