<
>

100 memories: Tempers flared, but history was made

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.

90. Pavs' woes

With the 2012 season over and awards set to be dished out, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova must be in contention for Most Disappointing Player.

After reaching her first two Grand Slam quarterfinals in 2011, the Russian exceeded the second round at a major only once, progressing to the round of 32 at the French Open. Finishing 2011 at No. 16, her ranking now sits in the late 30s.

Among the issues she needs to address is her serve.

In Baku last year, Pavlyuchenkova struck 27 and 25 double faults in two of her matches. This year in Tokyo, Pavlyuchenkova hit 20 -- but still beat Chanelle Scheepers.

89. Steps and Tipsy's Davis Cup shenanigans

The match stretched to more than five hours, but the handshake -- which lasted a mere few seconds -- between Serb Janko Tipsarevic and Czech Radek Stepanek at the end of a Davis Cup classic in April made most of the headlines.

Tipsarevic, who saved three match points and won 9-7 in the fifth set in Prague, accused Stepanek of giving him the middle finger at the net.

Stepanek? Really? Nah, couldn't be.

"Unbelievable," Tipsy said. "I never, ever, ever thought that I would experience this, especially because of my behavior on court. I'm not saying I'm a golden boy, the Stefan Edberg of men's tennis, but at least I know what is right and what is not right."

The Czechs, not having to deal with Novak Djokovic, won 4-1.

88. Almagro can't beat Daveed

Rafael Nadal has the mental edge over his fellow Spaniards. When Nadal is out of the equation, the same could be said about David Ferrer. That was evident on the blue clay in Madrid, when Nicolas Almagro failed to put away Ferrer.

Sporting an 0-9 record against Ferrer, Almagro held three match points in the final set tiebreak. But Ferrer saved them all, including one on the Almagro serve, and advanced 7-6 (5), 3-6, 7-6 (8).

Ferrer improved to 12-0 against Almagro with wins in Sweden and Spain.

87. Friends no more

She's no longer a BFF.

Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska had made it clear how well they get along, with Caroline Wozniacki the third member of the club. But after Radwanska took exception to Azarenka's behavior in their semifinal match in Doha, the friendship fizzled.

Radwanska accused Azarenka of gamesmanship, feeling the Belorussian, who won, exaggerated the extent of an ankle injury.

There was no middle finger, but the handshake was frosty.

"I think after this match, I just lost a lot of respect," Radwanska said about a week later. "I was angry because I don't think this is the great image for women's tennis, what was going on there."

It was Radwanska's third loss in as many tournaments to Azarenka.

86. Two older guys going deep

Tommy Haas and David Nalbandian have had their share of visits to the operating room. Haas is now 34 and Nalbandian turns 31 on Jan. 1.

But that didn't stop the pair from taking part in a bruising battle at the Cincinnati Masters in August. Haas saved a match point to beat Nalbandian in three hours and 22 minutes 6-7 (0), 7-6 (4), 6-3.

Haas had to face Juan Martin del Potro the next day and managed to test the Argentine in the first set.

85. The Delpo slump ends

Del Potro upset Roger Federer to win the 2009 U.S. Open and made it two straight victories that season when he overcame the Swiss at the ATP World Tour Finals.

Then a wrist injury struck.

Del Potro had lost seven in a row to Federer prior to their meeting in the final in Basel in October, including six in 2012. Maybe a fraction unlucky to fall short at the Olympics and French Open, del Potro wobbled in the third set but hung in there to edge Federer in his hometown 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3).

"This time [it's] in my favor, finally," del Potro said. "It's my turn."

As in 2009, del Potro then defeated Federer in London.

84. A British women's winner

Andy Murray finally has company.

For years the lone British singles player of note on the tennis tour, Heather Watson and Laura Robson should provide support to Murray in the coming years.

In Guangzhou, Robson became the first British woman to reach a WTA final in 22 years; weeks later on the Asian swing in Osaka, Watson went one better by becoming the first British women's winner in 24 years by topping Chang Kai-Chen. Watson -- after holding a match point in the second set -- saved four in the third.

With her powerful baseline game (Watson is more defensive), Robson, though, has more potential.

83. Australian Open tinkers with prize money

The potential of a men's boycott at the Australian Open made organizers act -- the players aren't happy with the percentage of revenues they receive at majors.

A record prize-money total will be on offer in 2013, and just as significantly, the tournament is expected to give early-round losers more of a percentage hike than those who lose later in the event.

"It was good to see the Australian Open making their move, showing that they truly care about us, the players," Federer said. "Now we'll see where it takes us from here."

Added Maria Sharapova: "They are under a lot of pressure because they are the first Slam of the year, but I think that the other Grand Slams need to step up based on what they make, because their revenue is much bigger than Australia's."

82. Knocked off No. 1 ranking, Woz loses thriller

It rained. Then it rained some more for Wozniacki.

Her nearly 70-week spell as women's No. 1 ended post Melbourne, and in her first encounter afterward, the Dane suffered more woe by squandering three match points facing the always dangerous Czech lefty, Lucie Safarova.

"I just want to get out of here," Wozniacki said in the news conference room. "You don't want to stay when you lose a match like that."

It wouldn't be the only time Wozniacki lost in 2012 after having a match point.

81. Another amazing shot by Roger

Another year, another contender for point of the year won by Federer.

This time it was in the final of the World Tour Finals.

Down 6-5 in a first-set tiebreak to Djokovic, Djokovic probably thought he did enough when he hit a curling, cross-court forehand pass. Federer, though, lunged to get his forehand volley back in play.

As if that wasn't good enough, when Djokovic sent his reply to Federer's right and behind the Swiss, Federer scrambled back, swiveled and deposited a forehand winner cross court.

Djokovic, however, won the tiebreak and the match. His match-ending backhand pass down the line wasn't so bad, either.