It’s the 3rd annual Tennis Tipster awards and it’s been quite a year so without further ado, let the ceremony begin!
Underachiever of the Year
Winner: Julien Benneteau
Runner-Up: Tomas Berdych
Benneteau must have run a record by now for finals lost. He is 0-9 but at least he has 8 doubles titles to his name. Can he finally win one in 2014? He’s due. Tomas Berdych had another solid season capped off with a Davis Cup win, but for a player of his quality not to pick up a title was unusual. He reached two finals in 2013 in Stockholm and Montpelier indoors.
Challenger Tour Player of the Year
Winner: Filippo Volandri
Runner-Up: Teymuraz Gabashvili
Volandri finished with a flourish by winning the end of year Challenger Tour finals making it his 3rd Challenger tour title. A seven-time champion on the ATP Challenger Tour, the versatile Gabashvili has won a career-high 55 total matches in 2013. At 28, the Russian may be coming of age.
Newcomer of the Year
Winner: Joao Sousa
Runner-Up: Pablo Carreño Busta
Sousa won his maiden title in Kuala Lumpur and became the first Portuguese player to win an ATP World Tour title. The 24-year-old also became the highest ranked Portuguese player ever, as he rose to a career-high No. 47. The 22-year-old Carreno Busta earned his award after climbing from a year-end No. 715 Emirates ATP Ranking last season to a career-high No. 66 in 2013, beginning with an impressive effort on the Futures circuit that saw him win 35 straight matches and seven titles from eight finals.
Most Improved Player of the Year
Winner: Fabio Fognini
Runner-Up: Stanislas Wawrinka
Fognini made magic as he won 13 straight matches. He captured his first ATP World Tour title at the MercedesCup, then won again in Hamburg cracking the top 20, now ranked a career high 16. Wawrinka had flirted with the top 10 before, but had never been considered a genuine contender. This year he made his mark culminating in qualifying for the Tour Finals in London and making the semi-finals. He claimed the Portugal Open title with victory over David Ferrer and finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the Mutua Madrid Open.
Coach of the Year
Winner: Ivan Lendl
Runner-Up: Toni Nadal
When Lendl took the job, Murray was 0-3 in Grand Slam finals. Now he has an Olympic gold, a US Open and Wimbledon title to his name. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Murray’s attitude on court and mental toughness are much improved. His forehand also has more zip and if it were not for injury, he might have had a chance at the number 1 spot. Toni Nadal must also be credited for Nadal’s recovery form injury to finish the year ranked #1 with 10 titles to his name.
Doubles Team of the Year
Winner: Fernando Verdasco & David Marrero
Runner-Up: Bryan Brothers
The Bryans were a shoe-in for this award until Verdasco and Marrero surprised us all. Despite Verdasco’s singles career faltering, you’ve got to hand it to him for re-inventing himself as a quality doubles player. They completed their 2013 season with a 37-18 match record, which included one title and their fifth overall. The Bryans ended the best season of their 16-year pro careers with an 11-4 record in finals, including lifting trophies at three of the four major championships. They also finished the year-end No. 1 in the Doubles Team Rankings for the ninth time in the past 11 years and completed 2013 with a 70-13 match record.
Breakthrough Player of the Year
Winner: Grigor Dimitrov
Runner-Up: Nicolas Mahut
Dimitrov has been touted as the next Federer and it seemed that burden was too much to bear for the young Bulgarian, but this year he has started to come of age capturing his first career title in Stockholm. Also, in one of the matches of the season, beat Djokovic in Madrid producing an exhilarating and dramatic performance to beat the Serb in three tight sets. After some heart-breaking losses on in grass finals, Mahut finally broke his duck in Newport to win his second career title of the year over Lleyton Hewitt. He also won the doubles at the same event. A banner year for the 31 year old Frenchman.
