World No.1 Novak Djokovic has been named Sportsman of the Year at the Annual Laureus Awards in recognition of his stellar return back to the top following injury.
Djokovic fought off competition from nominees such as Rafael Nadal and Cristiano Ronaldo. The award comes in light of his recent dominance on the tour. Djokovic returned to action in January 2018 following a six-month absence due to an elbow injury. Shortly after returning, he had to undergo another surgical procedure on his elbow. Despite the setbacks, Djokovic regained his form in June. Within the past eight months, he has won three grand slam trophies and two Masters 1000 titles. At the end of 2018 he became the oldest year-end No.1 player in the history of the ATP Tour at the age of 31 years and 223 days.
“A Laureus Award is what every athlete wants to win, and this one is a huge honour for me. Being among so many sporting greats here tonight, and hearing about the inspirational work Laureus is doing around the world, gives this Award a special meaning for me.” Said Djokovic.
“Last year was an incredible season for me, returning from injury to win Wimbledon and the US Open is something I’ll remember forever. I am delighted and I would like to thank the Laureus Academy for their support.”
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) February 18, 2019
Established in 2000, the Laureus Awards celebrates the best sporting achievements in the world. The ceremony consists of seven categories with each nominee getting shortlisted by a panel of the world’s media. The winners are then selected by legends of global sport: members of the Laureus World Sports Academy.
Djokovic’s return back to the top of the men’s tour hasn’t been without it’s difficulties due to a troublesome elbow injury that has hindered him in the past. Less than 12 months ago, he was ranked outside of the world’s top 20 and struggling for consistency. Reflecting on how he managed to turn events around, Djokovic praised the support he received from his wife Jelena. Admitting that he previously contemplated walking away from the sport for good.
“I would like to thank my wife for taking time and for presenting me in a different light and I think that the rare occasions we can share our personal journeys and who we are behind the curtain and I think you’ve done it much better than I would do it,” he said.
“Your support has been tremendously significant to me in those moments when I was questioning everything, when I was going through my doubts and dilemmas whether I want to keep on playing tennis. And yes I did think about leaving tennis and I did think about everything else and I just didn’t find myself in a good balance in life at that point.
“I did feel like I let myself down when I had surgery — you were right — and it took me several months to find that purpose, find the meaning again.”
In what he describes as a ‘fairytale journey,’ the 15-time grand slam champion said he had to work hard to conquer his mental demons. Addressing the crowd during his trophy presentation, said what he faced adversity he had to ‘look inside’ to find a solution.
“I’ve had to do a lot of inner engineering as I like to call it, especially in the last 15 months, coming back from a major injury and having surgery and being very inpatient and anxious to come back,” he said.
“And then being on the verge to leave the racquet aside and now I’m standing in front of you and reflecting on that journey, it seems like a fairytale story but it tells me one thing.
“In those moments when you’re facing adversity and feeling challenged, you should look inside because that’s where the answer lies. I did not understand that fully, I had heard that before but I think when I went through this journey I understood what this means and I now know where I can always find strength and motivation to keep me going.”
Djokovic has won the Laureus Sportsman of the Year Award for the fourth time in his career. Only Roger Federer (five) has won the title more times than him.
It was fitting that we gave the last words of #Laureus19 to an athlete who epitomises so much of what we admire in our sporting heroes.
— #Laureus19 (@LaureusSport) February 18, 2019
Djokovic’s performance since June (after French Open)
Aegon Championships (Queens) – runner-up
Wimbledon – champion
Canadian Masters – R3
Cincinnati Masters – champion
US Open – champion
Shanghai Masters – champion
Paris Masters – runner-up
ATP Finals – runner-up
Qatar Open – semi-finals
Australian Open champion
Osaka also shines
Elsewhere at the award ceremony, two-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka was named Breakthrough Athlete of the year. Becoming the first tennis player to receive the honour since Andy Murray back in 2013. Osaka has earned the award after winning back-to-back major titles at the US Open and Australian Open. During 2018 the 21-year-old also won the Indian Wells title and reached the final of the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.
