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10sBalls Shares Ricky’s Thoughts On The 2018 ATP Tennis Year-End Awards

By Ricky Dimon


Before we know where we’re going, we have to know where we’ve been–or where we’ve just been, to be more accurate, as the 2018 tennis season just ended and now we are in the midst of the shortest “offseason” in sports. With the 2019 campaign rapidly approaching, let’s take a look back at the ATP’s year-end awards that were handed out last month.


Comeback Player of the Year: Novak Djokovic

Also nominated: Kei Nishikori, John Millman, Jason Kubler


It was a no-brainer that Djokovic would win this one. He emerged from perhaps the nadir of his career in March to capture back-to-back Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. The only argument against him is that he really came back from January-through-April struggles as opposed to something like a disastrous 2017 season. So this is more of a second-half-of-2018 comeback award as opposed to a full-year comeback. After all, he was No. 12 to start the season; not that bad. Similarly, Nishikori began the year 22nd. Millman, on the other hand, soared from No. 128 to 38th. Still, Djokovic did deserve it. As for Kubler, I’m sure whatever he did was commendable; but…he’s Jason Kubler.


Most Improved Player of the Year: Alex de Minaur

Also nominated: Marco Cecchinato, Kyle Edmund, Stefanos Tsitsipas


De Minaur probably deserved it, although he was more of a breakthrough performer as opposed to a journeyman who suddenly improved from mediocrity (kind of like Cecchinato). The problem with Cecchinato is that he basically got all of his points from just a single tournament; he didn’t sustain a whole lot of consistent success. Tsitsipas was likely the proverbial runner-up in this category, climbing 76 ranking spots (91st to 15th) while de Minaur soared 177 (No. 208 to No. 31). Edmund should never have been in the serious running; he was already a solid player and his second half of the season underwhelmed.


Newcomer of the Year: Alex de Minaur

Also nominated: Hubert Hurkacz, Jaume Munar, Michael Mmoh, Ugo Humbert


There is no discussion of any kind to be had in this category, as no one else is in the same ballpark as de Minaur. Hurkacz and Munar at least managed to make debut appearances in the NextGen ATP Finals.


Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award: Rafael Nadal

Also nominated: Roger Federer, Kevin Anderson, Juan Martin Del Potro


Nothing really needs to be said here, as you aren’t going to nominate anyone who is a bad sport; all of these guys are deserving. The only thing I’ll say is I can’t believe Federer didn’t win it.


Coach of the Year: Marian Vajda (Novak Djokovic)

Also nominated: Jan de Witt (Nikoloz Basilashvili), Carlos Moya (Rafael Nadal), Sebastian Prieto (Juan Martin Del Potro), Simone Vagnozzi (Marco Cecchinato)


Djokovic getting back with Vajda was the best decision he ever made. No other partnership was in the same stratosphere this year, and only Rafael Nadal-Toni Nadal is a more productive one all-time in tennis’ current era (Roger Federer-Severen Luthi doesn’t count since Luthi has rarely been a full-time coach).


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @TennGrand.


Editors Note: Ricky wrote a great piece here. Tennis has no off season. It has a few WEEKS. One can hardly call it an off season. Every pro we know is in a “Training BLOCK.” • Yes, most had a DAY at the beach… Maybe two or three days… The IMG Academy had more touring tennis pros train there this year than in recent history. But Los Angeles had heaps too. Petkovic, Mugaruza, Fritz, Querrey, Maria, and Stevie Johnson too. Just to name a few…. (LJ)

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