Tennis review 2016: Andy Murray shines in perfect year, Serena Williams makes history, Milos Raonic's rise and rise

A look back at some of the biggest moments from another remarkable year of tennis

Samuel Lovett
Saturday 24 December 2016 16:26
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Andy Murray clinched his second Wimbledon title
Andy Murray clinched his second Wimbledon title

Historic highs, shocking surprises and bad-tempered tantrums. It was another year of thrilling tennis that did not fail to delight. From Andy Murray's second Wimbledon victory to Serena Williams' record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title, the big guns were out in full force.

It was also the year of the underdog with the likes of Milos Raonic and Garbiñe Muguruza rising to prominence thanks to a series of high-profile victories that brought them sporting glory and global fame.

Garbiñe Muguruza - the French Open champion

It wasn't all fun and smiles, however. For Novak Djokovic, the seemingly unassailable Serbian found his iron grip on the sport slacken as he struggled for form throughout the second half of the season while Nick Kyrgios ended his own year on a sour note after being slapped with an eight-week fine. Rafael Nadal and Rodger Federer were similarly left out in the cold through injury and a shocking knife attack on Petra Kvitova cast a dark shadow over the sport.

Here, Independent Sport takes a look back at the biggest moments across the past 12 months:

January

Raonic’s rise to prominence

January started with surprise as Milos Raonic overcame Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4 at the Brisbane International. It marked the beginning of a phenomenal year for the Canadian as he rose up through the rankings to assert himself as one of the sport’s bests. In the Australian Open, Angelique Kerber saw off Serena Williams to claim her first Grand Slam title while Novak Djokovic beat rival Andy Murray in straight sets to successfully defend his 2015 title and get his year off to the best possible of starts.

Milos Raonic at the Brisbane International

February

“I really like cheese”

Tennis’ wild child Nick Kyrgios recorded his first title of the year after beating Marin Cilic at the Open 13 final. It capped off a stellar week for the Australian in which he didn’t lose a set and was unbroken in 47 games. He ended his victory speech with a few words of French, declaring to his fans, "I really like cheese." Elsewhere, Stan Wawrinka saw off Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis to secure victory in the Dubai Championships final while Venus Williams brushed aside Misaki Doi in the final of the Taiwan Open. Britain’s Heather Watson also enjoyed her first victory on the WTA Tour, claiming victory at the Monterrey Open.

Nick Kyrgios with his first trophy of the year

March

Azarenka shocks Serena

A double-whammy of wins for Djokovic. The Serbian emerged triumphant in the BNP Paribas Open and the Miami Open as he tightened his grip on the No 1 position. Victoria Azarenka also enjoyed back-to-back victories at the same two tournaments, notably beating Serena Williams in Indian Wells. It was the Belarusian’s second BNP Paribas Open title and her 19th singles title in total.

Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams after the final of the BNP Paribas Open

April

Nadal up and running

Rafael Nadal got his tour up and running, beating Gael Monfils at the Monte-Carlo Masters before tasting glory seven days later at the Barcelona Open, holding off Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the process. Twins Bob and Mike Bryan, the ATP Team of the Decade for 2000–2009, also clinched their first victory of the year at the US Men’s Clay Court Championships. Over in the WTA Tour, it was another win for Angelique Kerber. Fellow compatriot Laura Siegemund was no match for Kerber as the 28-year-old stormed to her second title of the tour at the Stuttgart Open.

May

Spanish surprise

Djokovic and Murray met once again, this time at the French Open. And once again, it was the Serb who emerged on top, beating his rival 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4. Unbeknown at the time, but this would be Djokovic’s high point for the year. In the same tournament, Serena Williams was denied her first Grand Slam title of the season as she conceded defeat to Garbiñe Muguruza in the final. The 22-year-old became Spain’s first female champion at Roland Garros since Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in 1998.

