Daily Tennis News 2015 Player Awards

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

Daily Tennis News Player Awards

Daily Tennis News 2015 Player Awards

Player of the Year:
Men: Novak Djokovic
Women: Serena Williams

Most Improved Player:
Men: Marcelo Melo
Women: Garbine Muguruza
All right, granted, Melo is a doubles player. But, remember, he’s the guy who knocked the Bryans off #1!

Most Impressive Newcomer:
Men: Hyeon Chung
Women: Nao Hibino
Chung came close to hitting the Top Fifty despite playing mostly Challengers. Hibino finally gave Japan someone to cheer again as a result of winning Tashkent. Interesting that both these two are from the Far East.

Comeback Player of the Year:
Men: Benoit Paire
Women: Venus Williams

Doubles Team of the Year:
Women: Hingis/Mirza
Men: Let’s see…
Most-winning non-winners: the Bryan brothers
The first-half award: Bollelli/Fognini
Smooth Sailing around New York: Herbert/Mahut
We’ll always have Paris: Dodig/Melo (who won both Roland Garros and Paris)
We’ll always have London: Rojer/Tecau (the Wimbledon winners also won the year-end tournament, meaning that they were the true masters in London and probably also should be the doubles team of the year)

Player You Should Have Been Watching But Haven’t:
Men: Thomaz Bellucci. He had one good year before this, went away — and, this year, quietly made it back into the Top Forty.
Women: Kristina Mladenovic. She’s Top Thirty in singles and is a top doubles player.

Stealth Player to Watch Out For Around 2017:
Men: Hyeon Chung
Women: Daria Kasatkina

The Invisible Man/Woman Award for Most Conspicuous Absence:
Men: The Bryan Brothers. Honorable mention: Ernests Gulbis
Women: Eugenie Bouchard

Biggest Non-Surprise:
Men: Novak Djokovic and Slams.
Women: Serena Williams and Slams.

The Jimmy Connors Throwback Player of the Year:
Roger Federer. All those volleys! And then there is the “SABR,” or “Sneak Attack By Roger.” Remember how other players used to do that? It used to be a chip-and-charge, except that no one dares try it these days….

The Martina Navratilova Throwback Player of the Year:
This year, let’s make it a team award, Hingis/Paes. They won three Mixed Slams by playing well at the net. Some of these young kids probably didn’t even know what they were seeing.

Best Hardcourt Player:
Men: Novak Djokovic
Women: Serena Williams

Best Clay Player:
Men: Novak Djokovic
Women: No Award
No, Djokovic didn’t win Roland Garros. But we give this award for the whole clay season, and Djokovic’s clay record was 16-1, with titles at Monte Carlo and Rome and a final at Roland Garros. Stan Wawrinka was 13-4, winning only Roland Garros. Frankly, if we had to pick a non-Djokovic for the clay player, it would be Andy Murray, who was 15-1 plus a withdrawal — but who lost to Djokovic at Roland Garros. Just for the record, Rafael Nadal was 26-6 and didn’t win any required events.
The women’s side was even harder. Serena Williams won Roland Garros, but that was her only title (her only actual clay loss was to Kvitova at Madrid, but she made bailouts a habit). Kvitova, despite handing Serena her one loss, also won only one title, Madrid, and she lost her Stuttgart opener and went out in the Round of Sixteen at Roland Garros and the quarterfinal at Rome. Sharapova won Rome, but that was her only title. Kerber won Charleston and Stuttgart, making her the only player with two premier clay titles, but then she lost her Madrid opener, won only one match at Rome, and lost in the second round at Roland Garros. She ended up at 16-3, which gives her more clay wins than any of the others, but she couldn’t win when it counted. So there really wasn’t any player who took charge on clay.

Best Indoor Player:
Men: Novak Djokovic

We don’t give an award for grass or women’s indoors, because there are so few events.

Historic Event of the Year:
Roger Federer earning career victory #1000 by winning the Brisbane title

The Serena Williams gratuitous pullout excuse award:
Serena Williams. Three singles withdrawals in 11 events, plus she bailed out on the end of the season and she and her sister took a wildcard into the Wimbledon doubles and pulled out on the second day of the event without even playing a match.

