BEST OF 2012
The Top 2 Achievements Of 2012
by Matt Fitzgerald|
Today ATPWorldTour.com concludes its countdown of the Top 10 achievements of 2012. The list includes achievements based solely on performances this year, while others, including our Top 2 below, reflect a body of work over several seasons that culminated in a significant milestone being reached. Be sure to join the discussion about our list by leaving your feedback in the Facebook commenting tool at the bottom of the page.
2. Nadal’s Eighth Straight Monte-Carlo Title
Whether it’s the surface, the stunning backdrop, or the prestige, there’s something about Monte-Carlo that makes Rafael Nadal thrive. Over the course of eight years, it’s become a place Nadal has relied on to not only relive the taste of victory, but turn a corner to spark momentum.
In 2012, Nadal entered the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters yet to win a title in his first four events played. He had suffered an agonising loss to Novak Djokovic in the longest Grand Slam final on record at the Australian Open and had fallen in the semi-finals of his other three events.
Back at a venue where he’s created countless positive memories, Nadal clicked on the clay courts of Monte-Carlo, making his way through to the final without dropping a set. But in order to hoist the trophy, the Spaniard would have to find his way past Djokovic, who had won seven FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings in a row, all coming in finals.
With seven years of history riding on his back, Nadal recaptured his ruthless form, erasing any signs of doubt in his clash with the Serbian. Nadal lost just four games to claim victory in 79 minutes, reversing his misfortunes against Djokovic.
“It's very important to break that situation,” said Nadal. “It's important to win a tournament another time. Especially [this] tournament. [Breaking] that situation [and] winning a Masters 1000, one of my favourites, [makes] everything perfect today.”
Nadal extended his record consecutive titles streak to eight years at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event, maintaining an extraordinary body of work that has seen the Spaniard win 42 consecutive matches and post a 14-0 record against Top 10 opponents during his reign in Monaco.
1. Federer Tops Sampras' Reign, Reaches 300 Weeks At No. 1
Two seasons ago, after failing to defend his title at Roland Garros, Roger Federer lost the No. 1 South African Airways ATP Ranking to Rafael Nadal, falling one agonising week short of tying Pete Sampras' record mark of 286 weeks in top spot. Many tennis fans wondered if the Swiss would ever return to the pinnacle of the sport, and further doubts crept in as Novak Djokovic continued his dominant 2011 run to claim the Wimbledon title and become the new World No. 1.
Federer, who turned 30 last year, showed he still had the game and desire to win, riding a 17-match win-streak to close the 2011 season. The run enabled the Swiss to set himself up for a potential rankings jump in 2012. After defeats in the Australian Open semi-finals and the Davis Cup World Group First Round, Federer quickly brushed aside the disappointments, winning three consecutive titles in Rotterdam, Dubai and Indian Wells to add valuable points to his ranking. At the top remained Djokovic, but the Serb had the tall order of defending a 41-0 season start from 2011.
While Djokovic produced consistent results, he retained just two of his seven titles heading into Wimbledon, setting up a three horse race for World No. 1 at the All England Club. After Nadal took an unexpected second-round loss to Lukas Rosol, Federer and Djokovic advanced to an anticipated semi-final showdown, during which Federer made his statement of the year, defeating Djokovic in four sets to reach his eighth final at the event and put fate in his own hands.
The Swiss superstar faced off against home favourite Andy Murray in the final, knowing a victory would propel him past Djokovic at the top. It wasn’t easy, as he lost the first set to an inspired Murray, but Federer battled back to win the high-quality contest for his 17th major trophy. The result saw Federer jump from World No. 3 to No. 1 and tie Sampras’ mark. A week later, Federer stood alone with 287 weeks, and ultimately extended his record to 302 weeks before Djokovic reclaimed top spot late in the year.
“I had set a goal with my team to try and get back to the top of the rankings, but I never thought with the depth in the game this year that I would have been able to get it back so quickly,” said Federer. “I am extremely proud and honoured to have beaten Pete's record as he was my childhood hero and I have always looked up to him.”
Read: Top Achievements 10-6
Read: Top Achievements 5-3
Coming Friday: The Top 5 Doubles Achievements.