Rafael Nadal and Emma Raducanu received the 2022 ESPY awards for Best Athlete Men’s Tennis and Best Athlete Women’s Tennis on Thursday. The ESPY award selections are primarily dependent on public opinion, with fan votes playing an important role. While Rafael Nadal won the French and Australian Opens, Iga Swiatek dominated this season’s women’s tour and earned her rightful spot in the ESPY Award nominations along with Ashleigh Barty, Emma Raducanu, and Leila Fernandez. This is the third time Rafael Nadal has won an ESPY Award, having won previously in 2014 and 2011, whereas it is Emma Raducanus’s first. Meanwhile, Raducanu follows the likes of Serena Williams (10) and Naomi Osaka as recent recipients of the honour.
The year before, Emma Raducanu wrote a fairy-tale victory at the US Open and became the first qualifier (male or female) to win a Major in the Open Era. That week, the youngster won 10 games (including qualifying) without losing a single set.
Rafael Nadal trails behind his big-three peers, Roger Federer (9) and Novak Djokovic (5), in the number of ESPY awards a male tennis player won. After winning Wimbledon Championships at the tender age of 22, the most appropriate venue for talking about what this sport demands from an emerging player are Rafael Nadal’s idol. Emma Raducanu is the first female from Emma Raducanus’s native country to win a major since Virginia Wade, the Wimbledon champ from 1977. This time, in the 2022 Wimbledon Championships, the Brit suffered a second-round exit to Caroline Garcia.
Nadal was among four sportsmen nominated for Best Athlete Men’s Tennis, along with Dylan Alcott, Carlos Alcaraz, and Felix Auger-Aliassime. Although beset by injuries, Rafael Nadal has enjoyed a spectacular season. He began the year by sweeping his first 20 games, including victories in Melbourne, Acapulco, and the Australian Open. His triumph in Australia made him only the second male player, after Djokovic, to achieve a double career Grand Slam. In the meantime, he became the first male player in Open Era history to win 21 Major singles titles.
After suffering a rib injury at Indian Wells, Nadal began his claycourt season late, missing Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He lost early in Madrid and Rome but dethroned incumbent champion Novak Djokovic, in the semifinals before defeating Casper Ruud to capture his 14th Roland Garros championship. After overcoming an abdominal ailment against Taylor Fritz in the quarterfinals, the 36-year-old advanced to his third consecutive Wimbledon semifinal. Nadal, on the other hand, had to retire from the last four matches against Kyrgios due to an abdominal injury.