The Chris O’Neil Award…
for Biggest Surprise of the Year:
Flavia Pennetta

The Ken Rosewall Award…
…for Most Delayed Career Take-off:
Marcelo Melo

The Nathalie Tauziat Award…
…for Most Delayed Career Take-off:
Flavia Pennetta

The Third Chance Award:
Agnieszka Radwanska, for winning the Singapore Championships after losing two Round Robin matches.

The Monkey-Off-His-Back Award…
for finally beating a personal nemesis:
Kevin Anderson finally managed to make the Top Ten. Now he just has to win something….

The Jelena Jankovic Award for the Most Counterproductive Schedule…
… for greatest display of stamina (and/or idiocy):
Men: Viktor Troicki
Women: Angelique Kerber
Troicki won Sydney at the start of the year. But he played thirty events, and by year-end, he was really dragging, finishing a mere 33-27 at the ATP level. Kerber won four titles at the WTA level, all Premiers (Charleston, Stuttgart, Birmingham, Stanford). But she had 25 events, and when she finally got to play Singapore, she ended up 1-2.

The Goldman Sachs Bonus Award…
…for getting fired for doing a good job:
John Peers. He helped Jamie Murray reach two Slam finals — the first two of Murray’s career — so Murray dropped him.

The Kim Kardashian award for quickest break-up:
Borna Coric. He’s on his fourth coach in a year and a half. Perhaps an honorable mention to Laura Robson, who also split with two of the same coaches as Coric despite spending almost no time on the court.

The Bermuda Triangle Award for the Relationship That Never Even Existed:
Eugenie Bouchard and Jimmy Connors. Connors had one practice as her coaching consultant just before the US Open, and was supposed to come back during Labor Day — except Bouchard fell and withdrew.

Best Reason to Consider a Comeback at 40:
Lisa Raymond, who is now coaching Madison Keys and got Keys to play doubles with her for a while. Admittedly they didn’t do much, but Keys at least is doing just fine….

Best Reason Not to Consider a Comeback at 40:
Martina Hingis, in Fed Cup, played two singles matches — and lost both, including one where she was up a set and 5-2 against a player ranked below #100.

The “What Was She Thinking” Award:
Fed Cup final. The Czechs included Lucie Safarova, who wouldn’t play, on their team — but the Russians answered by including Ekaterina Makarova, who couldn’t play, on their team, even though they also had Svetlana Kuznetsova available.

The Statistic We Never Thought We’d See Award:
At the time she pulled out of Bastad in mid-July, Serena Williams had one loss in 2015 — and three pullouts. Her final tally for 2015: 50 wins, 3 losses, 3 bailouts.

Best Use of Technology:
Ivo Karlovic, who set the record for most aces all-time. No, he doesn’t have a special racquet — but think where he would be had he played in the wood era.

The Frankenstein Medal for Most Surgeries:
Juan Martin del Potro. He played Sydney, then went away again, then played Miami — and went away again.

The “Is her last name Jankovic?” award for most conspicuous use of a timeout:
Thanks to Maria Sharapova, from 2013, for the line.
Wimbledon. Andreas Seppi versus Andy Murray. In the third set, Seppi called for the trainer — and then won six games in a row as Murray steamed. Then Murray called the trainer in the fourth set — and started his own streak of games that won him the match.

The “Is There a Banana Peel on the Court?” Award:
Casey Dellacqua, for the fall she suffered in China that will keep her out of the Australian Open.
Honorable Mention: Eugenie Bouchard (she fell, too, but not actually on the court).
Honorable Mention: The Wimbledon groundskeepers who couldn’t keep the players from slipping. On one particular Wednesday, seven players had to retire due to falls.
Note: We aren’t trying to make fun of anyone here. It was just a crummy year for losing one’s footing.

The “Is It My Breath?” Award for having absurdly many doubles partners:
Marcelo Melo. Thing is, he won with all of them.

