The year 2016 has been full of ups and downs, underdogs shining in the top events. As we review the memorable year, let’s look up on the happenings in a gist, which we’ll never forget.
World number 1, Novak Djokovic, began the campaign with a successful tournament at Doha, where he defeated Rafael Nadal in straight sets in the final. Along with Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic also began the year with a victory at Chennai and Brisbane respectively.
The winners of the first Grand Slam of the year were Novak Djokovic and an unexpected champion, Angelique Kerber, who defeated Serena Williams in the final. In the doubles, the pair of Bruno Soares and Jamie Murray began with the winning campaign. Omar Jasika, Nuah Rubin and Fernando Verdasco gave the most surprising results, knocking out Illya Marchenko, Benoite Paire and Rafael Nadal respectively.
The reigning pair of Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza, clinched 3 out of 6 titles in the month, including the Australian Open. Victoria Azarenka opened the year with a victory over Angelique Kerber at Brisbane.
The month with the utmost tournaments, with 12 tournaments, had 10 different winners. An upset was caused in Rio, where Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was knocked out by world number 338, Thiago Monteiro in 3 sets, also, Pablo Cuevas defeated Rafael Nadal in the semi-final, counting in for one of the best STP matches of the year, and Thiago’s victory being one of the ATP upsets of the year.
This month also observed the comeback of the Argentine, Juan Martin del Potro. He began playing on tour from Delray Beach Open, and also managed to reach the semi-finals.Around this time, Czech Republic, Switzerland, France and Netherlands had qualified for the Fed Cup semi-finals.
The month of March saw, the same winners for Men’s, Women’s and Men’s Doubles as well, in both ATP 1000 titles, namely at Indian Wells and Miami. The winners were Victoria Azarenka, Novak Djokovic, Pierre-Hughes Herbert & Nicolas Mahut. Azarenka defeated the Russian, Kuznetsova at the Miami Masters and defeated the world number 1, Serena Williams at The Indian Wells.
Maria Sharapova got suspended from the tour for 24 months, because she had consumed an anti-ischemic drug, called meladonium, since the Australian Open and WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) had declared this drug as illegal on 1st January, 2016. She fought the legal suit and got the ban reduced to 15 months. She will be back on tour from Roland Garros, 2017. In between, she played an exhibition match against Monica Puig in Puerto Rico, in December.
This month was also observed for victory ways for the American-Czech pair of Bethanie-Mattek Sands and Lucie Safarova, who won 2 out of 3 tournaments held.Around this time, UK, Serbia, Italy, Argentina, France, Czech Republic, US and Croatia had qualified for the world group in Davis Cup quarter-finals.
After a quarter of the season had passed, the Spanish top seed, Rafael Nadal, was eyeing a victory, which he swapped, two in a week. He won the Monte Carlo Maters, defeating Gael Monfils in the final, which has been listed as one of the ATP best matches of 2016. Subsequently, he won the title at Barcelona after a week of winning at Monte Carlo. An upset was caused in Monte Carlo, when Jiri Vesley knocked out the world number 1, Novak Djokovic, in 3 sets, which also lead to breaking of a winning streak of 106 consecutive matches for the Serbian. The Bryan brothers won two titles, namely at Houston and Barcelona, there first title of the year. The month was great for the Spanish and the Argentine players, as 4/8 tournament winners in singles were from Spain, and 3/8 were from Argentina.
This month was high in competition for women’s doubles as the winning pairs of Hingis-Mirza, Garcia-Mladenovic, Mattek Sands-Safarova, all were observed either to be the winners or the runner-up in half of the tournaments. Dominika Cibulkova was a finalist and a winner in either of the tournaments in this month. Around this time, the Fed Cup finalists were decided, viz. Czech Republic and France.
The world number 2, Andy Murray, won his first title in the month of May, at Rome Maters. Rome saw many top seeds being bagelled, such as Novak Djokovic, who got bagelled by Thomas Bellucci and he was about to turn the tables as he was about to win in straight sets in a scenario. Also, the well progressing Belgian player, world number 13, David Goffin, bagelled the Czech top seed, Tomas Berdych, to win the match, in just 50 minutes. This took Twitter by storm, as the tweeps went mad for bagels. The last time a top 10 player was double-bageled was when Roger Federer defeated Gaston Gaudio in 2005 at the ATP WTF. Another close call was Roger Federer defeated Andy Murray at the ATP WTF 2014, as he annihilated the host countryman, Andy Murray, 6-0, 6-1.
