Holidays, at last ! After eleven months of travelling the world racquet in hand, tennis men and women can finally enjoy a few days off. But before heading to a 2017 season which will come sooner than expected, We Are Tennis has decided to reward, in its own way, those who made this 2016 season.
The «David Ferrer» Oscar of the player who entered the Top 3 without us noticing…Milos Raonic
Less scandalous than a Kyrgios, less « new Federer » material than a Dimitrov, more efficient than a Goffin, the Canadian however never seemed to be the most popular of the players born in the 90’s. However, History will remember him as the first one among them to claim a spot on world tennis’ podium. To achieve that, this big joker (only outside of the courts, apparently) has been a hard-working student all year long. Only one victory on the circuit (Brisbane), but a very high level on average with quarter-finals and semi-finals in Masters 1000 tournaments and two big performances in Grand Slam tournaments (semi-final in Australia, final at Wimbledon.)
For now, despite a lack of popularity, this Bill Gates admirer has aroused respect. A case which is quite similar to David Ferrer’s, except the Alicante-born marathoner was already 31 years old when he reached the Top 3. While Raonic will soon celebrate his 26th birthday. He still has time to grasp one or two spots and change his image.
Oscar of the revenant whose return we no longer expected…Juan-Martin Del Potro
These last few years, the contributors to the Argentine’s Wikipedia page had mainly updated the « injuries section. » Two matchless seasons, or almost, going through several operations to heal this cursed wrist. Two seasons in despair, hoping to see the winner of the US Open coming back again, the one who would have made the « big four » a « big five » if his body had left him alone. And suddenly, the Tandil Tower stood back up. A final in Stuttgart as a first message of hope before this outstanding carioca adventure at the Olympic Games. But even more than the silver medal, the epic fight against Andy Murray, his initial win against Novak Djokovic, all we want to remember is the emotion, the tears, and his joy of being back on the court to play tennis. At 28 years of age, the future still lies ahead of him.
The « thank you for this moment » Oscar… Monica Puig
Along with Del Potro’s come-back, she has been the other sun ray of these Olympic Games in tennis. There again, there was tears, smiles, and a breathtaking emotion in the air.
At 22, Monica Puig has offered Puerto Rico its first olympic title at a time when this little country expected it the least. Literally unstoppable, the world number 34 has had a perfect tournament, defeating the winner of Roland-Garros (Garbine Muguruza), a two-time winner at Wimbledon (Petra Kvitova) and the world number 2 (Angelique Kerber) on the way. A performance which deserved a triumphant return to her country in front of 4 million people.
Oscar of the human after all player… Novak Djokovic
When you reach the summit of the Everest, it’s hard to find the motivation to climb higher. Novak Djokovic has reached his 8848 meter-high peak on June 8th, by finally winning Roland-Garros. Since then, the Serb has almost returned to his human state. He was defeated in the third round of Wimbledon by Sam Querrey, and was brought to tears after his defeat against the revenant Juan-Martin Del Potro at the Olympic Games.
Before him, Borg had also felt the solitude of the crown at only 25 years old, Wilander had lost all his motivation once he reached the number 1 spot ; on his side, Djokovic now says he is looking for « inner joy ». Still, we can’t imagine him surrender and admit Andy Murray’s domination. The man is also not renown for going on and on with existential questions.
Oscar of the best substitute…Barbora Strycova
Barbora Strycova was meant to spend this BNP Paribas Fed Cup final cheering on her teammates from the Czech team’s box. That was before Petra Kvitova’s loss of form, as she was defeated by Caroline Garcia in the second singles match. Chosen to start at the very last minute by her captain Petr Pala, Strycova (number 20 at the WTA race) managed to equalize at 2-2 after defeating Alizée Cornet.
She didn’t even have the time to take a shower, before taking part in the doubles, and winning the decisive point alongside Karolina Pliskova. It’s what you call a winning coaching decision.
Oscar of the best brother in a supporting role…Jamie Murray
For long, he was only known as the « big brother », this talented guy who didn’t possess his younger brother’s champion’s mental strength. And then, Jamie Murray found his own way. After becoming a pure doubles specialist, the Scotsman won a BNP Paribas Davis Cup with Andy, then carried on this season alongside the Brazilian Bruno Soares, with victories in Melbourne and at the US Open. Even better, he ended the season at the number one spot in the doubles ranking. For the first time in history, a family is dominating world tennis in the singles and the doubles. It’s a shame that Andy and Jamie don’t have a sister.
The «are you going to be alright with the pressure ?» Oscar… Taylor Fritz
It’s nothing new, American men’s tennis has been desperately waiting for its next great champion and Sampras, Agassi, Chang, Courier or Roddick’s successor. And the new chosen one is named Taylor Fritz. After being crowned world champion in the juniors in 2015, the son of an ex-player and a tennis teacher has reached the final of the Memphis tournament, as he was only playing his third tournament on the ATP circuit. If the rest of his season has been less brilliant, the Californian has been named the big hope of 2016 by the ATP. Enough to put even more pressure on a boy who intends to take a different path than Donald Young, Justin Gimelstob, Ryan Harrison and the other lost hopes of US tennis.
Oscar of the best performance during a change of ends… Svetlana Kuznetsova
Players find different ways to keep busy during the 90 second-break : frenetically changing your grip (Richard Gasquet), screaming at the umpire (John McEnroe) or even reading a book (Jim Courier). Svetlana Kuznetsova has found another activity. During a match of the WTA World Tour Finals against Agnieszka Radwanska, the Russian grabbed a pair of scissors to blindly cut a braid which she thought was too long.
If the esthetic result is not the best, Kuznetsova will remember that she ended up winning the match in three sets. Still not enough to open a hair salon.
Oscar of the best punchline said during a match… Fabio Fognini
If you believe that current tennis players are too bland, we suggest that you watch a match involving Fabio Fognini. Always complaining, teasing, throwing tantrums, the Italian is a volcano awaiting to erupt. Like during his first round match at the US Open. Engaged in a five-hour marathon against Teymuraz Gabashvili, Flavia Penneta’s boyfriend tried to unsettle his opponent, who was a little too vocal for his taste. « Stop it ! Even Azarenka doesn’t scream that loud. » We hope the Belarusian took the joke well, but you’ll have to admit it was quite funny.
Oscar of the best summer comedy… French tennis at the Olympic games
In Rio, French tennis went up in flames. « We’re not allowed to come back with no medals », warned its technical director, Arnaud Di Pasquale, who had set a goal of four medals. The outcome could have been bad (only one quarter-final, with Gaël Monfils), it turned out to be catastrophic. An early knock-out for the duo Herber-Mahut (seeded at the number 1 spot), a defeat in the first round for the pair Mladenovic-Garcia, with an improbable controversy surrounding their outfits, Tsonga picking up an injury…Absolutely nothing went their way. But it wasn’t much comparing to the Benoît Paire case, who was sent home by the federation…a few minutes after his defeat in the second round against Fabio Fognini. In their own way, the French found their method of making tennis a spoken about topic at the Olympic Games. And it probably wasn’t the best way.