Novak Djokovic against Andy Murray in the semi-finals of the Australian Open was my favourite match of the year. It was just a fascinating battle that could have gone either way. I think it also gave a glimpse of what was to come from both men for the rest of the year, but especially from Murray. There were little building blocks during the rest of the year, but it proved Murray could live with Djokovic on the big stage. I preferred it to the final between Djokovic and Rafael Nadal despite the final lasting longer and having plenty of quality moments. I found the first two or three hours of the final quite tedious, but the semi-final was brimming with superb tennis from both men.
It has to be Murray's performance in winning the fifth set against Djokovic in the US Open final. I was really worried that he would never win a Grand Slam if he lost that match. I'm not sure how well he would have recovered from losing a two-set lead. But there was a calmness and a sureness about his demeanour that suggested he knew what needed to be done to win the match. He looked calmer than in any similar situation I had seen him in before. I think he played his best tennis at the most important time. It could all have fallen apart for him. The mental scars could have blighted the rest of his career. He was serene in that final set, and wasn't looking for any advice. It was just great, but the building blocks had been coming together after losing the Wimbledon final and winning the Olympics several weeks earlier.
I thought David Nalbandian being disqualified in the Queen's final was quite amusing. It was unfortunate and I had great sympathy for the line judge getting injured, but it was farcical. He obviously had to be disqualified. Apart from all that, it was quite funny. It was funny how he launched into the ATP afterwards. He apologised before blaming the incident on the ATP - all live on television.
Serena Williams was in a complete class of her own this year. You can have arguments over who had the best year in the men's game, but there is no dispute about the best player in the women's game. I think over the course of time she has realised that she must focus on her tennis rather than wanting to become an actress. I think the time out due to her illness brought with it a great realisation that she needed to knuckle down and prove what a talent she is. She is as dominant as any player has been in women's tennis. She is going to get close to all the records in the game if she stays fit.
It was Rafael Nadal's defeat to Lukas Rosol in the second round at Wimbledon. It was Rafa's last match of the year due to injury, but I'm not sure that Rafa would have beaten him even if he was fit. It was the biggest surprise for many years at Wimbledon. The guy played the most sensational tennis. He has done nothing of note since, but that was his day.
Saying goodbye to Kim Clijsters. The last year wasn't great for her, but she remains a very unique individual. I've been around tennis for many years, and Kim always had time for everybody. She was great for the game because she was so down to earth. In an era when women players are put on a pedestal and some act like they are on one, Kim was a breath of fresh air. Her win at the US Open in 2010 was amazing, but I don't think the comeback was all she hoped it would be. She is a big loss to the sport.
The performance of Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, who for me is the most talented player outside of the top four. He is only probably outdone by Roger Federer for natural talent. But the top four have worked considerably hard to get where they are in the game. It remains to be see if Dimitrov has the right attitude and work ethic to join them. When he parted company with his coach Peter McNamara earlier in the year, I questioned the wisdom of that decision. He is coming up to 22 and is just inside the top 50. He should easily be inside the top 10 with his ability. Maybe behind the scenes he works very hard, but the results haven't come. As far as the top level is concerned, he is not a match winner. He doesn't seem to win the matches he should. This is a big year for him. I've heard that he is seeing Maria Sharapova, but that may or may not be helping his tennis.
Sam Sumyk deserves enormous credit for helping Victoria Azarenka to number one in the world rankings. She may not be the best player in the world, but she deserves her number one ranking for what she did last year. She won $7.9 million this year. I hope he gets a good rake of that because he has made her so much more mature. She is a terrific match player who very rarely gives anything less than 100 percent mentally and physically. I think it is going to be a spectacular year for Serena Williams in 2013, but she is is not a bad second behind Serena.
Who to look out for in 2013?
I've picked three players to look out for in 2013. Serena because of her stunning form. She can win every Grand Slam with some luck. Jerzy Janowicz impressed in Paris, beating Murray before losing to David Ferrer in the final. He has got a huge serve and can back it up. Janowicz has got the potential to do it on the very biggest stage. The other player I would suggest will impress in 2013 is Lucie Safarova. She has never done anything in Grand Slams, but she was such a spectacular heroine in the Fed Cup. She possesses the game to have a very big year.