The 2012 tennis season proved to be a breakthrough campaign for Andy Murray, who ended Great Britain’s 76-year wait for a male Grand Slam singles champion with a famous victory in New York, as well as winning Olympic gold. There was also British success on the women’s side with Heather Watson becoming GB’s first WTA singles champion for almost a quarter-of-a-century when triumphing at the Japan Open in October.
Plenty of household names also shone during the calendar year, with the ‘Big Four’ in the men’s game reinforcing their dominance over the rest of the field by dividing all four majors between them, although David Ferrer staked a serious claim for player of the year by grabbing seven ATP titles.
Novak Djokovic started and ended the year in style, picking up where he left off in 2011 with Grand Slam success in Melbourne and retaining his No.1 ranking for the second successive year with victory at the ATP World Tour Finals in November. Djokovic and Nadal contested an epic Australian Open final at Melbourne Park lasting almost six hours – the longest in Grand Slam history – before the Serb prevailed for his fifth major title.
The performance and on-court celebration which followed from the Serb was truly herculean. At the same venue 24 hours earlier, Victoria Azarenka claimed the women’s number one ranking after a stunning 6-3 6-0 demolition of Maria Sharapova. The Belarussian’s 26-0 start to a WTA season was the best since Martina Hingis in 1997.
The clay-court swing followed a similar pattern to previous years on the men’s side with Nadal ruling in Barcelona, Monte Carlo and Rome and then the French Open to claim a record-breaking seventh title at Roland Garros, ending a seven-match losing streak against Djokovic in the process. The undisputed ‘King of Clay’ continues to rule on the red dirt.
There was a new name on the women’s trophy, though, as Sharapova ended Sara Errani’s dream run to become the 10th female to claim the career Grand Slam. It was to be the Russian’s third and final title of the year, although she did add an Olympic silver medal to her trophy cabinet at Wimbledon.
Serena Williams began a sensational end to the season at Wimbledon, downing Azarenka in finals at SW19 and Flushing Meadows and Sharapova in the Olympic showpiece in between as she won 26 of her last 27 matches. Her heroics lifted spirits in her native America following Andy Roddick’s retirement and a serious illness to Mardy Fish.
But it was Murray’s magical moment in the Big Apple which stole the year for British fans in late September. His stunning 7-6 (12-10) 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2 victory over Djokovic on Arthur Ashe sparked wild celebrations in his native Scotland and finally confirmed his destiny as a Grand Slam champion.