5 Tennis Players Who Need to Flush Away Memories of 2012

Stephen Fenech@Fenech2491Correspondent IDecember 27, 2012

5 Tennis Players Who Need to Flush Away Memories of 2012

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    The 2012 season was filled with remarkable performances, but certain tennis players want nothing more than to flush away their memories of it.

    The players on this list struggled last season due to various reasons, although injuries and/or poor play were a factor in each case. 

    Tennis requires mental strength, as the physical abilities of those on tour can be indistinguishable at times. That isn't to say that the nuts and bolts of the game aren't important, but the players with stronger mental games tend to produce more consistent results. 

    A perfect example is the difference between a young Andy Murray and Roger Federer. Prior to Murray's Grand Slam breakthrough at the 2012 U.S Open, he was often criticized for letting his emotions get the best of him. 

    His emotions clouded his judgement at times, which compromised his ability win big matches. 

    When watching Federer, it's virtually impossible to determine whether or not he is winning or losing based upon his body language and demeanor. 

    While the 2012 season is in the rear-view mirror, the ranking points that were awarded have shaped the tennis landscape as the new season draws closer. 

    The following five players are looking to start fresh in 2013 because 2012 was a nightmare. 

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5: Ernests Gulbis

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    At one point early in his career, Ernests Gulbis was labeled as a future Top 10 player. While it's always dangerous to place such high expectations on a youngster, Gulbis had the talent to warrant them. 

    Gulbis is an aggressive baseliner, who can dictate play with his forehand when in rhythm. The problem is the young Latvian struggled to get into a rhythm in 2012. 

    Over the course of the entire season, Gulbis only strung together two wins in a row three times. He compiled a record of 17-18 in 2012, which was the fourth time in his career he finished a season with a winning percentage below .500. 

    The high-water mark of Gublis' season came at Wimbledon, when he upset Tomas Berdych in the first round. Gulbis failed to build upon that triumph, as he lost to Jerzy Janowicz in his next match. 

    2012 was the most disappointing season of Gulbis's career, because he can no longer hide behind the excuses of inexperience and bad luck.

4: Svetlana Kuznetsova

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    Svetlana Kuznetsova will go down as one of the most inconsistent players in WTA history. On any given day, she is capable of either upsetting one of world's best players or being beaten by someone she has no business losing to. 

    Kuznetsova's highest ranking came in 2007, when she climbed to No. 2 in the world. Since then, her high water mark came in 2009 when she won the French Open. 

    2012 was the worst season of Kuznetsova's career, as she compiled a 16-13 record before suffering a knee injury that put her on the shelf after Wimbledon through the rest of the season. 

    The missed time caused her ranking to tumble, as she is ranked 71st in the world.  At 27-years old, Kuznetsova is young enough to make her presence known on the WTA tour, if she can come back healthy and focused. 

3: Donald Young

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    Donald Young suffered through a 17-match losing streak in 2012, which was by far the longest streak in the ATP. 

    For Young, who was once labeled as the next big thing in American tennis, the losing streak took a major toll on his psyche. In fact, Young said the following in regards to his losing streak after he lost to Jeremy Chardy, which was his 16th straight loss: (h/t ESPN.com)

    When [you've] won hardly any matches, you feel really far away even if you're close. Chardy was freer. It was one set all. Primarily it was mental, also, for sure.

    Since tennis is as much a mental game as it is physical, Young's psyche was more of a factor in the losing streak than his actual on court play. 

    After posting a record of 19-17 in 2011, Young only won three matches in 2012 while losing 22 times. 

    Young is currently ranked 189th in the world, which is the lowest he has been ranked in years. The 2013 season cannot possibly be any worse for Young, as he will fly under-the-radar due to his ranking. 

2: Vera Zvonareva

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    Vera Zvonareva was one of the elite players on the WTA tour from 2008-2011 but fell off mightily in 2012 due primarily to injuries. 

    After playing 88 matches in 2011, Zvonareva was limited to just 20 matches in 2012. In those 20 matches, Zvonareva only won 11 of them, as she posted the lowest winning percentage of her adult career. 

    A right shoulder injury ended Zvonareva's 2012 season after Wimbledon, as she failed to win a title on tour for the first time since 2007.

    Her 2013 schedule has been cut, as Zvonareva has already withdrawn from the 2013 Australian Open.

    Zvonareva is doing the right thing by not rushing back from injury, because she needs to be at full strength in order to improve on her ranking. The problem is Zvonareva will fall out of the Top 100 after the season's first major, as she ended to the 2012 season ranked 95th. 

1: Gael Monfils

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    Gael Monfils suffered through an injury plagued 2012 season, in which he saw his ranking drop from No. 7 in the world to the 77th slot he currently occupies.

    The Frenchman is among the most dynamic athletes on tour, which makes him a very tough out on slower surfaces. 

    Monfils did not play a single match between May 20th and September 17th, which must have killed him. Injuries forced him to miss the French Open, which is the major in which he has been most successful. 

    With a little luck, the Frenchman should be able to re-establish himself as one of the world's premier defenders. 

    Monfils was a stalwart inside the Top 15 on the ATP tour from 2009 until the middle of last season and will make an ascent up the rankings once healthy.