“I want to give a huge thank you to the Laureus Academy for giving me the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year Award,” Osaka said in a video message. “I want to thank my coaching staff and my family for being with me for these entire years.”
Osaka is the first Asian player – male or female – to reach the top of the world’s ranking in the history of tennis. She is now also the first Japanese athlete to win a Laureus award.
The world No.1 is playing in this week’s Dubai Tennis Championships after recently separating from her coach Sascha Bajin. She will play Kristina Mladenovic in her opening match on Tuesday.
Filip Krajinovic To Skip Australian Open If Required To Quarantine For More Than Five Days
The world No.34 says he ‘sees no reason’ why vaccinated players should have to go through a long quarentine in Australia.
The second highest-ranked Serbian player in men’s tennis says it would be ‘unacceptable’ for organisers of the Australian Open to require players to quarantine for more than a week if they have been fully vaccinated.
Filip Krajinovic has become the first player to publicly state that they will not be prepared to travel to Melbourne at the end of this season if they have to go through strict quarantine measures once again. All the players who participated in this year’s Australian Open were required to be quarantined in a designated hotel for 14 days upon arrival in the country. During their stay they were allowed to use training facilities but that was the only time they could leave the premises unless there was an emergency.
There is no final decision regarding the travel requirements for the 2022 tournament but there are concerns that unvaccinated players may not be allowed to enter the country. The Victorian government recently issued a mandate ordering all essential workers to be vaccinated, including athletes. However, the regional government will not have the final say concerning tennis players arriving in the country with the national government being the ones in charge of that decision.
“They are very rigorous there and honestly, if I have to be in quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Melbourne, I will not go to Australia,” Krajinovic told Serbian newspaper Blic.
“I was vaccinated, I did everything in my power to protect myself and the people around me, so I really see no reason to sit there for 14 days in a room.’
“If they (the organisers) say that after arrival I need, say, five days to be in isolation, that’s OK for me, but anything beyond that is unacceptable to me. With the season ending late, I will have 20 days to get ready and go. Charter flights will be organized again and the last one is planned for December 28 for the players and that is the final date when I can go to Australia. I will see what the final decision from Melbourne will be, so I will cut what is the best thing to do.”
Earlier this week Victoria’s Sports minister Martin Pakula urged players to be vaccinated because it give them ‘the best opportunity to play in the Australian Open.’ It is expected that if unvaccinated players are allowed to attend, they will be subjected to stricter restrictions. This might include a longer quarantine period upon arrival and limitations of where they can go during their stay.
“Last year, all of those players had to do their 14 days of quarantine. Right now there looks like there will be different rules for people who enter this country who are vaccinated as against unvaccinated and I don’t think the tennis will be any exception to that.” Pakula told the Sports Entertainment Network (SEN).
“In terms of what rules apply for people to enter Australia, whether unvaccinated people are allowed in at all, I don’t the answer to that yet. That’s going to be the subject of discussion at national cabinet and among the federal cabinet … those rules are not set by state governments.” He added.
Krajinovic is currently ranked 34th in the world and has a win-loss record this season of 18-18. At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells he reached the second round before falling in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev. His best run so far this year was at the Hamburg Open where he reached the final.
“When we look at the whole of 2021, I played one final, one semifinal, there were good victories, but also worse results,” the 29-year-old commented.
Krajinovic is currently without a coach but is currently in ‘negotiations’ with somebody without elaborating further about who that person is.
Alexander Zverev Secures Place In ATP Finals With Indian Wells Win
Zverev will be seeking to win the season-ending extravaganza for the second time in his career.
Germany’s Alexander Zverev has become the fourth player to officially qualify for the ATP Finals after reaching the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
The world No.4 defeated America’s Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, in his second round match on Sunday which pushed him over the points threshold to secure his spot in the end-of-season event. It is the fifth year in a row he has qualified for the ATP Finals which he won back in 2018. He is one of only three German players to ever win the title after Boris Becker and Michael Stich.