The “Are You Old Enough To Be Doing That?” award…
…to the Young Gun who seems intent on getting in the most trouble with his elders:
Nick Kyrgios. Especially at Wimbledon, where he had a meltdown, but Australia didn’t really need a Second Coming of Bernard Tomic….
Honorable Mention: Borna Coric. He told the Times of India, “When I’m at my best I am more like Djokovic game wise, when I’m not, I’m more like Murray.”

The “What Does It Take for a Top Ten Player To Get Some Coverage Here” award:
Angelique Kerber. She seems to own this one.

The “Hey, I’m a Slam Winner, Why Am I Broke?” award:
Bethanie Mattek-Sands. She won two doubles and one Mixed Slam, and she still dresses like someone grabbing stuff out of the dumpsters at Goodwill.

The Wile E. Coyote Award…
…for never being able to catch up:
Daniel Nestor.
Poor Nestor. When the Bryans finally had an off year, so did he.

The Herbert Lawford Award
…for Most Overdue Title Win:
Flavia Pennetta

The Charles Darwin Award…
…for most concerted attempt to bring about their own extinction:
Men: Leonardo Mayer and Joao Souza, Davis Cup. 15-13 in the third. Six hours and 43 minutes. Mayer won — and then had to be admitted to the hospital.
Women: French Open second round. Schiavone def. Kuznetsova 6-7 7-5 10-8 in three hours, fifty minutes — the year’s longest WTA match by 23 minutes if you count $125K events, by 26 minutes if you don’t.

The John Tomic award…
…for extreme nepotism:
John Tomic (again), for saying Bernard Tomic wouldn’t play Davis Cup because Sara Tomic wasn’t getting enough financial help from Tennis Australia.

The Marcelo Rios and Jennifer Capriati Award
…for Best Argument For Abolishing Press Conferences:
Camila Giorgi
She mostly let her racquet do the talking. Although even that wasn’t always the best strategy. Giorgi had 458 double-faults in 2015, despite a relatively limited schedule. That’s more than 50% more than #2 Alize Cornet’s 302, and more than twice #3 Mirjana Lucic-Baroni’s 274; Giorgi — who wasn’t even in the Top Ten in aces, so she wasn’t trying to bomb her way through — won the double-fault “honor” walking away.

The Let’s Be Twins! Award for Players Who Are Hardest to Tell Apart:
Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova in New Haven. Two Czech lefthanders playing in identical red and white clothing. It wouldn’t be surprising if their coaches could barely tell them apart.
Honorable Mention: Everyone at Wimbledon. The tournament recently tightened up its all-white rules, so that where twenty years ago you could tell players apart by the colored striped, etc., now… it can be impossible, especially when the players are the same height and have similar hair. In the quarterfinal between Maria Sharapova and CoCo Vandeweghe, about the only way to tell at a distance was the length of their shorts….

The Goran Ivanisevic “Fairy Tales Can Come True” Award:
Flavia Pennetta

The Bobby Riggs Bad Loser award:
Nick Kyrgios

The Check-The-Pulse Award
…for the healthy player who most inexplicably went completely bad:
Men: Ernests Gulbis
Women: Eugenie Bouchard

The Anna Chakvetadze “Geez, No One Deserves That” Award for Saddest Off-Court Happening:
James Blake, handcuffed — assaulted, really — by a New York policeman for being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong skin tone.

Most Likely to Earn a Surgeon General’s Warning…
…for greatest annual impact on fans’ blood pressure:
Serena Williams, for all her three-set matches. She had five at Roland Garros alone, and most were unnecessary. In all, she played 20 three-set matches — and won 18 of them. (That’s not the most three-setters on the Tour by any means — Sara Errani had 31. But Errani won just 19 of them.)

Worst Hissy Fit:
When Serena lost at the US Open, thus failing to complete the calendar Grand Slam, her response was to quit playing for the rest of the year.

Greatest display of sanity in the face of abject stupidity:
Andy Murray, who, when asked if snipping off a bit of his hair that was getting in his eyes during his tour finals match against Nadal meant he was preoccupied with the following week’s Davis Cup tie rather than the match at hand, managed to say politely that, “I don’t know why such minor things make such a big deal to you guys.”