Comeback Player of the Year
Winner: Rafael Nadal
Runner-Up: Dmitry Tursunov
The numbers speak for themselves for Rafa. 10 titles including 5 Masters titles, the US Open and finishes the year ranked #1. All this after being sidelined with a career-threatening knee injury since Wimbledon 2012. Tursunov, who was also up for Comeback Player of the Year in 2003 and 2011, dealt with a wrist surgery that caused him to miss three months of the 2012 season. He dropped to No. 125 in the year-end ATP Rankings, but re-established himself as a Top 40 player during a six-tournament stretch over August and September, reaching the quarter-finals or better at five of those events.
Veteran of the Year
Winner: Tommy Haas
Runner-Up: Radek Stepanek
You can’t keep a good man down and at 35 years of age, Haas brought home 2 titles (Vienna and Munich) and finished the year at #12 in the rankings. To cap it off, he played one of the matches of the year, needing four hours and 37 minutes and a Grand Slam record 13 match points to thwart a stern challenge from John Isner in the third round at Roland Garros. Stepanek is another you can’t keep down and has established himself as one of the clutch Davis Cup players of all time, clinching the final rubber as the Czechs defended the Cup.
Season to Forget
Winner: Roger Federer
Runner-Up: Alex Dolgopolov
In 2013 Federer won 1 title. This has not happened since his first year on tour in 2001. To make matters worse, he finished outside the top 5 for the first time since 2003 and suffered losses to players outside the top 50 and 100. He played better indoors towards the end of the season, but time is running out to re-establish any threat to the current top 5. In January 2012, Dolgopolov was ranked inside the top 15. He now languishes at 57 with a losing record in 2013. What happened? Maybe he has spent too much time on Instagram!
Golden Bagel Winner
Winner: Novak Djokovic (14)
The Serbinator was hungry this year for bagels.
Winner: Viktor Troiki
Runner-Up: Marin Cilic
Troicki was banned for 12 months after refusing to take a mandatory drugs test. He claimed he had been treated unfairly, but we’ll never know. Cilic quietly observed a 3 month ban and was probably best to do his time and avoid too much media attention.
Winner: David Nalbandian
Runner-Up: Xavier Malisse
It was sad to see Nalbandian retire without a Grand Slam or Davis Cup trophy to his name, but he can be proud of a long and successful career as well as the respect of his fellow pros. He was feared when playing his best and was one of the most enjoyable players to watch as well as the odd controversy to keep the papers interested. Malisse was also a nice player and much like Nalbandian, an underachiever. Incidentally, to get to his only Grand Slam final at Wimbledon, Nalbandian beat Malisse in the semi-finals. It seemed their careers were to run parallel.
Player of the Year
Winner: Rafael Nadal
Runner-Up: Andy Murray
Enough said about Rafa. Murray was destined for this accolade until Rafa got hot and he got injured. Murray became the first Brit since Fred Perry in the 30s to win Wimbledon, so that alone was enough, but after losing in 5 Grand Slam finals, this was more significant. He also won in Miami, Queens and Brisbane. He finished with a 43-8 match record.
Nation of the Year
Winner: Czech Republic
The Czech Republic defeated Serbia 3-2 in Belgrade to claim their second consecutive Davis Cup title. Following this victory, they have now won the Davis Cup on three occasions. Australia ended its World Group play-off jinx with a 4-1 victory over Poland in Warsaw last September. The win sealed the Antipodean nation’s spot in the top tier for the first time since 2007, a slump by their standards.
Tournament of the Year
Winner: Barclay’s World Tour Finals
The tour finals in London continues to thrive, with a lot down to the foundation that the late Brad Drewett laid during his tenure. Drewett was instrumental in growing tennis in Asia, the success of theBarclays ATP World Tour Finals and building ATP’s commercial strength through a number of key partnerships. This year’s event was televised by 54 broadcasters in 193 territories and received more than 13 million visitors to its digital platforms via the new responsive-designed tournament website, an increase of 9% on 2012.
That’s a wrap. Thanks for reading and see you next year!