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100 memories: Emotions and the elements

Editor's note: The tennis season now over, it's time to look back. Beginning Dec. 10, Ravi Ubha is unveiling his top 100 memories of the 2012 season. Check back each weekday until Dec. 21 as we count down to No. 1.

30. Federer betters del Potro in Olympic semis

It was a rare sight: Roger Federer smiling in a match after a mishit.

The tension running high deep in the third set of his Olympic semifinal against Juan Martin del Potro, it was all Federer could do to counter his nerves.

Federer was smiling again a few minutes later, as he edged del Potro 3-6, 7-6 (5), 19-17 in 4 hours, 26 minutes.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion was finally guaranteed an Olympic singles medal.

"I was very tense at certain times," said Federer, who was broken to love as he attempted to serve the match out at 10-9. "I was seeing myself as a loser many times during the match. But at the same time, I also did see myself with medals. You go through many emotions."

But there was no gold for Federer. Jaded, he lost the final to Andy Murray.

Del Potro recovered to win the bronze.

29. Andy, Tomas and the wind

They were great conditions -- for flying a kite.

But gusts of up to around 30 miles per hour don't make for pretty tennis, as Murray and Tomas Berdych discovered on another doomed Super Saturday at the U.S. Open.

The cap flew off Murray's head, both players struggled with their ball toss -- particularly Berdych, whose toss almost touches the heavens -- and backswings had to be reduced.

Murray coped better and held off a Berdych rally in the fourth set to advance.

"Some of the hardest conditions I've ever played in, for sure," Murray said. "And I come from Scotland, so that's saying something."

The threat of a storm forced off David Ferrer and Novak Djokovic in the second set in the other semifinal, benefiting the latter.

28. Novak's tears

Even if not a fan of Djokovic, you had to applaud the Serb's effort in Monte Carlo -- and reaching the final had little to do with it.

Djokovic still took to the court after finding out his grandfather Vladimir, to whom he was very close, had died. When it would have been easy to lose in straight sets to Alexandr Dolgopolov, Djokovic registered a three-set victory in the third round.

Djokovic raised his arms skyward when the match ended, then began to weep, hunched over, near his chair. He left the court without his bag.

Djokovic was allowed to skip his news conference but spoke to reporters following his quarterfinal.

"It's tough to be able to play tennis after the way I felt and the way I still feel," he said.

27. Tomas floored by Nico

Are Berdych and Nicolas Almagro the most popular characters in the men's locker room? Probably not.

Thus, their fellow pros likely looked on in amusement as the pair clashed in the fourth round of the Australian Open.

Berdych wasn't pleased when he was struck on the arm and floored in the fourth set by a forceful Almagro forehand with the Spaniard on the full run. Almagro apologized, but Berdych continued to be miffed.

Berdych refused to shake Almagro's hand when the tussle concluded, eliciting boos from the crowd. The jeering continued during an on-court interview with Berdych, the winner in four sets.

"Really poor of the birdman not to shake hands with nico and he was way wrong, that was bad sportsmanship," ESPN analyst Brad Gilbert tweeted.

They met five more times in 2012 -- without any controversy.

26. Mardy's health

Mardy Fish was determined to build on his 2011, when he made his debut at the year-end championships. The competitor Fish is, he didn't want to be considered a one-year wonder.

Fish, however, never really got the chance to compile another fine season because of his health.

Following a loss to Juan Monaco at the Miami Masters, Fish told USA Today he awoke overnight with his heart racing at 170 to 180 beats per minute.

"I thought I was going to die," he said.

He later underwent a medical procedure in an attempt to fix the irregular heartbeat, and things appeared better when he not only returned at Wimbledon but reached the fourth round.

But at the U.S. Open, Fish withdrew prior to his fourth-round match against Federer and didn't play again in 2012. He won't return until after the Australian Open, his agent said in November.

