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December 14, 2012 Article

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Player of the Year 2012
by Ray Bowers

Ray Bowers Photo
Ray Bowers

Last month Serena Williams became our female nominee for Player of the Year 2012. Serena won Wimbledon, the Olympics, U.S. Open, and Istanbul and was plainly the sport's La Prima during the year's second half. Now, we review the year in men's pro tennis in search of our male nominee.
 
Either that individual or Serena will then be chosen Tennis Server's Player of the Year. The final selectee will be the player, male or female, whose achievements, example, and influence best represent the year in pro tennis. A candidacy can stem from all or part of the year, from a single event, or even as culmination of achievements reaching back earlier.
 

 
Tennis Server Players of the Year
tennis ball 2011: Novak Djokovic (SRB)
tennis ball 2010: Rafael Nadal (ESP)
tennis ball 2009: Kim Clijsters (BEL)
tennis ball 2008: Rafael Nadal (ESP)
tennis ball 2007: Justine Henin (BEL)
tennis ball 2006: Roger Federer (SUI)
tennis ball 2005: Rafael Nadal (ESP)
tennis ball 2004: Roger Federer (SUI)
tennis ball 2003: Roger Federer (SUI)
tennis ball 2002: Serena Williams (USA)
tennis ball 2001: Nicolas Escude (FRA)
tennis ball 2000: Venus Williams (USA)
tennis ball 1999: Andre Agassi (USA)
tennis ball 1998: Jacco Eltingh (NED)
 
Player of the Decade
tennis ball 2001-2010: Roger Federer (SUI)
tennis ball 1991-2000: Pete Sampras (USA)
 
Player of the Century
tennis ball 1901-2000: Martina Navratilova (USA)

We begin our search by tracing how the superstars of the men's Big Four collected their triumphs at the major events of the year.
 
THE BIG FOUR
 
Once again the foursome Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray dominated the tennis year. Each Big Four member captured one of the 2012 Slams, and, for the fifth consecutive year, the Four occupied the top four places in the official rank order at year's end.
 
First Trimester
 
All Slams are magnificent, but at this year's Australian Open the Big Four produced levels of drama seldom equaled. All four marched successfully to the semi-finals, where Novak Djokovic then defeated Andy Murray in five sets, and Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer in four. Both semis were ferocious, heavy-hitting affairs, the vast power and attacking skills of each competitor challenged by marvelous defenses across the net. Murray almost beat Djokovic, the tournament's defending champion, but near the end of the fifth set Andy lost three break-point opportunities. Andy lost all three points and then surrendered his own serve in the next game, thus yielding the outcome.
 
The final-round match-up between Djokovic and Nadal became the year's most thrilling and by far its longest Slam final. With both men playing with controlled aggression and nobility of character throughout, Djokovic finally won their back-and-forth, extended fifth set. Having now won three consecutive Slams, Djokovic remained our Il Primo, the acknowledged current king-of-the-hill of men's pro tennis.
 
March brought two Masters 1,000-point tournaments in America. Roger Federer won at Indian Wells, defeating tall American John Isner in a straight-set final. Two weeks later, Djokovic captured Miami, defeating Murray in straights, strengthening his top place in ranking points earned during the trimester, as follows:
  1. Djokovic, 3,540 ranking points earned (unofficial)
  2. Federer, 2,860
  3. Nadal, 2,010
  4. Murray, 1,880

Second Trimester
 
It is hardly arguable that Rafael Nadal has proven himself history's greatest clay-courter. Rafa indeed dominated 2012's clay season, winning the 1,000-pointers at Monte Carlo and Rome along with Garros itself, his seventh Garros crown. Rafa's victim in the final round of all three events was Djokovic. Federer won the remaining clay-court 1,000, beating Czech star Berdych in the final at Madrid. At Garros, the Big Four provided three of the four semi-finalists. Missing was Murray, defeated earlier by Spain's fine all-courter David Ferrer. Rafa's superb clay-court season lifted him temporarily ahead of Djokovic in the year's overall points race.
 
