Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon hands out fake awards.
What a crazy, whirlwind decade this 2020 year has been.
Little did we know how much unrest, misery and despair this entire year would bring around the world, even bringing the entire planet to a halt overnight as a global virus attacked the very fabric of our society.
This year will forever be remembered as the year of COVID-19, the year where death knocked at the door of just about everyone in the world. Pitted against such a formidable foe, people around the world responded in different ways that likely reflected their inner fears and belief systems.
By and large, most of us understood that there was no point in having sporting events when thousands of people were dying—so sports were halted, cancelled or postponed. Unfortunately, such consensus eventually fell by the wayside for some weird (read: monetary and financial) reason and just as quickly as they left, sports came right back.
And with that, tennis came back some time over this past summer after about six months on hiatus. It tried to move forward as if nothing or not much had changed when in reality, everything had. But we’re not here for a referendum on the good and bad that came with the decision to bring tennis back; our opinion on the topic has been well documented in this space.
What are we here to do, you might ask? Because we somehow did have a 2020 season against all live casino odds, we thought we’d share our choices for players of the year from both tours and the logic behind our choices.
WTA player of the year
Contender #1: Sofia Kenin
–2020 record: 24-9
–2020 highlight: Capturing a first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.
–The case for Kenin: The American Sofia Kenin was one of only two players in the WTA to reach the second week at all three majors of the season. She also managed to make two Grand Slam finals, winning one.
Contender #2: Naomi Osaka
–2020 record: 16-3
–2020 highlight: Capturing another Grand Slam title at the US Open.
–The case for Osaka: The case for Naomi Osaka relies mostly on what she accomplished in the New York bubble but it’s plenty. Not only did she win the title, but she did so while raising awareness to the plight of African-Americans dying at the hands of law enforcement.
The pick is Naomi Osaka. Look, if the Japanese is good enough for Sports Illustrated to pick her as the sportsperson of the year, then surely she is good enough for us to pick her as player of the year in women’s tennis.
ATP player of the year
Contender #1: Novak Djokovic
–2020 record: 41-5
–2020 highlight: Adding another Australian Open title and finishing as the year-end No. 1 player.
–The case for Djokovic: As has become customary, Novak Djokovic was front and centre on just about every important moment of the season. The Serb picked up four singles titles and won his first 26 matches of the season. He’ll rue a missed opportunity (and an errant shot) at the US Open but that’s about the only blemish on what was an otherwise stellar season.
Contender #2: Rafael Nadal
–2020 record: 27-7
–2020 highlight: Adding a French Open title to his innumerable career tally at the event.
–The case for Nadal: The Spaniard joined Roger Federer atop the singles Grand Slam titles leaderboard. That alone is enough but should you want more, Rafael Nadal remains the greatest clay court player in history. He’ll be on the short list until that changes.
The pick is Novak Djokovic. We’re sliding with the Serb here because 1) he’s our favourite player and 2) was once again the most relevant and reliable player in men’s tennis.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG