Daily Tennis Player Awards 2003:The Men
Last time, we handed out the women's awards. Now it's the men's turn. Don't ask us why it was so much harder to come up with wisecrack awards for the men.
We do note an absolute lack of consensus among our panelists on the fashion awards (no one was mentioned more than once), so we had to omit those....
Player of the Year:
This involved much self-torture, because Federer ended the year #2, and didn't win a singles Masters Series event, unlike every other player in the Top Five. But he did win Wimbledon and the Masters Cup, giving him two of the five biggest events (something no other player can match), and on two different surfaces. He won on all four surfaces, which Andy Roddick can't say. And Federer might well be ranked #1 if it weren't for required-and-optional. If you really want to list Roddick, though, we wouldn't argue too much.
Doubles Team of the Year:
Jonas Bjorkman and Todd Woodbridge
Again, they didn't finish at the top of the rankings, but they ended strong and won two Slams. Oh, and Woodbridge tied the record for Open Era doubles titles. Honorable mention to the Bryan Twins, who won a Slam and the Masters Cup and led the Race though not the rankings.
Doubles Player of the Year:
This award is designed to reward the player who does the most to pick up his partners -- in other words, the guy you most want next to you. That looks to be Mirnyi, who -- even though he didn't win a Slam -- is the only player to have Masters titles with two different partners (Miami with Federer and Monte Carlo and Montreal and Madrid with Bhupathi). And he's #1.
Most Improved Player:
Honorable mention to Roddick, but of course he was expected to produce long ago. Massu was playing Challengers at the start of the year, and now he's #12. Additional Honorable Mention to Mardy Fish.
Most Impressive Newcomer with a Monster Serve:
He isn't that young, and he isn't all that high-ranked, either. But you've heard of him, have you not -- and admit it: You hadn't until this year.
Most Impressive Newcomer Without a Monster Serve:
Comeback Player of the Year:
The Australian hadn't ended a season in the Top 20 since 1999, and this year he earned a year-end Top Ten ranking for the first time.
Throwback Player of the Year:
This spring, Agassi became the oldest player in history to be ranked #1 (based on entry rankings, of course).
Best Hardcourt Player:
Honorable Mention: Andre Agassi
Given that Roddick won the U. S. Open and both summer Masters, this seems pretty open-and-shut.
Best Indoor Player:
Juan Carlos Ferrero
Honorable Mention: Tim Henman, Roger Federer
This award got a lot harder when they moved the Masters Cup outdoors. There are now only two indoor Masters, which doesn't give you much to choose between the winners. But Ferrero seemed better than Henman overall, and even though we suspect Federer will prove the best indoor player of the bunch, he didn't win a required indoor event this year.
Best Clay Player:
Juan Carlos Ferrero
Honorable Mention: Guillermo Coria
We almost thought about giving this to Coria, given his amazing post-Wimbledon streak on clay. But, well -- losing to Martin Verkerk at Roland Garros? Ferrero remains the obvious choice.
No award for grass; sample too small. (Though we're pretty sure Federer would have won had there been more events.)
The Robert Carretero Award for Biggest Surprise of the Year:
Martin Verkerk. Roland Garros. Duh.
Honorable Mention for Julien Boutter's title at Casablanca. He was barely back, and clay is the worst surface for his serve, and he was facing Younes El Aynaoui in Morocco -- and he won anyway.
Todd Woodbridge winning another Wimbledon doubles title.
The Anyone-but-Patty-Schnyder Award for Best Act of Apparent Hypnotism:
Brad Gilbert on Andy Roddick.
Player Whose Mechanics We'd Most Like to Steal:
Roger Federer. Now his head is another matter....
The Check-His-Pulse Award
...for the healthy player who most inexplicably went completely bad:
Most Dramatic Exit:
Greg Rusedski, Wimbledon
Rusedski lost a serving contest to Andy Roddick 7-6 7-6 7-5, and while most of the things he served were balls, there were a few choice words in there, too -- and most of them not aimed at the far side of the court.
Most Likely to Earn a Surgeon General's Warning...
...for greatest annual impact on fans' blood pressure:
Andy Roddick. Think Australian Open quarterfinal, U. S. Open semifinal, Cincinnati final....
The Thomas Muster Award -- Ironman of the Year
... for greatest display of stamina:
Albert Costa, Roland Garros
Costa started his title defence by coming back from two sets down against Sergio Roitman. Then he went five sets against Radek Stepanek. He was down two sets to Nicolas Lapentti and won. After an easy win against Arnaud Clement, he came back from two sets down against Tommy Robbredo. Finally he lost easily to Juan Carlos Ferrero.
And speaking of Ferrero, give him an honorable mention for all those back-to-back matches he played at the U. S. Open.