In WTA, Serena Williams recorded her first victory of the year, at Rome, as she defeated Madison Keys in the final. It was an astonishment that Serena had not won a single title in the past four months of the season. She turned a finalist at the Australian Open and Indian Wells.
The month saw the beginning of The French Open towards the last week. Roger Federer, withdrew from the French Open, bearing a knee- injury. It was the first time in 13 years, in his entire career that he withdrew from a grand slam.
An upset took place in the fourth round of Roland Garros, when Milos Raonic was knocked out by Albert Ramos Vinolas in straight sets. The 9-time champion, Rafael Nadal, didn’t manage to qualify beyond R32. Novak Djokovic, took the best use of this opportunity and won the title, completing his career Grand Slam there. He became the eighth player in the history to complete a career grand slam, after Rafael Nadal completed it in 2010, and Roger Federer completed it in 2009.
Not the men’s singles, but the men’s doubles and the women’s singles was dominated by the Spanish players at the French Open. Garbine Muguruza, emerged a champion, as she defeated Serena Williams in the final. Also, Marc Lopez and Feliciano Lopez, emerged the champions, as they won the men’s doubles title, as they defeated the Bryan brothers in the final. The women’s doubles champions were a French pair of Kristina Mladenovic and Carolina Garcia, as they defeated the Russian pair of Elena Vesnina and Ekatrina Makarova. Victoria Azarenka had to withdraw in between the tournament, because of a knee-injury, which also led to her withdrawing from the Wimbledon Championships, which began later the same month.
The cherry on the cake is stolen by the strawberries and cream in this month, every year. This year saw the games being in progress on the Middle Sunday, often referred to as Peoples’ Sunday, as the rains had created a back log in the matches. It was the fourth time in the history that the Peoples’ Sunday observed play in progress; this was observed before in 1991, 1997 and 2004.
The 7-time Wimbledon champion, had a golden chance to change his tally to 8 at Wimbledon, as the world number, Novak Djokovic, got knocked out by Sam Querrey in the third round, in four sets. The Swiss defeated Marin Cilic in a nerve wrenching match in the quarter final, as he was 2 sets down to 0, and was trailing badly, and subsequently managed to turn the tables. He couldn’t go beyond the semi-finals, where he lost to Milos Raonic, who had also defeated him in the Brisbane final in January. After the loss at Wimbledon, Federer called off the year as he wanted to improve on his form for 2017.
A fan of Federer, faced his idol in the second round, i.e. world number 772, Marcus Willis, faced Roger Federer. He had pulled an upset in the first round, defeatingthe world number 54, Ricardas Bernakis in straight sets. Also, world number 547, Julien Benneateau defeated the world number 84, Ilya Marchenko. Andy Murray managed a straight set victory in the final to be the Gentlemen’s Singles winner; the Frenchmen, Pierre-Hughes Herbert & Nicolas Mahut, the upcoming champions were crowned the best crown of being the doubles champions. On the WTA side, Serena Williams took the Australian Open revenge from Angelique Kerber, as she defeated the German in 3 sets to win the Ladies’ Championships, which was not a cakewalk at all. Kerber took Serena off the edge to level the game at every point; the Ladies’ Doubles title was won by Serena and Venus Williams, who defeated the pair of Timea Babos and Yaroslava Shvedova in the final.
Victoria Azarenka, in the middle of the month, informed her fans that she had to call it a season, because she was diagnosed to be pregnant and was expecting her first child with her boyfriend towards the end of the year. Around this time, UK, Argentina, France and Croatia had qualified for Davis Cup semi-finals.
The beginning of the month observed a news about the split between the very successful pair of the two ladies, Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis. The pair kicked of their season by winning the Australian Open (Sania’s third grand slam) and several other titles, being seeded number 1. They lost to Daria Kasatkina and Elena Vesnina in Qatar Open, which ended their 41-match winning streak. Also, the ATP 1000 Cincinnati Maters was won by Marin Cilic and Karolina Pliskova.
