Welcome to our awards show. First the bad news: Neither Roger Federer nor Rafael Nadal could be with us today. They send regrets. The good news: we have high hopes they’ll be with us in 2017. And meantime, we have plenty of other worthy stars finally getting some primetime play.
The votes have been tabulated and certified by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. They’ve been delivered to us by our special guest presenter, Pablo Cuevas, who washed his hands first. Without further ado, the envelopes please.
Your 2016 awards for men’s tennis….
Player of the Year
….is also our upset of the year. For the first half of 2016, Novak Djokovic was untouchable. Andy Murray didn’t simply touch Djokovic; he knocked him from the perch. Unpack the rankings: Murray won more matches (78 vs. 65) more titles (9 vs. 7) , more money (even accounting for $0.00 that comes with Olympic gold) and gets bonus points for the strong finish. Unthinkable six months ago, Djokovic’s status in 2017 presents an intriguing question. For now, though, toast Sir Murray.
Comeback Player of the Year
We could retire the award in Juan Martin del Potro’s honor. In a cloudy year, this was a bright spot. The Tower of Tandil is rebuilt. After starting the year ranked outside the top 1000—and unsure of his future—delPo finishes in the top 40, beating Wawrinka, Djokovic, Nadal and Murray along the way.
Comeback Player of the Year, 1A
Gael Monfils. When Monfils missed the French Open, it seemed official: this was the squandered career of a man whose instincts to entertain surpassed his instincts to win. His second half of the year was dynamite, an entrée into the top 10 and, for the first time ever, qualifying for the ATP World Tour Final. Vive le Monf.
Newcomer of the Year
Alexander Zverev. Believe the hype. Though Zverev is still a teenager, we’ve been hearing the raves for years. Here he is, a 6’6” presence already on the cusp of the top 20.
Breakthrough of the Year
Lucas Pouille was ranked No. 90 when he lost in the first round of the Australian Open. The 22-year-old Frenchman finished the year—one that included two deep runs at Slams and wins over Nadal, del Potro, Thiem—inside the top 20.
Coach of the Year
The Good to Great Academy. Between Stan Wawrinka and Gael Monfils those are two strong—and yet very different—testimonials.
Coach of the Year 1A
Judy Murray. In 2016 she was mother of the No. 1 singles player and No. 1 doubles player. And she became a grandmother. Other than that, it was a slow year.
Match of the Year
Stan Wawrinka’s takedown of Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open final had it all—including an unexpected result.
Doubles Team of the Year
Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares: The highest ranked team is also the team that won the most Majors.
Shot of the Year">
Gael Monfils. Of course.
Still doesn't eclipse this from 2015.
For all the hand-wringing over Nick Kyrgios, at some point it bears mentioning: he IS ranked No. 14 and his assorted drama and acts of self-sabotage have not exactly sabotaged his career. We’ll see if he grows up in 2017.
Comeback of the Year Award 2017
Roger, Rafa…you’re both eligible. Hope to see you both up here.
Check back next week for the WTA 2016 year-end awards.