Roger Federer then captured Wimbledon 2012, defeating Andy Murray in a four-set final. It was Roger's seventh Wimby crown. Once again three of the four semi-finalists were from the Big Four. Missing was Rafael Nadal, his place in the semis taken by Tsonga. Rafa's leg and side troubles would then remove him from pro tennis for the rest of 2012.
 
Roger in late July held the top place for the year to date, now slightly ahead of Djokovic and Nadal. David Ferrer was fourth, ahead of Murray:
  1. Federer, 7,115 ranking points (unofficial)
  2. Djokovic, 6,840
  3. Nadal, 6,690
  4. Ferrer, 4,145
  5. Murray, 3,795

Third Trimester
 
Now it was time for Andy Murray to make his upward run, re-entering the Big Four. Andy captured the Olympics on Wimbledon grass, beating Djokovic in the semis and Federer in the final, both in straight sets. Andy with knee trouble would then withdraw from Toronto and lose early in Cincinnati. Novak Djokovic would win both 1,000-point events, thus setting up a historic meeting between Murray and Djokovic in the final round at U.S. Open.
 
The Open had been bedeviled by high winds in the second week, persisting into the final match. With both Andy and Novak toning down their aggressiveness to avoid errors, the play was on the drab side. At two-sets-all, the momentum seemed with Djokovic, but the quality of play quickened in the fifth set, and before a highly engaged crowd it was Andy who stepped up at the finish.
 
Djokovic would answer strongly in the late-year events, winning the 500-pointer at Beijing and closely defeating Andy in the final round at the 1,000-pointer in Shanghai. Then in the finale in London, Novak would sweep five consecutive matches against the world's best, beating Murray in round-robin play and Federer in the final.
 
Thus Novak Djokovic became the clear #1 for the full year and once again our current Il Primo. (That mantle had been lost to Nadal during the clay season and was then held in turn by Federer and Murray.) Here was the official ATP ranking-point tally for 2012 (as announced 19 November):
  1. Djokovic, 12,520
  2. Federer, 10,265
  3. Murray, 8,000
  4. Nadal, 6,795
  5. Ferrer, 6,505

There can be little doubt that Novak Djokovic's full-year achievements overshadowed those of the other Big Four members. We therefore move Novak forward in our quest, removing Federer, Murray, and Nadal from consideration.
 
BEST OF THE REST
 
But we must still examine the credentials of yet other stars, perhaps finding powerful if less tangible strengths. Especially intriguing is the group Ferrer, Berdych, del Potro, and Tsonga, who together composed a well-defined Second Four.
 
Juan Martin del Potro at age 24 is the youngest of the first eight. In 2012 he continued his come-back from wrist surgeries, scoring several wins over Federer and one over Djokovic along with at least one win over each other member of the Second Four. His age, his upward trajectory, and his past Slam triumph (at U.S. Open 2009) brand him ready to penetrate the topmost group. Meanwhile Tomas Berdych late in the year also showed himself able to play almost evenly with the Big Four. He reached the semis at U.S. Open by beating Federer before losing to Murray and reaching the semis at Shanghai by beating Tsonga before losing to Djokovic.
 
But the most heroic of the Second Four was the year's #5, David Ferrer. At height 5-9, David was shorter and smaller than the other first-eight members, but his excellent court movement, defensive skills, surprising power in serving and stroking, and relentless mental strengths made him the one standing closest to the Big Four. David won seven tournaments during the year, among them the 1,000-point Paris Indoors in early November, and he attained the quarters or semis at all four Slams.
 
Any of the three -- Ferrer, Berdych, or del Potro -- might be a worthy choice to represent the best-of-the-rest and compete with Djokovic in our final review. But before choosing one of them, we must also take heed of the remarkable contributions of both Ferrer and Berdych in the deciding of Davis Cup 2012.
 
DAVIS CUP 2012
 
Players winning matches in Davis Cup play earn moderate rewards in ATP ranking points, but these scarcely reflect the vast recognition that a single player can win by carrying his team to the Cup championship.
 
