BBC BLOGS - Jonathan Overend
« Previous | Main | Next »

From Melbourne to New York - a quickfire review

Post categories:

Jonathan Overend | 14:05 UK time, Thursday, 29 December 2011

Ever seen those collages on Facebook that use the words that most frequently appear in your status updates? I thought I'd employ a similar process for my final blog of 2011, a stream of recollections and observations from my tennis travels in 2011.

I've been to Melbourne, Miami, Monte Carlo, Rome, Paris, New York and Shanghai, not to mention Glasgow for the Davis Cup and London for the ATP World Tour Finals.

So prepare for some random recollections, in vague chronological order, limiting myself to the all-important Grand Slams:

Australian Open: Melbourne magic

Murray in green storms first week... Raonic on the radar... Petkorazzi and Petkodance... Venus seemingly out, then back in, then out... "Kangaroo-stricken" Wozniacki lies for a laugh... "Guilt-ridden" Wozniacki backtracks spectacularly... The end of Henin... Isner v Cilic, ouch... Schiavone beats Kuznetsova in 4 hours 44... Djokovic dismantles Federer... Nadal breaks down... Murray in the final again... Nine sets played, nine sets lost.

Djokovic celebrates victory over Andy Murray in the 2011 Australian Open finalDjokovic celebrates victory over Andy Murray in the 2011 Australian Open final

French Open: Paris in the spring

Caroline Garcia plays beautifully... "A future number one," says Murray... Clijsters shocked by outsider Rux... Murray ankle scare... How did Berrer not beat him?.. I break tooth in hotel fight with bowl of muesli... Fognini saves multiple match points on one leg v Montanes... Djokovic/Federer instant classic, Novak's amazing run ends... Li Na wins first singles major for China... Federer surges ahead in men's final... It doesn't last, it can't last, Nadal champion of clay once more.

Wimbledon: Summer in the city

Sabine Lisicki comeback queen... Isner/Mahut rematch most predictable anti-climax ever... Laura Robson fine challenge to Maria Sharapova... Roddick, no longer a threat, loses to Lopez... Bartoli v Serena, epic... Tomic from qualifiers to the quarters... Federer loses from two sets up... Dimitrov v Tsonga memorable tumble-fest played in great spirit... Murray in semis again... Kvitova a first-time major winner, deserves it... Djokovic set 2 in the final, simply stunning... He wins. He eats grass. As you do.

Serena Williams argues with the umpire during the US Open women's singles finalSerena Williams argues with the umpire during the US Open women's singles final

New York: Autumnal washout

Hurricane threat... Hurricane mad panic... Hurricane whimpers by... Heather Watson "no fear" versus Sharapova... Li Na and Kvitova both out in round one, huh?!... Baltacha and Robson with main-draw wins... Rain... Stosur/Kirilenko tie-break, wow... More rain... Venus pulls out, rare condition diagnosed... Leaky Armstrong Court and "gaffer-tape-gate"... "That" Djokovic forehand return v Federer... Serena goes crazy in the final... USTA too weak to punish properly... Stosur keeps her head, deserves title... Oliver Golding, junior champ... Sensational men's final... 18-minute third game of second set, best of year... Three out of four for Novak... Player of the Year.

Let's go round again in a few weeks time!

Can Djokovic get close to repeating his sensational season? Can Murray win a first major? Is Federer going to be the player of the year? Can one of the young guns make a significant breakthrough? Can Wozniacki cling onto the top ranking? Anyone else going to retire? Li Na, Kvitova and Stosur last year, who this? Will this be Sharapova's big return? Can the Brits build on an impressive 2011?

Loads of questions, bring on the answers.


  • Comment number 1.

    Q. Can Djoko repeat this year?
    A. Unlikely, but it is possible if he regains the form he started last year with, and avoid injury. Really seems the player to beat now, especially since he seems to have Rafa's number

    Q. Can Murray win a first major?
    A. Only if Djoko, Fed, and Nadal all go out before he has to play them, and he stays confident

    Q. Can one of the young guns make a breakthrough?
    A. Not in the mens, top four, are too strong, only Tsonga, and possibly Fish stand any chance

    Q. Can Wozniaki cling onto No.1?
    A. She has for a while now, so no reason why not.

    Q. Anyone else going to retire?
    A. Federer might, but I hope not.

    Q. Who new winning slams this year?
    A. Again none likely in the mens, but anyones guess for the womens. Possibly even the number 1, wozniaki

    Q. Sharapova return?
    A. Hasn't she already made a significant comeback? Wimbledon will probably be the big one for her

    Q. Can Brits build?
    A. Unfortunately this year is probably as good as it is going to get until the likes of Watson, Robson, Golding mature a little.

