Serena Williams last night celebrated a record-equalling fourth Laureus World Sports Award.
And on a great night for tennis, Novak Djokovic was honoured with the Laureus World Sportsman Award for the second straight year and for the third time in his career.
Williams, the world’s top women’s tennis player, was named Sportswoman of the Year again, after a sparkling 2015 in which she won three Grand Slams.
Laureus Academy Member Boris Becker, now Djokovic’s coach, said: “He had a great year again. He’s played 88 matches, has won 82, He won three out of the four Grand Slams, reached the final of the French Open, he’s won seven other tournaments.”
There was a special posthumous Laureus Spirit of Sport Award to celebrate the life of Johan Cruyff, who died in March. It was received by his son Jordi.
On a glittering evening in Berlin that recognised the outstanding sporting achievements of 2015,
rugby was the other big winner with the All Blacks taking the Laureus Team Award and Dan Carter receiving the Laureus Comeback of the Year Award, following the team’s Rugby World Cup success.
Carter said: “It’s nice to be recognised for the year I had in 2015. It was a very special year, not only for me, but also for the All Blacks and to be a part of that was amazing.”
To the delight of the Berlin audience, Germany’s Jan Frodeno, the first man to win both the Ironman World Championship and an Olympic triathlon gold medal, was presented with the Laureus Action Sports Award, while golfer Jordan Spieth won the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year Award.
The European clay court season kicked off this week at the Monte Carlo Country Club, as the top players in tennis battle it out on the red dirt.
The six-week swing features three Masters 1000 events (Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome) played on clay, along with several tune-up events leading into the 2016 French Open.
All eyes will be on World No. 1 Novak Djokovic as usual; the Serb has been in devastating form to start the season, winning titles in Doha, Melbourne (Australian Open), Indian Wells & Miami. He has raced off to a 28-1 start this season and the odds will be stacked in his favour to complete a career Grand Slam in eight weeks’ time in Paris.
World No. 3 Roger Federer makes his tour comeback this week after undergoing knee surgery in Feb. His return makes the battle for the first ‘$100 Million Man’ in tennis even more fascinating.
The ‘King of Clay’ Rafa Nadal will also be looking to regain his lost mojo on his beloved surface. The Spaniard should be a big favourite to challenge Djokovic and arrest the Serb’s thunderous momentum leading into the French Open.
With so much on stake, Sport360 takes a look at all the key numbers for the clay season.
49 – Nadal (with 47 titles) could overtake Argentinian great Guillermo Vilas (49) for the most tour titles won on clay. He could also become the first man to win 50 titles on the red dirt.
350 – Nadal will look to become the sixth man to win 350 matches on clay. Vilas leads the list with a staggering 659 wins (659-162; 80.3%).
91.60% – Nadal owns the best winning % on clay, with a win-loss record of 348-32, ahead of Swedish icon Bjorn Borg (251-41; 86%).
81 – Nadal’s 81-match winning streak on clay (2005-07), is the best ever on the surface and is also the male Open Era record on a single surface.
19 – Nadal holds the record for most Masters 1000 titles won on clay (8 – Monte Carlo; 7 – Rome; 4 Hamburg/Madrid).
Clay Triple Crown – Rafa Nadal is the only man to win “The Clay Triple” – claiming the Monte Carlo, Rome & Madrid Masters 1000 in the same season.
WINNERS OF THE 3 EUROPEAN MASTERS TOURNAMENTS ON CLAY
The Season Opening Triple Crown – In 2015, Djokovic became the 1st man to win the first three Masters 1000 events to start the season – bagging titles in Indian Wells, Miami & Monte Carlo. He will look to repeat the feat this year with victory in Monte Carlo.
Clay Masters Defence – Rafa Nadal is the only player to successfully defend his title at all the 3 Masters 1000 events; Monte Carlo (2005-12), Rome (2005-07, 2009-10, 2012-13), Madrid (2013-14).
Clay Slam – Nadal achieved this feat in 2010, when he managed to win all three clay Masters 1000 tournaments, along with the French Open, in the same calendar year.
46 – Nadal’s 46-match winning streak at the Monte Carlo Masters (2005-13) is the record for most consecutive wins at one event by any male or female player.
8 – Nadal’s eight consecutive title wins at Monte Carlo Masters (2005-12) is a record at any single event.
HISTORY – MONTE CARLO, MADRID, ROME
8+8+8 – Nadal is the only player in history to win three tournaments 8+ times (French Open – 9; Monte Carlo-8; Barcelona Open-8).
28 – Djokovic has recently overtaken Nadal for the most Masters 1000 titles, so the Spaniard (27 Masters) will be looking to equal or surpass the Serb this season.
50/54 – Since the 2010 Monte Carlo Masters, the ‘Big Four’ have won 50 of the 54 Masters 1000 events played (Djokovic – 23, Nadal – 12, Federer – 8, Murray – 7).
52% – Nadal has won 35 out of his 67 career titles (52%), during the European clay court season.
5 – Djokovic will be looking to win a record 5th consecutive Masters 1000 title. At the moment, the record is four:
4: Nadal (2013 – Madrid, Rome, Montreal, Cincinnati)
4: Djokovic (2013 – Shanghai, Paris, 2014 – Indian Wells, Miami)
4: Djokovic (2014 – Paris, 2015 – Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo)
4: Djokovic (2015 – Shanghai, Paris, 2016 – Indian Wells, Miami) – ACTIVE
Modern tennis players wear some of the brightest kit in professional sport, but today’s youngsters are arguably carrying on a trend that started with Andre Agassi in the early 1990s.
After partnering with kit manufacturer Nike the eight-time grand slam winner was almost as famous for his alternative fashion sense (remember the jeans shorts?), as he was his supreme tennis ability.
Here Agassi takes a trip down memory lane and gets his old US Open shoes out the bag, which were designed by Nike to look like the American flag with the addition of gold writing to represent the star’s medal at the 1996 Olympics.
What do you think of the shoes? Tweet us your thoughts using #360Fans.