Laureus Awards: Nadal, Osaka, Thiem and Swiatek headline tennis nominations in sporting Oscars
Briton Lewis Hamilton also nominated in Sportsman category for record-equalling seven F1 Championships
Tennis has always featured strongly in the ‘Oscars of Sport’, the Laureus World Sports Awards, and this year is no exception, with world No2 Rafael Nadal in the Sportsman of the Year shortlist, world No2 Naomi Osaka nominated in the Sportswoman of the Year list, and Dominic Thiem and Iga Swiatek both in the Breakthrough category.
This is Nadal’s eighth nomination for a Laureus award, and he has won three. In 2020, he won a record 13th French Open title in October, beating Novak Djokovic in the final in straight sets. It was his 20th Major title, equalling the record of Roger Federer, and it was his 100th win at Roland Garros, losing only two matches in 16 years. It marked the fourth time he had won a Major without losing a set, and his second-round win over Feliciano Lopez at the Paris Masters notched up his 1,000 victory on the ATP Tour.
Osaka, nominated for a third time after winning the Breakthrough Award in 2019, won her second US Open and her third Major in 2020 at the age of 22. She has since gone on to win a fourth Major at the Australian Open, and is the first Asian player to have reached world No1. Her activism on Black Lives Matter led to her being recognised as one of the 2020 Sports Illustrated Sportspersons of the Year.
Thiem won his first ever Major title by coming back from two sets down to beat Alexander Zverev in the US Open final. Now 27, Thiem became the first male player born in the 1990s to win a Major singles title, as well as the first Austrian to win a US Open. He also reached the finals of the Australian Open in 2020, and rose to a career-high No3 ranking.
Swiatek, age just 19, beat Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in straight sets at the 2020 French Open, becoming the first player ranked outside the top 50 to win at Roland Garros, and the first Pole. She was also the youngest women’s singles champion since Laureus Academy Member Monica Seles in 1990.
There are just two British nominations this year: Lewis Hamilton and English Premier League champions Liverpool.
Hamilton was winner of the Sportsman category in 2020 with Lionel Messi, the first time the award has been jointly held and also the first time that the award was won by a team sport athlete. This is Hamilton’s ninth nomination, and he also won the Breakthrough Award in 2008.
In Formula 1, Hamilton won a joint-record seven World Drivers’ Championship titles [tied with Michael Schumacher] and currently holds outright records for the most wins, 95, pole positions, 98, and podium finishes, 165. He was knighted in the 2021 New Year Honours.
Of his nomination, Sir Lewis said:
“It’s an honour to have been nominated alongside some truly incredible athletes. When I look back at the award ceremony last year, it’s hard to believe just how much has changed. 2020 was a difficult year for so many people, for many different reasons and of course the world of sport was hugely affected. I was fortunate enough to be able to race and I’m so proud of what we, as a team, were able to achieve together. I’m even prouder of the journey we began towards making the motorsport industry more diverse and inclusive. Nelson Mandela was the inspiration behind Laureus and I’m sure he would support everything we can do, to use sport to achieve a greater good.”
Liverpool, under the leadership of Jurgen Klopp, are also nominated again, for the fourth time, for the Laureus World Team of the Year Award, after winning their first Premier League title for 30 years.
The shortlists for the Awards, which recognise sporting achievement during 2020, are compiled from a ballot of the world’s sporting media. The winners are voted for by the Laureus World Sports Academy, the ultimate sports jury, made up of 69 of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of all time headed by Chairman Edwin Moses.
The winners will be revealed in May as part of a ‘Virtual’ Awards event, and this year there will be additional special Laureus Awards acknowledging the wider impact on society made by athletes.
In view of the significantly reduced amount of activity in some sports in 2020, the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award and the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award will not be presented, although sports from these categories will be recognised elsewhere in the Awards show.
Laureus Sportsman of Year
· Joshua Cheptegei, Athletics: broke both 5,000 and 10,000 metres world records in 2020
· Armand Duplantis, Athletics: broke outdoor and indoor pole vault world record in 2020
· Lewis Hamilton, Motor Racing: won record-equalling seventh F1World Championship
· LeBron James, Basketball: LA Lakers star, won his fourth NBA title and fourth Finals MVP award
· Robert Lewandowski, Football: 55 goals as Bayern Munich won Champions League, Bundesliga
· Rafael Nadal, Tennis: won 13th French Open, his 20th career Major to equal Roger Federer
Laureus Sportswoman of Year
· Anna van der Breggen, Cycling: won both road race and time trial at World Championships
· Federica Brignone, Skiing: first Italian woman to win Overall World Cup; also Combined and G Slalom
· Brigid Kosgei, Athletics: won London Marathon by more than three minutes
· Naomi Osaka, Tennis: won second US Open in 2020, her third career Major, at age 22
· Wendie Renard, Football: captain of Lyon who won a fifth straight Women’s Champions League
· Breanna Stewart, Basketball: led Seattle Storm to WNBA Championship; won Finals MVP award
Laureus Breakthrough of Year
· Ansu Fati, Football: at 17, became youngest scorer for Spain and in El Clasico for Barcelona
· Patrick Mahomes, American Football: at 24, led Kansas City Chiefs to first Super Bowl win in 50 years
· Joan Mir ,Motor Cycling: at 23, won his first Moto GP World Championship
· Tadej Pogacar, Cycling: at 21, became the youngest rider in a century to win the Tour de France
· Iga Swiatek, Tennis: at 19, won French Open to become youngest Roland Garros winner since 1992
· Dominic Thiem, Tennis: won first Major at US Open; reached final of Australian Open
Laureus Team of Year
· Argentina Men’s Rugby Team: first ever win over three-time world champions the All Blacks
· Bayern Munich, Football: won Champions League, Bundesliga, German Cup
· Kansas City Chiefs, American Football: won the Super Bowl for the first time since 1970
· Liverpool, Football: won first English Premier League title for 30 years
· Los Angeles Lakers, Basketball: won their 17th NBA Championship
· Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team: won 7th consecutive Constructors’ Championship
Laureus Comeback of Year
· Daniel Bard, Baseball: successful return to top level after not pitching for seven years because of ‘yips’
· Kento Momota, Badminton: world No1 returned to competition after surviving serious car crash
· Alex Morgan, Football: debut for London club Tottenham just 184 days after giving birth
· Max Parrot, Snowboarding: recovered from cancer to win two X-Games gold medals in 2020
· Mikaela Shiffrin, Skiing: came back to winning ways from break following father’s death
· Alex Smith, American Football: back for Washington 728 days and 17 operations after leg injury
Laureus Sport for Good Award
· Boxgirls Kenya Boxing: supports and empowers at-risk girls in underserved slum communities in Nairobi
· Fundación Colombianitos Football and Rugby: bridges gender gaps and promotes education
· KICKFORMORE Football: empowers youth to make positive contributions in their communities