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By Chris Oddo

Sara Errani French Open (Dec 5, 2012) -- Is 30 really the new 20? We hear the words uttered quite a bit these days, and rightfully so, as 30-year-olds made noise early and often in 2012. With the notoriously mature (and sublime) tandem of Roger Federer and Serena Williams leading the way, the year was indeed a good one for tennis's older set. 

Here's a peek at our favorite thirty-something moments of 2012, with a forty-something moment thrown in for good measure.

1. Federer Wins Wimbledon

Think back to 2009, when a 27-year-old Federer was smashing a Wilson frame and cursing the gods for the loss of his magic powers in Miami: did we really think that the Swiss Maestro would be winning his 17th Grand Slam more than three years later, and in such stunning fashion? I, for one, did not. I knew that Federer could win another Slam, but with Djokovic, Nadal and Murray running so hot, I figured there would always be something to trip him up at the last hurdle.

How wrong I was. In winning his seventh Wimbledon, Federer became the first player aged 30 or greater to win a Grand Slam title since Andre Agassi accomplished the feat in Australia in 2003.



2. Serena Wins Wimbledon

Serena Williams smashed 24 aces in a two-set semifinal against Victoria Azarenka at Wimbledon, then crossed the 100-ace mark in her three-set final against Agnieszka Radwanska, cementing her legacy as the greatest female server of all-time while at the same time becoming the first 30-something to win a Grand Slam since 1990. Hard to deny that type of greatness, no matter the age on the passport.



3. Tommy Haas takes the Halle Title

Tommy Haas started 2012 ranked 205. He was 33 and not getting any younger. By the end of the season he was the ATP's comeback player of the year, ranked No. 21, 34 years old and feeling (and looking)like he could conquer the world. The sweetest moment of Haas's season came in Halle, Germany, were he upended his 30-something buddy Roger Federer 7-6(5), 6-4 for the title.



4. Ferrer reaches first French Open Semifinal

When Ferrer defeated Andy Murray in four sets at Roland Garros in the quarterfinals, the victory marked the Little Beast's first trip to the final four at the French Open in 10 tries. It was a huge milestone for a man who has lived in the shadow of Rafael Nadal for the better part of his career, and considering how well Ferrer played throughout all of 2012, he looks primed to do more damage in the future. At 30, the seemingly indefatigable Ferrer appears to be finally reaching his prime. Could his first Grand Slam final be on tap in 2013?

5. Venus Williams qualifies for the Olympics and wins Gold

Venus stated loud and clear that she wanted to make a run at playing the 2012 Olympics in London, and by reaching the quarterfinals in Miami, Charleston and Rome, she did just that. There were setbacks along the way (her Wimbledon first-round loss was tough to stomach), but in the end it was the Venus's fortitude that led her to the podium, where the 32-year-old stood alongside her sister, a smile stretching from ear to ear, with an Olympic gold medal in doubles draped around her neck. Take that Sjogren's Syndrome!

6. Serena's Olympic Double

On the heels of her Wimbledon triumph, Serena Williams became the first player in tennis history to own all four Grand Slams in singles and doubles as well as Olympic Gold medals in singles and doubles. Even Serena was impressed with her two career Golden Slams, saying "Now I can go do Disneyland."

7. Petrova Wins Tokyo

A few months after her 30th birthday, Nadia Petrova played some of her finest tennis in years in winning the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. Petrova defeated Sara Errani, Samantha Stosur and Agnieszka Radwanska in the final three rounds to secure what is arguably the biggest title of her career.

8. Hewitt Makes Run at Australian Open

The then 30-year-old former No. 1 took out Andy Roddick and Milos Raonic down under before finally succumbing to Novak Djokovic in the fourth round of the Australian Open. As is always the case with the pugnacious Aussie, Hewitt did not go down without a knock-down, drag-out dogfight. He battled through thick and thin against Djokovic to earn the respect of his foe and the adulation of the Aussie faithful.

9. Stepanek Clinches Davis Cup for Czech Republic

Stepanek became the first man aged 30 or greater to clinch the decisive rubber in a Davis Cup final in the 100-year history of Davis Cup. Stepanek's 6-4, 7-6(0), 3-6, 6-3 victory vaulted the Czech Republic to their first ever title.

10. Kimiko Date-Krum finishes in the top 100

The legendary fan favorite from Kyoto, Japan finished the year on a high, reaching the title in Pune, India, then winning successive titles at ITF Challenger events in Japan and Dubai. At 42 the "ageless wonder" proved that she's still got the fire in her belly by winning 33 matches and inspiring generations young and old with her desire and lust for the game.


(Photo Credit: AP)

 

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