11/26/12 7:30 PM | Ricky Dimon
Marinko Matosevic took home the hardware as the ATP's most improved player in 2012. He was up for the honor along with Jeremy Chardy, Juan Monaco, and Go Soeda.
Most Improved Player of the Year: Marinko Matosevic. Already well into the prime of his career at 26 years old, Matosevic started the season outside the Top 200 with a mere three career ATP match wins. He earned 17 alone in 2012, which propelled him to a current ranking of 49th in the world. The Aussie's campaign included a runner-up in Delray Beach, a semifinal in Los Angeles, and two Challenger titles.
Jeremy Chardy - The Frenchman could not even call himself a member of the Top 100 when the season began. Twelve months later, he is on the cusp of Australian Open seeding at No. 32 in the world. Chardy's year included an upset of Andy Murray en route to the Cincinnati quarterfinals.
Juan Monaco - It's not often that a player cracks the Top 10 for the first time in his career at 28 years old, but that's just what Monaco did in July. The Argentine had been as high as 14th in the world in 2008, but in recent seasons he had mostly found himself between 30th and 40th. A shocking run to the Miami semifinals was a big reason for Monaco's surge.
Go Soeda - Prior to 2012, Soeda had spent a grand total of four weeks inside the Top 100. He began the season at No. 120 but sliced his ranking in half, as he currently registers at 60th after surfacing as high as No. 47 in July. Soeda was consistently solid, but he never made it past an ATP semifinal (reached the last four in both Chennai and Atlanta).
Other possibilities: Paolo Lorenzi, Benoit Paire, Albert Ramos, Lukas Rosol, Andreas Seppi, and Grega Zemlja
Who should have won? Probably Matosevic. Chardy had been a staple of the Top 40 in the world before his disastrous 2011, so he really shouldn't have been in the running. Monaco was already an established force just outside the Top 10, so he didn't have much room for improvement. Soeda's move was a big one, but not as big and also not as surprising as Matosevic's. As for the other contenders and nominees, Paire, Ramos, and Seppi all should have been ahead of Chardy, Monaco, and Soeda.
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