By James Crabtree
Now we all know the Big 4 shared the spoils when it came to the slams. And we also know that the same Big 4, to date, shared amongst themselves the bigger ATP 1000 events. So greedy…
Nevertheless, some unlikely names managed an emergence or in some instances an older guy experienced an impressive resurgence. Either way credit is due for those who triumphed at some of the smaller events in 2012.
First Title for a While
Thirty year old Jarkko Nieminen finnished first (sorry for the pun) to win the Aussie Open warm-up event in Sydney. It was his second career title and first in six years for the most successful player in Finnish history. Of interest Jarkko’s wife Anu Nieminen is the top badminton player in Finland.
Another older guy, PhD graduate, Mikhail Youzhny used his smart play to collect the Zagreb Indoor title and his first silverware in two years. Others to end the two year drought were Jürgen Melzer who walked to a title in Memphis and Sam Querrey who battled to victory in Los Angeles.
Watch Out For
Twenty three year old Martin Kližan of Slovakia has risen from a ranking of 120, at the beginning of the year, to 29 after consistent play and a recent triumph in St. Petersburg. Not only that but he beat Jo-Wilfred Tsonga in the U.S. Open before losing out in the fourth round. Incredibly he is the only first time winner of an event on the ATP tour this year.
Defending Dirt Rats
Pablo Andújar of Spain could be the least talked about player on the tour with two titles, both in Casablanca – play it again Pablo.
Robin Haase, a player with curlier hair than sideshow Bob defended his clay title in Kitzbühel.
Another player enjoying the feeling of being home was Philipp Kohlschreiber who won in Munich. Kohlschreiber has had an impressive year, having made the Wimbledon quarter finals and finishing the year within the top 20. The name Kohlschreiber directly translates to ‘Coal Writer’ which has precisely no relevance to this article.
Perhaps the most impressive surprise was the man from Japan, in Japan. Kei Nishikori grabbed his home title defeating Baghdatis, Berdych and Raonic to the absolute euphoria of the home crowd.
No Haas Been
Tommy Haas really has come back from the brink. Not only that but he displayed his best against his old nemesis Roger Federer, and on the home soil of Halle. This win punctuated what has been truly a wunderbar comeback for the thirty four year old German who started the year ranked 205 and is now placed at 21.
Old Dogs, New Tricks
Twenty eight year old Italian Andreas Seppi has also been grabbing headlines with spirited play. He has won two titles this year in Belgrade and Moscow and also reached two finals in Eastbourne and Metz.
Juan Monaco is somebody who really has found his magic touch this year. Not only did he bring his clay court tally to six after winning Viña del Mar, Houston and Hamburg but he also captured his first hard court title recently in Kuala Lumpur. Monaco has also seen his ranking rise from 43, this time last year, to a very impressive 10 and stands behind only that of David Ferrer and Roger Federer for total titles won in 2012. Now that’s impressive company to be in.