Throughout the season, even though the young guns have made some noise, the players that really stood out the most were, in my view, the veterans, especially the players of 30 years or more, some of whom having had a season many players would really envy them.
The first player who comes to mind, of course, is Roger Federer who, just before his 31st birthday, won his 7th Wimbledon, reclaiming the number one spot in the wake, which he kept for 16 weeks, thus breaking Pete Sampras’s record and breaking the 300 weeks mark. Before that hard-fought title, where he narrowly escaped an early loss to Julien Benneteau in the third round, the Swiss had won titles in Rotterdam, Dubaï, Indian Wells, and Madrid, and had reached the semi-finals in the first two Grand Slams of the season.
His title in Wimbledon was his first Grand Slam crown since the Australian Open back in 2010, his longest period since 2003 without winning one of the four Majors of the season. A month later, Federer finally put his hands on an Olympics singles medal, winning the silver on the same mythical Centre Court where he’s had his most brilliant success.
The new calendar has taken its toll on him, and after taking his third Masters 1000 shield of the season in Cincinnati, Federer did not win any other title this season, his best results coming indoors, with finals in Basel and London.
Nevertheless, with six titles (one Grand Slam, three Masters 1000, and two ATP500) and the Olympic Silver, he was one of the best players this season, delighting the crowds far and wide with the majesty of his game.
Since 2005, David Ferrer has been a steady member of the top 15, except during brief spells, usually caused by injuries. Until this year. the player from Valencia has known his best moments in 2007, when he won three titles and reached his first Grand Slam semi-final, at the U.S. Open, but also the Masters Cup final, where he lost to then nearly unbeatable Roger Federer.
Despite being one of the most consistent players of the ATP Tour, Ferrer has always been, somehow, in the shadow, particularly in Spain, where most only talk about Rafael Nadal. Indeed, the exploits of the Mallorcan are legend, particularly on clay, but the Ironman of Javea also deserves praise, and this year has shown why.
At 30 years of age, David Ferrer signed, in 2012, the best season of his career, finishing ranked 5th in the world for the second consecutive year, and leading the ATP in titles (7) and matches won (76), both career highs.
Furthermore, on top of winning at least one title on each surface, something only Federer has also achieved this year, Ferrer crowned his season by winning his first career Masters 1000 shield, in Paris, just after taking his home title, in Valencia, capping a dream season that, hopefully, has enabled him to come into a spotlight he fully deserves, and scarcely gets.
Humble, hard working, dedicated, and immensely professional, the Spaniard is a model among players, and an example everyone should follow.
The German has been another of the veterans who have shown, this season, that no one should be retired until it is his own time to say so. In a year that saw many greats of the game saying their last goodbye, the 34-year-old from Hamburg has defied all odds. After nearly two years out of competency due to hip and elbow surgeries, he made an impressive jump in the rankings, starting the season ranked 205 and finishing it 21st, which earned him to be elected the Comeback Player of the Year by his peers.
The former World no 2 won one title, in Halle, where he defeated Roger Federer in straight sets in the final, and reached two more finals, in Hamburg (l. to Juan Mónaco) and Washington (l. to Alexandr Dolgopolov), but to me, his biggest accomplishment this season has been to reach the third round of the French Open, coming all the way from the qualifications, as he did not have a ranking high enough to gain direct entry into the main draw and had not been awarded a wild card to the event.
His classic style of play, combined to one of the most beautiful and efficient one-handed backhands in the game, make of Tommy Haas a constant pleasure to watch, and one who has been able to adapt himself to the various changes in the surfaces and the game throughout the years.
Is retirement in the German’s plans? Not at all, as he assured that he would be playing at least one more season and has, as he stated, a full calendar for 2013. We can only wish him to stay healthy, and to continue delighting us with his game for a couple of extra years.