This year’s tournament will take place in Turin, Italy for the first time in history after being held at The O2 Arena in London for more than a decade. Only the eight highest ranked players are eligible to play in the round-robin tournament which has on offer up to 1500 rankings points for an undefeated champion.
“My first time in Turin. I’ve been to London four times before. London is obviously very special to me because I won there, as well. I think the stadium is incredible, one of the most special events that we had,” Zverev told reporters on Sunday.
“But I also love playing in Italy. I had great success in Italy. I won my first Masters in Rome. I’m looking forward to being there. I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Italian fans. It’s going to be a great week.”
The 24-year-old approaches the final quarter of this season with four titles already won this year. He has won two Masters 1000 trophies, an ATP 500 event in Mexico and a gold medal in singles at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Zverev, who has recorded seven wins over top 10 players, also reached the semi-finals at both the French Open and US Open.
Zverev joins Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas as the players who have qualified for the ATP Finals so far. It is the third straight season the quartet has qualified for the event.
This year’s ATP Finals will get underway on November 14th. Medvedev is the defending champion.
Denis Shapovalov Advances After Pospisil Retires In Indian Wells
The battle of the two Canadians didn’t go as planned…
Vasek Pospisil faced off against his fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and it was the world number 13 who got the win after the Vernon native pulled out due to an injury whilst trailing 0-3.
It was a rough start for Pospisil who seemed to struggle with his serve in the opening game of the match and double-faulted twice in a row to give the early break and Shapovalov had no issues consolidating the break.
Shapovalov continued to apply pressure on the Pospisil serve and after saving two breakpoints the world number 68 pulled up after a serve and stopped play, calling for the trainer. He ended up taking a medical timeout off the court and a couple of minutes later returned to court. Pospisil was broken once again and the following game after a couple of returns decided to call it quits.
” It was pretty awful…and if I’m being honest I am shaking a bit…It really sucks I hope it’s nothing serious…He’s a great guy he’s a real warrior he’s fought back from some injuries surgeries to such a great level.” Shapovalov said of his compatriot.
Shapovalov will face 19th seed Aslan Karatsev in the next round after the Russian thrashed Salvatore Caruso 6-2, 6-0.
In the other results of the day sixth seeed Casper Ruud dominated Roberto Carballes Baena 6-1, 6-2, Roberto Bautista Agut beat the Argentine Guido Pella 7-5, 6-3 and Sebastien Korda won an all American battle with Frances Tiafoe 6-0, 6-4.
Finally, Diego Schwartzman needed three sets to beat another American in Maxime Cressy winning 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.
Andy Murray battles past Frances Tiafoe in a marathon match in Antwerp
Jenson Brooksby upsets Reilly Opelka to boost his chance to qualify for the Next Gen Finals in Milan
Ekaterina Alexandrova moves into the second round at the Kremlin Cup after Ons Jabeur’s retirement due to injury
Kim Clijsters Still Capable Of Top-Level Wins, Says Former world No.1 Murray
Cameron Norrie’s Surprise Win at Indian Wells Could Land Him a Well-Deserved ATP Finals Berth
REPORT: Unvaccinated Players Set To Be Banned From Playing Australian Open
Injured Roger Federer Says The ‘Worst Is Behind Him’ As He Targets Comeback In 2022
EXPLAINED: Why Novak Djokovic’s Latest Trip To Bosnia Has Caused Controversy
Roger Federer Says ‘Revolution’ Needed To Help Next Generation Of Tennis Players
Roger Federer Eyes Laver Cup Captaincy Role Post-Retirement
US Open, Steve Flink: “Djokovic’s loss had more to do with fatigue than pressure”
US Open, Steve Flink on the Murray-Tsitsipas Controversy
(VIDEO) Dominic Thiem, Juan Martin Del Potro Gathering Momentum In Comeback Bids
Steve Flink On Wimbledon: “Bautista Agut would be a tough semifinal test for Djokovic”
Wimbledon, Flink: “Djokovic Will Beat Zverev in the Final”
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