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100 memories: Waving goodbye

Editor's note: The tennis season now over, it's time to look back. Beginning Dec. 10, Ravi Ubha is unveiling his top 100 memories of the 2012 season. Check back each weekday until Dec. 21 as we count down to No. 1.

40. Dropping like flies in Indian Wells

Indian Wells vies with Miami, so the theory goes, for the label of most important tournament outside a Grand Slam.

But part of the field in Indian Wells this year was wiped out by an airborne virus that didn't discriminate in choosing its victims.

"Ball kids, officials, players -- everyone's been affected by the bug in some way," tournament director Steve Simon said.

More than a dozen players retired or withdrew prior to matches, most due to the illness.

39. Robson's breakthrough

We've seen this before, right?

A young player engineers a few upsets at a big tournament, heightening expectations. Then, nothing happens.

In Laura Robson's case, odds are the British lefty will keep improving.

Robson beat two Grand Slam winners in a row at the U.S. Open, Kim Clijsters and Li Na, to truly signal her arrival on the women's tour. She wasn't embarrassed in losing to another Grand Slam champion, Samantha Stosur.

"Physically if she gets better, even more explosive, then I think she's going to be a great player and someone I'll be keeping an eye on," Clijsters said of the 18-year-old.
Robson went 9-3, including qualifying, after the U.S. Open and reached her first final.

38. JJ on the rise

No, it's not Jelena Jankovic, who is plummeting in the rankings. Rather, Poland's Jerzy Janowicz is moving in the right direction.

Janowicz became the first qualifier in five years to make a Masters final, topping five top-20 players in Paris; he saved a match point against Andy Murray in the third round.

"This was the most unbelievable day in my life," he said after the Murray match. "I beat the Olympic champion, U.S. Open champion. I have a feeling like in a few minutes I'm going to wake up and everything is gonna be gone."

Janowicz, who celebrated his 22nd birthday later in November, rose from 69th in the rankings to 26th.

Being 6-foot-8, Janowicz possesses the requisite monster serve. However, he also covers the court well, and none of his strokes is a liability.

Hopefully there's more to come.

37. A first for Daveed

The neutrals had it tough in the Paris final. Should they root for the exciting, charismatic Janowicz or hardworking veteran David Ferrer, who was seeking his first Masters title?

The ever vociferous Parisians made up their mind, pulling for Janowicz.

But Ferrer -- not having to face any of the Big Four -- ended Janowicz's thrilling week and finally indeed bagged his maiden Masters crown. The week before, Ferrer won his home tournament, Valencia.

"I played very good these two weeks," Ferrer said. "It was the best season of my career."

Ferrer became the second sentimental favorite in succession to conquer Bercy, following Roger Federer.

36. Wayne's not so happy world

It wasn't a happy return to Grand Slams for Wayne Odesnik, the American who was suspended for possession of human growth hormone.

At Wimbledon, Odesnik appeared in his first main draw at a major since 2010. He lost, though, to Bjorn Phau in five sets and fumed when it was suggested in a print story that his ban was cut in half because he snitched on fellow pros.

"I think one thing I would like each and every single one of you to do is jot this down in capital letters," Odesnik said to reporters. "I would 100 percent never say anything bad about a player or do something that I was a spy or something of that sort."

Why was the ITF's suspension reduced, then?

"I explained to them why I had the medication," Odesnik said.

35. A diverse trio retires

Tennis bid adieu to more than the usual number in 2012.

Three high-profile men called it quits, aside from Andy Roddick: Fernando Gonzalez, Ivan Ljubicic and Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Gonzalez had to be classified as one of the most watchable players of his generation; Ljubicic escaped the clutches of war to compile an impressive 14-year career, aided by a blistering serve; and Ferrero, bridging the Spanish gap between Carlos Moya and Rafael Nadal, won the French Open and held the No. 1 ranking.

They'll all be missed.

34. Kimmy departs, too

For a while Clijsters wasn't sure when she would walk away this year, but she finally decided the right time to go was at the U.S. Open. Robson handed Clijsters the final singles loss of her career, while her last official match came in mixed doubles, when Clijsters and Bob Bryan were ousted by eventual champions Ekaterina Makarova and Bruno Soares.

This time Clijsters, wanting to add to her family, is leaving the game for good.

"Since I retired the first time, it's been a great adventure for my team and my family," Clijsters, 29, said. "It's all been worth it. But I do look forward to the next part of my life coming up."

Clijsters won four Grand Slam titles -- and many more hearts with her grace and warmth.

33. Things that go bump in Germany

Maria Sharapova doesn't like Victoria Azarenka. Victoria Azarenka doesn't like Maria Sharapova.

When they met in the final in Stuttgart, Germany, in April, that was all too apparent.

Walking to their respective chairs at a changeover, neither gave an inch, leading to a brushing of shoulders near the umpire's chair (left shoulder to left shoulder, to be precise).

If this was football, you wouldn't take notice. But in tennis, body contact is news.

Sharapova won in two sets.

32. No joy for Jo as Djokovic rallies

Novak Djokovic wasn't quite right at the French Open. He fell behind, for instance, two sets to Italian Andreas Seppi in the fourth round.

When he was pitted against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals, it appeared to be a good matchup for the Serb. Even if he was playing at home, clay isn't Tsonga's most productive surface, and Djokovic had comfortably dispatched Tsonga in Rome.

To the delight of almost everyone in the stands, Tsonga took the lead and had four match points in the fourth set; Court Philippe Chatrier was set to explode.

On two of the match points, Tsonga had a makeable backhand pass and forehand with Djokovic on the defensive, unable to execute. Djokovic also saved the other two.

Tsonga sagged, so did the crowd, and Djokovic cruised in the fifth.

"[Tsonga] was a little bit unlucky," Nadal said a day later. "But he had two mistakes in two match points, important ones."

On the same day as Djokovic's comeback, Federer reversed a two-set deficit against Juan Martin del Potro.

31. Serena works hard for Wimbledon win

Early into the Wimbledon fortnight, Serena Williams was still feeling the effects of her first-round loss to Virginie Razzano at the French Open.

In the third round, Williams was extended to a 9-7 third set by diminutive Chinese baseliner Zheng Jie; a round later, Williams needed 7-5 in the third set to oust Yaroslava Shvedova. Zheng and Shvedova are quality players, but on grass, Williams having so much difficulty in those rounds is unusual.

Williams slipped up in the second set against Azarenka in the semifinals and puzzlingly, let Agnieszka Radwanska back into the final after a lopsided opening set.

No, this wasn't vintage Serena, but her serve and winning mentality largely contributed to a fifth title at the All England Club.

Only one player -- Angelique Kerber -- beat Williams after Wimbledon.