The Olympic Games were held at Rio de Janiero, Brazil. The first round was made memorable by Juan Martin del Potro, the bronze medallist from 2012 Olympics, as he knocked out the world number one, Novak Djokovic, in straight sets. He went on defeating every player he faced, defeating Rafael Nadal in the semi-final and setting a final against the defending gold medallist Scot, Andy Murray. Nadal was set to make a comeback at the Olympic Games, after a poor season. Murray became the first man to defend a gold medal in the tennis history, as he defeated del Potro in the final. Rafael Nadal lost the bronze medal match to Kei Nishikori, but he didn’t lose a chance to win another gold, i.e. in the Men’s doubles, partnering along Marc Lopez. The two-time medal winning team of the Bryans had withdrawn from Olympics 2016.
On the WTA facet, Monica Puig won the first ever Olympic gold medal for Puerto Rico, as she defeated the German, Angelique Kerber in the final. Kerber was the first German to be a finalist in Olympics after Steffi Graf. Petra Kvitova emerged as the bronze medallist, who defeated the American, Madison Keys in the bronze medal match. Keys was the only American woman left in the fixture after the third round, as Serena Williams got knocked out by the Ukrainian Elina Svitolina in the third round, Venus Williams got knocked out by the Belarusian, Kristen Flipkens, with Sloane Stephens being knocked out by the Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, both in the first round.
The Russian pair of Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova defeated the Swiss pair of Timea Bacsinszky and Martina Hingis in the gold medal match. The bronze medal match was between 2 Czech pairs, where Lucie Safarova and Barbara Strycova emerged the winners.
Though the US failed to win any medals in the aforesaid mentions, they managed, both the gold and the silver medal in the mixed doubles match. The pair of Bethanie-Mattek Sands and Jack Sock won the gold, who defeated the pair of Venus Williams and Rajeev Ram. This marked a medal from a fourth Olympics games for Venus, first non-gold medal since the year 2000.
The last Grand Slam of 2016 was quite a mix of memories. While the upcoming star, David Goffin got knocked out in the first round, the world number 30, Sam Querrey was knocked out by the world number 250, Janko Tipsarevic. Lucas Pouille pulled the most enthralling upset, as he defeated Rafael Nadal in the fourth round, in five sets, which has been listed as one of the best Grand Slam matches by the ATP. Also, another match which has been listed is Kei Nishikori vs Andy Murray, where the Scot lost to the Japanese in five sets in the fourth round.
Towards the winners, Angelique Kerber and Stan Wawrinka, left no stone unturned, to make their final opponents have the match of their lives. Kerber became the first German woman to win a Grand Slam after Steffi Graf, but she saved herself from being called the ’one-slam wonder’. Ranked number 2, she became the oldest woman to become number 1 after the final victory, ending Serena William’s record-tying run of 186 consecutive weeks in the top spot. It was the first time since 2013, that Serena was not ranked number 1, and Kerber became the first German woman to become the world number 1 after her idol, Steffi Graf. On the other hand, Stan Wawrinka has reached 3 finals at a grand slam, has won all of them. He emerged victorious as he defeated the world number one, Novak Djokovic. It was the time when Swiss flag went up in NYC after 2008, since Federer won the title back in 2008. Stan is only a grand slam away from becoming the ninth man in the history to complete a career slam, the Sharapova way. Not to forget, he has become the ninth man in the history to enter the “After 30 Grand Slam winning club” with Federer.
Bethanie-Mattek Sands and Lucie Safarova defeated the French pair of Kristina Mladenovic and Carolina Gracia in the final; also, Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares won the men’s doubles title. Around this time, Argentina and Croatia had qualified for the Davis Cup finals.
Since Roger Federer was absent from the tour, Rafael Nadal was struggling with his form, and Novak Djokovic started performing poorly since Wimbledon, Andy Murray had a golden opportunity to close the gap between his and Djokovic’s ranking points, and become the world number one for the first time.Novak Djokovic was knocked out in the semi-final of Shanghai by Roberto Bautista Agut, in straight sets and at Paris by Marin Cilic. This made Murray’s ways even easier. Out of the 10 tournaments held in October, Andy Murray played and won 4 of them. By the middle of the month, he had reduced the difference to only 415 points. As he defeated John Isner in the final of ATP 1000 Paris Maters, he dethroned Novak Djokovic and became the new world number 1. Also, Jamie Murray became the new world number 1 in doubles.
