2013 ATP WORLD TOUR AWARDS PRESENTED BY MOET AND CHANDON
Most Improved Player Of The Year Nominees
by ATP Staff|
The Most Improved Player of the Year, in the 2013 ATP World Tour Awards Presented by Moët & Chandon, is the player who reached a significantly higher Emirates ATP Ranking by year's end and who demonstrated an increasingly improved level of performance through the year.
This year’s nominees are (Year-end 2012 Ranking and 14 October 2013 Ranking):
Pablo Carreno Busta (715-66)
Ivan Dodig (73-29)
Fabio Fognini (45-17)
Stanislas Wawrinka (17-9)
PABLO CARRENO BUSTA
A seven-month injury layoff in 2012 caused Pablo Carreno Busta to drop to a year-end No. 715, but the Spaniard wasted no time in making his way back up the Emirates ATP Rankings, beginning with an impressive effort on the Futures circuit. Following a runner-up finish in his first tournament of 2013, Carreno Busta was invincible - winning 35 straight matches and seven titles.
He made the leap to the ATP World Tour, qualifying for the Grand Prix Hassan II, where he recorded his first tour-level win. A few weeks later, he strung together six straight wins in qualifying and reaching the semi-finals at the Portugal Open, lifting him into the Top 200. He then qualified for his first major at Roland Garros, where he faced Roger Federer.
Carreno Busta also excelled on the ATP Challenger Tour. He went 4-0 in finals during the summer, including a streak of 15 matches and three titles won. In August, a month after his 22nd birthday, Carreno Busta earned his status as a Top 100 player.
“It’s a honour to be nominated as the Most Improved Player of the Year,” said Carreno Busta, who gained direct entry into ATP World Tour events by the autumn. “This season has been great. I started around 700 and now I’m ranked 66, I could have never imagined this.”
Ivan Dodig will finish his season at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals after qualifying with partner Marcelo Melo, but his success has extended beyond the team game, with a banner year on the singles court. “I did great in doubles reaching the final in Wimbledon and I’m looking forward to the Masters in London,” he said. “I had great results in singles. Doubles also helped improve my singles game.”
From a year-end Emirates ATP Ranking of No. 73, the 28-year-old Croat climbed to a career-high No. 29. He reached the third round of a major for the first time at the Australian Open, and one-bettered that at Wimbledon. He also reached the semi-finals on all three surfaces: on clay at the BMW Open, on grass as the Aegon International and on hard courts at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships, which included an upset win over World No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Dodig, who aspires to stay inside the Top 50 in 2014, attributed his accomplishments this season to consistency and a strong support team. “At this high level tennis, especially these top guys, you can see they’re playing very consistent during the whole year. I think I did it much better this year than in the years before,” said Dodig, the 2011 PBZ Zagreb Indoors champion. “At the same time, for this, you need to have a real good team… I have to thank them a lot for my big progress and big improvements in the rankings and my tennis.
“When I saw that I’m nominated, I was really happy because this is something special to every player to see himself in the nominations. For me it’s most important that I had a great season and I was really playing some good, stable tennis during the whole year.”
Fabio Fognini finished the past two seasons inside the Top 50 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, but “three incredible weeks” lifted the 26-year-old Italian into the Top 20 of the Emirates ATP Rankings in 2013.
Playing on European clay, Fognini made magic as he won 13 straight matches. He captured his first ATP World Tour title at the MercedesCup with a comeback win over German Philipp Kohlschreiber. The following week, he defeated Tommy Haas and Nicolas Almagro to reach the German Tennis Championships final. He clinched the ATP World Tour 500 title and broke into the Top 20 by saving three match points against Federico Delbonis. He replicated that feat against Gael Monfils in the semi-finals of the Vegeta Croatia Open Umag just days later to reach his third final in as many weeks.
Though his run came to an end against Tommy Robredo, Fognini reached a career-high No. 16 in the Emirates ATP Rankings and said of his three weeks, “they're going to stay in my head for the rest of my life”.
Fognini reached the quarter-finals or better at 11 tournaments on all three surfaces - most impressively at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, where he recorded back-to-back Top 10 victories against Tomas Berdych and Richard Gasquet en route to the semi-finals.
“I am very happy to have been nominated this year for the Most Improved Player award,” he said. “It’s been my best season on tour so far and I have had some great unforgettable moments. It’s nice to see all the hard work done paying off with the great results I’ve had. I hope I can take the award home.”
Though Stanislas Wawrinka had enjoyed a stint in the Top 10 during the summer of 2008, he consistently dwelled in the next tier of the Emirates ATP Rankings over the next few years. A gut-wrenching loss early in 2013 proved to be the catalyst for the 28 year old’s return to the ATP’s elite this season.
The Swiss battled with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic for more than five hours in the fourth round of the Australian Open, only to come up short, 12-10 in the fifth set, to the eventual champion. “In three years I was playing pretty good, but always missing something in the big matches,” he said. “And this year, in the crazy match at the beginning of the year against Novak was something different for me after that match mentally. I realised that I was there, that my level was there, and that I can play against the best player in the world. After that I had some much better results.”
Wawrinka reached the final in his next tournament, the Copa Claro, and then made his mark - and his rankings move - during the European clay season. He claimed the Portugal Open title with victory over David Ferrer, finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the Mutua Madrid Open - afterwards re-entering the Top 10 - and reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros after prevailing against Richard Gasquet in an 8-6 fifth set.
He also reached the grass-court final at the Aegon International and recorded wins over Tomas Berdych and Andy Murray at the US Open - taking his tally of Top 10 victories to seven this season - to advance to his first Grand Slam semi-final. Now, Wawrinka has a chance to finish the year at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals for the first time in his career, holding down a qualification berth in the final week of the regular season.
“It was my best season for sure,” he says. “I won a title in Portugal against David Ferrer, I had my first semi-final in a Grand Slam at the US Open. I’m really happy with all the results, but especially the way I’m playing. I’m closer to the top. I’m trying to qualify for London and that means a lot for me.
“It’s great,” he added of his nomination for Most Improved. “That means I had a great year, an amazing effort. I’m playing my best tennis ever. I’m really happy.”
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