  • Comment number 2.

    I foresee a Del Potro will win in america again!
    Watson/Robson are ready to win minor titles. especially as women's game is so weak.
    Rafa will struggle to hold French title. Djokovic will really want it to complete the set.
    Federer will still just about have enough to win olympic gold and rubber stamp the fact he is the greatest. May even take Australian title if Djokovic is not back to his best.
    Nadal to take Wimbledon title, discuss

  • Comment number 3.

    For most of the questions, have to agree with Cayacer:

    Will be a superhuman effort for Djokovic to repeat 2011 again, specially if Federer and Nadal are back to their very best.

    Sorry to the British fans, but seriously don't see Murray winning a grand slam in 2012, he just doesn't have the mental fortitude on the big stage, and yeah agreeing to Cayacer, only possible if the big three lose early, does he have a chance to win a major.

    Don't think its possible for any young guns to make a breakthrough, Tomic and Raonic have the talent, but don't see them to breaking into the top 10, its way too tough with the top 4 up there. Though seriously I believe, if Tsonga can be more consistent, and play similar to last year, he has the game to go ahead of Murray in the rankings, and rather the same with Del Potro, if he is fit, I rate his game superior to that of Murray's as well.

    The women's ranking in my opinion is so seriously flawed that if Wozniacki continues to win minor tournaments week in week out, she will cling on to the No.1 ranking. But, she doesn't have the game to win a major, way too passive, and the likes of Kvitova, Sharapova, Azarenka, Williams, Stosur can all overpower her.

    Disagree with Cayacer here, Federer is way too motivated and fit to retire. I see him playing at least till 2013, and then it really does depend on his body. None I can think as of now.

    Again like Cayacer said, don't see any new grand slam champions in the men's game, but women's, I think Azarenka could win a slam, if she is focused.

    Sharapova return? That isn't a great question, as she had a great 2011, and I'm tipping her to win a slam in 2012. Hopefully, she can recover from her ankle injury, but she is a serious threat at all the majors.

    I see quite a lot of potential in Baltacha and Watson, who played so well against Sharapova at the US Open, but I'm afraid its going to be a long tough road ahead for them in 2012.

  • Comment number 4.

    Good luck in 2012 to the lovely Sabine Lisicki, who captured many a heart at Birmingham, Wimbledon, & beyond - this year!

  • Comment number 5.

    Tennis is generally on the decline. The old superstars are either past it or injured most of the time. There aren't enough players playing at a really high level at the moment; there really is only one. And finally the well of promising talent seems a little dry these days. Not to mention the disastrous state of women's tennis.

    In short, we can look forward to a decade or so of mediocrity in tennis.

  • Comment number 6.


    Completely agree with you in the flaws in the womens ranking system, huge error in the system that a player can be number 1 for so long without winning a major. We saw it with Dinara Safina, and everyone said it wouldn't happen again, yet here we have Wozniaki topping the rankings by winning everything but a Slam. There has to be a better way to do it.
    Nothing agaisnt Wozniaki, she has great talent and is a great player, but like Murray, lacks the mental ability and style of play to make it in a grand slam.

  • Comment number 7.

    disagree that tennis is weaker men's tennis is as strong as ever. women's tennis has always been weak accept that there has been 1 dominant figure in the past. Serena, Hingis, Graf, Navratelova....

  • Comment number 8.

    Also agree with cayacer mostly i reckon if del potro finds his best form he can break the top 4, he has won a slam and been up there with the top four (i think he did briefly). For me he's as good as murray, if not slightly better, but his mental strength is far better than murray's and i watched him play djokovic at the french open this year and he looked good. Sadly he lost.
    @5 as simon says it's being argued that this is a golden era for mens tennis with federer, nadal, djokovic and (although he needs to win a slam) murray

  • Comment number 9.

    My question of 2012 is - if I asked Elena Baltacha to the ball would she say yes? I think it'd be Love - and not in a good way......

  • Comment number 10.

    Sabine Lisicki has the serve to win Wimbledon but she needs to learn to handle her nerves. Sharapova was there for the taking in this year's Wimbledon semi but Lisicki choked after a great start. On the mens' side, Nadal's game puts a huge strain on his body and that could limit him and shorten a great career. Because of that I can see Djokovic dominating again with the odd flash of brilliance from Federer, a return to the top 5 for Del Potro and Murray having another year as bridesmaid. I don't see Murray winning a slam in 2012 unless Djokovic gets injured at the wrong time.

  • Comment number 11.

    I'd agree with much of the above.

    Men's 4 is so strong at the moment, a fit Del Potro could make it a top 5 and it's possible to see him winning a slam again.

