From Andy Murray’s march to the top to Dominika Cibulkova’s terrific comeback, these are the standout moments of 2016.
PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
ANDY MURRAY/NOVAK DJOKOVIC
While Murray’s rise to No1 following an enormous second half of 2016 that saw him lose just three matches post-French Open was nothing short of phenomenal, it’s hard to ignore Djokovic’s first half. The Serb lost just three matches – including a retirement – in the first nine tournaments of the season, culminating in him winning his first Roland Garros to complete the career Grand Slam. Perhaps the balance tips more in favour of Murray because his surge was unexpected but both split the year evenly in my book.
The German beat Serena Williams to win her first grand slam at the Australian Open, made the Wimbledon and Olympics finals, won her second major at the US Open and ended Williams’ three-and-a-halfyear reign at No1. Kerber’s transformation in 2016 is unmatched!
TEENAGERS OF THE YEAR
The 19-year-old German finished the year ranked No24 in the world. He made three ATP finals and won his maiden title with victory over Stan Wawrinka in the St. Petersburg final. He claimed four top-10 victories including one over Roger Federer.
The 19-year-old Russian started the year ranked No75 and closed it at No26. She kicked off 2016 with victory over Venus Williams, made the third round at three of the four majors and reached the quarters or better at six tournaments.
Not many would have predicted that the 22-year-old Frenchman would end the year in the top-15 and with two slam quarter-final appearances but Pouille has done enough to prove he’s the real deal.
The Puerto Rican’s gold-medal run at the Olympics was both historic and out of the blue. Few would have expected the 34th-ranked player in the world to top the podium in Rio. She did it beating Garbine Muguruza, Petra Kvitova and Angelique Kerber en route.
GRAND SLAM MATCHES OF THE YEAR
Lucas Pouille bt Rafael Nadal 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(6), US Open last-16
This high-intensity four-hour showdown was pure drama. Nadal went up 4-2 in the decider but Pouille pegged him back. In the tiebreak, Pouille led 6-3 but Nadal levelled for 6-all. Pouille found a way to edge through in the end.
Dominika Cibulkova bt Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3, 5-7, 9-7, Wimbledon last-16
Combine Cibulkova’s relentless aggression with Radwanska’s genius mastery on the court and you’ll get a threehour epic on Manic Monday at Wimbledon. Cibulkova’s 56 winners took her into her first Wimbledon quarter-final.
TOUR MATCHES OF THE YEAR
Murray bt Kei Nishikori 6-7(9), 6-4, 6-4, World Tour Finals RR
Nishikori had taken out Murray in the US Open quarters just two months earlier and the Scot was looking for revenge. It could have gone either way, but Murray held his nerve, serving out the match on his second attempt for the win.
Petra Kvitova bt Angelique Kerber 6-7(10), 7-5, 6-4, Wuhan third round
Kvitova at her best is a sight to behold and her three-anda-half-hour marathon win over the world No1 in Wuhan was the perfect demonstration of that. Kerber saved six match points before surrendering to Kvitova who blasted 55 winners.
COMEBACKS OF THE YEAR
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO
Is there anything sweeter than a Del Potro comeback? After three wrist surgeries that could have ended his career, Del Potro returned and won Olympic silver, made the US Open quarters, claimed the title in Stockholm, and won Argentina a first Davis Cup trophy.
Ranked as low as No66 in the world in February following an Achilles’ surgery in 2015, Cibulkova rebounded in stunning fashion this year, rising to No5 in the world, winning four titles from seven finals including the WTA Finals crown.