Women’s Player of the Year:
Kerber’s award is built upon two tent poles, namely her Australian and US Open titles. Yet, her Wimbledon runner-up finish and silver medal in Rio demonstrated Kerber’s capacity to sting together multiple quality results. That is a key for being number one. Her Cincinnati and Tour Championship runner-up finishes only added to the quality of her year.
Men’s Player of the Year:
In 1989, 1982, and 1977 a man won 2 majors only to see the number one ranking end in the hands of someone with 1 or 0 major titles. Andy Murray won 1 major, 1 gold medal, 1 World Tour Finals, and 3 Masters 1000 events. Murray also claimed 3 ATP 500 level events. In 2016, Murray was runner-up at 2 majors and 2 Masters 1000 events as well. That is a hellacious record. Still, Novak Djokovic won 2 majors, 4 Masters 1000 events, and finished as a runner-up at the US Open, Rome, and the World Tour Finals. The math of Murray’s ranking makes sense to me. Still, Djokovic was 3-2 vs. Murray in 2016 including a 2-0 record in major finals. If Djokovic won the final 2 majors of 2016 and finished at a runner-up at one of the first 2 majors, he would be seen as the player with momentum at the end of the year. I am not disputing Murray’s momentum, but I think Nole’s Australian Open, Indian Wells, and Miami titles are likely being undervalued due to their positioning on the tennis schedule.
Breakthrough Performer of 2016:
Pliskova’s big serve and throwback flat ball striking powered her to wins over the 3 women who won majors in 2016 during her Cincinnati title run and US Open runner-up finish. She pushed Kerber hard in the US Open final. Health and determination will be keys to her 2017 campaign, but Pliskova appears to be a top 10 player for the foreseeable future.
Don’t You Forget About Me Award for 2016:
Stan the man won his 3rd major in 3 years. Stan has the ability to look rather normal on tour for most of the weeks of the year, but he won 4 titles in 2016 including the US Open. Stan doesn’t have his best level every phase of the season, but when he finds it, he is lethal. It is hard to know when he will play at that level so he has to be considered ahead of every big event.
Match of the Year:
Craziest Run of 2016:
Monica Puig’s Gold Medal
Did anyone see this coming? If Puig can reset in 2017, she can be a factor.