The 2012 Davis Cup crown was decided between Spain and Czech Republic in a memorable meeting in Prague, 16-18 November. The #1 singles artists and leaders of the two teams were Spain's David Ferrer and Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych. Both stars had carried their teams through earlier rounds as the sixteen nations of World Group reduced their number to two.
 
David Ferrer missed Spain's first-round meeting in February, where Spain defeated outclassed Kazakhstan. Then, answering the call in the absence of Nadal, Ferrer scored two straight-set singles wins against Austria in April and then two more against U.S.A. in September. All four of David's wins were meaningful to the team outcomes -- i.e., none were "dead" rubbers.
 
Meanwhile Berdych was contributing even more critically for his nation. Tomas first scored a singles and doubles win in Czech Republic's sweep of the first three matches against Italy. Then came two singles and a doubles win by Tomas against Serbia in April, followed by another two singles and a doubles by Tomas against Argentina in September, the latter on outdoor clay in Buenos Aires. Thus Berdych entered the Cup final having won all six of his Cup singles during the year, all of them meaningful to the team outcomes, and also all three of his doubles (with Stepanek).
 
Showdown in Prague -- Spain vs. Czech Republic
 
Thus there was a sense that the meeting in Prague would be a test of Berdych and Ferrer , where one of them would complete a perfect Cup run in leading his nation to the Cup crown. It did not quite turn out that way.
 
The O2 indoor arena was packed, mainly with noisy and partisan Czech supporters. In the first match on 14 November, Ferrer defeated the Czech #2, Stepanek, in straight sets. Next, Berdych defeated Nicolas Almagro, though that affair required five sets. Neither result was a surprise, but the closeness of Berdych's win was scarcely reassuring for the Czechs.
 
Spain's prospects seemed good for the doubles, as tall Marcel Granollers and energetic Marc Lopez had together beaten the world's top-ranked doubles pairs in capturing the ATP tour finals one week earlier at another O2, in London. But on this day in Prague it was the more powerful Czech pair, Berdych-Stepanek, who brought the more aggressive, net-attacking tactics. The Czechs lost the first set, but once they became more comfortable in the doubles environment, they turned matters their way. Berdych's heavy serving and returning were important, but it was Stepanek's doubles ability and experience -- he and Leander Paes were ranked this year's #3 pair -- that made the difference. Now it was Czech Republic 2, Spain 1.
 
Day three began with the face-off of the #1's -- Ferrer against Berdych. Ferrer would be helped by his day of rest, Berdych by the indoor, hard-court surface and the host-nation crowd support. The two had not met since Berdych won their three-setter indoors in London one year ago. What now happened stunned the Czech majority in the gallery. It was surely one of Ferrer's finer performances, as in straight sets the 5-9 star from Valencia comfortably handled his athletic 6-5 opponent, who seemed tired and unable to find his best. Spain 2, Czech Republic 2.
 
Almagro vs. Stepanek
 
It was now up to Nicolas Almagro, world #11 at age 27 and height 6-0, and Radek Stepanek, 6-1 at age 34, ranked in the thirties. Nicolas brought a tenacious baseline game with considerable serving and stroking power, marked by a free-flowing one-handed backhand. Radek brought firm serving, a potent backhand two-hander, and -- most important of all on this occasion -- the skill and will to come forward early and often in points, backed by superb volleying ability. It was a fascinating match-up for watchers, a classic clash of contrasting styles, a Cup encounter long to remember.
 
In a wonderful display of measured, net-attacking tennis, it was Radek who captured three of their four sets. As the affair lengthened Radek, though he was by far the older and less well rested, was the one better able to maintain his high level of play. Meanwhile Nicolas's baseline power game and potent serving proved inadequate in the face of Radek's aggressiveness.
 
In olden times the remedy for a player being beaten by a net-attacker might have been to come forward himself, getting to net ahead of his opponent. But modern players seem no longer equipped for this tactic, and there was no such effort by Nicolas. Stepanek d. Almagro 64 76 36 63.
 