The “Uh, Could You Repeat That Score?” Award:
Roberta Vinci def. Serena Williams 2-6 6-4 6-4

Greatest display of racquet ability for a truly useless cause:
Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori, London. The outcome of the match made no difference, but they went at it hammer and tongs for three very long sets.

The Shuzo Matsuoka award for extreme cramping:
The US Open. All of it. But if we have to give a specific award, how about Jack Sock in his second round against Ruben Bemelmans. He actually passed out on the court. It’s the second year in a row he had cramped at the Open.

The “Now, About That Serve” award:
Sara Errani won 50.8% of return points, and 51.9% of return games — the only player to be above 50% in either category (Simona Halep was #2 in both, with 48.4% and 47.1%). And yet, Errani was around #20 for .most of the year. Guess we know what she needs to work on….

The “What, You Again?” award:
Wayne Odesnik. At least this will be the last time.

The “What Would WADA Think?” award for best use of a stimulant:
Stan Wawrinka and Serena Williams both called for coffee during matches this year.

Player Whose Mechanics We’d Most Like to Steal:
How about, this year, we give it to the whole nation of Switzerland? With Roger Federer developing more and more surprises, and Martina Hingis back atop the doubles rankings, and Belinda Bencic coming along well, it’s hard to argue with them. The usual honorable mentions, of course: Agnieszka Radwanska, for best hands of any singles player; Simona Halep; Grigor Dimitrov.

Most Dramatic Exit:
Flavia Pennetta won her first Slam and announced her retirement. It took a while before anyone even knew she would be waiting until the end of the year.

Least Dramatic Exit:
Robin Soderling. Four years after his last match, he finally bid the game a sad farewell.

Player with the Best Reason to Avoid Dark Alleys:
Wayne Odesnik. Suspended again for drug abuse. Can anyone say, “Antisocial Personality Disorder”?

The Scylla and Charybdis Award for a No-Win Situation:
Andy Murray, who had to play London on indoor hardcourt and then the Davis Cup final on clay the next weekend. Which surface should he have practiced on, and when?

Best reason to require tournaments to give away free earplugs…
Serena Williams versus Victoria Azarenka, Wimbledon quarterfinal. Azarenka was asked about the grunting afterward, and called it “ridiculous stuff” and said she was tired of hearing about it. Yes, but there are people trying to sleep in the next town…. Still, Azarenka did think it was unfair that men didn’t, um, hear about it: “I was practicing next to Nadal and he grunts louder than me and nobody noticed it. Look at the good stuff.”

The Jelena Dokic Award
… for the player Most Likely to be part of an International Incident:
Nick Kyrgios — for his comments about Stan Wawrinka’s relationships that got him a suspended suspension and fine.

The Jim McIngvale “Now Why Didn’t I Think Of That” Award
…for Biggest Tournament Fix:
Caroline Wozniacki, who lost at Wimbledon while playing on a back court, said, “I would love to play on a big court… You work hard and practice to play on the big courts. The women really haven’t gotten the opportunity here to play on the big courts. You only get one women’s match on Court One and Centre Court…. Most of last week it was only one women’s match on Court Two as well. It’s definitely different, that’s all I can say. I think a lot of us women feel like we deserve to play on the big courts in front of a big crowd, as well.”

The “Famous Last Words” award:
Radek Stepanek. In September, he told the Times of India that he is “done dating tennis players.” This raises the question what his new criterion for choosing women will be….

The “How Much Did You Pay For Gas? Award…
…for most completely wasted trip to a tournament
Shelby Rogers. She lost her Wimbledon opener to Andrea Petkovic 6-0 6-0 in 39 minutes.
Honorable Mention: Xu Yi-Fan. She managed only four main draws all year, lost all of them — and ended the year with a 6-0 6-0 loss to Belinda Bencic at Tokyo which took only 43 minutes.

The Prince Charles Edward Louis Philip Casimir Stuart Award
for worst possible thing a tennis parent could inflict on a child at birth….
American player Tennys Sandgren. No wonder he’s ranked #258.

Best Reason to Join a Monastery/Nunnery:
Lleyton Hewitt. This was the year he finally gave in and announced his retirement — and so now he has to deal with a Davis Cup team that potentially includes both Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios. What Australia needs, these days, isn’t a player, it’s a guy with a license to prescribe psychoactive drugs….

The “I’m a Little Teapot” award for Most Explosive Ventilation of Steam:
Bernard Tomic.

The Mac the Mouth Award
…for the best stir created by a semi-inadvertent comment:
Nick Kyrgios. Need we say more?

Best Argument for Age Restrictions Continuing Until at least Age 40:
Nick Kyrgios. We repeat, need we say more?

Your Mother Is Proud Of You, Dear
…for Doing the Honorable Thing (Even When It’s Really, Really Stupid):
Tim Smyczek. At the Australian Open, he let Rafael Nadal have another serve after a distraction. Nadal won the match.

The Shoe Is On the Other Foot Award for Stupidest Prediction:
Everyone: Serena Williams a lock for the US Open title.

The Kim Clijsters award for post-motherhood comeback:
Tatiana (Malek) Maria. Having not only had a child, but switched from a two-handed to a one-handed backhand, she made it back into the Top Hundred by beating Eugenie Bouchard at Miami.

The Thomas Muster award for comebacks that weren’t worth the bother:
Mardy Fish.

The Now You See Her, Now You Don’t Award:
Laura Robson. She managed to play four events between Eastbourne and the US Open, but nothing after. She had no WTA wins and just one qualifying win.

The Kimberly Po-Messerli “No, I’m Swiss, I Really Am” Award
…For Silliest Change in Personal Data:
Or, in this case, silliest non-change:
Aljaz Bedene. C’mon, ITF, let him play for Britain — he certainly didn’t change nationality over his Olympic chances.

The Robert Carretero Award (for biggest result followed by very little):
Men: Luka Vanni, finalist at Sao Paulo, who won exactly one other match all year.
Women: Ana Konjuh. She won Nottingham — and had only three more WTA wins in eight events the rest of the year.

The “Fighting Fire With Fire” award
for rumored coaching relationship we least want to see:
Nick Kyrgios and John McEnroe. Can you imagine what those two would induce each other to say? Frankly, we don’t want to think about it….

The Radek Stepanek Breakup Award…
…for being the latest tennis player to break up with Stepanek:
In this case, it isn’t a new breakup. But we can’t help but find it fascinating that, in December, it was announced that Petra Kvitova — who used to be linked with Stepanek — is now engaged to a hockey player named, coincidentally enough, Radek Meidl.

The “No Wonder He Was So Quiet in the Players’ Box” award
for most unexpected activities by the entourage:
Amelie Mauresmo. When is the last time you saw a male player’s coach get pregnant?

The “Maybe It Should Have Been Quieter in the Players’ Box” award:
Kim Sears, after a slanging contest between Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych, said something unprintable in the players’ box — and later showed up wearing a T-shirt that said, “Parental Advisory — Explicit Content.”
Honorable Mention: Boris Becker once again showed his, let’s say, non-stellar diplomatic skills by implying a major rift between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

Story of the Year:
Serena Williams and the Non-Calendar Grand Slam and the Calendar Grand Slam that Wasn’t Quite

Fashion Awards (Take This, “WTA Best Dressed List”):

The Serena Williams Award…
…For Best Reason to Require Tennis Uniforms:
Bethanie Mattek-Sands, US Open. Her outfit looked like a mis-folded grocery bag — with bright red highlights to make sure you knew it was mis-folded.

The Dominik Hrbaty Award…
…For Best Reason to Require Tennis Uniforms:
Stan Wawrinka, Rome and Roland Garros. Plaid meets intestinal perforation. And he even kept on wearing them, with pride, when he won Roland Garros with them.

The “Why Can’t They Make a Pair of Pants That Fit?” Award (to the twitchiest player):
Rafael Nadal.

The End of an Era Award…
…for Most Regrettable Retirement:
Flavia Pennetta. She won her first Slam, and announced her retirement; she played her first year-end championships, and that was her last event.

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