    I don't see Djokovic dominating like he did for the first 9 months of this year, though if he gets back to full fitnes he certainly has Nadal's number. I think Federer's a better bet against him, yet I'm not sure Federer as it in him to win another slam, opponents see that chink in his armour. Hope I'm wrong because he's been the best player to have ever played the game.

    I think Aussie Open is Murray's best chance, yet is he fit?

    Women's game, can't see Wozniacki remaining no.1. Kvitova has the potential to be the next big thing in the women's game.
    Last year and recent year's too were woefully weak, it's difficult to have envisaged such long established players on the men's tour like Schiavone, Li Na, and Stosur winning first time slams late in their career. (Though I guess Ivanisevic did, though he's reached the final a few times previously).

    Sharapova had a great 2011, considering her injuries and where she's come back from, another major remains a posibility.

    Brits, can't see any back up to Murray. The established Brit women have probably peaked out, though good to see a few of 'em challenging the top 50.

  • Comment number 12.

    The year Djok had is comparable to Vettel in F1. I believe both will be contenders next year but will 2012 see the return of Spain (with Euro 2012 as well)?

    I'm excited to see how next year will pan out.....

  • Comment number 13.

    A great 2011 for men's tennis and 2012 is brilliantly set up. I think Murray will win at least one slam and finish top two in the world rankings.

  • Comment number 14.

    I just want to take this opportunity to reflect on the magnificence of Novak Djokovic, having been a fan since the first time I saw him play I never thought he would reach such heights but he managed to produce with a near superhuman consistency to take nearly every title available till after the US Open.

    I don't think 2012 can be as good and for the sake of his body it better not be! He should focus on the slams and try to keep healthy, Federer is the most likely player to defeat him in an important match (as he did in FO 2011), I don't fancy the chances of any other player.

  • Comment number 15.

    Can Djokovic get close to repeating his sensational season?

    I can definately see him attaining an 85 plus win % for the year, I see him getting a slam or two and some other tournaments. However I don't see 2012 as being a dominent year for anyone, more a tansitional year with form and fitness issues afflicting all the top guys. For the first time in years maybe the No1 year end will go down to somewhere neer the wire.

    Can Murray win a first major?

    I'd say he's got a 35% shot. There are a lot of other players in the way, over 5 sets he can be hit through, and no matter how many hours a day he hits tennis balls and lifts weights; that forehand is simply not designed for 21st century tennis.

    That said his backhand is still arguably the best in the game, the serve when on is a potent weapon, and sometimes his petulant streak can work to his advantage. Here's hoping.

    Is Federer going to be the player of the year?

    Doubt it. Over at Eurosport Simon Reed has been waxing lyrical over Federer's tour finals win, and the Beeb hasn't been too far behind in lavishing the praise.

    But let's look at the facts, Nadal was injured/resting for the Davis Cup and the tournament is played on comfortably his worst surface, Djokovic was simply disinterested (I watched his match against Tipsaravic live and he pretty much tanked the game), and Murray also pulled out. Whilst Federer's end to the season was impressive, I very much doubt it'll have much of an impact on proceedings once play gets underway in an inevitably scorching Melbourne.

    Can one of the young guns make a significant breakthrough?

    Tomic has unusual gifts and I believe he will be a top ten player fairly soon. Raonic will probably take over as new era Roddick, Dimitrov a new Gasquet, but as I said Tomic is the stand out I think.

    Can Wozniacki cling onto the top ranking?

    I see Kvitova taking the no1 ranking fairly soon, she doesn't have a massive haul of points to defend prior to Wimbledon, and frankly she is already the de facto no1 in everyone's eyes apart from the WTA computer.

    Anyone else going to retire?

    Roddick maybe. I believe his game is creaking beyond repair and I very much doubt he would be prepared to hang around the top 100 Juan Carlos Ferrero style. A long and happy sunset with Decker beckons.

    Li Na, Kvitova and Stosur last year, who this?

    Kuznetsova maybe again. She always has the game to threaten. Sharapova can win slams. But as I said before my (predictable) pick is Kvitova.

    Will this be Sharapova's big return?

    Think this question has already been answered. She has returned to her rightful position safely in the upper echelons on the womens' game. She was never a serial winner and probably won't ever be, but she will continue to threaten in every tournament she enters.

    Can the Brits build on an impressive 2011?

    Yes. Watson and Robson I see continuing their development. The brit boys also. Ward should concentrate on maintaining his mean ranking at 150 and Murray isn't going to stop being world class. Doubles wise we have a few good guys too.