Thus it was Czech Republic 3, Spain 2, and the Davis Cup now belonged to Czech Republic. But it was Ferrer who, although in a losing cause, recorded the individual unblemished Cup record for 2012. For that achievement (along with David's strong year-long singles performance), we advance David in our quest and place him beside Djokovic, both still in consideration.
 
We also add one other name to our short list-- the hero of that surpassing episode in Prague, when the old-style attacker Stepanek produced what must become a high moment in the long and treasured history of Davis Cup. Write in Radek Stepanek as well.
 
Other highlights in the year's Davis Cup action were del Potro's two singles wins for Argentina over Croatia, Tsonga's two against Canada and another against U.S.A. Also memorable was the American victory over Switzerland in February when Mardy Fish defeated Wawrinka in five sets, John Isner defeated Federer in four, and the pair Fish and Mike Bryan defeated Federer-Wawrinka in the doubles.
 
DOUBLES IN 2012
 
Once again in 2012 the American twins Bob and Mike Bryan became the year's highest ranked doubles pair. Behind this success were their triumphs at U.S. Open and the Olympics and their second-place finishes at Australian Open and Garros. Here were the official final standings:
  1. Bryan-Bryan, 9,685
  2. Mirnyi-Nestor, 6,875
  3. Paes-Stepanek, 6,865

For the brothers, now age 34, it was a record eighth time atop the annual rankings. Their victory at U.S. Open 2012 was their twelfth career Slam.
 
The Bryans have always been a lively presence on the pro doubles scene, their bouncy court manner almost as colt-like as when after leaving Stanford they made the decision to try professional careers as doubles artists. Over the years, their highly active, hard-hitting, and aggressive style of play set new standards for the tactics of the doubles game. They have been loyal Davis Cuppers over the years, almost unfailingly contributing a doubles victory to the U.S. score. Alternately light in manner or brutally serious on the court, they are admired worldwide -- superb ambassadors for their country and profession.
 
Which brother should we select for our short list? There is little to choose between the two. Left-handed Bob has been regarded as the better server and usually is the first to serve in sets. Right-handed Mike is usually seen as the stronger serve-returner, and in 2012 he usually returned from the left court. Both are quick at net, and they function together brilliantly in defending their full court, a strength that allows them to take risks in moving and striking aggressively. Their upbeat court manner seems impenetrable.
 
This year Mike finished slightly ahead of Bob in the ATP rankings of individuals as doubles players. His edge in points came from the only occasion during the year where either brother played with a different partner. That was when Mike partnered Mardy Fish in the U.S. Davis Cup tie against Switzerland. (Bob was at home for the birth of his daughter.) Mike and Mardy clinched the U.S. victory in a superb four-set win over Federer-Wawrinka.
 
A further discriminator is mixed doubles, played at the Slams and the Olympics. Mike won the mixed doubles at Wimbledon with Lisa Raymond, where Bob was semi-finalist with Liesel Huber. At the Olympics, Mike and Lisa reached the final four, Bob and Liesel lost their first match.
 
The narrow edge in our judging goes to Mike over Bob.
 
PLAYER OF THE YEAR -- MALE NOMINEE
 
Our exploration has reduced the field to four candidates, as follows:
 
-- Novak Djokovic was the strongest player of 2012, the clear leader of the erstwhile Big Four of men's tennis. Novak had been our overall Player of the Year in 2011, winning three Slams in that year. This year his edge over Federer and Murray was smaller but unmistakable.
 
-- David Ferrer contributed mightily in Spain's 2012 Davis Cup quest, winning all six of his singles matches. Meanwhile he nearly penetrated the men's Big Four, reflecting a wealth of achievements in tournament play including winning Paris Indoors. He continued to win universal admiration as a determined and resourceful court warrior, ever tireless and dauntless against countless larger and stronger superstars.
 
-- Mike Bryan was the year's top achiever in doubles, winning U.S. Open and the Olympics with brother Bob. For both siblings, the year enhanced long and magnificent careers as doubles achievers, artists, and pioneers.
 