June

Thiem claims fourth tour title

Murray clinched his fifth title at Queen’s, a record in the open era, after fighting back from a set down to beat Raonic. Earlier in the month, Dominic Thiem recorded yet another scalp on the tour as he dug deep against Philipp Kohlschreiber to lift his fourth title of the season. Meanwhile, America’s Madison Keys won her first title of 2016 after beating Barbora Strýcová in straight sets. Her semi-final win over Carla Suarez Navarro the day before saw her move into the world's top 10 for the first time.

July

Murray and Williams triumph

Wimbledon drew to a close with Andy Murray and Serena Williams crowned as champions of the All England Club. It was another memorable two weeks at SW19 with plenty of thrills and spills to keep the crowds glued to their seats. Djovokic’s shock third-round exit to Sam Querrey. Muguruza’s second-round defeat by world No 124 Jana Čepelová. Raonic’s thrilling five-set semi-final with Federer. For Williams, the American reaped revenge on Kerber to claim her 22nd Grand Slam title to move her level with German great Steffi Graf. For Murray, the final with Raonic came down, as expected, to a contest between serve and return, with the Scot coming out on top. It was Murray’s second title at SW19 and meant he became the first British man to win multiple Wimbledon titles since Fred Perry in 1935.

Murray and Williams with their Wimbledon silverware

August

Golden Olympics

With the Olympics in town, all attention was fixed firmly on Rio as the sport’s best donned their national colours to chase dreams of gold. For Murray, his stellar year continued as he became the first male tennis player to win two Olympic singles titles after beating Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro in an epic four-hour final. It was the women’s final that provided the biggest story though. In a show of heart, passion and true grit, Monica Puig became the first ever athlete (male or female) to win a gold medal for Puerto Rico. Beating Kerber in the final, it was a truly historic moment for the player and the Caribbean country. Outside of the Olympics, Stan Wawrinka confirmed Djokovic’s decline as he beat the Serbian at Flushing Meadows to clinch the US Open title while Kerber bounced back from defeat in Rio to secure her second major of the year.

Monica Puig celebrates her country's first Olympic gold medal

September

Disappointment in the Davis Cup

Great Britain’s defence of its 2015 Davis Cup title ended in disappointment after the national team were knocked out in the semi-finals by Argentina. Even with Murray in the team, GB could not stave off defeat. Elsewhere, Tomas Berdych won his first title of the season at the Shenzhen Open and Caroline Wozniacki clinched victory at the Pan Pacific Open.

October

Kyrgios kicks off

Another month of success for Murray. The Scot picked up titles at the China Open, Shanghai Masters, Vienna Open and Paris Masters to confirm his official status as the world No 1. Kyrgios also found himself back in the spotlight – but for all the wrong reasons. The Australian was banned for eight weeks and fined $25,000 for his behaviour, including “lack of best efforts”, at the Shanghai Masters. Having lifted the Japan Open trophy the week before, it was a month that encapsulated the Aussie’s mercurial temperament.

Nick Kyrgios pulls another one of his trademark tantrums

November

Murray seals his status as world No 1

Come November, just 405 points separated Murray and Djokovic as the Serbian sought to reclaim his No 1 title at the ATP World Tour Finals. It wasn’t to be though. Summoning upon a last superhuman effort, having spent nearly 10 hours on court in four matches over the six previous days, Murray dug deep to see off his perennial rival and seal his status as the world number one. It was the perfect ending to an almost-perfect year for the Scot. Elsewhere, Argentina beat Croatia to lift the Davis Cup in Zagreb while Czech Republic overcame France in the Fed Cup Final.

December

Knife attack leaves Kvitova ‘fortunate to be alive’

The year ended on a sombre note after Petra Kvitova was attacked in her home by a knife-wielding intruder. The Czech was stabbed in her left hand and underwent nearly four hours of surgery to repair tendons and nerves. The operation was deemed a success and should the player’s rehabilitation programme go to plan, Kvitova could be back in the game after six months. The two-time Wimbledon champion said she was “shaken” and “fortunate to be alive”. For Murray though, he ended his year in style after being named the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for the third time in his career.

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