    I believe hiring Smith as Davis cup captain and appointing Judy Murray to her new role were astute moves that show that the LTA are thinking about things in the right way.

  • Comment number 16.


  • Comment number 17.

    Nice moments. Looking forward, I think Nadal will come stronger even if he doesnt play in all the grand slams. Djokovic will surely be the favorite in most of the slams. Federer doesnt seem to have the energy to play through an entire grand slam, but hope he proves me wrong.
    Have no clue on the Women's game, although it will be nice to see Lisicki win a slam or two.

  • Comment number 18.


    Completely disagree with Murray having the best backhand in the men's game. Guess your forgetting Djokovic, who I believe has the best backhand by a mile. Not just offensively, but what he can do with that from defensive positions is just outrageous and no one else on tour has that ability, since he is by far the best mover on tour.

  • Comment number 19.

    Re the Wimbledon segment: did you mean DJOKOVIC vs Tsonga? That was a thouroughly entertaining match, and as you mentioned, showed a side of professional sportsmen we don't see enough.

  • Comment number 20.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 21.

    the holder of the best backhand is very much debatable. Nadal hits an astonishing one just as powerful as his forehand. much the same with Djokervic. however both have 2 handed ones which is a disadvantage in reach. but they more than make up for this with movement. Murray has great feel for the ball and can hit both one and two hands.

    But for me the most Beautiful backhand belongs to Gasquet. He plays the shot as it was meant to be

  • Comment number 22.

    p.s Tsonga also plays his backhand purely by feel but for me, does not have the quite the same level as Murray

  • Comment number 23.

    @simon # 21

    I couldn't agree more with the Gasquet comment. He may not be the most consistent but there's literally NO shot i'd rather watch then when he unleashes an unplayable booming backhand down the line, leaving his opponent just standing there.

    I'm not sure whether Djoko will actually win a major this year to be honest. He was amazing to watch last year but i've just got a feeling he'll fall short this year before pushing on in 2013. I think Federer will have one last big push and pick up 2 slams (Aus/Wimb), with Nadal winning the French again and anyone's guess on the US. Federer to win at the Olympics too. Nowt again for Murray i'm afraid, although I genuinly think he can beat any of them in a Slam (but won't next year).

    As much as I like Wozniacki, I think the number 1 ranking is actually brining her down and if she can lose it to Kvitova it may spur her on to challenge in a Slam (probably US).

    Either way, I hope I get Wimbledon tickets this year and can't wait for the O2 to roll around again.

  • Comment number 24.

    Wozniaki plays the part of No 1 very well but unless she changes her game and becomes more aggressive on the forehand, i do think Kvitova will take her quite soon. Sharapova needs consistency but should have a good year, Azarenka is improving slowly but surely, which is a good way I sometimes think. Petkovic and Lisicki are also going from strength to strength and if Kim and Serena return injury free, I am much more optimistic about a great year ahead for women's tennis.

  • Comment number 25.

    Djokovic's body cannot last a full season with his extreme athleticism, so at some stage his performance may tail off but I still expect him to be top dog troubled occasionally by a Federer cameo.

    Rafa is already planning a mini break after Australia - apart from the FO I don't see him racking up more slams this year.

    This is Murray's best chance to win something this year - he needs a strong coach to sort out his mental frailties.

    The Fed will still be knocking at the door and may pull off a surprise here and there - who knows Olympic Gold?

  • Comment number 26.

    The photo of Djokovic and Murray selected as an intro. to this article is interesting. What does it mean?

  • Comment number 27.

    Delpo gets a huge amount of respect here in the comments, but he really hasn't shown he can lift his game again as he did in 09. I know he has had injury problems, but he's been back on tour now for more than a year and hasn't scalped any of the top guys, and in fact is still outside the top 10. Granted he hits the ball extremely hard, and this attracts a lot of people, but his variety and movement is just not up there with the other top guys.

  • Comment number 28.

    I don't see either Nadal or Federer challenging Djokovic this year. Nadal seems to fear Djoko in the same way that Federer used to fear him. I think there's a good chance that Nowak will be the first man to hold all four slams since Rod Laver. I fear y just has not got the mental equipment for seven victories in a row unless he's incredibly lucky and his main rivals are removed by others, he's a very good player, but not a great one. I'm sure we'll see Watson and Robson make steady progress this year and I exepect at least one will be in the top 50 by December, in the process overtaking Baltacha. Golding and the other top boys are also encouraging, not least because they seem to get on well with each other and feed off each other's successes, rather than being jealous, which is a key element of the sucess of Spanish tennis. It's too early to say if one will make the big time, but I suspect that in three or four years, with Murray still around, we'll be mounting a real challenge in the top tier of the Davis cup.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.