-- Radek Stepanek at Prague achieved a historic match victory, brilliant in its strategy and execution, and decisive in settling the year's Davis Cup crown. In addition, Radek added what today is a rare balance between success in both singles and doubles. He was the only member of the world's top ten doubles pairs to finish in the first 32 in singles.
 
The Male Nominee
 
In fifteen years of choosing Player of the Year, only once previously have we selected an honoree solely for doubles play. That was in 1998 when we chose Jacco Eltingh -- winner of three Slams in that year (with two different partners) and the year-end finale. I remember a nostalgia in choosing Jacco -- that the impending departure from the sport of that wonderful star seemed to say that an era in doubles was closing. I scarcely realized, however, that two new stars, brothers, would become the dominating influence as well as the unquestioned champions of the era that next ensued.
 
Bob and Mike Bryan's U.S. Open crown in 2012 made the twins co-equal with the Australian pair of long ago, Newcombe-Roche, atop the all-time Slam list, both pairs having captured a total of twelve Slam crowns. That was one more than Aussies Woodbridge-Woodforde -- the Woodys, whose late years overlapped the arrival of the Bryans. Besides these three pairs, only three others in tennis history have achieved Career Grand Slams -- McGregor-Sedgman, Hoad-Rosewall, and Eltingh-Haarhuis.
 
It is beyond question that the Bryans by their on-court energy and style of play have contributed hugely to the vitality of pro doubles. They are international celebrities, whose contributions have lifted in a positive way not only tennis worldwide but indeed all international sport. Still, doubles remains distinctly secondary to singles in international pro tennis, despite its improved appeal during the era of the Bryans.
 
(ATP doubles tournaments have been using no-ad scoring as a way of controlling the duration of matches. In my opinion the no-ad rule has also produced a more important benefit -- i.e., in weakening the dominance of the serving pair. Now, whenever a receiving pair manages to win a point or two there is a strong rise in tension among watchers, as the possibility of an imminent service break looms. Also, just as points during games become more riveting, so too do games within sets, as a lost serving break is less certain to stand.)
 
In honoring Mike Bryan here, we recognize (1) Mike's high achievements in 2012, most of them with brother Bob, (2) their attainment in 2012 of a twelfth career Slam, equaling the most won by any pair in history, and (3) their still-enlarging and multi-faceted impact on their profession since the birth of their stardom.
 
The credentials of the others of our short list, indeed of several others who just missed, require congratulations. Our margins in judging are highly subjective, difficult to evaluate, requiring long thought. But it is without reservation that we here announce the selection of Mike Bryan as male nominee for Player of the Year 2012.
 
NATION OF THE YEAR
 
 
Tennis Nations of the Year

tennis ball 2011: Czech Republic
tennis ball Decade 2001-2010: Russia
tennis ball 2010: Serbia
tennis ball 2009: Spain
tennis ball 2008: Spain
tennis ball 2007: U.S.A.
tennis ball 2006: Russia
tennis ball 2005: Russia
tennis ball 2004: Russia
tennis ball 2003: U.S.A.
tennis ball 2002: Russia

Not since 1990 had a nation won both Davis Cup and Fed Cup in the same year. This year Czech Republic broke the long pattern, capturing both crowns in final-round victories held only a few days apart in the same arena. The Czech Republic, having won both major victories in international team tennis, ipso facto earns our recognition as pro tennis Nation of the Year for 2012.
 
A few footnotes are worthy of note:
 
-- At the summer Olympics, the males from France won more matches than any other men's contingent, while the females from Russia won the most among the women. U.S.A. was second in both cases.
 
-- The U.S.A.'s males won more matches than any other national contingent at Wimbledon and U.S. Open 2012. Spain's won the most at Australian Open, France's the most at Garros.
 
