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With the 2012 Grand Slam now in the books, here's a look at how players performed on tennis' biggest stage:
1. Serena Williams: Only one player won two Grand Slam titles this year. Was it a surprise that Serena Williams stood out from the rest? Williams cast aside disappointments in Melbourne and Paris to blow out most of the field at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. It's 15 majors and counting.
|Djokovic had his shining moment in Australia.|
2. Novak Djokovic: Novak Djokovic couldn't match his Grand Slam output of 2011 and ended his 2012 Slam season by losing a heartbreaker to Andy Murray. But Djokovic was the only player to appear in three Grand Slam finals, and he bagged one, in Melbourne.
3. Andy Murray: The drought is over for Andy Murray, and no one can say the Scot didn't deserve a major. He came close to winning at Wimbledon before battling his way to the title at Flushing Meadows. A huge assist goes to Ivan Lendl, who has no doubt helped Murray improve mentally.
4. Roger Federer: Roger Federer still has plenty of life in him at the age of 31. The quarterfinal streak at majors continues, and the Swiss ended his two-year wait for a Slam crown by once again ruling the roost at Wimbledon. There's little to suggest that Federer won't be as consistent next year.
5. Victoria Azarenka: She shrieks and she's sticking with it. But Victoria Azarenka can also play. Azarenka opened her Grand Slam account in Melbourne in convincing fashion and nearly made it two at the U.S. Open, where her return of serve and athleticism severely tested Williams. Azarenka will get that second major soon enough.
6. Maria Sharapova: Maria Sharapova didn't know what to expect from herself at the start of 2012, since she was recovering from an ankle injury. Reaching the Australian Open final was thus a pleasant surprise. Speaking of surprises, how many thought Sharapova would complete her Grand Slam collection at the French Open?
7. Rafael Nadal: Rafael Nadal hasn't played since Wimbledon, where he was on the receiving end of one of the biggest upsets in Grand Slam history, because of a knee injury. But Rafa had enough in him to triumph in Paris, and, had he not missed a backhand sitter in the fifth set in Melbourne, he might have been victorious over Djokovic in their marathon.
8. Sara Errani: The little engine that could. Sara Errani has had most of her success on clay, yet at smaller tournaments. Errani changed that at Roland Garros, progressing to the final as Italians once again had reason to cheer. Let's not forget, too, that Errani reached the quarterfinals in Melbourne and semis in New York. A career year.
9. Agnieszka Radwanska: Agnieszka Radwanska was supposed to be a pushover in the Wimbledon final. She obviously didn't read the script. Radwanska hung in there and extended Williams to three sets. She began the campaign with a quarterfinal showing in Oz but ran out of gas in New York.
10. David Ferrer: David Ferrer, who turned 30 in April, shows no signs of slowing down. For the first time in a single season, Ferrer was a quarterfinalist or better at each of the Grand Slams. He outlasted Janko Tipsarevic in New York in one of the matches of the year and gave Murray a scare at Wimbledon.
11. Petra Kvitova: On paper, two semifinals, one quarterfinal and one fourth round at Slams doesn't look all that bad for Petra Kvitova. However, given her tremendous ability, she should have done much better. Kvitova still needs tinkering. We have faith. She'll eventually get things right.
12. Angelique Kerber: When the season began, who suspected Angelique Kerber would become head of the German pack, outdoing Andrea Petkovic, Julia Goerges and Sabine Lisicki? Kerber saved her best stuff for Wimbledon, where the lefty ventured to the semis. Perhaps in the future she will play less and focus more on the majors.
13. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was as exciting as ever. He came within a forehand of ousting Djokovic at the French Open and played his part in a thriller against Murray in the Wimbledon semis. If only Tsonga could temper his game -- slightly -- and play the percentages better.
14. Juan Martin del Potro: The Australian Open was a good news-bad news deal for Juan Martin del Potro. He advanced to the quarters, but was pummeled by Federer. More uplifting for del Potro: He pushed Federer to five sets at the French with a bum knee and contested a high-quality quarterfinal against Djokovic in New York. The Argentine will get to at least one Slam semi in 2013.
15. Samantha Stosur: Samantha Stosur never does well at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, so she'd better pick up some points at the French and U.S. Open. So it proved. Stosur got to the semis in Paris, upset by Errani. In New York as the defending champion, Stosur took Azarenka to a third-set tiebreak in the quarterfinals, the first time she'd played Vika tough.
16. Tomas Berdych: Tomas Berdych, where did you go in the second and third sets of the U.S. Open semifinal against Murray? He left it too late to rally, and Murray handled the blustery conditions much better. Yet the U.S. Open was Berdych's salvation after a horrible French and Wimbledon. The Czech competed well against Rafa in Melbourne.
17. Nicolas Almagro: Nicolas Almagro was a model of consistency at the Grand Slams in 2012. As usual, he slugged his way to the fourth round in Australia, and he went one round better on dirt in Paris. He was good enough to reach the third round and fourth round in London and New York, respectively. If Almagro can shore up mentally, he has the capability of reaching the quarterfinals at all four Slams.
18. Philipp Kohlschreiber: And here we thought Philipp Kohlschreiber was a guy who wanted to avoid controversy. He raised eyebrows when he played at a tournament the week before the Olympics -- and then bailed from London 2012 at the last minute. Then there was being left off the Davis Cup team. Kohlschreiber, though, put together a solid Slam season, highlighted by a quarterfinal at Wimbledon.
19. Ana Ivanovic: It took four long years for Ana Ivanovic to reach another Grand Slam quarterfinal. Will she have to wait another four? Probably not. Besides her appearance in the last eight in New York, Ivanovic produced fourth-round finishes at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. As it turned out, she didn't need to be embarrassed at losing to Errani in three sets in Paris.
20. Janko Tipsarevic: Janko Tipsarevic has done better outside the majors, but the days of losing in the first or second round are over for the Serbian No. 2. Tipsarevic saved his best for last this year, reaching another quarterfinal in New York, where he and Ferrer traded ground strokes for nearly five hours.