Capping off a hugely successful year for him, Spanish tennis champion Rafael Nadal has been nominated for the prestigious Laureus World Sports Awards 2021. This is the sixth nomination for Nadal who won the 'Sportsman of the Year' award back in 2011 when he reached 3 out of 4 Grand Slam finals (won the French Open, runner-up at Wimbledon and the US Open) that year. After missing out on the honour year after year, Nadal's chances look good this time around. The Spaniard is going up on the list for his record-breaking achievement of winning his 13th French Open title and with it, matching Roger Federer's 20 Grand Slam title haul.
Thank you to everyone in the Media for giving me this Nomination. It was great to win my 13th @rolandgarros and my 20th Grand Slam last in 2020. May the best one win but thanks anyhow for this nomination. Always an honor 🙌🏻#laureus21 https://t.co/AB4xp7nUhD— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) February 24, 2021
Rafael Nadal's 2020 campaign was a brief one. The Spaniard reached the finals of the season openers, the ATP Cup and the Australian Open but lost both tournaments to rival Novak Djokovic. A sole win at Acapulco was followed by a major hiatus as the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill. After choosing not to participate in the US Open and its related events for fear of the virus, Rafa made his comeback at the Rome Masters. The tournament ended in another disappointment for the 'King of Clay', who was ousted in the quarter-final by Diego Schwartzmann.
However, the highlight of Rafa's year and the reason behind his nomination this year came at the French Open, late in September 2020. Going into the Slam, Nadal had a tremendous 93-2 win-loss record at the event. Despite worries that the conditions in Paris were unsuitable for him, Nadal proved once and for all that nothing could stop him at his favourite Slam.
Having come into the final with straight-set wins over each of his competitors, Rafa defeated Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 to win his 13th title at Court Phillipe-Chatrier. This historic achievement put the Rafael Nadal Grand Slams count at a massive 20 Slams - equal to Roger Federer's record.
Following her inspiring back to back title wins at the US Open 2020 and more recently, at the Australian Open 2021 - her 4th Grand Slam title - Japan's rising star Naomi Osaka earned her first nomination in the 'Sportswoman of the Year' category at the Laureus World Sports Awards 2021. The 23-year-old has previously won the 'Breakthrough of the Year' title in 2019.
If she wins, Osaka will follow in the footsteps of 4-time winner Serena Williams. Also joining Osaka and Nadal will be US Open 2020 and French Open 2020 champions Dominic Thiem and Iga Swiatek who have been nominated in the 'Breakthrough of the Year' category.