-- The Russkayas led in women's matches won at Australian Open and Garros. U.S.A.'s women led at Wimbledon and U.S. Open
 
-- Czech Republic won Hopman Cup in January behind Berdych and Kvitova. The Czechs were runners-up at World Team Cup, played on clay at Dusseldorf. Serbia won the event.
 
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
 
In past Player of the Year selecting, we have picked our male nominee ten times, the female just four. Despite the disparity, the margins between the two final candidates each year were usually narrow. Last year we chose three-time Slam winner Novak Djokovic over the Wimbledon, Fed Cup, and Istanbul champion, Petra Kvitova. Djokovic had missed a rare Classic Grand Slam only because of a loss at Garros after Novak had just won the prime clay events at Madrid and Rome.
 
Our two current nominees, Mike Bryan and Serena Williams, are both widely admired, and both cast large and positive influences in far corners. Mike's achievements in men's doubles, both in 2012 and over the decade or so previous, closely parallel Serena's in women's singles. It seems unquestionable to me that both Mike and Serena will be voted into the International Hall of Fame.
 
It comes down to the difference in dimension. Tennis has become the foremost international women's sport or nearly so, and Serena and the other superstars that have made this happen are among the most famous female athletes worldwide. On the other hand doubles -- men's, women's, and mixed -- still lives in the shadows, very much alive and fascinating to tennis lovers, scarcely known to most others. In short, Serena's stage has been vastly greater than Mike's.
 
Our congratulations to Serena Williams as our Player of the Year for 2012. The completion of her return to the top of women's tennis this year will remain among her finest moments. She becomes the third individual, after Federer and Nadal, to receive this honor more than once.
 
Best wishes for a lively 2013 to all of the tennis community including watchers and readers worldwide.
 
--Ray Bowers, Arlington, Virginia
 
APPENDIX -- THE NEW WATCH LIST
 
Here is our newest watch list of male risers, our sixth, calculated 3 December 2012 and heavily based on results in the just-completed Third Trimester. Most of our selectees are 6-1 or taller and are younger than age 23. (They are listed here by age. Predicted target rankings twelve months hence are shown.)
 
-- Grega Zemlja, age 26, height 6-0, Slovenia. Grega's rise in the pro rankings had been gradual prior to his penetrating the first hundred in summer 2012. At U.S. Open 2012 he advanced through the qualifiers and then won two main-draw matches to reach the final 32. In October he again emerged from the qualifiers at the Vienna Indoors, defeating Tipsarevic in the semis behind strong play and losing in two close sets to del Potro in the final. His career-long record shows him successful on all surfaces including on grass, he having won the Challenger at Nottingham just prior to Wimbledon 2012. Current ranking #55. Predicted target #43.
 
-- Steve Johnson, 22, 6-2, U.S.A. Steve Johnson, two-time U.S. national collegiate champion from University of Southern California, quickly penetrated the world's second hundred in his first months as full-time professional. During Third Trimester 2012 Steve achieved a W-L record of 13-4 in Challenger events, while in his only main-tour appearance, at U.S. Open, he won two main-draw matches thus reaching the round of 32. Current ranking #175. Predicted target #89.
 
-- Evgeny Donskoy, 22, 6-1, Russia. Evgeny moved into the first hundred by winning four Challengers during Third Trimester 2012, all on hard courts, though his career-long record shows equal success on both clay and hard. During 2012 his results against higher-ranked players were unimpressive, however, as he won only once in seven tries against players in the first hundred and failed to succeed in any of three Slam qualifiers entered. He played closely against Janowicz (listed below), losing a split-setter in early round at Mons in October. Current ranking #81, Predicted target #55.
 
-- Guido Pella, 22, 6-1, Argentina. Most of left-handed Guido's career has been on South American clay, including in collecting Challenger crowns in Brazil and Ecuador in 2012. But he advanced through the qualifiers at U.S. Open 2012 on hard courts before losing to Davydenko. He won his only other two matches of 2012 against top-hundred players. Guido won the eight-player Challenger final event on hard court in Sao Paulo, ending in early December, thereby penetrating the top hundred. Current ranking #97. Predicted target #55.
 
