<
>

100 memories: Dodig stuns Nadal

Editor's note: The tennis season now over, it's time to look back. Novak Djokovic was no doubt the player of the year, but there were many memories to savor. Beginning Dec. 12, Ravi Ubha is unveiling his top 100 memories of the 2011 season. Check back each weekday until Dec. 23 as we count down to No. 1.

60. No double delight for Maria

Maria Sharapova double-faulted her way into a whole heap of trouble this season, especially when it mattered most.

Sharapova made six against Petra Kvitova in the Wimbledon final, 10 in the French Open semis against Li Na and seven in a much-anticipated encounter with Serena Williams in Stanford. Yes, she lost each time.

And the number soared to 12 when she was ousted by Flavia Pennetta at the U.S. Open.

Kind of a foreboding statistic moving forward, eh?

59. Dodig dumps Nadal

With veterans Ivo Karlovic and Ivan Ljubicic fading, and Marin Cilic's slump, Croatian tennis fans had little to cheer about.

However, Ivan Dodig emerged from the woodwork.

Dodig, who possesses a nice all-around game, won his first title in Zagreb, reached another final on grass, made the semis in Barcelona and took the only set off Djokovic at the Australian Open.

Dodig's 1-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) three-hour win over Rafael Nadal in Montreal, when he rallied from 3-1 down in the second and 5-3 down in the third, though, took the cake.

"He didn't feel the pressure in the important moments," said Nadal, who was perhaps still reeling from his Wimbledon loss to Djokovic.

58. Harrison's temper tantrums

Ryan Harrison strung together a solid season, registering some impressive wins and playing the top players tough. His ranking rose by nearly 100 places. The 19-year-old owns a varied, attractive game, too.

But it's Harrison's temper that attracts the most attention. Fernando Gonzalez and Marat Safin would be proud of the way he demolishes his racket at times.

Harrison saved his "best" for the French Open, when he flung his racket over a fence and into a tree after losing in qualifying.

57. Czechs win Fed Cup

After winning the year-end championships, Petra Kvitova had one more bit of business: To lead the Czech Republic to the Fed Cup title.

Mission accomplished.

Kvitova won both of her singles matches against Russia -- which was without Vera Zvonareva -- and looked on as Kveta Peschke and Lucie Hradecka teamed to down Maria Kirilenko and Elena Vesnina in the doubles decider.

"Kvitova was the key to their success," Russian captain Shamil Tarpischev said. "She was just phenomenal."

The Czech Republic won its first title since the breakup of Czechoslovakia.

56. Lisicki and that serve at Wimbledon

When healthy, Sabine Lisicki is a force -- as Li Na discovered at Wimbledon.

Surging after winning a grass-court warm-up in Birmingham, Lisicki, a wild card, saved a pair of match points to eliminate the newly crowned French Open champion 3-6, 6-4, 8-6 in the second round. Her mammoth serve garnered the spotlight afterward.

"She is serving like most of the men are serving," said Li's coach at the time, Michael Mortensen.

Lisicki kept it up, landing in the semifinals, while Li continues to dip.

55. Milos' move

Rejoice, Canada, you have all the makings of a future Grand Slam winner in Milos Raonic.

Raonic, who is another monstrous server, showed signs of life at the end of 2010, but no one could predict how much progress the 6-foot-5 right-hander would make this year.

Raonic won his first title in San Jose, made the Memphis final the next week and reached the fourth round at the Australian Open as a qualifier.

Had he not had hip surgery in the summer, his ranking would probably be higher than 31.

54. The Rafa-Delpo appetizer

Before Nadal's thriller against Juan Martin del Potro in the Davis Cup final came their heavyweight fourth-round bout at Wimbledon.

Nadal won in nearly four hours in a contest that will largely be remembered for two things: The Spaniard injuring his foot late in the first set and then taking a medical timeout -- irking del Potro -- immediately prior to the first-set tiebreaker.

"For a moment at the end of the first set, I thought that I had to retire," Nadal said. "I didn't know what's going on. After that the pain goes a little bit down and finally I was ready to play."

Del Potro, nonetheless, demonstrated that he could win the tournament in the future.

53. Clijsters skips U.S. Open

Kim Clijsters' body didn't cooperate this season.

She entered the French Open with a bum right ankle and missed Wimbledon after reinjuring the ankle at a grass-court warm-up.

But worse was to come. Clijsters, the two-time defending champion, pulled out of the U.S. Open with a stomach injury.

"Obviously I'm very disappointed," she said. "I trained very hard this summer and felt in good shape to play the U.S. Open."

Clijsters didn't play post-U.S. Open, either.

52. Li's extended French Open hangover

Of the three first-time Grand Slam winners in 2011, Li struggled the most in the wake of her historic victory.

She went 6-9 after the French Open and ended the campaign with a demoralizing 6-1, 6-0 loss to U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur. Li, bizarrely, cut ties with coach Michael Mortensen and appeared lost on court in the fall.

"Beginning of the year was like fantastic," said Li, also the Australian Open finalist. "And after Roland Garros, I think I didn't win many matches. I mean, up and down all year, so I wish I could do the same level for next year."

51. Berdych loses one, wins one

It's not often that a player squanders a match point only to save one in his next encounter. But Tomas Berdych was an exception at the World Tour Finals.

The Czech let one get away against Djokovic, hitting an off-balance forehand into the net to keep the Serb in it. Another Serb, Janko Tipsarevic, erred on a volley when he held match point against Berdych two days later in London.

"I was a bit unlucky against Djokovic, but I got luckier here," Berdych said.

Berdych rallied to beat David Ferrer to reach the semifinals.