The Herbert Lawford Award
...for Most Overdue Title Win:
Tim Henman, Paris
After spending most of the year suffering from injuries and their after-effects, Henman won his first-ever Masters Series title -- and he did it the hard way, with wins over Davydenko, Grosjean, Kuerten, Federer, Roddick, and Pavel.
The Pot Calling the Kettle Black Award:
Last year, they suspended Bohdan Ulihrach for steroid abuse. This year, they discovered that they gave him the steroids.
The Tim Henman Award
...for Best Argument For Abolishing Press Conferences:
We weren't sure our panel would vote Henman in again, as we were pretty sure they would vote Jennifer Capriati the women's award -- but they did. So Henman gets the award named after him.
The "Anything for an Excuse" for biting the hand that feeds you:
Lleyton Hewitt spent all year avoiding ATP events -- and justified missing out on the Masters Cup on the grounds that he wanted to be ready for Davis Cup.
The "And You Thought the Trophy Was Funny Looking" Award
...for the Most Thoroughly Unusual Gift to a Tournament Winner:
After Roger Federer won Wimbledon, the tournament at Gstaad gave him -- a cow (named Juliette). Federer confessed, "I never expected a cow."
And he didn't even have to win Gstaad to get it.
Fortunately, they also gave him a chance to place it in bovine foster care so he doesn't need to see it any more. Federer's comment the following day: "We saw each other yesterday [he in fact milked her]. I think we need a break."
At least it's a nice twist on "Grass is for cows."
The "Big Fat Target" Award
...for the Player You Don't Want Next To You:
Fernando Gonzalez just seems to get hit with things a lot. Early in the year, he was hit in the eye with a ball and had to withdraw from his match. During a Davis Cup match in July, a fan hit him with a water bottle.
It's a good thing he doesn't play tennis in Yankee Stadium....
Worst Hissy Fit:
Lleyton Hewitt's lawsuit against the ATP
The Jim McIngvale "Now Why Didn't We Think Of That" Award
...for Biggest Tournament Fix:
The U. S. Open, for the patriotic scheduling that meant Andy Roddick and Andre Agassi were the only two men's players not to have to play best-of-five matches four days in a row.
Honorable Mention: McIngvale, of course. For the Masters Cup surface, the Masters Cup speech -- oh, you get the idea.
The Scylla and Charibdis Award for a No-Win Situation:
The ATP. Last year, Washington and Indianapolis sued the organization for not supplying enough players. This year, Lleyton Hewitt is after the ATP because it wanted too much of his time.
Most Likely to Cause an International Incident:
The Australians, when hosting the Davis Cup final, started out by playing the wrong Spanish National Anthem.
Best Display of Ambi-Dexterity:
kept off the tour by a right-wrist injury early in the year, Clement got so bored by not being able to play that he entered an amateur tournament in the south of France -- as a left-hander. He handily (sorry) won both the matches he played.
Best Imitation of a Weapon of Mass Destruction
...for Most Conspicuous Failure to Turn Up:
The ATP's "strike" for more Grand Slam prize money
Honorable Mention: Pete Sampras. Sure, he retired -- but he didn't have to pull out of every event a week or two in advance along the way.
The Brooke Shields Award
... for non-tennis related TV appearance inspiring the most wisecracks:
Mandy Moore (Andy and Mandy... 'nuff said)
The Mac the Mouth Award
...for the best stir created by a semi-inadvertent comment:
John McEnroe. After Todd Larkham managed to win only two games in the second round of the Australian Open against Lleyton Hewitt, McEnroe called the effort "pitiful", prompting Todd's brother Brent -- who had watched his younger sibling qualify and nearly collapse during a tough four-set first round match -- to invite McEnroe to "step outside."
Honorable mention: Pat Cash, for creating a synopsis of Mark Philippoussis's sex life that appeared in a major newspaper the day Philippoussis was scheduled to play in the Wimbledon final. That's what you want to see over the toast and eggs the day you play the biggest match of your life.
Best Reason to Join a Monastery:
He said himself that he isn't practicing or trying as hard as he used to. If that doesn't say "Time to retire," what does?
Silliest Civil War:
Lleyton Hewitt vs. The ATP
Award for the Most Gratuitous Use of the Word Even Worse Than "Belgium" in a Public Place:
Greg Rusedski, Wimbledon
And You Think Your Boss Is Tough?
Peter Lundgren guided Roger Federer to a Slam, a Masters Cup, five lesser titles, a Surface Sweep, and the year-end #2 ranking -- and he's out of a job.
Stupidest Behavior in a Tennis Publication:
For the third year straight, we're giving awards no one pays any attention to.