Where to start?
Okay first off there's no doubt this was the best year Maria has had since her comeback. Some thoughts on 2012:
Beginning of the year. Couldn't play Brisbane due to the ankle injury, went into the AO with no match play. No one knew whether she would be 100% by the time AO started, and that led to most of us having virtually no expectations. Taking the injury into account, the way she blasted her way through the early rounds came as a huge surprise. Next thing you know, and she's in the final. Yes she lost, but considering she came into the tournament cold and just recovered from an injury, reaching the final was a pretty good.
IW & Miami - Would have been great if she won at least one of them
but unfortunately she didn't. Still, reaching back to back finals of two big tournaments was huge.
Clay Season - I'd be lying if I said this wasn't Maria's best clay season to date. Winning all the tournaments she played in
bar Madrid, but that's okay. The most notable win being Roland Garros obviously and wait for it...completing the CAREER GRAND SLAM. Winning a Grand Slam in combination with getting back to #1 would have meant a lot to her because in a way it would have told her she is 'back' and all her hard work paid off.
*Ignores* Wimbledon since I only seen two of her matches.
Olympics - You could tell just being a part of it all was a huge honour for Maria, let alone winning a medal.
US Open - Going by her last few performances in previous years it was really hard to predict how she would do. She did have a couple of tough matches there (vs. Petrova and Bartoli) but overall it was a good tournament for her. Reaching the Semis and playing a tight match vs. Vika were definitely positive signs.
End of Year - Wasn't playing very well in Tokyo, but then turned it around in Beijing and reached the final there. Again, she may have lost but minus that final, her level of play was encouraging heading into YEC. Finally, she reached another final in Istanbul (9th of the year) beating Aga and Vika along the way. Going unbeaten in the RR stage was nice, and of course finally managing to notch another win over Vika. Didn't play too bad in the final either, despite the loss, was good to see her put up some fight and not just fade away.
Her slam results this have been the best since her comeback, not to mention she's been really consistent this year. Reached the QF stage or further in 13 of 14 tournaments she’s played in and 9 of 14 finals (I think those are the numbers). Of course it could have been even better if she had a better record in finals/won more tournaments, but even so there's no denying that it has been one fantastic year. [Winning a Grand Slam, getting back to #1...]
Just some general comments now: Considering she had a career threatening injury and could have easily hung up her racket just goes to show what kind of person Maria is. Her love for the sport and determination to get back to the top says a lot. She's a fighter and someone who doesn't like to give up. I mean she's definitely had her fair share of tough losses and could have easily stopped playing if she wanted to. Just to see her still playing is a privilege and sometimes I realise that no matter what results she gets, I should be proud of her and what she has achieved so far (getting a little emotional now
With the amount of hours of training and hard work she put in to get back to this level, you can only imagine she will want to improve further (and there is lots to improve on
)...I think we can look forward to see what 2013 brings.
Might add in some of my favourite pictures of the year later