Not that this is unusual. So popular is Federer with colleagues and fans that last year he dominated proceedings courtesy of both groups, even though 2016 marked his first absence from the London finale in 14 years. Twelve months back, he won the ATPWorldTour.com Fans’ Favourite Award for a 14th straight year and then won the plaudits of his fellow players to pick up the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for a 12th time. He had last played in the semi-finals of Wimbledon.
So it was perhaps inevitable that the Swiss superstar, who has made such a high-profile return this year to rise to No2 in the rankings from No17 in January, and picked up two Majors and three Masters in the process, would win both awards once again.
It took the 36-year-old Federer’s record tally to 36 ATP Awards since 2003, 15 of them from fans, and 13 from his colleagues.
However this year, he marked a first by winning an award that he had never won before, as Comeback Player of the Year. But perhaps that was no surprise either.
There were many who thought Federer would struggle to regain his formidable standard of tennis—given his age, undergoing his first surgery, and that he played just 28 matches and won no titles throughout 2016.
When he played the Australian Open this January, he was outside the top 16, and thus faced four top-10 players on his way to the title, three times going to five sets.
It was a similar story at the gruelling back-to-back Masters in Indian Wells and Miami, where he had to win 12 matches, seven of them against top-20 opposition.
He bypassed the entire clay season—though would still arrive at London with a 49-4 record—before putting together a 12-match streak to claim the Halle and Wimbledon titles, extending his record of Major titles to 19.
Fast forward to late summer, and he made the final of the Montreal Masters, won the Shanghai Masters, and made a huge splash in Prague with the first playing of the Laver Cup, which he had master-minded a year before.
There, he played and won three matches, clinching the trophy in a gut-busting final singles showdown with Nick Kyrgios. If an event in 2017 summed up the magnetism of Federer, this was it: The crowds could not get enough, his fellow players could not stop beaming, and former champions John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg, plus Rod Laver himself, could only praise his work rate, both on and off court.
Federer’s friend and foe Nadal, with whom he played in doubles for the first time in Prague, was also a worthy challenger this year for the Comeback Player Award.
Nadal too missed stretches of 2016 with a wrist injury and did not make it to the World Tour Finals. And he too surged back to win two Majors, notably a 10th French Open, plus two Masters, and rose from No9 to No1 with a 67-10 record on the year. He will pick up the year-end No1 trophy on the opening day at the O2 for the fourth time, four years after his first, and the oldest man, at 31, to do so.
Federer’s tally of ATP Awards has twice been bolstered by winning the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award, and he fitted in three exhibition events—in Zurich, Seattle and Glasgow this year—for his own Foundation and for Andy Murray’s charities. But that Award this year has gone to doubles players Horia Tecau for his efforts in championing children’s rights and education in his home country of Romania. He will join forces with Jean-Julien Rojer at the O2 in the doubles competition.
Teenage star Denis Shapovalov won two awards: He was voted by his peers as the Most Improved Player of the Year, and picked up the ATP Star of Tomorrow Award, given to the youngest player in the top 100.
The Bryans, Bob and Mike, were voted ATPWorldTour.com Fans’ Favourite for the 13th year in a row, and will be bidding for their fifth WTFs title next week.
The Awards, presented by Moët & Chandon
ATP World Tour Player of Year: Player who ends year as No1
ATP World Tour Doubles Team of Year: Team that ends year as No1
Will be decided during next week
ATP Star of Tomorrow: Youngest player in top 100
[NB players shortlisted in voting by international tennis writers]
Comeback Player of the Year “who has overcome serious injury in re-establishing himself as one of the top players on the ATP World Tour”
Other nominees: Kevin Anderson, Filip Krajinovic, Rafael Nadal, Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, Janko Tipsarevic
Most Improved Player of the Year “who reached significantly higher ranking by year’s end and demonstrated increasingly improved level of performance through year”
Other nominees: Pablo Carreno Busta, Andrey Rublev, Alexander Zverev
Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for player “who, throughout year, conducted himself at highest level of professionalism and integrity, competed with fellow players with utmost spirit of fairness, and promoted game through off-court activities”
Other nominees: Marin Cilic, Juan Martin del Potro, Rafael Nadal
Tournaments of the Year “that operated at highest level of professionalism and integrity and provided best conditions and atmosphere for players”
ATP World Tour Masters 1000: BNP Paribas Open (Indian Wells)
ATP World Tour 500: Abierto Mexicano Telcel (Acapulco):
ATP World Tour 250: Qatar ExxonMobil Open (Doha)
Voted by Coaches
ATP Coach of the Year ATP coach “who helped guide players to higher level of performance during the year”
Neville Godwin, Kevin Anderson’s coach for four years
Voted by Fans online
ATPWorldTour.com Fans’ Favourite
Singles: any player in top 25 Race to London as at 15 September
Doubles: any team in top 15 Race to London as at 15 September
Bob and Mike Bryan
Chosen by ATP
Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award for player “who has made outstanding humanitarian contributions”
Ron Bookman Media Excellence Award for journalist “who has made significant contributions to the game of tennis”
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BIOGRAPHY: Eric Bailly