25. Rafa rips Roger in Melbourne

Rafael Nadal was cranky on the eve of the Australian Open. His right knee was bothering him, and changes he wanted made to the game weren't materializing.

Nadal then ripped Federer for not wanting to look like the bad guy as men's players sought changes to the game. At least publicly, it was the first time one of the two giants criticized the other.

That blooper reel seems like so long ago.

"For him, it's good to say nothing," Nadal said. "Everything is positive. 'It's all well and good for me, I look like a gentleman, and the rest can burn themselves.'"

Nadal apologized -- not for what he said but for voicing his displeasure to the media.

Federer's response? "For me nothing changes in terms of our relationship. I'm completely cool and relaxed about it. He seemed the same way, or at least I hope so."

How awkward would it have been if they had played at the Australian Open?

24. Rafa beats Roger in Melbourne

Oh, wait ... they did play!

Given that the encounter took place nearly two weeks after Nadal's comments, any animosity between the two probably had eased, if only a little. Further, Nadal was now in better spirits, having beaten Berdych in a high-quality quarterfinal in which he at times looked bewildered trying to return the Czech's serve.

Federer hadn't lost since the U.S. Open (a walkover not included).

In their first head-to-head at a major outside a final since the French Open in 2005, the result was the same as seven years ago in Roland Garros -- a Nadal win in four sets.

The momentum changer: At one set apiece, Nadal won the third-set tiebreak 7-5, almost blowing a 6-1 lead.

His record against Federer at Grand Slams improved to 8-2.

23. Karlovic accuses Wimbledon

Wimbledon, held in the highest regard by many in the game, doing wrong? Yes, according to Ivo Karlovic.

The 6-foot-10 Croatian slammed officials after he was called for 11 foot faults in a second-round loss to Murray, a Scot, in four sets.

In the fourth-set tiebreak, Karlovic was called for foot faults at 2-2 and 4-4.

"Ever since I was 8 years old, whole life I didn't do this many foot faults," Karlovic said. "It was never called when it was like 30 love or 40 love. It was always when it was 30-all or in a tiebreak. What is this? Is it Davis Cup or Wimbledon?"

Near the end of his news conference, he added: "Right now I'm angry about it, little bit pissed because I don't expect it here even though it is against an English guy who they always want to win."

22. Djokovic wins in London

After the death of his grandfather, Djokovic had to contend with an illness to his dad leading into the Paris Masters. His mind elsewhere and practice time cut short, Djokovic was ousted in his opener at Bercy by Sam Querrey.

It wasn't the ideal set of circumstances heading into the World Tour Finals.

But with his dad recovering, Djokovic's focus returned and he won the year-end championships for a second time, sealing the tournament with a wonderful backhand pass down the line against Federer.

The win, though, that set him on his way came against Murray in the round robin.

21. Murray beats Marcos -- and the clock

There was intrigue even before Murray and Marcos Baghdatis stepped on court in the third round on a Saturday at Wimbledon. Baghdatis, at the time, was being coached by Miles Maclagan, who was formerly in Murray's camp.

The Cypriot always raises his level against top players on big courts, so Murray knew this wouldn't be easy. So it proved. Tied 1-all in sets and subsequent to the roof being closed due to darkness, Baghdatis led 4-2 in the third.

But as Murray also probably knew, Baghdatis can fall apart in tough spots, and he duly dropped the third.

With the match destined to end in four sets, the only question was whether Murray could close it out by 11 p.m., the time when play must stop according to rules of the local borough.

He didn't -- but common sense prevailed. Murray walked away the winner at 11:02, meaning he wouldn't have to finish off Baghdatis on the Monday and then play Marin Cilic later in the day.

"I was under the impression I was stopping at 11, regardless of what the score was, even if it was in the middle of a game," Murray said. "I am obviously glad I managed to get the finish."

It was the third consecutive night of drama on Centre Court, following Lukas Rosol's upset of Nadal and Federer's two-set comeback against Julien Benneteau.