Having laid out that I am not a huge fan of bestowing honors not won or lost on the court, I will throw out my ATP awards for the 2017 season.
Players of the Year: Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer
Rafa put up the better computer numbers, but Roger dominated their head-to-head matches. Rafa and Roger each took home 2 majors. They combined to win 5 Masters 1000 events as well as posting a number of smaller tournament victories and significant runner-up finishes. I am sure people have mixed feelings about this. Nostalgia is one thing, but seeing a lot of the same results from 2006 in 2017 is another. Injuries to Djokovic, Murray, and Wawrinka exposed the lack of quality depth among younger players on tour. Federer’s 19th and Rafa’16th major are something to be remembered. Was 2017 a farewell tour for the duo or will they set the pace in 2018 and beyond?
Mover of the Year: Grigor Dimitrov
Grigor Dimitrov had three good patches in 2017 and that was enough for him to finish the year ranked #3 in the world. Dimitrov won Brisbane and Sofia early in the year. In between those two titles, Grigor reached the Australian Open semifinal and lost in 5 tough sets to Rafael Nadal. In August, Dimitrov won Cincinnati grabbing a Masters 1000 shield. In November, Dimitrov won the ATP World Tour Finals in London. The London and Cincinnati titles are a big deal, but I for one hope to see more consistent results in 2018.
Match of the Year: The Australian Open Final
Roger Federer d. Rafael Nadal 2017 Australian Open final. Federer’s 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 victory featured two rivals battling for 5 sets for a big prize. Federer overcame some bad history versus Rafa in Australia and in general to gran his 18th major.
Breakout Performance: Denis Shapovalov in Montreal
The young Canadian Denis Shapovalov won 4 matches in his run to the semifinal round of the Montreal Masters 1000 event. His wins included a straight set victory over Juan Martin del Potro and a 3 set thriller over Rafael Nadal. Shapovalov showed a lot of mental toughness in fending off 9 of 11 break points he faced over 3 sets. The Canadian crowd was supportive of the talented youngster. He should be ready for some big things in 2018, but fans should be patient enough to know big things for players his age can consist of frequently reaching the round of 8 at ATP events of all sizes.
International Team of the Year: France
France won the Davis Cup and its men were part of a winning Hopman Cup team. In a non-Olympic year, that is pretty much a sweep. France took its 10th Davis Cup title ending years of near misses. France had posted 3 runner-up finishes since their most recent Davis Cup title in 2001. France typically places a good number of players in the top 100 with acumen in singles and doubles on a multiplicity of surfaces. Taking the Davis Cup crown affirms the depth and variety of France’s presence in professional tennis even if a singles major winner has been elusive.