-- Bradley Klahn, 22, 6-0, U.S.A. Left-handed Brad Klahn was the top-ranked U.S. junior player in 2008 and became U.S. collegiate singles champion while at Stanford University in 2010. His Stanford career ended in a final-round loss to Steve Johnson, above, in the 2012 collegiate (NCAA) championships. Like Johnson, he quickly advanced as a full-time pro, competing mainly in the Challengers. At U.S. Open 2012 he won three qualifying-round and two main-draw matches, including a five-setter over 36th-ranking Melzer, before losing in the round of 64. Current ranking #248. Predicted target #152.
 
-- Jerzy Janowicz, 22, 6-8, Poland. Jerzy Janowicz, who appeared on our previous watch list last summer, is again singled out here owing to his yet-higher level of play in Third Trimester. That included a dazzling display of tennis thunder at Paris Indoors in November, where Jerzy defeated five top-twenty opponents, including top-tenners Murray and Tipsarevic.
 
Against Murray, Jerzy stayed close behind his potent serving but fell behind by a set and a service break. Jerzy fended off a match point and managed to squeeze out the second set in a tiebreaker, now showing excellent defense and patience. Early In the third set Jerzy's heavy artillery and prolific drop shots began finding their marks regularly. Andy contributed more errors than before, but more important was the unanswerable serve and forehand of the strapping riser from Poland. Along with the rocketry, there was also much excellent movement and disguise in Jerzy's tennis. The high level persisted in Jerzy's next wins over Tipsarevic and Simon and in his making things close in losing the final to Ferrer. Current ranking #26. Predicted target #18.
 
-- Jack Sock, 20, 6-1, U.S.A. Jack has gradually improved his ranking since his selection for our watch list of last December. His accelerated results in Third Trimester, however, bring him onto our fresh list for another twelve months of scrutiny. During 2012 he scored five wins over top-hundred opponents along with wins over Klahn and Johnson, both also selected here. Current ranking #150. Predicted target #78.
 
Watching the past lists
 
The equations used in choosing our watch-list members have been modified only slightly as their strengths and weaknesses have been seen. The validity of current and future lists can be sensed by glimpsing how the old lists have worked out.
 
The 12-month term of our Watch List III (December 2011) is now complete. A record of mixed success occurred, resembling the earlier histories of Watch Lists I and II. Of the seven selectees one year ago, four indeed climbed upward, but only one of them, Martin Klizan, managed to surpass his predicted target. Summarizing the results:
 
-- Martin Klizan, climbed from #117 last December to #30 now (against a predicted target of #50).
-- Kei Nishikori, climbed from #25 then to #19 now (predicted target #13).
-- Benoit Paire, climbed from #98 then to #47 now (predicted target #42).
-- Jack Sock, climbed from #382 then to #150 now (predicted target #124).
-- Stebe, Ebden, and Pospisil all failed to improve.
 
The picture from List IV (April 2012) is emerging differently. With one trimester yet to go, all seven selectees have risen in the rankings, and two, Marinko Matosevic and David Goffin, are narrowly exceeding their predicted targets. Two others are close to doing so (Milos Raonic and Denis Kudla). As to List V (July 2012), with two trimesters still ahead, four members have risen including three who seem on early track to exceed their targets -- Roberto Bautista-Agut, Jerzy Janowicz, and David Goffin.
 

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This column is copyrighted by Ray Bowers, all rights reserved.

Following interesting military and civilian careers, Ray became a regular competitor in the senior divisions, reaching official rank of #1 in the 75 singles in the Mid-Atlantic Section for 2002. He was boys' tennis coach for four years at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Virginia, where the team three times reached the state Final Four. He was named Washington Post All-Metropolitan Coach of the Year in 2003. He is now researching a history of the early pro tennis wars, working mainly at U.S. Library of Congress. A tentative chapter, which appeared on Tennis Server, won a second-place award from U.S. Tennis Writers Association.

Questions and comments about these columns can be directed to Ray by using this form.


 

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