Roger Federer, Del Potro honoured at 2016 ATP Awards
Last month, fans, players and pundits were allowed to vote on awards for ATP players, with awards handed out for sportsmanship, improvement, and philanthropy among others, and this year has seen some new winners, and some predictable ones.
Former World No. 1 Roger Federer has won the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the 12th time in his career. The prize, instituted in the name of the former World No. 1, who was feted for his sporting spirit on the court, is given to players who display the “spirit of the sport” on court. Federer, known for his graciousness, is a longtime recipient of the award, which is incidentally instituted in the name of his former coach.
Federer also won the ‘fan favourite’ award, voted upon by players to pick the player they liked the most over the season – an award Federer won in 2016 for a 14th straight year.
Former top-ranked doubles pair Bob and Mike Bryan were listed as the fan favourites in the doubles category; the American pair are known for their congenial, friendly nature and their extensive philanthropic work off the court.
World No. 7 Marin Cilic has been given the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award, given for philanthropic and charity work, for his work with his eponymous foundation, which supports educational projects and aspires to give young people improved access to education.
Retired Swedish ace Magnus Norman, now the coach of No. 3 Stan Wawrinka, has won the Coach of the Year award for his work with the Swiss; 31-year-old Wawrinka has been working with Norman since 2013, in which time he has amassed all of his 3 Grand Slam titles, the most recent of them this year at the US Open.
After defeating Novak Djokovic at the French Open last year, Wawrinka appeared to have lost some momentum, but in 2016 has resurged strongly to make 11 straight finals including his US Open victory in 2016 and the St. Petersburg Open immediately after.
Wawrinka, throughout his season, has displayed a significantly improved game, stamina and mental fortitude, which merit Norman significant credit; the Swede has been successful as a player and coach, and previously coached Robin Soderling, who famously beat both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer at the French Open.
Juan Martin del Potro is the recipient of the “Comeback Player of the Year” Award. The tall Argentine, who has struggled with injury in the years following his 2009 US Open title, made a few comebacks in the years since, but was unable to sustain them. This year, Delpo, who has quickly become a fan favourite, has beat a number of top-10 players – including those in form, at the biggest stages of competition, even winning a silver medal at the Olympics this year.
Del Potro, who entered the 2016 US Open as a wildcard, progressed to the semi-finals of the event, taxing eventual winner Stan Wawrinka in a match that went to a long five sets.
American teen Taylor Fritz wins the Star of Tomorrow award. The 19-year-old, who is currently the youngest player in the ATP Top 100 at 73rd position, finished runner-up at the Memphis Open to become the youngest ATP finalist since 2008.
French wonder-kid Lucas Pouille has won the ‘Most Improved Player’ award, beating out teen sensation Alexander Zverev. Pouille, who has been making a name for himself on the circuit this year, famously dumped Rafael Nadal from the US Open and over this season has climbed from 91st in the rankings to 15th, even making the semi-finals of the Rome Masters this year.
Fans will now wait until the end of the ATP World Tour Finals in London to find out who will receive the rankings award; the top rank is still under contest between Andy Murray and defending London champion Novak Djokovic.
The World Tour Finals will begin on the 13th of November, 2016.