The Most Improved Players of the ATP Circuit in 2012
Tennis in the 2012 season has been interesting and varied so far.
Not only did we have four different champions in the Grand Slams, things have looked up for the younger generation as well.
There have been quite a few players who have improved their showings from their previous season.
Most of them seemed to start the season well and then not able to retain their steam for the rest of the year. Some have peaked well by reaching the latter part of the tournaments in the second half of the year. Either way, the tennis world is happy to see these players give fight to the established ones in every tournaments
These players may not appear in the finals of every tournament they enter, but they have the talent and determination to overcome their opponents and surfaces on offer.
A look at the players reveals some interesting insights.
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Martin Klizan was a relatively unknown player in the circuit, plying his wares in the Challenger Tour (and winning three titles). Till the U.S. Open.
Klizan went on to defeat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round of the U.S. Open and to prove that it was not a fluke, defeated Jeremy Chardy in the next.
Only a spirited Marin Cilic could stop Klizan from progressing further.
Klizan added a tournament win (at the St. Petersburg Open) after the U.S. Open to move to his top ranking at No.33.
Bernard Tomic is the No. 1 Australian player while also being the youngest in the top 50 in the world.
Tomic has shown that he is willing to put in the effort to make the latter rounds in the Grand Slam.
His appearance in the fourth round at the Australian Open was a good start to the year but Tomic could not retain the momentum for the rest of the year.
Tomic reached a high of No. 27 in the rankings this June and if he continues in the same vein, an appearance in the top 15 is very much on the cards.
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Kei Nishikori is another player who showed his true potential by beating Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (in the Australian Open) to reach the quarterfinals.
He made quarterfinal appearances at the London Olympics as well as the Hall of Fame Tennis Championship.
Even though his current ranking of No. 17 is one less than his career-best, Nishikori is one of the top Asian players to watch out for in 2013.
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John Isner is the No. 1 American player on the circuit and he also reached his highest ranking in March this year at No. 9.
Isner's credentials this year include wins over Roger Federer in the Davis Cup competition, Novak Djokovic in the Indian Wells Masters, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Davis Cup and Tomas Berdych in the Winston-Salem Open.
Isner would be the first person to admit that there is a lot of scope to improve but he has shown his potential this year and is definitely on the right path to improve.
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Defeating John Isner in the final of the 2012 U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships gave Monaco further boost in his rankings.
An appearance in the final of the 2012 Mercedes Cup (losing to Janko Tipsarevic) and a win in the 2012 International German Open ensured that he breached the top 10 rankings on the circuit.
A win in Malaysia somewhat salvaged his comparatively weaker second half of the year to give him a good platform to boost forward next year.
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Milos Raonic enjoys his best ever ranking on the ATP circuit currently, standing at No. 14.
Raonic did not lose his serve during his tournament win (Aircel Chennai Open). Raonic also won another tournament, the SAP Open, in San Jose in the early part of the year.
His year has included wins over Andy Murray among others, proof enough that he is one of the few to watch out for.
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Tomas Berdych's career has reached the next level in 2012.
Berdych started the year with a win in the Hopman Cup while going till the quarterfinal in the Australian Open (eventually losing to Rafael Nadal).
A tournament win in France as well as a semifinal appearance in the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament meant the Berdych was improving ever so steadily.
A semifinal appearance at the U.S. Open, thanks to a great win over No. 1 seed Roger Federer, meant that Berdych had reinforced the hopes of his followers again.
Having reached a career-high of No. 6 on the ATP Rankings, Berdych clearly has the talent to climb the next step as well as capitalize on any loss of form the "Top Four" might have.
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David Ferrer has showed all the qualities for tennis fans to consider the top five players as the "Fab Five," instead of just the "Fab Four."
Ferrer reached the quarterfinals of all the Grand Slam tournaments this year, with semifinal appearance in two of them (French Open and U.S. Open)
Five titles in the year has made Ferrer a real threat to the top players, even at the ripe age of 30.
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Andy Murray can lay claim as the most improved player of the year.
If the year 2011 saw Murray reach one final and three semifinals, 2012 saw him reach the quarterfinal at French Open, semifinal at Australian, final at Wimbledon and finally the pinnacle at the U.S. Open (as well as the gold at Olympics).
Murray is well-positioned to lay claim to the throne currently occupied by Roger Federer and with his coach firmly by his side, it would be a surprise if he does not double his tally (of Grand Slam wins) by June 2013.