2012 BTB Awards: Offbeat awards

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Kim Clijsters

Kim Clijsters’ career ended with a second-round loss to Laura Robson at the U.S. Open. (Simon Bruty/SI)

The BTB Awards are our look back at the best — and worst — of the tennis season. We cap off our two-week review of the season with the best and worst of the rest. It’s been a nutty one. 

2012 IN REVIEW: Report Card | Surprises | Meltdowns | Shots | Best Slam? | Quotes | Photos | Videos | Fashion | Breakthroughs | Feuds | Under-the-radar stories | U.S. tennis

Best Retirement: Andy Roddick. His surprise announcement at the U.S. Open caught everyone off guard and probably didn’t give his fans enough time to say goodbye. But that was Roddick. He wasn’t a guy who was going to hobble through a retirement tour. He knew it was over, and he tapped out. Huge respect.

Worst Retirement: Kim Clijsters. Given that she announced last year that the U.S. Open would be her last tournament, we had plenty of time to revisit and reflect on Clijsters’ legacy and talent throughout the season. As it turns out, that might have been too much time. By the time she lost to Laura Robson at the U.S. Open, people seemed to have run out of things to say. Even Clijsters looked a bit weary from it all.

Best Bet: In 2003, a British man bet about $2,000 that Roger Federer would win seven Wimbledon titles by 2019. The man died in 2009 but left the bet’s proceeds to the international aid agency Oxfam. Federer completed the feat in July. At odds of 66/1, Oxfam earned $158,000.

Best ATP Shoulder Bump: Rafael Nadal vs. Lukas Rosol, Wimbledon. Based on Rosol’s reaction, it looks like Nadal initiated the contact. Man, what didn’t this match have?


Best WTA Shoulder Bump: Victoria Azarenka vs. Maria Sharapova, Stuttgart. Everyone gets to play Zapruder here to figure out who started it, who should have yielded and, in the end, who bumped whom. Looking at Sharapova’s head shake, I’m guessing it was Azarenka.


Worst Federation Public Relations Debacle: The USTA and Taylor Townsend. The Wall Street Journal reported that the USTA had cut Townsend’s funding until she lost weight, igniting a firestorm that the player-development program had a tough time putting out.

Worst Use of the Internet: “Blue Cat Polytheism Founder 07″ posted a death threat against Federer on an Internet message board. The guy apologized and attributed the threat to a flame war between fans, but not before Federer was put under heavy security in Shanghai.

Best Golden Set: Yaroslava Shvedova, Wimbledon. Because it was the only one. Like, practically ever.

Worst Conspiracy Theorist: Ivo Karlovic. The big Croat accused the Brits of bias toward Andy Murray after Karlovic was called for 11 foot faults in a second-round match at Wimbledon. We all know that’s not true. I mean, if the All England Club really wanted Murray to win Wimbledon, it sure as heck wouldn’t have closed the roof on him in the final against Federer.

Best Tennis Dog: Maggie May. From using the Wimbledon runner-up platter as a tray for cupcakes featuring her likeness, to posing for pics wearing Murray’s Olympic medals, the little border terrier was a must-follow on Twitter. And, yes, we know the account is run by Murray’s girlfriend, Kim Sears. Dogs can’t tweet, duh.

Worst Double Fault: Novak Djokovic, French Open. How do you say “anti-climactic” in Serbian? A dramatic match that took place over two days because of rain, Djokovic finally ended it by double-faulting on match point to give Nadal his record seventh French Open title.

Worst Fashion Design: Adidas. It’s entirely possible that I’m just completely out of touch with what’s hip at your local tennis club these days, but did anyone really run out and buy all those clashing neon eyesores? But beyond the color schemes, they couldn’t even make shorts that held tennis balls.


Best WTA Facebook Page: Sam Stosur. One of the quieter players on tour, Stosur offers a glimpse into her personality. She’s hilarious.

Best ATP Facebook Page: Tomas Berdych. Much like Stosur, Berdych can come across as a bit stoic on the court and in interviews. But he rocks at Facebook, posting music links and pictures that are pretty funny.

• Worst Machiavelli Impression: The All Indian Tennis Association. What do you do when you want to field the best team possible for the Olympics, but your key guys can’t stand each other? Why, you use strong-arm tactics and skillful maneuvering to try to force them to play along. That’s what AITA attempted to do with Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, and when its threats didn’t work it used Sania Mirza as a pawn to appease Paes and get him to play. It was an ugly incident that exposed myriad problems in Indian tennis. But it did lead to this …

Best Mic Drop in an Open Letter: Sania Mirza. Take it away, Sania.

“As an Indian woman belonging to the 21st century, what I find disillusioning is the humiliating manner in which I was put up as a bait to try and pacify one of the disgruntled stalwarts of Indian tennis. While I feel honored and privileged to have been chosen to partner Leander Paes, the manner and timing of the announcement wreaks of male chauvinism where a two time Grand Slam champion, who has been India’s number 1 women’s tennis player for almost a decade in singles and doubles is offered in compensation to partner one of the feuding champions purely in order to lure him into accepting to play with a men’s player he does not wish to play with! This kind of blatant humiliation of Indian womanhood needs to be condemned even if it comes from the highest controlling body of tennis in our country.”

  • Published On Dec 07, 2012

    At the very least, the adidas clothing led to that video, which might have the most unintentionally funny header of the year.


    great letter by Sania, and an object lesson n how to annoy everyone with a single decision.. wish she had looked up the difference between 'wreak' and 'reek' though, didnt expect this of an Indian, we generally know our English..


    As much as I doubt Karlovic's conspiracy (though, admittedly, BBC didn't exactly help the matter by neglecting to show any video footage confirming the foot faults), I haven't really found any of the counterarguments convincing either, especially the one Courtney suggests about closing the roof in the final.  As one of the McEnroe's noted, Murray actually likes the roof closed (something about how he likes the "sound") and has expressed this sentiment, and his record under the roof at Wimbledon was undefeated (I believe?), so this wouldn't automatically be advantage Federer, even though it obviously turned out that way.  Plus, they would have had an impossible time justifying not closing the roof when it was raining.


    At the very least, I think Karlovic had a right to be upset, if only because of the convergence of a slew of suspicious circumstances: 11 double faults (he claims he's never made practically any before), the fact that the British press feared Karlovic and his serve on grass, the fact that everyone knows the only real way to blunt the effect of a great server without blatantly making incorrect line calls (that can be challenged) is to call foot faults on the first serve (since they cannot be challenged), the fact that Murray mania was at its peak, and the fact that all the calls were on important points.  Also, the counterargument that half of the line judges are from outside England does NOT escape the fact that half of them ARE, and one would only need one or two rogue judges for this strategy to work.


    Like I said, I'm not a conspiracy theorist--it's more likely all these convergent factors are just coincidences--but it's also unfair to Karlovic to dismiss his claim when all these facts are staring at you right in the face.

    badgernation74 1 Like

    Mirza's open letter was one of the best responses to being put in a bad situation that I've ever read. Better bring some kryptonite if you wanna mess with her.


    Rafael Nadal can "bump" me anytime he wants....