The Best of Men's Tennis in 2013
Murray captures Wimbledon. Andy Murray became the first British man to win the Gentlemen's Singles title at Wimbledon since Fred Perry did it in 1936. I know that Murray's not a universal fan favorite and I know he's not as well-loved as Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic, but this was a pretty historic, exciting moment. While I personally would have loved to see an American win instead, those hopes were dashed relatively quickly and Murray was a deserving champ.
Nadal bounces back in 2013. Nadal surged back in 2013 to have an amazing season after a rough 2012 campaign that included a first round loss at Wimbledon along with withdrawals from the Olympics and the U.S. Open. His 2013 season seemed ready to sputter too after he withdrew from the Australian Open with a stomach ailment. But after that, things started looking up. Nadal got things rolling with a few smaller events, then captured yet another French Open championship. I got a little worried after another first round exit at Wimbledon, but Nadal righted the ship and went on a tear through the summer hard court season, capped off with his second major title of the year at the U.S. Open. Oh yeah, and he finished the year at number one. Not too shabby, considering that his tennis future was in doubt after his knees derailed him in 2012.
The Bryan Brothers come this close to a single-season Grand Slam. During an historic 2013 campaign, the Bryan brothers captured 11 titles, compiled a 70-13 record—which included a 25-match win streak—and just missed out on a single-season Grand Slam. After capturing the first three Slams of the year, the Bryans lost a nail-biter to Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek in the semis of the US Open that derailed their bid. Needless to say, the Bryans will finish 2013 atop the men's doubles rankings. In fact, they had the top spot locked up midway through August—the earliest the top ranking had ever been secured. Hopefully they'll be able to take another shot at the Grand Slam in 2014 and keep bringing more of the spotlight to the doubles game.
The Worst of Men's Tennis in 2013
Murray has back surgery. After a breakout 2012 that saw him capture Olympic Gold and his first Grand Slam, Murray followed up with a Wimbledon win in 2013. But his 2013 campaign sputtered at times due to a nagging back injury and eventually was cut short by a decision to undergo back surgery. While the surgery cost Murray a chance to compete in the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals the real question is how he'll rebound in 2014. Even minor back surgeries can have serious implications and the jury is out on how he might be expected to perform—or when he'll make his return—in 2014.
Doping, drug tests, silent bans, and scandal. PEDs, doping, drug testing, and silent bans took an unfortunate, large step towards the forefront of the tennis conversation in 2013 with two relatively high-profile suspensions on the men's side. Former top-tenner Marin Cilic got hit with a nine month ban for ingesting a banned substance, even though the ITF accepted that he took it accidentally and wasn't trying to cheat. His suspension was later reduced to just four months. Viktor Troicki, who reached as high as number twelve in the world in 2011, got suspended for a full year after failing to provide a blood sample when it was requested. Troicki's camp claimed it was just a misunderstanding and he did provide a sample 24 hours later that came up clean. I'm certainly not impugning either guy and I don't think either one was trying to cheat, but it definitely left a smear on their careers and the game. Now the burden is on everyone who's involved in the game to ensure that tennis stays clean and keeps moving forward.
Tunisia suspended from Davis Cup competition for a year. I'll admit that at first I was really racking my brains to pick a third low point. The more I thought about it, though, the more egregious this one seemed until I just couldn't exclude it. For anyone that hasn't heard the story, the Tunisian Tennis Federation essentially ordered one of their players to withdraw from his match against an Israeli player in October. Once they found out, the ITF voted unanimously to suspend Tunisia from Davis Cup competition. It's not the first time something like this has happened, but I'm ever hopeful that it will be the last. As the ITF President said after the decision, "There is no room for prejudice of any kind in sport or in society."
What do you think were the high and low points for men's tennis in 2013? Tell us in the comments section!