Yen-Hsun Lu becomes the Challenger GOAT
The man from Taiwan claimed another three Challenger titles to take his career total to 18, surpassing the semi-retired Takao Suzuki’s haul of 16.
His cause was helped by his schedule, consistently opting to play weak Challengers in Asia instead of ATP events and he was top seed (by a large margin) in all three victories.
The Ratiwatana twins do the same
If Lu is the Roger Federer of the Challenger circuit then Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana are the Bryans.
The Thai twins won eight titles in 2012 to take their career total to 30, more than double the amount of the team in second place on the all-time list (Bobby Reynolds and Rajeev Ram with 14).
Individually, they both still have a way to go to catch Rik De Voest, who tasted victory in three Challenger doubles titles in 2012 and now has a career tally of 37.
Maximilian Abel returns to the tour
He didn’t win ATP Comeback Player of the Year but if you were going to write a film script about any returning player, you’d pick Abel.
A top-10 junior who lost to Andy Roddick in the 1999 Orange Bowl final, his already spiraling career came to a halt when he tested positive for cocaine in Metz in 2007 and was suspended for three years.
That was the least of his legal troubles as it emerged he’d been fuelling his addiction and travel expenses with stolen credit cards. He was sentenced to three years prison in 2009 on 135 counts of fraud.
Payments to hookers and threats on his life from Chechen mafioso types while in custody are some of the more lurid details of the tale.
In July this year the 30-year-old made his return to tour in Futures qualifying and finishes the year ranked 1091.
Richard Gasquet hits a backhand overhead passing shot winner from 2 metres behind the baseline
On set point in the first set of the bronze medal match at the Olympics. Draconian International Olympic Committee copyright enforcement meant it hasn’t received the attention it deserved.
In fact I’ll probably be bundled in to the back of the van and water-boarded somewhere just for making a gif of it so enjoy it while you can.
(Geographically restricted YouTube video linked in title)
Brian Baker completes the set
Brian Baker completed a unique set in 2012 by recording main draw victories at Futures, Challenger, 250, 500, Masters and Slam level.
Jerzy Janowicz came close to achieving the same feat, lacking only a win at 500 level from his personal collection.
Dan King-Turner plays an epic point and shares it with the world
Not sure what I prefer about this. The shot itself or the fact that the player was so insistent his moment of genius drew some attention that he uploaded it to YouTube himself.
Denis Zivkovic wins the title in Leon
Zivkovic was ranked 713 and had never won a main draw match at Challenger level when he entered qualifying at the 30k event in San Potosi, Mexico in April.
He broke new ground by reaching the last eight and a continued his momentum in Leon the following week, again going through qualies. He went all the way to the final where he beat Rajeev Ram in straight sets.
It was a fortnight that came completely out of the blue, the player going 4-11 in main draws for the remainder of the year.
Aka a gratuitous cat gif. You people can’t get enough of cat gifs. What the hell is wrong with you? Michal Przysiezny doesn’t look so amused.
Alejando Falla proves he’s only human
In his 674th match as a professional, Alejando Falla was forced to retire for the very first time. A virus finally put paid the Colombian’s remarkable streak during the Cali Challenger.
Matteo Viola wins after trailing 0-5 0-40 in the third set
Viola won five matches from match point down in 2012 but the most impressive was his comeback against Dusan Lajovic in the first round of Australian Open qualifiers where he saved a grand total of 9 in an unlikely 8-6 third set victory. Lajovic still wakes up in a cold sweat thinking about it.
Philip Oswald hits 38 aces against Ti Chen…
…and loses the match.
Players breaking national records
Ze Zhang became the highest ever ranked Chinese man when he reached 154, beating the mark of 176 set by Bing Pan in May 1995.
Malek Jaziri seemingly breaks a Tunisian record every time he steps on court. In 2012 he achieved a high rank of 69 and in St Petersburg became the first from the North African country to reach an ATP semi-final.
Grega Zemlja became the first Slovene to reach the third round of a slam at the US Open and first to reach an ATP final in Vienna (where he lost to Del Potro). It was a fine year for Slovenian tennis overall, the small Balkan nation finishing with three players in the top 100 (Aljaz Bedene and Blaz Kavcic were the others).