I usually spend the holiday season counting down to the new tennis year. I cannot wait for the 2013 Australian Open to see how the previous season, made more special because of the Olympics will set the tone for what’s to come. Three notable highlights stuck out for me when I look back at 2012 and I know I missed some obvious ones such as the rise of Vinci/Errani, the Bryans winning gold, and Sharapova winning the career slam and her first French Open. There were other headlines that stuck out for me – each will all factor into the drama that will unfold in 2013.
- Serena Williams is the undisputed Player of the Year. After a shaky start to 2012, a bum ankle and her first round loss at the French Open, Serena worked her way through the second half of the year to win 2 slams, 2 golds in singles and doubles in London and the year ending championship for the 3rd time in her career. This year we saw Serena battle with nerves, injuries and tough opponents. Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka have years more to play – but players like Maria and Serena know the clock is ticking and they only have so much time to play their best tennis and make history. If Serena can remain fit for the first half of the year, I expect she will attempt to win the ‘Serena Slam’ and take the Australian and the French.
- Roger Federer exceeded everyone’s expectations. Roger returned to #1, won his 7th Wimbledon and added a Silver Medal in singles to go with the Gold in doubles he won in Beijing. He also made the final of the year ending championships only to lose to Novak Djokovic. I expect with his reduced schedule he will add another slam in 2013 and stay fit enough to make another run in Rio 2016.
- The ‘legend’ of Andy Murray becomes real. Tears on the court after losing the Wimbledon Final to Roger Federer turned into gold a month later at the Olympics and culminating with his first slam at the US Open. The Brits have long waited for another champion (Fred Perry 1936) and I watched Tim Henman for many years and how he stood up to the pressure to be among those who have won slams. He took it on and I feared after 4 losses in finals, Murray would not make it. Something was different about him on the Wimbledon lawns at the Olympics – he played the match of his life against a ‘flat’ Federer and looked like he deserved to win for the first time in his career. The US Open Final against Djokovic was a brilliant display of power, patience and confidence. I cannot wait for the Australian for this reason – Federer, Murray, Djokovic and add in Nadal – I’m on my heels for how this will all play out in 2013.