100 memories: Kim Clijsters falls in Paris

December, 14, 2011
12/14/11
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Editor's note: The tennis season now over, it's time to look back. Novak Djokovic was no doubt the player of the year, but there were many memories to savor. Beginning Dec. 12, Ravi Ubha is unveiling his top 100 memories of the 2011 season. Check back each weekday until Dec. 23 as we count down to No. 1.

70. Dokic reunites with dad

Who saw this coming?

Former Wimbledon semifinalist Jelena Dokic, an often tortured soul, confirmed in September that she reconciled with controversial dad Damir Dokic.

Damir Dokic coached his daughter before an acrimonious split. He recently spent about a year in jail for threatening to blow up the Australian embassy in Belgrade.

"I am in a very positive and confident frame of mind in my life, and I really wanted to do this because I believe it is the right thing to do both for me and for all of my family," Jelena Dokic said. "My father was very receptive, and I believe he has changed greatly."

69. Cancer hits Kleybanova

Every so often, the idyllic tennis world gets gate-crashed. It happened in July.

Russian Alisa Kleybanova revealed -- on her 22nd birthday -- that she was undergoing treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of cancer.

"This is the toughest time in my life, and I hope it always stays the toughest time in my life," said Kleybanova, a gritty competitor but bubbly character off court. "I'm sure I'll be able to overcome this -- it's just a matter of patience and time."

We wish you well, Alisa.

68. Zvonareva crumbles in Istanbul

It wasn't as bad as her meltdown against Flavia Pennetta at the U.S. Open in 2009, but Vera Zvonareva's 1-6, 6-2, 7-5 loss to Agnieszka Radwanska at the year-end championships was still painful.

Zvonareva's first mistake was letting a tired Radwanska back into the match after cruising in the opening set. Then in the third, she failed to take advantage of three match points on her own serve. Radwanska helped saved the third match point, however, with some unbelievable scrambling.

Instead of tears from Zvonareva, there were painful looking smiles.

67. Ailing Andy

Andy Roddick, after being blessed with good health for most of his career, is now having a hard time staying fit.

As the defending champion in Miami, Roddick encountered breathing issues and moved gingerly in a second-round loss to Pablo Cuevas. A shoulder injury ruled him out of the French Open -- and hampered his Wimbledon prep -- before a problem with his oblique meant he had to skip a portion of the U.S. Open Series.

"It's been, I think, the toughest year I've had," Roddick said in Shanghai. "I feel like I've been starting and stopping a lot."

Despite the lack of fluency, Roddick managed to finish inside the top 15.

66. To Russia with love

Alex Bogomolov Jr. was named the most improved player on the men's tour, climbing more than 130 spots in the rankings. His season got even better when his desired switch from U.S. to Russia in the tennis world became official this month.

Bogomolov, a longtime U.S. resident, is suddenly the Russian No. 1, which means he's a lock to be on the Russian Davis Cup team when it meets Austria in February.

Bogomolov was appreciative of the help the USTA gave him in his formative years but said the opportunity to represent the country of his birth was too great to pass up.

"I'm going to do the best I can for my family," he said. "That's my main priority, my kid, my family."

65. Murray sizzles in Asia

The field might not have been as strong as in years past, as Roger Federer so eagerly pointed out, but Andy Murray winning in Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai in consecutive weeks was quite the achievement.

Murray responded in the best possible fashion after yet more disappointment at a Grand Slam (the U.S. Open).

"This is one of the best runs I've had, and I'm playing very well," Murray said.

Minor injuries surfaced thereafter, so he couldn't keep it going.

64. A classic tiebreaker

Novak Djokovic had to deal with not only the elements on a windy day in New York, but an unorthodox, unpredictable opponent in Alexandr Dolgopolov Jr. Their fourth-round clash produced arguably the best tiebreaker of the season.

Dolgopolov began by taking a 4-0 lead, only to see Djokovic win the next five points. The seesawing continued. Djokovic saved four set points and ultimately converted on his sixth attempt to win 16-14. Dolgopolov went down tamely in the next two sets.

"It was an interesting first set," Djokovic said.

The women's tiebreaker of the season also stemmed from a fourth-round match in New York. Maria Kirilenko edged eventual champion Sam Stosur 17-15.

63. Clijsters capitulates

Making her first French Open appearance in five years, this wasn't what Kim Clijsters had in mind.

Clijsters blew a set and 5-2 lead, as well as two match points, in a stunning 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 second-round defeat to tall, shy Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus.

Clijsters had missed the previous two months with an ankle injury, but that was no excuse. The inexperienced Rus was ranked 114th at the time.

"I started doubting a little bit," Clijsters said. "That's definitely the wrong attitude to have, especially for me on clay."

62. Seven in a row for Rafa

When all else fails, Rafael Nadal can count on winning in Monte Carlo.

Nadal, not having to confront Djokovic, made it lucky No. 7 -- in a row -- at the posh Monte Carlo Country Club after toppling good pal David Ferrer 6-4, 7-5 in a punishing final.

"It would have been impossible to imagine a few years ago winning seven titles here," Nadal said. "I'm a lucky guy to have done this by age 24."

When will Nadal lose in Monte Carlo?

61. Tennis players going splittsville

Two longstanding tennis romances involving Eastern Europeans came to an end.

Tomas Berdych and the oh-so-nice Lucie Safarova went their separate ways, with the former now dating a much younger model and the latter linked to a cage fighter.

Kirilenko, a former SI swimsuit model, and Igor Andreev also cut ties. Kirilenko moved on quickly, to Washington Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin.

Ovechkin posted a picture of himself and Kirilenko on Twitter; "Me and my girlfriend Maria....she is my queen!!!!" was the accompanying caption.

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