Six tennis players are nominated for the upcoming 2022 Laureus World Sports Awards, but Nadal has just missed out with his Australian Open victory likely coming too late to make the cut.
The world No 5 ended his 2021 season in August with a left foot injury, undergoing a medical procedure and doubting whether he’d even be able to return to the tour as little as a month and a half ago.
Having caught Covid in December, making his comeback even more uncertain, Nadal arrived in Melbourne ahead of the New Year and went on a ten match-winning streak, picking up the ATP 250 title in the lead-up to the Australian Open before lifting his second Aussie Open trophy, 13 years after the first.
He came from two sets down against highest seed Daniil Medvedev to make history as the first male singles player ever to win a record 21st Grand Slam title, but is seems his feat won’t be recognised in this year’s Laureus World Sports Awards with the Spaniard just missing out on a nomination in the nick of time.
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Wheelchair tennis is also represented at the awards by Diede De Groot and Shingo Kunieda, both nominated for the Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award.
The Dutch wheelchair world No 1 in both singles and doubles made history in 2021 by competing the Calendar Golden Slam – winning all four Majors plus the Olympic gold medal, and she has now extended her Grand Slam-winning streak to six titles in a row with a recent Aussie Open victory.
Kunieda has been nominated after winning the fourth Paralympic gold medal of his career at his home Games in Tokyo last summer.
The winners will be crowned in a virtual Awards Show in April.
And Nadal has arguably already put himself in the running for a nomination next year, thanks to his extraordinary achievement Down Under.
The 35-year-old already has five Laureus World Sports Awards to his name, including being crowned Sportsman of the Year last year.
He won the Breakthrough award back in 2006 for his incredible debut at the French Open in 2005, winning the first of his 21 Grand Slam titles just two days after his 19th birthday at the tournament.
He first won Sportsman of the Year in 2011 and was awarded Comeback of the Year in 2014, and could easily find himself nominated in either category come 2023 if he continues his form from the recent Australian Open.