Juan Martin del Potro, finally won a title on his comeback, at Stockholm Open. Nick Kyrgios won his third title of the year, The Rakuten Japan Open, held at Tokyo, and entered the Top 10. At the Basel Indoors, Stan was a poor substitute for the forever winning Swiss compatriot, Roger Federer and was knocked out by Mischa Zverev in the quarter-final. Cilic emerged victorious at Basel, defeating Nishikori in the final, his second title of the season. Around this time, the top 7 players had qualified for WTF London, including Cilic.
Also, Alexander Zverev, became the face of the ATP 250 tournaments this year, as he won one, became a finalist in another, and reached the semi-finals in the other two. His best performance in the grand slams this year was R32, R16 in ATP 1000, and a finalist in ATP 500.
The WTA Finals, Singapore, had a last day qualifying entry of Svetlana Kuznetsova, who won a tournament in Moscow a day before, for qualification. The domi-neering Dominika, Angelique Kerber, Agnieszka Radwanska and Svetlana Kuznetsova managed to reach the semi-final stage after playing the round robins. The final clash was set between Kerber and Cibulkova, where the Slovakian played the match of her life. The semi-final against Kuznetsova was no less than a war, and the final was equally nerve-wrenching! It was not easy for her, she had lost the first two round robin matches as well. She gave away everything she had, improved her year-end rank from 7 to 5. She won 4 titles year-round and was a finalist in 3.
Though split, Mirza and Hingis paired up for the WTA Finals as they were earlier already qualified for WTA finals before olympics. The gold-winning pair of Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova became the champions. The year-end number one trophy in Singles went to Angelique Kerber and that in Doubles went to Sania Mirza, for the second consecutive time, her tally has now extended to 90 consecutive weeks.
Andy Murray opened a tournament for the first time being the world number one at The ATP WTF London. Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori. The semi-final clash between Murray and Raonic, which is the best ATP Match of the year, was a battle, battle of the service games, which led to tie-breaks. The final clash was set between Murray and Djokovic. Twice the unforced errors as Murray’s, made Djokovic lose the match in straight sets. The unbeaten streak of Murray continued and Djokovic stepped down from the number one spot.
The Davis Cup final was set between Argentina and Croatia, being hosted by Croatia in Zagreb. Juan Martin del Potro, after an incredible, rather an unbelievable run through the year, made his country proud once again after the Olympics, with his fellow compatriots. After the doubles victory for Croatia, it was a do-or-die scenario for the Argentines. Del Potro won his first ever career match from being 2 sets down to love, which was against Marin Cilic, levelling the lead. The second reverse singles match, was the match of the life for Federico Delbonis, as he defeated Ivo Karlovic in straight sets and set the victory ways for Argentina being the first time champions.
The Fed Cup final was set between Czech Republic and France, being hosted by France in Strasbourg. The Czech team was bidding for a fifth title in six years. Quite similar to the Davis Cup final, they won 3-2, and Karolina Pliskova set the victory ways as she defeated Kristina Mladenovic in one of the longest matches ever in the Fed Cup history.
After 3 years, making 6 titles a success, Novak Djokovic and Boris Becker called it a way, announcing on Facebook. Marian Vajda is still in his team. On the other hand, Rafael Nadal hired Carlos Moya as his coach, along with his coach & uncle, Toni Nadal.
A retired Spanish player, Roberto Vizcaino Mallol, died.
Petra Kvitova got attacked at her home. A burglar attacked her with a knife to her throat, struggled in the bathroom, and got severe lacerations to all four fingers on the left hand, with two nerves being cut. She underwent potentially a career-saving surgery for three and a half hours. And not to forget, she got a stress fracture on her right foot right in the middle of November, and her MRI showed that she would have to take a break till Australian Open 2017, this attack added to the menace, and she will be back after Roland Garros 2017.