Tonight, put away your trainers, racquets and sports bras. The time has come for glamorous dresses, high heels and red carpet. The year 2014 of We Are Tennis Magazine is coming to an end so we decided to review the season with a very special kind of Academy awards.
The 18th Grand Slam ‘Evert-Navratilova’ Award goes to… Serena Williams
We definitely needed Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, mythical rivals remained tied to posterity with 18 major titles each, to welcome Serena Williams by their side. The American had a difficult year, suffered unusual affronts - eliminated before the quarterfinals of the first three Grand Slams, defeated 6/0 6/2 by Simona Halep in the group stage at the Masters - but she still was able to bang her fist on the table at the US Open. Therefore, she's now the equal to her prestigious elders. Only three players still precede her in the legend: If Helen Wills, 19 Grand Slam tournaments, is in the firing line, the 22 victories of Steffi Graf and the 24 of Margaret Court, seem difficult to reach. Except if Serena Williams still flies over the WTA at 35...
The ‘Juan Martin del Potro’ Big Four troublemaker Award goes to… Stan Wawrinka
2014 will remain the year when the Big Four eventually had share the banquet. Stan Wawrinka, who won the Melbourne Open and Marin Cilic, victorious in New York, both claimed this Oscar unassigned since the demonstration of Juan Martin del Potro at the US Open, five years ago. And the award finally goes to… “Iron Stan”. First, because he was the first to break the yoke established by the quartet Federer - Nadal - Djokovic - Murray. Secondly, because he did it well by defeating the triple titleholder Djokovic in the quarterfinals and the world's No. 1 Nadal in the final. He also defeated Berdych, in the semi-finals, it was then the most beautiful journey of a Grand Slam champion since Michael Stich, winner of Edberg (N°1) Becker (N°2) and Courier (N°4) in 1991 at Wimbledon. Finally, because he was able to confirm later in the season, brilliant winner of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and of the Monte Carlo Masters 1000.
The ‘Rafael Nadal’ king of Roland Garros Award goes to… Rafael Nadal
« Thank you, it's incredible, but I don't know if I deserve it. There are many better players than me on clay, no? » That’s what Rafael Nadal said, with emotion, when he received the award commending his ninth victory at Roland Garros. As often, the Spaniard won many titles and ATP points in the first half of the season before calming down the second part, after many injuries. This year, it started with the wrist in the summer, and then the appendicitis, later in the season. In spite of that, he still managed to aim perfectly to his clay courts window. Nine titles in the same Grand Slam, will his body allow him to reach ten?
The ‘Justine Hénin’ surprise retirement Award goes to… Li Na
January: Li Na won the Australian Open. March: finalist in Miami, she said to be aiming for the first place worldwide. September: she announced her retirement, three months after playing her last official match at Wimbledon. What happened? A knee in agony and a lost motivation. In sports, there are the victories bulimics, hungrier after every trophy, and there are those that a great title satisfies. The Chinese belongs to the second category, and there is no need to blame her for it. In 2011 already, the idea of ending her career had crossed her mind after her triumph at Roland Garros.
The ‘Ken Rosewall’ old dude that doesn’t want to retire Award goes to… Roger Federer
His back has been playing tricks on him and he has to wear ugly sweaters to remedy this, but Federer still loves to outdo the youngsters. After a disastrous year 2013 (for him...), the Swiss returned to a level more in line with his standards: 5 titles, including two Masters 1000; 73 matches won, (no one did better) and he passed a set away from winning his eighth Wimbledon before finally winning the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, the last major trophy that was still missing to his prize list. At 33, he even managed to improve his personal statistics against his rivals: 3 victories in 5 matches against Novak Djokovic, and 3-0 against Andy Murray, which allowed him to take over their face-to-face in career (12-11). You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old.
The ‘Jim Courier’ underestimated world number one Award goes to… Novak Djokovic
Underestimated Novak Djokovic? Probably a little, yes. The ransom of having a career in the shadow of the giants Federer and Nadal. The Serb suffers, also, from his 2011 sensational season, that he was never able to replicate or even approach. And yet, over the past four years, the boss: it's him. The numbers don't lie: since his accession to the World throne, after Wimbledon 2011, he spent 120 weeks as world number 1, against 39 for Nadal and 17 for Federer. Over the period, he also won six major titles against 5 for the Spaniard and only one for the Swiss.
The ‘Lindsay Davenport’ rough talent Award goes to… Petra Kvitova
She clearly doesn't look like the fittest bird on the tour. Yet she wins, thanks to a great arm compensating for an often-clumsy legwork. At 24, Petra Kvitova got back on the road to success at Wimbledon, on this lawn where her offensive tennis is the most impressive. Nonchalantly, despite some obvious physical shortcomings, the Czech has now two Wimbledon titles, a Masters and three Fed Cup by BNP Paribas. We cannot imagine how she would fly over women's tennis without those extra pounds...
The ‘Monica Seles’ (soon) triumphant youth Award goes to… Eugénie Bouchard and Simona Halep
The voters refused to separate the Canadian and the Romanian for this award rewarding two possible future Grand Slam champions. Bouchard reached the semi-finals of the first three majors of the year, culminating in a final at Wimbledon, before slowing down a little. Halep was two games away from winning the French Open before reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon and the final of the Masters. The exuberant blond or the quiet brunette, we will have to choose at some point.
The ‘Shuzo Matsuoka’ rising sun Award goes to… Kei Nishikori
The passion for tennis in Japan went close to madness when Kei Nishikori reached the final of the US Open. After methodically improving everything previously done by his elder Shuzo Matsuoka in the Open era, the Nippon raised in Nick Bollettieri Champions factory in Florida made quite an impact in 2014. The only thing is need now is a major title to engrave it all in marble. He was close on Madrid's clay but a back injury prevented him to steal the goldsmith jewel to the master Rafael Nadal himself.
The ‘Marcelo Rios’ jerk award goes to… Fabio Fognini
A good start to the year, marked by a qualification in the knockout stage in Australia and a title in Vina del Mar, and then a good old nervous breakdown. What’s bred in the bone comes out in the flesh, and so Fabio Fognini punctuated the rest of his year by fines and penalties of all kinds and arguments with his other players, umpires or even with the public attending his show. From Wimbledon to Paris, from the US Open to Tokyo, the 'Fogna Show' has no borders. And should most likely go back on tour around the world next year.