Daily Tennis News Looks Back at 2014 Player Awards

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Copyright © 2015. No duplication is permitted without permission from Bob Larson Tennis.

2014 Daily Tennis News Player Awards

So How’d We Do?

Last year at this time, Daily Tennis News was handing out our player awards. We’ll be doing it again in a week. We thought we’d look back and see what happened to the 2014 winners….

We aren’t going to do the joke awards, but we’ll cover the serious awards, including some relating to off-court events.

Player of the Year:
Men: Novak Djokovic
Women: Serena Williams
Obviously both stayed on top in 2015, since each won three Slams.

Doubles Team of the Year:
Men: Bryan/Bryan
Women: Errani/Vinci
Ouch. Errani/Vinci are history, and for the Bryans 2015 was probably their worst year in more than a decade.

Most Improved Player:
Men: Roberto Bautista Agut
Women: Casey Dellacqua
Double ouch. Bautista Agut is still a significant contender, but he wasn’t nearly as good in 2015 as 2014, and Dellacqua fallen both literally and figuratively.

Most Impressive Newcomer:
Men: Dominic Thiem
Women: TIE — Belinda Bencic and Zarina Diyas
Our comments showed how hard it was to make these choices: “We can’t guess whether Bencic or Diyas will end up better, so we’re listing both. On the men’s side, there was a long list — a lot of people will think of Nick Kyrgios. Jiri Vesely also looks promising. But Thiem ended up ranked highest.”
Thiem is now hovering around #20, and Bencic around #15, so they were good picks. Diyas, though, has turned into almost as big a pumpkin as Dellacqua.

Comeback Player of the Year:
Men: Pablo Cuevas
Women: Timea Bacsinszky
Cuevas has managed to stay Top Fifty, so his comeback was genuine. Bacsinszky’s was more than genuine; she is better now than ever before, even hitting the Top Ten for a while.

Player You Should Have Been Watching But Haven’t:
Men: Roberto Bautista Agut
Women: Ekaterina Makarova
We already covered Bautista Agut. Makarova we’d stand by — except that you couldn’t watch her very much, because she was hurt for most of the second half and hardly played and fell dramatically in the rankigs.

Stealth Player to Watch Out For Around 2016:
Men: Borna Coric
Women: Ana Konjuh
Coric has hovered around #50 but seems a bit stalled — although, of course, he’s still very young. Konjuh managed to win a title in 2015, which is obviously a good sign of progress, although she too stalled later in the year.

The Jimmy Connors Throwback Player of the Year:
Kei Nishikori
A Michael Chang-style speedster hitting the Top Five these days?
Can he keep it up, though? 2015 was not a horrid year for Nishikori, but it certainly wasn’t as good as 2014.

The Martina Navratilova Throwback Player of the Year:
Martina Hingis
Hingis is back to #2 in doubles, and will probably hit (co-)#1 in 2016, so this was a pretty good call.

Best Hardcourt Player:
Men: Roger Federer
Women: Li Na
What can we say about Li? She’s gone. Federer’s 2015 was about as good as his 2014, but Novak Djokovic’s was far better, so in 2015, Djokovic left Federer in the dust.

Best Clay Player:
Men: Rafael Nadal
Women: Maria Sharapova
Amazing to think that Nadal wasn’t the best clay player in 2015.

Best Indoor Player:
Men: Novak Djokovic
Djokovic managed to lose an indoor match in 2015, as opposed to being undefeated in 2014, but he still won every indoor event he played.


The Chris O’Neil Award…
for Biggest Surprise of the Year:
Men: Nick Kyrgios over Rafael Nadal, Wimbledon
Women: Alize Cornet over Serena Williams. And not just once, either.
Kyrgios is still winning, and he’s added mouthing off to his repertoire, but Cornet isn’t beating any #1 players these days.

The Nathalie Tauziat Award…
…for Most Delayed Career Take-off:
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who reached her second Slam quarterfinal and won her first title away from her native country after more than a decade in the wilderness.
It’s looking like it was a one-year Big Comeback….

The Ken Rosewall Award…
…for Most Delayed Career Take-off:
Victor Estrella Burgos
Estrella Burgos has fallen a little bit from his peak, but he’ll really have stories to tell if he ever goes back to being a club pro!

Best Reason to Consider a Comeback at 40:
Cara Black

Best Reason Not to Consider a Comeback at 40:
Liezel Huber
Black had a great year in 2014, but then went back to motherhood; Huber also gave up trying to get things back together.

The Frankenstein Medal for Most Surgeries:
Tommy Haas
He tried another comeback, but has only two wins so far.

The “Is There a Banana Peel on the Court?” Award:
Li Na
If nothing else, retirement has kept her healthier.

The Herbert Lawford Award
…for Most Overdue Title Win:
Julien Benneteau at Roland Garros.
Maybe he should have quit while he was ahead — in 2014, he was a doubles Slam champion and a Top Thirty player, but he’s been injured for most of 2015.

The Goran Ivanisevic “Fairy Tales Can Come True” Award:
Marin Cilic
It’s almost like a real fairy tale: Cilic won the US Open, but paid a price.

Most Likely to Earn a Surgeon General’s Warning…
…for greatest annual impact on fans’ blood pressure:
Eugenie Bouchard.
At the time, we said, “In her first Montreal appearance since becoming a Top Ten player, Bouchard lost to Shelby Rogers 6-0 2-6 6-0 — she even admitted to her coach that she wasn’t in the first set.” 2015, of course, just got worse for Bouchard.

Worst Hissy Fit:
The top Spanish players in response to the appointment of Gala Leon Garcia as Davis Cup captain.
And Spain still can’t get its players to play Davis Cup….

Greatest display of sanity in the face of abject stupidity:
Andy Murray. When asked whether he thought there might be advantages to having a woman as a coach, he replied, “Well, to be honest, I don’t know because not every woman is the same.”
Murray’s coaching situation got complicated this year, but given that he ended the year at #2, he must have done something right.

Most Dramatic Exit:
Roger Federer, for bailing out of the London final — and then winning Davis Cup!
He played the London final in 2015, but the result wasn’t much different.

Player with the Best Reason to Avoid Dark Alleys:
Daniele Bracciali, for being the first player anyone has ever heard of to admit to match fixing.
We haven’t heard much about match fixing lately, but we’re still hearing about steroids….

The End of an Era Award…
…for Most Regrettable Retirement:
Li Na
At the time we said, “Amazing to think that, for two years in a row, we’ve had a player win a Slam and then quit before year-end.” Now we’ve had three years in a row in which an active Slam holder retired. Which is even more amazing when you consider how few Slams players not named Serena Williams are winning.

Copyright © 2015. No duplication is permitted without permission from Bob Larson Tennis.