Spearheaded by a group of players who must rank among the best to ever hold a racquet, 2012 was arguably the most competitive and infectious year in recent memory on the ATP tour.

The four grand slams were shared across the top four players in the world, while Andy Murray claimed singles gold at London 2012. The return of Tommy Hass, the frontier spirit of Lukas Rosol and the revival of Juan Martin del Potro were among the more memorable images of the last 12 months. IBTimes UK recalls the standout moments.

Player of the Year - David Ferrer

Life very much started at 30 for David Ferrer in 2012. A grand slam winner he might not have been, but in a golden age for the sport, the Spaniard was still able to succeed. Ferrer was a grand slam semi-finalist at Roland Garros and Flushing Meadows, but it was the seven tour victories, the last of which came at the Paris Masters, which crowned his year. No player claimed more titles or wins in 2012 while he's on the verge of overtaking Rafa Nadal as world No.4.

David Ferrer
No player won more titles in 2012 than Ferrer

Match of the Year - Novak Djokovic v Rafael Nadal - Australian Open Final

The primeval fashion in which Novak Djokovic ripped open his shirt at the end of his marathon five-set Australia Open final win over Rafael Nadal did perfect justice to the animalistic and superhuman effort of both players.

Djokovic required just short of six hours to see off a Nadal in a shape far removed from how he ended the year. Nadal's reaction upon forcing a fourth set, having recovered from 4-3 down, said much about the energy-sapping nature of the contest; as he sank to his knees one pitied the man who told him a fifth set followed. After the Spaniard recovered from another break down in the fifth, he eventually wilted in game 11, allowing Djokovic to claim another slam.

Shot of the Year - Novak Djokovic v Roger Federer - ATP World Tour Finals

The shot of the year turned out to be the final blow of 2012, and came via the racquet of the most dominant figure of the men's game in 2012.

As Federer scuppered successive opportunities to take the opening set at the ATP World Tour Finals, Djokovic took the initiative, and this backhand down the line secured the season-ending event in supreme fashion; the perfect way to end a thrilling season.

Breakthrough Player of the Year - Martin Klizan

Having begun 2012 117<sup>th in the ATP rankings and via a waltz into the second week at the US Open and his first tour title, Klizan quickly surged into the top 30. His success on the challenger circuit where he won three out of four finals from March to May was followed by his maiden grand slam win against Nicolas Mahut at the French Open. Flushing Meadows produced his finest hour, however, as he beat Alejandro Falla, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Jeremy Chardy before crashing out to Marin Cilic in round four. The St Petersburg Open a fortnight later was the scene of his first tour success, as he overcame Fabio Fognini.

Shock of the Year - Lukas Rosol beats Rafael Nadal - Wimbledon

The Wimbledon roof seemed to produce drama night after night in week one at SW19, but a five-set thriller between Lukas Rosol, ranked 100 in the world, and 11-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal illuminated The Championships. Rosol's hammer blows rained down on Nadal, who was arguably some way short of peak fitness as his Czech opponent took no mercy. While his return continued to cause Nadal problems, his nerveless booming serve eventually sent the Spaniard crashing out in one of the great grand slam shocks.

Controversy of the Year - David Nalbandian disqualified at Queens

A set up in his first tour final for 17 months, David Nalbandian's Wimbledon preparation had begun in impressive fashion. However in the second set, following a break from opponent Marin Cilic the irate Argentine kicked an advertising board which bloodied a line judge standing alongside it. Nalbandian was disqualified and while he apologised to the judge, he later complained of the ATP's pressure on players to play in a high number of tournaments every year. Points and prize money deductions followed.

Player to Watch in 2013 - Jerzy Janowicz

A rise from 226<sup>th in the world to inside the top 30 in 2012 suggests we can expect big things from Jerzy Janowicz in the next 12 months. The Pole was struggling just to make ends meet on the tour; financial issues saw him miss the Australian Open and force him to sleep in his car in between matches. Two wins at Wimbledon assisted his progression before he arrived at the Paris Masters, merely as a qualifier, and beat five of the world's top 20 to reach his first tour final where he lost to David Ferrer. With the weapons to hurt the very best, producing his best tennis across a 12-month period remains his next challenge.

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